5 December 2015

TOP 5: Nintendo 3DS Games

Hey everyone,

Since relaunching my little space on the internet, I'm finding lots of freedom in talking about not just fashion, but other loves in my life.

And one of those which I previously didn't talk about a lot, was gaming.

I've always been a bit of a Nintendo fangirl, having grown up with Mario and ten years (!) ago in 2005, I became obsessed with the Nintendo DS console. Having upgraded to the 3DS in 2013, I've accumulated a small but very much loved collection and I've going to share some of my faovurite 3DS games.

I thought this would also be helpful ahead of the holiday season when there tends to be a drop in the price on consoles, along with deals on various games.

And if you were thinking of making a Christmas purchase, these are some of my favourites you may be interested in trying:

Also just so we're clear, this post is not sponsored by Nintendo.

And also to clarify that these are just my personal favourites. 
As I always say, life would be very boring if we all liked the same thing.
Sound OK bros?)

Our hero Link sets out on a quest to stop Ganondorf, King of the Gerudo tribe, from obtaining the Triforce, a sacred relic that grants the wishes of its holder.

Yes, I know, I know. It's a remaster of the Nintendo 64 game.
But it's my favourite Legend of Zelda game I've played.

And of course there are plenty of new features such as updated dungeons and controls, plus the game really takes advantage of the 3DS's stereoscopic technology - making it much easier to look around and take aim.

Like I've said, this is my favourite Zelda title I've played so far, and I found it a great introduction to Zelda noobs such as myself. I've played through Phantom Hourglass on the DS, but I previously knew little about the timeline, legacy etc.

I plan on getting Link Between Words as it's currently on sale for £15.99 - which will be interesting as it will be the first original Zelda title I'll have played on the 3DS. We shall see!

Also try:
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D.

During a heavy thunderstorm, the "Tail Tree", which stands on Princess Peach's castle grounds is stripped of all its leaves. Mario and the Toads go to inspect the tree the next day they discover a letter from Bowser, learning that he has kidnapped the princess. Mario sets off in pursuit to locate and rescue the princess and discover what is so important about the leaves.

Really though, I couldn't have a Top 5 3DS list without a Mario title now could I?

I'm not usually a fan of '3D' platformers as I tend to find them a little clunky and the controls a little fussy. (I blame a childhood of ending up in circles playing Sonic 3D on the Megadrive...)

However it does actually feel like a Mario scroller we all know and love with 'open world' 3D elements added. The health system is also the same as classic Mario games - shrinking in size if atacked by enemies. Returning also are well-recognised power items such as the Super Mushroom, Fire Flower, and Starman.

I would say that this game is particularly easy, however - even for fairly casual gamers.
Power-ups are plentiful, extra lives are easy to come by and the bosses are not at all difficult in my opinion.

However this is a great starter if you are not only new to gaming, but new to to the Mario franchise.

Also try...
Mario Kart 7
New Super Mario Bros 2
Luigi's Mansion 2
Mario Party: Island Tour

(No box art as it is only available from the Nintendo E-Shop. Don't even get me started.)

Roughly one year after the events of the previous game, the legal system has entered a dark age of forged evidence and false charges. Phoenix Wright is back to take on the system from the inside.

Short backstory: I have been an Ace Attorney fangirl since the Nintendo DS days. During my time at Newcastle College, me and my buddy Aff would sit antisocially playing our consoles at lunch (nothing changes, I still do this). 
One day, she was telling me about the Ace Attorney games and was so persistant that I play them - she loaned me the first game and insisted I start playing the moment I get home. I got home at 5pm and was still up at 2am playing - I was instantly hooked by the gameplay, the music, the characters. 

Bearing in mind the first three base Ace Attorney games are actually remakes of Game Boy Advance games from back the 90s, you can imagine my excitement when I brand new game was launched especially for the 3DS.

In lots of way, it is classic Ace Attorney - investigation and a trial, trying to prove the innocence of your client. However consider improved graphics and gameplay, better quality music - the 3DS technology has really given the series a chance to prove what it can do.

