Kevin C. Wong

iOS Game - Fire Emblem Heroes [/]

Fire Emblem Heroes is a freemium tactical combat game drawn from the Fire Emblem JRPG. Collect heroes and take a squad of four into a fight on a 6x8 square battlefield with varying terrain. Get experience, level up, learn new skills, create and equip special items.

There are five unit types (foot, armored, archer, flying, magic) and four colors (red, green, blue, black) so a wide variety of basic units. Each hero has their own set of skills (though you can merge heroes to transfer a skill from one hero to another) and there are enough triggers (being close to other heroes, doing certain pre-req actions) and synergies (one hero debuffs and another hero attacks) that at the highest difficulty fights you have to design your teams well.

For interactivity there are PvP battles (not sure if they're real time), Alliance battles (where your friend give you bonuses) and grand events (where a bunch of people help in an abstract big battle).

The quest lines each have a story running through it, JRPG style. So far there are four books each with several dozen battles plus various other side-quest stories that are a few battles each.

Still, after a few days it gets kind of boring. Without a JRPG the battles get kind of same-y and the storylines aren't enough to keep it together. Also with so many heroes you don't really get attached to them.

This is a widely popular Nintendo game and pretty entertaining but for me lacks something to make me want to keep playing.

Spot Reviews

Documentary - Helvetica (2017) [/] Documentary about the Helvetica font, with a bit of history thrown in for context. Interviews various typographers who use Helvetica or specifically don't and it's interesting views on why people keep using the font (it's extremely readable, you can innovate in other aspects) and why other people don't (it's a staid and emotionless font). Interesting, but not an engrossing documentary.

iOS Game - Armello (2018) [/] A four-player fantasy board game. Play one of the four characters (wolf, rat, rabbit, bear) traveling about the board doing quests, capturing towns, and fighting each other. Each character has their own victory condition. There are three decks (equipment, spells, diplomacy) and various stats. It's a bit of a complicated game.

Twitch - JapaneseTutor [/] A chess streamer though sometimes he plays Rocket League or League of Legends. Mainly does teaching streams though he also plays viewers. JT from when he used to live in Japan and tutored (English I think). JT is pretty friendly and allows more salty language than my comfort zone.

Apple TV+ - See s1 (2019) [+]

See is a post-apocalyptic drama from Apple TV+. A virus (or something) destroys sight in all humans and their children. 500 years later society is small villages, tribe/feudal, but humans are still humans with conquests and killing.

In the first episode Baba Voss (Jason Momoa) and the Alkenny defend themselves from the forces of Payan. Witchfinder General Tamacti Jun (Christian Camargo) is searching and later we find out that witches are people who can see. Back in the village Baba's wife Maghra (Hera Hilmar) gives birth to twins while the battle rages. The Alkenny are forced to flee.

They make their way to a new home provided by Jerlamarel (Joshua Henry), a sighted man who impregnated Maghra. But he's a mysterious figure who doesn't really appear until season's end in episode 108. It is in their new home that Paris (Alfre Woodard), a wise woman and friend of Baba's, discovers that the twins can see. And she also reveals that Jerlamarel left a box of books for the twins and instructions on finding their father when they come of age.

Episode 103 we move 20 years into the future. The twins, Kofun (Archie Madekwe) and Haniwa (Nesta Cooper), have grown up and might be ready to know about their real father. But then Tamacti Jun finds the village and destroys it, the few survivors fleeing with Baba Voss, who decides that it's time to find Jerlamarel and let the twins meet their real father and decide their future.

I forgot about Queen Kane (Sylvia Hoeks) of the Payan. She rules over a kingdom that kind of rules by fear. But after two decades of using her army to find the mythical twins there is a fomenting revolt from the rest of the ruling class. Queen Kane has to intrigue to keep her queenship...

The premise didn't seem that interesting but turns out to be a pretty good show. I like how they do the blindness and it's obvious that hearing becomes the primary sense. Good use of animals, dogs and horses, as guides because animals can still see. The fight scenes are pretty cool.

