Kevin C. Wong

TV Series - WandaVision (2021) [+]

WandaVision (2021) is a 9-episode half-hour drama. In the first episode Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) seem to be stuck in a Bewitched-style black and white sitcom, both unaware of who they really are. As each episode continues the tv shows they inhabit change, moving forward in time.

At first it could be some mysterious enemy. But eventually we see the outside world. SWORD Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) and FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) investigate a sleepy New Hampshire town that everybody seems to have forgotten. Bringing in more experts including Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) they discover that somehow Wanda has created this bubble and has consciously or subconsciously trapped all the inhabitants.

In part three of the series Monica makes it inside the bubble and confronts Wanda. This shakes up Wanda enough for a surprise villain to take control and subvert Wanda's magic...

This was a pretty weird concept when I heard about it. The series was both that weird and delivered a great story. Wanda and Vision had separate and interesting character arcs. An adult Monica Rambeau is introduced and has hints of power which will be revealed further on in the CMU. It was nice to see Darcy Lewis again -- really cool supporting character in Thor, much smaller role in Thor 2 and then not appearing again until now.

Overall a great series.

iOS Game - Risk: Global Domination [/]

Risk: Global Domination is the official port of Risk.

Pluses

  • Cutesy graphics
  • Lots of maps (though most are paid DLCs)
  • Play with friends (pass and play or online)
  • Play with random people

Minuses

  • Ad driven until you buy the starter pack ($10)
  • Map packs are 4 or 5 maps for $5
  • UI could use some tweaks for faster gameplay and to prevent accidentally going skipping a turn stage
  • Some starter maps require coins to play each game and I hope bought map packs don't need coins

It's an ok implementation of Risk.

Spot Reviews 07/16/21

Movie - The Gallant Hours (1960) [/] James Cagney as Admiral William F Halsey Jr during the Guadalcanal campaign. It's a fairly talky rear-area deliberations movie without any action but Cagney is a good enough actor to pull it off.

TV Series - A Season with Navy Football (2017) [/] This is Showtime's A Season With... series and season 3 covered Navy Football. Fairly typical behind the scenes week long preparation before each game and then a few minutes covering each game. Each episode tends to focus on a different team member or coach and I guess the only real season-long through line is how the offensive coach's son needs a heart transplant. It's an interesting 13 half-hour episodes.

iOS Game - Metal Slug Attack (2016) [-] 8-bit free to play model game. A game starts with two bases at either end of the screen. Wait for energy to build up then tap a unit to build it (or tap energy generator to permanently increase energy generation). Units fight automatically though you can tap to use special powers. Between games you can upgrade and promote units using in-game currency. The game is too chaotic to be fun for me.

TV Series - Mythic Quest s2 (2021) [+]

Apple TV+'s Mythic Quest s1 was good but it did take me a few episodes to get into it. Season two was a bit better. All the characters had good subplots and I really liked the flashback episode to what it was being a science fiction writer for Astonishing Tales.

The show takes place at a smallish game development studio (smallish with a few dozen people) whose one hit game is the MMO Mythic Quest. Creative Director Ian Grimm (Rob McElhenney) now shares leadership role with Lead Engineer Poppy Li (Charlotte Nicdao) and one of the primary plots is how badly they work together and eventually split up the resources into two teams and how they finally realize they need to work together to make the next release of MQ.

It's a pretty funny half hour dramedy with great characters and it ends at a good place where you can either end the series or spin off in a new direction if there is a season three.

iOS Game - Lemmings: The Puzzle Adventure [+]

Lemmings is a mobile, free to play and ad-supported version of the classic computer game. Each level is a side-view of squared-based obstacles, mostly rock and metal but also traps and other objects. Your objective is to get the lemmings from the start to the finish without killing too many from falling too far and from traps.

But you can lemmings do various things. Build a ramp diagonally up left or right, dig through rock (horizontally or vertically), use an umbrella to slow down their fall, and block other lemmings from passing. One mobile feature is that you tap on a square then choose a function and the next lemming that hits that square will do the function. On a computer you had to choose function then tap on the correct lemming and often at the right pixel since a lemming would start their action right when you click it.

As far as I can remember the mobile has less lemming actions, about the same number of obstacle types, and the levels are more limited in size. But the levels can still be tricky and since you can't pause and look I often start a level figuring out my strategy while my lemmings die.

As a free to play game it has these features:

You have energy (60) which refills at 1 per 4 minutes. Every action you place takes one energy, so you can only do a few levels at a time (and puts a premium on planning out your strategy before you start spending energy).

There are various power-ups. Mostly unlimited of one action but also double lemmings that survive and return all energy spent if you lose a level. When you complete a level there is a spinner which usually gives you a power-up (or also energy or a lemming egg) and you can buy power-ups.

Lemming eggs give you unique lemming skins, so one lemming in your group will have that skin and as you get several skins your lemmings look rather eclectic even though they all have the same abilities. Each unique lemming has an associated challenge level -- I've played three and they've had obstacles I haven't seen yet (like a dark room with moving spotlights).

There are also tournaments, daily bonuses for completing 3/10/20 levels, and loot boxes.

So far I've played without paying money and it seems ok other than it being hard to get 20 levels done in a day.

Ads play after levels or you can play ads for extra stuff. They're the usual ads for other mobile games so not too obnoxious.

Overall it's a fun game and brings back memories.

Spot Reviews 07/09/21

iOS App - Popeyes [-] It's just a web view of their web site, which is not that well organized. You can order stuff but it's only meals and combinations so unless store menus have changed you don't get the full menu using the web site. From the reviews also looks like stores don't really integrate with the app.