It now also features anime cut-scenes very similar to the Professor Layton series. These have been critisied by some fans, but I absolutely loved them - and have me seriously pumped for the anime launching 2016.

Taking place approximately one year after the events of Apollo Justice (Nintendo DS), it fleshes out a lot of the characterisation from the newbies we met.
Apollo in particular is given lots of layers and becomes a lot more interesting ironically than he was in his titular game.

There is also a new assistant in the form of Athena Cykes. Phoenix's assistants are typically strong minded, talented females (another reason I love this series) and Athena is no exception. Sassy, physically strong (albeit clumsy) and with penchant for psychology, she also introduces the new 'therapy' feature, which replaces the magatama and bracelet in previous games as a way to see if a witness is lying on the stand.

The only thing I will say about this, is that I found this the easiest game in the series and completed it faster than any other. However this is no necessarily a bad thing, as it is actually a great game to be introduced to the series. Although - of course - I highly recommend you go back and play the predecessors.

Also Try...
Ace Attorney Trilogy HD

Shall I shut up about Ace Attorney now? Okay.
But, wait...

Professor Hershel Layton, Luke Triton, Phoenix Wright, and Maya Fey find themselves in Labyrinthia, a strange medieval-style city in a different world from their own that has recently been falling victim to a number of seemingly impossible occurrences. The town is controlled by a sinister individual known only as the Storyteller. Professor Layton has to solve the mysteries of the strange world he has found himself in, while Phoenix Wright participates in "witch trials" to prove the innocence of a young girl accused of witchcraft.

Firstly, let me make something very clear. I don't think I've been so excited about a game. EVER. Seriously, the coming together of two of my favourite ever games series: pure joy!

The whole game I personally found very nostalgic, having played every game in each series several times on the Nintendo DS.

Moreso, that the story takes place somewhere before Professor Layton and the Unwound Future and after Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trials and Tribulations - meaning the return of Phoenix's old assistant (and quite possibly my favourite video game character, ever) Maya Fey.

Although there is investigation in the Ace Attorney series, where this would be is replaced by Professor Layton style detective work interlaced by instantly recognisable puzzles. Seeing Phoenix and Maya intertwined the beautiful European-style artwork of Layton was very exciting.

The only place I find it falls short, is sadly I found the court proceedings ('Witch Trials' in this game) a little repetitive.
One of the joys of the Ace Attorney games is putting different witnesses on the stand, and making them squirm. However having the same 'mob' witnesses in every trial became tedious, the jokes ran dry very quickly and I longed for it to be over so we could get back to investigating in the town.

That being said, the coming together of two epic series does make for a wonderfully well-rounded gaming experience. And I highly recommend giving it a try - even if you are a complete beginner to either series.

Also Try...
Professor Layton and The Miracle Mask
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy

Struggling to fend off attacks from the neighbouring kingdom of Plegia, Prince Chrom of the Halidom of Ylisse and his gang of "Shepherds," find you collapsed by the side of the road. Although you have no memory of who you are, you agree to join them on their journey.

Awakening was not only my first foray into the Fire Emblem series, but actually my first RPG.
Yes, I know I know. I have tried before with games from the Final Fantasy series and unfortunately not been able to get stuck into them like games mentioned previous.

However after trying this via a Nintendo E-shop demo, I was instantly hooked.

Designing your own avatar is always a big plus for me - it makes the game instantly personable and allows me to connect with the lead character almost straight away. (Shows I spent a childhood playing The Sims, no?).
I found the characters instantly memorable - which is good as they come in droves. In pretty much every new battle until the middle-end of the game you are introduced to new characters and comrades who can join you in your quest.

Having plenty of characters is particularly useful if you play the 'Classic' version of the game - as in preivously games if you lose a character in battle, they do not return for the remainder of the game. This makes for a very authentic gameplay, as every move and decision you make has consequenses for the rest of the play.
However, for newbies like myself the 'Casual' mode was great first time around. If a character dies, they simply withdraw from that particular battle and return for the next one. I know hardcore Fire Emblem fans disapprove of this feature, but I think it's a great option for first timers who are trying to find their feet, or casual gamers who perhaps don't have the time to sink so many hours into the game.

