Thursday, 19 January 2017

Nintendo Switch - First Impression

We've been keeping our eyes open for news about Nintendo's latest console - Nintendo Switch since October last year when we first heard about it, so I was thrilled to find out that I was invited to attend the Nintendo Switch UK Premiere, and be one of the first to try out the Nintendo Switch.

You can find most of the details about the Nintendo Switch on social media now, but there seem to be quite a mixed view out there, with some that, in my opinion, aren't necessary useful if you are looking for information to help you decide whether it's worth buying a Nintendo Switch.

To know if you need a Nintendo Switch (or any other consoles), it's good to figure out what the brand (Nintendo) is offering you, what kind of games they offer, what 3rd party developed games that is available on the console, and who the main users are.

For us, for example, our main users are our 2 young kids. They love cute and fun games, and they love playing together as a family. So for us, Nintendo is more suitable for us, because they offer a lot more games that are children and family friendly. Even if a kiddy game is remotely violent, it's done subtly that the focus of the game isn't the fighting. They offer games for adults as well which I love, and the graphics and soundtrack are quite stunning for their latest Legend of Zelda games, meaning that they are there with their specs. There is plenty of 3rd party developed games that will work with it too.

Now the only question left for us is whether we need to upgrade our Nintendo Wii U to the Nintendo Switch.

Although you can find the information elsewhere, I'd still like to post this up and share with you, and how we see the Nintendo Switch from a "family and kids priority"gamer's point of view. Perhaps you can use this as a guide and see how it applies to you?

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games

Me and Eileen from ET Speaks from Home had plenty of fun trying out new games that will be released on Nintendo Switch, using of course, the Nintendo Switch! Some fun games really get us exercising and I was absolutely knackered after 3 games! I can totally visualise playing the games with the kids and have lots of laughter though (more about the games below)!

I have learned quite a bit about the Nintendo Switch, and the rest I tried to find out from the Internet. Here are what I know so far:

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games

Launch date: Friday 3rd March 2017, can be pre-ordered now
Price: UK RRP £279.99
Nintendo Switch with Grey Joy-Con Controllers or
Nintendo Switch with Neon Blue and Neon Red Joy-Con Controllers (Nintendo UK's store pre-orders are currently out of stock for this version already!)

Comes with:
  • Main Nintendo Switch Console (some call it a tablet)
  • Joy-Con L and Joy-Con R controllers
  • Joy-Con Grip (to connect Joy-Con L and Joy-Con R and turn them into one controller)
  • A pair of Joy-Con wrist straps
  • Nintendo Switch Dock (holds the Nintendo Switch console and connects it to a TV)
  • HDMI Cable
  • AC Adapter
Accessories can be bought separately

3 Modes to Play:
TV mode where you dock the Nintendo Switch, switching the screen to the TV

Tabletop mode where you can prop the main console on the table, and players can use 1 part of the Joy-Con controller to play together/ against each other

Handheld mode where you attach both Joy-Con controllers onto the main console and play it like a handheld console

Joy-Con Controllers:
  • Depending on the game, can be used together for 1 player, or split and used by 2 players
  • They are much thinner and smaller than the Wii controllers. Very light weight as well, making them much easier to use (the more important that you use the Joy-Con straps to avoid it from flying off your hand)
  • Left Joy-Con controller has a Capture Button to take instant screenshots
  • Right Joy-Con controller includes an NFC touchpoint for interaction with amiibo figures (works with Skylanders' figures too! No more additional platform to reach out to), and an IR Motion Camera that can detect the distance, shape and motion of nearby objects in specially designed games (e.g Rock, Paper, Scissors!)
  • Both Joy-Con controllers include advanced HD rumble, which can provide compatible games with subtle vibrations. For example, I was milking a cow (I know!) in the 1-2-Switch game, and I can feel how much milk I got from a squeeze through the vibration
Expandable storage: although internal storage is only 32MB, it can be expanded by using unlimited MicroSD cards with storage size up to 2TB each

Resolution: The Nintendo Switch Tablet has a 720p 6.2 inch screen, and resolution can go up to 1080p when it's docked and connected to a TV

Main Console: Depending on the game, it can go from 2 to 6 hours unplugged. It recharges using the USB-C port
Joy-Con controllers:
Uses non-removable 525 mAh batteries that will last up to 20 hours.
They are charged by attaching them onto the main console, and charging time can take up to 3.5 hours.
A Joy-Con Charging Grip (not the same as the Joy-Con Grip that's included with the Nintendo Switch pack) that can be bought separately will charge the Joy-Con controllers as well.

Local Wireless Play:
Up to 8 Nintendo Switch can be connected using the same wireless network to play together

No region-locking

Online Play:
It's currently free, but a monthly fee will be in place later in the year.