Movie - A California Christmas (2020) [/] Never-do-well playboy Joseph (Josh Swickard) is sent to prove himself by getting Callie (Lauren Swickard) to sign over her Napa Valley farm to his family's real estate business. He goes undercover, falls in love with Callie, and then has to prove himself to her once his ruse is found out.

iOS Game - Infinity Pinball (2021) [/] 8-bit retro pinball game where if you punch your ball through the top it pops out at the next level so you can keep going infinitely upwards. Nice retro graphics and sounds but gameplay is pretty bad. For a better implementation I recommend PinOut (2016) which hasn't been updated in five years but still plays great.

TV Series - Miss Sherlock (2019) [/]

Miss Sherlock is an 8-episode Sherlock Holmes drama set in Tokyo. The main protagonists are Sara "Sherlock" Futaba (Yūko Takeuchi), a consultant to the Tokyo police department, and Dr Wato Tachibana (Shihori Kanjiya), recently returned from Syria working as a volunteer medical doctor. Inspector Gentaro Reimon (Kenichi Takitō) is a sort of nerdy Inspector Lestrade but friendly to Sherlock and sees her as a valuable asset. Reimon's assistant, Sergeant Tatsuya Shibata (Tomoya Nakamura) is the more by-the-book guy who distrusts Sherlock's methods.

In the first episode Dr Wato has just returned from Syria and witnesses a murder so is drawn into the case and ends up living in Sherlock's building owned by Kimi Hatano (Ran Ito). Each episode Sherlock and Watson solve one case but it quickly turns out that all the cases are the work of a mysterious organization and almost at the end they meet Sherlock's nemesis, the Professor Moriarty equivalent.

The series is closer to BBC's Sherlock than other Sherlock Holmes incarnations. It does lack a lot of the drama and mystery though. It seems less serious, though still a drama, and mystery solving is more like "oh, here's the clue, I know the answer" without giving the viewer a chance to solve it themselves. Also the gender swap is not really used -- if the characters had stayed male the scripts wouldn't have needed changing.

Overall an interesting take on Sherlock but I think misses being really good.

iOS Game - Tetris (2020) [/]

N3TWORK got the Tetris license and released a game app last year. From what I read it started with basic Tetris though by now it has various game modes including a battle royale mode. It has the traditional music and modern graphics.

You start only able to play 3-minute speed games but after a couple of these games you level up and regular Tetris is unlocked -- other modes are unlocked as you keep playing games.

I played this for a bit. Tap to rotate, swipe left and right (or tap-drag left and right for more control), drag down to drop. For a touch game it is surprisingly smooth moving pieces around though I often accidentally dragged down or had an inadvertent tap to rotate. There is no controller support though so that greatly limits my ceiling.

This is a freemium game. There are ads that run sometimes before you start a game and you can turn them off for a month or a year as in-app purchase. There are generic coins you buy to purchase stuff at the store -- theme packs and game powerups.

Overall if you can get past the fact it's freemium model it's a very playable version of iOS Tetris.

Spot Reviews 07/02/21

Dentist - Kevin T Dowd, DDS [+] I've been visiting Dr Dowd for I think a couple of decades -- the second I visited Dr Dowd was there taking over the practice. I use Chris as my hygienist and she's very friendly. I've had root canals and fillings and Dr Dowd makes it as good an experience as possible.

Movie - The Time Traveler's Wife (2009) [/] Romantic supernatural film. Henry (Eric Bana) has been uncontrollably skipping back and forth in time through his personal timeline since he was little. He meets Clare (Rachel McAdams) who has known him for years even though he hasn't met her yet. They fall in love and deal with the tribulations that come with his unusual ability... It's a nice movie though a bit sad. I think About Time (2013) did the concept much better.

TV Series - Love Death and Robots s2 (2021) [/] Season two is both shorter (8 shorts) and maybe because of that not as good. I liked "Pop Squad" - in a future where immortality is common a special government squad arrests breeders and exterminates the kids. But one detective starts to have second doubts about his job. Also "All Through the House" where two kids encounter the real Santa Claus, a horrible monster that deems then both Good and regurgitates gifts. But what if they had been Bad?

TV Series - For All Mankind s2 (2021) [+]

For All Mankind is an Apple TV+ alternate history series wherein the Soviet Union managed to beat USA to the Moon. Season one was about the early space program and with the Soviet Union maintaining a lead how that NASA, for example creating a women's astronaut program (which I think they did historically) and sending women into space (which they did not historically until much later). Season one covers a few years so we the first Moon bases, one for each side only a few hours from each other.

Season two leaps a decade forward to the mid 1980s. Reagan vs Andropov as the Cold War escalates. Each side still only has one Moon base though much bigger. We don't see the Soviet base but the American one is several modules and maybe a dozen plus personnel.

After the Soviets take over a USA mining site (by simply moving out the American equipment and moving in their own while the Americans were back in their base) the Americans send up armed Marines and take the mining site back by force. There is a shooting incident on the Moon which exacerbates tensions on Earth.

Meanwhile our main characters are a decade older. Edward Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) is head of the astronaut program and says who goes on which mission. Ellen Wilson (Jodi Balfour) is returning to Earth after her final Moon mission, ready to take on a new role as assistant head of NASA. Gordo Stevens (Michael Dorman) has spent a decade trying to deal with PTSD of his last Moon mission. Margo Madison (Wrenn Schmidt) heads NASA ops and tries to make sure the historic handshake in space happens amidst security and political concerns from higher ups.

Actually the series has good character stories to go along with the cool space stuff. With only 10 episodes a season the plot lines move quickly. I'm still not sure if Ronald D Moore can keep the series exciting without it falling off a cliff like what he did with Battlestar Galactica but I am hopeful.