Another interesting feature, is 'support.' If characters join together in battles, their relationship improves. And if two characters characters become so close, they can actually get married and produce children in the second half of the game which can be recruited and join the war. This makes for repeat plays of the game, to see which couples (unlocking conversations and getting to know the characters more) and as their children inherit their skills, it is interesting to see which combinations they can have - often deadly consequences for foes.

Now this does come with negatives.
Firstly, only opposite genders can become romantically involved which is just stupid on so many levels. And secondly, I didn't realise this was actually a 'thing' until lurking in various FE forums during my first playthrough - and by then I had already sunk way too many hours into my first round of gameplay to rectify my mistake.

Fire Emblem: Awakening is one of those games where you get a lot of play for your buck. I'm actually ashamed to say how many hours I have put into several replays - all I'll say is we're into triple digits now.

It's a wonderful introduction to RPG, with music and characters that will stay with you for a very long time.
Yes, the storyline is a little watery at times, but the good tenfold outweighs the bad.

Also Try...
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M,
Bravely Default
Fire Emblem: Fates (COMING SPRING 2016 OMG OMG)

Annnnnd finally number 1. That means if can of course only be...

There are no points or levels, just an amazing array of sights and sounds, places and activities...all yours to explore. Spend your time passing new ordinances—or going fishing. Hang out at a coffee shop or visit a tropical island. It's all up to you.

Really though, could you have really expected anything else?

New Leaf is the forth in the Animal Crossing series, and first for the 3DS. Having played Wild World (Nintendo DS) and City Folk (Nintendo Wii) it has all the warm fuzzies, nostalgic and gentle gameplay associated with the Animal Crossing world, but improved pretty much in every single way,

Instead of being a lowly new villager, making their way in a new town - you are now the mayor, in control of development of the town, the new main street and passing ordinances.

Returning are several iconic Animal Crossing characters - such as Tom Nook (who has given up a life of retail for real estate), KK Slider the local musician, The Able Sisters and their fabulous fashion, Blathers and Celeste in the museum and Brewster and his coffee shop to name just a few.

However the game introduces some wonderful new faces, such as Reece and Cyrus the alpacas who own the thrift shop, Digby who keeps watch over the new spotpass 'Showcase' feature and his twin sister Isabelle who is your assistant as mayor. 

Animal Crossing's success is that gameplay can be adjusted to whoever is playing. Some players spend hour designing their house, others collecting the encyclopedia of bugs, fishes and museum exhibits, spending time playing online with friends, making friends with the villagers, planting the perfect garden or designing their own pieces to share in the very active online community. 

Although it does have a reputation for being a very 'casual' game - the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. There is always a new villager to meet, something new to catch or find or plant.

If you know someone who is getting a 3DS for the holidays and you're unsure what game they might like - Animal Crossing is a sure thing!

Also try...
Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer
Fantasy Life
Harvest Moon: A New Beginning
Tomodachi Life

Hooray, so those are my Top 5 choices.

Some people may have notices a lack of Pokemon games - I'm afraid I'm simply not into them on my part. And as for everybody's favourite - Super Smash Bros. - I have this for my WiiU, so I can't personally add it to my 3DS list.

I hope this was of some help for anyone looking for where to start with 3DS games!

And finally, want to see me cosplaying Isabelle from Animal Crossing: New Leaf from last year?
Of course you do:

Muchos love

21 November 2015

MITN: Game On 2.0

Hey everyone,

Game 2.0 is the world's largest exhibition of video games - ranging from the 1970s to the present day. There's over 100 in the collection, and best of all - you can play them.
All of them.
In the original format.

I'd been wanting to visit since it opened back in May, but then summer happened and by now you know I'm not the biggest fan of children - especially en masse.

So I decided to wait until the little darlings went back to school, and I went with my sister before she returned to uni.
We went for 3pm on a Wednesday evening and practically had the place to ourselves.


The £12.50 entry fee is pretty reasonable for the amount of gameplay you get - I remember feeding the best part of a tenner into arcade games over the course of an afternoon back in the 90s.

