Super Mario Maker – Review

For the last 2 weeks the number one game being played by all of us has been Super Mario Maker. Jacob is so taken with it, that it’s a fight to get the Wii U out of his hands to have a go yourself.

The game is a genius idea. Give the players the tools to create their own Super Mario levels on the Wii U gamepad. It’s amazingly simple, but utterly addictive.

It’s not just the brilliance of being able to make your own levels, but you also get to play everyone else’s level creations.

We were sent a copy by Nintendo to review, complete with a Super Mario Maker Amiibo and a very cool little Mario flip book which the boys loved and fought over, and broke the cover off. Trust me to have two boys!

As I mentioned Jacob is the one who’s played it the most, as he won’t let anyone else on it. As well as making his own levels, he loves playing other peoples challenges. The way that you can share your levels with other players online via codes is really great.

 

Jacob loves watching his favourite Youtubers Super Mario Maker levels, and being able to use the codes to download and try them himself. That is probably his favourite part of the game. Playing the same levels as Yogscast and Stampy Longnose, plus levels made by his Youtubing heroes.

You can use the Amiibos you have in your collection to add to the fun in the game. By pressing them onto the Wii U gamepad you can make your Amiibo characters jump into your levels.

Super Mario Maker starts off quite small. Theres a little tutorial level at the beginning holding your hand as you start building, and then it’s you turn. However you might be surprised when you begin at the amount of things you can add to your level. However don’t panic this is just Super Mario Maker letting you in gently. Keep level designing and soon your first item truck will appear, adding more to your arsenal of blocks and templates.

It takes around a week until you will collect everything the game has for your levels. Every morning Jacob has jumped out of bed and straight downstairs to the Wii U gamepad to see what the item truck has brought him. He’s so excited now he has all the items.

Although you can play on the big screen TV as usual, It’s much easier to just take the Wii U Gamepad and build your levels comfy on the sofa. It’s great that you have the option of tv play or simply via the Wii U gamepad screen.  Especially since Jacob doesn’t want to let the game go.

Super Mario Maker is the perfect game for a creative kid like Jacob, he’s absolutely in his element throwing Bowsers here there and eveywhere. It’s really easy to pick up and start making your level, but making a good level takes time and patience.

This is something he’s starting to realise after playing it for 2 weeks, yes you made a level, but you could make it better if you spent a bit more time on it.

It’s definitely a game that he’ll still be playing just as much 6 months from now. I think his level making skills are only going to get better with time. Plus the whole Super Mario Maker community are going to grow as well, so they’ll be even more brilliant user submitted levels to play.

As you can see from Jacob’s video review, it’s a big hit!

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of Super Mario Maker by Nintendo in order to write an honest review. All opinions are our own.

 

 

 

 

 

Dixit – Review

Dixit is a delightfully different and clever card based board game that we’ve been having lots of fun playing recently.

Dixit is unlike any game we’ve played before, it’s emotional, thought provoking, and had us in fits of laughter.

The game is really simple to play, although might sound a bit different when I try to explain how to play.

Each player has 6 cards. The storyteller of the round describes one of their cards, and the other players have to choose one of their cards that best fits what has been described.

You can choose to describe your cards in words, song even mime.

The chosen cards are then laid out and everyone guesses which card was the one being described originally. You get points if you were correct and move around the board.

That is a very simplified version of the rules, and it may not make much sense but it really does when you start to play. You’ll soon get it.

We started off simply describing the cards to ease our way into the game, but were soon miming, singing songs, dancing, poetry, it all started to come out.

The cards are so beautifully illustrated and imaginative that you can really get creative with your stories.  The remind me a bit of the illustrations you get on Tarot cards.

The best part of the game for me was the fact that everyone had fun. No arguing, no tantrums, just a good time as a family. Thomas who’s officially the most competitive game player, and worst loser in the world actually commented whilst laughing half way through the game that he was losing and he didn’t care as he was having so much fun. I was truly shocked by this as he can have such a bad attitude when losing some times.

It just goes to show what a good game can do.

Disclosure: We were sent a bundle of board games including Dixit by Esdevium Games to give an honest review

 

Rummikub UK Championships and Review

Have you played Rummikub before? Well I hadn’t and I don’t know why as it’s a great game. Highly addictive, easy to pick up and play, a great game for all the family.

To help promote the UK Rummikub Championship Heats which are taking place online at the moment,we were sent a big box full of lots of different Rummikub Versions, and we set about learning how to Rummikub!

Rummikub is a game which has been around for over 50 years. It’s a tile based game.

