Kevin C. Wong

July 2023

iOS Game - Marvel Strike Force (2018) [/]

Marvel Strike Force is a free-to-play 5v5 non-tactical combat game using Marvel heroes and villains.

The plot is that Ultimus is taking over various universes, mind controlling their heroes and villains into his army. The heroes and villains of our Earth must join forces to stop Ultimus. This plot both explains why you can mix any hero and villain into your team and why you can fight duplicates (you never have duplicates in your stable, instead you can rank up your characters).

The main activity is 5v5 combat between your team and the campaign scenario or other players. In each turn you can tell your character who to attack and what power to use (everyone starts with two actions and as they level they get up to four actions). Or you can do auto battle which still allows you to choose the target and is about 80% as effective (but otherwise fights are slow and there are many so without auto battle it's very tedious).

The various activity sections:

  • Campaigns are a sequence of scenarios per chapter with a storyline. Chapters are gated to your character level and perhaps team composition (i.e. Villains campaign you can only use villain characters). Campaigns use energy which regenerates at 1 per 5 min, about 5 to 6 hours to fully recharge which seems typical for FTP.
  • Challenges are much like campaigns but they open for a day or two each week and you get 3 tokens to use but progress is tracked.
  • Arena is PvP combat
  • Events are like campaigns but limited time and much more restrictive of what characters you can use (which promotes having a large stable and upgrading everyone in your stable).
  • Blitz is also PvP like Arena
  • Raids are alliance (e.g. clan) activities. A raid has different branches and you do combat in each branch to get to and defeat the boss of each branch. A player can only do one branch and enemy damage sticks so you need your clan players to spread out and/or they can team up on a branch.

Besides Challenges, Events, and Campaigns which can gate on team composition, promoting getting and upgrading all characters, there are characters that can bring other characters into a combat as reinforcements. Maria Hill, who is a slightly below average combat character, can bring in my SHIELD Medic or SHIELD Trooper, both of which are below average but still welcome reinforcements. So even below average characters are useful (and I mean below average when upgraded to the same level/skill/equipment/rank as an average character).

As you do activities you can rewards, different activities have different rewards:

  • Experience which levels up your commander. Commander level is both a gate to certain activities and caps the maximum character level.
  • Materials used to equip your characters either directly or by combining materials.
  • Character shards which are used to recruit new characters or rank up characters. Recruiting takes 15 or more shards and ranking up is progressively more shards so there's always a reason to collect shards.
  • Orbs which you open to get random materials and shards.

Characters have many things to upgrade:

  • Increase character level using money, up to your commander level. This is fairly cheap.
  • Skills which take skill materials which is not that common so you should concentrate on your best characters. Skill upgrades are capped based on character level.
  • Equipment are six slots that take materials. If you equip all six slots you can upgrade to the next tier which then takes the same materials or better materials. Equipping, combining materials, and tiering up all take money. Materials are fairly plentiful and the game tells you where you can get missing materials (almost everything can be farmed from Campaign scenarios).
  • Ranking up to rank 7 max takes character shards. Shards in general you get often 1 or 2 and for random characters so ranking up is fairly infrequent.
  • ISO-8 is still locked for me so don't know what that is.

This is a game with a lot of activities though not a 24x7 game like Raid Shadow Legends (where I left the game open so I could collect resources every few minutes). It's free-to-play so there is some incentive to pay money to do things faster.


  • Combats are tedious even with auto combat at x2 speed. Especially for campaigns I'd like instant combat and then if I don't get three stars I might do it non-instant to see how I'm failing. Ok I lied a bit. There is an Auto Win option if you've completed a Campaign scenario at 3 stars (i.e. none of your characters died) and for Events. And Campaign scenarios are limited to 5 or 10 per 24 hours unless you use a resource to reset timer. In any case PvP and Raids don't have Auto Win.
  • On my iPad going from combat to combat always takes time. I think it's doing network activity each time and this takes 2 to 5 seconds so that gets annoying: start a combat, load screen, finish combat and exit, load screen, go to next combat, load screen.

Overall it's an ok game and fairly typical of the free-to-play energy-based 5v5 combat model. If you like Marvel that a draw (though the character models are not based on the tv shows/movies, not even sure they're based on the comics; I guess they didn't have a license for those). Other than the Marvel characters there is no reason to recommend this game over others.

