Assassination Classroom Anime Review

Title: Assassination Classroom
Genre: Comedy, Action, Slice of Life
Studio: Lerche
Original Release Date: 2015
Based On: Assassination Classroom Manga by Yūsei Matsui
Length: Season 1 is 22 episodes, Season 2 has 25 episodes, for a total of 47 episodes. There is also a spin off series called Koro-Sensei Q and several animated and live action films and OVAs. There’s even a game (only in Japanese) by Bandai.

Where to watch: Crunchyroll has season 1. But they do not have season 2 Funimation has seasons 1 and 2. You can subscribe to both Crunchyroll and Funimation – and some other anime/scifi networks for $9.99 a month in a new service called VRV at https://vrv.co/. They both also have Koro-Sensei Quest. From what I can tell neither of them have the movies or OVAs available.

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Geeky: 5/5 The comedy and action in Assassination Classroom will appeal to fans of any gender. The animation and character designs are unique, and there are a number of pop culture references and jokes that will appeal to fans of geek or super hero culture.

Sweetie: 5/5 Surprisingly, this may not seem like a “sweet” anime at first glance, but Koro-Sensei is adorable, and also a very good, thoughtful, kind teacher who loves his students. This anime is full of just as many heartfelt moments as it is full of comedy and action.

Overview: 10/10 Assassination Classroom is first and foremost a slice of life anime. Each episode focuses on a different student or faculty member and how Koro-Sensei helps them with whatever turmoil they are experiencing while at school. Assassination Classroom is also very much a comedy anime, as if you can’t tell by just looking at the design for Kore-Sensei. He is a murderous demon lord with a sweet tooth, love for super hero movies, and kind heart, but that still doesn’t mean he won’t destroy the earth. Although Koro-Sensei may be a villain that the other students must defeat, it is hard to not fall in love with Koro and his classroom. Each episode does have action, with the students trying to defeat their teacher, but each episode also is full of tender sweet moments, and lots of very wtf moments and comedy as well.

Story: 8/10   Koro-Sensei destroyed 75% of the earth’s moon, and his next target is to destroy the earth. Koro has made a deal with the government, he proposes that he be allowed to teach a classroom of students and that the students be given special weapons and special training in order to kill Koro-Sensei. If the students fail to kill Koro-Sensei before graduation he will destroy the earth.

Koro-Sensei is not such a bad guy though. He earnestly wants his students to succeed in defeating him. He also takes interest in each of his students, wanting to ensure they have a happy school life. The students he is teaching are part of Class-E referred to as the “Garbage Class”. The lowest scoring students, as well as delinquents and trouble makers of their school.

No one believes these students will amount to anything, and the principal even believes these students must not be encouraged to succeed because it is imperative to make an example out of them to motivate the other students to perform better or else they too may end up like the students of Class-E.

This is where Koro-Sensei disagrees. He absolutely believes that his students are smart, talented, capable, and just as deserving as the other students in the school. While many other students and faculty members seek to make life harder for the students in Class-E, Koro-Sensei seeks to make their lives better.

Koro is joined by additional faculty members, appointed by the school or by the government, to further train the students to kill Koro before the deadline. New students also come to the classroom as well. They all begin to get along and begin to experience a happy school life under Koro’s guidance.

Koro could best be described as a squid like creature. He makes (ridiculously cute) squishing sounds when he walks, has a sweet tooth, and unique super powers. He can travel at mach 20 speeds, regenerate his tentacles, clone himself, change forms, shed his skin, and other unique abilities that make him nearly impossible for his students to kill.

Little else is known about Koro-Sensei. As the story goes on, more is revealed about his past, his connections to the school, and the real reason why the students must defeat him before graduation. Note: I haven’t finished watching this anime yet, but that’s basically what the synopsis from wikipedia explains as the story. I’m up to episode 16 out of 47, so there’s still a lot to learn.

Wanting to learn the real reasons behind Koro-Sensei’s request to teach at that school, and learn more about Koro Sensei himself keeps the story moving, and keeps the viewer interested with morbid curiosity.

However, the story does at times move a little slow, like most slice of life anime. There are a lot of filler episodes, and after awhile, it becomes a bit predictable. My friend also likes to point out how unrealistic the story is, because if the moon was destroyed it would have a major impact on the Earth, and thus make Koro’s threats to destroy the Earth a moot point. This in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the show, but in trying to be objective, I would say those are the flaws of the show.

Characters: 10/10 One really unique thing about this anime is how each episode highlights a different character. You come to know the back stories of all 27 of the students, faculty members, and Koro-Sensei. There clearly are 2 or 3 students that are more “important” than others, but overall, each of the characters are given a chance to shine, and each of them are fleshed out in detail with their own troubles and school-life struggles which Koro guides them to overcome.  Each character is so unique that they even (very slightly) alter every single opening theme song animation to include the new students. You get a sense that the classroom is like a close family. Koro begins doing exceptionally nice things for his students, taking them on trips, planting a garden, building a swimming pool, and of course encouraging them to stand up to the other students who bully them in the school. Character development is one of the key things that keeps this anime moving, watching the students in Class E begin to believe in themselves, and come together with a common goal (to kill their teacher.).

Art: 6/10 – Some of the character designs seem kinda wonky… but they are actually done in a style similar to the manga. Koro is super cute, and most of the students look distinctive. The animation style is clean, but simple, and not overly detailed. There’s nothing mind blowing about the animation, but it is still modern, clean, and fresh.

Voice Acting: 10/10 – Koro Sensei alone has one of the best voice actors, with a very distinctive evil laugh, that is more cute than it is terrifying. The other cast members are also very talented, but less memorable than Koro.

Music: 6/10 – The music is a bit hit or miss. The first opening and ending themes are really catchy. I’m not as much a fan of the 2nd themes. Background music is good, but not overly remarkable.

Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”

Assassination Classroom Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Love Nikki – Dress UP Queen – Anime Mobile Dressup Game Review

Nikki is back in an all new game, and this time, it even has English voice acting. As you may recall, I reviewed  Hello Nikki Let’s Beauty Up awhile back on my blog. Sadly, that game closed its doors a few months ago. As I mentioned in that original review, there were a ton of other Nikki dressup games available in the app store, but none of them had the gacha, rpg, and quest mechanics that I enjoyed so much in Hello Nikki – Let’s Beauty Up.

So I was left Nikkiless for a long time; until one day, I saw a Facebook ad for a new Nikki Game, Love Nikki Dress UP Queen. Love Nikki Dress Up Queen is extremely similar to the old Hello Nikki – Let’s Beauty Up. It’s also extremely similar to Romantic Diary, much more similar to Romantic Diary when compared to the similarities between Romantic Diary and the old Hello Nikki – Let’s Beauty Up, which were admittedly, already pretty similar.

Other Dressup Games you should check out include Line Play, Pokecolo (formerly Pokemini), CocoPPaplay, Miitomo, Dream Girlfriend, Animal Boyfriend, Moe Can Change, Outlander Princess, Dream Boyfriend, and Lady Popular.

Now onto the review!

Title: Love Nikki Dress UP Queen

Genre: Dressup Game

Developer: Suzhou Nikki Co.,Ltd

Publisher: ELEX Technology

Price: Free with Optional In-game Purchases

Where to Get:

Ituneshttps://itunes.apple.com/…

Googlehttps://play.google.com/…

Release Date: May 05, 2017

Overall Score: 60/80 75% “Good Game for Girls”

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

Geeky: 1/5 – The only real reason to play this game is because it’s so mind numbingly cute. Cute as it may be, it is full of bugs – It actually does not run well on my Iphone 6S with IOS operating system 10.3.2 – I can’t see the menus in the dressup, and can’t view tips. I can only access clothes by searching for them by name. Because of this, I play, whenever I can on my PC with a bluestacks emulator to play the android version. I could not get past the tutorial on my Iphone because I couldn’t click where it wanted me to click. And there are still times when I will click and it will be nonresponsive.

If they fix that IOS issue (and yes, I’ve already tried the built in fix utilities), then I’d probably be inclined to give the Geek score a 3/5 because it does feature online play, ranked leader boards, events and quest mechanics, and other interesting features to make it much more than “just” a dressup game.

Sweetie: 5/5 – So many cute outfits, events, and the characters are all cute. Just packed to the brim with cuteness.

