Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween Fun With The Folks Of Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Halloween is upon us once again, and for those of you who enjoy playing the 3DS title Animal Crossing: New Leaf, this can mean only one thing: the Halloween festival is about to begin!
As the game is played in real-time, players will have to wait until 6pm tonight (British time) in order for the Halloween festivities to commence, but here at Mini Gamers HQ, we thought that a little sneak-peak might be just the thing to put Animal Crossing fans in the Halloween mood...
If you have been playing the game regularly since the beginning of October, then you will have already met up with a mysterious character named Jack who has asked your Animal Crossing character to collect some spooky masks (from the accessories section of the Able Sisters shop) and some Candy (from Nook's store).
Halloween in Animal Crossing: New Leaf is not all that different from Halloween in real-life, except it's a lot more fun. From 6pm tonight, fans can expect to see the residents of their town walking around in strange, colourful pumpkin-head costumes, similar to the one which the aforementioned 'Jack' wears.
 If your character stops and talks with any of these residents, they will be asked whether they want to give a treat (in the form of the collected candy) or risk a trick instead. If your player is brave enough to refuse to hand over their collected candy, then they will be challenged to a mini-game such as Rock, Paper, Scissors or Charades, etc.
If your character wins the game, the defeated resident will give you some of their candy, but if your character loses, the resident will 'trick' your character in various ways, including causing weird 'horned' hairstyles or ridiculous outfit changes, or some of the items in their pockets being transformed into jack 'o' lanterns, etc.
Not all residents will be roaming around collecting candy either. Some residents will choose to stay in their homes. This is where the spooky masks you have been collecting will come in rather handy. Each of these residents is scared of one particular mask. If you go to their house wearing the mask that scares them the most, you will be rewarded with some special lollipops.
If you get the choice of mask wrong, you will again be challenged to a mini-game. Win this, and you will be given some of the sweet-like candy. Lose the game however, and you will get tricked again.
Willingly giving your candy away to other residents who are trick-or-treating around the town will also reward you with potential information about which masks will scare each of the home-based residents, which can be extremely useful.
The infamous 'Jack' will also be making regular appearances around your town tonight. He will ask your character for some candy. The normal sweet-like candy that your character has purchased from Nook's store will give the option of one of two rewards: either some items of spooky furniture  or some spooky masks so that your character can continue to scare the home-based residents into giving up those lollipops.
Every time Jack receives a lollipop (his favourite sweet) from your character, he will reward you with some extra-special items from the Creepy Series instead.
The format of Halloween celebrations in Animal Crossing hasn't changed that much over the years, but it is still very entertaining, especially when viewed in 3D. If you aren't busy trick-or-treating tonight, then it might be worth taking a look at Animal Crossing: New Leaf. We are sure that you won't be disappointed. Happy Halloween to all those who celebrate it!

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Affordable "TuneIn" App Brings Radio To The PS Vita and PS3

The PS Vita can often be considered as more of a media centre rather than just a handheld games console, and a new affordable application called 'TuneIn' is now set to extend the media offerings of the PS Vita to the medium of radio.

TuneIn allows users to stream over 70,000 AM, FM, and Internet radio stations, podcasts and shows from all over the world instantly. The application (which can be downloaded from the games section of the PS Store) also allows users to search for specific radio stations or genres of music, and even allows users to search for radio interviews and song selections from their favourite artists, although Mini Gamers did find this portion of the application a bit limited.

The TuneIn application is set to be released for PS3 this week and for the PS Vita early next week. Moreover, it is expected to be FREE to download for PlayStation Plus customers.

Nevertheless, even users who haven't signed up to PlayStation Plus yet will be pleasantly surprised at the applications price tag as the PS Vita version is expected to cost as little as £0.79 to download!

3G Vita users will gain maximum benefit from the TuneIn radio application, as they will be able to turn their PS Vita into a handy portable radio device everywhere they go. Not bad for such a reasonable price tag.

If you enjoy listening to the radio, then this is definitely the application for you. Overall rating: 10/10.

Friday, 18 October 2013


Aabs Animals is a new downloadable exclusive game title for the PS Vita. This game is different from almost every other pet simulation video game on the market in that the goal of the game is not really centred around caring for your new virtual pet at all.

Aabs Animals does not ask users to feed, wash, or even entertain their chosen pet (who all seem to be different breeds of cats for some reason). Instead, the idea is that gamers use the game's Augmented Reality backgrounds and PS Vita camera to create different digital screenshots featuring their virtual pet, and spend time petting their animals and adjusting their positions. It sounds pretty basic, and it is.

