Saturday 15 December 2012

#2 - FINN & JAKE: Season's Greetings From the Land of Ooo - Adventure Time!!!

Everybody knows Guru's a HUGE fan of Adventure Time and it isn't a big stretch imagining the fun to be had by spending some time over the X-mas Season with Finn the Hu-man and Jake the Dog. Those two bro's are always looking for a few laughs and an adventure, and are probably the best team-up since Mario and Luigi. The good news is that Adventure Time has gone from 'cult following' to 'uber-popular' so you'll have no probs finding some cool Adventure Time swag to put on your X-mas lists or buy as stocking fillers for your loved ones, so here's a few of the best...
First up, you can't go past the Adventure Time DVDs which are available through Madman. This show is indescribably awesome, jam-packed with humour, videogame references, and all manner of totally bonkers mayhem. It's also got some of the most lovably flawed characters you'll ever see in what's considered a kid's cartoon. It's totally brilliant fun, and if you haven't caught it yet be sure to check it out over the holidays, trust me, watch a few Eps and you'll be hooked! There are three flavours of Candy Kingdom goodness available with two 'Best Of Collections' (My Two Favourite People - 12 Eps & It Came From The Nightosphere - 16 Eps) and the most recent release, which contains the whole enchillada, otherwise known as'The  Complete First Season'. It's 286 minutes of wild adventures in the Land of Ooo and a must have for Adventure Time fans.
Smowzow!!! Gamers have also got themselves covered with the first ever Adventure Time videogame. Available on 3DS and DS (unfortunately the 3DS version is US region locked, so there's no joy for Aussie fans wanting the 3D trimmings) it's got one of the most wigged-out titles in videogame history... 'Adventure Time: Hey Ice King! Why'd you steal our garbage?!!' is a side-scrolling platform adventure which is sure to satisfy fans. Available as an EB Exclusive, you can get a DS copy of the game here in OZ from your local EB store.
While on the subject of EB stores, there are also a great selection of Adventure Time collectibles becoming available over the X-mas period. Everything from life-size plastic replicas of Finn's Sword, to vinyl figures and plushies. Guru's fave (he scored one immediately, as soon as he laid eyes on it) is the 10" Deluxe Finn which is fully posable and comes with changing facial expressions. It's uber-cool and looks 'da bomb' sitting on the Guru's desk while he's writing this feature. It should also be noted that some of these awesome items are also available at 'Toys R Us'. So if you're after some Mathematical Merriment over X-mas, be sure to hit up good old Jake and Finn!!!

Thursday 13 December 2012

#1 - MARIO: He's sure to make you Merry!!!


'It's a me... Mario!' We've all heard those words countless times, but they never seem to get old. You can always count on Mario to unleash a ton of videogame fun and this year's no different to any other. I mean, what would X-mas be like without Nintendo's portly platforming plumber? It just wouldn't be the same! And there's nothing better than the family getting together, gathering around the console, and whooping each others butt while all sorts of Mushroom Kingdom comedy ensues...

The 2012 holidays see Mario bigger, brighter, and more vibrant than ever with the release of Nintendo's new High Def console Wii U. As you'd expect, Mario is front and centre as the star of his own blockbuster SMB sequel, dubbed New Super Mario Bros. U and he's never looked better. Joined by his bro' Luigi and lots of familiar faces from the Mushroom Kingdom, this side-scrolling platformer delivers more family fun (the 5 way multiplayer is a total hoot) than a barrel of crazy monkeys. Forget about the Bored (only joking, I meant Board) Games of yesteryear and check out the way that future generations will get together for a night of wholesome family entertainment. Mario's platform adventuring never gets old, Guru guarantees it!

Mario also gets a look see in the awesomely brilliant Nintendo Land, the game which comes bundled with the Wii U. Designed to show off the funky new GamePad Controller, this is an exciting thrill ride through a Nintendo themed amusement park filled with fun attractions. Sporting 12 gaming activities under the hood - with everything from shoot 'em ups with Samus of Metroid fame, to a Donkey Kong crash course and a tour of Luigi's haunted house - you'll find Co-Op, Competitive, and Solo games that should hit the spot. Of course, almost all of Nintendo's characters make an appearance including Link, Yoshi, and those colourful interplanetary plant creatures - the Pikmin. Mario Chase is one of the coolest mini-games, which sees our heroic plumber in a frantic game of Tiggy with his mushroom mates the Toads. This is fast paced competitive gameplay that'll have everyone on the edge of their seats...