First Impression:

We absolutely love the idea of a hybrid console. We can use the TV screen to play family games like Mario Party or Mario Kart, and when time comes for us to take the TV back, we can "kick" the kids aside without stopping the game. They can continue playing in handheld console mode. This was one of the best feature from the Nintendo Wii U, and we are glad that they have kept it.

Nintendo took it a step further and now the kids can even move to another part of the house to continue their game, without breaking the game's connection (Clay tried taking the Nintendo Wii U Gamepad with him to the toilet haha!). They can also put the console down and play with the Joy-Cons, so they won't be fighting over the screen.

The Nintendo Switch overall is much thinner and lighter than the Nintendo Wii U Gamepad, making it much easier for the kids to hold (Clay struggled with the Gamepad, although he loves it). It's less tiring to use the Joy-Con controllers than the Nintendo Wii controllers too, just make sure that the kids use the strap. You can buy individual Joy-Cons to replace a broken one for (RRP) £39.99, but it's of course best to make sure that they will last for as long as they can.

Some said that the battery duration for the Nintendo Switch is too short. I never think about this really because we seldom play for hours without taking a long break, but when we do, we are normally at home. We'll have to actually take the Nintendo Switch on holiday to see how this affect us.

Batteries for the Joy-Con controllers however is a massive upgrade for us! I know that, like all lithium-ion batteries, they don't last forever, but it's a great news for us because OMG the time we spent finding AA batteries that has some juice left! And we ended up spending lots on rechargeable's and non-rechargeable's too.

No Regional-locking can be a very exciting thing for us. I'm not sure if we will buy games from abroad, but if there are some really good titles not available in Europe, this will be great! I'm more excited about finding out if we can play the same games with family and friends in Asia!

The Nintendo Switch has removed the second screen feature we really enjoyed using when playing games on the Nintendo Wii U. I'm a bit disappointed about it because I thought it was a great feature that has a lot of potential. But then I guess it won't really affect a lot because the games we tried at the premiere didn't use it and the idea of "how I wish it has a second screen feature" never came up either.

You can buy additional Joy-Cons controllers for additional players, but it seems quite expensive (RRP £69.99). However, if you think about it, the price will cover 2 controllers, so if you play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for example, that will be another 2 players sorted. The spare Joy-Cons can also act as part of a Joy-Con rotation, so that when 2 ran out of batteries, you still have another 2 to play with. So I'm a bit 2-minded here about the price.

I wonder if you can charge a pair of Joy-Con while playing with the other at the same time? There is also another option - buying the Joy-Con Charging Grip (RRP £24.99) so you can keep all 4 Joy-Cons charged at the same time. But do we really need it? We will have to find out.

At the moment, it's free to play online, but there will be a subscription fee for online play later this year. It's not something that is affecting us at the moment as we don't play online. But when a great online game comes along, we will look further into this.

Price wise, I think Nintendo Switch deserves the upgrade because it's the first hybrid console out there, allowing gamers to switch from TV to handheld and continue playing the game on the go. The extra sensitive controllers and motion camera means that it can sense your motions and movements even better than using a sensor bar on top of the TV (you can "probably" play Just Dance in a plane!). They've improved the size of the console, took away our AA batteries struggle, and the graphics is great (on the console screen as well).


Finally, the games! I had so much fun at Nintendo Switch UK premiere! We played a few games, had some yummy warm food, and then played some more. It's definitely a great opportunity to try a bit of everything while understanding the Nintendo Switch a bit more.

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild queue!
I regretted not queuing up for Legend of Zelda: breath of the Wild. After all it's been the game I was really looking forward to, and trying it out on Nintendo Switch would be another awesome experience. From what I saw though, the graphics look absolutely stunning and smooth! The world is massive! I seriously can't wait for it to come out and try it out myself. It will be released on the same day as the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games
Super Mario Odyssey

Another game me and the kids are looking forward to is Super Mario Odyssey. Mario will be leaving his Mushroom Kingdom and go on an adventure in an exciting world! And he'll be removing his cap for the first time! The game is still under development so wasn't available for trial, but the trailer looks amazing! It will be released later in the year.

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games
A game that we almost overlooked was Snipperclips - Cut it out, together! and I was so glad that we gave the game a go. It's the perfect game to train your kids to work together while having fun, and I'm determined to get it for my kids. It'll also provide quality time spent together as a family while we try to solve the puzzles together!

Basically, players are to cut each other's character into different shapes to solve each puzzle. It's one of the more relaxed game where you get plenty of discussion (and perhaps arguing) moments while trying them out. This will be released in March as well in Nintendo eShop.