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

Overview: 10/10 – Love Nikki Dress UP Queen takes a lot of what made Hello Nikki Let’s Beauty Up so much fun and throws in a few new surprises as well. If you login each day you get all kinds of rewards, basic login rewards, as well as ongoing event rewards, and other goodies. If you compete in the Stylist Arena you can get ranked against others and earn more rewards. The Arena is broken into seasons and the scores reset with new seasons which help new players catch up. You can enjoy the story mode by challenging various NPCs, or you can dress up freely – the choice is yours. With so many ways to play, Love Nikki Dress UP Queen is sure to keep you coming back.

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

Gameplay: 7/10 — This would be close to a perfect 10 if they could fix the game breaking bugs that exist on the IOS version right now. If you’re playing the android version, then you don’t need to worry about the negatives I’ve mentioned earlier in this review. I just can’t give “gameplay” a high score in good faith, when the game is so buggy (almost unplayable) for IOS users right now. Your Mileage May Vary depending on your device and what version of IOS you’re running. You can also switch freely between both the Android and IOS versions by linking your facebook account and have access to your same account and items in both versions of the game.

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

The actual gameplay itself is super solid. As mentioned under overview, there’s several different gameplay modes to choose from, and you can also craft, decompose, dye, and modify your clothes.

Like Hello Nikki Let’s Beauty Up, the main objective of the game is to collect different articles of clothing, and layer and combine them to create new outfits.

In the Story Mode, you will explore various maps; each point on the map presenting a brief story and new dressup challenge. You will be shown tips as to what styles or feelings your outfits should evoke, then you will face off with the NPC where your outfits will be scored on various standards such as warmth, liveliness, purity, maturity, sexiness, casualness, etc. depending on what the challenge calls for.

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

You’re also able to learn new skills as you level up which boost your score, or negatively impact your opponent’s scores when used in battle.

You will receive a letter grade and corresponding reward F through S rank for each challenge. Some maps may require you have a high amount of high ranked challenges to progress to the next map. Other maps may let you by with a C or higher.

 

In the Stylist Arena, you are paired with other real people playing from all around the world. Unlike Romantic Diary, there is no limit to how many pieces of clothing you can carry into the challenge. You (and your opponent) will have access to all of your items in every arena battle. You can rise to the top of the leader boards each Arena “Season” to get top rewards.

 

In Free Dress you can just put together whatever outfits you would like and have fun without worrying about meeting certain challenge requirements.

Be sure you look at the events, quests, and get your sign in bonuses every day. Click everything you can click; there’s so many rewards that it can be easy to miss some awesome freebies here.

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

Don’t forget to also collect your free gacha items each day. This is your chance for free rare items! Treasured items are good, but Super Treasured items are even better!

You can also earn retired / out of print outfits for linking your Facebook account or referring friends! So many ways to get free stuff – YAY.

Story: 7/10 Love Nikki Dress UP Queen has a new story to explore. Legend tells of a kingdom ruled by fashion battles. These fashion battles even have the ability to determine who will rule each kingdom as its king or queen. In the latest fashion battle, there was a tie, between a Princess, and a common girl. The Princess was very beautiful and refined with dark hair. The common girl had long pink hair, after the last fashion battle, the pink haired girl mysteriously disappeared, and the Princess became the new Queen. She ruled her kingdom harshly and brought about an age ruled by her cold blade. Nikki finds herself somehow in this strange kingdom, with her talking cat, Momo. Nikki shares an uncanny resemblance to the pink haired girl of legend who could challenge the current queen. Nikki will make her way to meet the queen while encountering strange new characters who either want fashion advice, or want to battle (in a fashion battle that is). – The story is there, and this time it’s even fully voiced, but it’s still not terribly interesting or engaging

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

Characters: 7/10 – all of the characters are voiced, have their own unique sense of style, and all of them are super cute, but it feels like they’re just there to keep you moving from point a to b, and of little story significance.

Graphics: 10/10 – Pastel pink is everywhere. Everything about this game is girly, feminine, charming, cute, and kawaii AF. The ability to layer items, from dozens of different “item slots” makes the dressup possibilities almost endless. The amount of different items also is mind boggling.

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

Music:5/10 – Meh, just average. It’s there, it exists, I just don’t pay much attention to it. It doesn’t get on my nerves, unlike many mobile games that I have to play on mute, but it’s nothing too impressive or memorable either.

Voice Acting: 8/10 – I’m torn on this — It’s the first Nikki game to have voice acting in English — or “first English Nikki Game to Have Voice Acting” period – by that, I mean that Hello Nikki Let’s Beauty Up removed ALL the voice acting from the original game before bringing it to North America – not only did it not have English Voice Acting, but it also removed the original Japanese Voice Acting as well! I was really disappointed by this.

So I’m really really happy that the new Nikki game is fully voiced – I would have liked for it to have included an option to keep the Japanese voice acting — Or if I could only choose one or the other, I would’ve preferred the Japanese voices. But I know there are royalties and licensing fees associated with doing so…

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

The English voice acting is actually… for the most part… not bad…. I’ve met a few questionable characters but on the whole, overall, most of the characters’ voices seem to fit well and deliver a decent performance that is not cringe worthy or over dramatic. I actually kind of really like some of the characters’ voices in fact. So yeah, we have voice acting, and it doesn’t totally suck, so yay lol.

Overall Score: 60/80 75% “Good Game for Girls”

NOTE: if playing the Android version or if they ever fix the bugs in the IOS version, the score would be closer to: 66/80 or 83% “Very Good Game for Girls”

Love Nikki Dress Up Queen Kawaii Cute Anime Dressup Mobile Game Review

Love Nikki – Dress UP Queen – Anime Mobile Dressup Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review

Title: Curious Expedition

Genre: Adventure Game, Rogue Like

Developer: Maschinen-Mensch

Platform: PC, playable over Steam and also right in your web browser, stand-alone DRM free client coming soon

Release Date: May 19th, 2015

Retail Price: $14.99

Where to Buy: Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/358130/The_Curious_Expedition/ or Direct from the official website at http://curious-expedition.com/

Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”

Overview: 8/10 Curious Expedition is a rogue-like adventure game with retro style pixel graphics. It puts you in the role of one of several famous explorers from history and lets you compete for fame and fortune. If you become the most famous explorer, you win, and are honored with a large statue in your likeness.

That is, if you can survive long enough to even return home from your expedition. The game uses some interesting mechanics such as a sanity meter, which when it gets low, bad things begin to happen. Mutiny breaks out among your crew, or random disasters begin to befall the group.

You can restore sanity by eating, drinking, or sleeping. There are also certain units you can recruit, or perks you can receive that increase your max sanity, making it a bit easier to explore without going insane.

There are other resources for you to manage as well, such as fresh water, ammo, first aid kits, torches to explore dungeons, ropes and climbing kits, and numerous other tools to help you discover treasure.

While out exploring you will sometimes enter into battle using various dice (amount of dice and colors of dice are determined by which party members you have with you at the time.)

You can always select from 2 different expedition routes, and are presented with a randomly generated objective to complete while on expedition. You can choose to return home after completing your objective, or continue to search for treasure to bring back.

Your movement speed is greatly reduced when your inventory is over burdened. This will make it even more challenging to manage your sanity and other resources. Terrain obstacles such as sand, snow, ice, mountains, and forests will also slow down your expedition and require careful resource management.

Perhaps the most unforgiving element is if you die, you get one chance to load your auto save, and then that’s it, you’ll have to start a new game. And you will die often. 6 expeditions may not sound like much, but I have yet to make it past the 5th.

The overall experience of the game left me both addicted, and annoyed. I have yet to successfully complete a full series of expeditions. But yet, I played all night, and can’t wait to get home to go on new expeditions.

Pros: Strangely addicting Gameplay paired with retro pixel graphics. D&D style dice-rolls and turn based combat system. Fairly large maps (I typically have to return home without fully exploring the maps). Rogue like elements make it great for multiple replays (but admittedly need some tweaks).

