Review Time! with Dragondude2525: Nintendo new 3DS XL Majora’s Mask Edition ***Rating 4.5/5***

What can be said that hasn’t been said already? While the new 3DS XL is only a minor upgrade to the last version, I can honestly say I am very happy with the system and having purchased it! The presentation of the system is beautiful with the striking artwork on the cover of the system, featuring various masks alongside the titular Majora’s Mask. I cannot condone spending hundreds of dollars above retail value to obtain one of these, but you can still purchase the standard Red or Black versions in Canada for 229.99$.

So here are the differences between the 3DS XL and the new 3DS XL: 2 extra shoulder buttons, c stick in place of the circle pad pro accessory, stabilized eye-tracking 3D, NFC support for Amiibo figures, switch from SD to microSD, and a better processor. Otherwise the only thing worth mentioning are the minor cosmetic differences, such as the relocation of the charging port, cartridge slot, and memory card slot.

This next point is the biggest one for those of you that are not certain about what the new 3DS XL is exactly. It is just an updated 3DS that will still play all the 3DS and DS games that the old 3DS could play, but in the following months games will be released that are optimized for the new 3DS XL that will only function on the new console. If you plan on purchasing games such as the port of the Wii RPG Xenoblade Chronicles, or wish to play games that feature the use of Amiibo figures then you will need to purchase the new 3DS XL.

So if I praise the new 3DS XL so much, why did I only rate it a 4.5/5 and not a perfect 5? Three reasons really, no charger, the price has jumped an extra 30$ in Canada, and lastly, it doesn’t come with a download code or physical copy of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D! But these are not huge factors in my mind. If you have owned a DSi, DSi XL, 3DS, 3DS XL, or 2DS in the past, then you do not require a new charger, because the exact same charger is used for all of those systems. If the game was included then the price would have also been bumped up to 259.99$ like the other variant system that was released, the special edition Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate new 3DS XL, and in the end it is the same price as the basic Red and Black new 3DS XL’s.

One last point worth noting is the system transfer process; this is only valid for those of you that already own a 3DS system. I cannot stress the fact that if you are in the position where you are upgrading to the new 3DS XL, please use the PC method alongside a microSD card with an SD card adapter. It is much faster, especially if you have downloaded content and the only thing the system transfer process will take care of is the transferring of licenses from the old system to the new. But don’t worry, there are many sites out there that have made videos and blog posts about the process, step by step. Here is a link to help you out in the system transfer process:

http://ca.ign.com/wikis/nintendo-3ds/3DS_to_New_3DS_or_3DS_XL_System_Transfer

Review- Video Game- Shifting World Rating ***4.5/5***

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Although this game isn’t exactly new, it definitely is worth picking up. For a great deal at EB games you can get Shifting World, a platform puzzler produced by Aksys Games. Many of the games released by this company feature people drawn into a situation where they are forced to perform tasks to escape their capture, in Shifting World you are able to escape each level by shifting into a black or white dimension.

The gameplay breaks down as so, you are in a world where you can either shift through black or white surfaces to advance to different areas within the stage. Every so often there are surfaces with different black and white designs that do not allow your character to shift. The shifting feature is accessed by pressing either left or right shoulder buttons. Early on all you need to know is that the B button is jump, and you collect keys and walk through doors much like in the Zelda games, by walking right into them. Later on in the game new mechanics are introduced, the ability to switch from a 3D world to a flat 2D world allows you to use surfaces floating in the background that remain inaccessible in the earlier levels. In addition to the main mechanic of shifting between black and white dimensions a new feature arises later on that lets you rotate the world around you as you so that you can access new locations within the worlds.

The entire game is about 60 levels split between two modes, Adventure Mode and Time Attack Mode. Adventure Mode is the basic story mode, while Time Attack levels are levels you unlock during Adventure Mode that have you attempt to escape a level as fast as you can.

