Earlier on this evening I nearly – nearly – won a Wii U on Ebay. I’m actually grateful in many ways that I didn’t. Yes, I would like to continue the tradition of possessing every Nintendo home console, but upon reflection, the Wii U doesn’t offer that much more than the Wii. Yes, Super Mario Maker looks awesome – but with the exception of Breath of the Wild next year, there’s nothing else on the Wii U that appeals.

Next year sees the arrival of the as-yet mysterious NX, which from the rumours floating around will be a home console/handheld hybrid. Whether it’s truly portable remains to be seen, though a DS-style console with something approaching the power of a PlayStation 4 that can docked to a TV sounds pretty good. Other rumours include new Mario and Pokemon games, so alongside Zelda this means a strong launch window line up. Unless the NX reveal shows something that strikes me as doomed, I’ll be skipping a generation of Nintendo console.

Invisible to the naked eye, and sitting just over four light years from the Sun, sits a small, comparatively cool and seemingly insignificant star. Except this type of star is by far the most common in the galaxy and most likely the universe. More importantly, Proxima Centauri might yet host the most important find of the century.


Proxima is a red dwarf star. These stars are low-mass objects and small in size too. As a result, they are cool in comparison to our Sun, however their lifespan is thought to be trillions of years long, dwarfing (if you’ll pardon the pun) even the billions of years lifespan of the Sun. Scientists have expressed an interest in them because of their frequency – and people have been curious to know if such stars could support planets. The European Southern Observatory announced the discovery of a planet around Proxima on 24th August – and this happens to be a rocky world, possibly 1.3 earth-masses in mass, that orbits within the habitable zone of the star.

Needless to say, this is a landmark finding. Liquid water might exist on the surface of this world, and it’s similar in mass to earth. Might it be able to support life? It’s far too early to know if there’s an atmosphere of any sort, and the chances are the planet is tidally locked (that is, the same ‘face’ of the planet always faces the star, being one side will be baked whilst the other side is cold), so the odds of finding intelligent life there are remote – but might some form of life be able to survive there? Well, the extremophiles that exist right here on earth would suggest it’s possible.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda series. For me, LoZ defines me as a gamer. That being said, I am (as a Nintendo fan) no stranger to the importance of a certain Italian plumber and his adventures.

Super Mario World was a launch title for the Super Nintendo (which was released 25 years ago today in the US) and it still holds up as a fine example of a well-executed platform game. The game world is huge, you can go back and redo levels you’ve already completed (and in some cases it benefits you to do so), and the levels are crafted with terrific attention to detail. It’s clear Nintendo wanted to get this game right before releasing it – and they nailed it.

What ensures SMW takes its place as one of the all-time great Mario games is its replay value. If you know what you’re doing, you can reach the final boss in virtually no time (Star Road can see to that), but likewise, you can battle through different worlds and uncover different exits to levels that in turn open up new, secret levels to complete. You can even find secret worlds within secret worlds – so in many respects, completing the game is less about beating Bowser and rather, about finding all the secrets and completing every exit from every level.

New gameplay options are introduced too – the dinosaur Yoshi becomes Mario’s companion, and he will eat enemies for you. Mario can once again fly, and in fact the cape is in my view the most useful of all his power-ups. Stomping on koopas will force the turtle out of its shell, which you can then grab and use as a weapon, whilst new blue and yellow koopas bring new and unique challenges.

SMW is a beautiful game to look at too. Yes, the SNES doesn’t boast advanced graphics compared to today’s consoles, but as with A Link to the Past, it does a great job with what it has.

All in all, I give this a very well-earned 9/10.

It’s been a few weeks since the events of Hockenheim, and the F1 drivers have had their break, and now it’s time to get back down the serious business of racing fast cars. Formula 1 returns, and heads for one of its most iconic venues.


Spa-Francorchamps is a fearsome circuit. At one point (prior to F1) it was a 9-mile long race through the forests, and from 1946-1970 it was an 8.7-mile speed fest. Needless to say, Spa has historically been a dangerous track – 48 racers, across various formats, have been killed here, including as recently as 2013. Four marshalls have also died at Spa.

The ‘new’ circuit (circa the late 1970s) is 4.3 miles and still incorporates a few elements of the original track. The legendary Eau Rouge is a fast uphill left and right-hand jink that always tests a driver’s nerves and skill, whilst the weather is famous for being erratic, with parts of the track being bone dry and other parts being wet. With parts of the track being winding, mid-speed corners and other parts being flat-out straights, car setup is not an easy thing to nail here.

In the context of 2016, the season is at a crucial stage. Championship leader Lewis Hamilton heads Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 19 points, having overturned a 43-point deficit. With Mercedes leaning toward changing engine parts on Hamilton’s car for the next race in Italy, the Briton will need to maximise his points at Spa in order to ease the pain of that penalty. Rosberg will be eager to regain the initiative, which has slipped away from him after a superb start to the season, however Rosberg has not won at Spa.

The power aspects of the track will suit Mercedes, but Sector 2 in particular is a winding, twisty portion of the circuit that might play to the strengths of the Red Bulls, who have edged ahead of Ferrari in the constructor’s championship. RBR will be looking to make a nuisance of themselves once again in Belgium, having scored a double podium last time out.

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