Cons: Normal mode is very challenging… like seriously challenging (There is an easy mode (which I have not tried) and an even more difficult mode as well though so this is not really a bad thing). My chief complaint of Curious Expedition is that there’s not enough choices in places to explore. Maps all feel very same-ish. Scenarios seem to repeat, and even when you get a new scenario, there’s nothing terribly unique about the quest to make it memorable or exciting. Need more maps, more variety in quests, more variety in classes, npcs, treasure, random events, etc. My other chief complaint is there’s no multiplayer mode. This seems like a great game for some multiplayer fun as it does show you how much fame/fortune your competitors are earning. It could even make a great persistent online game with credit going to players for being the first to discover new regions, items, animals, native people, etc. So much potential here for interesting multiplayer options, but instead, your competitors are always controlled by the computer. And lastly, my last complaint is that there’s no Steam Achievements. A game like this would be PERFECT for steam achievements. There are steam trading cards, but no achievements which seems once again like a missed opportunity to add some fun gameplay elements.

Geeky: 5/5 – The retro vibe and random rogue like elements, as well as references from D&D and other old school games make this a blast for all geeks who grew up with fond memories of the 80s/90s.

Sweetie: 3/5 – Although it is very text heavy, a lot of the text repeats and is not very interesting on subsequent playthroughs. However, there are some notable female playable characters that represent real women throughout history, which is just awesome. This game highlights women who did extraordinary things and emphasizes their brains over beauty, making this a great game for young girls.

Gameplay: 7/10 – When the game begins, you select which explorer you want to play as. Some will be locked and can be unlocked through game play to be used on subsequent playthroughs. You will be given a few supplies and some animal and human companions.

You’ll then be shown a map of the world. It will have many expedition points, but only ever 2 at a time will be selectable as your competition will be exploring the other parts of the world. Select one of the two routes and you’ll be offered a quest. You can either accept or reject the quest. I assume if you reject it, you can just freely explore the expedition area without a quest in mind. Or maybe you’re presented other quest options before embarking on your voyage. I’m not really sure.

If you can successfully complete a quest objective you’ll get a large bonus to fame and/or fortune. But if you fail the quest after choosing to accept it, you’ll lose a great deal of fame or fortune as well.

Before leaving the docks, you’re given time to buy supplies, and sometimes you will find new crew members who wish to join your expedition. You can only take 5 members at any time, so if you find new members you wish to recruit, you will have to part ways with someone else first.

While out exploring you are shown a map with perhaps a few areas uncovered, but largely, hidden from your view. You click around the map to move and explore. Points of interest or interaction are designated by a white question mark symbol. As you approach, they will reveal themselves to be one of several different locale such as:

Native Villages: Here you can recruit members for your expedition, buy, sell, trade, rest to restore sanity, compile research, complete various quest objectives, and more. Your likelihood of success depends on the villagers feelings towards you. These are determined by how long you’ve stayed in the village, as well as decisions you make to story prompts both inside and outside of the village, as well as certain class roles of your crew, and any special status conditions possessed by your crew, and lastly, the amount of trading you’ve done with the village thus far.

Caves: If you have a torch, or a class member with “perception” skills (blue dice roll with white eye symbol), you can usually safely explore the caves. If you choose to loot treasure, you may anger the gods, villagers, or spring a trap, but it’s almost always worth the risk, as you can trade the treasure in for fame or fortune after you return home.

Stone Circles: You can use these monuments to reveal more of the map.

Temples and Pyramids: Similar to caves, mostly used as a place to loot treasure which usually has some negative consequences as mentioned above, but still is imperative in raising your fame and fortune which is how you ultimately win the game.

There are different types of maps / expedition areas such as:

Icelands, Jungles, Drylands, Deserts, Mountains, etc. I find the Jungles to be the easiest to traverse. Icelands can be conquered with Snowshoes and sled tickets. Drylands and Deserts requires you to carry more water.

While exploring your food and water rations deplete, and also your sanity begins to dwindle (rapidly). You must eat or sleep or drink to restore these meters. If you ignore them, you will suffer a lot of negative random scenarios, such as killing your crew, sometimes you’ll eat them though which will restore your sanity at least lol.

Encounters with various “monsters” (typically wild animals), happen when you enter an area designated by a red border, you can also see a circle icon representation of the beast in question as he also moves around the map. Should you draw attention, he will likely chase you, and be faster than you. Sometimes it’s better to face your opponents head on. If they sneak up on you, they get a free combat round before you can react.

Combat takes place using various dice rolls. Different items in your inventory, and different class roles of your party members, determines which dice you have available.

Each “turn” consists of 3 “rounds”. Each “round” allows you to either keep or re-roll dice. If you have a combination of dice that result in a combo move, they will shake on your screen. Mousing over a shaking die will show the other dice needed to activate the combo – they will shake too. If multiple combos or other dice had been shaking, their shaking will stop when you’re moused over a die from a combo they don’t belong to.

You can activate your combos each round.

For example, your first roll could reveal that you have 3 dice that activate a combo. You can click on those dice to “hold them” once all three have been held a dialog box will appear – click the box to activate the combo, then select reroll. Your next roll may have another 3 dice that activate a different combo, you can again play this combo in the same way, and roll again for your final round. Each time you hold dice, or activate a combo, however, will remove those used dice from your available dice pool, making it less likely to get good combo rolls as the rounds go on.

If you survive, you may be given items, or fame and fortune. If you should die, you will be taken back to the main menu where you can reload your game. Should you die again, when returning to the main menu you will notice there is no longer an option to continue and you must start a new game.

Also as you explore and fight your way to glory, you will be able to promote your party members to make them stronger. There are also numerous random events that may impact your party members’ skills, stats, and abilities.

Return home with your treasure. You can choose to donate to the museum for fame, sell for fortune, or hold onto various items. When you return home you’ll also be presented with any applicable quest rewards and allowed to select one “perk” from a handful of randomly generated ones. Some of these perks are really neat and significantly alter your gameplay, such as allowing you to do culture studies on native tribes, giving you additional dice rolls, permanent boost to max sanity, increased viewable map areas, or more benefits. After choosing your perks and preparing again for your next adventure you’ll again have an option of 2 expedition areas to explore and be shown a random quest.

Survive all six expeditions and have the highest fame to win the game.

Story: 5/10 – You write your own story. This game plays much like Oregon Trail, Horizons New Dawn, or Banner Saga, so if you’ve played any of those, you have an idea of what to expect here. Unlike Banner Saga, however, Curious Expedition is not very well written, nor engaging, simply because it is almost too random, and at the same time not random enough, so that when you hit subsequent playthroughs, it becomes a bit repetitive. I know the game is only just now at patch 1 point something, but after being out for 2 years now, that’s rather concerning too that there hasn’t been more big content updates. It needs more scenarios and random events, but even that can’t save the story because of the nature of the brief random encounters and quest. Lacking a central story, does not detract from how fun and enjoyable this game is, but for those looking for a solid story and great characters, look elsewhere.

Characters: 8/10 – There are a lot of randomly generated characters including various races, classes, genders, likes, dislikes, stat bonuses, ailments, and little quirks, that really make your party more interesting. There are a few, but not many, scenes that may endear some of these characters to you, but most of the time, they are of little consequence from a story standpoint. As mentioned earlier in the review, I am quite pleased to see the inclusion of many female and minority historical figures as playable characters. Curious Expedition is a great game with great rolemodels and unique characters inspired from historical events.

Graphics: 7/10: Pixel graphics are hot right now. I understand they’re not to everyone’s taste, but as an older gamer myself, I enjoy retro feeling games such as this. I did deduct a few points in this area though simply because of the “sameness” of all of the maps / areas / npcs / etc.

Sound: 6/10: The soundtrack is also extremely retro which gives it a fun 80s feeling with lots of nostalgia. But ultimately, the soundtrack is just not too memorable overall.

Replay Value: 9/10: Although it desperately needs some more variations, more options, and more items, npcs, places, and skills, the game does indeed present a fun randomly generated gameplay element that makes each playthrough unique. The challenge of the game also dictates the need for subsequent playthroughs.

Overall: 58 / 80 73% C “Good Game for Girls”

Other Games You May Like Include Horizons New Dawn on SNES and Oregon Trail Classic or Banner Saga on the PC.

Curious Expedition – Indie PC Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Koe no Katachi Anime Review

Title: Koe no Katachi

Other Titles: A Silent Voice, The Shape of a Voice

Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Slice of Life, Drama

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Based on: A Silent Voice manga by Yoshitoki Ōima

Length: 2 hours 9 minutes

Release Dates:

Theatrical Japanese release: September 2016

Theatrical world-wide release: June 2017

DVD Blu Ray Japanese Release: May 17, 2017.

(no date announced at time of this blog post for an English DVD / Blu Ray Release).

