Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Drink Review (Surge)

IT'S BACK! It only took about twelve years, but it's back! Buy it while you can get it on Amazon and do NOT buy a case for $60 like assholes are doing.

Anyway, the drink! I figured I'd type up a quick review since there aren't too many reviews of it out there. Basically, I'm sure you've seen the can by now -- it's the classic Surge "splat" looking logo on the lime green can. It looks really sharp, and I'm super glad Coca-Cola didn't put on that awful looking second label they had for Surge. As for the drink itself, it's like I remembered: a radioactive green color.

The smell of Surge is like Mello Yello and Squirt blended together... there's nothing else to it, that's the best way of describing the aroma on this. As for the taste, it's more of the same, and that's not a bad thing. I'm not a huge, huge fan of Mello Yello or Squirt on their own, but blended together (seemingly), it creates a really tasty and pretty unique citrus drink. The finish on Surge is much better than Mountain Dew, for comparison -- I find Mountain Dew to have a somewhat harsh carbonation, but Surge is more smooth. Not to say it's flat, but it's way easier to "slam" if you'd rather do that than savor each sip (FOR SHAME!). The aftertaste on Surge also tastes more... real, and better than Mountain Dew. It's an orange kind of flavor that wants you to take another sip, rather than a stale, strange, super artificial flavor that wants you to take another sip.

Hopefully Surge is back and not for just a limited time, and not just exclusive to Amazon -- I was fortunate to get three cases for just $35 total thanks to a pair of  Bing Rewards $5 Amazon gift card codes, and I plan on drinking most of my cans ... not selling them at insane mark-ups like so many other people. I'll make no bones about it and say that, yeah, my score is likely influenced a good bit by the label alone. But I'll also say that it's an easy drinking, good tasting pop (soda for you other people out there) that even people who have no Surge nostalgia would enjoy.

+: It's Surge! (Really does taste like Mello Yello mixed about halfsies with Squirt)
-: Scalpers, exclusive to Amazon and sells out quickly.
?: Is it permanent? Why less caffeine per ounce than when it was initially released?


Monday, October 06, 2014

Game Review (Super Smash Bros. 3DS - Nintendo 3DS)

Man, it's been a long time since I've reviewed any 3DS games. Why? Well... I just don't buy many games for it. Since getting my Nintendo 3DS with 3D Land for Christmas 2011, I've just gotten Mario Kart 7, Pokemon Silver and Pokemon White (Yes, I know they are DS games), and Animal Crossing: New Leaf. While I've gotten some good playtime out of my 3DS, I've never been one to play handheld games hours on end -- alright, I'm trailing off. Henceforth with the review!

I've seen a lot of reviews describing the gameplay of Super Smash Bros., but if you're here, you know what the game is about. What makes this game different? Well, there are a few new modes in there that I think most people, honestly, don't care much about. Smash Run is the thing people have talked most about, and basically, you pick your fighter and run through a randomly generated stage collecting random power-ups and ultimately facing a random boss. Is it fun? It's not AWFUL, but the sheer amount of -- you guessed it -- randomness makes it a game mode that could use some work. Maybe a patch could make Smash Run better, I don't know, but as it stands now, it's nothing all that special.

Another new thing that's kind of interesting (if it's your bag) is the ability to customize your fighter -- change his/her clothes, the character's strength, speed, and defense, and even the certain attacks. It's a pretty nifty addition to the game, but it feels like something only a niche of players would use. It just seems that if you're playing with "serious" SSB players, customizing your character's abilities is just something that would be a "no-no." Regardless, this is an interesting addition that'll no doubt make a fair number of players happy.

Solo mode is back and is better than ever. Instead of fighting a predetermined line of fighters, you can choose who you want to fight, how many coins you want to "bet" that you'll beat the mode (more coins equals higher difficulty), and so on. It doesn't change the mode dramatically, but there was nothing that needed fixing -- these few improvements have only made an already solid mode more fun.

The real things that matter in Super Smash Bros. though are the fighters and stages, let's be honest... and in SSB 3DS, there's a pretty great variety in here. Starting off, there are over thirty characters to choose from, with a good number more to unlock as you simply play the game. There are also a lot of challenges that you can complete. Some of them are just for fun, but to get certain trophies and unlock certain stages you need to (to my understanding) finish some of the challenges. These challenges aren't generally super difficult at first, but they become ridiculous as you play on.