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games
I'm also glad to have given Arms a go, although my arms felt like they were going to fall off after haha. In simple terms, it's a colourful, 3D fighting sport game (using elements of boxing and shooting games), where players can extend their character's arms by throwing your own arms forward (each hand holding a Joy-Con controller), and your punching movements will all be logged accurately too.

What I didn't realise until I watched the Nintendo Switch presentation is that, when your own arms swing and circle around (like when you are really giving someone a punch from the side), your character's arm will do exactly that too! So in some way, you can see this as a boxercise game! I'll definitely want to try this game out again, and it'll be hilarious with the kids (just don't face each other!)

The game will be available in Spring 2017.

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games
Splatoon 2 and Mario Karty 8 Deluxe
Apart from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe both had queues at the Nintendo Switch UK Premiere. They are the most anticipated Nintendo games that are available to trial so no surprise there really.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is basically Mario Kart 8, plus new characters , revamped Battle mode with new courses. There are also new skills. It'll be released on 28th April for RRP £49.99.

Splatoon 2 will come with new stages, fashions and weapons, can use gyro controls to aim their ink, and it supports voice chat using the new Nintendo Switch smart device app (available in Summer). Splatoon 2 will also be released this Summer.

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games
1-2-Switch reminds me of Nintendo Wii and Nintendo Wii U's mini games pack, which are more sport based (tennis, golf, etc). 1-2-Switch however encourage players to look at each other rather than the screen, so there are more interactions between players in real life.

We tried Copy Dance, where players take turn to copy each other's moves and see who does it best (the HD Rumble in the Joy-Cons made them sensitive enough to know). Milk was funny yet a bit weird too! You sit opposite of each other and try to milk more than the other person! Quick Draw is the funniest I think, where players are to look at each other and whoever draw their gun first wins.

1-2-Switch will be released together with Nintendo Switch on 3rd March.

Third Party Developed Games:

Nintendo Switch preview, Nintendo Legend of Zelda, Nintendo Switch games
3rd party developed games
Not in the picture: Just Dance
Third-Party Publishers that'll be releasing games on Nintendo Switch:

Activision Publishing Inc
Electronic Arts
Take-Two Interactive
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Major Japanese Publishers

Some publishers such as Bethesda Softworks will be joining Nintendo for the first time

Major franchises will be appearing on Nintendo Switch including:
EA Sports FIFA
The Elder Scrolls

Just Dance:
I didn't take a picture of this but I think it's worth mentioning. The Nintendo Switch has its motion camera embedded inside the Joy-Con (R) controller, so there are no sensor bar required like for the Nintendo Wii U, and you can play games like Just Dance without bothering yourself about your distance to the TV or console. You can just dance away and it takes on a much more accurate movement than the sensor bar did. And that's from what I saw at the Nintendo Switch UK Premiere.

So far me and the kids are really impressed with the Nintendo Switch, and we are excited about some of the games that will be released with it. We can't wait for it to come out!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck

We are almost half way through January now (the days seem to go quicker even though they say that the Earth is rotating slower!), but I'd like to throw back to Christmas as Abby has received an awesome present that she's wanted for a while - the Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck (suitable for 3 years +, RRP £29.99)! Not only because it's Num Noms, which is one of her most favourite collectibles, but she can make her own lip glosses and use them to nourish her lips, which are always chappy, so it really is the perfect gift for her!

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

Look at how happy she is? And look at how big the truck actually is! The whole packaging and how they feature all the parts make it look really good and we actually sat staring at every detail for a bit before we took everything out. And then the kids fought (on Christmas day!) because Abby refused to share with Clay. She absolutely loved it and want it only for herself (it is her present after all). I don't blame her, but now Clay is asking us to get him another one (it's a no)!

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

We almost forgot to check out the ultra rare special edition Num - Cherry Scoop that came with the Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck! It's as cute and smell as yummy as all the other Num Noms, but we agreed that the Noms are definitely the focus here. And the ingredients for making the lip glosses!

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

The Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck is the cutest ice-cream truck! The wheels do turn, and there are 2 seats for the Nums to sit, so children can role-play with it as well as making their own lip glosses.

The decorations on the top of the truck aren't just for the cuteness! The removable cupcake is where you will mix the lip gloss with the flavours and glitters, and the bunny can be removed to reveal the piping compartment, where you will put your mixed lip gloss in to pipe it into the lip gloss Nom containers.

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

For making the lip gloss, you will need the lip gloss that comes sealed in a pink tub, the Noms lip gloss containers, the glitter shaker and the 2 lip gloss squeezy flavourings - cherry and vanilla. Everything is just so adorable!

