Kevin C. Wong

May 2024

Spot Reviews 05/31/24

Elektra (2005) [/] Elektra (Jennifer Garner) is back from the dead doing assassin jobs but her latest assignment involves a father (Goran Višnjić) and his daughter Abby (Kirsten Prout) and she instead decides to protect them from various The Hand ninjas and Kirigi's (Will Yun Lee) superhuman team of assassins... I reviewed this back in Dec 2009 and it seemed average. Just rewatched it again (this time Director's Cut version) and it's still a perfectly ok superhero-ish action film.

Mother's Day (2023) [-] Polish action film. Former special forces sniper Nina (Agnieszka Grochowska) comes out of hiding to rescue her estranged son Max (Adrian Delikta) from criminals who want revenge on her. It's a rather confusing film though and a bit anti-climactic big confrontation towards the end. Also immediately sets up a sequel. Overall not worth watching.

Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat (2021) [/] This is an Apple Arcade music rhythm game from Bandai Namco. Your instrument is a Japanese drum which you hit solidly (left or right) or on the side (left or right) and sometimes a two-handed tap. The songs are a mix of popular, video games, and classical. Even on easy this game is quite difficult for me but it seems like a fun game.

Trader Joe's Sour Cream Spinach Dip [/] Not too much sour cream taste so you can maybe taste a bit of the spinach. Ate it with yellow round tortilla chips and it tasted quite fine. $4 for 11 oz and 800 calories. If I buy it again maybe also buy artichoke hearts and mix them in.

Dune: Part Two (2024) [+]

Dune: Part Two completes the novel. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) becomes a Fremen warrior and slowly is seen, much to his chagrin, as the prophesied Lisan al Gaib here to bring independence to Arrakis. Paul has the support of Chani (Zendaya) who as a Northerner doesn't believe in the prophecy. His mother Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson) plays her part by becoming the Reverend Mother of Sietch Tabr.

Meanwhile the Harkonnen try to wipe out the Northern Fremen rebellion (they believe the South is uninhabitable where in truth most of the Fremen population is in the South). Lord Rabban (Dave Bautista) is headstrong and blunt and Paul's hit-and-run tactics chip away at the Harkonnen forces and spice harvesting machinery. na-Baron Feyd-Rautha (Austin Butler) replaces Rabban and his scorched earth tactics have greater effect.

Things come to a head when Paul goads Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken) and Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) to come to Arrakis and when they do, with the Imperial Sardaukar Army, a final battle is set that pits the Southern Fremen against the Imperial and Harkonnen forces...

This is a 2-1/2 hour movie that moves as stately as Part One. The desert environment is gorgeous. The big machines are imposing. Various locations seem real and not sets. I watched this on my iPad and it's quite cinematic. The characters are great and there are lots of them so not a huge amount of focus on any one character, even Paul. Action scenes are well done and the climactic duels are fast and satisfying.

The movie ends on a slight cliffhanger which I suppose leads to a possible Part Three (based on Dune Messiah) being in very early development.

The Oregon Trail (2021) [+]

In The Oregon Trail you lead a party of four characters from Kansas to Oregon during the mid-1800's. You start with an empty wagon and cash to purchase supplies (there are three bundles so you have an effective setup for generic, hunting or fishing).

The journey is in five chapters, each with about half a dozen locations. When you journey to the next location you are presented with a map that has points and trails and you will generally hit four or so points before reaching the next location. Each point has a feature or may be unknown so you can kind of plan on hitting specific points in order to hunt, rest, gather herbs, etc.

As you move to a point there will be one random encounter. Many encounters are part of subplots where you meet the same people and kind of follow along their story. As you move along you use up supplies (there are three food consumption and three speed settings), things break down and repairing takes up supplies, and you gain supplies by hunting/fishing or finding stuff or meeting people.

Meanwhile your four characters have four tracking attributes (health, morale, stamina, hygiene) that you need to maintain high, four social attributes (loyalty, attitude, composure, wit) that help when talking to people, and four skills (shooting, carpentry, wayfinding, medical) used during the journey. Social and Skills are unknown at start and you learn their scores by having a character try the skill or if you stop and tell stories. Characters also have one or more advantages or disadvantages such as Funny (occasionally tells a joke that raises party morale) or Shy (won't bargain with traders).