Spot Reviews 07/28/23

Movie - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003) [+] Recently rewatched this. Napoleonic-era sailing ship adventure. Captain Jack Aubrey (Russell Crowe) commands British frigate HMS Surprise sailing down Brazil, around the Horn, and up to the Galapagos Islands dueling all the way with French frigate Acheron whom Aubrey is supposed to destroy. Based on two books of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series and Dr. Stephen Maturin (Paul Bettany) is Jack's best friend, ship's surgeon, but not a military man so sometimes clashes with Jack. The film has some great ship to ship fight scenes.

Movie - Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023) [/] The second Shazam movie where Billy Batson (Zachary Levi and Asher Angel) and his siblings are all super-powered up-and-comers who now have to face the three daughters of Atlas -- Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu) and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) -- who want their powers back (which was stolen and given to the Shazam champions)... It's an ok super-hero action film and although it tries to be humorous like the first film it doesn't pull it off as well.

Restaurant - Iguanas Burritozilla [/] A small chain with three locations in San Jose area and I went to the one near DunDraCon. It's like average taqueria food with the Burritozilla (5 lbs, 18 inches, $49) being the signature item. I had a burrito and it wasn't notable -- not sure if I'll come back next DDC.

Podcast - After the Whistle (2022) [/] Brendan Hunt (Coach Beard on Ted Lasso) and NBC soccer commentator Rebecca Lowe host this podcast. It ran for about 10 episodes in 2022 to cover the World Cup then went on hiatus and is now running again to cover the Women's World Cup. It's more enthusiasm and fun than insightful commentary but it is entertaining if you're not that into soccer.

TV Series - Ted Lasso s3 (2023) [+]

Ted Lasso is a comedy/drama about Ted (Jason Sudeikis), a successful American college football coach, who unexpectedly takes the job of coaching an AFC Richmond, an English soccer team, even though he has no experience with soccer. With his good friend and assistant Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) the two navigate a new sport, new players, new culture.

Season one was quite remarkable coming during COVID lockdowns. A very positive show as Ted is always supportive and understanding even when he's going through bad times internally. And that positivity slowly infects the team and its owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), who started out wanting to tank the team to spite her ex-husband but started loving the team and wanting her team to win.

In season three AFC Richmond is back in the top tier league (as an aside, took me a long time to realize that outside the USA pro teams are individuals and can change leagues or even be kicked out of leagues for poor performance, i.e. relegation. American pro sports teams act a bit more socialist in that the pro league is owned by the team owners so adding/removing teams is a group decision).

Anyway, we have AFC Richmond starts out badly, then gets a star player and they win but sort of depend too much on that star, then he retires and they lose again and Coach Lasso and team come up with a new way to play that fits his style. Meanwhile we have various sublots: Rebecca kind of wants to sell the team and do something else; Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) and Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) break up early and will they reconcile or does Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) have a chance now?; Nate Shelley (Nick Mohammed) starts out the season hating on Ted and moving to head coach of a rival team and his path to reconciliation is slow.

The season is 12 episodes but closer to hour-long episodes whereas season one was half-hour and season two was more like 40 to 45 minute episodes. The series ending is satisfying and leaves everyone in a good place emotionally.

Novel - Snuff (2011) [+]

Snuff is the third to last Discworld novel and apparently the 8th City Watch novel though the story concentrates on Commander Sam Vimes with a few cameos from other Watchmen.

Vimes takes a vacation and with his wife Sybil, son Sam Jr, and "butler" Willikins he is determined to be bored at his estate in the country. But then he stumbles onto a crime when the other nobles try to run him out of town by framing him for a murder -- and to do that they have a goblin girl killed for the blood which is not a crime yet because goblins are not protected under the law.

It's the goblin girl's murder that spurs Sam to investigate and find murderer and trace it back to the nobles. He also gets to meet goblins and find out about their culture (which is outwardly quite disgusting to outsiders but once you get to know them still fairly disgusting but out of necessity and beliefs). I guess this is the first in-depth look at goblins (and in the next novel, Raising Steam, they're everywhere).