Walking into the exhibition you are greeted with the oldest arcade game - Pong. Which is surprisingly difficult.

We both felt rather overwhelmed by the sheer choice, so we did a full lap of the place before actually playing anything.

We spotted gems from our childhood - Sonic 2 (Sega Megadrive/Genesis), Tetris (Super Game Boy), Tekken (Playstation 2), Super Smash Bros (Nintendo SIXTYFOUUUUURRRR), Ridge Racer (Playstation), The Sims (PC/MAC), Super Mario Land (Game Boy).

So many feels.

The front of the exhibition is dedicated to consoles - old and new. The space nearer the back has a wonderful selection of original arcade machines including PacMac, Donkey Kong and Space Invaders.

There's even an area for 'Children's Games' where we actually spent quite a bit of time - games included Pokemon Yellow (Game Boy), Super Mario 3D Land (WiiU) and the original Animal Crossing (Nintendo 64).

My sister Nadia was born in 1993 and missed the magic of Pokemon Yellow first time around!

There's also a large collection of handhelds in display cases, including the entire Nintendo handheld family, an impressive number of Tiger games from the late 80s/early 90s and Tamagotchis.

A pair of bros loving life on the Daytona USA racer. 

Included in your ticket price is of course access to the rest of the Life Centre including the planetarium and the motion simulator ride.

We planned on having a good look around, but ended up spending nearly all of our three hour stay in the Game On 2.0 exhibition - leaving only to go on the simulator.

To see everything if you're a bit of an avid gamer, I recommend giving yourself at least half a day.
If you don't want to eat in the centre, you get a stamp on your hand and can come and go as you please all day.

Loving life on Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA,

Game On 2.0 runs at The Centre For Life until January 2016.

Open daily 09:00 - 18:00
Thursdays 09:00 - 20:00

Centre for Life
Times Square
Newcastle upon Tyne

Muchos love,

8 November 2015

REVIEW: Rose & Co.

Hey everyone,

The holiday season already feels underway because I was recently send some beautiful Rose & Co. items for consideration.

I've been a fan of the brand for years, so was very excited to receive some products from their signature No.84 range.

I am a complete sucker from packaging and absolutely adore the pink, ultra feminine design.
It's very pastiche and reminds me of something my glamorous Italian aunties would have on their dressing tables.

I can be quite fussy with hand creams, I don't like anything too pungent or that leaves a residue.
With a lightly whipped texture, this cream sinks directly into my skin and I can feel the softening shea butter instantly soothing my hands from the elements. 

I also can get terribly try elbows during this time of year, which can sometimes get so bad they even crack and bleed which is very sore. I've actually been using this cream for a few weeks now, and can definitely see an improvement. 

As the name suggests, everything has a gorgeous, delicate rose scent, with elements of violet, jasmine, iris and black tea.

With everything £10.00 and under, these products would make for beautiful stocking fillers or Secret Santa gifts with the holiday season approaching.
Or - of course - they are perfect just as a beautiful addition to your dresser as they look almost too good to use. Almost.

Auntie Dolly and Auntie Rose would have been fans!

Muchos love,

25 October 2015

MITN: Mog On The Tyne

Hey everyone,

As mentioned in my previous first, this is going to be my first in a series of posts regarding really fun and different things to get up to in the North East entitled 'Meanwhile In The North.' 

It's official: Newcastle has officially peaked.

Because it finally has...a cat cafe! 
(Well technically at the time of writing it now has two, but we're going to be talking about the first to land.)

Tucked in the small wind-y street of Pudding Chare is the place on every kitten's lips...Mog On The Tyne!

You are allocated an hour's slot for your £5 entry fee. This is to avoid the door opening and closing and risking the cats getting out, or being trampled with foot traffic.

(My only suggestion for this is as per the cat cafes I visited in Japan, I would have liked the option to pay various amounts to stay longer - in Tokyo these options came in blocks from as little as 30 minutes up to two hours. However as the cafe is incredibly popular right now, I'm not sure how logical this would be.)