It's basically a resource management game. Balance what you can carry in the wagon. At each location you can talk to people and trade for stuff (which is usually one item for another and rarely advantageous). At the end of each chapter you arrive at a fort or city where you can both trade and buy supplies with money (though supplies get more expensive as you go along). My strategy is to concentrate on fishing -- you can get 75 to 100 lbs of fish per fishing run which (with bargaining) you can sell for $2 per lb and you build up quite a bit of money that way.

Graphics are nice -- kind of 16-bit retro style. There is a soundtrack which is pleasant. There are different journeys you can take, for example The California Trail which is a journey to Sutter's Mill during the Gold Rush. Three difficulty levels, though the lowest is designed for sight-seeing not danger.

The full journey is several hours of play time and with two difficulty levels and different characters you can get a fair amount of play. The other journeys give variety and can be hard (e.g. Bitter Winter is one chapter where you start with one person and almost no supplies and need to find the other three party members who will all be fairly injured). So if you like the format there can be several dozen hours of game play.

Personally I did The Oregon Trail three times, Bitter Winter, and The California Trail. Probably 15 hours and that's enough for now. Fairly worth it on Apple Arcade maybe not worth $30 on Steam.

Spot Reviews 05/24/24

The Horse Soldiers (1959) [/] Based on a novel loosely based on American Civil War events. Colonel John Marlowe (John Wayne) leads a Union cavalry brigade deep into Mississippi in order to destroy a supply depot at Newton Station. He has a new chief surgeon, Major Kendall (William Holden), who clashes with him and later has to drag along Miss Hannah Hunter (Constance Towers), a Confederate belle who overhears his plans. Nice cavalry actions (without any blood or bullet hits even) and a weird love story addendum at the end. I liked this movie.

A Love So Beautiful (2017) [-] This is a Chinese high school/college drama. Chen Xiaoxi (Shen Yue) has a crush on Jiang Chen (Hu Yitian) who always ignores her until transfer student Wu Bosong (Gao Zhiting) arrives and starts hanging round Xiaoxi. I watched the first ten episodes (of 24 total) and it's high school situations and people liking each other but being secret about it leading to A likes B who likes C situations. Unfortunately Xiaoxi is incredibly whiny and incompetent -- she is both bad at every subject and has to have her friends constantly bailing her out of situations. She's the main character so it makes it too rough to keep watching.

The Secret Garden (1911) [+] This is a children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I listened to an audio book version narrated by Karen Gillan. It's the story of a spoiled girl, raised in British India, whose parents die in a cholera epidemic. Mary is sent to England to live with a distant relative who lives in a mansion with a lot of gardens. There she finds a secret garden that belonged to the lady of the house, who died a decade ago. Along with her budding friendship with Dickon, a local lad, and Colin, the lord's son and even more spoiled, Mary learns to sympathize with other people and become a better, healthier person. This is a wholesome coming of age story that kind of builds slowly but interestingly.

Clay Oven Cuisine of India, San Mateo [+] We had delivery from here. Onion Bhaji, Fish Pakora, Naan, Chicken Tikka Masala, Saag Paneer, Lamb Biriyani, Rice Pilau x2. $75 with tax and enough food for six people and all pretty good though Lamb Biriyani a little too spicy (Christopher wanted no spice). Saag Paneer was mine and it was really good and comes to mind that the Trader Joe's version is fairly close especially for frozen food.

Start-Up (2020) [+]

Start-Up is a South Korean romance/drama of sixteen 75-minute episodes.

Fifteen years ago divorce split up two sisters, Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) and In-jae (Kang Han-na). Dal-mi stuck with her entrepreneurial dad who unfortunately died after getting hit by a car leaving Dal-mi and grandmother Won-deok (Kim Hae-sook) struggling to maintain a lower-income household.

During that bad time Won-deok took in emancipated orphan Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho) -- because in Korea when you're an orphan and become an adult they give you some money and kick you out into the world -- and later had Ji-pyeong become Dal-mi's pen pal friend Do-san, a name taken from a newspaper article.

Fifteen years later Dal-mi is struggling to establish herself, having never gone to college (I forgot if she graduated high school or not). At an entrepreneurial event she runs into In-jae who is a successful CEO due in part to mom Ah-hyun (Song Seon-mi) marrying a wealthy man who unfortunately treats mom and daughter more like property or people to be used. Dal-mi claims she's starting a business with Do-san, who for the past 15 years she's never written to or contacted but whose ideal friendship sabotages all Dal-mi's boyfriend relationships.