It's a good novel. Vimes is one of my favorite Discworld characters and although he's gotten quite powerful (both from a demon inside him and from being a duke) this is still a story where he's mostly on his own (and Willikins). And it's sad that this is it for Vimes and the Watch. (Pratchett likes his puns and Snuff refers both to the murder of the goblin girl and the tobacco product.)

Spot Reviews 07/21/23

Movie - World War Z (2013) [/] UN WMD investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family are caught in a zombie outbreak that threatens the world. He is sent all over the world trying to find the cause and/or a cure... Re-watched this recently and I guess I appreciate it a bit more. Good amount of action and set pieces. The different locations are sort of different stories but I guess in the novel each chapter focuses on a new character and in the movie it's Gerry Lane at the center of the action.

TV Series - Lucifer #1.1 to #1.6 (2016) [/] Police homicide investigator procedural. Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) is the detective whom no one wants to partner with. Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis) is the former Lord of Hell who nows runs a high end night club in Los Angeles. He decides to help Decker because homicides bring out the worst in people and he likes that, though in a fun way not evil way... I watched the first six episodes of Lucifer and after the first episode it kind of went downhill. Probably gets better since it did run six seasons. Lucifer is a bit too smarmy which is really annoying if the whole series he's like that.

Novel - The Excalibur Alternative (2002) [-] David Weber novel about 14th century British army taken by aliens to be used in their wars, told mostly (all?) from the point of view of their leader Sir George Wincaster. I got through the first two chapters but found it uninteresting.

Software - Worldographer [-] Worldographer is mapping software that is Mac compatible (though uses Java runtime). $35 for base license which is just outdoor hex maps. $30 modules for cities and for dungeons ($90 bundle for all three). You can try it for free with limited though useful functionality. I found the UI pretty bad though much better than the previous incarnations (Hexographer, Dungeonographer). Don't think this would be mapping software I'd enjoy using.

TV Series - Cannes Confidential s1 (2023) [+]

Cannes Confidential is a British/French homicide police procedural with a romantic subplot. Aired on Acorn TV and season 1 had six 45-minute episodes.

Set in Cannes, France, we have homicide detective Lt. Camille Delmasse (Lucie Lucas) and her partner Lea Robert (Shy'm) investigating crimes. In episode one Camille encounters Harry King (Jamie Bamber), a British con man/rogue who helps her out with the case. He keeps getting involved in other cases and Camille ends up blackmailing Harry into helping her free her father from prison (which is one of the subplots: is dad, a former chief of police, really a criminal).

This sets up a Camille/Harry pairing. He's very smug and exasperating and yet she starts to find him attractive and they both keep secrets from each other. Meanwhile turns out that Lea is in love with Camille which might be the setup for an unusual love triangle in future seasons.

It's filmed in Cannes so lots of old buildings with coastal and hilly views because Cannes is really a fairly modest tourist town except when the film festival arrives. The mysteries are not really unusual and maybe a bit much of Harry using extra-legal means to find information (so I wonder how admissible it would be in an American court).

In any case the draw is the chemistry between our photogenic leads.

Anyway, I zipped through all six episodes in one day so it did keep me interested all the way through.

Apple Arcade - The_Otherside (2020) [+]

The_Otherside is a co-op modern-day horror/survival turn-based board game.

Start with 2-4 heroes (depending on map size. On their turn each hero has three action points to move, explore, trade, and fight. Explore abandoned buildings room to room. Find items, fight monsters, find the anchor and destroy it. Destroy all the anchors then head for the exit.

Monsters can appear whenever you enter a shadow location the first time. When you destroy an anchor it clears the surrounding rooms which allows you to search for items (one per room). Meanwhile there are monster generators (1-3 depending on map size) that each spawn 1 or more monsters each turn. As you destroy anchor the Risk Level rises which changes the monster deck to make it more dangerous (more of the smaller monsters or introduce bigger monsters) but that also changes the loot deck with better items. Once the last anchor is destroyed (or last box found in Follow the Light) the monster generators disappear.

Each hero can wield two items and stash four items. Each hero has (eventually) two active abilities and two passive abilities (addendum: but you have to choose one of each before the start of the game). Early gameplay involves finding items then distributing them to the appropriate hero. I like the cop (-1 with guns, twice as effective ammo search) and the hunter (-1 with ranged, not guns) and once they have good weapons they can suppress the monster generators allowing the other heroes to search.

