Snack Review: Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar

Details: More information can be found at https://www.fritolay.com/products/sunchips-harvest-cheddar-flavored-whole-grain-snacks

Score: 7/10

Harvest Cheddar is the second best flavor of Sun Chips, the first being French Onion. It’s a tasty chip. Sun Chips somehow taste higher quality than normal chips while also being grainier and sort of organic. I guess it’s because Sun Chips are made from whole grains, not potatoes. But it’s really the flavoring that excels. It’s just a really good tasting bag of chips.

Fast Food Review: McDonald’s New Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Details: More information can be found at https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/crispy-chicken-sandwiches.html

Score: 7/10

McDonald’s has a lot of crispy chicken sandwiches and now they’ve come out with yet another. The New Crispy Chicken Sandwich is… amazing. It is damn good. I wanted to hate this thing, but it’s one of the best fast food chicken sandwiches out there.

You need to keep in mind that timing matters when it comes to food. How recently was it fried? Is it cold? Stuff like that has a big impact on taste. Your experience with the chicken sandwich may vary greatly from mine. But for me, this was amazing.

It wasn’t even that hot. It was slightly warm, but really juicy and really crispy. I wanted to get a spicy version, but the coupon I was using only allowed for the plain, which was still great. Even without sauce, I enjoyed this thing.

Overall, this is a great chicken sandwich. It’s priced in my area from around five to six dollars, which is about right when compared to competitors. It is on the same level as Popeye’s chicken sandwich in terms of taste, which is my favorite fast food chicken sandwich and a sandwich I place higher than Chil-Fil-A’s chicken sandwich. I’d buy this again, but only if I had a coupon lowering the price about one or two dollars.

Video Game Review: Arknights

Details: I’ve been playing this game for the past few months. More information can be found at https://www.arknights.global/

Score: 7/10

Arknights is a tower defense game for mobile devices. Or should I say, it is the mobile tower defense game. It came out a while ago and was incredibly popular at the time. That popularity has waned, but the core of the game is still pretty fun.

For those unaware, tower defense is a genre of video games that came out decades ago. I think the genre originated from the game Starcraft. In the first Starcraft game, they had a game mode where players could make their own maps with their own rules. One map involved a stream of enemies traveling from one point of the map to another. Players could build structures or recruit units all in the hopes of obstructing and defeating the enemies before they reached their destination.

Arknights continues that basic concept, except that instead of defensive buildings, your defensive structures and units are anime waifu’s. That means cute Japanese style cartoon girls. There are some male characters, but the vast majority are female.

At its core, tower defense games are simply puzzles games. A fixed number of enemies will travel from point A of a map to point B. Your job as the player is to defeat them before they reach point B. You do this by placing your units onto the map. Each unit provides a different function. Some units can block enemies, some focus on dealing damage, others heal damaged enemies. Similarly, there are a variety of enemies that provide their own variety of problem to the player.

Here’s some gameplay from a tutorial stage.

Like in most role playing games, defeating enemies and beating levels grants resources which can be used to upgrade your units. And you will need to upgrade your units if you want to progress through the game and beat subsequent levels.

As said above, tower defense games are mostly puzzle games. Using a specific combination of units in the correct order and timing will grant victory. Sometimes, you can brute force a map by over-upgrading your units, but generally, that is not going to be possible. This is a gacha game after all.

Obtaining characters requires going through the same slot machine like mechanics as all other gacha games. You have to pay a certain amount of in-game currency to roll and randomly get a combination of units. Hopefully, you will get some powerful ones. The game gives some in game currency, but if you want to collect all the characters, your going to need to get your credit card and spend real money.

I will say that the gacha mechanics on this game are slightly different than what I’m used to and they are interesting. Basically, a new banner comes along about every two weeks or so and you are guaranteed a five-character in your first ten rolls. The value of characters are rated based on stars with six stars being the most valuable, so five star units are pretty good.

Most other gacha games incentivize players to spend real money by offering a pity system, which means that if you roll on the banner a certain number of times, they will just outright give you a six star or similarly valuable character. Usually this number is somewhere between one hundred and twenty to three hundred times.

