Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon


There was one Christmas gift I recommended on my Christmas Gifts Guide that we haven't reviewed at that time, which is Nintendo's latest Pokemon game on their 3DS system - Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. It was one of the highly anticipated game, and the fact that it's the one that is released on Pokemon's 20th anniversary year, with Pokemon Go bringing up the Pokemon hype, it's guaranteed to be the game high on many children (and adults) Christmas wishlist (the out of stock Nintendo 3DS handheld system and Pokemon Sun/ Pokemon Moon bundles on Nintendo's official UK online store says it all!).

After playing Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun (this review apply to both version of the game) for a couple of weeks, Pokemon Go made a lot more sense to us (we never played a Pokemon game before..)! There is this "you are physically in a Pokemon game" kind of feeling now. However, there are a lot of new features that you can only experience by playing Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and/ or Pokemon Moon, which I think are brilliant additions to the game. Read on to find out more.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon (RRP £39.99 each, pegi 7) games come with a matching pin if you buy the game from the official Nintendo UK store. Bundles are also available. We were given the code for Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun for this review.

Differences between Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon:

In-game Time - Pokemon Sun's in-game time is based on your Nintendo 3DS system's time, while in Pokemon Moon, the in-game time is shifted by 12 hours. So if you've set the time on your Nintendo 3DS system based on your real life clock, Pokemon Moon will appear mostly at night.

Pokemon -  Certain Pokemon will evolve into a different Pokemon in different version. For example, the main Pokemon in the game's story will either evolve into Solgaleo in Pokemon Sun or Lunala in Pokemon Moon (the ones on the covers).


Story:

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Players start the game as one of the island's Pokemon Trainer (you can create your own character and change their look and outfit later in the game), who has just arrived at the Alola region. While following a series of trials and challenges, more is revealed about the mysterious Pokemon Nebby and its carer Lillie, who are part of the main story.

I think Pokemon series are definitely more about collecting different Pokemon (who are super adorable by the way!), training them up, and eventually getting your character the Pokemon Champion title. I am more of a story person, but although the Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon story reveals a bit more slower than I'd prefer, it is mysterious and intriguing, and I can't wait to find out more.


Combats:

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Combats occur either through exploring the map and go through wild Pokemon hiding places, such as tall grasses or in the water, or by challenges with other Pokemon Trainers.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Wild Pokemon: These are the Pokemon players can collect by throwing a Pokeball at them.

We love discovering new Pokemon, especially the really adorable and classic ones! I couldn't resist getting myself a Christmas Eevee after falling in love with it in the game!

Challenges: Players can't capture owned Pokemon through challenges, but you can learn through these challenges what their weaknesses are (it'll be registered) so you will be more prepared next time you see a wild one.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Trials: Trials and challenges replaces Pokemon Battle Gym in the previous versions of the game in Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. Pokemon Trainers are to go through a series of trials (challenges by the Pokemon Captains) on the Alola region, and after completing them as well as defeating the 4 island governors, they will be crowned Alola's Pokemon Champion.


Combats are fairly straight forward if you have been levelling your Pokemon up, raise their Affection to the maximum (see below) and have the correct Pokemon type in your combat team (you are only allowed to keep 6 in your team, so choose wisely).


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Suppliments and Teaching: There are things in the game you can use to raise your Pokemon ability. For example the Z-crystals you get after defeating a Pokemon Captain (new to Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon) can be used on all compatible Pokemon in your combat team, and can give your Pokemon a special attack skill - the Z-moves, which connects your character and Pokemon's power together to make your Pokemon extra powerful. it can be used once per combat however.

Other items includes berries and potions that gives Pokemon a temporary boost, skills Pokemon can learn (although they each have a maximum of 4 skills, so you'll need to decide what they are), funfair games which boost base statistics permanently (more below), etc.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Defeated: It's not as painful as it seems to fail a challenge or trial. (it's certainly heart breaking though, especially when you can't run away from a trial!) You will appear in the nearest Pokemon Center (more below) where all your Pokemon will be rested completely, so you can head straight back out to train more (or change the Pokemon combination in my case) before you try again.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Battle Royal: Another new feature in Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, it lets your character play against 3 individual opponents in an arena, and the battle ends when one player has all 3 of their Pokemon defeated.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Pokemon levelling and evolving: After a Pokemon has been defeated in combat, experience points will be given to your Pokemon. Some of them level up on the spot, and some might want to learn a new skill after levelling. They sometimes evolve too, if levelling to a certain level is the requirement to evolve.

