Here’s to leaving your mark

Happy New Year! …A couple days ago!

2019 is going to be great, I just know it! Or maybe it’ll be mediocre, like this Pop-Tarts Review I posted recently. It’s been some time since I did one of these!

I know, I know, the sound levels are way off. I tried fixing it, but my video editing software crashed over and over every time I asked it to normalize the volume. So there was nothing left to do but post as-is. And start a search for a better program.

Monthend Video Game Wrap-Up : December 2018

~Game Over~

Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! (Switch) – I don’t like the EXP distribution changes, because it makes trainer battles feel pointless, but other than that? Muah! *Italian chef kiss*

Super Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch) – Much like how the Switch is what the Wii U should have been, this game is exactly what Smash for Wii U should have been. It’s so good.

GRIS (Switch) – I’ve played pretentious indie platformers before, but never one anywhere near as pretty as GRIS. The beautiful, watercolor worlds are reason enough to give this one a go.

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A Fresh Fitness Fixation

Remember Wii Fit? Man, that was a pretty fun way to delude myself into believing that I was getting a reasonable amount of exercise. All those delightful little activities that gamified physical exertion, bound to the somewhat cumbersome but absolutely integral Wii Balance Board accessory. Which, I might add, doesn’t work properly on my condo’s carpet. I got really into Wii Fit three or four times, always quickly falling off the wagon, like you do when you’re as lazy and unmotivated as me.

My favourite exercise on Wii Fit was the Rhythm Boxing, where you’d use a combination of the balance board, wiimote, and nunchuk to simulate beating up a robotic punching bag. It wasn’t overly challenging, and was kind of slow since it was simon-esque, where your trainer would call out a sequence of moves which you’d then have to copy. I tried to put wrist weights on my arms to get more out of it, but that ended up somehow making my punches harder to read. Accelerometers! They’re weird!

Fast-forward to earlier this month when this demo for a game called Fitness Boxing shows up on the Switch eShop. In the summer months I likely would have ignored it completely, but now that we’re in the middle of winter where I’m getting little exercise and trying to avoid a never-ending tidal wave of holiday junk food, I decided to see what was up. Oh lordy-loo, was I ever in for a nice surprise!

Fitness Boxing, as it turns out, is a game developed by Imagineer and published by… Nintendo? This becomes very obvious when you see that the game’s menus are ripped almost directly from Wii Fit. The overall style and green-and-white theme were immediately familiar. I’m pretty sure that even the fonts are exactly the same. So that’s a good start. Clearly Nintendo had a hand in guiding this project along, so there’s likely going to be a good level of polish to it. What sets it apart the most, in non-gameplay terms anyhow, is that your trainer is no longer a pale mannequin. Despite the title screen’s featureless lady, there’s an actual character named Lin, who is animated quite poorly and has a noticeable Japanese accent. I find her surprisingly charming, but you can unlock five other trainers if she’s not doing it for you.

So the gameplay, it’s got a similar framework to Wii Fit, where you do a daily check-in exercise and are then free to play around as you want with the other modes. But this one’s all boxing, all the time! And also, the call-and-repeat format is axed in favour of a much more fast-paced system that plays just like any other rhythm game. You’ve got two scrolling tracks on the screen, and various symbols will scroll by. Your job is to deliver the correct type of punch with precise timing, all to the beat of the music. It’s a lot of fun! They also get your lower body moving by having you change up your stance once in a while, and encouraging you to bob back and forth to the beat. The best part is that the only accessories you need to play are the joy-cons; I’ll never have to pull out that awkward balance board again.

While the workouts are very fun on their own and high-score mechanic gives you something to strive for (besides better physical wellness), Fitness Boxing has another trick up its sleeve to keep you coming back for more: a constant stream of unlockables. From songs, to workout routines, to new clothing options for your trainer, it seems like there are a ton of things to unlock in this game. Some are gated behind good performance, and some are based on checking in for a certain number of days. I’m sure they won’t be a long-term draw, but just the idea of so many things to earn has me very invested in the idea of purchasing the full version. What can I say? I just love amassing collections of pointless virtual junk!