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Geeky: 4/5 Gorgeously animated and very true to the original story within the manga. It does lack action and move at a sometimes slow pace and deals with heavy and unpleasant themes at times.

Sweetie: 5/5 The transformation of the characters and values of friendship, love, redemption, and need for connection, are all highlighted in a tale that shows the coming of age of a group of adolescents.

Overall: 48/60 80% B- “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Story: 9/10 Koe no Katachi is a coming of age story wherein we witness the growth and life changes which shape and change the nature of relationships between a group of friends, enemies, and lovers. The story centers heavily around 2 youths, Ishida Shoya and Nashimiya Shoko, and their classmates. When the film starts, they are in elementary school, and by time the film ends they are seniors in high school.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Shoko is a deaf student who transfers in to the class. Shoko is the only student with a disability, and none of the staff, students, or teachers are prepared or equipped to deal with her. As a result, Shoko becomes the victim of bullying, with Shoya largely being the ring leader behind her tormenting.

When it is discovered that Shoko has been bullied by her classmates, the other students and staff all blame Shoya which results in then his being bullied. The bullying continues throughout highschool as well, leaving Shoya with zero friends, and afraid to get close to anyone. Shoya even considers committing suicide to escape the bullying.

He runs into Shoko in his senior year of high school and immediately begins a plan to befriend her, having felt guilty for bullying her when they were younger. Shoya has been studying sign language and is now able to easily communicate with Shoko. He asks if they could be friends, the same thing she asked of him when they were little.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Shoko has grown stronger and has many friends already, but she blames herself for breaking up Shoya’s group of friends and for Shoya’s years of being a victim of bullying. The two forge an unlikely friendship, both hating and blaming themselves for their past interactions.

Shoya has grown and matured, and not just out of his feelings of guilt towards Shoko. Early in the film he befriends a male classmate who is also being bullied. This leads to Shoya’s first friend since elementary school.

Even Shoko’s sister who is very over protective of her, comes to accept Shoya when she realizes how much he has changed, and encourages him to date Shoko.

Shoko wants to help repair the friendships of Shoya’s childhood friends so she begins gathering the other students, some of which still resent Shoko and Shoya. There’s even a bit of a love triangle when Shoya runs into an old classmate, Ueno, working at a cat cafe.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

However, everyone is still haunted by their pasts. Shoko and Shoya both struggle with thoughts of suicide and guilt throughout the entire film. Eventually though, the two begin to develop feelings of love for one another as a result of their newly formed friendship, but even that love may not be enough to save them. (You should watch it for yourself if you want to know! 🙂 )

It is a touching and moving story. School bullying is a huge problem in both Japan, as well as North America, and it does often lead to an increase in child and teen suicide. Therefore, these themes and characters feel real, raw, relateable, and brimming with emotions.

The manga goes a little bit further than the anime by showing what happens after high school to most of the friends in this story. However, the movie is a faithful adaptation of the manga given the time constraints of the format (taking several volumes of manga and condensing down into a 2 hour film).

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Characters: 7/10: It can be difficult to watch a show as “heavy” as this at times. Almost of the characters are bullies and/or the victim of bullying. The main character and his friends are not “nice”. Even after they mature, many of the characters remain self-interested and shallow.

However, seeing Shoya’s transformation, and character development throughout the film from a bully to being bullied, and then to finding love and friendship is really the highlight of the film. Well that, and just how cute and unique of a character Shoko is.

It does a good job of showing both the home life, school life, and recreational life of the group of friends. Even the minor characters, such as Shoko’s sister and grandmother are well fleshed out.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Art: 10/10 – the anime is gorgeous to look at, especially some of the lovely backgrounds such as the koi pond, fireworks festival, or starlit skies. The character designs are cute and distinctive, from Shoko’s utter adorableness, to Shoya’s unkempt “I don’t care” attitude (messy hair, tag always sticking out of his collar, etc). Even the supporting cast has unique well defined designs, from their height, weight, hair, or fashion, all making them more memorable.

But perhaps the most interesting thing here is that they have actually animated some sign language scenes between the characters. Unfortunately I don’t sign, so I can’t comment how accurate the animations were, but it was still an interesting touch none the less.

Music: 4/10: I felt the music was very hit or miss for me. The opening theme song is an old (70s or 80s I think) American rock n roll song, which isn’t to my taste and didn’t seem to fit the theme or characters. The other music was not very memorable.

Koe No Katachi a Silent Voice Review

Voice Acting: 9/10: I dunno if Shoko’s voice actress is actually deaf or suffering from hearing loss, but the actress definitely has a speech impediment – whether that is real, or fake, I can’t tell. Other films and TV series, such as Switched at Birth have used deaf actors and actresses before. If she is not deaf, then that’s even a higher testament to her acting ability since she is able to keep the speech impediment consistently throughout the film.

This does make her hard to understand at times. The version I watched was likely fan subbed and not the official translation. The writers tried to characterize Shoko’s speech impediment even in the subtitles, and at times, I found myself feeling as frustrated and confused as the other characters trying to understand what she was saying lol. She still sounds cute, and her speech impediment plays an important part in the story.

The other characters are equally as well cast and really bring the characters from the manga to life on the big screen.

Overall: 48/60 80% B- “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Koe no Katachi Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Pusheen 2017 Spring Box Opening Review

Pusheen box continues to impress with large, big ticket items, and tons of exclusives. Pusheen 2017 Spring Box marks one year of my receiving this quarterly subscription crate, which first debuted in Winter 2015 (I missed out on the first box, boo). Ever since I joined in Spring 2016, I’ve never once been disappointed by the contents of my box, making it by far, the best subscription box for girls.

I received my box in May, which happens to be my birthday, and inside, there’s tons of birthday / party related goods – awesome coincidence. I could throw myself a Pusheen party, but don’t have anyone to invite except for my cats lol.

It came packaged in a cute Bunny / Easter themed Pusheen faced box.

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

It included things like Photo Booth Props (some assembly required):

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

Also some cute banner decorations and party balloons. 🙂

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

You can already see the next item in the above pics, a Pusheen Tshirt, here’s another look. Mine is a wee bit big. I think it will probably shrink though when washed? lol. The colors are so cute and the lil birthday hat Pusheens kill me lol.

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

This month’s exclusive vinyl figure is an Easter bunny Pusheen with a spring chick on her back.

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

The next big ticket item is the adorable and useful Pusheen Bento Box and Utensil set. Perfect to pair with the Pusheen thermos from the Pusheen 2016 Winter Box.

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

All that food is going to make you super thirsty, so they’ve given you a bottle opener shaped like our favorite feline.

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

What party would be complete without some tunes? Enter this adorable Pusheen Wireless Speaker to solve all your party music needs.

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

Last, but certainly not least, a cute Pusheen selfie stick to capture memories of your party with your friends!

Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box
Spring 2017 Pusheen Subscription Box

My phone case doesn’t really fit too well in here, and it was a lil difficult to operate, it didn’t seem to support the weight of my phone (or case) too well. Did slightly better when I removed the case. Maybe I just don’t know how to use a selfie stick lol. It seemed “loose” and wanted to flop “forward” from the “square” part that holds the phone… Still cute, but dunno if I’d trust it to hold my expensive Iphone lol.

Also speaking of things flopping forward, Some of the Photo Booth Props seemed floppy – but maybe I’m just a derp and didn’t assemble them correctly. That is about my only complaint in this month’s box.

As always is the case with my Pusheen Box reviews, this is in no way a paid review. They do not even have a referral program. I’m merely sharing photos of all the cuteness because I know it will appeal to my readers.

If you’re interested in getting your own Pusheen Box you can sign up at PusheenBox.com

Final Score:

Packaging: 10/10 – The box is even shaped like Pusheen, the bottom of the box even has jelly bean toes – can’t handle the cuteness.

Quantity of Items: 10/10 – Packed to the top with tons of Pusheen stuff

Quality of Items: 7/10 – this month had a lot of “cheap” “paper goods” such as the photo booth props, banners, balloons, etc. While I was still happy with those (especially given that my birthday is next week lol), I am not used to seeing these lower quality items. Also as mentioned the selfie stick didn’t seem very sturdy to me. — The other items are all super high quality though. And compared to other boxes where you get mostly “cheap” plushies and stationary items, this box still feels higher quality overall.

