Cookie Clicker

posted in: Games | 0

MIght start switching to shorter blog posts, since ive started working I feel like I havent had much time for games or proper blogging so… snippets of content is better than nothing right?

I gave cookie clicker a try last week or so, just to see what all the hype is about.
I quickly found myself… somewhat… addicted…

It reminds me a ton of the idleRPG channels we used to get on IRC

cookies

If you’ve played the game at all, you’ll know that 17 billion cookies per second aint nothing to fuck with.

Rayman Legends (PC) – Don’t go out on a limb for it

posted in: Games, Games Review | 0

legends

I forget if I reviewed Rayman Origins on here before, Origins was a game for men disguised as a game for children. It was fully aware that it would likely attract the same crowd that played the original games on the PC, and made adjustments to account for it.

Rayman Legends however, is a different story. Legends was designed from the ground up as a WiiU exclusive title, and it really shows, this wouldn’t be a particularly bad thing if playing on the WiiU itself, however nobody has that console, so odds are you are going to end up playing it on a more common platform. It’s too soon to talk about that though, so i’ll start from the beginning.

Rayman Legends 2013-09-03 17-30-02-67

Rayman Legends has some vague story which leads to you jumping into paintings to access levels and progress the game, there are 5 main worlds, each with about 10 levels each, these levels are reasonably sized and probably take a few minutes each depending on how much of a completionist you want to be. Legends also contains a fair few unlockable levels from Rayman Origins, and when I say a fair few, I mean a ton.

Rayman Legends 2013-09-03 17-38-52-25

Graphically this game looks even better than origins, really awesome cartoon presentation and the game seems to have much more depth than I remember seeing in origins. Musically however the game seems to have lost some of the memorable music that the original had in favour of somewhat more generic tracks which will be banished to the back of your mind as you play.

Rayman Legends 2013-09-05 19-31-50-32

Rayman Legends 2013-09-03 17-55-59-65

There are a ton of other little bits and pieces as well, collectables and unlockable characters and so on, sadly not really my flavour, but they would be great if you are enough of a completionist that you feel compelled to unlock it all.

Rayman Legends 2013-09-06 19-51-04-44

And now for the long string of bads.

Rayman Legends is inferior of Origins, there, I said it. I’m not entirely sure how reviewers can call this game an improvement over the last, perhaps they are playing it on the Wii U version – the game looks immensely fun on the WIi U, and has plenty of touchscreen bits for a second player to play around on while you play, these segments in single player however are reduced to ‘press Y’ and then the occasional ‘Mash Y’ (whilst you are running, jumping, and trying to do everything else).

The crazy chest challenge level things are gone and replaced with a laughably easy music segment which turns into ‘hold right and press jump/hit at the right time’, the fair yet incredibly challenging difficulty level has been scrapped in favor of ‘kid friendly goodness’ , even the level design has been dumbed down significantly to account for the new target audience and difficulty level – and yet, occasionally there are segments which are so badly designed they become too hard.

Rayman Legends 2013-09-09 17-39-33-36

I spent the first hour or two just playing the game without thinking much, yet was never actually particularly satisfied or having much fun, I presumed it was because the beginning levels are easier… the difficulty does not change over the course of the game.

Verdict:

Whilst not a bad game, Rayman Legends fails to understand what made Origins so much fun and the result is a watered down experience. In addition, the WiiU influenced level design causes around 30% of the levels to be slow and clunky experiences. To its credit, Legends does offer a good amount of content, and a meaty freebie throwback to Rayman Origins, but it still doesn’t get this bitter taste out of my mouth.

Approximate Game Length :  Short-Medium (3-12 Hours? depending on collection rate)
Actual Worth / Steam Price:  £7.50 / £25 = 0.3
Should you play it : Meh, If you’re looking for a platformer to play, you could certainly do a lot worse, I wouldn’t go out of my way to play this one though.

Rating: 3/5

Cruise 2013 – Day 9 – Rome – Vatican City

posted in: Cruise 2013, holiday | 0

One final breakfast before setting out into Rome, though I suppose technically, we wouldn’t be heading out into ‘Rome’ today, because we would set off via tram to the Vatican City – which is technically its own country (Why not call it ‘The Vatican Country’ then, dumbasses). The Vatican city is surrounded by a wall, though its anything but restrictive, and traffic and everything else passes freely between the Vatican and Italy.

