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General

[Review] Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace (Nintendo Switch)

De surpresa, STEINS;GATE: My Darling's Embrace é disponibilizado para o  Switch no ocidente – Switch Brasil

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: 5pb
Release: Dec 10, 2019 (for Western markets)
Price: $40 USD

Steins;Gate: My Darling’s Embrace is a spin-off of the popular Steins;Gate series of visual novels. This spin-off in particular, focuses on pure dating sim / romantic comedy elements and takes the Steins;Gate universe in a very light-hearted direction, so be warned that if you are looking for the same sort of tension that you usually found in Steins;Gate then this spin-off is not for you. Also, it is highly advised that you play either Steins;Gate or Steins;Gate 0 before going into this spinoff, just to get a better introduction and background to most of the characters. There’s no true bad endings or game overs in this game.

Kurisu invites Rintaro over...
Kurisu invites Rintaro over…

Plot: The main protagonist, Okabe Rintaro, has found himself in a new Delta attractor field, which seemingly does not have any world shattering consequences like the Alpha or Beta attractor fields do. This is a relatively peaceful attractor field, and several new gadgets have been made by the Lab members. There’s notably a gadget that cuffs two lovers together, zaps them if they argue or try to get away and will only let them break free if they have the same thoughts together. Another gadget displays the thoughts of a person and transmits it to a video display, and yet another gadget broadcasts video publicly for the whole world to see. Clearly, all these gadgets work together to much embarrassing effect for the Lab members. In particular Rintaro finds himself with one of 6 possible Lab members to be in romantic subplot with.

In this Delta timeline, Moe's the lead singer of the Lab band
In this Delta timeline, Moe’s the lead singer of the Lab’s band

Gameplay: Like other Steins;Gate games, it uses the D-Mail system. So the different routes are affected by when (or if) you open your phone at certain times, which people you contact, and which emails you send (or don’t send). The rest is standard visual novel reading as this series is not point and click or investigative in nature.

Faris and Mayuri with their typical cafe greeting
Faris and Mayuri with their typical cafe greeting

Characters: Steins;Gate has fairly memorable characters, and all of them are represented here with no new additions.

-Okabe Rintaro: the protagonist of Steins;Gate who is a self described mad genius, who comes across as both eccentric and self-loathing at times. 

-Daru: Okabe’s closest male friend, a pervert and a prodigal programmer and hacker who can bypass almost any security system. 

-Kurisu Makise: the heroine of the original series, a tsundere, a scientific prodigy, and canonically Okabe’s main lover. Of course, she is presented as a romantic option here.

-Mayuri Shiina: Okabe’s closest female friend, cute, innocent, a bit ditzy but always there in need for her friends. Another romantic option here.

-Suzuha Amane: A time traveler from the future, usually a very serious personality from the other series, she’s a bit more light hearted here, and thus appears as another romantic option here.

-Faris NyanNyan: A cosplaying catgirl who comes from a well to do background and owner of a popular maid cafe. Available as another romantic option here.

-Luka Urushiba: Biologically a male, but always appears and acts very feminine, leading many to mistake his gender. He’s one of Mayuri’s close friends, and – despite his gender – also available as a romantic option in this game 😉

-Moeka Kiryu: Nicknamed ‘Shining Finger’ for her preference for and speed at texting, a very introverted girl who – unlike the original series – does not pose any kind of threat in this game, and thus is available as another romantic option.

A rare visual of Moeka
A rare visual of Moeka

Graphics: Steins;Gate has always had a signature graphical style with pastel-looking backgrounds and characters and if you enjoyed that style, then nothing changes here. I personally do like this style as well.

Music: Again, I’ve always enjoyed Steins;Gate’s background music which I think have always matched the mood of the scene. In this game since it’s so lighthearted it’s mostly that kind of music as well, which is fine by me.