Size of Items: 8/10 – Many nice larger items such as the Bento, Wireless Speaker, Vinyl Figure, Tshirt, and etc. Offset by a few cheaper/smaller items (mentioned above). Overall, compared to other boxes, Pusheen box consistently delivers more “big ticket” items. Compared to past Pusheen Boxes, the Spring 2017 box has a lot more smaller items as well. Hope this is not a continuing trend in the Summer box. Still mostly satisfied and surprised by the number of expensive, large, nice items. I feel it is well worth the cost of subscription and not just trinkets and baubles.

Variety of Items: 10/10 As always, a nice variety of items, ranging from fashion, to home goods, to toys, to stationary, to even electronics.

Rarity of Items: 10/10 The exclusivity of the items – being only available in this crate and not in any stores, makes this box one of my all time favorites for collector value.

Items Fit Theme: 9/10 Everything is 100% licensed Pusheen Goods. This month’s theme seemed to be a “party” theme and almost all of the items fit this theme, you have food and drink, party decor, music, and memories. It also seemed to have a vague easter theme with the box having bunny ears and the vinyl exclusive this month matching that. Perhaps a better match would have been a party hat Pusheen box and vinyl figure. But that’s a minor thing :).

Overall Value: 64/70 91% A- “Excellent Subscription Box For Girls”

Pusheen 2017 Spring Box Opening Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Yume Twins May 2017 Unboxing Video Review

I signed up for Yume Twins in May, 2017. The May box had a cat theme with lots of cute (but ultimately “cheap feeling”) plushies. As a cat lover, and kawaii collector, it was too good to pass up.

I took a lot of pictures as I unpacked my May 2017 Yume Twins box. Facebook assembled this slide show for me from some of the pics I took. This gives you a good idea of the size, variety, and quality of the items inside the May Yume Twins box.

My favorite part of the May cat themed Yume Twins box was a plushie that’s also a purse. I didn’t realize at first, until turning it over. His tail is a zipper and his tummy opens to let you put items in. Super cute!

There was also a water bottle with cat decals.

One of the most popular items in this crate is the Yokai Watch plushie from the hit anime and video game.

It all comes neatly packed in a bright purple box and includes a several page book, not only highlighting the items in your box, but showing interesting places and things around Japan that tie directly into that month’s theme. This was a really nice touch, one of the nicest packagings I have seen for these sorts of things.

I think they need some larger/nicer items such as T-shirts, home goods, and other items, similar to Pusheen Box to make it worth the cost of subscription.

Next month’s theme is Studio Ghibli. I meant to cancel after the cat theme, but forgot — and still haven’t cancelled (and my Ghibli box has already been sent). So we shall see how that box goes. 100 lucky subscribers in June will receive a Studio Ghibli thermos and chopsticks featuring Jiji from Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Items like this should come standard in every box though. I mean if Pusheen can do it, why can’t they? I received Pusheen thermos, lunch box / bento set, and many other exclusive cute big ticket items. Pusheen box still makes all these other subscription boxes seem cheap to me.

I rather pay (approximately) $10 more a month (cost comparison of Pusheen Box vs Yume Twins) and get nicer items.

Perhaps they could start offering different subscription plans with larger items in the higher priced plans.

Still overall, Yume Twins is a very cute box – especially for plushie lovers.

I also really like that not everyone receives the same items. For example, the cat purse as well as cat charm that I received were black cats. In the book that came with the box, as well as on the tags, it shows different colors and styles, from spotted to striped to fantasy color kitties.

Overall will I keep or cancel the subscription? I haven’t cancelled yet, mainly because I do love Studio Ghibli and am interested in seeing what cute Ghibli plushies and goodies are in the June Yume Twins box. However, after that, I will likely cancel until a new theme comes along that piques my interest.

Japanese plushies are cute, and these are officially licensed goods, not counterfeit toys and plushies like many other boxes I’ve reviewed. That does add to their value. The large cat purse plushie probably retails for $15-20 alone. So the smaller plushies are just “bonus” items.

Therefore, I do think that the Yume Twins subscription is fairly priced and worth the cost in terms of the value of the goods you receive.

If Plushie Collecting is your thing, I think you’ll love Yume Twins. I just mostly rather put the $26 a month towards other things.. though I do love cute plushies – I don’t have a ton of room, and the plushies always seem to pick up cat hairs from my real life kitties lol.

Final Score:

Packaging: 10/10

Quantity of Items: 7/10

Quality of Items: 8/10

Size of Items: 3/10

Variety of Items: 3/10

Rarity of Items: 5/10

Items Fit Theme: 10/10

Overall Value: 46/70 66% D “Average Subscription Box for Girls”

Yume Twins May 2017 Unboxing Video Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

The Red Turtle Anime Review

I just purchased and watched “The Red Turtle” last night. The silent animated feature length film was done, in part, by Studio Ghibli, famous animators of feature length family favorite anime films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ponyo, and The Cat’s Return, just to name a few.

I have to admit, I didn’t really do my research on this title (and didn’t realize it was a silent film until I began watching it), but every time I saw a preview, I just wanted to see it oh so badly. When I realized I could buy it for only $10 more than the “rental” price ($15 vs $5) I immediately purchased it.

For about the first 20 – 40 minutes of the film, I felt disappointed and disinterested; that quickly changed as the plot began to advance, and by the end I was so emotionally invested that I was crying.

Read on for the full review below.

Title: The Red Turtle

Studio: Studio Ghibli

Release Date (theatrical limited release) : January 20, 2017 (dvd / bluray) : May 2nd, 2017

Length: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Geeky: 3/5 – The beautiful artwork has a story book like quality while the musical score helps covey the feelings of the wordless cast of characters.

Sweetie: 5/5 – Without any voice, this movie still manages to tell an uplifting, wholesome, sad, touching, and romantic tale. This film reminded me of the Song of the Sea (which I also HIGHLY recommend and will eventually get around to reviewing). It also reminded me of a silent “Little Mermaid”. Or a little of the Tom Hanks “Castaway” film or Swiss Family Robinson.

Overall:  42/50 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

Story: 8/10 If you’ve watched any of those films, you can guess some of the themes present in the Red Turtle, a story about a man shipwrecked on an island trying first to leave the island, then coming to accept his new life and live off the land.

There’s really several stories within the story here if you’re paying attention. At first, it is just the man and the sea and land and creatures there of. But a miracle occurs one day, turning a lonely devastated man, into a protector, caregiver, lover, and eventually father.

It’s a very circle of life tale. You watch all of the characters as they age, grow up, grow old, while witnessing their triumphs and struggles as they evolve and grow.

Although there are no words, and it takes some getting used to (at least for me; the only other silent film I’ve ever liked is Wall-e.), if you keep watching, you will eventually fall in love with the characters, and by the end it will leave you in tears, as it did for me.

It does start slow. I think the first 30ish minutes of the man being alone on the island could have been cut down to about 10-15 minutes and still conveyed the same point, that he is unable to leave the island, that he is angry, cold, bitter, and vengeful, etc. — Still after the appearance of other humans, we witness how their love for him changes the man into a much different and better person.

Characters: 8/10 : The characters have no names, and no real back stories. It’s never explained exactly how or why things happened the way they did; whether that was intentional to allow you to insert yourself into their shoes, or just the nature of the silent story telling format, it doesn’t matter because the characters are still incredibly real, raw, and full of emotion and personality even without back stories and without voices. I felt an immediate connection to the characters and felt myself emotionally invested and caring about what fates and circumstances fell upon them.

Animation: 8/10 – Although it’s not done in any kind of “traditional” anime style (big eyes, fantasy hair colors, etc), it still has charm. The sea, the starlit sky, the forests, the land, and even the characters. This film had to rely 50 / 50 on music as well as animation to tell the story. The characters’ movements had to convey their emotion. This is no easy task, yet it is one that this film excels at. Whether it’s capturing the curiosity of a small child, the desperation and isolation of a lonely man, the love and tenderness of a woman, or the animals who share the island with the small family, there is no shortage to emotion and charm in the animation.

Music: 10/10 – Think of this as basically Fantasia meets the Little Mermaid. The music score, when music is present, is vital in telling the story. Many times throughout the film there will be little to no music and only ambient noises and sound effects. This makes the power of the instrumental musical pieces even more powerful when it is used to convey the emotions of the cast or even the power of nature itself.