Upon entry, your party enters and you remove your shoes in the lobby. You are welcome to go barefoot, wear socks/tights and the cafe also offers free slippers to use.

You are then shown into the cafe, choose a table and are given a menu of the food and drink along with a copy of the house rules and pictures of all the cats and their names.

You can view the house rules online before you visit, but it's a lot of common sense: no loud noises, do not wake sleeping cats, do not feed cats, no flash photography etc.

As I've mentioned, I'd been to cat cafes in Tokyo (where they originally began), and the procedure is pretty much identical. 

FUN FACT: I'm a qualified barista (twice actually - one for the UK and one to adhere to Australian standards) and have a nose for a good coffee. 
I ordered a cattaccino (cute, right?) which was delicious and came with an adorable cat paw in cocoa dustings. 

My sister ordered the hot chocolate, which arrived very pink and girly with lots of marshmallows. 

Hot chocolate and Cattaccino.

With the £5.00 per person entry fee, the price of food and drink on top of this is incredibly reasonable.

Due to health and safety reasons, all food is brought in from outside sources - sandwiches and pastries from The French Oven and desserts from my favourite bakery in Newcastle - Pet Lamb Patisserie. Both of which are just a hop, skip and a jump away at the nearby Grainger Market.

The Pet Lamb treats were delicious as usual, however the scone was rather disappointing - it arrived as a single square, toasted (my pet peeve - please don't toast scones!) and with only a little butter - no jam or clotted cream which was a shame.


The cats were very cute, unfortunately most of them had curled up for a literal cat nap during out slot. 
However when they did stir, they looked very happy, well kept for and enjoyed playing with the toys provided by the cafe. (Outside toys and snacks are not permitted.)

All cats come from Westgate Ark shelter in Newcastle and receive regular check ups from Tyne Vets. At night, the cats sleep in the shelter and a monitor links them to the staff's phones in case there is a problem. 

Overall I did enjoy my experience.

The owner Katie (noticeable for her luscious Yorkshire accent and bright pink hair) is very sweet, welcoming and friendly. When my sister told her she was visiting from university, she gave Nadia a logo sticker to put on her laptop to remind her of her trip.

However I found the other two staff members ("the cat nannies") although polite, were a little withdrawn when we went. I did however go back a second time and they were a lot more chatty.

I would have preferred a little more interaction like you get at my local shelters. As a Tripadvisor review suggested, some introductions to the cats would have been nice - however to be fair, this is not standard in cat cafes.

In total, the entry fee, two hot drinks and two snacks came to £18.00. This does seem a lot for an hour's entertainment but consider it pretty worth it for something different to do in the city.

If we had wanted a quick £3 coffee and sit down, there is a Costa around the corner.

Check them out at the address below. Booking is necessary.
24 Pudding Chare 
Newcastle upon Tyne 

Muchos love,

18 October 2015

MITN: Introducing Meanwhile In The North

Hey everyone,

I'm very pleased to announce the launch of a new series in these parts I've been planning for a little while now which is going to be called:

"Meanwhile In The North" 
(aka: 'MITN')

Newcastle Quayside. You are excellent.
(Credit: unknown. If this is your photograph, please let me know!)

I believe the North East gets a bit of a bad rap.

It feels like the mainstream media has no time for us unless it's a local celeb flashing their drawers on a night out after too many jagerbombs.
Or that tired picture the Daily Mail gets out every year of Christmas revellers in the snow wearing bodycon dresses, heels and not much else.

You've all seen it. They use it every December. Snore. Next!

And believe me we can take a bit of banter.
North East types are very self-deprecating folk who don't really take ourselves too seriously.

But what seriously gets my goat (and I love goats) is when people outside the region think that's all we have: binge drinking, punch-ups outside £1-entry-before-midnight nightclubs, drunken stag parties.

Aye it can be like that, but show me a student city in the UK which isn't.
And it's true that the North East promises a great night out. A great one, even.
But that's not all we're about.

And this is what the series is going to be covering: alternative things to do here, which you may not have heard of.

Oh and P.S:

There you are. Northerner in a coat.
Two different coats, even.
So there.

