Friday, November 17, 2017

Photos: Picking Blackberries

One of the major perks in living out in countryside the middle of nowhere: blackberries! Every year from about the middle of August into October they grow in vast numbers on hedgerows all around here. I spent a fair bit of time picking them as a kid, but it's only since I got into this whole gardening thing that I've gotten back to it, stockpiling them in the freezer for pies, jam, ice cream and more. I grabbed my camera to take along with me, out into the wilderness, the last couple of times I went picking them and, of course, never got around to posting any of the pictures I took. But hey, let's take a look now:

Oh, you thought I was kidding about the wilderness part? No, this is for real the middle of nowhere.

Quite a dramatic sky, even if it is a bit spoiled by the phone lines. Hey, people out in the country need to watch E3 cringe compilations too. I assume.

So I only brought this little container for my first time out in 2014, which would have been hardly worth my while. I came back to a different spot a couple of weeks later with two huge bucket to do things right. That lot actually lasted me right up until last year...

... where I found myself replenishing my supplies, on a much more blustery day in the middle of this semi-flooded cattle path.

Very much a wellies-only job.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Nintendo Direct 14/09/2017: Not-so-live Impressions

Woo, woo! Nintendo Direct time. It's been quite a while since the last full-on, non-E3 Direct: April by my calculations - a time when if you had asked me if I'd be getting a Switch in time for Mario Odyssey, I'd have said "absolutely". Now though, now that it's nearly upon us, ehh, I'm kind of having second thoughts. I don't know, looking at how the line-up has shaken out so far for the Switch - excluding Breath of the Wild, which I've already played to death on the Wii U - there are a few nice-to-have games there, but for me, there just isn't that wealth of content, or those few must-have games right now that would justify the current price tag. Will today's Direct change anything in that department? Let's find out:

00:12 - And we're off. It's always mildly intriguing to see a PEGI 18 pop up on one of these. Much as I'd be excited for Mario + Extreme Beach Volleyball though, - much as we all would - I suspect it's for a couple of Switch game announcement that I managed to spoil myself on last night. Ooh, secrets.

- What's in store for 3DS? I know I'm being selfish here, but hopefully not much. :D Damn it, Nintendo, you have a hybrid platform now; put everything on that! Cater to my needs only. Is that so much to ask?
00:42 - Booo! They're doing the spoilerific "headlines" in this Direct again. This time I'm just going to straight-up look away.

00:50 - Not quite yet though. First we have some Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon.
01:30 - Yikes! Those graphics sure look like they're from a 3DS game

01:53 - Yep, Dawn Wings Necrozma. Definitely caught all that in the trailer.

01:42 - I have to admit, they're still killing it with these starter Pokémon designs though.

02:58 - Whoah! The last thing I expected to have announced here: new Virtual Console releases. Pokémon Gold and Silver. Not bad. (Be a lot cooler they were on the Switch though...)

03:51 - I'm not into collecting limited edition consoles, but damn, that Pokéball 2Ds is hot.

04:01 - Limited edition boxed copies of Pokémon Gold and Silver too. Kind of cool, but if they're anywhere near as limited as that freakin' Samus Returns Limited Edition, I'd extinguish any hope of getting hold of those immediately. #SaltyAsHellCommaDamnItNintendo

04:08 - Arrgh! Headlines. Looking over at my retro console cabinet instead. Damn, that's a mess. You know, I'd swear that empty Pepsi bottle's been up there for two weeks. At least. I don't even know why!

04:18 - Okay, looks like it's safe to look again. Oh, this is that Superstar Saga remake - one game I'm not really bothered about missing out on on Switch. Oh, I said it: Superstar Saga was never anything but an average, watered-down Paper Mario. But, but, Fawful! Fawful is mildly amusing for a few minutes, maybe. In a game full of bean and laughter puns. No!

04:22 - I will give it one thing though: Superstar Saga does feature Mario and Luigi doing some actual plumbing for once, which I appreciated.

05:17 - Kirby Battle Royale. Not sure if this was shown at E3, but I don't think so.

05:31 - Then again, I do remember being displeased with the announcement of a Kirby game with local 4-player multiplayer, so they must have at least announced it then. Yeah, I'll never play this. :D

06:01 - Copy ability global poll? Wow; Nintendo really celebrating Kirby's 25th anniversary in style.

06:17 - A new Layton game. I guess it won't surprise anyone to hear that I've yet to try out any of these. I was hoping that with the Switch that Layton and other Japanese DS/3DS franchises might finally make their way onto a TV screen. Hopefully soon.

06:53 - Uh, what?

07:04 - Ohh, Style Boutique. I'm kind of surprised that that series is still going. I guess they must sell okay, but it really feels like these kind of sims have all but died out since the DS era (or, more likely, moved to mobile).