IMG_2316

We set off in the morning via Tram, and after a half hour or so ride through the city, we arrived at el Vaticano. The mental image I had envisioned for the Vatican City was very different from how it actually looked, perhaps im old fashioned but I pictured it up on a hill, sort of away from everything else, maybe with a little sand. Nope, not ‘out of the way’ at all, and you can see it from miles away thanks to St Peters Basilica.

IMG_2323
Warning: Objects in picture may look smaller than they are in real life

There was a large queue just to get in/close to the basilica itself, and there are even fashion police towards the entrance – St Peters is a practicing church, and as such, no strappy tops, vests, hotpants or short skirts are allowed. We had the pleasure of seeing one woman be refused entry because her top was too revealing, lol.

The fashion police are hardcore, 30 degrees C and they stand there in their black suit in the sun, judging people's attire
The fashion police are hardcore, 30 degrees C and they stand there in their black suit in the sun, judging people’s attire

IMG_2427

Once we got inside, we were that we could walk up the Basilica, walking the stairs up costs 5 euros, and taking a lift 1/3 of the way and then walking the rest would set you back 7 euros, I opted for the latter in a futile attempt to save energy and sweat walking up the 551 steps to get to the top (taking the lift cuts it down to around 350 steps).
Mum and dad were having none of that, and stayed at the bottom, something I probably should have considered more. Once you enter, there is no turning back, the stairwells are cramped and hot, with a single file of tourists all the way both up and down.

IMG_2344

The first bit was okay, because I took the lift, it was only a short staircase from here to the inner top of the inside of the Basilica, this was a path on the inside of the dome inside the church – if that makes sense… (there will be pictures), the view from here was already incredible, and very high…From here it got worse, the stairwell eventually caves in slightly, preventing you from standing up straight, and then zig-zags for a while, before turning into a narrow spiral staircase… followed by another zig-zag staircase, and then one more super narrow spiral staircase, which is so narrow it doesn’t even have a middle column, just a knotted rope.

IMG_2337 IMG_2338

Your reward for this trial is the best view possible in the Vatican city, or indeed Rome itself, a small viewing platform situated above the highest tower in St Peters Basilica, providing a magnificent view of both the Vatican and Rome. I wiped the sweat from my brow, and stayed a while – partially to enjoy the view, partially because there was a massive queue to go down because, once again, single file narrow staircases.

IMG_2356 IMG_2358 IMG_2366

 

Oh god I've changed my mind, maybe i'll just stay up here for good.
Oh god I’ve changed my mind, maybe i’ll just stay up here for good.

The journey down would lead to a souvenir shop situated on walkable roof of the basilica, I bought some souvenirs – both for my dad waiting downstairs (Christian) and a little something for some folk back home. Following the exit route to the end led straight inside St Peter’s itself, the most obnoxiously large anything I’ve ever seen. The ceiling inside St Peters is easily larger than most church towers, and then there are the different wings, the gigantic… I don’t even know what was in the middle, there are statues which are 2 stories high, a statue with real diamonds above it, the ceiling is apparently made of gold…
All the while, there are men in black suits walking around, telling people off, making sure people aren’t taking photos of forbidden objects, keeping people quiet, escorting people out for taking off items of clothing.. etc. I’ll let some pictures do the talking, but St Peters Basilica is the most famous church in the world for good reason, I’m not even remotely religious, but the statues and art in the basilica alone were worth the visit.

IMG_2392
‘Pieta’ by Michelangelo is apparently a big deal, though if im honest I had never heard of it before coming here.

IMG_2379 IMG_2396 IMG_2408 IMG_2414 IMG_2421 IMG_2424

After leaving, we hunted down a nearby Italian restaurant with some guidance from mum’s phone, we ended up at yet another high rated restaurant. I ordered tortellini this time – small pasta packages with filling, I cant quite remember what was inside it, but it was served with bacon, mushroom and peas and cooked with cream, and it was delicious. We also shared a tiramisu for dessert, something I have been wanting to try since arriving in Rome, Tiramisu is an Italian dessert after all, so it made sense to try it (especially after already trying panna cotta yesterday). The tiramisu arrived yellow, which caught me off guard, as tiramisu in the UK is generally some variation of white and brown, one taste however was enough to remind me that this was the real deal though, the top was a mouse like custard/cream, light and with a sweet flavor, and then the bottom was sponge soaked in a light sweet coffee, it was a beautiful end to our penultimate Italian meal.

