Friday, 27 March 2015

Nintendo Wii U - Mario party 10


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

My very own Mario Party 10 dice! A big thumbs up to Nintendo UK's press team, for the fabulous way of announcing the launch of Nintendo's Mario Party 10 (Wii U, released on 20th March 2015)! Apart from lots of party goodies and an amiibo character Bowser (the villain in the game), we also get to try out the game ourselves!

Note: See my previous blog post for our Nintendo Wii U review , featuring Mario Party 10


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Mario Party 10 (rrp £34.99 - £39.99) is a pegi 7 Wii U party game that allows up to 5 players to play together. There are 3 modes to play in - amiibo, Bowser Party and Mario Party. You can also access the mini games from each mode in the main menu, and use collected Mario party Points to unlock special items/ features.

Our favourite mode is Bowser Party, where me and Abby always fight over the Gamepad and play as Bowser. Although a bad guy, he gets to trick other players in the game, which makes it so much more fun!


Bowser Party

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

There are 5 playable characters in Bowser Party, where one of the player can choose to play as Bowser, and will be using the Wii U Gamepad, as he/ she will get to see something other players can't on it. The rest of the players (Team Mario, maximum 4 players, and empty slots will be filled by computer controlled characters) will play as a team, each using a Wii controller.


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Team Mario will take turn to roll the dice and move their vehicle along the gameboard. Their aim is to beat Bowser to reach the end and get the star. When the team drive past a special spot, events occur, such as life (hearts) gaining, extra steps to move, traps, etc.


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

To make it fair for Bowser, he gets to roll 4 dices each turn, which the Bowser player can see and play with on the Gamepad while waiting for his turn. Bowser, however, gets to reroll if he's not happy with the roll! A second chance is always great, although it's not necessary going to be better than the first roll of course (choices and consequences).

When Bowser caught up with Team Mario, it triggers a mini game, where Bowser gets to torment Team Mario, making them loose lives! Take Roulette Rage for example, featured in the above picture, Bowser will have to choose 3 segments and turn the roulette. Team Mario have to make sure that, when the board stops, they don't land in the marked segment, or they'll be bombed and instantly loose 3 lives!

Bowser also get to set traps to trick Team Mario. Our favourite one is in the underwater map, where Bowser have to doodle and stamp on 5 treasure chests using the Gamepad, to trick Team Mario into picking the wrong treasure chest, which makes them loose lives! When I played Bowser for the first time to trick Abby, she innocently trusted my good marks and kept picking the wrong chest. It's horrible but absolutely hilarious! #EvilMum She learned fast though and has since been wanting to be Bowser, and she can be really creative with setting traps!



Worth mentioning is how considerate Nintendo is. In Bowser Party and Mario Party, if a player lost all their lives, they aren't totally kicked out of the game. When Team Mario lands on a Gain Lives spot, every player including the ones who has lost all will gain lives, so there is still a chance for them to join the team again. While waiting for such opportunity, they will be teleported to a waiting area, and they even get to collect special dice while waiting. So no one at the party will feel left out!


Mario Party


Mario Party is very similar to Bowser Party, where all 4 players will be playing as a team. Bowser will be shown as locked up behind the bars on the Gamepad, but when a player rolled a number shown on each bar for the first time, it unlocks that bar. So you might be cheering "Don't Roll 3!" if number 3 is the only number left to keep Bowser at bay!

Once all numbers has been rolled once, Bowser will be released and going after the team!


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

After each game (applicable to all modes), players get to see how many Mario Party points they've earned, which can be used to unlock bonus materials, as well as their ranking and how they performed during the game.


amiibo

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

If you aren't familiar with amiibo, they are character figurines you can use to play certain Wii U and new 3DS/ 3DS XL games with. It can store and transfer character data for a particular game.


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment
Unlocking character tokens allow players to unlock different gameboards
Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment
Mario found a Donut base, and Donkey Kong a Watermelon one
In Mario Party 10 amiibo mode, players can use their characters to play the game, which appears 3D, where as the computer ones are shown as cardboard figures. Players can collect special Tokens and Bases for their characters, which will be saved inside the amiibo for future use.

Unlike Bowser Party and Mario Party, players will be competing against each other instead of playing as a team. Up to 4 players can play this mode, each requiring a Wii controller. The Gamepad will be used as the amiibo dock instead.


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

In this game, players can collect coins (each start with 20 coins), and chase around the board after the star, where they can convert each 20 coins to a star. Each round ends with a randomly selected mini game from 3 categories (Free-for-all, 2-vs-2, 1-vs-3). I noticed that the 1-vs-3 category appears more often if 1 player is lacking behind, and they are given the opportunity to catch up if they win in the mini game (they get 15 coins oppose to 5 each if the 3 player team wins).