As for the music… that’s the one part where Fitness Boxing really falls flat. There are twenty popular songs to punch along to; I think that I genuinely like four of the tracks and despise roughly half of the list. The nice part is that they’re all vocal-free, electronic covers, so even the worst ones don’t grate on me as much as they could. Did I think I’d ever find myself getting fired up to Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger”? Not in a million years, but it happened! 20 songs also seems like a very limited selection; and I really hope that there are a few DLC songs in the pipeline, but don’t actually expect to see any. Maybe if the game gets really popular, but that seems unlikely.

If it wasn’t clear before, I’m pretty well sold on buying the full version of Fitness Boxing when it comes out in January. I’m not 100% on board yet, but it seems likely. The demo version has already run its course, since they give you a very limited number of plays (three daily workouts and ten “free play” sessions), so we’ll have to see if I’m still interested come next week, or if the excitement has already passed by then. But I sure had a heck of a lot of fun with the demo!

Merry Xmas!

And Happy Other Holidays from your good pal, Ryan.

As a Xmas gift to all my loyal reader, here’s a video game review that I wrote in November but didn’t ever get around to proofreading or posting. Enjoy!

Once October rolled around, my plan was to put any games I was currently playing aside and focus on more spooky fare. Then I continued to spend most of my gaming time on Picross games and Monster Hunter anyway. Because I am incorrigible.

I did manage to mash a few spooky games in anyway (see the Monthend Wrap-Up for deets), and one of those games was Hollow. This is a first-person shooter with a sci-fi horror theme, and if I had to review it in a single sentence, it would be this:

What if Dead Space was kinda crappy?

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The 24 Days of Gluttony : Day 24 – Sasquatch Stout

It’s here. Xmas Eve. And it came so much faster than it ever has before. Whether that’s because I’m old and jaded, or because I’ve been so damned busy, I don’t know for sure. Perhaps it’s a combination of both.

Whatever the case may be, thank the Buddha this friggin’ feature is over.

Sasquatch Stout is our final entry for Xmas 2018, and it’s a doozy. My youngest brother bought me a can of this gimmick beer for Xmas last year, and to get straight to the point, I hope I’ll never have to drink it ever again.

If you’ll take a close look at the bottom of the can, you’ll see that this is a beer with the flavours of “coffee, chocolate, and mystery.” I’ve never had a chocolate beer before, and based on Half Pints’ Stir Stick Stout I am of the opinion that coffee and beer are a terrible pairing. But then there’s the third part. Mystery. I don’t know if that’s them being cute because of sasquatch theme, or if it’s really saying that there’s some unlisted flavour going on here. It doesn’t really matter though, because this stuff is awful. As I said before, coffee-flavoured beer is gross alone, but the chocolate only exacerbates the poor flavour combo, and if that mystery is actually a flavour, it’s indecipherable and also does nothing to help.

Yet despite how disgusting I found it, apparently Sasquatch Stout was voted “Best Beer in Canada” back in 2014. So I guess I just have no sense of taste when it comes to beer.

On the other hand, I’m somewhat forced to adore this beer on account of it’s a sasquatch-themed beer. It’s such a tragedy that such a wonderful creature sould end up the namesake of such a crap-tastic beverage..Poor sasquatch. I still love you, big guy. Just not your beer.

The 24 Days of Gluttony : Day 23 – McDonald’s Peppermint Latte

I know, I know, just days ago I was bemoaning the sheer boringitude of the annual peppermint version of various places’ hot chocolates and lattles. But that’s not to say that I don’t like them! I think that I’ve established many times already that adding peppermint to something is basically a surefire way to sell it to me. I think it’s a great flavour, particularly when matched with coffee.

So today, I’ll take a minute to honour this timeless classic. I didn’t call it boring because I don’t like it, I called it boring because it’s so easy for companies to fall back on it instead of experimenting with other kinds of holiday variants. But it keeps coming back every year because it works. You can’t take chances any more in the corporate world. You might lose money that way! Just keep doing what you know the mindless consumers will eat up.

Whoops. This isn’t supposed to be a rant against capitalism…

Peppermint lattes! They’re tasty!

The 24 Days of Gluttony : Day 22 – Great Value Gingerbread Cookies

I was originally going to title this post “Great Value Gingerbread Men” until I realized that it’s 2018 and just wouldn’t be right. It doesn’t say “Men” anywhere on the box, so who am I to assign them genders? These cookie people can be whatever they damn well want to be; man, woman, or anything in between! I’ll back them all the way! You go, cookies!