IMG_2430 IMG_2432

Our next few hours would not go quite as smoothly, we were headed to the national museum (Museo Nazionale Romano), and originally planned to get there via bus, however our bus didn’t show up for around 15-20 minutes…. We changed our tactics and decided to take the metro, so after a short walk to the metro station, getting off at the right station (Termini) we walked around and spent about 30 minutes in the blazing roman heat trying to find the damn place, only to finally find out (90 minutes after we first started heading there) that the museum is closed on Mondays. Well shit.

Ragequit then. Back to the hotel.

There are random water fountains all around Rome just constantly spewing out drinking water, even the birds appreciate it, especially on hot days like this one.
There are random water fountains all around Rome just constantly spewing out drinking water, even the birds appreciate it, especially on hot days like this one.
Not quite everywhere in Rome is classy
Not quite everywhere in Rome is classy

A few hours later, we would make our reappearance at Trevi fountain, we had originally planned to come and see the fountain lit up at night, as we had heard it was very pretty when lit up, however the sun was still lingering about so would have to waste some time first.
I ended up in a liquor shop, trying to find more souvenirs, the shop assistant was throwing all sorts of alcohol at us to try and I was eventually talked in to buying some melon crème liquor, I grabbed a bottle to take to the next uni gathering I go to (so look forward to that guys :P ).

We searched around a little, trying to find somewhere nice nearby for dinner, and though there was no shortage of restaurants around, we had trouble finding ones with consistently good reviews. As a result, we ended up back at ‘Fontana Di Venere’ where we had lunch yesterday, the waiter recognized us and we got a few free bits and pieces during the meal, which was nice. I tried the lasagna today, it was really different to just about every other lasagna I’ve eaten, I believe the cheese was different, but it also felt like it was cooked then left to cool, then reheated – there was a clear solidity to it, you could cut into it with a fork and knife and the rest of it would remain a block of lasagna without turning into a big puddle of pasta and sauce, it was nice on the whole, but very heavy for a first course. The second course was veal again, though with a white wine cream sauce, accompanied by my favorite potatoes, and the finale was of course the panna cotta again. Our waiter gave us some Limoncello drinks on the house to finish the meal (Italian specialty lemon liquor), sour and strong, yet with a lovely fresh lemon aroma and tangy initial taste. Overall it was a very satisfying final meal in Italy.

IMG_2454

It was night by the time we left, so I snapped a few pictures of dark Rome (or rather, did the best I could considering the camera I was working with) and then we headed back to the gelato shop on our hotel road for one final adios. I feel borderline sick whilst typing this, but it was worth it.

IMG_2464 IMG_2467 IMG_2470

Italy has been incredible from start to finish, with delicious pizza, pasta and gelato (tripadvisor certainly helped us weed out all the crap meals), amazing architectural masterpieces (coliseum, pantheon, Vatican) and just generally nice areas, easy public transport and so on (sometimes, it’s the little things that count). I can’t forget the cruise as well of course – which was awesome, and then of course there are all of the Spanish cities we’ve visited (Barcelona, Palma, Valencia), all of which were beautiful in their own way. I still maintain Marseilles was shit though.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my 2013 Europe holiday, if you read everything, you may be interested to know that this blog was just under 9000 words in length. Also I took over 1000 photos during the 9 day holiday, somehow.

If you’re interested in reading my holiday stories, the others can be found towards the bottom of this page – http://www.mengsbizarreadventure.com/travel/

Cruise 2013 – Day 8 – Rome – Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon

posted in: Cruise 2013, holiday | 0

Day 2 in Italy had us taking the train back to the collesseo, not to admire the Coliseum again, but for the Roman forum and Palatine Hill. The roman forum can probably be described as a graveyard of roman architecture, there are some buildings and structures still intact, but for the most part the forum is but a vague blueprint of what used to be, scattered with broken pillars and walls. It says a lot then, when the area still manages to impress, with bits of buildings and segments of columns still being fascinating to look at, the detail the romans put into building is really on another level.

IMG_2146 IMG_2147 IMG_2148 IMG_2155 IMG_2160 IMG_2170 IMG_2179 IMG_2183

After walking through the Roman Forum, we found ourselves at the ‘Altare della Patria’, a crazy huge building with statues and pillars all over the damn place, we were only passing by, so we just took some pictures then moved on (I think it’s a museum inside).

IMG_2191 IMG_2200

We were on our way to the famous Trevi Fountain, we stopped at a church along the way, but eventually made it to our destination. The Trevi fountain is probably featured in just about every rome guide/film/montage ever made, and for good reason, it was absolutely stunning to look at.
A huge white building framing multiple statues, with clear water pouring forth, there were about 4 levels of tourists present, and even fountain police present to blow their whistles at anyone trying anything dodgy.

