A couple of weeks ago Chantelle and I surprised Jessica by taking her to Game and letting her choose a new bicycle.
She had outgrown her first bicycle and to be honest, being a second hand buy, it was a bit tired by now – in fact, one of the pedals had even come off the other day! (Not to mention the hard plastic wheels that were now completely devoid of all grip!)
So with the old one out it made sense to get her something a bit bigger and better – which is exactly why I was more than happy to part with my R1,100 and return home with a beautiful purple and white, 16 inch Raleigh kids’ bicycle – accompanied with a bright pink cycle helmet to finish off the ensemble.
Well, when I say returned home with, I do of course mean I arrived home with a big cardboard box, which stayed on the dining room table for a day or two before I finally gathered enough strength to open the box, spill out is contents, and attempt to assemble a bicycle.
(Surprisingly, this took me longer than expected – I had some trouble lining up the brakes).
Of course, we immediately needed to take it out for a test drive, and pleasingly a beaming, unable-to-contain-her-excitement, Jessica was more than happy to oblige.
In fact, all the friends around the complex quickly got wind of what we were up to thanks to us tearing about the complex at high speed (seriously, all of a sudden Jessica is rather quick on her two wheels), and soon everyone was in on the fun!
So yeah, I’d definitely say that this was a successful purchase for the Lotter clan! Now I guess the next step is for her to become confident enough that we can start thinking about ditching those side wheels of hers…
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This Christmas holiday Chantelle and I were adamant to get something for Jessica to play outside with, you know, to encourage her to play more instead of just sitting down to watch My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Slides, swings, trampolines, they were all on our shortlist, before Chantelle and I finally decided that perhaps a kid’s plastic playhouse would be just the ticket that we were looking for. Jess always runs in and plays in a playhouse given half a chance, so perhaps she’d absolutely love having one of her own.
So we started shopping around, and came across a very nice looking one from Keter at Game for R1,799. White, pink, with a chicken on top and a pony pasted on the door, it seemed too good to be true! I made the decision there and then to buy the playhouse for her at the start of her holiday instead of waiting until Christmas, meaning that she would therefore have the maximum amount of playtime in it available to her over the vacation period.
Consequently, while she was out on her last day at Vergeet-My-Nie playschool, I nipped out to Game, handed over the money, and somehow managed to squeeze the rather big box in my little Hyundai Getz.
Back home I set about the assembly phase of the project, and I have to say, hats of to the guys at Keter (made in Israel by the way) – this is a very well thought out, well manufactured, and easy to assemble kit.
In no time at all, with the help of a detailed instructions booklet, I had the sturdy (relatively) little plastic structure up, complete with oh so cute ladybug roofclips and rooster weathervane sitting snuggly on top! (No screws, hammer, or screwdriver required).
I put a nice soft blanket on the floor, pulled in her chair with some books, and arranged all the ponies as a colourful welcoming committee.
Jessica was of course super duper excited when she arrived home, and immediately played in it for the next day or two, but sadly that’s where our plan failed, or rather as far as it went – those two initial days were pretty much the last thought she gave to the structure for the rest of the holiday! :/
I think the answer lies in the fact that on its own, the playhouse is just a shell, and without anything inside to make it more of a house, well then there just isn’t all that compelling a reason to play inside.
After all, it’s much cooler and with more space just to play in our actual home!
So the next step for Chantelle and myself I guess is to start looking around for kitchen toys to populate it with. Hopefully that will spark the interest that we originally had so hoped to ignite.
Oh well, live and learn I suppose, live and learn.
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Bonus! On another related note, my heart literally sank a week after buying the playhouse – I was out shopping at Checkers Hyper and spotted the exact same whimsical pink and white Keter playhouse selling for… R1,299 – a full R500 cheaper than what I had just paid at Game less than a week earlier!
Thankfully though, enough people quickly reminded me of Game’s awesome policy whereby they will refund you the difference in purchase price if you spot something you just purchased cheaper elsewhere within a given time limit, meaning that the R500 was swiftly recovered and then spent on some more Christmas gifts for the girls!