The aim of the game to use all of your tiles by placing down sets and runs of numbers. You can do this either by using your own tiles, or by manipulating the tiles already placed.

I’m going to be honest and say that initially I was apprehensive about wether we could all learn to play as it looked quite daunting. I couldn’t quite grasp what to do from the instructions, and as such was having trouble explaining the rules to the boys. So we ended up watching a few videos on Youtube and that really helped us. It’s so easy when you start playing, you just have to get it first.

We decided to try out classic Rummikub first. To play your tiles you need to have a run of 3 or 4 tiles, a run being either consecutive numbers in the same colour e.g. 1,2,3,4 or the same number in different colours e.g. 4,4,4,4  in black, blue, red and orange.

It’s a brilliant game for getting you and your youngsters brains whirring. It’s a brilliant brain teaser, and great for honing maths skills as you have to make sure your first move adds up to over 30, and from then onwards you add up your score every turn.

After that we had a game of travel Rummikub, which is exactly the same game just a handy miniature version perfect for holidays and train journeys.

In the picture the tiles don’t actually look that much smaller than the classic version, but they are. They’re Dinky.

Next up was  Junior Rummikub. We probably should have done this one first to ease our way into Rummikub, but we didn’t notice it until afterwards.

As you’d expect it’s a simplified version of the main game. However it’s not simplified enough as to be boring or too easy. It’s a great introduction to the game for younger players and again a great tool for learning maths skills and mental arithmetic.

The main differences are that you get little stars when you place tiles down, and that the tiles go from 1-10 instead of 1-13.

After we’d got to grips with the classic Rummikub the junior version was a bit of a step down and we weren’t as keen on it.

However I think we’d have enjoyed it much more if we’d played it first, and it’s a better version for younger players.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next version we picked up was Rummikub Express, which is a quick to play dice version of the game.

As you can see our cat Harry was very interested in all the dice shaking and had to be part of the action.

Rummikub Express really is fast and furious. The game only lasts 6 dice throws for both of you, and possibly less if you can’t find any number matches or manage to place all your dice down.  At the end of your 6 throws whoever scored the most wins.

It’s very clever, and a really fun variation of the classic game. I would probably take both Rummikub Travel and Express if I was going on holiday or a day trip as they are both small and portable and highly enjoyable.

Lastly we played a few games of Rummikub Word. Which is the same idea as classic Rummikub, however using word tiles rather than numbers.

This was the hardest to play of the different variants for us, as my boys are very good with numbers but can sometimes struggle with spelling. For me it was a bit frustrating as I was trying to play properly but Thomas ended up just putting an S or Ing on the end of all my words. Not to say that’s not allowed, manipulation of the tiles is part of the game, however it did get a bit annoying.

I will carry on playing with him though as I know it will do his spelling good to play around with the tiles and give different words a go, however I think I would enjoy this one a lot more playing with someone older.

If you fancy the sound of Rummikub or are already a fan then why not have a go at the online UK Rummikub heats – but hurry as you only have until the 29th of August.

Signing up is easy – simply join the Rummikub Online Championships and register by visiting www.Rummikub.com, going on the Facebook page, Google Play or downloading the app.

 The highest scoring eight UK finalists from the Online Championships will be invited to take part in the Rummikub UK Final taking place in September in central London. The highest scoring player will then go on to represent the UK at the World Championships in Berlin, alongside their fellow Rummikub Champions from around the world.

As part of their prize, the UK Champ will win a round trip to Berlin including a luxury three nights stay at The Ritz hotel!  

Disclosure: We were sent the bundle of Rummikub games to review as part of our participation in the John Adams games group. All opinions however are our own.

Yoshi’s Woolly World – Review

This month i’ve been feeling like everything around me is cute, cuddly and woolly, and it’s all down to the latest game we’ve been reviewing on the Wii U as part of the Nintendo Family Bloggers – Yoshi’s Woolly World.

The game is a beautiful puzzler, full of colour and cuddly yarn filled enemies.

Jacob and I absolutely love this game, and we especially love that we can play it together as two Yoshi’s helping each other out to finish the level.

In the game you jump around and flutter between platforms, collecting yarn balls and tossing them at enemies as you go.

You can find yarn balls inside big sewing boxes dotted around the place, and also make yarn balls from your enemies instead of eggs as Yoshi usually does.

As well as shooting your yarn balls at enemies, Yoshi also needs to throw them to create platforms, or sometimes to find secret entrances and hidden rooms.

Each level has tons of collectables to find as you play. If you can find them all you can unlock bonus levels.