According to a tip in the game, there is a way to stop your Pokemon from evolving. It might sound silly to want to stop them from growing up, but I wish I have learned about this right at the beginning, because my favourite Hoot Hoot, who I've put a lot of effort into making it the strongest Pokemon I have (unfortunately still very weak against fire), has turned from the cutest chubby owl into a vein one who likes to flick his fringe. Why?!

Another option is to collect 2 to 3 of the same Pokemon and evolve the 2 so you have the full collection. This game can last forever if you choose to hehe.


Relationship with a Pokemon:

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Pokemon are a companion, not just a combat tool, which is a message more obviously shown in Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. Not only do they live amongst human in the Alola region, they sometimes take care of things too, like Rotom, who lives in your Pokedex (see below). So you are given the Refresh section to raise it's affection (which also increases their combat ability), feed them until they are full, and groom them to make them happy.

Pokemon eat Poke Beans, which at the moment in our game is rare and we can only get 12 beans a day (more below). I hope that there will be more available later on as this is the only one I'm struggling with (can't bear the thought of my Pokemon going hungry!)

To raise Pokemon's Enjoyment, simply stroke their head (or other parts depending on the Pokemon), and groom them as soon as the option appears after a combat.


Rotom Pokedex:

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Rotom Pokedex index the Pokemon you've collected, as well as information of wild Pokemon that hasn't been collected yet, gathered during combats. It also shows you the map, and give you advice and reminder where you need to go next.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

To physically access your Pokemon collection, you will need to visit the Pokemon Center (see below), or you can access it through the Pokemon Nursery (where you can rest 2 of your Pokemon for a chance to collect a Pokemon egg from them) as well.


Pokemon Center:

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Pokemon Center is the place to visit when you need your Pokemon to rest fully (with all debuffs from combats removed), access your Pokemon stored away, buy items for combat use, as well as enjoy a special drink at the Cafe, which might give you a special item, and 12 Poke Beans once a day.

Players should also talk to people in the Pokemon Center (and outside), as you can gather some very useful tips, or sometimes a side quest too.


Poke Ride:

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

This is another feature which shows the close bond between human and Pokemon in the Alola region. Players can ride specific Pokemon to help them reach areas they can otherwise not. The Stoutland Search can even help you find special items that are burried underground!


Menu:

Apart from Poke Ride that you access through the Y button on your Nintendo 3DS family handheld console, the rest of the features can be found in the menu:

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Pokemon - Access your Pokemon Combat team's details, swap them around to arrange their combat appearance order, and swap items they hold that can be used in combat.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Bag - where you can find all the items you've gathered, including items you can wear.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Trainer Passport - shows your achievement so far

QR Scanner - allows you to scan QR codes found on the Internet that register certain information about the Pokemon into your Pokedex.


Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon, Pokemon Christmas, #PokemonSunMoon

Festival Plaza - is like a mini game in Nintendo 3DS Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon. Players can meet other real life players in here, or play single player by talking to the non-playing characters to help them and earn Festival Coins, which can be used in the Festival Plaza stalls.

Stalls can be changed during Festival Plaza upgrades. There are ones to increase your Pokemon's base statistics, clothing vendor, lucky draw that gives you special items, etc.


Pokemon Finder:

I haven't use this feature yet, maybe because when it was introduced in the game Abby was playing so I missed it completely. (She did mention something about taking in-game pictures). Basically it is a feature loaded into Rotom Pokedex, and when used in certain spots in Alola region, you can snap pictures of Pokemon. The pictures you take will be evaluated, and as you take better pictures, more features such as the ability to zoom will be unlocked.


Overall:

We are currently stuck because our team wasn't correctly built to go against the Pokemon in the next trial (we like to keep our favourites in the team). My poor team was completely defeated by the totem Pokemon (I wasn't allowed to run away a the trial), which was very sad to go through, and I can really feel that defeated feeling, even though they were recovered completely after.

I'm now building up a new team just for the next trial, and hope that eventually I can either get my original team back or I will find a new team that has a better combination (a team full of evolved Eevee!).