Related Link: http://www.keter.com/products/magic-playhouse
Now armed with an Android powered 10 inch tablet all of my own, one of the first games I installed turned out to be the thoroughly entertaining Aces of the Luftwaffe, from developer HandyGames.
If you remember the awesome coin-swallowing arcade game from the ’80s, 1942, then you know exactly what lies in store for you from the enjoyable Aces of the Luftwaffe, a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up that puts you in the seat of an heroic Allied fighter plane, taking on horde after horde of evil Axis fighters.
As expected from this genre, the pace is relentless and the action non-stop, not to mention the insane difficulty that comes with the territory of a screen filled with slow moving projectile bullets! Of course the usual power drops of wingmen, scatter shots and machine gun are there to aid you, as well as a clever little ‘super’ which amounts to a cavalry rush that obliterates everything on screen.
The game is released as a free to play and is ad supported, though as expected one can make the purchase to remove the adverts. Leveling up of various aspects of your plane is possible, and in the same breadth, you can always choose to speed up this process through in-app purchases.
Fun graphics, a good soundtrack and a well written game with a smooth handling interface means that Aces of the Luftwaffe is certainly one of those recommended titles to install if you’ve got some free space on your tablet!
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What I forgot to mention is that subsequent to buying the appliances, my father-in-law Monty scored me a rather big saving, putting a tidy little sum of money back into my pocket – and all by noting Game’s we’ll match any price policy!
They don’t usually make a big song and dance about it or advertise it in your face, but for years Game has had a policy whereby they’ll match the price of any good if you can find the same good for cheaper elsewhere, and similarly will refund you the difference if you find the good which you just purchased from them elsewhere for a lower price within 21 days of your purchase.
Now I didn’t even think of this, but Monty did, especially when he tracked down the dishwasher selling for R600 less at Tafelberg in Bellville. So off to Somerset Mall we went, and while I was keeping young Jessica entertained, Chantelle and Cheryl approached the help desk, waited as they called through to verify Tafelberg’s price, and then refunded the R600 onto my credit card.
Seriously awesome little bonus and definitely something I’ll keep in mind when making future big purchases from Game! :)
So remember that big exciting SurveyThumb Project 161 Touchwork project I mentioned here once or twice? While like I have previously noted, the culmination of that work project resulted in a nice little bonus being added to the end of my salary last month, a bonus which both Chantelle and I agreed should be put straight to use on her little soon not to be a side only project, Chantelle’s Cookies & Cakes.
After discussing it for a bit, we decided to put some of the money aside for the purchase of marketing material, and the rest be used on additional appliances for the house, in a move to try and lend Chantelle some assistance in getting things done.
And pleasingly, last Friday saw the delivery of our two newly purchased appliances from Game in Somerset Mall – a Bosch dishwasher and a KIC 346l fridge!
Exciting I know.
Anyway, now all that is left is for Monty to tackle the project of removing some of our limited kitchen cupboard space in return for a nifty hole in which the dishwasher can slot in next to the washing machine.
And oh yes, if there is any of the bonus left after that, then there is still this pretty cool dark stained pine bookshelf Chantelle is pretty keen on adding to the braai room pantry setup…
To preserve the balance between Heaven and Hell, a mediator group, The Charred Council, sends the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, to intervene and force a truce between the two kingdoms after countless centuries of war. Eons after the truce, The Council foresees that Man will be a major factor in the final apocalyptic battle; this would be marked by the breaking of the Seventh Seal.
In the present day, armies of demons and angels fall to Earth and the final battle begins, the two forces destroying everything in their wake. In the midst of the chaos, War is summoned to Earth to bring order. Upon his confrontation with Abaddon, the general of Heaven’s army, War discovers that the other Horsemen have not arrived and the Seventh Seal has not been broken. Straga, a powerful demon, arises from the ground and kills Abaddon.
War battles Straga and is defeated, but is saved from death and sent to The Charred Council, accusing him of bringing about the Apocalypse prematurely. The Council sentences him to death, but War demands a chance to find the one responsible for summoning him prematurely, and to restore balance. The Council agrees, on the condition he is bound to one of their keepers, The Watcher, who has the power to kill War in the event that he strays from his mission.
