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Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for the Nintendo 3DS

Review by J, aged 11:

On Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games there are four different modes. Road to Rio, Quick play, Versus mode and Pocket marathon. 'Road to Rio' is the story mode, where you choose to play for team Mario or team Sonic and compete to win gold medals. In 'Quick play', you can play the Olympic events. In 'Pocket marathon', you have to walk with the Nintendo 3DS. Every step that you do turns into an in-game metre. You can earn rewards from walking certain amounts of steps. In 'Versus mode' you can with your friends in local play or download play.

My favourite events to play in quick play mode are football, 100m sprint and rhythmic gymnastics. The plus events are the same events but played a bit differently to normal events. My favourite plus events are BMX, where you have to avoid the goombas and collect rings, and archery, where you have to hit the moving targets that the boos are holding.

In 'Road to Rio' mode, you train for the events doing different training exercises, and can level up by training to increase the amount of clothes that you can wear. Different clothes help your mii in different ways. They can increase or decrease the amount of speed, power, skill and stamina. You can wear different clothes for different events. For example, in the 100m sprint, you would wear clothes that increase your speed. You choose whether to play for team Mario or team Sonic. Then you collect gold medals in the events for your team. You can buy clothes and gear using apples and melons.

In the 'pocket marathon' mode, you put your Nintendo 3DS into sleep mode and walk with it in your pocket. Every step that you do turns into an in game metre. There are three courses to run. The first course is 10,000 steps, the second course is 20,000 steps, and the third course is 42,195 steps. You can get rewards for walking a lot. One day, I walked over 22,000 steps with the Nintendo 3DS just for the pocket marathon!

In 'versus mode' you can play in local play with others that have the game, or play in download play, with others that don't have the game. You can play all the events in 'Quick play', including the plus events. You can get achievements for doing certain things in Quick play, Pocket marathon, Road to Rio, or Versus mode. You can get rewards for completing certain amounts of achievements.

This is a game that I absolutely love. My favourite things to do on it are football, rhythmic gymnastics (it's so funny watching my mii do it), BMX and Pocket marathon.

I think it is so cool that the game is named after the Olympics that are actually coming up this year and it makes me really excited about the real Olympics too. I think I will always love this game more than the real Olympics though.

Find out more about Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games here.  It is available for the Nintendo 3DS family systems (making it also compatible with the Nintendo 2DS) and is rated PEGI 7.

Disclosure: As Nintendo Family Bloggers, we received a download code for this game for the purposes of review. 


Boiled Bungalow Cake adapted from Emma Bridgewater 'Pattern' Book

I'd never heard of a bungalow cake before and a google search has left me none the wiser. I've rarely made fruit cake either - I think last Christmas was my first time making fruit cake but when I saw this recipe in Emma Bridgewater's 'Pattern' book, it caught my eye.

In my usual way, I decided to try to make the recipe a little bit healthier. I know it is still cake but I always try to see if I can reduce the amounts of fat and sugar in cakes and after my Chocolate Beetroot cake bakeover turned out so well before, I keep trying in the hope of further successful bakes.

This time it wasn't 100% successful. The texture and moistness were perfect. It rose sufficiently well too. But I think adding so much bicarbonate of soda was my error as it gave the cake a peculiar taste. As I had reduced the amount of self-raising flour and egg in the recipe and switched the plain flour for wholemeal, my fear was it wouldn't rise and so I over-compensated by adding far more bicarb than I needed to. So that will be my main lesson for next time.

I adapted the quantities in the recipe to make a smaller cake and switched a few ingredients like swapping the caster sugar for a smaller amount of honey instead.

So here is the recipe I used once the changes had been made but do take note that the bicarb did affect the flavour of the cake so next time I will be using less!

225g mixed dried fruits (I used a mixture of what I found at home which was mixed dried fruit, dried apricots, dried cranberries and glace cherries)
150ml water
1 and a half tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g honey
88g stork
1 egg - beaten
50g self-raising flour
63g wholemeal flour

1. Pre-heat the oven to 130C (fan). Grease and line an 8inch cake tin.
2. Chop all the dried fruit to a small size (i.e. I chopped the larger dried apricots and glace cherries to match the size of the mixed dried fruit pieces).
3. In a pan, mix together the dried fruit, water, bicarb, honey and stork. Place on the hob and bring to the boil. Stir regularly and boil for 10 minutes. Then leave to cool.
4. Once cool, add in the egg and then sift in the flour. Mix together then pour into the cake tin.
5. I baked it for an hour. Check with a skewer to see if cooked through.

As I mentioned, the texture and moistness of this cake were perfect. It was just the bicarb that changed its flavour enough that the kids didn't enjoy it but me and Richard happily polished it off.

As for the book, despite not having any particular interest in the field of pattern and design (I still think my bottle design was more luck than skill), I found I really enjoyed reading the stories behind the Emma Bridgewater patterns. The more books I am reading, the more I am finding that I enjoy biographies and similar books that tell of real life people and their real life stories. I hadn't expected to find recipes in this particular book so that was a bonus too.