The effortless gameplay is quickly addressed by ramping up the difficulty level in each subsequent world, with more obstacles and threats being added as you progress. The goal of the game isn’t centred on getting a high score or completing a puzzle within a set amount of time, instead your goal is simply to progress and learn more about the characters as the story is revealed. There seems to be no penalty for dying in the game and i find that to be a positive feature.

For the laid back, low pressure, beautiful art style, increasing degree of difficulty and interesting character progression, with the only fault of the game being that it could have included more levels, i give this game a rating of 4.5/5 and I highly recommend it to anyone that has a 3DS.

Review- Tech- Nintendo Wii Mini *** Rating 2.5/5***

If you watch my YouTube channel you would have seen me unboxing my latest acquisition, the Nintendo Wii Mini. I only picked it up because I was able to find it new for 85$ and I thought it was cheap enough to consider picking up, but regular price for this console is 99$. The cheap price tag also matches the cheap feel of the console as well. It is made of a cheaper plastic that is textured and not smooth like the original Wii. It features a cheaper door hinged disc tray instead of the cool slot loading disc assembly of the original. The biggest hits to this console though are what was taken away from its functionality, backwards compatibility with the GameCube and internet connectivity. According to back stories of this console’s origin, I’ve been left viewing this console as being unwanted by its producer and sent to Canada just to be sold off since they had already been manufactured. At least in the end you are still able to use regular Wii remotes and play any non online Wii game on the console.

In the end, although the build quality is cheap, it does have a nice retro feel, with an appearance reminiscent of the old Famicom consoles. It also manages to not mess that much with playing Wii games so with there being only two major flaws and a few minor flaws I give the Wii Mini a rating of 2.5/5. The reason the score wasn’t lower is because of the cheap price tag and because it is such a strange Canadian exclusive console that it’ll warrant some collectors attention in the near future.

Solid State Drives: What You Need to Know

I am by no means a computer expert and in writing this blog I only hope to make technology a little less overwhelming for everyone. We shouldn’t be afraid to fiddle around with our tech and see how things work. In this post I’ll be talking about what an SSD is and what makes them different from the standard storage medium of the Hard Disk Drive.

First of all the most important thing to note is that when thinking of an SSD, it works much like your standard SD or micro SD card that exists inside most smart phones and handhelds. To simply put it, the SSD uses flash based memory while the standard HDD contains a spinning disc inside with a thin metal arm above it that is used to read and write information. SSD’s have faster read and write speeds because they don’t require the mechanical movement of the HDD. SSD’s are also much more durable and less prone to damage due to physical shock.

Currently, SSD’s are still pretty new so they can be pricey. It might not always be the best investment, but it sure can help you out if you are working with large files on your computer constantly. The other new factor is whether your current HDD is connected via SATA 2 or SATA 3. It isn’t really important to know what that is though. The gist of it is that SATA is an internal connector port that connects the storage medium to the motherboard. SATA 2 and SATA 3 are compatible with each other so it isn’t that big of an issue. The difference between 2 and 3 though is that SATA 2 works at a maximum 3GB/s and SATA 3 works at a maximum 6GB/s. If your laptop has a SATA 2 connector all that means is that if you connect a SATA 3 SSD then it will only work at the SATA 2 speeds.

Sorry for losing some of you on that slightly technical part. In summation, if you are looking to update your HDD to an SSD, all you need to be aware of is the SATA connector and that any SATA SSD will be compatible, but at reduced speed if you are using non matching SATA.

With most laptops being very simply put together these days its easy for the user to upgrade things like storage and ram. As long as you know what type is compatible with your system, then you shouldn’t have a problem. Always remember this one thing though, REMEMBER TO NOTE WHERE EVERY SINGLE SCREW GOES, cause its not so much fun trying to figure it out after their fact! Oh, and be really careful, have a backup of your computer ready for a worst case scenario and know that you probably spent a lot of money on your computer and you better be delicate with it.

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Review- Tech- PS Vita ***Rating 3.5/5***

I bought the Vita about 1 week before I got my Nintendo 3DS XL, and up until that day I spent every day on this device. It was just so much better than my old fat PSP from 2006 and I just could not believe it.