Like most PS Vita titles, this game does feature some unlockable trophies, but not in the way you'd expect. In Aabs Animals, trophies are unlocked by how much time users spend playing the game rather than a reward for anything that the user achieves within the game itself, and with only five trophies on offer, it is actually possible to unlock ALL the trophies within a mere six minutes of gameplay, which for its £3.99 price tag, does seem a little bit ridiculous.

There are some good points about Aabs Animals however, for example, two percent of the purchase price actually goes to the Headquarters for the Relief of Animals in Emergencies charity, which is a noble cause to support. Furthermore, the game's simple style and cute furry graphics means that even non-gamers are likely to enjoy it.

 Nevertheless, it could be argued that as the game doesn't feature any pet care tasks of any kind or any way of really interacting with your chosen pet at all (besides using the touch screen to pet it), the makers of Aabs Animals have removed some of the essential elements that make Pet Simulation games fun, thus leaving gamers with a stale and very limited 'five-minute wonder', which really isn't worth the money that we were asked to pay for it. Here at Mini Gamers HQ we say save up your money and buy a tamagotchi instead - much more enjoyable!!! Overall rating: 1/10.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Real Boxing [PS Vita]: The Affordable Game That Really Packs A Punch!

We here at Mini Gamers HQ were a little bit suspicious when we saw that Real Boxing had been priced for download at a mere £7.99. With so many other PS Vita titles retailing for almost triple that amount, we began to wonder why the game had been given such a low price tag. Nevertheless, within minutes of downloading the game, we realised that we had in fact purchased a real bargain...

The first thing that players will be expected to do upon starting the game is to customise their boxing avatar. Although the customisation options are less sophisticated than some of the current games on the market, players can name their avatar as well as choose the colour of an avatars shorts or trousers, gloves and/or boots, alter their hairstyle, and even add a range of interesting tattoos to help give their avatar a more personal look.
Next, Players are treated to a thorough tutorial. Real Boxing allows gamers to choose whether to conduct their boxing moves via the PS Vita buttons or the dual analogue sticks.
Mini Gamers found it better using the analogue sticks for movement and the buttons for defence and attack moves, but this may not be the same for everyone. Nevertheless,  the controls are surprisingly easy to master, with the D-Pad controlling left fist punches such as jabs, uppercuts, and left hooks, whilst the X, O, Square and Triangle buttons do the same for the right fist. Each of these moves can be easily duplicated by the left and right analog sticks as well.
Holding down the R button will allow your avatar to protect his face from any direct punches, whilst briefly pressing down the R button during your opponents attack will allow your avatar to dodge the oncoming blow and even give him the chance to execute a cheeky counter-attack.
The main object of the game is to drain your opponents health bar as quickly as possible whilst trying to stop them from depleting your avatar's stamina and destroying their health bar.
Stamina can be restored by simply standing still and not throwing any punches, but your avatar's health bar will continue to deplete with every successful punch from your opponent, so defence is equally as important as attack in this game.
There are two main mini games included in Real Boxing. Firstly, there is a Clinch mini game. If your avatar's stamina bar and health bar are both almost depleted, then holding both the L+R buttons together will allow your avatar to execute a clinch (AKA a grapple).
Once in the initial clinch, players must move the PS Vita console from side to side very gently so that the moving indicator arrow stays in the 'green zone'. A successful clinch earns your avatar some extra stamina and can even increase their health bar slightly, making a knockout from your opponent less likely.

Secondly, if your avatar has been knocked out by their opponent, the game automatically enters the KO mini game. Essentially, what this entails is a mad button-press of the L + R buttons before the on-screen count reaches ten.
If you manage to successfully fill your avatar's energy gauge before the count reaches ten, your avatar will get up off the mat and the fight will resume. However, if an avatar gets knocked out too many times during a round, it becomes impossible to fill their energy gauge and you will lose the fight against your opponent.

 The game features three game modes: Career Mode consists of three tournaments that begin with a group stage and progress to a few knockout rounds, where your avatar will hopefully earn a championship belt and the chance to increase either their strength, speed or stamina, which will hopefully help your avatar to progress in subsequent matches. Bonus points will also be awarded if players manage to successfully execute the challenge set at the beginning of the tournament.

 Exhibition mode allows players to jump straight into the ring against a CPU opponent. This is good for gamers who are just looking to fill a bit of spare time and also makes for excellent practise when playing against other gamers in multiplayer mode.

Real Boxing also features both online multiplayer and local multiplayer, which means that players can choose to test their boxing skills against online opponents or challenge their friends in ad-hoc mode.