Hyrule Warriors: Legends on Nintendo 3DS

Hyrule Warriors: Legends is the latest adventure based on the amazing Zelda franchise. Whilst based on the same lands and characters as Twilight Princess, this has a vastly different look and feel to it. With less of a focus on solving puzzles, and much more on cutting down hoards of enemies as you progress.
Hyrule Warriors: Legends on the Nintendo 3DS is based on the Nintendo Wii U game and contains all the original content, but with even more added content and features and, of course, the ability to play on the go. One of the things I love about the Nintendo 3DS is that it fits neatly into a pocket, and provides an ideal distraction whilst waiting for a bus or travelling up to London on the train. And this game offers a great distraction!
After the beautifully crafted introductory set video, you start the game as Link. The basic premise is that the land has been invaded by an enemy and you must defeat them. Lots of them. As you battle through the different fields and fortresses, you have to overcome enough enemies to trigger the area boss to arrive. Beat him, and that area comes under Hyrule's command again. And once you have conquered most of the land, the level boss arrives and you have to work out how to beat him, too. He's breathing fire, trampling through walls and crushing your team-mates so you have to work fast.
As you progress you learn new skills and tips, and have to learn to take control of other playable characters in the game, or direct them to where you want them to fight for you. To be fair, the first level is not too tricky, but does involve a lot of sword play against hundreds of nasty chaps. But at the end of that level we find that Princess Zelda has been captured, and the real game begins - travel through different levels, different terrains, battle different enemies, and find her to bring her back. The trick is to win battlegrounds, and to do so quickly - that keeps your army's morale high and makes them more effective in fighting for you.
The Nintendo 3DS game has new stages, new gameplay and new characters compared to the Wii U game, so if you are a fan of that version you will want to take a look at this.
I realise I've mentioned the 'fighting' and 'swordplay' a lot, but this is not a game of gore. The atmosphere is light and playful. It is a huge amount of fun, with simple controls to move and control your character, and the ability to switch to other characters in the game. As you defeat more enemies, you can use new weapons (like bombs) and special moves, which are really quite extraordinary and great fun to use.
If you remember the Zelda games of yesteryear, you will also love the unique Adventure Mode where you can explore the original Legend of Zelda maps, finding fairies to assist you and bringing them into this new mission - but choose wisely, and help nurture the fairies you bring so they offer the best help for you.

Hyrule Warriors: Legends is available on Nintendo 3DS and is rated PEGI 12. Find out more from theNintendo website... or watch this short video produced by Nintendo UK.
Disclosure: We were sent the download code for this game for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on Nintendo WiiU

Link and Epona. Image (c) Nintendo
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the latest amazing game in this fantastic franchise. A mysterious dark figure has emerged from the Twilight Realm into the world of light.  Playing as Link, you must travel through dark forests, maze-like dungeons and far-off lands of Hyrule, trying to unravel what has happened and to restore order to a now broken land.

This is a single-player story-based game, where you travel through lands, face challenges, and solve puzzles as you progress. The first part is easy - choose a name for yourself (I stuck with Link) and your horse, and then into the game you go. You start off with 'simple' challenges to help you learn the controls, and figure out how things work. But nothing is really that 'simple' - even with the help from other characters telling you where to get the fishing rod, for example, you have a fair amount of thinking and figuring out before you can actually get it. Challenges relate to one another, too, so you have to solve one to be able to solve the next. This isn't simply running around bashing things - you do have to use your brain, and it's great!

Once you have mastered controlling Link and your horse (including herding goats, jumping over fences, and learning how to use your sword), you are off in the first foray out of the village. Outside is a dark and threatening land, but you have a mission to complete and many adventures lay ahead. It isn't long before things take a turn for the worse, and everything you have learnt to help you play as Link has to be re-learnt as you take on a new form.

This is a beautifully crafted game. Nintendo have taken a classic adventure and added a serious and classy style. The artwork is stunning, and the video clips are as enjoyable as they are informative. As well as many helpful characters, there are of course the many characters and figures who mean you harm. In this story, the darkness is quite palpable at times, and the atmosphere electric.

For the serious gamer, and anyone who wants to prove themselves, there is a Hero mode, where enemies deal double the damage and health-restoring hearts don't appear. As with other fantastic Nintendo games, you can buy Amiibo's that add new dimensions and features to the game - opening new parts of the game, or (for if you really want to see how tough you are) making the enemies even stronger.

If you have ever played a game in the Zelda series (I remember playing the Ocarina of Time many years ago) you will want to play this. If you haven't, well this is a great place to start. It is in-depth, it is immersive, it is challenging, and yes it has a dark plot. But the controls are finely balanced, the gameplay is excellent, the art work is stunning, and the game overall is fantastic.

The Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess is available on Nintendo WiiU and is rated PEGI 12. Find out more from the Nintendo website. Our photos really don't do the graphics and imagery justice, and the atmosphere created is so much more intense than can be portrayed in this review - go and enjoy it for real!

