Wednesday 30 September 2015

LEGO Minecraft - The nether Fortress

As much as I love LEGO in its entirety there are some themes that I struggle to know what to say when reviewing the product. The main one being Minecraft and although the kits are awesome and the minifigures are really interesting, I know literally nothing about the game apart from the main character being called Steve. Luckily though Seth knows his stuff which is handy in these sorts of situations.

I was going to just leave him to do his own thing but as we were playing one afternoon we came up with the plan for me to take a series of pictures of the LEGO Minecraft Nether Fortress and put them in our comic format and for Seth to add in the story of what he thinks is going on, enjoy...

As a custom builder the LEGO Minecraft Nether Fortress drew me in because of the interesting minifigures parts and all the deep red bricks, I can definitely make good use of them if Seth decides to brake it up.

The Nether fortress is one of four LEGO Minecraft kits this year and they are all really interesting. If what I hear in the playground at Seth's school is anything to go by Santa is going to be inundated for requests for Steve and his brick friends.

'The product was provided by LEGO GmbH without any obligation in regards to the content of the review’

Tuesday 29 September 2015

"Imagine a world where everyone is really a change maker."

It's 23ish years ago, I'm around 12 years old and ridiculously excited about the release of Super Mario bros 3 on the Super Nintendo. Ever since my mom bought me and my sisters a NES when it was released and I first picked up that grey rectangle game pad I was hooked. Nintendo quickly became a huge part of my life and around that time my gaming experience was amazing. My mom was a big Tetris and Dr Mario fan and really embraced the whole gaming thing by taking us to our local toy store to buy us a game most months if me and my sisters had been good.

Its been an ongoing thing for many many years and the only Nintendo console we've not owned yet is the New 3ds (but Ive got my eye on an XL and there is plenty of time to sort that out). Back to the current day and in 2015 not a lot has changed. Despite being 35, I still adore Nintendo, they shaped a huge chunk of my development. What has changed though is the two miniature versions of myself that I had molded over the years are now the ones anticipating the release of a Mario game and there excitement really puts a huge smile on my face as it takes me right back.

For months now Seth and Opeie have been talking about Super Mario Maker, they have watched Youtube video's and live reviews and were both desperate to get stuck in. I didn't tell Seth last week that it had arrived, so when he came home from school and saw the game sent by Nintendo to review the excitement nearly brought him to tears (this was me, many years ago).

From the moment the Super Mario Maker title screen came up we were all hooked, the game is amazing on so many levels. For an aging Nintendo enthusiast such as myself, being able to remake the original Super Mario Bros, which was my first ever Nintendo game (on a joint cartridge with Duck hunt) is like a dream come true, but to be able to flip the level you are making to a Super Mario Bros 3 style or Mario world with just one click is truly a triumph.

With a huge range of accessories that span over the Super Mario back catalogue to add in to each of your creations, all you need to do to unlock them all is keep creating and eventually you are rewarded with more fun items to include in your ever growing custom levels. The great thing about Super Mario Maker is that it appeals to literally any age group which makes it the perfect family game. You can make the levels as easy or as difficult as you like. When it comes to my boys, they love creating ridiculously difficult levels with lots of bosses and awkward bad guys (piled up on top of each other), jumps that you can only just make and moving platforms that don't quite go as far as they are supposed to.

Not in a creative mood? then there's no need to worry because after you have created a course you can save it and upload it for other gamers to play worldwide in the 'Course World' section of the game and there are an endless amount of levels available to play created by fans, some of them are truly amazing. This is a game unlike any other I have played, we've only been playing three days and we cant wait to have unlocked all the extras. The only thing holding you back on this game would be your imagination.

If you are feeling up to a challenge there is the 100 Mario Challenge or if thats too easy the 10 Mario challenge where you have to complete a number of custom levels with limited lives.

 This game really has something for everyone and I can see Super Mario Maker being huge over Christmas as its the perfect game for sitting home with your family. 

If the game isn't exciting enough, its that mustachioed super plumbers 30th birthday and to celebrate Nintendo have made this awesome Amiibo. The game is really exciting as it is, but being able to add in new characters with the Amiibo's really adds to the fun. 

Super Mario Maker gets a HUGE thumbs up from us but there's no surprise there, For us, Nintendo continue to be the dominating force in the gaming world.


Sunday 27 September 2015

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."

It was one of those weekends which started with three out of the four of us being ill. I had a raging headache, Mrs M had been peaky all week and Opeie has had a snotty nose and bad cough for the last few days. As always though Seth (the possible carrier of all the lurgy) was fine. We all slobbed around the house for the first few hours of Saturday morning but I was getting a little stir crazy and The boys clearly wanted to get out in the glorious sunshine.

It's one of our many family traditions each year to comb the local area looking for fruits to steal (I mean borrow) and we'd yet to visit a lovely abandoned orchard this year that is only a short drive away. Its a beautiful Orchard with apples, pears and cherries. It also has elderberries, blackberries and hazelnuts in the surrounding area. Sadly a bulk of the fruit seems to go to waste each year so we always fill at least a couple of large bags up to make good use of them.