SSB 3DS has some of the best graphics of any Nintendo 3DS game out there. Not only do characters and stages "pop", but it moves at an almost perfectly consistent 60 FPS to boot, despite what's going on on-screen. Ah... the screen... speaking of the screen, whether you're on a 3DS XL or, worse, a regular ol' 3DS, you'll have some trouble seeing what's going on when playing with four fighters who are spread out all over a stage. It's often hard enough seeing what's going on on a TV screen, but on a tiny 3DS screen, it can be just about impossible to tell what item is on the ground, or even where your character is at certain times.

The controls for SSB 3DS are actually pretty good. I was worried about my hands cramping while using my regular 3DS, but I haven't had that problem -- but luckily (...or not-so-luckily...), I have pretty small hands and don't death grip my 3DS while I play. While I and most any person would prefer to play SSB 3DS on a GameCube controller, the buttons are all quite responsive, and the analog stick is usually fine, although I have found that sometimes my fighter doesn't know whether to run or walk. Someone with big hands will likely find quite a few things to dislike about this mobile version of SSB, but I'm generally fine with it all.

The list of characters and stages in SSB 3DS are many and varied. As usual, all fighters have the same button combinations for attacks, but the attacks they do are often quite different. This is great for veterans and new players alike because it takes a skilled player to master the timing of certain attacks, but any newbie can hop right in and have fun with the game... which leads me to the stages, and even items. Some of the new items in this game are nothing but annoying insta-kill weapons. Thankfully, items can be toggled on or off at will. While the majority of stages are great fun, some have "events" on them that are likely to peeve most people. Again though, these stages can be played with these "hazards" off.

There's plenty more to talk about with SSB 3DS, but I'd like to try keeping this from becoming a novel. All that you need to know is that this is probably the best SSB yet. The only reason I say "probably" is because it's actually a bit frustrating that this can't be played on a bigger screen with a proper controller. Despite that, Super Smash Bros. 3DS is a very good game with a huge cast of fighters, a wide variety of mostly super fun stages, and a lot of fun to be had. It's a bummer that even local fights with friends can be laggy (good luck finding a lag-free match on WiFi), but if you don't mind playing against AI (which is quite decent, actually), there are hours upon hours of playtime to be had in SSB 3DS.

+: Loaded with content, great frame rate, hours of fun to be had, a "Smash"ing good time... eh? Eh!?
-: Too frequently laggy local or online multiplayer, stage hazards, "noob" items, small screen, cramped controls.
?: Will we get DLC?


Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Food Review (Spicy Chicken Sandwich at Tim Horton's)

Okay, so... who actually eats at Tim Horton's? Probably nobody, really. But since I had a $15 gift card given to me, I decided to go and try the spicy chicken sandwich and their cream of broccoli soup. My total was $7.19 which was kind of high, but when I saw the amount of food I got, it was actually a pretty fair price.

The spicy chicken sandwich is a nice size -- the chicken patty (yeah, patty, not chicken breast) is a little bigger than the bread. The chicken has a pretty hefty amount of seasoning on it, with a nice buffalo mayo sauce on the bun. There's a little bit of lettuce and a couple tomato slices, both of which were really fresh -- no limp, pale lettuce or slimy yellow tomatoes here. The seasoning and mayo on the chicken sandwich were very good, and actually presented a good heat. Far too often at fast food restaurants or in national chains, spicy options aren't actually spicy. If you're a fan of spicy food, definitely get this sandwich -- it won't let you down. No, it won't make you cry or pant, but it should make your nose run a little bit.

At first bite, I was disappointed -- not in the flavor at all, but just in the fact that, as I said, Tim Horton's uses a chicken patty rather than a solid piece of chicken breast. For the price I paid, I would expect a premium cut of chicken. Even though this sandwich uses some frankenchicken, it actually does taste pretty decent.

The cream of broccoli soup is about what I had expected... fairly mediocre, maybe a bit better. I mean, it's a plus over something like Campbell's, which is waaay too salty and runny.

It was all tasty enough to make me definitely want to go to Tim Horton's again in the future for some food, but again, the fact that the chicken is of the "sponge" variety, despite its surprisingly good flavor, is making me give the sandwich the rating I'm giving it.

+: Tastes pretty good -- the seasoning, mayo, bread, and tomatoes and lettuce are nice.
-: Premium price for a not-so-premium product.