Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Sony Admits Playstation Network Hack...


Sony has today admitted that "an illegal and unauthorized intrusion" has put several thousand user accounts at risk on both their Playstation Network and Quriocity online services.

According to Sony, certain service user account information was compromised during the intrusion, which occured some time between the 17th-19th of April  2011. Sony promises that they are doing their best to investigate the matter further, and have advised all of their PSN or Quriocity customers to change their usernames and passwords as an extra security measure.


Sony are busy restructuring the Playstation Network in order to make its services stronger against this type of security attack in the future. As a precautionary measure, all Playstation Network and Quriocity services have been temporarily suspended.

 The security breach, which may also include the theft of users' credit card information, has left several Playstation users angry and demanding answers.

 It is not yet clear how the intruder gained access to the Playstation and Quriocity accounts in the first place, but it casts serious doubt on the safety of Sony's Playstation services and is likely to be a devastating blow to the Playstation franchise as a whole.

If you are worried about the security breach and want more information on this subject, you can visit the official Playstation Website by clicking HERE.

Remember to check in with the Mini Gamers blogsite for more information about this issue in the coming weeks.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Nintendo 3DS: MYST Release Delayed...


At the beginning of April, Mini Gamers discovered that online retail giants Play.com and Amazon.co.uk were both advertising a MYST 3DS game for preorder. The game was given a late April release date. Very little had been discussed about the game up until that point, and we were very confused as to why a popular franchise such as Myst should not receive a lot of publicity before its supposed release date.



Today however, just three weeks after it was first available for preorder, the game has since been taken off the preorders list on both sites and is now stated as: "Date to be confirmed" or "Out Of Stock - Unavailable"  What's worse, is that there is now no way of knowing when this product will be available for preorder again.


This particular 3DS title has ironically been shrouded in MYST-ery ever since it first surfaced online, and it looks like that mystery is set to deepen for the time being. Remember to check in with the Mini Gamers blogsite for more news on this subject as it happens.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

PSP Go: Going, Going Gone...


Sony has admitted that it is ceasing production of its PSP Go console, little over a year since it was first introduced into the gaming market.

In a statement given to the Japanese website, AV Watch, Sony claimed that it would soon be stopping production of its PSP Go console in order to more fully focus on the new NGP (Next Generation Portable) console, which is scheduled to be released at the end of this year.


PSP Go

The PSP Go has struggled with poor sales figures ever since its launch in October 2009. It is thought that a number of factors may have contributed to the console's overall poor reception. Nevertheless, the cost of downloading, and the high price of the console itself, has seemed to be its main downfall.


A standard UMD disc not included with PSP Go


Unlike the other PSP consoles, the PSP Go does not use Universal Media Discs (UMDs), allowing users to directly download content onto the device instead. However, this new approach to gaming failed to capture the interests of the modern gaming market.

In a recent article by the gaming website Andriasang, the sales figures for the PSP Go in the first week of April were seen to have dropped to a measly 356 units. Even the original PSP console, (which has also been accused of falling sales figures) managed to sell over 35,478 units in the same week.



PSP 3000 models will still be sold

News of the PSP Go's demise will come as a disappointment to those gamers who have recently taken advantage of certain bundle deals, such as the PSP Go and ten free games offers.

Nevertheless, Sony says that it intends to still honour its service and firmware obligations to owners of PSP Go consoles, and it also says that it will continue to sell models of its PSP 3000 console in the future.


The Sony NGP Prototype - Can this new handheld improve Sony's reputation?

Mini Gamers was a little disappointed to hear of Sony's plans to scrap the PSP Go console, but the news has not come as much of a surprise in the wake of such poor sales.

We can only look forward now to the development of the new Sony NGP console, and we sincerely hope that it can build upon the weaknesses of its less popular counterparts and become a truly great handheld for the future. Watch this space!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Legend Of Zelda and Professor Layton 3DS given June/July release dates...



Two of the most anticipated Nintendo 3DS games to date will now both receive Summer 2011 releases. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time and Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle are now scheduled for UK release in June and July of this year.