From this point onwards you take control of the massively powerful War, as you set about rebuilding your strength and skill set, whilst undertaking various boss character seek out and kill missions in an attempt to find the answers behind the mystery of why you were summoned in the first place.
This is very much a cookie cutter action adventure game, which has you engaging in combat, puzzles and exploration, all from the third person perspective, as well the ongoing collection of various brightly coloured souls to increase your combat ability and upgrade your moves set. With a main and a sub hand held weapon (sword, horn, scythe, giant throwing star, gun), magic, abilities, and items, there is a huge amount of ways you can tackle combat and solve puzzles, and with a perfectly weighted difficulty level that doesn’t unfairly ramp up without warning, Darksiders really is the perfect hack and slash game with a deep and satisfying story, kick-ass characters and good combat system.
Aurally Darksiders is a hit, with Liam O’Brien delivering an excellent War and Mark Hamilll backing him us as The Watcher, all complemented by a fantastic and suitably epic soundtrack. However it is the visuals of Darksiders that without a doubt steals the show, with creative director and long time comic book superstar artist Joe Madureira providing the bulk of the distinctive look and character designs for this visually stunning game.
In summary, if you enjoy games like God of War and Dante’s Inferno, then Darksiders will most definitely be up your alley. Never boring, an engaging story and abilities tree, and most importantly a visual treat, Darksiders is the perfect (and enjoyable) way to bash away your weekends!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darksiders
If you are looking for a game packed with non-stop adrenaline from all the running about, explosions and bullets whizzing past your head, then you definitely, definitely need to give 2010’s Vanquish a shot!
Directed by the legendary Shinji Mikami, developed by Platinum Games and published by Sega, Vanquish places you as Sam Gideon, a DARPA researcher equipped with the cutting-edge Augmented Reaction Suit (ARS), who has been sent to join the Space Marines mission in recapturing an US space station which has been overrun by a Russian splinter group – and whose solar energy drive has already been used to fire on and decimate San Francisco!
A third person shooter, Vanquish hits the ground running and you literally don’t get any breathing space as the game hurtles from stage to stage, throwing all manner of both human and mechanical opponents at you, as you and your squad mates (well they are with you for most of the first half of the game anyway) move to dispatch everything in your sights, using a combination of classic and rather futuristic weapon systems.
The big innovation of Vanquish comes from its sliding ability, which allows you basically to power slide all around the stage (until your suit overheats and you have to rest to recover), meaning that tactically you can literally slide into a firefight, get some hits and then dive for cover, or alternatively get the hell out of there if a particular corner gets to hot. In addition to this, you have the ability to heighten your reflexes, essentially slowing down time and allowing you to do a whole lot of explosive battering before your suit overheats again.
To match this frenetic pace of the gameplay, Platinum Games have come up with a stunningly beautiful, detailed and stark game world, as well as some superbly smooth character animations to back up their already fantastic character designs. Complimenting all of this is a massive selection of finely crafted CG segments, which does a lot to show off Sam and his suit in action, though at times the action is taken just that little bit too over the top, almost a little Devil May Cry if you know what I mean.
Aurally both the soundtrack and vocal cast are simply put, polished, with each suiting their respective roles beautifully.
In summary, this is one third person shooter which you would be a fool to pass up on, especially if you enjoy your action shooter games. The pace is frenetic, the explosions huge, the story fantastically engaging and to be frank, just a thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable game experience.
Well worth picking up if it crosses your path then!
Related Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanquish_%28video_game%29
So these arrived on my desk the other day, courtesy of Takealot.com:
Now as you can see for yourself, that’s some pretty exciting watching right there, which immediately presented a new problem for me – how would I pry Chantelle away from our existing 40″ high definition Samsung LCD television and all of her cooking, 7de Laan and Come Dine with Me shows?
The answer, it’s probably impossible.
So I came up with a devious plan – I would purchase my Christmas present early, the thing I’ve been dreaming about for a year now: a second 40″ HD television for our underutilised braai room, thus turning it in one fell swoop into both a man television cave and baby dvd playroom! (At least, that’s how I would sell it to Chantelle).