As you complete games (there is no campaign mode) you get XP and level up which unlocks new items, monsters, heroes and game modes. Standard game mode is search and destroy all anchors. Follow the Light you have to get to a box in a lighted area. Open it and another box is shown which also lights that area. Open the last box and a Horror boss is revealed which you have to kill.

This is a board game simulation so you have a board and miniature figures for the heroes and monsters. Monster and item cards are flipped to reveal. One or more d10s are rolled when attacking (roll low to hit hence bonuses are -1; monsters hit automatically if they're in a hero space at the start of their turn). The map has stand up walls without roofs.

I found it a fun game and a bit challenging. Bad initial loot can put you way behind and unable to kill the monsters as they mass up. On other hand a couple of lucky cards can make the rest of the (sometimes quite long) game perhaps a bit boring.

Addendum Aug 08 2023

I reached level 17 which is max level unlocking everything. There is a slight implication that heroes get individual XP but it goes to the global pool and you unlock hero powers regardless whether the hero is used or not.

Game Modes

  • Classic: all tiles are shadow (except start area), search for Spirit Anchor and as you destroy them it lights up the area and then you can search for items.
  • Follow the Light: all tiles are shadow (except start area), one shadow tile has a light, get to the light to light up the area and reveal next light.
  • Pull the Plug: your area is shadow all other tiles are lit, each area has a light and turn off all lights, as each light is turned off the area becomes shadow.
  • Survive the Horror: the map is a mix of light and shadow areas, destroy monoliths while an unkillable horror chases you (and it teleports to a target player every three turns or so, though you see where it will teleport next turn), once you destroy all monoliths you can then kill the horror (horror boss in this and other game modes is not that fearsome because it only moves 1 so you can shoot shoot and backup and eventually kill it, unless you can't retreat...).
  • Scientists Bodyguard: a scientist (move 1) is moving to various devices in shadow areas and turning them on which also lights the area, one he's done he heads for the exit, keep him alive. Unfortunately this game mode seems broken in that it doesn't recognize end game condition and gets stuck.


  • Sheriff: 2-dice when looking for ammo and -1 to hit with guns. I always take him.
  • Hunter: -1 to hit with bows/crossbows (great because no ammo but low rate of fire). I always take him.
  • Mechanic: free melee attack, to hit roll of 10 does 5 damage. This is my third character.
  • Vet: heal a hero in same tile, can move first tile for 0 cost. This is my fourth character and if present main explorer.
  • Kid: can trade for free, search grants 1 scrap (2 scraps are used to block a doorway).
  • Enos (Planet of the Apes monkey guy): create a 3 health shield over tile, can block door without scrap (both are from telekinesis), can't use ranged weapons (he has a 0-2 range. 2 damage psychic shot) or heavy items. His alternate abilities are interesting: attracts enemies 3 tiles away and can do a 0 range 1d6 damage attack that hits all monsters (only) in his tile.

Sheriff, Hunter and Mechanic make a great combat triumvirate once they have appropriate weapons. Vet is nice for that effectively extra AP so she can grab stuff and trade with the others.


  • Lasher: 3 HP, 1 AP (action point)
  • Hound: 2 HP, 2 AP
  • Shambler: 5 HP, 1 AP (seems to have some armor, if you shoot it twice with 3 or 4 damage weapons it doesn't die)
  • Slubber: 2 HP, 1 AP, range 1 shot
  • Horror: lots of HP, 1 AP (not sure if it does 1 damage like everything else or is 1 hit 1 kill)

Lots of weapons do 2 damage (actually there are no 1 damage weapons) so 2 hits on Lasher but take out Hounds and Slubbers with 1 hit each.