I look forward to season two.

GURPS Mars Attacks (2016) [+]

GURPS Mars Attacks is a 96 page worldbook supplement based on Topps' Mars Attacks property (trading cards plus a movie). It's set in the present with the Martians having conquered much of the Earth but humanity fighting them to a standstill. Campaigns can be human-based or Martian-based and source material is provided for both.


  1. Invasion - history
  2. The Face of the Invasion - The Martians, their tech and soldiers
  3. The Will of Man - The human factions and their tech
  4. Join the Fight - Creating PCs, includes racial and character templates
  5. Operation: Earth - Campaign ideas and running campaigns, includes stats for major NPCs

I have no idea how well GURPS Mars Attacks tracks with the source but you do get a lot of background material. Take away whatever you feel about a license for a minor property, GURPS Mars Attacks is a good worldbook and gives enough material to run a 1950's style Martian invasion.

Spot Reviews

Movie - Mr and Mrs Smith (2005) [+] Two assassins working for competing agencies fall in love and get married without each knowing the other's secret. Until one day their agencies find out and decide to have John Smith (Brad Pitt) and Jane (Angelina Jolie) off each other because they've become security risks... A romantic comedy with a lot of action. I find it endearing.

iOS Game - Episode: Choose Your Story [/] Soap opera stories for girls. You get many choices, which don't influence the basic plot but influence the ending. Many bonus choices require diamonds and each chapter requires a book point (e.g. the first book is 14 or so chapters). I went through the first chapter of the first book and it was interesting.

Twitch - ChelsieMonica [/] WIM Chelsie Monica Ignesias Sihite is a chess streamer from Indonesia. She streams a lot, plays anyone, and is very good with short time controls. Usually plays pop music from America and SE Asia. She also does puzzle survival and allows viewers to help her.

Movie - Code 8 (2019) [+]

Code 8 is a science fiction film set a bit in a future alternate Earth where some developed super powers. They didn't become super heroes or villains but instead powered workers helping America industry. Until technology, robotics and automation caught up making them superfluous. Without jobs they turned to crime and become a stigmatized minority. Now all powers have to be registered and need work permits.

Connor Reed (Robbie Amell) is a powered who's been hiding it. But mom (Kari Matchett) is sick and he needs money so he becomes tangles with Garrett (Stephen Amell) and his crew, who in turn work for drug dealer Marcus Sutcliffe (Greg Bryk).

Garret brings in Connor for a bank job but turns out there was little money in the bank. Now the police are getting closer and Marcus is also in trouble with his bosses. They all decide on a very high risk job: stealing the drug run, the armored car convoy that the police use to take confiscated drugs to the incinerator...

For a small budget film it's very well done. Lots of police costumes and some "robots". I guess lots of CGI but it's really well done. Acting is pretty good and the story remains tight. Pretty impressive film.

Ultra Tiny Epic Galaxies (2015) [+]

Ultra Tiny Epic Galaxies is a mini 4x card and dice game.

Each player starts with two ships and has three primary stats:

* energy (0-7) - a resource used for re-rolls
* culture (0-7) - a resourced used to do extra actions
* civilization level - you use energy OR culture to advance your level

Two secondary statistics are based on civilization level:

* ships (2-4) - ships go out to collect resources, do special actions and colonize planets
* dice (4-7) - dice tell you what actions you can take


Players go one at a time and do these steps:

1. roll dice. There are six possible actions:

* move ship
* collect energy
* collect culture
* advance colony resource 1
* advance colony resource 2
* development

2. arrange dice to do your actions (you don't have to use all your dice)
3. do each die action one at a time

* other players can use culture to copy the current action

4. collect victory points


Five random planet cards are laid out. Each planet has:

* resource it generates: energy or culture
* special ability
* colony track of length 3 to 5+ with a colony resource type it uses

When you move a ship to a colony you either land on the planet and use the special ability, or orbit the planet and start moving on the colony track using the appropriate advance colony resource die.