So I'll be very pleased to welcome you all to the North, soon.
Just please don't leave streaky San Moriz tanning mousse stains on the towels. It looks like something else.

Muchos love,

15 October 2015

Nice To Meet You - Again!

Hey everyone,

So it's here.
My beautiful design by Kaelah is up. We have a new URL and a new name and a new attitude.
Winter is coming. It's all good here.

My hiatus was completely unplanned, but necessary.
I've had over a year to reflect about my little space here on the internet, which has been my baby for six years now. I'm definitely ready to return.

Funnily enough, since being away I've actually gained quite a few new followers. Hello!
So just so we're reacquainted, I thought I'd just do a short re-introduction.

So my name is Carla, I'm 26 years old and live in a small town where a short lived sitcom was set just outside Newcastle, UK.
For those non-UK dwellers, it's waaaaay up in the North East not far from the Scottish borders.
Yes, I have a hilarious accent - ask Lauren.

Blogging has not and never has been my full-time job. Since graduating with a Media degree in 2010 I ended up working a few terrible jobs before going backpacking and ended up living in Sydney for the best part of a year.
I came home and now work in the travel industry with a group of crazy but lovely office mates. We eat a lot of cake.

Or "Shitney" if you are Hayley.

I'm also back at home.
With my mam and dad.
At 26 years old.

It's actually not that bad - I'm very close with both my parents. My mam ("Italian Catholic Mother") is hilarious and neurotic and Italian and everyone loves her.

My dad ("Papi B") is very quiet except when he's being a radgie (angry) and drinks a lot of real ales. He's like a bald Hagrid from Jarrow. Oh, and he also reads this blog. And quotes from it. Frightening.

Dressed like Tumblr girls. Halloween 1996-ish.

I also have a sister called Nadia (often referred to as 'Nooboo' and 'Little Boo' in these parts) who is equal parts my best friend and mortal enemy. I'm convinced she was sent to destroy me.

She's been "professionally procrastinating" in Glasgow for three years for uni, studying for a MA in English which confuses me as she can hardly string a tangible sentence together. The spelling needs work too.
She is finallyyyy going to start blogging too - so you should definitely go and follow her because she's proper babely and also you'll need to correct her grammar from time to time: http://nenbennie.blogspot.co.uk.

One of my biggest passions is aforementioned travel.
After living in Australia, I really got the bug for it and try to get away several times a year.

This means blowing off nights out with friends, meals out with family and I don't shop half as much anymore - but it's so worth it in my opinion.

With my buddy Hiro-chama at the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo.

I've been lucky enough to see some wonderful places over the last few years, but my absolute favourite is Japan.
I've been obsessed with Japanese culture (*weeaboo alert*) since I was a teenager, and when I finally got to go last year it didn't disappoint. I'm going to do some separate blog posts about my 2014 trip as I travelled quite a bit around the country, and I was lucky enough to return to Tokyo this Autumn for another two-week visit.

Bread Meats Bread in Glasgow.
I spend more time thinking about this burger than I do about old boyfriends.

As the size of my arse will attest, I also love food.
Going to places and eating all the food is one of the greatest things in life. Nadia is my soul sister (as well as biological one) in this and whenever we're together, food is usually involved so expect lots of posts on our foodventures coming soon.

I am also blessed with the best gal-pals a girl could ask for.

Claire ("Bradders") lives ten minutes away and we've been best friends since the first day of our A-Levels at Newcastle College.
We meet up on a weekly/fortnightly basis to drink too much wine, eat copious amounts of pizza, and binge-watch 00s TV like Dirty Sanchez and The Simple Life. Or classic Disney films on a constant loop.

The Two Minnies.

Sam ("Francey") lives in London and works as a bigwig in telly.
After initially becoming friends on MySpace (LOL) we met in the cafeteria first semester at uni and discovered we share a mutual love for cocktails and bad Malcolm McDowell movies.
Although we don't see each other as often as we would like, but we are still ridiculously close.

Our friendship in a nutshell.

And that's pretty much what you can expect in the near future.

It's great to see you all again.
Did you do something to your hair? It suits you.

Muchos love,