Snack Review: Harry & David Rice Cracker Snack Mix

Details: More information can be found at https://www.harryanddavid.com/h/gourmet-foods/snack-mixes/243469

Score: 6.2/10

These things are pretty good, but the biggest downside is how abnormally crunchy they are and how they somehow manage to stick to your teeth. Other than the dental hazard, they are seasoned really well and have a unique, peppery taste to them. I probably would not purchase these things for my own consumption because of how they really do get stuck all over your teeth. However, I would eat them again if they were just lying around the house or if someone had given them to me as a gift.

Manhwa Review: Rooftop Sword Master

Details: Currently ongoing. Also known as 옥탑방 소드마스터

Score: 7/10

Rooftop Sword Master is a revenge story with a super powered twist.

Some spoilers ahead.

The story is about a teenage boy who is severely bullied into a coma. During his coma, horrible things happen to his family and he is traumatized upon learning of those things when he wakes up. As he is wallowing in his sadness, a massive sword appears before him and grants him superhuman powers. Now, the boy seeks to use the powers given to him to kill all those responsible for wronging him.

Like all good revenge stories, you start out with the wrong that the protagonist is subjected to. The point it to gain sympathy and motivate the audience into wanting to see the bad guys get their due. Rooftop Sword Master does a great job of doing that and portrays some good bad guys who mostly got away with their evil acts.

Then we get to the payback. Our protagonist gears up and goes on a Death Wish-like killing spree. Back in the eighties, there were a ton of American movies where our protagonist bought some machine guns and killed a bunch of bad guys. Here, our protagonist gets a magic sword. It buffs him up and pretty much makes him invincible. He goes around beating the crap out of police and military and anyone who gets in his way as he reaches his targets. It’s wild, it’s unrealistic, but it’s a lot of fun to see.

The art is very stylized and not bad. As I often say, it’s not Solo Leveling quality of art, but it’s still pretty good.

Overall, this is a satisfying revenge story, at least so far. The series is currently ongoing and is taking some interesting turns involving foreign governments and politics and a bunch of other stuff. I don’t really love these new plot points just yet. Personally, I just wanted to see evil people get beat up, but I guess that can only last so long. For the series to survive, they’re going to have to introduce some new things.

Video Game Review: Epic Seven

Details: Played for at least a few dozen hours. This is a mobile game you can play on iOS or Android. More information can be found at https://epic7.smilegatemegaport.com/

Score: 7/10

Epic Seven is about as generic a gacha, role playing game can be, except that it has very stylistic visuals and character design. It’s a very Blazblue, two dimensional style (which is unsurprising since the two games actually did a collaboration a while back). I play this game mainly to look at pretty sprites attack each other. As always, this review is written from someone who has spent nothing on this game.

As said above, this is a gacha role playing game. Primarily, this is a turn based role playing game similar to traditional Japanese role playing games like old Final Fantasy games. As this is also gacha, you need to roll for the characters to fill your party in order to progress through the story.

As with most gacha games, the game gives you some characters up front to play with, but all the really good characters need to be rolled/summoned/wished for… which generally requires spending real money. When I started playing, it was during an event where they were giving out a ton of free rolls. Other than the event, this game is generally pretty cheap with giving free rolls. Making wishes/rolling is generally very expensive in comparison to other gacha games.

There’s pity (a mechanic where you are guaranteed a good character/item if you make a certain number of rolls), but it doesn’t transfer between banners, something that even the notoriously expensive Genshin Impact does have (Genshin Impact is still worse in terms of pricing and free rolls). In essence, if you want to guarantee obtaining an advertised banner character, you need to save or spend enough to make one hundred and twenty wishes. At about thirty dollars for ten wishes, that’s going to cost about three hundred and sixty dollars to guarantee and advertised character. That is a lot. There are also many other ways to summon/roll for characters, but all of them require resources that are hard to obtain unless you spend real money. The only redeeming factors to this stinginess is that the recent event which gave out a ton of summons and that you get one free summon per day… which is not encouraging.

In regards to the gameplay, Epic Seven is notorious for being one of the grindiest games among all gacha games or this type. Games like this are inherently grindy, meaning that you have to replay the same thing over and over again in hopes of obtaining an item or advancing a level. Luck is a big factor in whether you get equipment that will help you progress, meaning that the amount of time you spend grinding away at this game could go on infinitely.

Progression matters not only to get through the single player content, but there is also a very big multiplayer component. If you are a player who spend nothing however, don’t even try to make any meaningful progress in the player-versus-player multiplayer mode. The most proficient players are those who have spent the most money on this game, more colloquially known as the “whales.” This is common for this type of gacha game as the more money you spend, the more powerful a player you will be. If you want to be one of the best players, you’re going to need to outspend people who’ve spent thousands, if not tens of thousands, if not even more than that.

The single player mode is fun enough, but still grindy. You need to keep in mind that the goal of this game is simply to make your characters or your team of characters stronger. This leads to the multiplayer where, again, you’re trying to get stronger. Which leads to the ultimate conclusion that you need to spend money because that’s the only way you can make any meaningful progression. Again, this is normal for this type of gacha game and if you are not prepared to throw away thousands of dollars, just play the game casually and don’t take it too serious.