Overall:  42/50 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”

The Red Turtle Anime Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

Lady Popular – Review of Fashion Runway Dressup Game

Title: Lady Popular Fashion Arena

Genre: Dressup Game

Developer: XS Software

Price: Free to Play with Optional In-Game Purchases

Where to Playhttp://www.ladypopular.com

Lady Popular Play Now

Have you ever wanted to be a Top Model and walk down the catwalk in a Fashion Showdown between other beautiful and successful girls? Here’s your chance to be the best model, in XS Software’s Lady Popular Fashion Arena.

You can play this amazing dressup game for free in your web browser without needing to download or install any software. You can register either by email, or by connecting your facebook account.

Overview: 10/10 Lady Popular Fashion Arena has a lot to offer. You start the game by choosing your hair, makeup, skin tone, outfits, and accessories. As you begin to complete quests within the game, you level up and gain access to new activities such as a photo shoot, new shops to explore, pets to dressup, or even find a boyfriend and dress him up too. It also has a dating sim element and wedding planning element. It’s the perfect game for young girls dreaming of falling in love, being beautiful, popular, and having an amazing career.

Lady Popular Fashion Arena

Gameplay: 8/10 – When you first start the game there will not be much for you to do in the early levels. This can be frustrating, but it does make leveling up and playing every day much more rewarding, as you will gain access to more features that help to mix up the gameplay.

Lady Popular Fashion Arena

Like most games in the Dressup Game genre, the main gameplay focuses on purchasing new outfits and accessories. To earn in-game currency you will complete your quest log, or face off against other real players in ultimate fashion battles.

In addition to dressing up, you also have to undergo extensive training to learn how to become a Top Model. You can choose from many different courses to improve your scores in Style, Beauty, Creativity, Devotion, Generosity, and Loyalty. All of which affect how popular your model is.

Lady Popular Fashion Arena

The user interface and tutorials in the beginning make this a very intuitive game to pick up and play without much of a learning curve. This makes the game great for young girls, even if they’re not experienced playing similar games of this nature.

The extra and unique features that begin to open up as you advance in the game, set Lady Popular apart from many other dressup games that focus only on fashion. As mentioned, Lady Popular also has a dating sim element later in the game and even allows you to plan your own engagement party.

Lady Popular Fashion Arena

Lady Popular also focuses more on social interaction and encourages you to play with friends, which is different from most dressup games that are more of a solo experience.

A recent update, totally revamped the questing system, making it much more exciting and rewarding to complete your quests which help you advance through the game. Once you begin to advance in the game, the sheer number of shops, outfits, activities, and little touches really hooks you in playing this game each day.

Story: 5/10  There is not much of a story, especially in the early levels. Your imagination becomes the story, and it allows you to choose your own path and determine what type of model you want to be.

Characters: 7/10 The characters in this game are all other models playing the game too. You can interact with your friends in real time, and compete against other players. On the downside, this also means there’s not much of a “story” behind these characters.

Lady Popular Fashion Arena

Customization: 10/10 The ability to customize everything about your avatar, from her hair, facial features, makeup, outfits, room, and the ability to customize pets and boyfriends, and then even customize your wedding and engagement, make this game a perfect 10 for customization options. You can be a cute, preppy, classic beauty, or rock out an alternative look with bright pink or blue colored hair or anything in between.

Graphics: 10/10 Lady Popular is a very brightly colored and attractive looking 2D game. The interface is intuitive, and the sheer number of clothes, accessories, and dressup items, make this game super cute.

 

Music: 5/10: Honestly, I usually play games like this on mute, or while watching tv or playing other games. If you’re playing with music on, like with most games of this nature, the music is fine, but nothing extraordinary, and due to the repetitive daily gameplay, the music can get annoying after you’ve heard it over and over again.

Replay Value: 10/10 What makes Lady Popular so much fun is the ability to interact with or against other players, as well as the mini games and other activities which open up later as you level up. To really appreciate this game you need to slog through the first few levels to get to the good parts. After that, you will be hooked by the number of things to do, and millions of different ways to customize your model and shape her life.

Lady Popular Play Now

Lady Popular – Review of Fashion Runway Dressup Game was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

ASUS ROG Strix – Asus – ROG GL502VT 15.6″ Laptop – My New Gaming Laptop and My Recent Experience at Best Buy

Please Note: This is not a sponsored post. I am not being compensated by Best Buy to write this. I did receive an email from Best Buy wanting me to complete a survey (for a chance to win a gift card) regarding my recent purchase. But then I thought, the comments I made in the survey, might make for a good Blog Post for my readers here, especially if supplemented with some info about the Laptop itself.

It’s tax refund time. Like most Americans, instead of saving, investing, or putting this money to good use, it’s time to go have FUN! (yes, I know, not smart or responsible of me lol.) My last laptop was purchased at Sam’s Club for around $750 back in 2013. It was just a “mid-range” “budget” laptop. In no way was it a “gaming” laptop, except that I researched and selected a model with a dedicated graphic card and enough RAM to play most games at the time back then on “medium” settings.

Prior to that laptop, I did in fact have an Alienware and it did last 7 or 8 years, compared to 3 to 4 years, being able to play newly released games on medium settings. However, I paid over $2000 for said Alienware. So then it occurred to me, that I could just buy “throw away” laptops, for less than half the cost, and just upgrade (to another “throw away” or “mid-tier” laptop every few years as needed.).

So when I got my tax refund, I set out to find just such a laptop. a mid-tier “throw away after 3 years” “gaming” laptop. My goal was to stay below $800. I was not expecting much in this price range. I was not looking for a “true gaming laptop”, just something that could “play without crashing” on medium settings.

What I got for under $800 is so much more than a “throw away” laptop. It’s actually a legit Gaming Laptop!! Not only can this system play a 2016/2017 AAA gaming title on “medium settings” without crashing; it can even play them on high settings.

I purchased this item as an open box (former store display) from my local Best Buy. Here is the same model available online – and where you can check to see if it’s available as an Open Box either online or at your local Best Buy. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-rog-gl502vt-15-6-laptop-intel-core-i7-12gb-memory-1tb-hard-drive-black/5090905.p?skuId=5090905

I would say, keep an eye on Best Buy’s pricing even if you do purchase this item and after bringing it home. Here’s my little Best Buy story. I purchased the Asus ROG Strix on 3/28/2017. At that time, the price on the “Satisfactory” Open Box model at my local Best Buy store was listed at $806. When I went to checkout, the associate working at Best Buy told me that the price was actually $899 (still before taxes, etc. After taxes it was actually $960 (which yes, was over my expected budget.)

I still thought $899 was a good buy for a $1200 gaming laptop with great reviews all over the internet (some of which reviews I will share with you later in this article). So I didn’t give too much push back on that price and just accepted it as is.

The associate had tried to tell me it was the same computer / same model / everything, but that they had 2 or 3 in the store and had sold the one listed at that price. But my receipt still said “Satisfactory Open Box”, and that’s what the pricing on the website supposedly reflected – for my specific store location even. I felt somewhat jaded but still happy to save $300.

The next day, I was once again reading the reviews about the laptop on Best Buy’s website and I discovered the item was on sale now, and as such, the price on all models, new, or open box, had been lowered.

I called and asked if they would be willing to price match the newer pricing. I was told “yes” but I was still skeptical because they wouldn’t even honor the original supposed price on the website (it was not a website price; it was for my local store “In-store only” price for an open box model available at my store marked as being in the same condition as the one I purchased.)

It is a 45 minute drive to my nearest Best Buy, so after work, I made the journey back to my Best Buy. This was yesterday, on the 29th of March 2017, with hopes that they would in fact honor the new lower pricing. It did take a bit for them to lookup whatever they needed to in their computers, and I could sense some resistance, but overall, both the manager and cashier at customer service were polite and professional. And I walked out of it feeling respected and valued as a customer, and with a refund of $201.69 to match the new lower pricing.

Now today when I view the item, it’s up to $765 instead of $711.

So that’s why I’m saying, keep an eye out for this. I guess their prices change every day??? It’s strange to me, and kinda shady, but you can’t deny the awesome savings you get by shopping at Best Buy.

If you print out the website pricing for your local store, as well as show them your order history on their own website/app on your mobile phone, there’s little they can do to argue (IE they can’t tell you it’s a different model or part number, because it’s right in your order history on your phone, etc).

Overall, I would shop at Best Buy again, especially for Open Box products. I also was in a few months ago and snagged a Sony HDTV open box model for under $120 and have been very happy with that purchase.

