Review: LEGO Nexo Knights 70315 CLAY’S RUMBLE BLADE

Nexo Knights is the new sci-fi inspired knights range from LEGO that tackles toys and video games from the completely opposite direction to LEGO Dimensions. LEGO Dimensions is a video game that has toys (LEGO figures and vehicles) that you use in game, whereas Nexo Knights are most definitely toys that you can use in the associated app. It’s a complementary rather than competitive product line.

There is also an animated TV series to accompany the line. The adventure takes place in the futuristic Kingdom of Knighton. It focuses on the Nexo Knights as they journey to defeat Jestro the evil jester, the Book of Monsters, and their lava monster army. Clay leads the Nexo Knights, which include Macy, Lance, Aaron, and Axl. Together, under their mentor Merlok 2.0, they band together to defeat Jestro.

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DSCF0007 (Medium)The boy build Clay’s Rumble Ride while I was at work; he moves quickly these days, and even photographed it for me too. You can see from the general style that it’s quite futuristic. I think on first impressions the Nexo Knights range do for medieval feudalism what Ninjago did for martial arts. If you think of them as sister lines, that’s probably not a million miles away from the vibe. Of course whereas Ninjago had Spinjitsu, and the battling figures, Nexo Knights has it’s app powered stuff, which is a completely different tangent.

DSCF0008 (Medium)Before we have a look at the app interaction though, lets have a closer look at Clay’s Rumble Blade. It’s a complicated contraption, there are two little motorbikes that clip on to the side, and a long sword inspired spaceship that clicks on to the top of the frame. In terms of building, the spaceship is the most complicated part but the boy polished the whole thing off without the need for adult supervision. His favourite part of the whole thing is how the motorbikes clip on, although he also likes the minifigures because of their helmets and swords.

So then, on to the app, which I’ve installed on Android (IOS version available) to see what the fuss is about. The download itself isn’t that large but like a lot of games, on first boot it proceeds to download an awful lot of data and run a few diagnostics.

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It’s understandable in the end though as the game is very pretty, probably Xbox 360/PS3 levels of pretty in fact. The game is playable without owning any of the LEGO but you get easier access to in game power ups if you have the sets and can scan the characters shields. Since you can’t screen capture a camera shot, I can’t show you exactly how the scanner works, but it definitely adds something to the game:

Scanning a shield

We’ve just scanned the shield held by one of our NEXO Knights. Apologies for the volume down slider!

The app is definitely a nice addition to the whole- with the addition of the cartoon as well, it gives a well realised world that kids can immerse themselves in. It’s engendered more play from the boy than he normally does with LEGO- he’s very much usually a builder who then puts his sets on display.

Clay’s Rumble Blade retails for £29.99 and the app is free. Both are available now.

How to create the ultimate man cave

After a long, stressful day, we all need somewhere to collect our thoughts and unwind. While women might relax in the bath or curl up with a nice film in front of the TV, many men retreat to their ‘man cave’ – a room within the home such as a specially-equipped garage, spare room, den or basement that is essentially a guy-only zone.

This tends to be the only space in the house where a man can do as he pleases without female input, so if you’re already itching to order paints from the likes of Rawlins and create a testosterone-fuelled haven, here’s how to go about it.

Choose your own décor
When discussing the subject of a man cave with your partner or the other people you live with, make it clear that you want to decorate your part of the house in any way you choose. This might mean painting the walls black and red or it might mean sticking up posters of your favourite retro cars or motorbikes. You could even cover an entire wall in bar mats, mirrors, bottle tops, road signs, postcards, sports memorabilia or anything you can think of; just make sure you get the green light from your fellow residents to avoid upsetting anyone.

Got the thumbs up? Then don’t be afraid to unleash your creative side and do all you can to put your own personal stamp on this room. You’ll find plenty of inspiration via sites like Pinterest, or you could quite literally do your own thing from start to finish.

Think accessories
Every man cave needs some swanky accessories, but before you get overexcited and start ordering left, right and centre, be sure to know the dimensions of your room. That way, you’ll buy items that’ll actually fit and won’t have to stress yourself with cramming everything in or returning half-opened products. Not very good with a tape measure? Then fear not, as there are many apps that’ll make a floor plan for you! Pretty cool, huh?