So during the week, after completing my quota of work for the day, I snuck out to the mall in search of my new flat screen beast, bearing in mind my particularly limited budget (which in any event was only possible thanks to a good month of surplus income via the adverts on my blogs).
After visits to Hi-Fi Corporation, Dion Wired, and various specials pamphlets, I finally found something worth picking up at Game: A Telefunken 40″ Full HD LCD television set (TLCD-40FHDB).
Shock, horror, I know. A cheap Chinese television which probably isn’t all that good.
True, true, and I know that I’m taking a big chance on this one. Luckily for me though, my expectations are pretty low – after all, the television isn’t going to be hooked up to anything other than my XBOX 360 and little USB media player, meaning that as long as it can produce pretty visuals off those, then I’ll be happy. And at R3,700 for the television plus R400 for Game’s extended warranty, I get a decent midrange LCD TV with 3 years worth of peace of mind for a low R4,200, where an equivalent of a much better, preferred brand like Samsung or Sony will set me back quite a couple thousand more!
Anyway, after an eventful trip back home, I immediately grabbed our unused lounge coffee table and set the thing up in the braai room, where I happily ignored Chantelle’s concerns that I should have bought a smaller set to better suit the space.
Hooking up the XBOX, firing up Dante’s Inferno, followed by Batman: Year One, all I’m left with is “Oh yeah, now this is pretty damn awesome!” :)
So yes, my house now currently brags with two big-ass 40″ flat screen television sets! Feeling so “upper-class” right now I tell you. :P
South African director Gavin Hood’s 2009 X-Men Origins: Wolverine film was okay at best. Thankfully the movie tie-in XBOX 360 game, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Uncaged) is a whole lot more satisfying! Well, if you enjoy nothing more than clobbering, disembowelling, hacking, dismembering, slashing and beating your entire way through a proper action title that is…
Developed by Raven Software and released by Activision in 2009, X-Men Origin: Wolverine (Uncaged Edition) is an action-adventure game that is heavy on the claw-wielding action and gore, and definitely not one for the kiddies.
The story for the game is a combination of the wolverine back story presented in the film and an all original script dreamt up by Raven Software(which is supposedly heavily influenced by major events in the X-men comic book universe). The main story thread follows much of the movie in that years after leaving the covert Team X military group, Wolverine and his girlfriend are attacked by Sabretooth, with Wolverine defeated and his bone claws broken – and his girlfriend left dead.
Colonel Stryker offers him a chance at revenge by suggesting the adamantium process, but as we all know, when Wolverine uncovers the double deception all hell breaks loose. This main thread is interwoven with a flashback thread which sees Logan tackling a mission deep in the African jungle years before, trying to locate Stryker’s possible meteorite deposits as part of the Team X military mission, and it is these two intertwined story threads that carry you through the acceptably long action game (though with too many flashback segments in my opinion).
Anyway, you basically have three attacks available to you as Wolverine, light attacks, heavy attacks and grabs, with these all being combined into various combo systems to provide for a very large set of attack options. You also have access to a spectacular lunge attack, a nasty beserk mode to tap into and of course your feral senses, which reveal otherwise hidden environmental attributes.
That mentioned, the environment also plays a big part in your attach arsenal, as you can impale or toss you enemy into just about any hazardous factor you can spot lying about.
And yes, you do have a healing factor.
For the Uncaged Edition of the game, Wolverine exhibits the damage he takes by losing chunks of his flesh with each bullet or knife hit, and these gory wounds then slowly heal themselves as your healing factor kicks in. Also, spectacular dispatch kills which dismember, disembowel, and generally do some pretty nasty stuff to his hapless enemies, are also always on hand.
The game is pretty simple in that respect, as it is pretty much kick, punch and jump all the way, with only a few pauses to do some environmental challenges like climbing up ropes or swinging around ledges. (There are also some pretty cool helicopter fight sequences thrown in as well, to be fair). In terms of enemies, the game literally throws them at you all the time without break, meaning that this really is one good and satisfying button masher – which is assured of releasing any work stress you might have come home with!