At the end of the 10th round, the player with most stars (not coins) wins.


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

While going after the star, there is a lot of things to do on the board too. There is a special dice shop, where you have to spend coins to buy a special dice (if you land on the spot you will have to spend), a chance to teleport yourself to another location that is closer to the star, and spots to earn extra coins. If you, unfortunately, landed on the Bowser spot, Bowser will appear and spin the wheel. The best scenario is to lose a few coins, and worse case is to lose a star! The effect is really funny, especially Yoshi, his expressions is the funniest every time he loses a mini game or stood on Bowser hehe!


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Party 10, party entertainment

Mario Party 10 contains a lot of fun mini games to play with, some easier than others. You can always practise before playing the game though, and as many times as you want, but that might slow the game's pace a bit. While playing in different modes, random mini games will appear, but most of the time you won't get to play them all. If you want to play the mini games, as mentioned before, you can easily access them from the main menu.

And using the Mario Party Points you've collected, you can unlock bonus materials from Toad's Room, also accessible from the main menu.


We had lots of fun playing Mario Party 10, and the pace is perfect for children, although it might be a bit slow for those who like games like Mario Kart 8 (people who don't take taking turns very well). I like it though, while waiting for my turn I can snack and laugh at (or even disturb) others, exactly how a party should be like! The sound effects and character voices are adorable, and we love the vibrant and detailed graphics as well.

We do wish that there are more map choices, and the only time you can unlock more maps is in the amiibo mode. For parties however, especially children one, where everyone just want to keep moving on to different games, this is about right. If you are having an Easter party, don't forget to consider your entertainment, and Mario Party 10 might just be something worth adding to your list!

Nintendo Wii U


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Lately I've been on a chill out mode, and have even started playing video games more frequently, which I haven't done for over 5 years. We've just been too caught up with the children and everything else. Playing games doesn't mean I have less time to spend with the kids though, as there are many games that we can play together as a family.

We have had a Nintendo Wii since Abby was born, and the colourful and cute Nintendo designed games has always appealed to her. They are harmless for children to play, and are even educational in ways.

We didn't upgrade ours when Nintendo released Wii U, as we didn't think we would be missing out. Then our Nintendo 2DS and 3DScame along, and have kept us so happy that we almost forgot about Wii U. However, after testing out the Wii U, kindly sent to us by Nintendo UK for review purpose, I have to admit that I was wrong. We did miss out, and have been for quite a long time!


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Nintendo Wii U (£249.99 - £299.99, depending on package) generally comes with

Wii U console
Wii U Gamepad
Sensor Bar
Gamepad charging dock and charger
Gamepad dock
Wii U console holder (x2)
HDMI cable
AC Adapter
32GB memory
Assorted documents

and anything extra that comes with the pack you chose. Ours came with the Super Mario Bros. U and Super Luigi.U games.



Any download will happen in the background. Status can be checked by clicking the last icon as shown in picture

Setup
This was the first time I've set up a console on my own. Is it always this easy? I can actually put it together without the need of a technical person! The system update and set up on the otherhand, takes a bit longer (at least a year worth of updates after all hehe), but it is worth the time, to make sure that things goes smoothly. I do recommend doing this part when the kids are at school or asleep though!

You can set up different accounts as well with different setup to apply to the account, so you can set up an account that allows you to play pegi 18 games and go on the Internet, with another set with pegi 7 and offline only.

While creating the accounts, I imported our Mii characters from my 3DS through the Nintendo network ID, and use them as our account avatar. It was really cool seeing my Mii character's clone (so you can still have them on your DS, of course) jumped out from the 3DS screen and appeared straight after on the TV! Both Wii U and 3DS were synced perfectly without a sense of delay at all.


Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties
Size comparison
Nintendo Wii U, Mario Brothers, perfect console for parties

Gamepad is propped in a way so that it will lie flat
Gamepad

- Why it is needed
Unlike other consoles that comes with a game controller, Wii U came with a Gamepad, which is technically a combination of a game controller and a tablet. A lot of people wondered why a console needed a tablet to go with it. Unless you've played a game or two, and had interruption in between your gaming session, it is a bit hard to understand this. But when you had encountered both situation, you will be wondering why other companies haven't thought about it!

Take Mario Party 10 for example (please see my next blog post for the full review), where the Gamepad is used as:
  • the amiibo dock (similar to Skylanders and Disney Infinity) in the amiibo party mode, with amiibo character information shown on the Gamepad screen instead of the TV screen (and hence not cutting the party screen off)
  • a private screen for the player playing as Bowser in Bowser Party mode. It shows "Bowser" more details of the map they are playing on, for example, what treasure is hidden in each treasure chests, where as the TV screen is only showing the treasure chests (it's down to "Bowser" to mislead other players to pick the wrong chest)
  • Bowser's prison in Mario Party mode, where it shows Bowser locked up behind the bars (will be unlocked) and players can check the status off (TV) screen.
Also, during our Mario Kart 8 session, we had to pause to webcam our family, so the TV has been hijacked while the game is still running in the background. Then I realised that the kids were doing something with the Gamepad. Apparently they were continuing the race there!