The new UI is much simpler and cleaner, and just easier to use altogether. It is easy to access games, and reorganize the layout of all the different apps. The display is just massive and features front and back touch capable surfaces. Now I still haven’t fully realized the use of the touch surface on the back of the Vita, but it does add an extra level of input for different games, so it could be both helpful and a bother.

If you have seen my proprietary memory card rant on youtube then you will know how I feel about that. Simply put, it costs 99$ for a 32GB card, when a micro SD card of the same capacity will cost sometimes even under 30$ on sale! just so damn expensive, but completely necessary to back up save files and download digital copies of games.

Another issue was the lack of games available for the Vita. Although the games that are available are loads of fun and challenging enough, I still wish that there could be more.

Playstation Plus is also a great feature. you only need to purchase this service once from Sony to be able to download some games for free on both the PS Vita and the PS3. The games available change, some are good like Gravity Rush, and others are negligible.

With the Vita and certain PS3 titles, you can use the Vita to play the same game, in a similar fashion to the Wii U and its game tablet, but not exactly. But in all honesty I haven’t been able to fully explore this feature quite yet.

In the end I rate this lower than the 3DS XL, but only slightly, at 3.5/5. The reason for this decision really came down to the facts that expensive proprietary memory cards and lack of games available are factors that just kill the longevity of a device and its market appeal. Those are two huge factors that just cannot be forgiven.

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Review- Tech- Nintendo 3DS XL Mario Kart 7 Bundle ***Rating 4/5***

I picked up this version of the Nintendo 3DS XL last month and have been putting it to lots of use. It included the game Mario Kart 7 as a digital version that was already installed on the device. I have yet to purchase an physical 3DS game cards, but i did get to test out the 3D features.

I enjoyed using the 3D on the Nintendo, but after a while it started to give me a headache so I would usually turn it off after about 10 minutes of gaming. Its a nice gimmick but I still don’t see the benefit of 3D in gaming, or even really in movies.

It played DS games just as good, except for not allowing 3D or even a full screen mode. you play with small black bars along the sides of the screen, but its all good. The screen resolution is not that great, but it is still much better than the older versions of the Nintendo DS. Movie viewing on Netflix was great, but it did feel a little awkward at some times, but at least you could set up the 3DS XL in a sort of laptop viewing configuration.

It comes with a browser that is a little awkward to use, but it still does the job if you are in a pinch, and the 3DS XL is all you have.

I like that the memory card expansion is just your basic SD card, and it does not require some proprietary memory card. just like how Nintendo included an HDMI cable with the Wii U, this was just a great move on the part of Nintendo!

The button configuration at moments was a little awkward, especially when the d-pad and joystick pad were used for the same function in the game being played. sometimes having these buttons too close became problematic, but that could just be with the games I’ve been playing.

I give it a rating of 4/5 because it really is a fun, easy and portable device to use. It came with a game already installed that was actually a game that you would be likely to purchase. I like that it folds shut so as to not damage the dual screens and all the other positive features were long existing features in the family of Nintendo DS handhelds as well. As for the setbacks that prevented me from rating the 3DS XL any higher are still factors such as its low resolution displays and its still burgeoning online store, but only with time will these issues be addressed.

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Review- PS3 uDraw Game Tablet ***Rating 1.5/5***

Review- PS3 uDraw Game Tablet ***Rating 1.5/5***

I know this is kinda old, but it was dirt cheap to pick up (it was only 14.95) and now I know why… IT SUCKS!!! At least it was at a price that warranted its testing out. If a variety of games was made available when the device was first put on sale, this game tablet would have been a great idea, but instead to date there are only 2 games from what I have read, the included uDraw studio Instant Artist and Pictionary. With the inclusion of shoulder buttons and more games this would have been a great concept, so I give it only a 1.5/5

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Review- Tech- PS3 Super Slim 500GB ***Rating 3.5/5***

So… It’s been a while since my last post. Sorry for the time off but school gets busy and everything else falls to the wakes.

