Soft Drink Review: Lotte Milkis Apple

Details: More information can be found at https://www.lottedrinks.com/products/milkis/

Score: 7/10

Yogurt based soft drinks are very popular in east Asian countries. It’s unsurprising then that carbonated yogurt drink are also very popular. Apple Milkis is a tasty variety of this carbonated soft drink.

The apple flavor is pretty strong. It overpowers whatever yogurt flavor is in the drink. In essence, this is an apple soda. It tastes a lot like Apple Sidra, a Taiwanese brand of apple soda.

Overall, pretty good, though the serving size is a bit small and pricey. I bought a six pack for about seven to eight dollars. Considering each clan feels even smaller than your average American can of soda, I can say that each can was somewhat unsatisfying as I just wanted more. I guess that also shows how tasty this soft drink is.

Fast Food Review: Dunkin’ Peach Lemonade Refresher

Details: https://news.dunkindonuts.com/news/national-donut-day-2021

Score: 6.5/10

Dunkin’ Donuts has come out with some new flavors for their refreshers this summer so I decided to try one of them. There’s not much to say except that it was all right. A medium refresher is about four dollars after tax. Nothing special and no complaints. It’s just a cup of what tastes like a heavily artificially flavored beverage.

Video Game Review: Counter:Side

Details: Official site is https://counterside.zlongame.com/

Score: 7/10

Counter:Side is a new gacha game that released an English version in southeast Asia. Why that matters is that they also released a PC client that anyone can play. This basically means that the English version for southeast Asia is really a global English version that anyone in the world can play, so long as they have a computer or an app that allows them to install apps from southeast Asia. Personally, I created a dummy Twitter account and boundd that to Counter:Side in order to play on my computer.

The above clip doesn’t really show off too much gameplay, so here’s another clip below with some gameplay.

As you can see from the clip, the best parts of Counter:Side are its visuals. It’s reminiscent of the anime style of Epic Seven, though I’d argue it’s a little better since it’s a more recently developed game and the animations are more detailed and fluid.

A lot of terms have been used to characterize the genre of gameplay of this game. Some compare it to Arknights and the tower defense genre. Some compare it to generic auto-battlers like Princess connect or Epic Seven. Personally, I’d say the gameplay has more in common with Auto Chess games, like Teamfight Tactics, Dota Underlords, etc.

In an Autochess game, you control a collection of characters with which to do battle with an opponent, who also has his own characters. On battlefield (which is usually a grid) you can control where and when you deploy your units, and that is all you control. Once dropped, the units fight and use their spells automatically. Counter:Side is like that.

On a two-dimensional plane, there are two bases on both ends of a level. You can deploy units on this level, who then run towards the other side and attack any enemies along the way. The same is true of your opponent and the other side. The two sides run towards the opposite sides and hopefully reach the enemy’s base at the end and destroy it.

You can’t control how or when they attack, but you can control when and where to deploy them. It requires what I call “lazy strategy,” which means you can’t micromanage your characters, but you can sort steer the battle. It’s admittedly a passive sort of gameplay, but it’s perfect for smart phone and mobile devices where executing complex controls is difficult. I don’t really mind it because it lets me enjoy watching the very flashy animations.

As with most gacha games, you can level up your characters and their skills, get them gear, etc. There’s nothing particularly unique about that.

As mentioned above, the visuals are great. The animations are flashy and fluid. The character designs are distinct and appealing. It’s just some great visuals and a big reason why I continue to play the game.

The audio isn’t bad, but it’s all in Korean. That doesn’t really matter to me, but if you wanted a game localized into your local language, you’re not going to find that here.

Something that also to be mentioned is the generosity of this game. Firstly, when the game launched, the game gave out so many in-game rewards. So much so that I pretty much have every rare character that currently exists. They gave out one hundred and sixty free rolls/wishes to roll for characters. That’s a level of generosity that I’ve almost never seen any other gacha game do. While the launch rewards are over or almost over, I still cannot stop appreciating all the free stuff they’ve given. It just contrasts so much with other gacha games that give so much less.

Further, after your done with the story, the primary fun of the game is in the competitive multiplayer and they have done a wonderful job implementing this. For example, all players receive the same rewards from multiplayer, regardless of whether they win or lose. This really helps in incentivizing players to continue player multiplayer as there is no real downside. Winning mostly grants the same thing as losing (except for your rank and some almost insignificant rewards granted based on rank). For player who don’t spend a lot of money in the game, it’s a very friendly system.

Furthermore, there is no limit on how many times you can play competitive multiplayer. In almost all other gacha games, playing a game in competitive multiplayer consumes some sort of in-game resource, meaning you can only play a limited number of competitive multiplayer games per day. Counter:Side does away with that and just lets players play as much as they want. There is an in-game resource that yields rewards when you use it to play competitive multiplayer, however, all that happens when you run out is that you will no longer get rewards for playing. You can still continue to play multiplayer as much as want and climb the ranks as much as you want. It’s a very well implemented system that diverges from other gacha games that try to limit how much players can play before spending real money. I applaud Counter:Side for just letting me play as much as I want… at least for competitive multiplayer.