In order to prove to In-jae she's doing well Dal-mi has to find Do-san. This is when Ji-pyeong re-enters Won-deok's life and he still feels he owes her for helping him out 15 years ago. Won-deok has Ji-pyeong find Do-san (Nam Joo-hyuk) to convince him to pretend to be Dal-mi's childhood pen pal for the upcoming event. Do-san, who is trying to get his start-up off the ground with his two best friends, eventually accepts and with Ji-pyeong's help impersonates himself.

But things start getting complicated when Do-san starts falling for Dal-mi, who is already infatuated with the old Do-san, and of course eventually Ji-pyeong also starts to have feelings for Dal-mi. All three are kept in contact when Dal-mi and Do-san get into Sandbox, a start-up incubator campus, and where Ji-pyeong is a mentor and partner of the venture capital company that runs Sandbox...

As usual episode one is fifteen years ago setup while episodes two and three are more setup. It's about episode four or five that it starts to get interesting. Bae Suzy is quite charming playing Dal-mi. Do-san character is a bit too pathetic at times so it takes until the last few episodes when he finally grows up and maybe deserves Dal-mi. As is typical the last episode is a bit hurried trying to tell a story and wrap-up various subplots and doesn't really even do that until the end credits.

Overall it's a good romance and I also like the start-up incubator environment.

Waging Modern War (2001) [+]

In Waging Modern War General Wesley K Clark (ret) writes about his early experiences in the US Army in Vietnam and his later experiences rising through the ranks, but mostly this book is about his experience as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (i.e. head of NATO's Allied Command, in charge of all the military troops) and in particular how he had to handle NATO's air campaign against Serbia during the Kosovo War.

As SACEUR Clark had to oversee the air campaign, get the allied nations to commit military resources, keep those same allied nations informed, and handle the same on USA side -- the last complicated by the fact that SACEUR, who represents the NATO allies, is also EUCOM and therefore top military commander of US forces in Europe. Therefore under the command of NATO on one hand and under the command of the USA on the other hand.

The book is about the planning and politics of the air campaign. The USA and Europe had different approaches to the problem and different solutions. Europeans were more for diplomacy and stop-and-go operations (hit Serbia, stop and negotiate, hit Serbia again if they continue) whereas the USA was more for hit them hard and do a ground invasion (and yet the USA didn't want to commit their ground troops but were willing to contribute with logistics and air assets).

There was lots of diplomacy going on. Different people talking to the Serbians and promising slightly different things. Clark, who knew Serbian president Slobodan Milošević fairly well (well, at the time of the Kosovo War it was Yugoslavia which was Serbia and Montenegro but the latter is really small so it was really Serbia doing the dirty and the book reflects that), was mostly in the middle though leaning to the USA's POV.

Clark wanted the air campaign to be continuous since stopping to see if Serbia blinked would mean it'd be hard to get NATO countries to approve restarting it. He wanted planning for a ground campaign because even if you don't intend to do it the planning and getting the forces together takes so long it needed to be done otherwise by the time you want a ground option it's winter. But he wanted a limited ground campaign to protect Kosovo whereas the USA was more into "let's take the Serbian capital and depose Milošević".

Clark also writes about various misunderstandings he had with people in the USA and NATO, though mostly USA. Clark was headquartered in Europe so he had more contact with European politicians and military at normal hours whereas with the USA it was mostly telephone, teleconference, video conference at odder hours. Also since Clark is more familiar with US Army and armed forces politics he had a better idea of why he was getting friction from the USA.

Ultimately NATO was able to get Serbia to agree to pull out of Kosovo, though there was a last minute crisis when Russia tried to do an end round to establish an independent demilitarized zone -- based on what Russia did in Bosnia their zone would have allowed Serbia to do whatever they wanted. But it was handled and afterwards, perhaps due to miscommunications with the US and misunderstandings that he couldn't quite decipher, Clark was replaced as SACEUR.

The final chapter is Clark's thoughts on warfare today. Coalition warfare where there is lots of news coverage and lots of real-time intelligence so a commander has in effect lots of people looking over his shoulder and nitpicking every mistake. Military leaders need to see that as a challenge to embrace otherwise you're not going to get anything done.

