by Bret

Christmas Wrapped iPhone Review! Jolly good? Or a load of humbug?

Christmas Wrapped

iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, iOS 4.0 or later

Price: Free Lite Edition or £1.19

It’s that time of year again where we all struggle to buy Christmas presents in the ever-shortening run up to the festive season.

For many people, myself included, the problem is not about knowing where to shop or get the best prices, but more about actually knowing what to get someone- the original inspiration is what we need.

Christmas Wrapped is the perfect app for this conundrum because it supplies you with tailor made suggestions; enter the gender and age group of the person you are shopping for and the budget you have to spend, and the app will supply a list of suggested gifts.

Those of us who need a little organisation will get the most out of this app. Make a list of people, enter budgets, create shopping lists and put in custom entries for any gifts you’re already got in mind so that the budget can be done in one place. Without a doubt, Christmas Wrapped is a perfect first step for planning a perfect shopping spree.

The price tag of £1.19 is a little steep at first glance, but it’s also a small price to pay for that much-needed inspiration when you just don’t know what to get for someone. Fortunately there is a free edition that you can try out first, limited to only 3 gift suggestions, but it gives a reasonable idea of the functionality of the app. The suggestions all link to the appropriate product page on the website that they come from so you can order them there and then.

So; time to give the app a spin. Let’s see what it suggests for the following fictitious family: Dad, Mum, Brother, Girlfriend and Baby. You can use your own contact list or make your own entries, a handy little touch.

For Dad I put in the male gender of course and the age group as 40-70. With a budget of £40 I get Inception on DVD, a Digital Photo frame, family tree making software and a malt whiskey gift set among many other things.

For Mum I put the same but female. The suggestions included loads of perfumes such as Hugo Boss Pure Purple, Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals (also listed for Dad), a Vivitar Digital Camera, Adopt a Kitten pack and much more, with a nice selection of gift jewellery too. With some wiggle room left over in the budget I took a quick look at the £20 gifts too and found a nice digital photo frame keyring.

For Brother I put in male, £30 and 15-20. This came up with Converse trainers, remote controlled cars, Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals again, a funky headphone hat and a Lightsaber room light. The suggestions mostly centred around gadgets of this nature.

For Girlfriend I put in female, £50 and 20-40 age range. I was given a pampering day, some fluffy ear muffs, a lot of perfume, Pet’s Eye View Camera and a few experience day gift packs. A decent selection, bearing in mind that I only looked at the first few suggestions for this review.

Lastly for Baby I did male, £10 budget, 2-5 years old. Christmas Wrapped came up with a VTech Nursey Rhyme Book, Baby Wooden Dinosaur, a variety of educational toys and a child’s apron that I could have done with myself when I was young.

In the end I had, after about 20 minutes of playing around:

Dad: Whiskey Gift Set – £46.54 delivered

Mum: Hugo Boss Pure Purple – £27.20 delivered, SilverStone Pebble Digital Photo Keyring £7.95 delivered

Brother: Star Wars Lightsaber Room Light, £29.99 delivered

Girlfriend: Emu Australia Women’s Angahook Ear Muffs, £48.00 delivered

Baby: Baby Wooden Dinosaur, £10.95 delivered

I think it can be easily said that his app does exactly what it says on the tin. The heart of the matter is that even if you don’t like the suggestions, it gives a ton of possible gifts that act as inspiration when you just can’t think of something new for someone. The organisational elements of the app also help to get all this shopping done within budget and on time. It’s also clear that it isn’t foolproof; it is quite common to get the same gift offered to people in quite different categories and this app comes up with suggestions that fit quite stereotypical groups of people. If the people you are buying for like their gifts to be out of the ordinary, this app may not help so much.

Despite slight drawbacks which can be checked out easily with the free version, the full version of Christmas Wrapped will almost certainly provide help for Christmas shopping. There are extra features that bring a little more value for money from a PIN lock (so that nobody can snoop on your list) and the option to donate to Make-a-Wish. It even has a sly sense of humour which I found out when deleting a contact’s gift list only to see the app stamp them with ‘Naughty!’

Some users will find that it gives them new ideas while others will be able to do the entirety of their shopping just on this app alone. With a balance between functionality, usefulness, fun and ease of use, Christmas Wrapped fulfils the very point of having iPhone apps.

Rob Zombie ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2’ special edition to hit stores in Feb!

Regurgitatum:

Fans of the multi-platinum, 7-times Grammy-nominated ROB ZOMBIE are set for a fantastic February.   Not only is the man returning to these shores for the first time in 12 years with his pyro-tastic, monster-laden stage show, but Zombie enthusiasts can also look forward to the release of the special edition of current album, ‘Hellbilly Deluxe 2’. 