Please note that the PROFESSOR LAYTON INFORMATION HAS BEEN AMMENDED. TO READ THE LATEST PROFFESSOR LAYTON 3DS POST, PLEASE CLICK HERE

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D will be the first one to hit the shop shelves. According to Online Retailers Amazon and Zavvi, the game will be released to the UK public on the 17th of June 2011 and will be released in North America two days later.

Ocarina of Time is the fifth game in The Legend of Zelda series, and it was the first game in the series to have characters that were rendered with 3D graphics. Now for the first time, gamers will also be able to enjoy the game with full 3D environments and objects.

There will be a few new features included in the 3DS version, such as the ability to quickly equip items using the touchscreen and using the in-built gyroscope to assist the accuracy of aim with weapons like the slingshot in first-person view.


Mini Gamers is very excited about The Legend of Zelda in 3D. Expect a full review when the game is released to the public in a few months time.


Another gaming favourite, Professor Layton, is also expected to make his 3DS debut this Summer.  Zavvi lists the UK release date for Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (3DS) as the 22nd of July 2011.

The game is actually a prequel, set after the events of Professor Layton and the Spectre's Flute (DS/DSi) game. Again, the 3DS game has several  new design features in order to take full advantage of the new 3D capabilities.

For example, the typical hand-drawn 2D imagery has been replaced by 3D models of the characters, meaning that players can now examine areas in a 3D perspective. Furthermore, some of the game's puzzles will also use other 3DS functions such as the motion sensor.



Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle (3DS) has proven to be one of the best-selling 3DS launch games in Japan, and sold in excess of 117,589 copies on its first day alone. Mini Gamers suspects that it will be just as popular when it reaches the UK.



As with other games, release dates are often subject to change and there is an unfortunate possibility that one or both of these games may yet be delayed before the stated release date has occurred. Nevertheless, it certainly looks like 3DS gamers could be enjoying these fantastic titles before the end of the Summer.

Remember to check in with the Mini Gamers blogsite over the next few months for more news about these fantastic 3DS titles as it happens.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Game Of The Week: Lego Battles: Ninjago (DS/DSi)



LEGO Battles: Ninjago  is the sequel to the Lego Battles game, produced by critically acclaimed TT Games and developed by Hellbent Games.



In this exclusive DS/DSi title,  players aim to become a master of Spinjitzu - a form of Martial Arts in which characters spin and become tornadoes to defeat their enemies, as they restore harmony to the world.

 Players can choose to fight for both good or evil, by battling as either heroic Ninjas, villainous Skulkins, or as one of the bonus hidden hero characters in the two single-player campaigns, or test their skills in a variety of Battle Mode challenges, and even play against family and friends in some exciting multiplayer showdowns.

The single-player Story Mode is both funny and engaging. The main plot centres around two brothers, Sensei Wu and  Lord Garmadon whose father is a Spinjitzu Master. When their father passes away, the two brothers are put in charge of the 4 Golden Weapons - the Scythe of Quakes, the Nunchucks of Lightning, the Shurikans of Ice and the Sword of Fire (pictured above).



Although Sensai Wu wants to honour his promise to protect the weapons, his brother, Lord Garmadon is consumed with greed and wishes to possess all the weapons for himself.  A war has now broken out between the two brothers, and players get to decide which brother they wish to help: Will you assist Lord Garmadon to seize power in the 'Evil' campaign mode, or  become a Spinjitzu Master and hero in the 'Good' campaign mode? It is entirely up to you.



In the 'Good' campaign mode, players must build an army of heroes, battle the enemies and become a Master of Spinjitzu as they search and recover the powerful ninja weapons, (which have now been hidden in order to protect them,) and restore the balance between good and evil! Enjoy fun adventures and exciting missions as you travel the land of Ninjago to find the golden weapons before the evil Lord Garmadon.

In the 'Evil' campaign mode, Players must join Lord Garmadon’s Skeleton Army, who are attempting to free Lord Garmadon from the Underworld, where he has recently been banished by his brother. Help the evil lord to gain back his full strength, and then battle against Senai Wu's army of Spinjitzu warriors in order to find the golden weapons and allow Lord Garmadon to rise to power once more.