Finally, for those that want to take Mario away with them on their holiday travels there's Guru's personal fave Paper Mario: Sticker Star on 3DS. Paper Mario has always had a special place in Guru's heart, so it's little surprise that this one makes the cut. It's a great little platform adventure with a unique 'paper cut-out' style that has oodles and oodles of charm. The whole 'sticker' thing works a treat and gives the whole game a fresh spin. And if that doesn't sell 'ya on it - it's also in glorious 3D.

So there's not one, but three groove-a-delic reasons that Mario is one of the Gaming Kings of Christmas. Be sure to stay tuned and find out who's next... GG.


Wednesday 12 December 2012

THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS!! Guru's Awesomest Wish List of Things to Get for X-mas!

HO, HO, HO... IT HAS BEGUN!!! The countdown to Christmas is well and truly on a roll and Guru's been busy, busy, busy... so sorry for my lack of posts over the last month or so. Guru got his X-mas present early this year in the form of a Top Secret writing project involving a new videogame that he'll be able to talk more about early in the New Year - so be sure to stay tuned!
But now to the task at hand. X-mas is less than two weeks away, the Holidays are upon us, and we all need to know the answer to that magic question... 'What do I want for Xmas?' and even more importantly, 'What are the best things for X-mas?' Well, in his down time Guru's been going totally bonkers playing around with the latest and greatest videogames, consoles, gadgets, toys, collectibles and flicks, so that he could pull together this Ultimate Wish List!
All sorts of stuff can be found here and all of it's good! Hand picked, tested, and given Guru's big stamp of approval. Every day from now to X-mas Eve, you can expect Guru to post one or more juicy items that would make for brilliant pressies. So stick them on your list, save up and buy them with your gift cash, or watch and play them over the Holidays. If it makes it here, you won't be disappointed! Well, that's it from me for now, be sure to check in every day for the latest instalments of 'Game Guru's Best Things 4 X-mas'...     

Sunday 4 November 2012

Guru has some BIG FUN with Skylanders GIANTS!!

PS3/Xbox 360/Wii/3DS
Single & Multiplayer
Rated: G

No one in the known universe could argue against the fact that the original Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was an absolutely HUUUUUUUUGE hit! In fact, it's one of Guru's fave games of All Time - a blockbuster fusion of collectible figurines and videogame, a brilliant innovation which proved to be a real winner!

It's not surprising then, that the sequel Skylanders: Giants is nothing short of fantastic!!! Recently, Guru was lucky enough to score a copy of the Starter Pack thanks to his good pals at Activision (thanks Tash) and he hasn't stopped playing since - hence the tardiness of this review. Guru was totally blown-away by the new Skylanders game. To sum it up in two words - it's FREAKIN' AWESOME!!!

As the name suggests, the new Skylanders not only introduces a bunch of wild and wacky new characters, but eight of them are actually Giants... And when Guru says they're Giants, he means the collectible character figures are double-the-size of normal Skylanders. They also appear that way in the game too - This is BIG, really, really BIG!!! 

There are around forty-eight new characters to get your hot little hands on including some way-cool re-designs of old faves (Trigger Happy looks crazier than ever, sporting a Gattling Gun) & new LightCore Skylanders that actually glow! Guru's been playing around with a bunch of them over the last week or so and he's gotta say he's uber-impressed!!! Cooler still, the characters from the original Skylanders can be used in Giants and retain all of their abilities, except now, they all have an extended Level Cap of 15. Great  news for fans of the original game with extensive Skylander character collections!

Guru had a real blast putting the Giant known as Tree Rex through his paces. It's way-cool having a gargantuan Skylander that might move a bit slower, but is hugely powerful and can unleash absolutely tons of destruction in the gameworld. Tree Rex literally eats up the screen, effortlessly pounding down the opposition (and anything else) with his massive tree-trunk fists and unstoppable shoulder charges!

Then there's Jet Vac a bird-beast warrior that sucks big time - but in a good way! This ballistic buzzard is a force to be reckoned with, sporting super suction abilities made possible with his vacuum gun. Honestly, Guru wishes this guy would come over to his place and clean up his bedroom and Man Cave (a.k.a. Games Room) with his super sucker, 'coz trust us, it needs it!