You can also log onto the Internet (depending on your system setting) to check for something (walkthrough/ cheats?!) without the need to switch out from the game. I know that a smartphone can do that, but when you are told not to touch your phone during a gathering, and the computer screen is much further away from your TV screen, it really is a very handy gadget to use, and I believe that we'll be discovering more uses for it.


- Touchscreen and Stylus
The touchscreen of the Gamepad is perfect. It's sensitive enough to respond at the right time and pressure. We hardly need to use the Stylus pen, but I would prefer it to be a bit bigger.


The only real problem I had with the Gamepad was that it can't lie flat on its back, so when we use it as an amiibo dock, the person will have to touch their character on the amiibo touchpad and hold onto it so it won't fall off, or improvise to make it lie flat. Not really a big deal as saving data doesn't take long at all.


The red one is a Wii Motionplus controller. Obviously mine
Wii Controllers
Initially I thought that the Gamepad is the Wii U controller, and we needed one each to play the games (the kids were and still are always fighting over it!). The truth is, Nintendo had no intentions in making customers own more than one Gamepad. In fact, they have said that they have no plans for creating a game that requires 2 Gamepad to play, although the idea is interesting. At the moment, if you want another Gamepad for any reason, you'll have to contact Nintendo for it. The kids will just have to learn how to share.

So, for additional controllers, you can either get
  • a Wii U Pro Controller for rrp £39.99, which has an 80 hours battery life (perfect for hardcore players!) and is shaped in a more familiar shape to many players, or 
  • the old Wii controllers (original or motionplus), which is fully compatible with Wii U. We already have 2 so that was fantastic news! We did need another 2 as the Gamepad isn't always available as a controller (eg the amiibo mode in Mario Party 10), and to be honest, it's more fun to use a Wii controller with steering wheel holder to play Mario Kart 8 than using the Gamepad, which can also be a bit too heavy for long time use.

Sensor Bar
According to the Internet, the Wii sensor bar and Wii U sensor bar is more or less the same, apart from the colour. But for some reason, I still find it respond much better than the old one. Maybe it's because there is more space in our living room now.


Graphics and Sound
I can't really compare the graphics quality of the Wii U and Wii, as we have changed our TV from a normal one then to a Smart HD TV now, so everything is obviously much sharper and brighter. But I do love the light effects in games, it's like real sparkles! 

I also think that the sound quality is amazing, and the tones they used for the system is absolutely beautiful and serene. I can listen to them all day!


We are really glad to be given the opportunity to review the Nintendo Wii U. We think that, after testing it out for a month, it's the perfect console for family and party entertainment. The children are always asking us to play together now, and we are more than happy to as well. The game sessions are always filled with laughter, and the children are learning about team work, fun over winning, choices and consequences etc skills too. When their grandparents come over to visit, I bet they can even get them to play as well! 

Apart from it being children and family friendly, Nintendo also do more mature games, and other games have Wii U versions too, so don't start thinking that Nintendo Wii U is only good for party and kiddy games!

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

My "Easter Basket" Gradient Cake Recipe on Wayfair.co.uk


Easter cake, gradient cake, French Macarons

Some of you already knew that I've been working on an Easter cake last week, but I had to hold back on sharing because I created the recipe to be published on Wayfair.co.uk's Inspiration section! Awesome right?! The secrecy was absolutely killing me, but I can finally share it with you today!

Ta da! My "Easter Basket" Gradient Cake! Do you like it?? Please say you do!

Wayfair has a fantastic Inspiration section full of recipes and tutorials to get you inspired, perfect for seasonal times when you need plenty of ideas. I felt really honoured to be given an opportunity to write a recipe for them, thank you so much! It was an amazing experience, and I had a glimpse of being an author writing a recipe book hee hee.

For Easter, I wanted to create a cake that isn't just for children, after all, Easter is meant to be celebrated by all, so this cake has some slightly fancier components such as a to die for blueberry custard buttercream (not the usual buttercream!) and homemade French Macarons (I made 6 batches to perfect this recipe!), yet it's still colourful enough to please the children. The recipe will show you how to make each component so you can recreate the whole cake in the way you want it (you can swap for different ingredients and colours easily).

The recipe will be published on Wayfair's website on the Wednesday 25th March 2015 with plenty of images, please do check it out, I hope you'll like it!

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