Multiplayer Mode allows you to battle against your family and friends to prove who is the best Spinjitzu Master. Play as an evil Skullen, or a Spinjitzu hero in a showdown of skills.


In conclusion, this is an interesting game. It features many traditional elements from the Lego videogame series, including a bucket-load of humorous cutscenes and creative gameplay.  If you enjoyed the first Lego Battles game and are looking for a new challenge, then this is the game for you. Overall rating: 8/10.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Gaming Smartphones: The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY VS. Microsoft Windows Phone 7 - Which One Is Better For YOU?


            VS.


    
It is all too easy to think that the definition of handheld gaming is only restricted to the 'big name' handheld consoles (such as the Nintendo DS and 3DS consoles, or the Sony PSP,) but in truth, mobile phones with gaming apps have also proven to be very popular over the past few years.

Mini Gamers takes a look at the two newest forms of gaming smartphones on the market - Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and the Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY, and examines what they each have to offer the handheld gaming community.

Xperia PLAY

The Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY phone (AKA 'Playstation Phone') is the first ever Smartphone to use intergrated Playstation technology, and is the first of Sony's new devices to use the new Playstation Suite. It sounds amazing.  However, let us now take a look at the individual specifications of the Xperia PLAY:



Hardware:

The Xperia PLAY is a slider mobile phone, which closely resembles the PSP Go in many respects. It features the familiar Playstation D-pad buttons on the right-hand side of the phone, as well as a rectangular touchpad in the centre of the phone. The left, right, up and down directional buttons are situated on the left-hand side.

The Xperia PLAY also features a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 5 megapixel camera, and it supports microSD cards, as opposed to the Memory Sticks used in the PSP consoles. Most importantly, the new Xperia PLAY phone will be using the new Gingerbread (Android 2.3) Operating System.



Software:

The Xperia PLAY can access various downloaded Sony titles via Sony's new Playstation Suite. It also features its own dedicated version of Android Market.

 The Xperia PLAY currently features some older Playstation One titles as well as newer PSP titles such as God of War and LittleBigPlanet, amongst others. There are also plans to add some Augmented Reality titles like Invizamals in the future as well.



Networks and Price:

The Xperia PLAY is available from O2, Vodafone, T-MobileOrange and Three in the UK, and Verizon in the US. Monthly Contract prices vary, but the Xperia PLAY is usually between around £400 pounds on a pay-as-you-go tariff.

Please note, however, that some retailers are currently experiencing delays in their stocks of the new Xperia PLAY phone.

Windows Phone 7


 Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is a complete Multimedia device all wrapped up in a single mobile phone. Aimed both at business professionals and gamers alike, this nifty little gadget is an interesting addition to the current Smartphone market.


Hardware:

Windows Phone 7 features a 5 megapixel camera, 8 GB of flash memory and 256MB of RAM, it also features an ARMv7 Cortex processor.



Software:

 The phone features several different applications, including its own version of Internet Explorer . Furthermore, the phone features a Zune entertainment application, which controls the users music, video and picture files, and allows for syncronisation between the phone and a PC. The phone also has a Bing mobile search engine and even a mobile version of Microsoft Office Suite.

The phone also features several Xbox Live games. Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7  attempts to bring console-quality gaming experience to phones, and even allows users to create their own 3D Avatar. When gamers access the in-built Games Hub, they can interact with their avatar, view gamer scores and leaderboards,  and message their Xbox Live friends, amongst other things.

Fifty Xbox Live games have been announced for the Windows Phone 7, including: De Blob,
 Assassin's Creed: Alta├»r's Chronicles, Full House Poker, as well as many other exclusive Windows Phone 7 titles.



Networks and Price:


O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, and Three have all announced that they would stock the Windows Phone 7. There are several different models to chose from.

 Again, prices vary depending on what mobile monthly contract package you prefer, but the phone is available from around £400 on a Pay-As-You-Go tariff.


Conclusion:

Both of these gaming phones have a lot to offer their customers. Both phones are equally expensive and cost almost double what a standard handheld console would normally cost. Nevertheless, they both contain extra applications which does help to justify the cost a little.