  • Slingshot: 0-1 range, 1 damage, 1 attack die (attack dice are all d10s), 2+ to hit. Kid's starting weapon and not something you can pick up randomly.
  • Revolver: 0-1 range, 2 damage, 1 die, 4+ to hit. Sheriff's starting weapon. Can wield two (some weapons you can wield a second which gives you +1 attack die).
  • Wrench: 0 range, 2 damage, 1 die, 6+. Mechanic starts with 2. Kind of hard to hit with though so often I switch to 2 knives even though knives can't knock down barricaded doors.
  • Knife: 0 range, 2 damage, 1 die, 5+ to hit.
  • Spiked Knuckle: 0 range, 1 damage, 2 dice, 2+ to hit. I never use these.
  • Baseball Bat: 0 range, 2 damage, 2 dice, 5+ to hit. Rarely use these.
  • Long Bow: 1-2 range, 3 damage, 1 die, 5+ to hit. The most common and lightest bow but still a good weapon.
  • Pistol: 0-1 range, 2 damage, 2 dice, 4+ to hit. Better than a revolver and like a revolver can be dual-wielded. But I'd rather do more damage even if less dice.
  • SMG: 0-1 range, 3 damage, 2 dice, 6+ to hit. 3 damage is great but hard to hit though you can dual-wield.
  • Hunting Rifle: 1-3 range, 3 damage, 2 dice, 4+ to hit. A great weapon with range and easy to hit for the Sheriff.
  • Assault Rifle: 0-2 range, 5 damage, 3 dice, 6+ to hit. The ultimate gun that can take down three Shamblers in an action. Better if paired with a Hunting Rifle for ranged accuracy vs non-Shamblers.
  • Crossbow: 1-3 range, 5 damage, 1 die, 4+ to hit. The best weapon for the Hunter.
  • Hunting Bow: 1-2 range, 4 damage, 1 die, 4+ to hit. The extra point of damage rarely comes into play but better to hit than long bow.
  • .50 Cal Pistol: 0-1 range, 4 damage, 2 dice, 5+ to hit. Dual-wielded it's a pretty good setup.
  • Axe: 0 range, 3 damage, 2 dice, 6+ to hit. A good melee weapon you can get early. Good damage, 2 dice, breaks down barricades, can be dual-wielded. Mechanic with 2 Axes is pretty effective.
  • Double Barrel (shotgun): 0 range, 3 damage, 2 dice, 3+ to hit. Can be good for the Vet or Hunter in case they get cornered.
  • Katana: 0 range, 4 damage, 3 dice, 5+ to hit. A sweet melee weapon that can be dual-wielded (though I've never found 2 Katanas).
  • Shotgun: 0-1 range, 4 damage, 3 dice, 5+ to hit. A nice weapon for Sheriff though not my favorite.
  • Chainsaw: 0 range, 5 damage, 5 dice, 7+ to hit. Sure, a bit hard to hit with but 5 dice and 1 hit takes down a Shambler. Mechanic with a Chainsaw wading into a pile of enemies is something to behold.
  • Pike Axe: 0 range, 3 damage, 1 die, 5+ to hit. Hunter starts with this. Axe is better -- I'd rather have 2 dice, 6+ to hit.
  • Blunderbuss: 0-1 range, 2 damage, 6 dice, 6+ to hit. A weird weapon (and it requires an action to reload). I never use it as the damage is just too low and there is no way to increase it.


Sheriff: Assault Rifle and Hunting Rifle
Hunter: Crossbow and Pike Axe/Axe
Mechanic: Chainsaw and a Lucky Charm (or other item)
Vet: Katana and bow so I can concentrate ammo on Sheriff


  • Fire Cracker: makes noise. I've never used this.
  • First Aid Kit: heals 1 HP, 1 use. Not sure it's worth the space even if your team doesn't have a Vet.
  • Energy Drinks: +1 AP to this hero and all un-activated heroes. Rarely use this.
  • Flashlight: allows search and gather ammo in shadow tile. Kid has this and you can't find it randomly.
  • Grenade: 5 damage to all creatures/heroes, 0-1 range. I use this sometimes.
  • Lucky Charm: allows re-roll of all dice for every dice roll. This is so cool I'd use it with Hunter/Mechanic/Vet and forgo a second weapon.
  • Mine: 5 damage to all creatures/heroes in dropped tile at end of monster phase, 0 range. I've used this once.
  • Shield: absorbs 1 damage per turn. I've very occasionally wielded it but never been attacked with one on.

Lucky Charm is the best though I rarely find it. Grenade is nice though not if all characters have two good/semi-good weapons. All other items are meh.