Overall I liked the book. It is one person's perspective and it's talking about personal history from his POV so there might be unreliable narrator problems. But taken at face value it's well written, interesting story, doesn't try to throw anyone under the bus, and at times tries to be self-critical. It's a book I'll keep in my library.

Spot Reviews 05/17/24

The Green Knight (2021) [/] On Christmas Day Sir Gawain (Dev Patel) accepts the mysterious Green Knight's (Ralph Ineson) challenge and proceeds to cut off the Green Knight's head, which doesn't kill him. One year later Sir Gawain must now travel six days north to meet the Green Knight who will strike Sir Gawain the same blow... Based on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. This is an Arthurian tale told in sort of a gritty Shakespearan dark tragedy style. It is more realistic in depicting the world as dirtier and the knights as lightly armed and armored. Lots of showing but not telling so you have to pay attention. Also lots of cut scenes and "magic" but could be hallucinations. Alicia Vikander plays two characters, one made up for the film and one from the story. This is a good King Arthur Pendragon adventure type of film though I do think you have to know the tone of the film before seeing it since it's so different than most Arthurian films.

Love O2O (2016 film) [-] This movie came out 10 days before the tv series and both are based on the same novel though since this is a movie there are less characters and less subplots. In comparison it's astonishing how good looking the tv series actors are compared to the movie. The core love story in the movie seems hurried and not as much of a central focus as in the tv series. Overall the movie felt very hurried especially the ending. This is a fairly disappointing experience.

Solitaire by MobilityWare+ (2021) [-] It's Klondike where you turn over one card (though you can change it to 3 cards in the settings) at a time from the draw pile and can redo the draw pile unlimited number of times. No other variants and instead you get various theming options. Rather boring version of a fairly boring game.

Daimo, Richmond - Shrimp Wonton Soup [+] Came here for lunch with my parents. Had shrimp wonton soup and it was really good. Large wontons full of shrimp like how my dad makes them. Soup broth was good too. May be the best restaurant wonton soup I've ever had. Parking though was fairly hard during a Saturday lunch time.

Pretty Woman (1990) [+]

Corporate raider Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) is in Los Angeles to buy up a shipbuilding company and sell it off for parts (something that was done in the 80's when the economy was not great). Getting lost on the way to the hotel he hires an escort, Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), to give him directions and spend the night with him.

Vivian is a charming free spirit who didn't graduate high school and got stuck in Los Angeles after her boyfriend dumped her. Edward finds her refreshing and because he needs a presentable girlfriend for a week he hires Vivian to be his +1 in various social functions. It's during this week that they start falling for each other and she starts changing his outlook on work and on what he does for a living (basically destroying companies)...

I haven't watched Pretty Woman since maybe it came out in theaters back in 1990. Maybe watched it again the mid 90's before I started my web site. Rewatching it again it's still a great romantic comedy though if made today would be significantly different but you can say that for many films.

Great soundtrack, which I own, though all the songs are played for 15 seconds to maybe a minute. This movie would look so great in HD but as a 1990 film it has a quaint graininess. Great supporting cast with Jason Alexander playing a bad guy role as Edward's lawyer/partner, Héctor Elizondo as the fatherly hotel manager who helps out Vivian, and Laura San Giacomo as Vivian's roommate.

As I said, still a great film.

The Room Two+ (2021) [+]

The Room Two+ is Apple Arcade's version of The Room Two. This is a puzzle game where you are stuck in a room with various locations, e.g. a table with a map, a shelf with a sailing ship model, a dresser with stuff on it. Double tap to go to a location where you can usually look around a bit or move the object a bit. Double tap to zoom in on a particular feature which allows you to see clues or manipulate buttons or solve a small puzzle.

As you push buttons or solve the small puzzles you find items or reveal new puzzles/locations. Every item is used -- and some items you have to examine and manipulate -- and when you are done with an item it's removed from your inventory (and I think I had a max of three items in inventory).

You also have an eyepiece that lets you see hidden things in red. Sometimes there are clues in red and sometimes even items have red clues so you use the eyepiece often even though it's a bit of hassle turning it on and off (because on it also makes everything a bit blurry).

It's a very gated puzzle sequence and you rarely work on multiple puzzles at a time. There is a hint system which waits a bit before allowing you to get the next hint. Each step has several hints going from vague until finally telling you what to do. I used the hints a few times and usually the first hint is good enough telling you where to focus for the next step (e.g. a hint like "maybe you should examine that key you found" or "take a closer look at the map").