This game has been brilliantly designed by its creators, Vivid Games, and has made the leap from the iPhone to handheld console very well. In fact, any flaws in the game are minor.
The commentary is sometimes a bit repetitive, with the same phrases being offered again and again, and the fact that the menu can only be accessed via the touchscreen is slightly annoying, but none of that really matters once players immerse themselves in the action of the game.
This game is a must-buy for any boxing fan. It has excellent gameplay and graphics, which far excel its £7.99 price tag. Overall rating: 8/10.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Hands-On with the Hudl: Has Tesco's Tiny Tablet Got Something For The Whole Family?


Since the creation of the Apple iPad,  Tablets have become increasingly popular amongst many sectors of society, but this surge in popularity has often meant that most tablet devices now come with a rather hefty price tag. 
The well-known Supermarket giant, Tesco, has recently decided to invest in the growing interest in tablets and handhelds with its creation, the Hudl, which, at its retail price of £119.00, is decidedly more affordable than most other Tablets on the market. So, what does this handy pocket-sized device hope to offer its consumers?
The Hudl comes in four colourful designs with rounded corners that makes it easy to hold, whilst the 7-inch smudge resistant screen helps to deliver crystal clear HD display to the Hudl device.
The Hudl also allows users to stream the latest movies from Blinkbox, which, unlike most monthly subscription sites (Netflix, or Lovefilm for example), charges viewers on a pay-per-view basis, with an option to either rent a title for up to thirty days, or buy a title to own.
Furthermore, the Hudl features a slot for a Micro-HDMI to HDMI-cable, which allows users to connect their Hudl up to the big screen so that the whole family can enjoy the entertainment as well, however, it must be noted that this isn't actually included with the device and must be purchased separately, which is a slight disappointment.
Moreover, the Hudl boasts an impressive quad-core memory chip, a ten point multi-touch screen and an in-built gyroscopic sensor, as well as access to thousands of the latest gaming titles from Google Play,  which is great news for all the gamers out there

Music lovers have also been catered for with the Hudl. Users will have access to thousands of music tracks through either Blinkbox  or Google Play. Furthermore, the Hudl's in-built stereo speakers mean that users can choose to share their music with their mates, or opt for a pair of Hudl headphones when travelling on the bus or playing music at night etc.
Avid readers will also have the option to download and store several books from the Google Play store, including all the latest book releases. Thus, the Hudl makes the perfect travel companion, by keeping all forms of downloadable entertainment in one easily accessible place.
The Hudl also features a camera, which has a 2 megapixel front-facing fixed focus and a 3 megapixel automatic rear-facing focus. Unfortunately these kind of megapixels are not particularly great, and are often found in some low-end mobile phones.
In fact, some of the main concerns about the new Hudl device centre around the fact that the camera does not produce clear images: "Images look washed out and grainy, and any range in lighting conditions within a single scene seems to cause the camera all kinds of problems"
[Sourced from:]
Thus, whilst the Hudl seems to work perfectly well as a media player, it will not necessarily appeal to any amateur photographers out there. Unfortunately, it appears that the video function also produces similarly blurry and unfocused results.
However, its reasonable nine hours of battery life, coupled with the fact that it has an micro SD slot which can expand the Hudl's storage capacity to an optional total of 48GB, may go some way to redeeming this little device. 

The colourful rubber backing is handy when the device is being used by young children as it provides extra grip, but does give the Hudl a rather clunky look rather than the polished and sleek look of the new Nexus 7, for example.
The Hudl comes with Chrome, the quick and simple browser from Google. It comes pre-loaded with the most popular Google apps like YouTube and Google Maps, plus  access to over one million apps and games available for immediate download on Google Play.
Furthermore, Hudl uses the Android operating system, so users can access the very latest apps on Google Play easily.
The Hudl also features Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi capabilities, which makes browsing the web, conducting video calls and sharing music and photos across other Wi-Fi devices very simple. 
Parental controls can be set quickly via the use of a simple pin number, making the Hudl a very family-orientated Tablet device. Furthermore, the Hudl allows users to conduct their Internet searches via Google Safe Search for added protection.
In conclusion, although the Hudl may not be the best-looking or most high-functioning tablet on the current market, its colourful design and easy-to-use interface is definitely appealing for first-time tablet owners. The Hudl is particularly aimed at those users who enjoy downloadable entertainment and readily provides this.
 As one of the cheaper tablet devices on the market, the Hudl really would appear to give its users value for money in terms of entertainment and Internet browsing capabilities, despite some obvious flaws, such as the camera functionality. Overall rating: 8/10.