Game of the Year 2019

I know it’s later than usual and there are fewer “parts” but 2019 was a weird gaming year for me.

Most Disappointing Game 

Winner: The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds started strong. I enjoyed just about everything on that first planet. However, the more I played, the less enthused I was with pushing further. The visual style, dialog, quests, and combat all began to grate on me. It was a tighter and more compact take on Bethesda-style RPGs like Fallout but it was still one of those games and I think I’m officially exhausted by that style of game. 

Most Surprising Game

Winner: Ring Fit Adventure

That weird reveal trailer sold me on the idea of Ring Fit Adventure. I wanted it but I didn’t want to rush out and buy it for $100 just yet. I bided my time until a sale popped up and I pulled the trigger on what turned out to be my favorite fitness game. But it wasn’t just my favorite: my fiancée has been enjoying the hell out of it as well. She didn’t take to Wii Fit U but Ring Fit Adventure has her playing 5 out 7 days in a week.

Best Old Game

Winner: Red Dead Redemption 2 [X1] 

Red Dead Redemption 2 requires a commitment to the bit. The bit? Being a cowboy. You have to love being a cowboy and that doesn’t mean just cherry picking the shootouts and horseback riding. Red Dead Redemption 2 asks people to commit to the life of a cowboy including the mundane and hardships. I was willing to commit and I loved a vast majority of it. It’s one of the best games I played this year. It might be one of the best of the generation. 

Top 4 Games of 2020 

Winner: Apex Legends

  1. Ring Fit Adventure 
  2. Untitled Goose Game 
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening 

Apex Legends is game of the year for 2019. According to PlayStation’s year end wrap up, I played over 400 hours of it. Completed 3 battle passes and I see no sign of slowing down in 2020. It clicked with me like Overwatch but without the need for a large cohesive unit. I effectively staved off the desire to get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare because of Apex Legends’ hold on me. It took a while, but Respawn Entertainment made a battle royale game that suited me.  

You would think all that time playing Apex Legends meant I didn’t have time to play other games but that wasn’t the case. A mixture of misfires and the desire to play older games resulted in a year where I didn’t have enough for a top 10 let alone I don’t even have enough for a top 5! 

Ring Fit Adventure was sneaky good courtesy of Nintendo’s ability to make just about anything fun. Gamifying exercise isn’t new but executing it this well is. It’s the best game of that genre to date and one that I can see myself “playing” for many years to come. 

Untitled Goose Game snuck in and won me over with its mischievous stealth puzzles. House House successfully created a charming stealth action game while minimizing the punishing frustrations of the genre. 

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening was a solid Zelda title that was marred by technical performance issues. It’s a damn shame but I pushed passed it towards the end and ultimately enjoyed my time with it.  

Here’s to 2020!

There are many, many gaps including Resident Evil 2, Control, and The Outer Wilds but that was my 2019. I hope to address those omissions in 2020.

Checkpoint: iPhone XR Edition

I bought my first smartphone on Tuesday, September 3rd , 2019. I’ve owned multiple iPhones over during the last 9 years but I never actually bought one for myself until now. My iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and iPhone 6 were all hand-downs from my brother. Normally, I would just wait until he upgrades and happily use his old one but he has no intention of upgrading this year and iOS 13 is dropping iPhone 6 support.  

So after some deal hunting, patience, and a trade-in involving my old Nokia 2610 handset, I got myself an iPhone XR for just over $450 after taxes.  

Why the iPhone XR?

I’m staying in the Apple ecosystem. I like it. I like how it works with my iPad Pro 10.5″ and my MacBooks. I may not like their prices but I generally like Apple’s hardware. There’s no question that I would have preferred the iPhone XS over the XR but I’m not willing to pay over $700 for a phone let alone over $1000.  

I could have picked up an iPhone 8 for less but I wanted a paradigm shift in my smartphone experience.  An iPhone 8 is essentially a faster iPhone 6 from a user experience perspective. I wanted FaceID, edge-to-edge screen and Qi wireless charging. The iPhone 8 didn’t offer that and the iPhone XS costs a small fortune, so the iPhone XR was my only choice. 

Colors of the Rainbow 

Yellow would have been my first choice. Then red. But I chose white/silver because all they had were white or black.  

I’m content with the fit and finish of the iPhone XR. It feels familiar; it reminds me of an enlarged iPhone 6 married with an iPhone 4S. It’s not as slippery as the iPhone 6 but that’s a moot concern because it didn’t take long for me to put a Spigen case on it.  

