Kevin C. Wong

January 2022

Spot Reviews 01/14/22

Apple Arcade - Stranded Sails (2019) [-] Age of Sails, stranded on an island. It's a farming, village building, exploration with quests game. I barely played it because it wasn't interesting.

Animated Series - Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness #1.01 (2021) [-] I watched the first episode of this 4-episode Japanese animated series. The animation is like a bunch of console cut-scenes: good and janky at the same time. Also not great that it dives into the story without giving any sort of background for people who haven't been playing Resident Evil. Anyways, zombies attack the White House and a team is sent to China to investigate if they're behind it. Meanwhile the real cause may be in a small African nation recovering from a civil war.

Podcast - AppStories (2017) [/] From the creators of Macstories web site, this is a podcast about iOS apps. There are two hosts and each half hour episode they cover one topic. Some are about app developers and the apps business and some are about iOS and using apps. Kind of runs the range so there is stuff for normal iOS users, for power users and for developers. Overall they have a pleasant style so even though it's not really a topic I'm crazy interested in I will continue listening.

Movie - The Guns of Navarone (1961) [+]

The Guns of Navarone is a World War II adventure film. A team of commandoes led by Captain Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck) sneak onto a German-occupied Greek island where they have to travel across the whole island and disable twin massive artillery guns before a British task force attempts to run the gauntlet in five days.

Drama abounds within the group. Team leader Major Roy Franklin (Anthony Quayle) is injured right off the start becoming a bit of a deadweight on the team causing Mallory and Franklin's friend Corporal John Anthony Miller (David Niven) to clash. Greek Colonel Andrea Stavros (Anthony Quinn) is a friend of Mallory's but has sworn to kill him because he blames Mallory for his family's deaths at the hands of the Germans. One of the team members turns out to be a bit of a pacifist, fed up with all the killing. Two of the local resistance joins the team and shortly thereafter the Germans capture them all so is there a traitor?

I saw this movie when I was a teen and not since. I enjoyed this viewing and having read GURPS WWII not knowing how I'd run it this movie is a great inspiration for a commando adventure that can be a multi-session campaign on its own.

iOS Game - The Battle of Polytopia (2019) [+]

The Battle of Polytopia (2019) is a small Civilization-like 4X game. You start with a city. You explore and conquer other cities. You have one resource, stars, which are used to build units and develop resource squares. You also spend stars to develop technologies and the tech tree and units go to around Medieval Age.

The graphics are cute. The map is 16 x 16 with up to 3 computer players (you can buy more civilizations, each with a starting tech and maybe a bonus, and then play games with more and more computer players -- I hope the map gets bigger). No diplomacy so you're just attacking each other as soon as you find them.

User interface is simple and quite fine with touch. Units can't stack so first tap selects unit and second selects area underneath and then you get available choices and unavailable choices greyed out. Units can only do one thing (for the most part) and are grayed out once they've moved. There's a help system that hints a unit or city that hasn't done anything this turn.

It's a really fun game. Free, no ads, completely fine with the four included civilizations. There are a score of add-on civilizations costing $1 or $2 each. I don't think you get new game modes or anything like that. Apparently you can play with other people too (over internet or pass and play).

Spot Reviews 01/07/22

Movie - Red Notice (2021) [-] This is a big-budget ($200M) action film released on Netflix. Stars Dwayne Johnson as an FBI Special Agent forced to team up with an international art thief played by Ryan Reynolds as they go after the mastermind that set them up (Gal Gadot). Good star power but it's so bad, like National Treasure bad which means it can be entertaining to a certain crowd.

Bunnies & Burrows: The Garden Raid (2018) [-] This is an 8-page introductory adventure (really four pages of text and one page of counters) for Bunnies & Burrows 3E RPG. It's a 7-scene adventure, each scene having an introduction to read to players then a paragraph or two for the GM. Most of the scenes uses mini-games in the main B&B rulebook so the adventure information isn't as scant as it seems. For $10 print/$8 pdf it's kind of expensive and the adventure is very simple and GM advice is pretty low. Of the four B&B published adventures this is the weakest and really should have been included in the main rulebook -- would have been three pages and the counters are already in the rulebook. Maybe this was created to fluff up the Kickstarter.

iOS Game - Little Big Snake [-] I previously wrote about Little Big Snake the web app. Little Big Snake on iOS is kind of boring. I think it must be a separate user base and there are few iOS players. On desktop it's a fairly sweaty game. On iOS it's very leisure and I must be facing mostly bots. I can even leave my snake alone and let it go to autopilot mode and it seems to run fairly well. Looks nice but it's not entertaining.

TV Show - What If... s1 (2021) [/]

What If... is a Marvel Cinematic Universe animated anthology half-hour series. Like the comic book, it is an alternative universe exploration of "what if this happened instead of what happened in the main universe?" The nine episodes in season one:

  1. "What If... Captain Carter Were the First Avenger?"
  2. "What If... T'Challa Became a Star-Lord?"
  3. "What If... the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?"
  4. "What If... Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?"
  5. "What If... Zombies?!"
  6. "What If... Killmonger Rescued Tony Stark?"
  7. "What If... Thor Were an Only Child?"
  8. "What If... Ultron Won?"
  9. "What If... the Watcher Broke His Oath?"

Sometimes the universe is much the same, sometimes it's better and sometimes it's worse, very worse. But what's really cool is the last two episodes where we have a universe where Ultron wipes out life in his universe, discovers the Watcher, decides to wipe out life in all the universes and the Watcher recruits some of the heroes and villains from previous episodes to battle Ultron.

Voice acting is good, often using the original actors (and maybe Chadwick Boseman's last MCU role after his death from cancer in 2020). Animation is all right and the stories are mostly entertaining (I'm not so much into bad ending stories). Overall a good animated series.

iOS App - CARROT Fit (2014) [/]

CARROT Fit is a fitness app that runs you through a high-intensity 7-minute interval workout. By this it means doing 30 seconds of an exercise at high energy, 10 second break, then a different exercise for 30 seconds and so on. It's a $5 app and it has 12 different exercises with an in-app $2 for another set of 12 different exercises.

There is a sarcastic/sadistic computer AI urging you on. It syncs with Apple Health (which I think means best on iPhone since iPad doesn't have Apple Health as far as I can tell) and you can enter weight here too. The exercises have funny names and descriptions.

I'm not sure this is the app for me. Interval exercise is for more fit people and my body is not that limber for some of these exercises (e.g. an exercise like stepping on and off a chair is quite knee-killing to me). Still I think can try to use this app more and skip exercises I can't really do (you can't enable/disable exercises though you can setup a custom, and static, workout set).