So, which phone is better for you? Well, the truth is, this is a very subjective question. It depends on exactly what you are looking for in a mobile phone.

If you are looking for a Smartphone which is purely centred on gaming, then the Sony-Ericsson Xperia PLAY is probably the right phone for you. It lets gamers play a range of top-quality Playstation games and a range of Android market games on the go. It does have links to Social Networking Sites such as Twitter and Facebook, but is primarily aimed at gamers as its main clientele.

If, on the other hand, you want a phone which features high-quality games, but also allows for other standard computer functions such as creating and accessing Microsoft Office document, then Windows Phone 7 is more likely to suit your needs. There are also a wide choice of  handsets to choose from.

Windows Phone 7 contains a lot of different useful office applications, and is the only mobile device to feature Xbox Live games.  However, unlike the Xperia PLAY, the Windows 7 Phone is not exclusively aimed at gamers as its core customer base.

At the end of the day, the choice about which phone is better ultimately comes down to you. Which phone would YOU choose?



From what we at Mini Gamers have seen, there are plenty of different monthly contract deals for both phones, to suit many different budgets. Shop around and see if you can find the deal that suits you best. Good luck!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Nintendo 3DS: 'Record Returns' Denied By Retailers

Recent claims made by the Sun newspaper that 'thousands' of gamers had returned their 3DS consoles back to the shops after they had experienced several side-effects, have been refuted by retailers.

The article stated that there had been 'record returns' of the new 3DS console after gamers experienced dizziness and nausea after playing the console with the 3D effects enabled. Nevertheless, several video game retailers including GAME and HMV have said that the newspaper's claims are untrue.



GAME has admitted that a few people have requested a refund for the console after experiencing some minor ill-effects, but that these returns figures do not add up to thousands of returns. A spokesperson for GAME said: "We've had less than five people complain that they feel sick and want to return [the 3DS]." [Source:http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2011-04-05-nintendo-discredits-3ds-headaches-story]


Meanwhile, HMV has denied any 3DS returns. A representative of HMV said: " we are not aware of any manufacturing fault with the 3DS console - which we have seen huge demand for, and that we have not issued any refunds for it." [ibid.]   

Nintendo have also been quick to defend the 3D technology used in the new console, saying: "The number of calls and emails with queries on Nintendo 3DS is in fact well below the rate experienced during past hardware launches and having spoken with our retail partners there are only a handful of people who have actually gone into stores to request a refund." [http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2011-04-05-retailers-deny-3ds-scare-story]

 The 3DS has proven to be extremely popular with the European gaming community. The console sold 113,000 units in its first two days on sale in the UK, and 303,000 units across Europe combined. Nevertheless, this latest media backlash - whether true or otherwise - is now likely to dent public confidence in the Nintendo handheld.

For those gamers who have experienced side-effects from using the 3DS, however, Nintendo have offered various pieces of health and safety literature that accompany the 3DS console, and which can be summerised in the following way:

  • Children aged seven or under should not use the 3D effects on the new console as it could damage their developing eyesight. Parents and guardians should use the 3D Depth Slider to turn off the 3D effect before giving it to a child aged seven or under.
Play the 3DS in a well-lit environment and avoid playing if you feel tired. Take a fifteen minute break after approximately half an hour of playing the 3DS (with 3D enabled). 
  • Consult your GP before playing the 3DS if you are prone to epilepsy or seisures when playing video games, or are affected by flashing images.

  • Use the 3D depth slider on the side of the console to control how much of the 3D effect is displayed. If the 3D effects make you uncomfortable, slide the depth slider to the lowest possible 3D setting.

HAVE YOUR SAY...

Have you experienced any ill-effects whilst using the 3DS with the 3D effect enabled?

 Has The Sun newspaper article put you off of owning a Nintendo 3DS?

Have you tried to return a Nintendo 3DS console to the shop where you bought it? What was your experience?

If you have any comment to make on this subject, please let us know. We'd be delighted to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Nintendogs +Cats (3DS): How To Unlock New Breeds And Other Questions Explained...