Conclusion: 7/10. It’s definitely not as engrossing as the original Steins;Gate (10/10) or Steins;Gate 0 (9/10) for me, since it focuses mostly on romantic comedy here, which is a tried and true genre for visual novels. Since I reference Muv-Luv a lot (a great visual novel series for those of you who haven’t played it), I’ll continue with the analogy that if Steins;Gate and Steins;Gate 0 were the Muv-Luv Unlimited/Alternative then this spin off must be the Muv-Luv Extra of Steins;Gate. I.e it’s really light-hearted, relatively short, and if you are just looking for a visual novel to lighten up your mood then this will do it. If you’ve always wondered what the Steins;Gate universe could be like if the characters didn’t have to deal with the impending doom or SERN/WWIII/Mayuri/Kurisu’s death and wanted a more light hearted ‘fun’ take on the universe, or maybe wanted to ship Rintaro with one of the main cast, then this one is it. Otherwise I consider this one a fairly average visual novel; it’s not a must get or anything, but it will help you unwind after a long day at work.

Categories
General Music

Back to boring everyday living again…

These days trying to save up as much money as I can to help purchase a place in Vancouver hopefully next year.. ideally I want to 1) get my mortgage down to $200k 2) leverage my current SF home to get a home equity loan of at least $310k and 3) save up at least $60k this year in cash.
I want to take advantage of the US dollar strength because $310k + $60k = $370k which equals roughly $500k CAD which is just enough to get a decent 1 bedroom condo in a decent location in Vancouver. Of course, I want to purchase a home back in Canada for several reasons.

One is that the US is not particularly friendly to immigrants and especially so since Trump took office, and I get harassed every time I go across the border, since I am not a green card holder, and the TN visa is not a dual intent visa which means I cannot apply for a green card on that visa. Furthermore, recent changes to the H1B, the only dual intent working visa, have made it more difficult for programmers / software engineers to obtain. This means that my time in the US is likely limited.
Two is that Canada is the place that I want to start a family and retire anyways. I have often said before after all my travels, is that America is the best place for working due to the high salary and low taxes and low cost of goods; China and Europe are the best places to travel due to all the history and natural beauty; Korea is the best place for nightlife and having fun; and Canada is the best place to start a family and actually live, since it has a combination of European and American culture, the tuition fees are lower, the healthcare costs are lower etc. And Vancouver is unique as the warmest city in Canada as well as being on the lovely West Coast, and having lots of Koreans (Long term workers not just students) there doesn’t hurt my future plans either.
Three is I want to finally be able to purchase my own place with my own money. I always felt like my SF home is kind of my parents home, since they helped out with 40% of the cash. I want to finally purchase a place all with my own cash and call it my own.

So I’m trying to save a lot of money, but of course this being myself I do buy some things still… among the things I purchased recently is the Milkman Amp 1 Watt Plus model. This is a Class A Tube Amplifier that was handmade in San Francisco so I thought I might support a local shop here. But don’t I already have a Class A hand-wired tube amp? Yes I do, the Swart Atomic Jr. But this one has more wattage (10W vs 5W), 12″ Alnico Blue speaker (vs the 8″ Ceramic in the Swart), built in attenuator (goes from 0.5W to 10W) and is better for traveling due to the tubes being covered (the Swart has uncovered tubes which makes it risky to travel with it, despite being lighter).

It definitely has more headroom than the Swart does. I’ve also finalized my pedal board! My pedalboard contains 10 pedals. I’ve gone through tens of different pedals in my career, and I’ve finally settled on this configuration (for now): (from first to last in the chain)
BBE Wah -> Boss Waza Tuner -> Dunlop EP101 Preamp -> Wampler Euphoria -> RambleFX Marvel Drive -> Keeley Magnetic Echo -> Xotic SP Compressor -> BBE Sonic Stomp Mini -> Hermida Reverb -> Boss RC3 Looper
Retired my Maxon TBO9 (served me well) and the Keeley Oxblood Germanium (might use as backup to the Euphoria), and had to get the Hermida Reverb due to the Milkman amp not having onboard reverb. It was a compromise I had to make, the bigger Half Pint model had onboard reverb, but it was also 5lbs heavier.

And I want to get rid of my Gretsch White Penguin and Traynor Amps, even though the Gretsch is a great guitar, it has intonation problems, and is still a bit heavy for my tastes. It’s definitely the best looking out of all my guitars though. So ideally I want to keep the custom Partscaster that I built (Fender Telecaster Thinline ’72 deluxe with Filtertron/WRH pickups) as my main jazz/blues guitar, with the Fender Stratocaster doing rock and blues as well, and the Martin OMJM as my acoustic doing mostly pop tunes.