07:59 - Minecraft on 3DS, because of course. Hey, you guys, I played some Minecraft. I picked up a Raspberry Pi recently, only to discover that it comes pre installed on those. So, I chopped down some trees, started digging a tunnel down into the ground and... I don't know; I can still see the appeal of it, it just doesn't really appeal to me. If it had some direction and some goals though, maybe it might. I should give Dragon Quest Builders a go.

08:52 - A compilation of the top 100 Mario Party games. Great! :D Never played Mario party back in the day tbh. I could never justify using up precious funds on these, like, weird board games. Having watched many hours of the Giant Bomb guys playing through them now though, I'm pretty confident that I made the right call. Even the mini games in these - the fun bits, allegedly - look... not great.

09:14 - Really not liking the tux, red pants and hat combo here, Mario. (Looks like someone needs to take a trip to the Style Boutique. (sorry))

09:26 - Wait, what? Why should Smash Bros. fans take notice of Samus Returns, voice-over guy?
09:44 - ...and none of those are reasons Smash Bros. fans should notice. How about "It's like the Subspace Emissary, but good". :D (Those cut scenes were pretty great though.)
09:53 - I'm so salty that I wasn't able to get the limited edition of this. But JiliK, don't you irrationaly hate playing on a handheld? Well, sure. I mean, I wasn't going to play the game. I mostly just wanted it for the soundtrack and all the other chachkies. :D Now I don't know if I'll bother until I get a really good discount on it.

10:03 - Hm, this SNES 3DS I'm not crazy about. Putting "Edition" between grey bars in the logo, where "PAL Version" was back in the SNES days is a nice touch though.

10:13 - Oh, this is good news though. I might have barley touched my 3DS since I got it, but I have been on the hunt for Luigi's Mansion 2 and Mario 3D Land for cheap since then, and they're still both freakin' full price! Which doesn't exactly bode well for getting a bargain on Samus Returns, but...
10:26 - Yep, I'll be grabbing the two of those on October 13th. Actually, you know what.... Just pre-ordered them now on Amazon. £15.99 each. Not bad.

10:43 - Alliance Alive: a new, old school JRPG from Atlus. Looks...urrgh...interesting.,....must...stop...port...begging.

11:07 - And another Ace Attorney game too. Hoping that series makes it's way to the Switch eventually as well. Even some remakes of the old ones would be great.
11:20 - That's it for the 3DS. And not just here I think. It really does look they're winding down the platform now. I get the feeling that 3DS releases are going to be few and far between next year. (Squee!!! Er, I mean how tragic. No more dedicated handhelds. Noo. Why?)

11:35 - Phew! I getting anxious that he wasn't he wasn't going to do it there. I think I'd miss it now.

11:53 - Xenoblade Chronicles 2 still looking great. Still haven't even gotten around to playing the original.
12:04 - "... on the top of it lies Elysium. Matt Damon's trying to get there. It's really boring."

14:33 - Whoah! I genuinely had no idea that this thing was talking. The lip-synching here: oh, boy.

14:45 - Shepard.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Candy @ Halloween 2015

Yeah, I meant to quickly follow up the 2014 post with this one, but I seem to have gotten slightly side tracked again. :D So, kind of the same deal again this time. I managed to get my hands on a grand total of one Halloween-themed thing in 2015. There was nothing to do but to continue my descent into the vast well of US candy. *sploosh*

Mm. It's like I'm drowning in a sea of high-fructose corn syrup.

Jaffa Cakes Scary Cake Bars

Hey, why not? Let's start off with the only real Halloween thing here: Lemon and "Slime" flavoured Jaffa Cake bars.

I really loved the tangy layer of jelly here: it had a nice, tasty lemon and lime flavour that I thought went great with the dark chocolate coating. The base here though, I found a little dry. I guess it had about the same consistency as the bases in regular Jaffa Cakes -  which I love, dearly :D -  but in a cake bar like this, with a much thicker layer of cake-type stuff, I'd have preferred it to be a little moister. I'll give these a four out of five.

4/5 / 5

Naturally, I'm rating everything here on a scale of tossers from RTE Two's embarrassing current idents out of 5, with making-tweed-cap-cool-again guy being the lowest, and inappropriate-internet-posting guy being the highest.

No wonder no one watches TV any more.

Junior Mints

A brand I've heard thrown around a lot in old sitcoms and the like; inside these was a soft - I'd say even bordering on wet - mint fondant, surrounded by what the pack claims is "rich dark chocolate", but it seemed to have the taste and texture of a pretty so-so chocolate-flavoured coating to me. The fondant was great though; there was a real good mintiness to it. And while the coating didn't quite live up to the pack's lofty claims, it was still serviceable enough to give you the classic, dark chocolate and mint combination they're going for. That, along with the melt in the mouth fondant made these addictive as hell.