Guru also checked out the different Elemental Arenas for a bit of competitive and co-op biffo with his good friend Joshinator, not to mention, some brilliant co-op action and adventure in the Story Mode. Almost everything in Skylanders Giants is bigger and better than the original, making it an awesome gaming experience for the whole family. 

This is easily one of the best kid's games this year, so it's time to dust off those Portals of Power, and get set for one of the most exciting and fun Action RPG (Role Playing Game) experiences that can be had on console. With another brilliant batch of cool figurines to collect (the 2 standard figs, 1 Giant in the Starter Pack will get you going), Skylanders Giants is a MUST HAVE for everyone’s X-mas wish list - Be sure to check it out!!!

Thursday 1 November 2012

World of Books Finally Launches in Australia - It's a Way Cool way to Read & Recycle!!!

If there's one thing Guru loves as much as gaming, it's reading and watching flicks... I guess it's got something to do with being a writer. Wanna be a good writer? Well you've gotta be an avid reader... it teaches you how to write, what works, what doesn't, inspires imagination, and increases your vocab - all extremely important for budding writers.

So, why is someone called Game Guru going on about reading and writing? Well it's interesting where these skills can lead you career-wise. Often it becomes an exciting adventure full of unexpected surprises. For instance, I fell into writing game and tech reviews for a kid's and teen audience completely by accident, while I was working in publishing. Next thing I knew it was a career... I was writing for a bunch of titles for both Youth and Adult audiences. Then I became editor of two gaming mags - G@MER and G@MER 4 Kids.

As Game Guru gained a bit of a cult following, so the next step was to set-up a website/blog. Now finally Guru has completed his first videogame script (stay tuned, for more about this Top Secret project soon!) and is working on his first novel, set in the wonderful world of videogames!!! All of this happened, and it's all a direct result of Guru's love of reading and books! 

So it begs the question, where does Guru get his books from? Well, there's always the library, but Guru tends to be a bit slack in returning stuff, so personally he prefers to buy his own books and then keep them as reference for future use in his extensive collection. However, like most of you dear readers, money can be an issue at the best of times, so Guru has taken to purchasing second-hand (a.k.a. pre-loved) books. One of the main sources Guru uses for his book purchases is World of Books, which until recently was a UK based company. The good news is, they've just launched here in Australia and in addition to having a great selection of books at discounted prices, they offer free shipping too!

So why use World of Books? Well, for a start it's an environmentally friendly solution for second-hand books. Pulping old books still expends energy, so if they can actually be used by someone else, it's better for the environment. Guru really digs the idea of recycling and green businesses, and World of Books seems to really fits the bill. It's a win/win for the consumer (cheap prices and free shipping) and the environment (books get re-used and don't have to be pulped or disposed of in land fill) - brilliant stuff!

Guru has already checked out the World of Books Aussie site, and he found tons of books for kids and teens, not to mention, heaps of books about everything from Videogames, Technology, Art, and Design, to Film, Graphic Novels, and Manga. If you're gonna buy some books, be sure to give 'em a try... Guru gives two big thumbs up!!!

Sunday 28 October 2012

Guru's Gargantuan Review of the Most Epic Handheld Game of the Year - Pokemon Black & White Version 2

POKEMON Black & White Version 2
Single & Multiplayer
Rated: G

Finally!!! Guru has finally put in the hard yard, and hammered his way through the glorious adventure that is Pokemon Black & White Version 2, and he’s gotta say it’s freakin’ AWESOME!!! Hmmmm…no surprises there really! Pokemaniacs the world over will have already raced out and grabbed the game, but for those of you that haven’t, this really is the must have DS/3DS title of the year! So you better start scribbling and put Black & White Version 2 at the top of all those X-mas Wish Lists.

 As many of you would already know, Guru is an absolutely HUGE Pokemon fan, having thoroughly played through every game in the series (right from Red and Blue) and has even had his adventures published in a couple of Walkthroughs here in Australia. In Guru’s opinion, the original Pokemon Black & White was one of the best instalments in the series… ever!!! It offered tons of new content, heaps of Pokemon to catch, and introduced the Unova region for fans to play around in. All in all, it offered months of gameplay for completists, and delivered stacks more Poke-fun than we’d ever seen before.