The boys were really excited about picking the apples but when we got there all the low hanging fruit had perished from bees and other insects. Even sat on my shoulders the sweet looking Rosie red fruit was still out of reach. It was time for the very grown up adults in our apple picking party to show the little ones how it is done. Gracefully Mrs M mounted my shoulders and away we went like an apple picking tornado.

It very quickly became one of those days where me and Mrs M had a great time giggling and acting like big kids while the boys sat and watched, oops.

We ended up with quite a good haul ready for a week of pies and sauces and despite feeling a little groggy the vitamin D did us all the world of good. On the drive home we passed through Ironbridge and stopped off at a fruit and Veg honesty stand on the side of the road. We've picked up eggs from there before but this time a lovely pumpkin and some blackberry jam for Seth came home with us.

It was the perfect unplanned spontaneous day with my three favourite people and the amazing weather really added to the quality family time we spent together. Now to get peeling all those apples.

Thursday 24 September 2015

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”

As we were approaching the end of the summer holidays I started to worry a little about how things were going to pan out after deciding to home educate Opeie. I wasn't concerned about learning, not knowing what to do of even the 'social side' of things (despite the amount of times I've had that thrown at me by other parents). There was a slight anxiety though about stepping in to the unknown, and I did loosely question our decision a few times, but I think most people would feel the same in our situation. 

The first week of the 'official school term' though seemed to be a continuous run of events that made me realise that there was no doubt in my mind that we were doing the right thing. The change in Seth's mood and attitude being back at school was one and seeing all the other children struggling with their grim morning routine made me feel happy and excited about Opeie's new journey, sure I still have the school routine with Seth but sadly that is out of my hands, I'd love to home educate him too and i think he would really benefit from it emotionally but unfortunately this time i cant intervene.

I watched a child around 7 run out of the school gates after the children had gone inside one morning. He ran up the road hysterically crying and searching for his mom, with no teacher following him which was a little concerning but again just added to all the other reasons why we didn't want Opeie to start school. I NEVER wanted to be that guy that shoves his child in to school upset and frightened with a 'they'll settle eventually' attitude and if I can help it I never want to be that parent that lets his children fall in to the regimented routine that state education has to offer. I guess I'm a bit of a rebel at heart but me and Mrs M have strong views about whats best for our boys and we're not scared to make big decisions for them.

One of the other big things from week one was this...

While children cried for their parents that morning and walked in to a building uncertain about what was going to happen (which i personally think is a lot to deal with at 4), Opeie was running along a beach with a huge smile on his face having some one to one learning fun. On the drive down we talked about weather, what an estuary was and about all the things we saw along the way. when we arrived we took in everything that was around us, wrote our letters in the sand and had a really interesting talk about an old cemetery that runs along side the beach.

 We learned how to build strong stable structures using bricks made of sand and how to support a structure when you are digging underneath it. We crammed so many activities in to our afternoon and with the sun adding to our relaxing fun day it was effortless learning with a child who is eager to learn. This is all we ever wanted for Opeie and being able to put all the things that myself and Mrs M have talked about over the years in to action is really exciting.

There is a slight downside to this story though, nothing major, just something we are going to have to deal with as time goes by. It was a big day for Mrs M's career and I spent a lot of the afternoon anxious about the huge changes happening in her work life. As always she was fine and receiving the credit she deserves for the hard work she puts in. What I found though while me and Opeie were having an awesome day was the underlying feeling of guilt. Ive felt it many times since we decided I would be the stay at home parent and Mrs M would pursue her career, but for some reason that day was a mix of emotions and I found myself feeling really guilty about the fun we were having without Mrs M and Seth. It sometimes feels like we have our life and they have there's which has made me realise that i need to make a real effort to include them in the things that we do.

I'm yet to find out how Seth feels about us being at home and Ive always hoped that it wont be an issue as he knows that under different circumstances he could have been outside of the school routine with us. I'm fully aware that its going to take time to iron out all the creases and for us to get in to our own way of doing things but I'm sure that Opeie will continue to develop the way he is and we will never look back. Home ed isn't for everyone but I can already tell that this educational adventure is going to be an amazing one and I look forward to learning many things myself with my best buddy.

"Always do your best. What you plant now, you will harvest later."

Its been a blast playing with this new series and I'll stick by what i originally said, for me
LEGO Series 14 Monsters Minifigures are my favourite series yet. They are going to have to pull out something pretty special for Series 15 to win me over, for now though, trouble at the garden centre...

"Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."

Two more posts to go (excuse the pun).

"Life's pretty good, and why wouldn't it be? I'm a pirate, after all."

We're coming to the end of our LEGO Series 14 Monsters Minifigures
posts and its been so much fun including this amazing series in to our posts. With Halloween just around the corner i think these guys will be popping up a fair bit. For now though, that awkward moment when your drink gets spiked... YARRR!!