One thing I absolutely love about Best Buy is their return policy. They let you take home any product in their store for 15 days, try it out as much as you’d like, and return it for a full refund within 15 days (or 14 days for cellphones). This is amazing when buying a gaming PC, because you can actually make sure your games are going to run the way you expect!

Per Best Buy’s description this model features the following gaming specifications:

Nvidia Geforce 970m Graphics Card

6th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-6700HQ mobile processor

12GB RAM

1TB Hard Drive to store all your games

And best of all, it weighs less than 5 lbs!

I know this laptop is NOT “future proof” — The Nvidia 970m graphics card now ranks at number 11 overall according to http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/ — making it well on its way already to becoming a “mid-tier” gaming rig. But for the price I got the open box Asus ROG Strix for, at just $711, it still blows anything else in that price range out of the water.

Nvidia Laptop Graphic Cards April 2017 http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Nvidia Laptop Graphic Cards April 2017 http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here is a look at the Nvidia 970m performance when comparing to the newer Nvidia 10xx cards. This information is from http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/compare.php?cmp%5B%5D=2981&cmp%5B%5D=3595&cmp%5B%5D=3548

Nvidia 970m vs Nvidia 10xx
Nvidia 970m vs Nvidia 10xx Comparison from http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/compare.php?cmp%5B%5D=2981&cmp%5B%5D=3595&cmp%5B%5D=3548

And according to Notebookcheck.net which I always heavily rely on when looking at new laptops, the 970m is still considered to be a “high-end” Graphics card. – So while it is in no way as powerful as the Nvidia 10xx cards, it can still hold its own on nearly any game out there right now. Interestingly enough, the benchmarks on Notebookcheck.net show the 970m performing on nearly equal footing with the Nvidia 1050 Ti.

Nvidia 970m Benchmarks
Nvidia 970m Benchmarks from Notebookcheck.net

Notebookcheck.net also lists the FPS (frames per second) for popular 2016 and 2017 games for the Nvidia 970m in the following chart. This chart shows that Nvidia 970m can play many 2017 games on high or even ultra graphic settings while achieving 40+FPS.

Notice on some games, you’ll want to lower the graphic settings to medium to achieve 40FPS. While on other games, you can play in high or ultra and attain 60+FPS. It’s subjective as to the type of game. Not all games “need” 60FPS.

For example, if you play a lot of First Person Shooters or Action games, especially ones with PVP against other players online, you will want higher Frames Per Second so you can out perform your competition. But, if you mostly play RPGs – which I assume is true for my readers here, 40FPS is a perfectly acceptable frame rate without any lag or choppiness. Anything below 30FPS will be noticeably laggy and possibly unplayable.

Nvidia 970m 2017 Review
Nvidia 970m 2017 Review

We all know that processors are not the main thing to consider when shopping for a Gaming PC. Intel is getting ready to launch their 8th generation of Intel Processors, deemed Coffee Lake later in 2017. This follows up Kaby Lake which was released last year. However, my ASUS ROG Strix has a chip from 2015 called Sky Lake. But according to Networkworld.com, “Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors: No performance gains The new chips are pretty much even with the last generation.”Source: networkworld.com http://www.networkworld.com/article/3155403/computers/intels-new-kaby-lake-processors-no-performance-gains.html

Still my ASUS came with the Intel I7 Quad Core, compared to the similarly priced Dell XPS that I was considering which had less RAM and only an I5 Processor (but a slightly better graphics card): http://www.bestbuy.com/site/dell-inspiron-15-6-laptop-intel-core-i5-8gb-memory-nvidia-geforce-gtx-1050-1tb-8gb-hybrid-hard-drive-black/5709801.p?skuId=5709801 

I actually would have bought this Dell instead of my ASUS, if it had more RAM. That said, the important thing to consider when buying a gaming laptop, is the graphic card. So I would’ve taken the I5 with the Nvidia 1050 over the I7 with the 970m.

I also really love Dell. I have had very positive experiences with their customer service — which began as a negative experience, but was made more than right for me, years ago when one of the first XPS came out, I had the highest level of protection/warranty, and after weeks of frustration, (and venting on blogs/social media), I was contacted by a customer advocate who worked at Dell and was upgraded to a newer iteration of the XPS. (This was probably 10-12 years ago now) But that experience stuck with me and made me very loyal to Dell for a number of years.

For the price point, or for those tech savvy enough to upgrade their own RAM this laptop at just $799 for a brand new (not Open Box like my Asus) gaming laptop is a great buy! I went into Best Buy with the intention that if my Open Box ASUS was already sold out, that I would be bringing this Dell XPS home instead. And both machines have great reviews!

According to this discussion over on Gamespot’s forums, there is absolutely no benefit (for gaming) of buying an Intel I7 over an Intel I5! https://www.gamespot.com/forums/pc-mac-linux-society-1000004/what-are-the-gaming-benefits-of-an-i7-over-an-i5-31603230/

However, the extra processing power is useful for video editing and other things that many games may be interested in (such as for editing youtube Let’s Plays, and so on.)

When it comes to deciding how much RAM you need in a gaming PC, most laptops in the “under $800 range” feature 8GB of RAM (such as the Dell XPS indicated above); and this may very well be enough for your gaming needs, as many popular titles from 2016/2017 list 8GB as the minimum required RAM that a laptop needs.

But my ASUS came with 16GB, and like I said, the RAM ultimately was the Tie-Breaker deal for me when it came to deciding between the Dell or the ASUS laptops.

PCGamer recently did a blog post about “How much RAM do you really need for gaming?”. They say 16GB is the “Sweet Spot” for PC Gaming right now. (Article published February 2017).

We consider 16GB to be a nice sweet spot for a solid gaming system. It should be more than enough to run your games and multitask as needed. You’ll also want at least 16GB if livestreaming is a priority for you. The ability to run and stream a game on one monitor while responding to chat questions, playing music, and doing whatever else in another is definitely the kind of task list that would benefit from an extra bit of RAM headroom.” – Source: PCGamer http://www.pcgamer.com/how-much-ram-do-you-really-need-for-gaming/

Some, but not many, games are also now starting to launch while recommending more than the “standard” 8GB of RAM. For example Quantum Break (recommends 16GB), Batman Arkham Knight (recommends 12GB), and Star Citizen (recommends 16GB). These certainly won’t be the last games to recommend an increased amount of RAM. So if you don’t know how, or just don’t want to, install more RAM yourself later, you may want to consider opting for 16GB now to help “future-proof” your laptop.

Having the laptop now for the past 2 days, and trying some of my own games in high settings, I am very happy with my purchase, especially at just $711 (almost 50% off the retail suggested price of $1159.)

I did a lot of research prior to, and after, purchasing my ASUS ROG Strix 15.6 Inch Gaming Laptop. Here are some interesting reviews. Please note some of these reviews reference different configurations than the one I reference in my own review. It is important to consider all of the above options: Graphics Card, RAM, and Processors when buying a gaming laptop. The most important thing to consider is the Graphics Card.

Asus ROG Strix Reviews

Best Buy’s reviews consistently mention “washed out” colors or “back light bleed” on the screen. In my opinion this is not true. To me, the colors look very vivid, bright, rich, and clear. There also a lot of reviews complaining about lack of an SSD (solid slate drive). I don’t mind waiting a few minutes for my PC to start, so I dunno if I’d really care whether it has an SSD or not. — On the other hand, Bestbuy’s reviews consistantly praise the performance, price, and gaming capabilities of this laptop. It currently has a 4.4 star rating out of more than 300 reviews. http://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-rog-gl502vt-15-6-laptop-intel-core-i7-12gb-memory-1tb-hard-drive-black/5090905.p?skuId=5090905 

Tech Radar’s review praises the “vibrant” screen (a direct contrast to the above Best Buy complaints), Full HD Gaming Capabilities, and Speakers. Tech Radar says the Asus ROG Strix GL502 “strikes the perfect balance between portability and power”.  http://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/laptops-portable-pcs/laptops-and-netbooks/asus-rog-strix-gl502-1326519/review

Amazon User Reviews show 3.9 Stars out of over 400 Reviews once again complementing its powerful gaming performance. https://www.amazon.com/15-6-inch-GL502VM-GeForce…

Here is a Youtube User’s Review of the Asus ROG Strix:

PC Authority also praised the Asus Rog Strix, stating that “it’s hard not to recommend a gaming laptop that won’t break your wallet or your back.”  https://www.pcauthority.com.au/Review/431060,review-asus-rog-strix-gl502-gaming-laptop.aspx