Now the sensible bit is out the way, here are some must-have man cave items:

A wide-screen, HD TV complete with internet access
What would a male-only sanctuary be without a wide-screen, HD TV? It might sound stereotypical (and if you don’t like lounging in front of the TV with a beer, then apologies), but many men do which is why a decent television set is an essential. And, if you want to watch all the latest films, access social media, play interactive games on your favourite console (which is also a must-have), then make sure you can connect to the internet.

Home theatre seating
If your man cave is big enough, you could also invest in some home theatre seating complete with arm/footrests and a drink hole. This would be great for when the lads come over and if no one is around one night, you could simply pretend you’ve got the whole cinema to yourself as you tuck into popcorn and press play on your favourite film. Bit over the top? Then your average recliner will do, just make sure you have somewhere to sit that’s super comfortable and will happily support your weight for hours on end as you chill out to the max.

A fridge
The whole point of a man cave is that you can skulk away and not have to see anyone for a little while and so it must be well-facilitated. A fridge is therefore a much-needed accessory as not only will it keep your drinks nice and cold, but place it near to your man chair and you won’t even have to stand up to get another beverage. Genius.

Games equipment
The man cave can also be used for boy’s nights, so how about getting yourself a top-notch pool table? You’ll need adequate room to play this properly, but if you’re pushed for space try getting hold of a darts board, poker table, roulette wheel or anything else that’ll keep the lads entertained.

Women are highly suspicious of the man cave, but seeing as you’ve got free rein over this part of the house it’s your chance to let your imagination flow (within reason, of course.)

Review: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

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I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to events for the launch of LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham and LEGO Dimension in the recent past, and I’ve loved both games, as my reviews have shown. But for me, the best LEGO game I’ve played has been LEGO Marvel Superheroes for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s properly cinematic in it’s level design- there’s a proper feeling you’re in an interactive LEGO movie in a good way. Secondly, the roster of characters was and is a Marvel fans dream come true. You can now pick up Marvel Superheroes for under 20 quid on most formats, and if you haven’t, I strongly urge you to, it’s brilliant and hasn’t aged at all since release.

So no pressure on the sequel right?

I stuck my hand in my pocket to buy the original Marvel game and I’ve done the same for the sequel because I have faith in TT Games and couldn’t wait to see if any review copy was available. (I’ve been playing the PC version on Steam, but for the kids to play it properly I’ll probably pick it up on Xbox One or PS4). This review is based on completing the main story, which has taken between 8 and 9 hours. We’ve barely scratched the surface of unlockables though and I envisage many more hours to come.

Focusing as it does on the Avengers is both a pro and a con for LEGO Marvel’s Avengers- it gives a more focussed story, being based on the two movies, but it also in doing so removes the off the wall stuff from the earlier game. I liked a world where I could be Captain America in one mission and then Spider-Man in the next.

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On the other hand, I absolutely love the way that they’ve structured Avengers- it runs through the Age of Ultron film time line, with the original film, bits from Captain America, and the Iron Man films (and later on other back story missions), interspersed as flashbacks to give some background and flesh out the game. For instance, at one point we’re taken to the gym where Steve Rogers (Captain America) is training. Nick Fury starts talking to him and suddenly we have to fight a long flashback mission in World War II as Captain America and Bucky against the Red Skull. It’s really well thought out- it adds to the feeling that the universe that it all exists in is populated and real.

In some ways it reminds me of reading some of the A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones to you TV fans) books- each chapter of those books is written from a different characters stand point, and by the time you get to the end of a chapter and start the next one, you’re missing the character you’ve just left behind because you really got involved in what they were doing. It’s a bit like that here, finish a section of a level with Hulk and he’s replaced by Hawkeye or Captain America. You’ll initially resent it but when Thor replaces one of those guys, you’ll miss them in turn. It works well.