One of the funniest parts of the game is when Yoshi suddenly unravels, and then knits himself into an accessory like an umbrella, or a mega Yoshi. It’s exciting when it happens to see what Yoshi is going to change himself into.

Another great feature is the really cool way Yoshi’s Wooly World can use Amiibo’s.

The new Woolly Yoshi Amiibo is definitely my favourite Amiibo so far, he’s gorgeous.

However in the game, if you have other Amiibos like Bowser or Mario, you can change your in game Yoshi to change into one of those.

Mario Yoshi is the funniest we think, as it’s hilarious seeing Yoshi with the plumbers curvy little moustache.


I so wish I could knit as we had such an amazing box of crafting things sent to us from Nintendo with a copy of the game, including some yarn and knitting needles. I’ve even been on Youtube trying to learn as I would love to make a cuddly Yoshi of my own, but to be honest I’m getting nowhere. I will get there eventually though, I’m not giving up :)

Yoshi’s Woolly World is a really fun game, whether playing alone or with a friend. I like the way that if you want you can power through the level as fast as you can and progress onwards. Or you can take your time and try to find every single collectable and hidden area. It’s really up to you.

Thanks so much to Nintendo for our awesome Yoshi’s Woolly World Bloggers box.

 

 

Minions Top Trumps – Review

Top Trumps are still one of my favourite games to play with the boys. I’ve loved playing Top Trumps since my days in the primary school playground, and am delighted they are still around to play with my children today.

We have lots of great sets in the house already, but this week we added a new one to our collection – Minions Top Trumps.

The cards all feature scenes from the new Minions Movie, so you can laugh along as you play recalling all the hilarious bits of the film.

All the cards are rated in the usual Top Trumps way. This time around your cards are rated against

  • Cleverness
  • Bravery
  • Leadership
  • Mischievous
  • and Top Trumps Rating

Out of all the scenes, my favourite card is ‘Serving the Pharaoh!’ as it’s the one with the Minions building the pyramids, which I thought was so funny.

For fans of all things Minions this is the perfect game.

You may have noticed from the picture that the cards look a bit battered around the edges. This is after only one week of use, so you can tell how much they have been used already.

Jacob couldn’t put them down, and that was the problem. He took them to school and carried on playing with his friends even when it started to rain. I’ve had to promise to get another set as soon as I can because he loves them so much, and theres no better endorsement than that.


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Thunderbirds Are Go Website – Review

The final part of our Thunderbirds Are Go Blogger Missions were to work our way through the Thunderbirds Are Go Website, and sign up to International Rescue.

Another pretty easy mission we thought at first, however we’ve run into a problem – Were having too much fun!

Honestly the website is jam packed with so much interesting things to do and collect, we have spent a lot of time this week playing it (and I mean a lot!)

The first thing you do when you log onto Thunderbirds.com is sign up to International Rescue. You get to choose a cool secret code name, and you get a certificate you can print off.  This is Jacob’s certificate, the codename he choose was GeostationaryDiagnostics37.

Once you’ve signed up and got your codename the fun really begins as you can start working towards your badges.

Theres 14 badges in all you can work towards collecting. You start with the codebreaker badge, as you’ll need the skills you acquire for all the other badges.

Each badge has a coded message part, which you have to decipher to continue. The codebreaker badge sets you up for this by having you crack the code. You can then use the code template to work out the secret messages and unlock the next mission badges.

Jacob and I recommend downloading the Thunderbirds Are Go app for your phone or tablet if you have one. It’s a handy gadget for completing the badges, as it has the deciphered code on it to help you gain your badges, and it makes you feel like a real agent.

As part of the mission I had a few questions to ask Jacob about the website:

  •  What’s your username?  Do you think it’s cool?

Yeah I really like my name, it’s very cool. It was hard to choose a name as they all sounded good together, but I’m glad I choose the name I did.

  • What stage have you got to so far?

Me and my mum had such a good time playing we finished all the stages.

  • How many challenges have you done so far?  Did you do more than one in one go?

Yeah, we finished all the challenges do far. We worked really hard as we wanted to beat the Hood. It feels go to have gained all the badges.

  • Did you find the challenges easy or hard?

Most of the challenges were quite easy. It just took a bit of time to scan the pictures to find all the objects and Hood Challenge pieces.

  • Have you taken on The Hood yet?

Yeah, We just beat The Hood. It was great to find all the pieces finally, and see the secret mission video.

  • Is the website easy to navigate?

I think it’s a good website. I like to look around at the the different characters and crafts.

  • Do you think you’ll go back to the website to continue taking the new challenges?

I’m definitely hoping that more challenges will be added. It’d be so cool to get my score up and earn more badges.

