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Lego Dimensions breaks the rules of the building block

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Ster-Kinekor Entertainment, Warner Bros, The LEGO Group and TT Games has announced LEGO Dimensions, a new entertainment experience that breaks the rules of traditional gaming to merge physical LEGO brick building with interactive console gameplay.

It will launch in South Africa on 26 August 2016. The game will fuse many fan-favourite universes together, including DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings, The LEGO Movie, LEGO Ninjago, The Wizard of Oz, Back to the Future, and many more.

LEGO Dimensions, developed by TT Games and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, will be available for Xbox One, the all-in one games and entertainment system and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems.

For the first time in any LEGO videogame, characters from iconic entertainment franchises join forces and battle in worlds outside of their own. In addition to the game, the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack will include two LEGO Toy Pads, which allows players to transport special LEGO minifigures and other LEGO objects into the game, bricks to build the LEGO Gateway, three LEGO Minifigures, including LEGO Batman from DC Comics, LEGO Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie, plus the LEGO Batmobile.

“When kids play with LEGO bricks, they build beyond the singular brands, intermixing all of their favorite universes and characters, and we have come up with a way for players to experience that in games,” said Tom Stone, Founder and Creative Director, TT Games. “Now for the first time in a videogame, LEGO fans can play in the virtual world and in the real world – combining everything without restrictions. Imagine putting LEGO Gollum from The Lord of the Rings behind the wheel of the LEGO Delorean in New Ninjago City – the creative play is endless.”

“Building on TT Games’ track record for exceptionally popular, engaging games, LEGO Dimensions expands our LEGO videogame franchise with a breakthrough, immersive interactive entertainment experience that will redefine the toys to life games category,” said Jeff Junge, Senior Vice President, LEGO Franchise and TT Games, Warner Bros. Entertainment.  “LEGO Dimensions will bring fans innovative and joyful gameplay with an amazing mash-up of huge brands in both the physical and digital worlds.”

“LEGO Dimensions is unlike anything that we have ever done. It further extends the LEGO play experience into the digital world with all of the characters, humour and action of LEGO videogames now combined with the amazing fun of LEGO minifigure and model building,” said Niels Jørgensen, Vice President, Digital Games for the LEGO Group. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with TT Games to explore ways in which physical and digital LEGO play can merge in meaningful ways for children.”

In addition to the four minifigure heroes used to start the experience, LEGO Dimensions will allow gamers to customize their experience with additional expansion packs.  Highly collectible Level Packs, Team Packs and Funny Packs will provide new buildable characters, vehicles, tools, pets and gadgets, as well as compelling game content with new mission-based levels and unique in-game abilities.  All expansion packs will feature well-known properties and provide gamers the opportunity to use everything interchangeably, anywhere throughout the game – with no limitations.

LEGO Dimensions not only offers a bridge between digital and physical LEGO play, but also introduces a digital system of play with great long-term value for LEGO gaming.  One LEGO Toy Pad, LEGO Gateway and the videogame found in the initial Starter Pack will offer endless opportunities to customize a player’s experience for years to come.  Future expansion pack purchases will continue to work with the Starter Pack, no compatibility chart necessary.

“We are extremely proud and very excited to inform our local consumers that the highly anticipated LEGO Dimensions will be available from the 26th August 2016 in South Africa through major retailers,” said Mario Dos Santos, Chief Executive Officer, Ster-Kinekor Entertainment. “This eagerly awaited title will be available for PlayStation®4 and Xbox One for a recommended retail price of R1499.99 as well as PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360 for R1299.99; we will also be distributing the expansions packs, including Funny Packs at a RRP of R249, Team Packs at R399 and Level Packs at R449.”

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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