Set to street on 14th February, the deluxe version of HD2 features 3 brand new studio tracks recorded with his current band; guitarist John 5, bassist Piggy D and drummer Joey Jordison.  The new tunes are “Everything Is Boring,” “Michael” and “Devil’s Hole Girls And The Big Revolution,” as well as a re-imagining of “The Man Who Laughs.”   In addition, the package will include a DVD featuring the video for “Mars Needs Women” (shot during the ‘Gruesome Twosome’ US tour with Alice Cooper), a live version of the Alice classic “School’s Out” with Cooper guesting and a 30-minute tour documentary entitled “Transylvanian Transmissions,” plus sumptuous, expanded artwork.    UK shows line up as follows:

Wed 16th Feb – LONDON O2 Academy Brixton (0844 477 2000)                                    SOLD OUT

Thu 17th Feb – MANCHESTER Apollo (0161 832 1111)                                                        SOLD OUT

Fri 18th Feb – NEWCASTLE O2 Academy (0844 477 2000)                                                  SOLD OUT

Sun 20th Feb – GLASGOW O2 Academy (0844 477 2000)                                                  SOLD OUT

Mon 21st Feb – LEEDS O2 Academy (0844 477 2000)                                                          SOLD OUT

Tue 22nd Feb – BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy (0844 477 2000)                                          SOLD OUT

 

Fans who’ve missed out on Feb tickets shouldn’t despair however, as Rob has just been confirmed for the world famous Download Festival, happening at Donington Park, Derbyshire from 10th-12th June.  Full details are available at www.downloadfestival.co.uk.

 

Not content to merely hijack the planet with his delightfully nefarious tunes, Rob Zombie, wearing his auteur’s hat, directed the second flick in the legendary franchise, ‘Halloween 2’, which emerged last year.   It was his fifth time writing and directing a feature film.  Zombie had also interpreted John Carpenter’s original cult horror ‘Halloween’ in 2007 and that film debuted at No. 1 at the US Box Office, shattering Labor Day weekend records.  His previous films include 2004’s essential ‘House of 1000 Corpses’ and 2005’s critically acclaimed ‘The Devil’s Rejects’.  Zombie also completed his animated, R-rated feature, ‘The Haunted World of El Superbeasto’, and guest-directed a season-closing episode of the hit TV series, ‘CSI: Miami’.  His next movie project, “Lords of Salem” has just been announced and goes into production in 2011.

Shining Force Retro/iPhone review!

Time for a little cheeky re-post of an old retro game review; Shining Force, of Mega Drive fame. Now that this game is available on the iPhone, it seems worth retelling the world how much I love it. Hence:

 

There have been worse names for an army, but one does wonder what’s so great about the ‘Shining Force’. The Killy Force would be better, surely? However, in an archetypal fantasy world torn apart by the battle between good and evil, it’s either Shining or Dark, me laddo, none of this middle-ground, determine your own morality shit. Oh, except you can’t join the Dark, because it’s 16 bit and frankly there was barely enough space for the good guys to have a story. So, grab your sword and shield, young adventurer, and face a torrent of violence that would drive any man insane, if it wasn’t filtered into lovely squares.

squaregasm

That’s right- in the topsy turvy world of Shining Force (subtitle: The Legacy of Great Intention), everything fits on a neat square board. Your doods are square, your houses are square and your prowess in battle is measured by how many squares you can subjugate. Don’t let this put you off though- we’re talking about some high-end square graphics here, and ‘in battle’ as it were, we see some nifty animations done all proper like.

Samurai vs cerberus = win

You play as Max, or whatever you choose to name him (we opted for Daddy), who lives in Guardiana; a shitty backwater kingdom in the land of Rune. Guardiana is attacked by the armies of Runefaust, led by the evil Dark Sol. Apart from having better names, these guys are solid evil muthas and want to resurrect the ancient Dark Dragon, which would be bad for everyone smaller than a dragon. It’s up to Max, who is sent on a suicide mission with the other village youths (seriously, sending a handful of kids to do this?!), to stop the invaders. Along the way, they get pally with a variety of cool folks, from the standard fantasy fare (mages, centaurs, dwarves, elves), to the more outlandish (wolfmen, dragons, and a squid thingy).

But so much fun...

So what makes this retro game worth downloading for free shelling out £1.50 for? It’s a classic RPG for starters, and for fans of the genre it will expose the missing link between figety DOS fantasy and the 3D wonderland we have today. It has a funky soundtrack, as all old games do, and has a bundle of sequels to play with. The second game is in fact, in my eyes, better than the first. If you like your combat to be arranged into squares, you’ll like Shining Force.