 As you’d expect, Version 2 continues this trend, topping up everything from new activities, to beefing up the storyline, and for the 3DS crowd – adding a new way to catch Pokemon (via Pokemon Dream Radar) and then importing them into the game. The only disappointment that Guru could think of, was that he’d have loved to have played the whole game in 3D using his 3DS (no doubt, many of you fans out there would too!) – unfortunately, Version 2 is still a standard DS cart, so we’ll all have to wait until the next Pokemon release, to experience catching and battling Pokemon in 3D.

 Don’t get Guru wrong, not being in 3D doesn’t lessen the experience, it just would have added a bit of extra sparkle for those Pokemaniacs that are 3DS and 3DS XL owners out there. As always, the gameplay in Pokemon Black & White Version 2 is sublime. It’s the perfect mix of RPG (Role Playing Game) Elements, Collection, Strategy, Turn Based Combat, Exploration, and Adventure. In the last decade there have been few games (particularly sequels) that are still as compelling to play as they were when they first came out.

 For Guru, returning to the Pokemon universe is like catching up with a dear old friend you haven’t seen in ages. You know each other well, it’s been a long time and some things may have changed, but in a few hours it’s like you’ve never been apart. Version 2 takes place a couple of years after the events of the original Black & White and as in real life, some things have changed, while others have remained the same. You’ll recognise a few familiar faces – Cheren is now a Gym Leader and Bianca is Prof. Juniper’s assistant – and a few you’d rather not remember, with the return of Team Plasma!

So what are some of the new goodies you’ll discover, while exploring more of Unova than ever before? Well, you’ll notice that additions like Pokemon World Tourney which allows you to show off your skills against iconic Champs and Gym Leaders from past Pokemon titles and PokeStar Studios where players can star in their own movies with their fave Pokemon.

If that wasn’t enough, there are also wild Fun Fest Missions where up to 100 players can connect and play locally (totally awesome fun), and you’ll quickly discover that Gym Battles are far more complex affairs than in previous titles in the series. This is an absolutely HUGE game (which is the reason why Guru’s taken so  long to get this review online), which offers tons and tons of replay value both in cool spin-off activities and multiplayer battles. Once again, Nintendo have outdone themselves by creating one of the best handheld gaming experiences around. Pokemon Black & White Version 2 is a must play for anyone with a DS – it’s brilliant stuff!!!!


Tuesday 23 October 2012

Guru gets Hands-on Disney-fied... Unleashing The Power of Two

He’s gotta be one of the most popular cartoon characters of, well... ever, and he’s back for another round of awesome "paint 'em up, thin 'em down" adventuring, in the spectacular sequel to Epic Mickey. Yes, that radical 'toon rodent with the round ears (a.k.a. Mickey Mouse) returns in Epic Mickey: The Power of Two, joined by Guru's personal fave, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit who actually talks up a storm this time - a great move, as he's just as much fun as Mickey! Together these heroic 'toon titans will battle to save Wasteland, a gloomy world filled with long forgotten Disney characters and attractions...

Guru was stoked to get an "Invo" from his mates at Surprise Attack (thanks Drew & Chris) who look after Disney titles here in OZ. Best of all, this wasn't some lame "sit back and watch, while we show you the best bits of the game"... NNNNOOOOO... this was a fully blown, here you go, grab a PS Move controller and have fun as Mickey, while my best mate Dan (that's actually Danielle, just so you Gamer Gals out there know that Guru's an equal opportunity gamer) tag-teaming with the awesome Ossie!

Needless to say, we had over an hour of serious Hands-on gameplay with our heroic 'toon alter-egos and of course we did a switcheroo at half-time, so each of us could get to experience the best of both worlds. Both characters were already sweet to control and the environments we got to explore had tons more detail and polish than the previous instalment of the game.

Mickey is still lots of fun using his magic paint brush and thinner to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles by "painting/thinning" things "in" and "out" of existence. Oswald is a hoot too, with his funky remote control which gives him mastery over the powers of electricity - as a team, they're pretty hot stuff!

So... how would Guru sum up the game as a whole? Well, I gotta say it's looking pretty epic!!! The game itself is really solid and it's not shy about trying a few things that are a little different. For instance, Guru nearly flipped his lid when he heard that the game would have musical numbers in it, just like some of the Disney cartoons! Say what!!! You've gotta be joking, I thought... who wants to play a musical? Just imagine... characters bursting into song after you solve a puzzle. Toons singing "That mouse has brains", or some other bizarro number - it's a super-sized serving of cheesy, isn't it?