I like it that there is plenty to do in the game, so if you are tired from levelling or collecting Pokemon, you can play mini games, hatching eggs, and even earn money to equip yourself with pretty accessories! The quests (trials) and story does make me want to keep going as well, I want to see what this mysterious Nebby is about, and if I can collect one that will be even better!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Know Cosmetics No Dark Shadows Complexion Enhancer


After much testing and trialing, I've more or less settled with a selection of makeup products that I'm happy with. There are a couple of things I never use though, such as under eye concealer or a proper foundation (I'm using liquid CC cushion), because I still can't find one that suits me.

I'm always open to trialing things though, so when I heard that one of the best selling makeup brand in Sephora - Know Cosmetics became available in the UK (Superdrug), and that they have a concealer in the range, I had to give it a try.


Know Cosmetics, No Dark Shadows, Concealer

Know Cosmetics, No Dark Shadows, Concealer

Know Cosmetics No Dark Shadows Complexion Enhancer (£15), according to the brand's information, is a

"silky, light and blendable complexion enhancer and a concealer that conceals imperfections. The light diffusing pigments in the formula softens the look of dark circles and highlights your best features for a contoured makeup look. The long-lasting, buildable moisturising formula can be applied alone or blended with foundation to perfect the complexion."

It provides medium coverage, is waterproof that lasts over 6 hours, and is free of mineral oils and parabens. It also comes in 2 tones - WOW with a rose undertone and PIZAZZ with a yellow undertone.


The last time I had to check my skin tone was a while ago, and I keep forgetting that I actually have a mix under tone (pink in some area and yellow in others). Without checking, I asked for PIZAZZ, and the colour blended straight into mine, which would have been perfect if I didn't need it to correct the bluish dark circles under my eyes. It works well to cover my scars and spots though.

The No Dark Shadows is really easy to use, just twist until products comes out from the lovely soft brush. It gives a nice control of how much product you use, and build up until you are happy with it. It appears liquid before blending, and looks matte after.

As it blended well with my skin tone, it couldn't give me a highlight effect that's obvious enough, I think the WOW would have been more suitable for me in this case, and covering my bluish dark circles too.

If you are interested in checking out Know Cosmetics as well, they are now available in Superdrug.


Note: As for all products used on your skin, it is recommended to do a patch allergy test before applying the products.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Portable North Pole Magic Pass - Why it's Worth Getting


Every year we try to look for new Christmas traditions to add to what we are doing already, to make Christmas extra special. After all, kids won't stay as kids forever, and we'd like to try to make their childhood as memorable as we can.

I was recently introduced to a service called Portable North Pole (PNP), where children can receive videos and calls from Santa. The quality of the videos, from props and actors to the resolution of the video itself is really impressive, and it brought a smile to me and hubby's faces. The more we explore their services (premium and the free ones too), the more we are impressed with them. So I was glad to have signed up for reviewing the PNP Magic Pass (that unlocks all their services), as it's definitely a service I'd like to use over and over again!


Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa

Portable North Pole (PNP) offers 3 videos from Santa for free, including a greeting from Santa to children, one for the adults, and birthday wishes from Santa, which can be used on any day in the year (not just for those who have their birthday during Christmas time). Each of the videos can be personalised to certain extend, and the video quality, as pointed out above, is superb.


Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa

Other free PNP services include the mobile app for iOS and Android (see more below), and the Santa's Village, with lots of activities, bed time stories etc for children to explore.


BUT. If you also want:

unlimited phone calls from Santa with plenty of fun scenario choices

- unlimited premium videos with plenty of video choices, which you can personalise further to make them even more realistic, and also come with Santa's verdict (whether the child is on Santa's naughty, nice or almost nice list)

- Reaction Recorder to record your child's reaction while watching the video

- HD downloads of all your videos (including the reaction recorded ones)

- Santa-Approved Certificate to print for each of your video

Story telling by Santa each week in December

then you should definitely consider buying PNP's Magic Pass, which is £9.99 (expires 1st October 2017 so you can use the services throughout the year), and I think it's really worth getting. Let me show you why:


Unlimited Phone Calls from Santa:

Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa

There are a lot of scenarios to choose from for phone calls, and by putting in your phone number, Santa will actually ring you! Unlike recorded messages you hear from a call centre, Santa's phone calls are loud and clear (I tested this myself). Personally I would want to keep contact with Santa to the minimum to keep it special, but if it helps with good behaviour, an occasional call during the year might just do the trick. And I'm sure that the idea of me contacting Santa will keep them good for the other days!