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck, Lip Gloss making for children, Num Noms Play Set

To make your own lip gloss, simply mix a scoop of lip gloss, flavouring and glitter in the cupcake container, and use the cherry cocktail scoop to stir. Scoop the mix into the piping compartment, place an opened lip gloss Nom container underneath, and press the bunny stick into the piping compartment to squeeze the lip gloss out in a swirl pattern.

You can also scoop the mixture straight into the lip gloss Nom containers of course.

Make sure you don't make a lot in one go as the lip gloss Noms can only hold a small amount in the container, and you need even less on your lips. So the tub of lip gloss will last for a good while!

It's very easy to clean everything, either wipe it down with a wet wipe, or use warm soapy water to wash the containers. Each of the ingredients has its place inside the truck as well, so it's very easy to tidy everything away for next time, and it look so good!

We love everything about the Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck! The only problem I have is that for the first time, the kids want one each!

Although Christmas is over, I think that the Num Noms Lip Gloss Truck will make a great birthday present as well. We had so much fun with it, it's definitely value for money!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Geronimo Festival 2017 - Bigger and Better!

Geronimo Festival 2017, Family festival 2017, half term holiday to do
It's the beginning of the year and we are already busy planning this year's fun activities! At the moment we have:

Chinese New Year Celebration at the end of January (Saturday 28th January if you are interested, it'll be the year of the Golden Cockerel!)
Abby's 9th birthday party next month (We hired Sublime Science and we adults are just as excited as the kids!)

and Geronimo Festival during the Spring bank holiday! We had so much fun last year, but 1 day really wasn't enough. With the new Arley Hall site that provides a camping/ glamping ground, and a Digital Zone for older kids, it'll be bigger and better! So this year we might go for 2 day 1 night.

Geronimo Festival 2017, Family festival 2017, half term holiday to do

How stunning is Arley Hall & Gardens in Norwich Cheshire?! Although we love going to Tatton Park, this will be a fantastic opportunity for us to explore a new place.

This year, Geronimo Festival's theme is Princess, Knights and Dragons, and visitors are welcome to dress up to join in the fun! Do visit Geronimo Festival's website to find out what will be on, and there will be more to be announced too, so check back often for further updates. So far we are excited about:

  • Andy Day and Alex Winters
  • Digi Wall, which is a climbing wall with a computer game element!
  • Flea Circus, which will be our first!
  • Crafting area
  • Gamers Bus! Expecting a long queue here
  • Splat Anatomy, to have a go at keyhole surgery and the likes (eep!)
  • Fun Fair rides
  • Extreme Adventure including zip lines and high ropes. Abby loved this last year so she'll certainly visit it again
  • Archery, we missed this last year!
  • Science workshop and other workshops

There is a lot going on already, it's definitely bigger this year and hopefully better!

Are you interested as well? Here are a bit more details about this year's Geronimo Festival:

Date: Saturday 27th May to Monday 29th May, 2017
Where: Arley Hall & Gardens in Norwich, Cheshire
For: family with children under 13 years old (all adults must be accompanied by a child)

Early Birds Ticket Price (excluding booking fee, includes a free wristband for the Victorian Fun Fair. Purchase before the end of January 2017):
Under 2 goes for free
Saturday or Sunday only: £19.50 per person
Monday only: £16.50 per person
Saturday AND Sunday: £37.50 per person
Saturday, Sunday AND Monday: £50 per person

Parking Pass:
£10 in advance or £20 at the gate (no on street parking available, so all cars must have a parking pass. If you are going with a Campervan/ Caravan, please read their Camping FAQ regarding parking)

Add On (on top of Geronimo Festival's 2-3 days weekend tickets) - Camping/ Glamping:
Camping Pass (covers up to 3 nights camping, maximum 4 ticketed visitors and 1 infant, 1 tent): £55
Campervan/ Motorhome/ Caravan Pass: £80

As there are quite a bit of details regarding the tickets and camping/ glamping, I'd highly recommend you to

1. read through the ticket details carefully
2. make sure you've selected the correct tickets for the day you are going (they are not changable)
3. make sure you've selected the parking pass for the correct day
4. read through the FAQ and Camping FAQ on the website

and if you have any doubt, contact them before purchasing.

We spent the whole day from before the gates opened until the festival closed for the day last year, you can read more about our experience here. There is going to have even more things happening, there bound to be something for everyone. Just be prepared for all the weather (wellies and rain coats, sunscreen and hats, etc), and perhaps pack some food as well if you aren't keen in possible queues, and you'll have plenty of family fun (it's all about the kids but all the adults we saw were having fun too).

After January, ticket prices will be from £20 per person. If you have missed out the fun last year and wish to go this year, do make the most of the early bird tickets.

Geronimo Festival 2017, Family festival 2017, half term holiday to do