Checkpoint: Buff It Out Edition

Checkpoint: Buff It Out Edition

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Well, it finally happened. I scratched my 2016 Chevrolet Volt. It was a very dumb mistake on my part. I was careless and didn’t account for a concrete wall. I buffed most of it out by hand but I don’t have the tools to finish the job properly. I brought the car in for maintenance and asked for a quote. I’ll see how much it will cost me to get this properly fixed.

The SNES Classic Edition is a charmer. It needs controller extension cables to be remotely usable in a modern setting. My brother and I relived our child hood and played a bit of our old favorites at my folks’ place. Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Street Fighter 2 Turbo were played.

Checkpoint: Thanksgiving 2017 Edition

Checkpoint: Thanksgiving 2017 Edition

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Thanksgiving normally isn’t a thing for my family. We’ve done the turkey thing and for the past couple of years we’ve been hamming it up. This year has been quite different; I’ll be having not one but two turkey dinners. I’ve also had my share of Korean lunches and dinners after it’s all said and done. I’m in Toronto spending time with my girlfriend’s friends and family. 

There’s something about the traditional thanksgiving rigmarole that makes scratch my head. Why the cranberry slop? Why stuffing? And why turkey? And why do North American immigrants feel the need to follow such traditions when it’s really not exactly their thing? It feels formulaic and forced like Valentine’s Day or any other of the token holidays. Christmas dinner seems to be more freeform and open to ideas which is why I tend to lean heavily towards that holiday dinner. I have similar feelings with traditional Chinese New Year dinners too.

At least it was prepared well and had some interesting tweaks made but in the end, it’s just turkey and fixings. It’s like saying I had the best rice cakes ever — in the end, it’s just rice cake. 

On the plus side, I get to enjoy some quality apple pie from The Big Apple.

 

On the plus side, I’m getting a lot of Breath of the Wild time in. 

Yakuza Kiwami Review

Yakuza Kiwami Review

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I loved Yakuza 0. It’s probably the best Yakuza game to date. It filled in the backstory of key characters like Majima and Nishikiyama by giving them more depth and nuance then I would have ever imagined. But as someone who started with Yakuza 2 and only experienced the first game through the included retrospectives, the game that started it all is a mystery to me.

Yakuza: Kiwami is a fine remake of the PlayStation 2 title from a gameplay and presentation perspective but I feel it’s a remaster from the story standpoint. Yakuza 0 placed its arm around me, showed me the sights around Kamurocho and introduced me to new friends. We sat around, had drinks, and took our time to soak in what this series has to offer. By comparison, Yakuza: Kiwami stumbled around for a bit and then sprinted towards the end. I felt like the game had a big story to tell but didn’t have enough time to tell it.

I knew key plot points, characters, and what happened to them but I didn’t realize that would be sufficient to move forward with the series. I discovered tidbits that colored certain characters in a slightly different light but none of it was earth shattering. Events certainly transpired but if I didn’t play Yakuza 0, I doubt I would have felt much sympathy for any of the characters involved in this game outside of Haruka.

Yakuza 0 built up Kiryu’s enemies throughout the game’s arch. It even built-up other characters that wouldn’t have made significant contributions until this game. But then there were folks like Jingu who were thrusted into the limelight and I’m supposed to conjure hatred for.

I didn’t delve into the side content like I did with Yakuza 0 because the idea of more pocket racing was just too daunting so soon after the deep dive I took with 0. What little side stuff I caught wind of failed to entertain like the ones found in 0 though. That’s not to say I wasn’t entertained by tidbit though. I got a kick out of seeing modern recreations of Yuya, Kazuki, and Detective Date. This trio of characters were among the first that I met in my very first Yakuza title, Yakuza 2.

It’s tough to make a direct prequel like Yakuza 0 without it completely overshadowing the game the game that comes after it but that’s what it did. Advances in technology and gameplay design are one thing but the lessons learned in story telling and presentation makes me wish Sega would go all in and commit to a full remake. It would give the likes of Yumi and Nishikiyama more screen time to breathe. A full on remake would also give the developers an opportunity to rethink Majima’s role without breaking continuity. I didn’t mind randomly seeing him pop up in Kamurocho to fight Kiryu but not 3 seconds after seeing him get stabbed in the gut by his own lackey. I think his forced inclusion to Kiwami may be the most egregious offense.

But for $39.99 CAD, it’s tough to argue against picking up Yakuza: Kiwami. It’s the best way to experience the game that started it all without digging up a PlayStation 2 copy. Just remember: for better or worse, despite the fresh coat of paint and refinements, the story is still faithful to the original. I have nostalgia for Yakuza 2 and knowing it will also receive a Kiwami treatment of its own, I’m wondering how I will receive it. I guess we’ll find out next year when I expect it to make its North American debut.

 

Verdict:
It was okay

Ratings Guide

Thanks to Sega for providing a copy of Yakuza Kiwami for review

Checkpoint: Portable (Near) Perfection Edition

Checkpoint: Portable (Near) Perfection Edition

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I understand why people love their Nintendo Switch so much. It’s portable perfection. Just today I played Breath of the Wild while my girlfriend was getting ready for a wedding as a giant portable. Then shortly afterwards, I plopped it into this Hori Compact Play Stand plugged in the USB-C cable so it could charge, removed the Joy-cons and then resumed playing with the controllers inside the Joy-con grip. 

The only thing that would make it an even more versatile gaming machine is a more compact TV out option. That official stand isn’t the answer but perhaps Nyko will save the day?

But as nice it is to be able to play the Switch however I want wherever I want. I still have a fair bit of stuff to lug around. It’s not a terrible when I have a small duffle bag where I can stash the grip, compact stand, charging adapter, and other accessories. But in the end of the day, there’s still a lot of bulky plastic to carry around.

Breath of the Wild continues to grow on me. The more I play it, the more I like it and it’s taken me a long time to play it. However, unlike other open world titles, I manage to drop in and out of Breath of the Wild without losing my spot. I alway seem to pick up where I left off.

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