As a last word, I did play this enough to get to level 17 and most of the way to beating all game modes, all board sizes on hard difficulty.

Spot Reviews 07/14/23

Movie - Double Threat (2022) [/] Action-comedy-romantic movie. At a convenience store stop Jimmy (Matthew Lawrence) gets taken hostage by pretty cashier Natasha (Danielle C Ryan) who turns out to be wanted by her mob boss for embezzling. Turns out she has two personalities: nice girl who Jimmy is attracted to and danger girl that can take out mob hitmen. Meanwhile the pair are chased by mob boss son Ellis (Kevin Joy) and cleaner/mentor Ask (Dawn Olivieri)... Lot of interesting character bits. The action and locations are very low budget but they're trying and it has a certain charm. Overall I guess a better film than I'd have expected.

Apple Arcade - Crossy Road Castle (2020) [/] Side-view 8-bit graphics platformer. Enter on the left side of a room and make your way to the right side exit door. Platforms: some moving, some switchable, some timed switchable. Bad guys: jump on them to knock them out and others can't be killed. Collect coins and 100 heal one heart damage. Boss level every 30 or 40 levels. I did the first 50 levels and it wasn't really getting hard yet but maybe this is more of a kids' game.

Book - The Collected Stories of Greg Bear (2002) [-] A big 600+ hardcover of Bear's short stories published in various magazines and anthologies. I read over half (through "Webster") and am giving up. I like short stories with a cool twist or lightbulb moment at the end and his don't do that. His stories are science fiction but not my type of science fiction (I guess I'm more of a big starships, high tech, high drama kind of fan). Although he's one of the great science fiction authors I'm probably going to avoid his works now that I've read a sampler.

Netflix Movie - Purple Hearts (2022) [+]

Purple Hearts is a drama/romance film, a romance but a bit heavier drama than a Hallmark Channel romantic film. Aspiring singer/songwriter Cassie Salazar (Sofia Carson) can't afford life-saving diabetes medicine. Marine Lance Corporal Luke Morrow (Nicholas Galitzine) owes $15k to his former drug dealer who is getting impatient.

The two decide to get married for the Marine Corps marriage benefits even though they kind of hate each other. She doesn't like the military and he doesn't like her liberalism. But he's shipping out the next day so they don't have to live together for months while he's deployed to Iraq.

Unfortunately Luke is injured in an IED blast and comes home to recuperate. HIs family finds out about his marriage so now Cassie and Luke have to live together and keep pretenses. This allows them to get to know each other more (which they were doing via video calls while he was in Iraq). But his secret getting out jeopardizes their bigger secret which could get them both in prison...

Actually pretty interesting and I watched this almost in one go (most films I watch in 15 to 30 minute increments). Carson sings a bunch of songs and the chemistry is good. The story is suitably dramatic leading to a satisfying ending.

Apple Arcade - Spyder (2020) [+]

Spyder is a third person puzzle game where you are a little spider-like robot, Spyder, sent by British intelligence on missions to stop the plans of SIN. In each mission you are this little guy maneuvering around the big people world doing tasks and keeping out of sight (actually in the missions there are no people that can see you).

In mission one you are in an underground bunker navigating around the central control area. Get to a box, open it, get a key, get into the computer innards, maneuver around without getting killed by moving parts, sabotage the computer. Mission two is on a bomber disarming a nuclear device and mission three is fixing a space capsule to bring the astronauts home (I've only done the first three missions).

Besides moving around you can interact with objects. A to press a button. A to interact and then rotate joystick to turn a knob or use a screwdriver (I use an XBox controller). A to grab an object and push it (or A again to throw it). A to harpoon an object and bring it to you. A to harpoon an anchor and zip yourself to it. As you might tell A button does a lot and the UI will show when you can press A to activate so you don't have to guess what you need to do. Also there is always an arrow with distance to show you where you need to go next so it's quite hard to get lost (which I think would be easy to do without the help).

The graphics are a little cartoony but good. The background music has a festive spy spirit. There is a handler who talks you via text messages (no voice acting here). The puzzles are fairly easy and the only hard part is maneuvering so I think this is a game for 10 and older (I'd say maybe a bit too hard for my 9-year old nephew but he's playing some Minecraft like game which is almost this complexity).