Unlimited Premium Videos from Santa:

Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa
Example of a free video

Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa
Example of a premium video

Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa
Last 3 pictures are of the premium video. Do they look just a bit sharper?
To test the videos out, I created one for each child. The first one I did appeared to be the free version, and the second one was one of the premium ones. I actually didn't pay attention about whether it was free or premium (you get them all with the Magic Pass), but I did notice that the premium video took me longer to personalise. There was more things to include, even the gift Clay wants and a picture of our house. I especially like the Santa's verdict, and although it felt a bit harsh to show Clay that he's not on Santa's Nice list YET, I hope it serves as a motivation for him to get on with tidying up his toys!

Oh, and I should also mention about the name pronouncing! After you typed in a name, you can hear whether Santa pronounce it correctly. The list of name is impressive, so unless you have an extremely unique name like "@", Santa should be able to pronounce it. PNP service comes in different languages as well, I wonder if it covers names from those countries too in their language?


This might just be me, but I also noticed that the quality of the premium video seemed a bit sharper than the free video. I can't be sure about this though. The last 3 pictures above are from the premium video, what do you think?


I found that, from the kids' reactions, the longer video with more personalisation is definitely more convincing. Clay was still giddy at the beginning of the premium video, but later on he started responding to Santa's questions (yes/ no ones. They are very careful with their dialog)! Even Abby was convinced towards the end (she suspected that I did the videos at first haha).

Due to a very naughty Abby on the day I showed them the videos, I showed Clay his first, and Abby was a bit disappointed that Santa's message to her was comparatively short (he did say he had to take his reindeer out for a ride) and he never gave her his verdict (so I had to tell her that maybe he wasn't happy with what she did that day as well). You can tell that Abby was extremely uncomfortable when I played the video for her, just like a very naughty child would (eyes dashing everywhere, body turning towards me seeking for comfort, etc)! I hope she will be good from then on!


The kids will probably be disappointed when they found out that I had my hands on this. I hope they can understand that I'm just trying to make magic even more magical for them. I'm sure when I show this again to them years later, including their reactions to the videos, they will appreciate the preserved memories. And with the PNP's Magic Pass, recording their reactions can't be easier. You just need to download the free mobile app, and show the kids the video with it.


Free Mobile App and Reaction Recorder:

Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa

Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa
Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa

The PNP mobile app has a Kids Corner, where kids can replay Santa's messages to them, and a Parents Corner, which allow you to do basically everything that you can on PNP's website. The Parents Corner can be accessed from the Kids Corner, but it can be password protected so that children won't be able to access it.

There are games for the kids to play as well in the Kids Corner, which will provide plenty of Christmas fun for them.


The Reaction Recorder is a new feature this year, and it allows you to record children's reaction when they watch Santa's message for the first time. It is done in the Parents Corner, so you kind of need to time it right (it stops recording when PNP's logo finished showing at the end) so that the kids won't see your dashboard!

The recorded reaction and video will be saved as a separate video in your My Creations folder, and you have a choice of showing this (and any other videos) to the children by making it visible in the Kids Corner (under Santa's Messages). You can also download each video in HD quality onto your device to keep.


I decided not to upload ours here as it recorded me telling Abby off (oops), but you can see the screen captures above. The quality is quite good, but I believe that it is also down to your front camera's resolution. Just make sure that it's bright enough (although don't face it directly at a light like I did) and the camera faces your child correctly.


Parents have an option to download a Santa-Approved Certificate, which says that your child has made it onto Santa's Nice List. Since both mine aren't yet, they'll have to wait.


Bedtime Story with Santa:

Make Christmas special, Portable North Pole, Message from Santa

Bedtime stories are available each week (each Saturday before Christmas Eve, because Santa is too busy on the 24th!) in December, which will hopefully help me sent the kids straight to bed (you don't want to keep Santa waiting!). I think it's a lovely additional feature.


As you can see, there is a lot more PNP provides on top of their free services, and I think the £9.99 is really worth it. Just the effort they put in their videos, with the beautiful props, CGI (the sparkles and how our uploaded pictures are tilted in an angle to fit in the film's book for example), cheeky elves and Santa, and the reinforcement you get to allow your child to stay as a child for a bit longer makes it money well spent.

I can't thank the PR enough for choosing us for the review, we are well impressed with all their services, and we will definitely use them again for as long as the kids will let us.