Disclosure: We were sent the download code for this game for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

Avocado smoothie bowl

This was my Easter morning breakfast and it tasted soooo good I needed to keep a note of the ingredients that I threw into it.

Ingredients for the smoothie bowl:
1 ripe avocado 
A teeny drizzle of double cream
2 dates 

A handful of blueberries
A sprinkle of pumpkin seeds
A scattering of roasted chopped hazelnuts

Just blend together the main ingredients for the smoothie bowl. I use my Kenwood kmix blender which makes light work of this. Then pour into a bowl and add the toppings. 

It's amazing how just two dates can add so much sweetness. I've been able to cut loads of sugar out my diet lately using the natural sweetness of dried fruit. 

This makes enough for two people in my opinion but sadly no one else in the family was tempted to have any so it made a very filling breakfast just for me. I didn't want to risk keeping half of it in case the avocado discoloured.

My hastily taken photo doesn't really do it justice but it really does taste good!

It tastes just as creamy without the double cream so no need to add that.
In this version, for the topping I added chopped roasted hazlenuts and pumpkin seeds as before but also cacao powder and fresh raspberries.

A photo posted by Rebecca Beesley (@rebeccabeesley) on

Coconut Easter Chicks and Coconut-Chocolate Truffles with Vita Coco

Coconut oil is truly a super ingredient if ever there was one - with its health credentials and its many varied uses from cooking, to health and beauty, this is one must-have product!

My preferred way of using Vita Coco Coconut oil is in savoury dishes - I stir it through pasta, noodles, and quinoa, I roast butternut squash with it, I use it to stir-fry my favourite veggies. Lots of dishes are given a healthy and tasty makeover by using Coconut oil instead of butter or vegetable oil.

But with this being Easter season, I have decided upon a sweet recipe rather than savoury for the Vita Coco #SwearByIt challenge. This is a really fun and simple recipe and makes a great alternative to Easter eggs if you get fed up of all that chocolate over Easter.

Apart from a bit of melting for the truffle part of the recipe, it is otherwise a 'no-cook' recipe so it is super easy for the kids to join in with.

They will love making these cute little Coconut Easter Chicks! I've made a video to show just how simple and quick this recipe is to make and I also show you how to make some little egg shaped coconut and chocolate truffles to go alongside the chicks.

So here's the recipe video:

And here it is step-by-step...

Ingredients for coconut chicks (makes 2-3 chicks):
30g Vita Coco coconut oil
40g icing sugar
30g dessicated coconut
10 ml milk
Yellow food colouring gel
Small piece of orange fondant icing for beak and feet
Small piece of black fondant icing for eyes


  • Soften the Vita Coco coconut oil by mixing with a spoon.
  • Add in the icing sugar and mix well with the milk. Add the milk very gradually as you may not need all of it.
  • Add in the dessicated coconut and mix with a tiny drop of yellow food colouring gel. Add enough to get your desired shade of yellow.
  • Roll one larger ball for the body and one smaller ball for the head to make your chick.
  • Add the details like the beak and the eyes.

Making the Coconut Easter Chicks

Ingredients for Coconut-Chocolate truffle eggs (makes 10-12 truffles):
30g plain chocolate
8g Vita Coco coconut oil
35g icing sugar

To coat - a selection of:
cocoa powder
freeze-dried raspberry pieces
crushed pistachios
gold / shimmery edible lustre dust


  • Melt the chocolate - I like to do this by breaking the chocolate into a bowl and warming over a pan of water on the hob. Don't let the bowl touch the water.
  • Melt the coconut oil - I did this in a microwaveable jug, in short bursts on low power.
  • Mix the melted coconut oil into the melted chocolate. Then add in the icing sugar and mix well. It will look like a chocolate 'dough'.
  • Pick off small pieces and roll into an 'egg' shape.
  • Roll these 'eggs' into the various coatings to make them look super.
  • Arrange them around your cute easter chicks.
  • Enjoy!
Making the coconut chocolate egg-shaped truffles
If you like the flavour of coconut, you will love these - The chicks taste fabulous with the flavour of Vita Coco coconut oil mixed in with the dessicated coconut and the truffles are just gorgeous with the coconut oil merging with dark chocolate to give an incredible flavour.  

Now just as you were thinking these are way too specific for Easter, just think about the possibilities...With a little creative thinking the shape and colour of these tasty coconut treats can be adapted throughout the year. Instead of yellow chicks, how about pink hearts for Valentines day? or keep them white and they would make perfect little snowmen at Christmas. The truffles don't need to be egg-shaped either - and would make delicious truffles anytime of year - perhaps a tasty birthday gift or end of term pressie for the teacher. There are so many brilliant possibilities for this recipe.

As it's Easter weekend, for now, we'll enjoy them as these cute Easter chicks. 

This recipe is an entry into the #Swearbyit challenge with Vita Coco. Find more great coconut oil recipes and tips on using coconut oil at www.swearbyit.com

Vita Coco kindly sent me a 250ml jar of Vita Coco coconut oil. All opinions and ideas are my own.