There’s still in-game resources that are need to play single player levels, though I need to say that this game is unbelievably generous with that resource. For most gacha games, I can play for about thirty minutes to an hour before running out of stamina/in-game resource and needing to quit the game. For Counter:Side, I get enough in game resource to play for hours. Even then, I can go play competitive multiplayer when I’m done for an unlimited amount of time. It’s fantastic and such a departure from what I’ve come to expect from gacha games.

Overall, I really like Counter:Side. It relatively generous when compared to every other gacha game. It looks good and feels good to play. It’s just a very solid game and actually got me to quit other gacha games I was playing in order to play more Counter:Side. Those other gacha games just felt too limited, boring and old fashioned in comparison.

Video Game Review: Kingsense

Details: Official site is https://www.kingsensegame.com/

Score: 6/10

Since launch, Kingsense has become one of the most hated gacha games out right now. Personally, I think it’s generic, but not horrendous.

Superprism’s Reputation and Its Effect on the Game

The hate for Kingsense comes from it’s publisher, Superprism. Superprism is notorious for ruining the gacha game, Illusion Connect. Many people initially started playing Illusion Connect because the art was nice, the gameplay all right and the in game transaction surprisingly friendly for free-to-play players (that’s players who spend little to nothing on the game). Unfortunately, as time went on, Superprism started gating content behind walls that required spending real money. These walls got more and more egregious until almost all of the uncensored online chatter on this game turned negative and Illusions Connect lost most of its player base.

Enter Kingsense, the newest game from the same publisher. Before even being released, many online commenters were wary of this game. Then came the news came that the global release would have lower gacha rates than east Asian servers. This is important because this is a gacha game; it’s all about rolling/gambling and collecting new characters. This unnecessary prejudice already jilted a wary group of players.

Then on launch, there were massive errors and Superprism needed to roll back servers a few hours. That means that they restored all data to a prior point in time, erasing any progress players have made in the game in those lost few hours. This is especially horrible because in gacha games, players spend real money to roll on banners for new characters. Rolling back servers means losing any new characters you lucked into during the lost hours. Other games have had roll backs at launch due to technical difficulties and that usually results in the death knell of that game.

Then came even more controversy when it was revealed that the first big event was in-game items in exchange for players going to the iOS and Google Play stores and leaving high review scores. This was particularly deceptive and grotesque.

All in all, Superprism has lived up to its reputation as a disgusting company, through and through.

Now For the Actual Review

Kingsense is a tactical role playing game and a gacha game. The tactical role playing part means that you control playable characters on a gridded battle field and fight against computer controlled enemies on that grid. You and the enemy take turn moving around the gridded battlefield and attacking each other, casting spells, etc. The gacha part of this game means that you need to spend in-game currency or real money to gamble on slot machine-like mechanics and hopefully luck into powerful characters/items that you can use during the battles.

One thing I like about this game is rerolling is relatively easy. Rerolling is something most players do for gacha games which involves creating an account, collecting in-game bonuses usually given to new players, and rolling for powerful characters. If you get the character you want, you keep the account. If not, you drop the account and create another. Rinse and repeat.

Kingsense’s rerolling is very easy. You create a guest account at first. Then roll for characters. If you don’t get what you want, simply delete the account and try on another guest account. If you do like your rolls, then simply bind the account to an email or your Apple/Google account. It’s really easy and a nice change from games that force players to jump through hoops to reroll or just outright make it impossible.

Other than that, everything else in this game is pretty generic. Leveling characters and getting gear is the same as in any other game. The art is your generic anime style. There’s really nothing special.

You’d think the gameplay would be unique, but somehow… it’s not. The maps are too simple and offer nothing visually interesting. Arknights is a game similar to this (though you can’t move characters around in Arknights) and it has much more interesting maps and enemies.

Overall, this is an average game. I think that if this was the first gacha game I’d ever played, I would enjoy this game very much. However, I’ve played too many gacha games like this and unless a gacha game does something very different such as amazing visuals or a brand new gameplay style, I won’t feel any need to play it.

Snack Review: Aji Fruit Jelly Grape Flavor

Details: Found the official Hong Kong site for the company, which is in English, but runs Adobe Flash, which Google does not support… so… here it is: https://www.ajiichiban.com.hk/eng/index.php

Here’s another site of a similar product, except that it is of grape and passion fruit. The one I’m reviewing here is only grape: https://easy277.co.nz/product/aji-fruit-jelly-grape-passion-fruit-260g/

Score: 6.8/10

Fruit jellies are a snack commonly eaten by children in east Asia apparently. I saw these in a local Chinese supermarket and decided to give them a try.

Inside each bag are more individually packaged jellies. Here’s and image of the individually packaged jellies below.

These things are basically just individually packaged Jello. The one I got was grape flavored and it was pretty good.

What’s interesting is that these don’t need to be refrigerated. They keep at room temperature. With that said, I still enjoy my Jello cold and I enjoy these things cold as well.

Overall, this was a decent snack. I don’t know if I’d buy it again as just buying a box of powdered Jello provides more for me to eat. Still, if you’re going on a road trip, these things will do just fine.