When you collect a resource every ship on a planet with that resource (your home planet produces energy) collects one of the resource.

If you finish colonizing a planet you get victory points and put the planet under your home card. Thereafter you can use development die to use any one colonized planet's special ability, or to advance your civilization level.


That's pretty much it. Early on you want to increase your civilization level so you get more dice and ships. But there are some nice planet abilities so colonizing a key planet can help you quite a bit. Many special abilities have a "take that" ability where you hurt another player. Ability to use culture to copy actions means every player stays involved all the time and the current player has to think about dice order and whether or not to use all dice.

It's a fun quick game that satisfies my space conquest cravings.

Spot Reviews

Cfood Crush, San Mateo [-] Crab shack sort of place where you order a pound+ of seafood with a choice of sauce. I had fried fish bits (tasteless) with cajun fried rice (ok). Three people $115 or so. Would not recommend.

iOS Game - Subway Surfers [-] Endless runner where you run along train tracks collecting coins, jumping on moving trains, and sometimes use a skateboard. Unoriginal.

Movie - Conan the Barbarian (2011) [/] Conan (Jason Momoa) searches for the people who murdered his father, Khalar Zym (Stephen Lang) and his witch daughter Marique (Rose McGowan), who in turn search for the last descendent of the Acheronians, Tamara (Rachel Nichols). It's got a very 1980's action movie vibe but it also means it's maybe too similar to the Schwarzenegger films.

Movie - The Andromeda Strain (1971) [+]

The Andromeda Strain is a medical science techno-thriller set in the late 1960's (and this movie came out in 1971). A secret government satellite crash lands in Nevada. It was collecting space samples and whatever it caught killed everyone in town, coagulating all their blood. Except for an old drunkard and a crying baby.

A team of four scientists is assembled at a top secret biowarfare lab built in Nevada with a nuclear bomb failsafe. As the scientists research the organism they come to realize that an atomic explosion would only give it the energy it needs to reproduce. Naturally when the failsafe activates it's up to the scientists to stop the bomb before it explodes and thereby dooms the planet...

This is a rather slow build-up movie. It's based on a Michael Crichton novel so maybe that explains the loving detail paid to the biowarfare lab. The scientists go through five levels of decontamination and there are lots of little details such as eating nutrient shakes instead of normal food. All the tech is believably possible for the late 1960's assuming unlimited government funds.

I did like the organism. It takes a while for them to find it and then to figure out how it works since it is unlike Earth-based life. They explain how it affects animals and people and also show how they do animal testing to find out how big it is and how lethal it is. It is very much a great theatrical rendition of research.

Overall an engrossing movie that stands the test of time.

GURPS Zombies (2013) [+]

GURPS Zombies is a 160-page GURPS 4E sourcebook about zombies.


  1. Getting to Know Your Zombies - A rundown of zombie lore in history and fiction. And for the purposes of this book even mummies and 1950's atomic waste monsters can be viewed as zombie variants.
  2. Victims and Killers - PC information. Notes on how Basic Set attributes are used in a zombies campaign. PC and NPC templates. Zombie and survival gear.
  3. Zombies! - Note on how Basic Set attributes apply to zombies. Zombie-Maker (step by step designer). Instant Zombies (sample zombies as templates and monster stat blocks).
  4. Zombies in Play - Combat and how to abstract a zombie horde. Survival horror notes.
  5. Zombified Campaigns - Things to consider when designing a campaign. Ideas on adding zombies to other genres.

Zombie-Maker is pretty cool. Runs 19 pages. For each step it gives you a bunch of options, their cost, and how they affect your zombie.

The rest of the book is the usual GURPS goodness. A lot of GURPS specific information but a lot of ideas that can be used in other RPGs. I found it an interesting read.

Spot Reviews

Sachi Sushi, San Ramon [/] We went here for dinner. It was Valentine's night but we got there early so could sit at the bar. Food was average for sushi, which means good.