Gadget Review has a nice in depth review of the Asus ROG Strix as well. The only things they critized were the “okay” speakers, and large bezels around the screen. (I do agree, it seems as if this laptop could actually fit a 17 inch screen in the amount of plastic used around the actual 15.6 inch one. Reducing this “edge” would make the laptop even more portable and lighter and less bulky. and it does seem like a poor design choice when many other competitors are offering edge to edge screens now.  http://www.gadgetreview.com/asus-rog-strix-gl502vt-gaming-laptop-review

LaptopMag.com Refers to the Asus ROG Strix as a “mini Behemoth” and praises almost every aspect of this laptop in a very detailed review at http://www.laptopmag.com/reviews/laptops/asus-rog-strix-gl502vt-ds74 

Shack News calls the Asus ROG 502 “Premium in Every Sense” http://www.shacknews.com/article/95859/asus-rog-gl502vt-ds71-review-premium-in-every-sense

You can also check out the product information for the GL502VT from Asus’ website here: https://www.asus.com/us/ROG-Republic-Of-Gamers/ROG-GL502VT/ 

Sticky Trigger gives the Asus ROG an 8 out of 10. http://www.stickytrigger.com/tech/review-asus-rog-gl502/ 

ASUS ROG Strix – Asus – ROG GL502VT 15.6″ Laptop – My New Gaming Laptop and My Recent Experience at Best Buy was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News

My Nyan Place Cat Cafe Simulation Game Review

Title: My Nyan Place

Genre: Simulation

Release Date: 2016

Publisher: ESTGames

Official Website: http://www.mynyancafe.jp/main/

IOS: https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1080565581…

Android: https://play.google.com/store…

Geeky: 2/5 – not much to the game play really, but it does have some pretty graphics. Not as robust or as many features as other cafe simulation games such as I love pasta and I love coffee which I reviewed here.

Sweetie: 5/5 – cats, cats, and more cats coupled with cute anime graphics and a casual and easy to play family friendly game.

My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review
My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review

Overall: 49/80 63% D “Average Game for Girls”

Concept 10/10: My Nyan Place is the perfect IOS and Android game for all cat lovers. You will need a Japanese or Korean Itunes account to play the game. You can create a Japanese or Korean Itunes account for free which I cover how to do in depth in my review of Aikatsu Photo on Stage here.

My Nyan Place allows you to run your own cat cafe while collecting rare and cute cats, decorating the cafe, and playing fun mini games. You will need to feed, play with, and groom your cats. They need ample space to play, hide, climb, scratch, and sleep. And all of the accessories that come along with it.

My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review
Decorate your cat cafe with tons of cute items

Guests will come to the cafe and play with the cats as well as purchase food and beverages which earn you gold which can be used to purchase new items for your cafe.

As you level up, you can begin adding more cats and even more floors or buildings to hold the cats which will then need more decorations and more items for your cats and attract even more guests and earn even more gold.

Gameplay: 5/10 – Gameplay is simple and intuitive enough that you can enjoy this game without knowing Korean or Japanese languages. There are some quests and tutorial items that can be challenging at first to get past without knowing the language, but luckily, you will clear many of these obstacles through the natural flow of the game.

You start with a completely empty cafe and are given a few items such as a table, feeder, and cash register to get you started. You also get to select one free starter cat from the old man’s shop to begin your game.

The old man’s shop refreshes once every 24 hours and gets lots of rare and unique cats. These cats cost a lot of bells, but give you the benefit of knowing exactly what type of cat you’re purchasing.

The alternate way to obtain more cats early in the game is with tickets or bells that can be exchanged for “blind box” type cats. With this method, you can exchange tickets or bells to receive one random cat. You may get a rare cat this way, but you’re much more likely to get a common cat. Different types of boxes have different cats, including rare event boxes and cats that appear only for a limited time.

My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review
My Nyan Place Cat Simulation lets you create and manage a virtual kawaii cat cafe

Now you will need to add some important items to your cat cafe to make sure your cats are healthy and happy. With the cat feeder, you can cook your own food and treats for your cats. Each cat is a unique individual and has likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Feeding your cats food and treats that they like will boost their mood and earn you more gold from your guests. You can also grow your own catnip, which can also be used as a treat for your cats. The catnip can be harvested once a day.

Your cats need a place to sleep. Some beds can hold multiple cats, while others are only enough space for one cat. It’s better to select items for multiple cats because they take up less room on the “grid” layout of your cat cafe.

You can expand your cat cafe to hold one more row on the grid per each upgrade, but there are level blocks that prevent you from expanding too quickly. There are also level blocks that prevent you from holding more cats, or having more than X number of certain items (tables, feeders, beds, etc).

You can hire staff to help run the cafe when you need to go offline. Your friends can also help you by visiting your cat cafe and clicking on up to three items that need attention.

My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review
My Nyan Place Cat Simulation lets you play with virtual cats

Cats love to play; there are a lot of items which the cats can interact with which help to boost their mood, which as mentioned, help make your cafe more profitable. These items range from scratching posts to exercise wheels to cardboard boxes and anything in between.

The cats in the cafe will play with these items on their own. When you see them playing, boost their mood by clicking on the pink hearts. You can also tap on a cat and interact with that cat directly to boost its mood by grooming, feeding, or playing with the cat.

Cats also like to sleep, but they won’t sleep on their own. You need to monitor their moods and if you see a bubble with a “Zzz” click it to make the cat go to sleep. You also feed cats in the same fashion. A bubble will appear with a blue food dish; click the bubble to feed your cat.

My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review
My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game – Tap the bubbles to feed, play with, clean, or put the cats to sleep.

When an NPC guest character visits your cafe, place one of your cats on each of your open tables. The NPCs will sit and pet, feed, play with, and take photos of your cats. They will also order food and drink for themselves to enjoy as well. You will need to restock, clean, and arrange the food and drinks several times a day.

Although the game is in Korean (or Japanese depending on the version you choose to download), the game sends me notifications in English, telling me “the food stand is strange and to hurry and come clean it”. As well as other notifications in English, which also help with figuring out the gameplay.

Be careful not to accidentally sell your favorite cats. I speak from experience. When trying to transfer from your apartment to your cat cafe, one of the buttons will let you sell the cats. Another screen will pop up asking to confirm, but since it is not in English it is easy to accidentally click the wrong button and accidentally confirm that you want to sell the cat. I recommend if you see the popup, and you think you may accidentally be selling your cat, to restart the app completely. (To do so on an IOS device you hold the power button for a few seconds, then release, and hold the home button for a few seconds, this will cause any IOS app to restart).

My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review
My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android lets you collect cute cats

Each cat is an individual. While some may look alike, they have different personalities and also grant different stat bonuses such as increased gold, increased luck, better moods, and other status effects. Make sure you’re using your best cats on the best tables for the best results and keep an eye on their moods, sleep, and hunger levels.

That is the basics to the gameplay. As you level up there will be new features unlocked to you such as capturing stray cats in the wild to add to your cafe, you new minigames that allow you greater interaction with your cats.

Story: 0/10 – There might be some loose story, but since it’s not in English I dunno what it is. Story and dialogue boxes are not presented very often in game, so whatever story there may be, probably isn’t very detailed anyways.

Characters: 5/10 – The cats are cute, but just as with story, since it’s not in English, they have no substance to the characters, beyond being just cute pixels to collect. This means that there is no real character development or emotional attachment to any of the characters.

My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review
My Nyan Place Cat Simulation Game for IOS and Android Kawaii Game Review

Graphics: 10/10 This game has super cute artwork and more than 50 different types of cats. There are new events added constantly which add more cute cats to collect. The decoration and dressup items are also incredibly cute.

Music: 5/10 The cats make cute meows and purrs, but the music itself is very simple and lacking.

Replay Value: 7/10 – The limited time events and cute cats keep you wanting to play again and again. The simplistic gameplay makes it a good game for some mindless cute cat interaction. The lack of story (at least one I can understand in English), and lack of some features common in other cafe simulation games, makes this a game best enjoyed in short bursts and not played too long at any one time.

Overall: 49/80 63% D “Average Game for Girls”

 

My Nyan Place Cat Cafe Simulation Game Review was originally published on GeekySweetie.com – Geeky & Kawaii Anime, Tech, Toys, & Game Reviews & News