There is a bit of eerie music in the background. There are notes to find telling a story of a previous person trapped in the rooms (when you solve a room you go to the next room with new puzzles). There are a couple of minor scary surprise reveals but no monsters appear.

I think there were like half a dozen rooms each taking half an hour or more. Probably something like a 5-hour game and there Room games that you can buy for a few bucks each. Overall this was a fun game.

Spot Reviews 05/10/24

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023) [/] Aquaman (Jason Momoa) needs the help of his imprisoned brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) in order to defeat Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who wants to free the ancient Atlantean Kordax (Pilou Asbæk) and his undead legions... It's kind of a fun underwater romp action movie. I guess because so much of it is underwater the special effects are a bit campy. Overall a better film than I expected.

Slow Horses s3 (2023) [-] In this season the slow horses are tangled up in a scheme to find a specific document in cold storage, a document that will bring down the head of MI5 who is in turn willing to have all the slow horses killed to protect her secret. This season is not as good as previous ones though maybe because the show lost its newness factor. I was kind of going through the motions watching it, i.e. it was on but wasn't really paying attention much too often.

SongPop Party (2021) [/] A muti-player song trivia game on Apple Arcade. Choose a category for the game, e.g. Essential 90's or Best of 1998 (I think other decades open up as you complete more games. Part of a song starts playing. There are four choices of either all song names or all bands. Choose the right one faster to get more points. After 10 rounds there is a winner. Has a wide variety of songs and you can play with people on other devices.

Crepevine, Burlingame [/] We had delivery from here and there are several locations in the Bay Area. It was a while ago but I think I had the San Francisco crepe and remember it was both good and bigger than I thought. Comes with french fries so quite a filling meal for $19.

Shadow in the Cloud (2020) [+]

Shadow in the Cloud is a WWII bomber horror/action movie.

New Zealand, 1943. Maude (Chloë Grace Moretz) talks her way onto a midnight-departing bomber. She has mission orders and a secret package that must not be opened. During take-off they put her in the empty belly turret where she spends about 2/3rds of the movie talking with the crew, who become suspicious of who she is, and sees a man-sized bat/rat gremlin slowly tearing the ship apart. The bomber is also attacked by Japanese fighters and Maude ends up making her way underneath the flying bomber in order to retrieve her package from the grasps of the gremlin.

The first part of the movie is mystery because from the opening credits you have a pretty good idea that she wrote up her mission orders. So what is in the package and why must it not be opened? Meanwhile there's lots of cloud cover and it's dark with moonlight so what is that creature out there, or is she imagining it? Meanwhile she's in the ball turret trying to talk her way through with the crew. First she wants out then she has to block their attempts to get her out and there's a gremlin menacing her.

It's a pretty well done film and engrossing. I watched it one sitting. Seems fairly small budget but the internals of the bomber are just fine and there is enough darkness that the gremlin and Japanese fighter CGI bears up well. And actually even when we see the full gremlin for quite a bit it's fairly good CGI.

Overall an excellent film and Moretz is so good and believable as a tough pilot who has her emotional side.

Aphrodite IX: The Complete Series (2023) [/]

Aphrodite IX: The Complete Series is an omnibus collection of the following comics:

Aphrodite IX #1-11 - Cyborg hunter-killer Aphrodite IX wakes up a thousand years in the future after Earth has been devastated. She is an amnesiac caught between two warring factions which represent genetically-engineered humans and technologically-enhanced humans.

Aphrodite IX/Cyberforce #1 - a one-shot continuation that answers questions and ties the thousand-year future to today's Cyberforce (which has an earlier Aphrodite version in its team).

Aphrodite IX: Time Out of Mind #0-4 - In New Chicago (home to the tech-enhanced humans) Aphrodite IX keeps waking up with no memories because after every assassination mission she forgets everything. She needs to find out what's going on before the police figure out she's the killer. I suppose this series is set a few years after A/C 1.

The series is intended to be science-fiction in the old sense of being scientifically/technologically accurate and the primary science is genetic manipulation and cybertech. Stjepan Sejic is the artist and I like his works. Not a bad read though many too many unanswered questions left for the future, which is fine for a comic book but not so for a work of literature.