It has become apparent over the last few days that many of you are still searching for answers about the new Nintendogs + Cats 3DS game. Mini Gamers takes a look at some of the more common questions about the game and attempts to provide you with the answers.



Q1. How do I unlock new breeds of dog?

 If your dog takes part in competitions with opponents whose breeds have not yet become unlocked, and if your dog wins First Place in the competition, then there is a good chance that the opponents' breeds will become unlocked the next time you visit the kennels.

Rather annoyingly, this game does not tell you when a new breed becomes available, so it is worth checking the kennels regularly to see if a new breed has become unlocked. Please note, however, that if new breeds have recently become unlocked, it may be some time before the method above will unlock any more breeds.



Q2. How can I make money in Nintendogs + Cats?

There are different ways to make money in Nintendogs + Cats. For example, you can sell any unwanted items back to the Second-Hand Store. This can also include items found when you are walking your dog.

 Enter your dog in the Daily Competions. The more skilled your dog gets at each competition, the higher they will progress and the more money you will earn.  You can enter each competition twice a day and can make several hundred pounds in this way.

If you have more than one dog, each dog can enter a competition twice a day, which means that you will make even more money over time.

If your dog wins the Nintendogs' Cup for the first time, they will get a Gold Crown along with their £500 prize money. This Crown is worth £1,500 when sold to the second-hand store.

However, please note that it is only possible to win the Gold Crown once for each of your dogs in each of the three competitions on offer. Once these crowns have been sold there is no way to earn them back again.

The other option for making money is to find Piggy Banks on your walks. If your dog is lucky enough to find a Piggy Bank, wait until you get home and then drop the piggy bank on the floor to break it open. You will unlock a random amount of money inside.



Q3. Can cats go for walks or take part in competitions too?

Unfortunately, the answer to this is no. Cats behave very much like their real counterparts in this game and pretty much do their own thing. We hate to say it, but cats do seem very much like the - well - underdogs in this game really.

It would have been nice if there had been a Cat Show competition in the game, but this has not been included. You might find that your cat randomly brings you a present every now and again, but that is about it.


Q4. I own the original Nintendogs game as well, is there a way to transfer or import my old dogs into the new Nintendogs + Cats game?

Again, the answer to this is no. Unfortunately, the two games are incompatible with each other and there is no way to import your old dog into the new game.


Q5. How many cats and dogs can I actually own in Nintendogs + Cats?

Although there are twenty-seven breeds of dogs and three breeds of cat in Nintendogs + Cats, you can only own a maximum of six pets in total. This includes three pets at home and a further three pets in the Hotel.

This is a stark contrast to the original Nintendogs game, which allowed players to keep up to eleven pets in one go, three at home and eight in the Dog Hotel.

Mini Gamers was very disapointed to learn that the number of pets had been reduced as this has a serious negative impact on the overall replay value of the game.


Q6. What is the 'Surprise Me' function about in Nintendogs + Cats?

The 'Surprise Me' option mixes together different colours and fur patterns to create several varients on the traditional fur patterns that are available within each of the main breeds of dogs and cats available in the game.  If you don't know what colour of dog you would prefer, select this option. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find!



Q7. Can Puppies and Kittens grow up or have their own puppies and kittens?

No, your puppies and kittens are designed to stay cute and adorable forever. If, however, you do want a game in which your dogs or cats can grow, you might want to check out the PETZ range of games on the Nintendo DS, but this is not available for the 3DS. Sorry.



Q8. Where can I find the 'Secret Path'?

The secret path does not always seem to appear in the same place within the game, although it almost always leads your dog to the Mountain trail. You must look for a signpost with a woman walking her dog on it. Select 'yes' when prompted and you will soon find yourself on the secret path, which means a lot more presents and items to sell.



Q9. Why are there Traffic Cones on my walks?

The Traffic Cones are actually a hidden mini-game. Guide your dog successfully through each of the coloured cones on your walk and you could find yourself rewarded with an extra present at the end of your walk. It takes practise though!


That marks the end of our Mini Gamers Nintendogs + Cats FAQ. We hope that you found it useful. If you would like to read more about this game, please take a look at our full hands-on review of the game.