Getting on back to this, I decided to do an unboxing video of my new PS3 that I just purchased last month. To watch my unboxing of the device just look at the video attached to this posting.

Now lets get into the review! I’ve been using the PS3 now for just over a month. It is the first PS3 I have purchased so I can not truly compare it to the older fat and slim models. The only comparisons I can make are that the device is smaller overall, it features a slide out top loader design for installing dvdd and blu ray discs. The physical appearance is pleasing and falls in line with the other models, but it does make a moderate amount of sound when playing discs, since the disc spins relatively close to the surface of the device.

This version of the PS3 is an upgrade from the older version that featured 60-250GB HDD. This version features a HDD of 500GB so it is great if you are planning on downloading a lot of content from the PSN (Playstation Network). If you have a PS Vita, you can also use the PS3 to store its backups. This is great considering how much of a hassle it is to backup the PS Vita on a PC or Mac.

Next comes the selection of games. I like that they offer a wide range of games on the online store, but also because the PS3 has been around since 2006, you can buy loads of games for next to nothing! With the inclusion of the 1 year of Playstation plus in the bundle, you get to download a wide selection of ever changing titles for free as well. Not only do you get a bunch of free games, you also get discounted prices for a couple of major games available for the console.

Overall I quite liked this console, but there were some features I just did not like. Here is just a brief list:
-the UI (User Interface) is old and outdated, and barely customizable
-the price for necessary accessories is still high, like the 60$ wireless controllers
-when connected wirelessly to the internet, it took far too long to download games
-load screens for the games at some times were just unbearable, especially at moments when you are strung out by the content of the game.

In the end I rate this bundle at 3.5/5 because although it does offer a large selection of games, plays blu-ray, it has 1 year of playstation plus included, has a large HDD and HDMI 1080p output, it still is a minor upgrade to a long existing system. It offered no real advancement to the system here on the verge of the next console gaming generation.

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Review- Tech- Samsung Galaxy Nexus ***Rating 3.5/5***

Just to start off, yes, I am aware that this is an older phone, and that its successor the Nexus 4 has been out for a while too, but this phone is still worth talking about. Some people, or should I say most people, out there have been waiting ages to have their Nexus 4 delivered, while others have been waiting to even be able to order the device itself. So for the time being, the Galaxy Nexus is still a viable option for a pure android OS experience.

Since they are older, you can get them on the cheap through second hand websites and from carriers that are still offering it. I won’t bother to state the specs of this one other than it being the 16GB model that I specifically have been using. I will also be leaving out carrier issues, as that would be different for everyone.

Now although the phone offers a pure android experience, it doesn’t come with the latest version of Jelly Bean, instead it still features 4.1.1 at its most recent update, but other than the google search cards function and the multiple user accounts setting, there isn’t that much more to offer in the minor update to Jelly Bean.

Just so that everyone is clear on this I did switch from an iPhone 4S to this phone, so the majority of this review will be a comparison of the two devices.

When considering the means by which you connect the Galaxy Nexus to your computer, it took me some getting use to. Because I am a Mac user, I had to download the Android File Transfer program from http://www.android.com/filetransfer/ which was ok, considering Apple works with iTunes, Android should have computer software attached to it. But this program makes the phone function more like an SD card that is having content saved to it.

Because I have been in the Apple ecosystem for almost 8 years, a lot of my content was from the iTunes store, so any movies, tv shows, apps, and music videos I had purchased there were not transferable to the Galaxy Nexus, but the music, and video content I had from other sources were still usable on my Android defies. If the Google Play store offered a bigger variety in good content then it wouldn’t be that big of an issue, but software has room to grow, and needs time to do so also.