Arknights does the same thing by increasing the likelihood of obtaining a six star character by 2% every roll after your fiftieth, guaranteeing a six star character on your ninety-ninth roll. Additionally, Arknight also guarantees at least a five star character within your first ten rolls on a new banner. This is nice because, as a free to play player who refuses to spend any money on gacha games, this ensures I can get at least one new, valuable character on each banner. That character may not be a six star or highest tier character, but five stars are pretty good and it’s nice to get something new.

Visually, Arknights is nice. It has its own, style of anthropomorphic characters. The tone of the game is dark and post apocalyptic. It all works for the game and helped keep me interested. What I didn’t like is that this game employs the “chibi” style. That means that while the hand drawn art is very detailed and adult, the in-game models used look like they were drawn by the artist of Hello Kitty. I understand that they do this because this is a mobile game and making a game look to complex or realistic makes running the game on mobile devices difficult. Even still, I hate the chibi look and wish they used a different style to portray their characters.

The story is mostly ignorable. I’ve reached a point in my gaming life where if a story does not have voice acting, it better be clever and funny. Arknights’ story is not voice acted nor is the story clever or funny. I skipped most of the dialogue.

The music is very good. It’s kind of electro, dance, dub step-y. It’s what you’d expect to hear from a story that takes place in a dark, futuristic setting. Again, not real voice acting other than characters yelling their catch phrases during battle.

Overall, Arknights is a fun tower defense, gacha game. There are no other noteworthy tower defense gacha games as far as I’m concerned. If you like puzzle games, then you’d probably like tower defense games. And if you like tower defense games, then you’ll probably like Arknights.

Bakery Review: Rainbow Bakery

Details: Located at 41-39 Kissena Blvd, Flushing NY 11355. Official website is https://rainbowbakeryny.com/

Score: 7/10

Rainbow bakery is a chain of Chinese bakeries. The specific location that I visited is a place of some notoriety. Within a couple of days of opening, an incidence of road rage caused a care to crash through the entrance into the bakery, destroying the business. Below is a news report on the incident.

It’s been a few months since then and Rainbow Bakery has renovated (again) and reopened. I felt the need to give some patronage given their past misfortune.

The first thing I noticed upon browsing is that the prices here are very competitive. This location is in downtown Flushing and there are a lot of Chinese bakeries here competing against each other. The prices of common items that each bakery produces is equal or even lesser than what I’ve seen in other local Chinese bakeries.

The quality is also equal or better. I had a cheese tart and a pork floss roll. Both were very good. Specifically, the cheese tart was like eating a very dense, cheesecake flavored foam. The pork floss roll was done slightly differently than other bakeries, but was about as good as you’d find elsewhere.

Overall, this place is great. It’s equal or slightly better than the other bakeries in the area. Additionally, they also had a menu in the back of cook to order dishes, dim sum, and some made to order desserts as well. I didn’t try any of those, but they looked good.

Snack Review: Judy’s Bakery Shop Egg Yolk Pastry

Details: Bought it in a supermarket. Incorporated address is 1013 Napfle Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19111. Couldn’t find a website.

Score: 7/10

I saw this in an Asian supermarket and felt like giving it a try. It’s basically a coconut mash/crumble wrapped in extremely flaky puff pastry. I hesitate to call it puff pastry because I think puff pastry is 50% butter and 50% flour, but this probably had more butter than flour because it was extremely flaky. The outside layers easily just fall apart.

Inside the coconut mash is a salted egg yolk. That may sound unusual to people not used to eggs in their desserts, but keep in mind eggs are an integral part of baking. They are in almost all baked goods, including cakes and cookies. In this dessert, the saltiness of the egg yolk really helps contrast with the sweetness with the rest of this crumbly dessert. Kind of like how many bakers put salt on their chocolate chip cookies, the contrast helps enhance the flavor.

What was particularly impressive about this is how complex the flavor of the coconut mash was. I looked on the back of the packaging and some of the ingredients were mong bean, red bean, white lotus, rose, jasmine, coconut, osmanthus, taro, and purple sweet potato. There’s a lot going on here and all of it delicious.

The only thing discouraging is the price. It cost about six dollars for six small pieces. For that price, It may be better to go to an actual local bakery and by a freshly baked dessert rather than something that’s been packaged, shipped and sat on a shelf for at least a week or two.

Overall, this was pretty good. Price could be cheaper, but it’s still not terrible. I’d buy this again.