Additionally, there is also a Guild mode where you can join a guild and participate in guild wars. This… also encourages the spending of real money. In order to be useful to your guild, you need to have powerful characters, which means spending money… you get the idea. In case you are unaware, gacha games are known as some of the most degenerate games with some of the most degenerate players. The purpose of the game isn’t to have fun, but to get money out of you. Fun is just a by product of that goal and successful gacha games generally have to balance giving you fun things to do while annoying the hell out of you in order for you to pay them to stop annoying you.

Visually the game looks great. It uses a stylized, two dimensional sprite system that looks like it was hand drawn. I like the look. It looks like anime. There are in fact anime cut scenes throughout the plot.

The music is also pretty good. There’s voice acting in the game, but only for exclamation or battle cries, the kind of stuff you hear during a battle. The rest of the story is told through mostly silent text, like in a visual novel video game.

Because the story is told like in a visual novel, I found it mostly boring. I skipped most of it because I just didn’t care to read all the text and got tired looking at static images rather than hand drawn animations animations. I did watch the full animated cut scenes though because those were pretty cool.

Overall, I enjoyed my time with this game. I spent nothing and played through it very casually. I enjoyed all the free characters I got through the temporary event that just ended. I enjoyed the visuals and the art style of the game. The story was mostly ignorable. Most of all, I enjoyed the feelings of progression that I got while leveling my characters and seeing them get stronger, and that really is the primary driver in games like this. Even still, I felt ample pressure from the multiplayers aspects of this game to spend money to get stronger and that was annoying.

Anime Review: Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon

Details: Also known as Hanyou no Yashahime: Sengoku Otogizoushi and 半妖の夜叉姫. More information can be found at https://myanimelist.net/anime/41911/Hanyou_no_Yashahime__Sengoku_Otogizoushi

Score: 6.5/10

Yashahime is the sequel to Inuyasha, a fairly popular anime and manga that came out over a decade ago (maybe two decades). I watched the series when it originally aired and I enjoyed it at first. I soon lost interest as the story just dragged, pacing was an issue and no meaningful progression was made with the primary plot or the relationships between the characters. I’ve only watched a little more than a dozen of the episodes of Yashahime, but it seems like it is making all the same mistakes as Inuyahsa.

Some spoilers ahead.

Yashahime takes place around ten to twenty years after the ending of Inuyasha. In Inuyasha, a teenage Japanese girl named Kagome finds a magical well that transports her to Japan during the feudal period. This is a time of war, factions, and most importantly, magic and demons. When she gets there, she meets Inuyasha, someone who is half human and half demon. During Inuyasha, the two fall in love and eventually get married. Kagome decides to forgo the present and live the rest of her life with Inuyasha in feudal Japan.

Yashahime centers on the child of Inuyasha and Kagome, but more importantly, on the two children of Inuyasha’s brother, Sesshomaru. Sesshomaru’s children are born in feudal Japan, but one somehow gets sent to modern day Japan. That child grows to a teenager before finding a way back to feudal Japan. Now, that child has decided to travel back to feudal Japan in order to find her sister and making up for time lost.

The story is okay… but mostly boring. The original Inuyasha dragged on to such an extent as to drain me of any interest in the series. I watched Yashahime in hopes of something fresh or a revitalization of this franchise. Unfortunately, Yashahime is boring series and simply seeks to try and recreate the nostalgic feelings of what was present in Inuyasha. Yashahime is a series for only the most devoted of Inuyasha fans and even then, it is a dissapointment.

For most Inuyasha fans, they probably just want to see what happened to their favorite characters. While Yashahime does go into that a bit, it is a slow drip. They drop a small bit of plot progression here and there, but they mostly ignore the original characters and focus on the new characters. This wouldn’t be a terrible development, except the primary characters are kind of boring as well.

The animation is fine as is the voice acting. The original Inuyasha had this amazing, fully orchestrated soundtrack. The music here is good, but not as memorable as the melodies from the original series.

Overall, this series may attempt to attract new fans, but it mostly fails at that. Long time Inuyasha fans will likely mostly enjoy this series, but still be disappointed by the absence of their favorite characters from the old series. Personally, I did not enjoy this show and have dropped it from the shows I usually watch. I think it is also important to mention that this show is aimed at younger audiences, which may be why I– now much older than when I originally watched Inuyasha– find a lot of the humor and plot developments emotionless and boring.

Frozen Food Review: Wellsley Farms Cocktail Beef Franks Wrapped In Puff Pastry

Details: More information can be found at https://www.bjs.com/product/wellsley-farms-cocktail-beef-franks-wrapped-in-puff-pastry-60-ct/3000000000002467771

Score: 6.9/10

These are just your average cocktail beef franks. Nothing special, nothing terrible. The only complaint I have about these things is that after you bake them, they are not visually appealing. The instructions state to place each beef frank on the baking tray seam side down. This is likely to prevent the puff pastry separating from the beef frank. Unfortunately, there were almost always about half my beef franks were not fully wrapped by the puff pastry after baking, even though I followed the instructions and they were all fully wrapped before baking. This is likely due to an insufficient amount of puff pastry used in wrapping each beef frank.

This is admittedly a minor complaint and does not take away from the product as a whole. If you want beef franks and don’t care about how they look, this will do just fine.