So as you can see we had great fun together on the Thunderbirds.com website, and thoroughly recommend you all check it out.

Jungle Speed Safari – Review

We’ve gone and found a brand new family favourite for board game night, and it’s called Jungle Speed Safari.

We were contacted by Esdevium Games, and offered some board games to review. Which we jumped at being a huge gaming family, and found this little gem in the process.
A game for all ages, it’s guaranteed to have you all rolling around in laughter as you play.

The game is all about animals in the jungle. Theres hungry animals, angry animals, noisy animals and even hunters.

The game is played with cards all printed with the different types of animals.

Every time you pick a card it will trigger a different action, but they will all be fast paced and the quickest players will win.

For example if you draw a hungry animal then you have to grab the wooden token with the food they would most likely eat as soon as possible. The twist of the game is that all the other players also have to try and do the same thing.

Theres no waiting around for your next turn in this game, everyone plays at every turn. The player who reaches the food the fastest gains the card for their pile.

The winner is the player with the most cards at the end of the game.

It’s hard to explain any better than that, as every game is different. Depending on who’s playing, what cards you all draw, and how into it you are. If your all in the right mood, it ends up being a real riot of frenzy and noise. Which is how most of our games end up.

Thanks to Esdevium Games for sending us Jungle Speed Safari to review, and we’ve got some more great Esdevium Games up for review next week as well, so keep reading.

 

 

 

 

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush – Review

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is the latest game featuring the loveable pink ball on the Wii U.

In the game Kirbys home of Dream Land and all the inhabitants have been drained of all colour, by an evil villain who appears from a portal through the sky. Luckily a magical paintbrush also appears, and helps Kirby and his friend Waddle Dee get their colour back. Kirby then sets off on an adventure to put things right.

You play the game by drawing rainbow ropes for Kirby to traverse on the Wii U’s touch screen gamepad. Kirby travels along the colourful ropes wherever you draw them. You use them to help Kirby navigate obstacles, collect powers and attack enemies.

However the magic paintbrush only has so much ink, so you have to keep a careful eye on how much ink you’ve used in your rope or Kirby might fall somewhere dangerous. Also the colours on the magical ropes only last so long before they start to fade and disintegrate. we’ve found that sometimes making more smaller ropes works best when you can.

Jacob is the biggest Kirby fan in our house, so has commandeered most of the gametime to himself. It’s hard to get him off it to be honest. The good news is that as you spend most of the time looking down on the gamepad, it’s the perfect game to take advantage of the wii u’s best feature, using the gamepad without needing the tv on.

Jacob loves that he can sit on the other sofa with his headphones on, playing a console game like it’s his 3DS. He plays the Wii U like this a lot if the game allows.

However when he finally lets everyone else play 4 of us can play together. One plays as Kirby on the gamepad, and the 3 others play as Waddle Dee’s on either wii Remotes or Wii U Pro Controllers. It’s so much fun all playing together, and very colourful seeing all the rainbow ropes running over the screen.

We all really like the art style of Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush. It’s made to look like everything is made of clay or plasticine. We had a lot of fun making our own Kirby and Dream Land thanks to the amazing art pack we received from Nintendo with the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you fancy making your own check out the youtube video below, it’s a great step by step guide.

Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush is a lovely game for all ages. It’s very easy to just pick up and play.

Disclosure: We received a copy of Kirby and the Rainbow Paintbrush and the art supplies as part of our participation in the Nintendo Family Bloggers Network.

 

Mario Party 10 – Review

As a true gaming family, were always busy enjoying some video games together in the evening.

The latest game to keep our Wii U well and truly knackered is the new Mario Party game – Mario Party 10.

Released last Friday 20th March 2015, the latest in the popular game series is simply the best yet.

I’ll be honest and admit that the last Mario Party game I played was way way back in the series at Mario Party 6 on the Gamecube, so to say the game has come along way since then is an understatement.  However the fun gameplay that me and hubby spent hours playing years ago is still there in abundance, and now we have the children to play with too it’s even more fun!

Theres two new big gameplay innovations in Mario Party 10 – the addition of Amibo’s, Nintendo’s collectable figures with wireless play, and the ‘Bowser Party’ mode which sees all the players working together as a group to escape Bowsers clutches.

In the main Mario Party mode everyone works their way around the variety of different boards, each trying to reach the end square first. Along the way theres mini games to play, hearts to collect, and make sure to avoid the dreaded Bowser spaces as landing there is never a good idea.

I like that some of the mini games are a free for all, and some put you in teams with another players. This means that younger players who might not get the hang of every game should get a chance to catch up on hearts.