6.1″ is too big  

I think the iPhone XR’s 6.1″ screen is too big. I preferred the XS’ 5.8″ but for whatever reason, Apple decided to squeeze the XR between the XS and XS Max. The form factor of the entire phone feels excessive in my hands and my poor pockets. I was finding the iPhone 6 a little too big so this XR is just a device of decadence in this regard.  

I’m quite certain I will get used to owning such a big phone. I felt the iPhone 6 was too big at one point and now I think it’s fine. However, I don’t know if the iPhone XR will win me over completely. When I’m considering crossbody bags and fanny packs just to carry my phone, I think phones may have gotten too big for my lifestyle. 

LCDs & pixels per inch 

OLED would have been my preferred choice of display technology for a pricey phone like the iPhone XR. I would also like a pixel density closer to 458 ppi like on the iPhone XS as well. And if I were paying anywhere close to the suggested retail prices and  launch or today, I would reconsider my choice of iPhone.  

Or I would if I were purely looking at specs. 

After a week or so of using the iPhone XR, I found the pixel density to be fine; it’s just like my iPhone 6’s. I was fine with that and I’m fine with this. 

Long Time Performer

This phone is fast. Very fast. And I appreciate every ounce of its speed. Everything from Face ID unlocking to launching and switching apps is just so much faster than the iPhone 6 and I’m spoiled by it.

I also appreciate how long I can use this phone without having to charge it. With my light use of Twitter, some browsing, and Spotify, I can go 3 or 4 days before having to charge it. Incredible.

It’s a fine phone 

The iPhone XR is a fine phone. It’s the iPhone for the masses and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. With discounts and offers, this is a no brainer for anyone who’s looking to upgrade their iPhones without taking out a small loan. 

Checkpoint: Uncle Tetsu Edition

Just had a slice of Uncle Tetsu’s cheesecake and a madeleine. After we shared some Korean Fried Chicken from Go Gi Ya, we waited a whole hour for those Tetsu delights and it was worth it. But that’s the last time I go out of my way to wait a whole hour to get some cheesecake. It’s good but not worth the lineup.

I can see why many people prefer Tetsu to Rikuro but I am a fan of both. If I had to choose one, I’d choose Tetsu’s for its richer taste. Uncle Rikuro’s cheesecake airs on the fluffier and eggier side of things.

Ottawa asian food choices are blossoming and I’m all for it. Go Gi Ya on Bank leans more western with its Korean Fried Chicken and K-Bowls but it’s all made with Korean sauces sourced from South Korea. They have 3 other locations serving KBBQ and an expanded menu but we have yet to partake.

It’s been a busy couple of months. Helping my brother move out, pondering and picking stuff for our new house in 2020, and rejigging all sorts of IT infrastructure stuff within the house. I’m swapping PCs because my RVZ-02 just couldn’t handle that Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1070 in that case. I think it was throttling and causing stutters in Wolfenstein II. I haven’t tested it yet but even if it doesn’t alleviate Wolfenstein II’s stutters, I should have a quieter gaming experience.

Game wise? I’ve been dabbling with Overwatch whenever an event kicks off but I’ve been primarily playing Apex Legends Season 2. I just hope I can continue playing it because I’m taking the plunge and cleaning out my PlayStation 4 Pro. While I’m in there, I’m going to replace the thermal compound in hopes of shaving off a few more degrees.

Checkpoint: Banff Edition

Here I am watching episode 3 of Neon Genesis: Evangelion in a hotel in Banff. It’s an older hotel that radiates old wealth. I can see appreciate it for what it is but it isn’t my idea of an impressive hotel. I like my hotels modern.

At least I have adequate complimentary Wi-Fi to entertain me during the down time. The down time isn’t much but it’s enough to catch an episode of Evangelion on Netflix or Billions.

Banff is a sight to behold. Being completely surrounded by mountains and trees should be awe inspiring but there’s something about its abundance that I find conflicting. I feel like it’s unnatural to humans like myself. This isn’t where I belong. I somehow find a small piece of green space carefully curated by man to be far more fascinating than the vast forests and mountain ranges stretching across the landscape.

There’s also the clash between all this nature and all these people milling about trying to capture epic vistas for their social media pages. At least in a crafted garden, the touristy reality of the spot is apparent — I felt those spots were more honest to their nature. I find there’s a lack of authenticity to Banff. Many of the locations were operated by foreigners who hailed from other Commonwealth nations. All of this feels like I am paying a lot of money to breath in cleaner air and have beautiful background for me to wake up to. I’m neither fascinated nor engrossed by any of it.

Canada Day is coming up and there’s still much more to see. Maybe there’s still something out there that will make the hours of driving worth it.

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