IMG_2227 IMG_2239

Lunch was due, we used the tripadvisor app once again to hunt down an Italian restaurant just behind the Trevi fountain road, the ‘Fontana di Venere’, which would be home to the best meal of my holiday so far.
They provided a set menu, which included 2 main courses followed by a dessert and an espresso for 20 euros, I had a Fettuccini Bolognese followed by Veal with lemon, and then Panna Cotta… Oh my god.
The Bolognese was awesome, with just the right amount of seasoning, then the lemon sauce that came with the veal was amazing, and the potatoes that came with it were almost suspiciously tasty. Then the panna cotta came and that again was lovely, soft and creamy, yet somehow solid enough to pick up by stabbing it with a fork.

IMG_2243 IMG_2246

We were on a roll so far, we headed towards our next destination, the Spanish Steps (which aren’t even in Spain, weird), we got a little bit lost along the way, we wanted to head to some shopping district first because the map said it was close, but we ended up just wandering around seeing nothing particularly special. Eventually though, we found the Spanish steps, or rather, we found the church and statue at the summit of the Spanish Steps, lucky? After admiring the scenery and taking a little rest on the steps themselves, we were off again. Of interesting note, the Spanish steps are so damn busy that they may as well be called the human steps, you can barely even see stairs towards the bottom segment as there are so many tourists crowding the spot.

IMG_2254 IMG_2263

Some roads, another church, a shopping district (we found it by accident, it was filled with designer shops including a shop selling ties for 75 euro a piece) we boarded a bus hoping it would take us to our final destination of the day, the Pantheon. Unfortunately, it took us in the wrong direction, over a river and outside some other massive building with a statue, not entirely sure what this one was, but it looked important and was very pretty (just like half the large buildings in Rome) so I took some photos before we set off looking for another bus.

IMG_2265 IMG_2270 IMG_2277

Half an hour of walking, and one more church later, we arrived at the Pantheon, which is, as it turns out, yet another ridiculously awesome huge roman construction. I’m not entirely sure why the romans decided they required their buildings to all be so large, perhaps they were preparing to welcome giants into the buildings at some point.

IMG_2296

The inside of the Pantheon is actually more impressive than the outside, with its numerous statues and details, though I couldn’t help but shake the feeling I had assassinated someone here once in an alternate universe.

IMG_2301

Rome as it turns out, is full of statues and beautiful churches, to the extent where you start to see them and not even bother to take photographs anymore, even though I’ve only been here for less than 2 days I have quickly become almost desensitized to fancy statues, columns and ruins. Something I have yet to be desensitized to yet though are the roads, which are 1 step below ‘cobbles’, filled with loose volcanic rock and the likes, the buses pass over them with all the smoothness of a car with square tires, and I have almost broken my ankle twice just walking around.

After the Pantheon, we started the lengthy journey home via 2 buses, something we’ve noticed is that nobody seems to bother paying for buses here, you can hop any of the 3 entrances for the bus and just sit down and the drivers doesn’t so much as bat an eyelid. Should you want to pay, there are 2 scanner/ticket points inside the bus, but only about 1 in 5 people seem to use them, even us with our Roma pass (unlimited travel for 3 days) have stopped bothering to scan the ticket because it feels so pointless, perhaps this information will help any of you travelling to Rome in the future.

A freshen up and rest later, we were off to hunt for some dinner, we walked around the area local to our hotel for a while without much joy, our hunt for a nice looking place eventually left us all hungry enough until we just decided to go for whatever shows up next, which as fate would have it, would be the ‘Ristorante la Stiva’, the staff here seemed unimpressed with our foreign antics, and was not afraid to express it with his grumpyass face. The food served at the restaurant was a different story however, I ordered the Lobster Spaghetti and it was pretty damn good.

IMG_2313

On our way home we stopped off at a gelato place which we spotted the other day which had a massive congregation of people outside it. Experience says any food outlet with a queue or crowd outside has to be good, so we gave it a try. It spoke for itself, 2 Euros for 3 scoops of gelato, a good amount of flavours and a cute girl shovelling it all onto the cone, she topped it off with a wafer and a spray of cream, as if the fistsized ball of ice cream wasn’t enough.

Bare in mind also that this cost 2 euros, and was served after 10pm on a Sunday night. Rome is hardcore.
Bare in mind also that this cost 2 euros, and was served after 10pm on a Sunday night. Rome is hardcore.