Overall I found it fun though a bit easy. Did have problems with motion sickness and about one level is all I can stand per couple of days.

Spot Reviews 07/07/23

Apple Arcade - Charrua Soccer (2020) [/] 11 on 11 soccer with penalties (fouls, yellow and red cards), penalty kicks, substituting players, setting the formation (lots of choices) and changing posture (offense, neutral, defense). Friendly matches, tournaments (vs computers I think), party tournaments (vs local players), career mode with experience points. Unlike Sociable Soccer I found this had better UI and funner game play.

Movie - The Perfect Game (2009) [/] César Faz (Clifton Collins Jr), who never cracked the big leagues, ends up in Mexico where he is convinced to teach the local kids baseball and the kids make a surprising showing all the way to the Little League World Series in the USA. Based on a true story. A bit more focus on the casual racism of mid 1950's USA.

Documentary - The Fighting I: The Story of the USS Intrepid (1995) [/] History channel 45-minute documentary on the USS Intrepid (CV-11) which fought in WWII and Vietnam, was present during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and recovered Gemini and Apollo capsules. Has interview clips with servicemen who were stationed on the carrier in WW2 and later (including interview clips with John McCain).

Movie - Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) [/]

Avatar: The Way of Water is the first sequel to Avatar (2009) and set sixteen years later. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) are living happily with their kids when Earth forces return in force to colonize the planet. The second wave of forces include Na'vi versions of Marine Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and his men, who were all killed in the last movie. He's here to stop the resistance by killing Jake.

At the end of the first hour of the story Jake and his family are forced to flee and they end up with the water people who reluctantly take them in. The next hour or so is the family learning about the Way of Water and slowly integrating with their new tribe. This is hard for the kids as they're Na'vi-Human hybrids besides being air people but slowly they win respect from the other kids.

Then finally Quaritch finds were Jake and family ran off to so he sets off on a whaler to instigate incidents until Jake is forced to fight back. This leads to a big climactic battle that quickly becomes just Jake and family against Quaritch and his surviving forces. It ends on a bit of an interlude leaving threads open for the next film...

I watched this on my 10" iPad and the cinematography is pretty good though obviously better on a huge screen. It's a very long movie with three long parts and two distinct stories which leads to loss of focus. The last part is pretty exciting and almost makes up for the first 2/3rds of the movie. Overall I guess it's still a watchable movie.

VMWare Fusion 13 [/] and Parallels Desktop 18 [+]

I was trying to get ViDL working and thought maybe if I install it on an older macOS it'll work. VMWare Fusion 13 Player has a free personal license (you need to register to customer connect) so I tested that first. Player is normally $150 ($80 upgrade).

10.10.5 Yosemite
- after security update mouse/kb don't work
- doesn't recognize many ssl certs (this is a macOS problem because it's so old I guess)

10.11.6 El Capitan
- during install mouse/kb don't work
- VMWare Tools won't install on older macOS versions and when it installs it triggers a security warning

10.12.6 Sierra
- works fine

10.13.6 High Sierra
- works fine

Unfortunately with 10.12 and 10.13 ViDL couldn't update youtube-dl.

Parallels Desktop 18 is normally $100 ($70 upgrade) although 25% off on sale for a couple days. If you run it without a license it goes to 14-day trial mode and a few features are disabled.

10.10.5 Yosemite
- mouse and kb work fine
- Parallel Tools installs without issues

10.12.6 Sierra
- mouse and kb work fine
- Parallel Tools installs without issues

Unfortunately turns out ViDL needs 10.12 and won't update youtube-dl in any case.

I also had a Windows 10 Fusion VM which I updated and then you can import into Parallels though I had to use the command line tool to manually import it.

My impression is that Fusion has low development priority. Doesn't quite work with older macOS versions. VMWare Tools seemed to make the VM slightly glitchy. Also it seems like Fusion no longer officially supports macOS VMs.

Parallels didn't have the above issues. It's also gets yearly releases and supports more advanced features faster (such as Mx processors and Direct X 13 acceleration). Also a bit cheaper so if I was paying I'd go with Parallels.

That said I rarely use VMs (I'm more partial to CrossOver/WINE) so I'll stick with VMWare Fusion 13.