Spot Reviews 05/03/24

Damsel (2024) [/] In this Netflix fantasy film Elodie (Millie Bobby Brown) -- the oldest daughter of a small lord with a struggling holding -- is married to the prince of the neighboring rich kingdom. But turns out they do that in order to sacrifice royal princesses to a dragon (Shohreh Aghdashloo) that lives in the mountain. The story is mostly Elodie evading the dragon, trying to escape the mountain, and discovering the background story of why the dragon demands such specific sacrifices... It's an interesting fantasy (well, the dragon is the only fantasy element) story wherein the princess is the one who has to save herself from danger.

Company of Heroes (2013) [-] Direct to video action film. During late 1944 a squad of American soldiers ends up having to go behind enemy lines to Stuttgart to stop the Nazis from deploying an atomic weapon... I watched an hour and it's a bit boring. The first combat scene is well done for small budget but then it's a lot of mist, darkness and closeups though maybe the final combat has more effort.

Simon's Cat - Story Time (2021) [/] This is a match 3 puzzle game in the Simon's Cat franchise. The theme is actually pretty good in that there's a story where characters talk and the cats do things and each puzzle advances the story a bit. The puzzles start out easy and get more challenging since you only have a certain number of moves and there are blocks and obstacles. But doing bigger matches unlocks power-ups so there is thinking involved trying to setup a big match for a good power-up. Not my type of game but was entertaining for an hour or so.

Sama Coffee Shop, San Mateo [/] This is a small family owned coffee place that also has Thai tea and various Turkish Delight desserts. We visited Saturday night after dinner and it was full (most/all seats taken the half hour we were there) though not packed. I had a Toffee Ginger Blast ($7, 16 oz) - caramel, ginger, espresso. It was pretty good though as indicated did take a while to make as they have one espresso machine.

Love O2O (2016) [/]

Love O2O is a Chinese romance-drama. Bei Weiwei (Zheng Shuang) is a 2nd year computer science student and known as the department belle (and 2nd prettiest girl on campus). She plays the MMO A Chinese Ghost Story as a kick-ass female who is the 6th best duelist on her server, though since she's never revealed any personal details there are some who think she's a male player.

Anyway, after getting dumped by her current in-game husband -- marriage being a part of the game for game bonuses mostly and not really romantic for most players -- she is pursued by the best player on the server. It's only about a third of the way through the series that they finally meet and she finds out he's campus hottie and computer whiz Xiao Nai (Yang Yang) who she and every other girl on campus have been pining over. On the other hand Nai knew Weiwei's MMO character earlier having accidentally seen her playing in a computer cafe.

The series revolves around their budding relationship, Nai's startup with his computer buddies, and how Weiwei interacts with his friends and his company. There's a rival for Nai, campus belle Meng Yiran (Ma Chunrui) who kind of indirectly has schemes against Weiwei (it's mostly Yiran's friends doing it as it turns out she is not really that mean). There's top foreign language department student Cao Guang (Bai Yu) who views for Weiwei's affections though that's very one-sided as she has no interest in him.

It's a pleasant story with a very photogenic lead couple but ultimately it's a miss. I like the MMO stuff, which reminds me of Falling Into Your Smile's use of League of Legends, but with Smile the LoL competition is throughout the series whereas here the MMO stuff tapers off after a few episodes and you rarely see gameplay after -- though I did like how they did the MMO gameplay by using the actors in the game costumes doing stuff on CGI game backgrounds that made it obvious it's a computer game.

The lows weren't that low and the highs not that high. It's a rather subdued story where the drama is not extreme and the emotions are blunted. I think I'm starting to prefer Korean dramas which do have more emotion and more extreme drama to the point of nearing soap opera scenarios.

Which reminds one thing K-dramas I've seen do much better is flashbacks that show how the lead characters have known each other all along but had forgotten or had not mentioned it. The last scene in LoveO2O has a slight flashback to when Nai saw Weiwei playing the MMO but it didn't reveal anything new. For some reason that scene reminded of how lackluster Love O2O ran throughout.

Overall I wouldn't watch this one again and feel Falling Into Your Smile is a better implementation of a love story revolving around a computer game.

2024-05-6: Forgot to mention one of the subplots involves this vaguely gay attraction between two characters. It goes on for several episodes appearing every now and then. But at the end it's left unresolved and without saying whether that's what it was about. I guess for a China mainland show that was already a bold subplot.