Movie - The Coldest Game (2019) [-] Cold War spy thriller with chess. During the Cuban Missile Crisis an erratic but brilliant chess grandmaster (Bill Pullman) is kidnapped by the US government and taken to Poland to play a well-publicized chess match versus a Russian chess grandmaster. He's also supposed to make contact with a Russian informer with vital data concerning the missile crisis... I thought the movie lacked drama and suspense.

iOS - NetNewsWire 5 (2020) [/] A basic (or clean) news reader from Brent Simmons after he bought it back from Black Pixel. It's open source and free and there's a Mac version. But right now it only syncs with Mac version via the $5 per month Feedbin.

Movie - This Is Not What I Expected (2017) [+]

This is Not What I Expected is a Hong Kong romantic comedy (Mandarin with subtitles). Lu Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) is a multimillionaire with a lot of OCD and exacting tastes in food. Gu Sheng Nan (Zhou Dongyu) is a clumsy hotel chef who cooks with passion.

Lu Jin is staying at the hotel to determine whether or not to buy it. After he rejects all dishes the manager asks Gu Sheng Nan to come up with a dish and she creates something he likes. After that she is his de facto personal chef but they never meet.

Meanwhile outside of that role Lu Jin and Gu Sheng Nan are sort of antagonists. Gu Sheng Nan keyed Lu Jin's car and later got him arrested. Whenever she's around something bad seems to happen to Lu Jin.

And then about half way through the film they finally meet. Gu Sheng Nan takes a vacation and Lu Jin follows her home, almost forcing her to cook for him. They start to get to know each other a bit. Gu Sheng Nan is definitely falling for Lu Jin but does he feel the same?

I think it's over two hours long which is long for a romantic comedy. But I like how the story develops and it does come to a satisfying conclusion. So overall a pretty good film.

iOS - Warriors of Waterdeep (2018) [/]

Warriors of Waterdeep is a free-to-play tactical combat game licensed from WotC. It's based on the Forgotten Realms city of Waterdeep and probably references locations and NPCs.

You lead a team of four heroes into dungeons. You collect more heroes than that but only four go. A dungeon is two or more rooms that you do linearly with a little bit of choice before each room after the first (i.e. go to a room with big monsters or a room with undead).

A room is about four wide and four or five deep. You start at the bottom and the bad guys randomly, though at the beginning nearer the top. Everyone has their own initiatives which are marked by the white outline on the character level hexagon, so you can tell who is going after the current person. You get four possible actions:

* move
* special action
* special attack
* attack

At the beginning characters can only move or attack. As you level up yourself and your items you open up the other slots. Pretty much all actions have a main effect and a possible secondary effect. So it can be move + possibly heal a random person for the Cleric.

Ranged attacks go 2 or 3 range bands. Range is always based on depth in the room, not on width. So a melee attack can hit anyone one square vertically up from a PC even if the PC is on the left side of the room and the target is all the way on the right.

Kill monsters. Finish the dungeon to get a few more rewards. Then level up your stuff. Equipment is rather abstracted. Each character has six or seven different equipment types and each type has like five levels. When you collect items they fit into one of the slots and if you get enough of an item you can level it up for gold. Each character's gear is designed to enhance that class.

There are challenges (repeat conquered dungeons and try to get as far as possible). PvP battles (which might be against people rather than computer controlled). Daily rewards, stuff that takes time to open, special deals. Two types of currency, gold and diamonds. Gold is used to level up characters and gear. Diamonds to buy gold or finish timers now.

The game was fun for a few hours. But it's kind of repetitive. Also gets rather grindy once you run out of gold. I got my crew to level 5 then it was getting gold slowly so I can level up gear to get experience (I forgot to mention that, killing monsters and finishing quests is a little bit of xp compared to leveling up gear) so I can finally level up to 6.

The other disappointment is that it is fantasy RPG but not really D&D. It doesn't feel like playing any edition of D&D so what's the point of the license?