The dynamic hasn’t changed massively from the last game, there are different types of characters who have abilities which let them solve particular puzzles- Hulk can pull heavy things, a flyer like Thor or Iron Man can fly over an obstacle to pull a lever, some characters can interact with computers (Black Widow for example) and some like Captain America can reflect energy beams back in to the guns that are shooting them. Often you’ll come across something you need a character you don’t currently have access to, which hints at the huge amount of stuff that’s unlockable in free play mode.

Given that the kids still tootle around in LEGO Marvel Superheroes to this day, almost two years after we bought the game and well over a year since they completed it, I don’t doubt that this will have an equal amount of staying power, despite only having a few hours under my belt at the moment. I can have faith in this statement based on two things; the play I have done and the things I’ve read. One of the best things about the first game was the city that you could explore in free mode (once you’d completed the level set in it). Avengers has several cities you can explore and also has some nice little updates like street crime happening that you can stop (and get rewarded for). It’s nice to see TT Games taking what they know has worked well before and improving on it, rather than changing something for the sake of it.

After a few hours playing, the lad (8), has already dug out his Hulk Buster LEGO set, along with the Attack on Avenger Towers, and the play has switched across to actual LEGO when he’s been physically removed from the computer.

Is there anything I’d quibble on? Some of the attacks (I’m thinking of Captain America on the moving train here) can see you fall off the edge to your death if you don’t pull them off right in the middle of whatever you’re standing on and on a couple of occasions I respawned to close to fire and couldn’t move before I died again, necessitating switching to the other character to continue (and letting the CPU controlled character make his own way out of the problem) but that aside, I’ve got no complaints. I can see the kids playing this for absolutely ages. The only issue I’ve got is the new Tomb Raider is out on PC this Friday and I might not get a look in.

Paid for and reviewed off my own back. Not endorsed in any way shape manner or form.

2016: A guide to the best days out

We’re a few weeks into 2016 now and everyone’s recovered from Christmas enough to start making plans for the New Year. Not “Go to the gym” plans, or “Finally sort out my budget spreadsheet” plans, but good plans for cool stuff you can do for the rest of the year. Fortunately, there are some fantastic places for days out in the UK. Here are just a few suggestions:

Alton Towers

Everybody loves Alton Towers. Some come to admire the stately home, some come for the charming children’s rides, and some come for the rides that actively try to make your life flash before your eyes. This year that latter category is won by the new “Galactica” ride. This ride uses the same “Dangling you face first over the floor so it looks like you’re flying like Superman” trick as their “Air” rollercoaster, but this time you’re wearing a virtual reality helmet so it seems like you’re being catapulted through the cosmos. You’ll come out the other end either awe struck by the majesty of the universe of clinging onto the ground and promising you’ll never let it go again.

London’s Many Museums

If you’re in London one thing you have to do is check out their many, many museums. They’re free and they’re epic in size. You can spend an entire day in the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum or the Victoria & Albert and still not see everything, and all three museums are positioned closely together, so if you do want to skip from want to the other you’re only ever a short walk away. Whether you want to see the dinosaurs, the actual real life Apollo module, or the wealth of amazing outfits at the V&A, there’s something for everyone here.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is the perfect day out for anyone who’s ever seen an owl out in the wild and been disappointed that it wasn’t carrying mail. If you’ve got a prominent and recurring bruise on your forehead from every time you’ve passed the wall between platforms 9 and 10 at Kings Cross station, then this is the place for you.

A fanatic chance to explore the actual movie sets from the Harry Potter films, visitors can stroll down Diagon Alley, get a glimpse of Dumbledore’s office and inspect the ancient furniture in the Gryffindor common room.

National Space Centre

When you think “Space age” you can be forgiven if “Leicester” isn’t the next name that jumps to mind, but this city in the Midlands is actually home to the biggest space museum in the country. The National Space Centre boasts planetarium shows, two real life rockets and a piece of actual moon rock alongside hundreds of other fantastic exhibits.

And this year things are bound to get exciting as a host of new events are being scheduled to coincide with British astronaut Tim Peake’s time aboard the International Space Station!

Wherever in the country you are, and wherever your interests lie, the odds are there will be something exciting coming your way in 2016.