Anyway, these are Wal-Mart brand cookies, and as such, they’re super cheap. Also, you get what you pay for. Not the worst gingerbread I’ve ever eaten, but they’re certainly not good. Maybe slightly below average, I’d say. What really kills them is that they’re way too strong. I can feel the spices linger in my mouth long after the cookies are eaten. That’s not what I want from a cookie.

Ehhh… that’s about all I’ve got in me today. Whatever. Take a flyer on this $1 box of cookies, or don’t. I don’t care.

The 24 Days of Gluttony : Day 21 – Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch

I could probably sit here for a while, banging on my keyboard until something vaguely witty or funny or interesting ended up on the screen, but I’d rather just cut to the chase today.

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch is disappointing. I don’t know why, because it’s exactly what I should have expected. What it is, is Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but without the cinnamon. Just, more sugar instead. They took the best part out! Why? What was the point?

Props to General Mills for doing the holiday winter cereal thing. Truly, I appreciate the effort. And the fact that they’re selling it in Canada is exemplary. Unfortunately, the cereal itself just didn’t do anything for me. Especially not with Count Chocula and Fruity Pebbles sitting right there behind it.

Not feelin’ it. I want to, though. I desperately want to, but it’s not happening. I feel like I’ve failed as a connoisseur of sugary cereals. I’m hanging up my spoons.

The 24 Days of Gluttony : Day 20 – Tim Horton’s Seasonal Spread

Like I said a couple entries ago, I’ve been poking around various fast food places to see what they’ve got in terms of seasonal specials, and it’s been mostly disappointing. Everyone does the peppermint hot chocolate and caramel latte. They aren’t special anymore. If I had to give a single place the distinction of best seasonal goodies, it would easily go to Tim Horton’s.

Just look at this spread of holiday-themed baked goods they have on offer. They make for an excellent photo op, but how to they stack up as snack foods?

Let’s start at the low point: the jelly roll. It’s maybe the second-most impressive visually, but it was easily the least delectable of the trio. I guess? I don’t know. It ranks last overall, anyway. It’s a nice, soft pastry with a raspberry filling. Which sounds great! It’s pretty good, truth be told. The filling is too overpowering, though. I almost want to just eat a sheet of the pasty. It’s just so soft and has a wonderful mouthfeel.

Next up is the holiday tree donut. You know, this one is actually the least fulfilling as far as eating it is concerned. It’s a plain ol’ boston creme all dressed up for the holidays, and I really don’t care for the boston creme filling. It’s… icky. I don’t like it. Not one bit. Perfect way to ruin a donut. But the visual appeal! Oh my gosh! That minty-green icing! And the coloured sprinkles! I would love ot be able to decorate my house with these, because I love looking at them.

Of course, saving the best for last, we have the filled sugar cookie. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a big, fat sugar cookie pumped full of vanilla frosting. It is delectable, but I’m only ever eating the one, because I’m pretty sure that it’s packed with enough sugar to kill a normal man. I, of course, am a little more resistant to sugar, seeing as it’s basically all I ate throughout my late teens and early twenties. Well, sugar and BK Whoppers. Anyway, this is the perfect definition of a “diabetes bomb”. You’re taking your life in your hands if you eat one. But oh man, is it ever worth it.

The 24 Days of Gluttony : Day 19 – Ryan’s Lunch

Okay, listen, twenty-four blog posts is a lot. Especially when you’re trying to collect a unique and very specific type of item for each one. Especially when you live in Canada where junk food is not allowed to be exciting or fun. So I was destined to run out of ideas and have to do a post on something completely boring.

At least I found a way to spice it up by choosing something so boring that it may just come all the way back around to interesting.

No? Rats.

That’s right, it’s my lunch. This is what eat for lunch almost every single weekday. A cup of plain yogurt with granola, and a banana. Sometimes I skip the banana because it gets smooshed past the point of edibility in my bag on the way to work. It happens. Particularly later in the week, once the bananas have started to ripen and the peels lose their durability.

There was a time where I would keep a bag of pistachios at my desk to snack on during the week, but man, those things are expensive. Not so expensive that I couldn’t afford them, but I didn’t really enjoy them enough to justify the cost. And so back to yogurt and banana I went.