In reference to physical features of the phone that I enjoyed or found fault with, the list is large. First, I just didn’t like the placement of the two cameras. The back facing camera just took up way too much space on the back of the phone, and caused it to stick out further than the rest of the body. The front facing camera was just kinda weirdly placed, off to the top right corner, instead of being closer to the centre top, which would be better for video calling, at least in my mind. The screen is absolutely massive and it greatly surpassed the old iPhone 3.5 inch display. It is also fairly responsive and a breeze to navigate through. I liked also that the back plate was an easy snap off design, and that the battery was of standard cellphone design, so it could be easily replaced. The only issue with the battery is that NFC is built into it, so you need to make sure you buy the proper replacement. The speakers on the phone though, were just not that good, very weak even, and they did leave something to be desired. With the large screen real-estate, also comes a pretty large form factor. The Galaxy Nexus has a plastic bezel that is not too easy to grip, and I find that in cold weather, trying to handle this device can lead to an accidental dropping. I like that it has no physical buttons on its surface and instead they opted to go with software virtual buttons. Lastly, the phone’s connector is just your standard micro USB, which is a big plus to all of use with a million extra micro USB cables just lying around.

To get to my final decision on the rating for this device, I took all of my comments into consideration and just rated it fairly. The Galaxy Nexus does offer a pure android experience, its standard tech specs are still quite amazing, and its ease of use is only beaten by the iPhone (so that is still a plus). The physical design at times was a benefit and a hinderance, and the growing Google Play ecosystem still needs time to flourish, and its lacking expandable storage also isn’t that good considering all the other android devices with expandable storage. In the end, I place the Galaxy Nexus on the scale at 3.5/5 just between the rating for the Galaxy Discover that I posted last month, and the rating for the iPhone 4S that I place at a 4/5. In my mind, no smartphone has reached a perfect 5/5 yet.

Mac Mini 2012 (2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5) **4.5/5**

So its been a little over a month and a half since the newest configuration of the Mac Mini was released (October 23). I thought I might as well wait a while and go through a trial period before I went ahead and a wrote a full review on this amazing little desktop computer.

The exact specifications for the model I reviewed is as follows:

2.5GHz Mac mini

  • 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5
  • 4GB memory
  • 500GB hard drive
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • OS X Mountain Lion

Now I could go over the basics that countless reviewers have looked at such as this device’s portability, connectivity, and as a true home theatre computer, as well as it’s user friendly upgradable ram access, but that’s not the kind of site I run.

What I’ll be looking at is real world function and use, as both a home theatre computer and as a regular desktop computer.

As a home theatre computer I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this powerful little device. Although it was lacking an optical drive, with the stock 599$ model, an extra 79$ for the apple superdrive wasn’t that big of an extra. I like that it offers so much storage in such a small form factor, so that i could easily store all my content without worrying that I would fill up the hard drive. It can be easily paired with the apple remote and it only made this device easier to control. If you didn’t want to spend the 70$ on the magic mouse or track pad, getting up to use your regular usb mouse to pause or fast forward through a video became a little bothersome without the apple remote. Throughout the last month and a half, the only issues I had was the mouse issue, difficulty in using the keyboard and mouse in the home theatre setting, and the issue with the 10.8.2 mac mini update. Otherwise these are minor problems that can be easily figured out with time and different accessory layouts.

As for the Mac Mini’s use as a desktop computer I quite liked it as well. While screen resolution matters wholly on what type of display you have available, I liked that it fit with pretty much any input devices you might have laying around. Because of its small size it also didn’t limit you to a classic computer desk, you could put it on just about any surface you have available, without the need for a tower cabinet. In all other capacities it still worked as good as ever.

In conclusion I found that this computer was an amazing space saver and powerhouse that was useful in supporting many different devices in many different layouts within your home. For an entry level device into the Apple ecosystem, it is perfect for the user that is new to Apple computers.

On the rating system that I will outline in a following post, I will explain my rating system, but as for now I give the Mac Mini 2012 (2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core i5) a score of 4.5/5 based on its easy setup, versatility, storage capacity in relation to cost, connectivity, and easy access to the user upgradable ram cards. The only thing holding it back from being a perfect 5/5 was the differing experience achieved depending on what types of input devices you had attached to the computer.