5/5 / 5

Wonka Nerds Bumby Jelly Beans

These guys were jelly beans on the inside, surrounded by thick, hard, bumpy shells. The shells I really loved. They had a great mouth feel to them, to borrow a phrase from the early days of the Bombcast: sort of pleasingly smooth, but bumpy at the same time (insert dildo joke here). The flavours I thought were great too, though they weren't especially easy to identify. I'm still not sure what the red and green ones were supposed to be. But, along the grape, lemon and orange, they were very tasty nonetheless. The jelly beans inside though, aside from being vaguely sweet, I found to be almost flavourless. Granted, I'm not a big fan of jelly beans in general, but I still feel I've had better than the ones inside here. Those shell though: damn.

4/5 /5

Hawaiian Punch Candy Chews

Maybe I just saw the wrappers here and jumped to conclusions, but I was really expecting these to be taffy, pretty much. Unfortunately, the chewiness just wasn't there. These started off with a consistency kind of like chewing gum before quickly melting away into nothing. Even as basic chews, I wouldn't really rate these. Getting on to the flavours, these were quite a mixed bad, if you'll excuse the terrible pun. The green berry wasn't bad, falling somewhere between lime and apple; not really getting the "berry" though. The orange was pretty much your typical bad orange candy flavour, which always tastes to me like a gross satsuma. The blue ones, I guess if you use your imagination you could just about get a blue raspberry flavour from them, but to me - and maybe my taste buds are fucked at this point :D - they tasted quite similar to the orange ones, so also terrible. The lemon berry squeeze definitely had a hint of lemon in there, but the prevailing flavour I got from them was, weirdly, cherry cola. Those were actually pretty damn good though. Finally, the fruity juicy reds; it might be further evidence that my taste buds have packed in, but cherry cola was what I got from these ones too, just a slightly more watered-down version. Still, those were petty good too. A few good flavours, but overall, these were quite disappointing.

2/5 /5

0% Vitamin A, C, Calcium and Iron. That's good eatin'!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Nintendo Spotlight: E3 2017 - Not-so-live Impressions

So after an all Zelda E3 last year, Nintendo seem to be back to doing a more Nintendo Direct type thing this year. It looks like it's going to be around a thirty minute presentation this time, which I think we can reasonably expect to focus pretty heavily on Mario Odyssey. That probably doesn't leave much scope for too many new announcements, but hey, where's the fun in that?


1. Super Smash Bros. 4 DX: Now, unlike a lot of people, I don't really expect every Wii U game of any worth to get ported over to the Switch. We've already had Splatoon 2 get announced when everyone was just expecting a port of the first game, and if you look at the number of re-releases and remasters that Nintendo have put out in the past, it's actually pretty low. Everyone's gotten used to this kind of thing being an inevitability from the gigantic pile of remasters we've seen this gen., but I just don't think it's Nintendo's style

Smash though, reportedly takes quite a toll on Sakurai every installment, so I think they'll give him a few more years at least to come up with the next one, if they don't end up passing the torch to someone else entirely, which might take even more time to figure out. Plus, with the boatload of DLC they've released for Smash 4, an all-in-one package would make really attractive proposition. I think this is lock here.

2. Some kind of Resident Evil announcement: If there's one thing Capcom love to do, it's port Street Fighter and Resident Evil to new platforms. We've already had the former, and with the Switch doing pretty well now, its only a matter of time until the latter pops up in some form. Maybe a Revelations collection, but my money would be on 4, because of course.

3. Animal Crossing: I know I've predicted this every year since time immemorial :D, but this year, for sure, its 100% super duper actually happening. For real.

4. No Mario Maker: I don't think a follow-up/port of Mario Maker is far off. I'm going to say that it'll be out before E3 next year, and I expect it'll be a sequel rather than a straight port, but with Odyssey and that Rabbids game coming out this year, I don't think they'll want to flood the market with too much Mario.

5, A new Platinum IP: There's been scuttlebutt before this that Platinum had something in the works for the Switch. Some people were expecting Bayonetta 3. I kind of suspect that 2 didn't sell well enough to immediately get a sequel greenlit, so I'm expecting something new if they have anything to show here.

6. A new Nintendo multi-sports IP: Kind of pulling this one out of my butt, but bare with me here. So, I think Wii Sports is basically done for the moment; Wii Sports Club didn't exactly set the world on fire. And, after quite tepid receptions, I think the last few Mario sports games may have soured the well on those for a few years too. So, there's a gap on the Switch for some fun, casual-ish sports games now. With Nintendo's new-found love of online games and Dreamcast-like character designs, I think they're going to launch a new, colourful, arcadey IP, featuring multiple sports here; maybe extreme sports; maybe even combining some of their old sports franchises into one game. Wave Race x 1080 x Pilotwings: it's going to happen, people! :D

7. Arms amiibos: Of course they're going to unveil some amiibos at this thing. My heart says Tetra, but my head says Arms; so many Arms amiibos.