Even though the game is called Mario Party, The boys and I have found that we’ve definitely played the new “Bowser Party” mode more often. In this mode all the players work as a team travelling the board and playing the mini games collectively. You can choose that the computer plays as Bowser and does the dirty work, or you can choose one player to use the gamepad and play as Bowser. Thomas having a slight sadistic streak ALWAYS has to play as Bowser, he just loves it as it’s so hard to beat him.  Bowser Party mode is seriously staked towards Bowser winning every time. I think out of maybe 15 times we’ve played that Jacob and I have won once.

We like the variety in Bowser Party and the fact that the player who’s Bowser gets to use the gamepad for lots of fun and devious things. The boys are both big fans of using the gamepad, so it’s great to have a new game that utilises it fully. One of the funest things that we’ve found with it is in the underwater Bowser party level where you have to try and trick your fellow players into going the wrong way down a path, and into picking the wrong boxes by drawing on the gamepad screen.  It’s a brilliant use of the gamepad and is something really unique to the Wii U.

Our Awesome Mario Party 10 Family Bloggers Pack we were sent by Nintendo – Everything to host the best party, even the Party Rings!

A totally different experience to the Mario and Bowser party modes is the Amiibo Party.

Each player uses their Amiibo character to play. It’s more like a board game than Mario party mode, but it’s charming in its own way.

Everyone needs to use a wii remote to move and play the mini games, but you use the gamepad each time it’s your turn to put your Amiibo on the NFC scanner and roll your dice.

As you play you can pick up tokens, new game boards and other rewards which you store on your Amiibo by tapping it onto the NFC scanner on the gamepad.

It’s a little tamer than the main games, but a nice change of pace, and a fun way to use your Amiibo’s.

A lovely hidden gem that you simply must not overlook are the awesome bonus games. We have literally spent hours playing Badminton, and jewel drop. Jewel drop in particular is an amazing little game, plus Jacob is so good at it I enjoy playing against him just to see his excited little face.

As a family we have had an awesome time playing Mario Party 10. The games are fast and never drag, are always full of laughs and excitement, as far as were concerned it’s a must buy game if you have a Wii U.

Disclosure: Were were sent a copy of Mario Party 10 as part of the Nintendo Family Bloggers network

 

Vtech Kiddizoom Action Cam – Review

Last Wednesday the Toybuzz clan headed out on an adventure to London.

We travelled to White Grounds Skate Park, near London Bridge, in search of the new Vtech Kiddizoom Action Cam.

The new Kiddizoom Action Cam is roughly described as a Kid friendly version of the Go Pro. However don’t let the kid tag put you off,  it still packs quite a punch in the tech department.

At the skate park all the young adrenaline junkies invited choose their weapon of choice from the available scooters, skateboards and bikes. All came pre equipped with an Action Cam for capturing all the action.

We were joined for the day by  a few of the boys from Team Extreme, a professional team of Bmx, skateboard, and scooter performers.

After the boys had put on an awesome display of skills for the kids, they gave all the different groups a skills workshop.

My boys Thomas and Jacob had both chosen scooters, and had a great time racing up and down the skate park in a time trial. Thomas even learned how to do a bunny hop. Admittedly he didn’t jump as high as Team Extreme, but he’s been practicing ever since.

Everyone had a great time at the Skate Park, and thanks to the Action Cam we have the onboard footage to prove it.

The Kiddizoom Action Cam comes with everything you need to get some thrilling action shots and videos of your young daredevil.

This Picture of Team Extreme was taken by Jacob on the Action Cam

You get two different camera mounts. One attach’s easily to your scooter or bike’s frame, and the other has an adhesive bottom which is perfect for using on skateboards or as we have done, jacob’s bike helmet.

Theres also a wriststrap, and most excitedly for us an underwater camera case. How awesome is that!

We can’t wait for the summer now so we can head to the beach and take some underwater photos and movies.

 

Although not pro-photographer standard, I’ve been impressed by the photos and video captured by my boys.

Ok so it’s not really a Go-Pro, but for a start it’s at least half the price of the cheapest Go Pro I could find online with an RRP of £49.99.

Plus it comes with all the mounts, straps, and the waterproof case for that amount.

It’s incredibly easy to use, plus it even has a few inbuilt games to keep the kids amused for a while on the way to wherever your going to film.

I would throughly recommend the Kiddizoom Action Cam as a good way to let kids imaginations run wild while out on their scooters and bikes, and in the fresh air.

 

Disclosure: We were invited to the event and given an Action Cam for review by Vtech. All opinions however are my own and honest and unbiased.