Well, surprisingly no! It doesn't happen often (yeah, stick a sock in it Dan!), but Guru had to eat crow on this one! The musical sections do actually work, in fact they give the game another point of difference and lashings of charm, raising it above all that "same-old, same old" gaming we're all used to. It gives the Power of Two a nice theatrical touch and further showcases the characters’ personalities.
All in all, Guru was mighty impressed by what he saw of Epic Mickey: The Power of Two. It's shaping up to be one of the best kid's games for 2012. The characters are fun, the "drop-in, drop-out" two player co-op mode is a blast, and the vibrant cartoon visuals make it look like a million dollars. Be sure to pop this one on your X-mas wish lists - trust the Guru, you won't be disappointed!!!


Sunday 14 October 2012

DC's Super Heroes Join Batman For Absolutely Tons Of LEGO Fun!

LEGO BATMAN 2: DC Super Heroes
PS3/Xbox 360/Wii/3DS/PS Vita/DS
Single & Multiplayer
Rated: PG

LEGO are always jamming as much fun and humour in their videogame spins on the flicks, books, and comics, we all know and love. They've already done everything from Star Wars and Harry Potter, to Indiana Jones with stacks of success, so it was a no-brainer when LEGO Batman swung into action!

This sequel to LEGO Batman further expands the fun and games beyond just Batman and Robin, to include a bunch of awesome super heroes from the DC comics universe. So it’s time for you all to pull on your capes and help Batman and his super friends fight the good fight to defend Gotham City from all manner of evil doers.

As you'd expect, the baddies are a despicable bunch, with The Joker and Lex Luthor teaming up and unleashing all sorts of carnage and mayhem on the streets of Gotham. On the good-guy side to help the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder are the iconic "Man of Steel" Superman, Green Lantern, The Flash, and Wonder Woman, to name a few.

There's absolutely tons of fun to be had, particularly when players team up with a friend in Co-op, taking control of LEGOized versions of their fave DC super heroes. Gotham City's LEGO alter-ego looks amazing and there's amazing vehicles to tool around in, on top of the cool super abilities at your disposal. You'll also be collecting lots of new suits and gadgets, to help you along the way.

All in all, LEGO Batman 2 delivers action, entertainment, and laughs in true LEGO style! As you'd expect, it only gets better when you team up and play with family and friends. This is great fun for everyone and a must play for LEGO and DC comic fans - awesome stuff!!!


Wednesday 5 September 2012

Pokemon B&W Version 2 On Its Way - Time To Get Ready!!!

Well, no doubt by this stage, all of you rabid Pokemaniacs are going bonkers at the thought of another awesome Pokemon adventure - I know, I am!!! Guru's been a HUGE fan of the Pokemon saga right from the start and he's gotta say, that there really hasn't been a dud instalment in the whole series! In fact, Pokemon Black & White Versions were probably one of the best Pokemon releases ever!

With October drawing closer (and the impending release of Pokemon Black & White Version 2 on the 11th) Pokemon Masters and Novices alike need to start prepping for a return trip to the Unova region where they'll be exploring a gigantic gameworld, capturing and training all manner of Pokemon, as well as, showing off their Battling skills against other Trainers and Gym Leaders alike. IT'S GONNA BE FREAKIN' AWESOME!!!

If you wanna be sure to have all the info, maps, and secrets ready for when the game releases, the best way is to score yourself 'The Official Pokemon Unova Strategy Guide: Volume 1' for Pokemon Black & White Version 2. This brilliant tome comes in two flavours - the standard version and an unbelievably wicked hardcover Collector's Edition - and is basically the Enchiridion (Adventure Time reference, for those in the know) for all you Pokemon trainers out there.

Within its magical pages you'll find a complete walkthrough of the games, including essential details on the new Gyms, Trainers, and challenges you'll face. There's even tips and tricks for evolving Pokemon, a fantastic poster map of Unova, and a sneak peek at post-game surprises! All in all, 'The Official Pokemon Unova Strategy Guide: Volume 1' is a must read for anyone who wants to become a Pokemon Legend in the latest game. It gets two big thumbs up from the Game Guru!!!