I’m doing a lot of jazz guitar these days. I love it! Playing a lot of Larry Carlton and George Benson these days. And I also love that John Mayer’s new album (Search for Everything) has great funky jazz-type riffs like ‘Moving on and Getting over’ and ‘Still feel like your man’. That man is a genius. Best album for me since Battle Studies (Continuum obviously still everyone’s favorite). Here is my ranking of John Mayer albums btw (from best to worst) as well as my favorite songs from each album.

1. Continuum (blues/pop masterpiece) – Best song: Slow Dancing in a Burning Room
2. Room for Squares (great acoustic pop) – Best song: St. Patrick’s Day
3. Try! (his best guitar album, great blues/rock songs) – Best song: Gravity
4. Battle Studies (more great guitar-pop) – Best song: Friends, Lovers or Nothing
5. The Search for Everything (blends all his previous styles + adds funk/jazz) – Best song: Moving on and getting over
6. Born and Raised (acoustic-folk pop) – Best song: Walt Grace’s Submarine Test 1967
7. Inside Wants Out (like Room for Squares but more raw) – Best song: Victoria
8. Heavier Things (some songs are great, others not so much) – Best song: New Deep
9. Paradise Valley (not many songs I liked from this album) – Best song: Who you love

In other news I’ve also been playing games with my friend, being bored a lot at home these days makes you do that. We still play Far Cry 4 a lot despite it being a 3 year old game just because of how amazing the co-op experience is. I think I have like 30 videos on Youtube of our play sessions together. I even made my own map and published it!

Other games I’ve been playing are the fantastic JRPGs Persona 5 and Yakuza 0. I’ve loved both these series (wayyy more interesting than Final Fantasy XV for me) so that’s no surprise. Also finished Root Letter (it was alright, but the ending was unsatisfying), and both Blazblue Central Fiction (love that series) and Steins Gate 0 (also love that series as well). Also bought Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Mass Effect: Andromeda mainly because both of them have co-op but both of them were letdowns for me. And of course still playing Hearthstone, which just released a new expansion (Journey to UnGoro).

Also looking forward to: Fire Emblem Echoes (3DS).. Akiba’s Beat (Vita).. Agents of Mayhem (PS4).. Quake Champions (PC).. Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)

And that’s the state of my life right now.. everyday work, go home and play games, and save money. Boring existence. When’s my next trip to Korea?

Categories
Sports Tech

Basketball videos and 3DS vs Vita in retrospect

I’ve been on a basketball video roll recently, making some rants worthy of being an ESPN analyst.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0gIg3rBJy8

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5O2C3d8U2A

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhBVddXTTXM

In these videos, I give my commentary on the ESPN greatest players rank, which I felt ranked older players too low, and modern players too high. As well as my thoughts on the most underrated players of all time (50s players and ABA players), debate about Russell/Wilt, talk about the next 20 players that should be part of the NBA anniversary team, and the All-NBA players I would choose for each decade (1950s to 2010s).

Also, I did a popular video on New Nintendo 3DS vs PS Vita slim comparison

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcfZbkm_CZo

In this video I said that 3DS was favored because it had better games. Well, after owning both consoles for about a year now, I can say that both have fairly addictive games, but I’ve played my PS Vita more, due to its larger cache of Japanese RPGs and Visual Novels, which I prefer to Mario/Zelda/Pokemon/etc games. The Vita is really underrated, because it has a fair amount of good games, alot of them recent. Here’s my favorite games on each console:

New Nintendo 3DS: Codename STEAM, Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (I love the whole Fire Emblem series, it has the best story of out any tactical RPG), Yokai Watch, Mario & Luigi Paper Jam

PS Vita: Steins;Gate (absolutely one of my favorite stories of all time), Persona 4 Dancing All Night (surprisingly good story), Digimon Cyber Sleuth, Xblaze: Code Embryo, Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, Akiba’s trip: Dead and undressed

There’s just way more variety in the Vita games than 3DS games, which tends to stick to the usual Nintendo suspects: Mario, Zelda, Smash Bros, Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Harvest Moon (now Story of Seasons), etc

so yeah.. I might do a retrospective video, but Vita actually wins it for me. If I was forced to choose between Fire Emblem (my favorite Nintendo series) and Steins;Gate or Persona 4, it would be difficult but I would still go with Persona/Steins Gate. And yes, I know Persona Q exists on the 3DS, its just not the same as Persona 4 Golden / Dancing all night on the Vita.