New Donk City, here we come!

  • 00:13 - Boom! Yes! And here's the sports game. :D Nah, it's probably Arms.
  • 00:19 - Yep!
  • 00:31 - And Rocket League. That's not a bad get, and hey, certainly a game that fills that casual sports gap I was babbling on about before.
  • 00:38 - Ah, there's nothing I enjoy more than a quick Switch session before throwing down with the Drift King.
  • 00:47 - There he is!
  • 00:58 - Hey, from that, to school. This is Tokyo Drift! Looks like we've got some Pokkén action here. Hopefully the games in this trailer aren't getting extended segments later though. Holy crap, that'd be disappointing. :D
  • 01:03 - FIFA. Oh, yeah. That's happening.
  • 02:16 - "The Game is fun". I don't know, Reggie; Michael Douglas didn't seem to be having that much fun.
  • 02:48 - Oh! An odyssey, you say, Reggie (in amongst all that other interchangeable bibble :D).
  • 03:00 - Why are you still talking, Reggie. Why am I not seeing Mario!?
  • 03:13 - I was kind of expecting that living room to give way to to New Donk City, but the Windows XP desktop is cool too I guess. :D
  • 03:22 - Okay, so that whole segment went nowhere. :D Is this Mario? Those clouds do look a bit too realistic though.
  • 03:27 - No, it's Xenoblade 2. Still feel so bad that I haven't even touched the original game yet.
  • 04:05 - And the environments look so good! 
  • 04:44 - I can't even see myself getting around to that first game this year though, let alone the sequel. I have a bunch of half-finished stuff I want to complete at the moment, and after that, I'm determined to finally tackle MGS3. And RPGs take so long!
  • 05:54 - Whoah, I'm pretty sure that was Peter Capaldi talking about the Ageis (or whatever. JRPG stuff. :D).
  • 06:15 - Winter 2017. Pretty soon.
  • 06:33 - A first look now at a new Switch Kirby game by the look of it. Damn it! That would have been a smart prediction, with the 25th anniversary this year.
  • 06:52 - 4 player co-op, but otherwise, this looks like very traditional Kirby. It's pretty early for a Kirby game on the Switch though, anniversary or not. I suspect this was a Wii U game that got moved over. Just like Animal Crossing. Oh, you know it's going to happen; I'm so right it hurts! :D
  • 07:23 - Whispy Woods? Wow, really breaking the mold there, Nintendo. :D
  • 07:30 - Kirby.......?
  • 07:34 - Nope, no subtitle. 2018 though. Yeah, sure, I'll play a HD Kirby game.
  • 07:39 - I have to admit, I'm really not paying attention here. I can't take my eyes off those mini wind turbines with solar panels outside Nintendo HQ. Man, those are awesome.
  • 08:42 - I'm not sure I buy that the Switch is being used all over the place for local multiplayer, but okay.
  • 08:43 - Man, their special friend here better not be Todd Howard, or some guy from EA. :D
  • 08:51 - No, it's, I think, the head of the Pokémon Company. Is Pokémon Stars going to get announced. Not that it'll actually be called that, because that's obviously the most made up by a fanboy, fake name in the world.
  • 09:03 - Never did get around to picking up Pokkén, and that Wii U version never came down in price. Might end up getting this one.
  • 09:34 - Oh snap! There it is. The way he's phrasing this though, I suspect that this will be a whole new game and not a third version of an existing one. Pokemon Stars confirmed fake. (Spoiler: it was always fake.)
  • 10:03 - I was going to ask where Koizumi was this time, but it's probably working on Mario Odyssey.
  • 10:16 - You hear that, guys: they're working on many forms of entertainment. The Vitality Sensor dream is alive!
  • 10:29 - This looks like space. Introducing Mass Effect 3: Switch Edition. It's never been a better time to jump into the series. Oh, and somehow we've also broken all the animation here too. Whoops!
  • 10:37 - Oh shit! It looks like the screw attack/Metroid Prime logo is forming here. The hairs are standing up on the back of my neck. It can't be. Can it?
  • 10:45 - Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuk yes!!!!!!!!!! I am 1000% down for another Metroid Prime.
  • 10:58 - Speaking of Mass Effect though, there's even less here than there was at the EA conference where they announced Andromeda. It's literally a logo. :D I'll take it though!! I wonder if Retro are still developing? Hopefully they haven't given it to Team Ninja. :D