Dinos Takeover Los Angeles!

We planned a simple trip to Los Angeles, CA. Our plan was to visit the E3 expo and do some sightseeing. What I hadn’t planned on was Los Angeles BEING TAKEN OVER BY DINOSAURS. I should have known. The marketing was everywhere: The dinos have left the park. They just didn’t mention that the dinos went to LA.

My first dinosaur sighting was in Downtown LA. We were at the convention center, innocently perusing the aisles of the show floor at E3.

Raptors at E3

Raptor!!! It was behind a fence. I can’t be sure if the fence was electrified, but it did look damaged. People were lining up for an experience nearby so it must have been safe… maybe the raptor was tranquilized…? Paralyzed? lol

The following day, walking down past the Walt Disney Concert Hall… another tranq’ed dino was found, in a cage. It seemed like it was baking in the hot sun! (Is this inhumane??)

Triceratops tranquilized for travel?

We decided to inspect the situation further, by waiting on a ridiculous line for what was called the Jurassic World Fan Fest event. We were told there would be VR games, giveaways, and free movie tickets maybe??

Entering Jurassic World

After the long wait, we made it to the entrance. And what did we find? FREE T-SHIRTS!!! YASSS! So that was a good start. Once we made it inside the giant JW doors…

AHHHH!!

A friendly T-Rex was waiting just inside the entrance!! Yikes! Luckily it must have been trained to only do photo-ops instead of eating people, so there was no carnage. And he was super IG-friendly, of course. I mean, this is LA after all.

Resting in the shade…

It was hot af that day. I’m pretty sure I got sunburned at this event. Some dinos were lounging in a more shaded photo-op area. The dino above was just laying there looking pretty spent. I tried to take a selfie with another dino that was popping out of the vegetation. (Blue?)

Dino Selfie

We wanted to check out the VR game thing but the line was insanely long and they were having technical difficulties even getting it started up. So no. We also got raffle tickets that were supposedly eligible for a free movie screening but the booth to trade in the tickets wasn’t set up yet either. What kind of half-assed event was this? Dinos are baking in the sun in questionable conditions, humans baking in the sun on line for the event, and then some of the attractions weren’t even doable?

At least I got that free t-shirt!

Later in the day, we went to Santa Monica Pier. There weren’t any dinosaurs. Plenty of old people, if you count them.

Santa Monica Panorama

Santa Monica Pier Panorama (featuring Carney)

Santa Monica from the top of the Pacific Wheel

Ugh. I loved Santa Monica. Next time I go to LA I might just stay in this part of town. The boardwalk is really fun. I bought a conch shell for my niece to hear the ocean. There were rides and we ate delicious tacos and drank various margaritas. We even saw some fancy plane thing that I barely got a photo of, but apparently it’s a cool rare thing! (Carney, help me out here in the comments please! lol)

Cool airplane thing!

We also saw a police van with surfboards rigged up on top, tourists struggling with selfie-sticks, a cute baby, and the Bubba Gump Shrimp mascot. Important things!!

The next day, we spent a majority of our time in Hollywood. I won’t clog up my blog with all of the celebrity homes that I took photos of, but you can peruse the full album on my Flickr page. Here’s a nice panorama I took from the Hollywood Hills:

Hollywood Hills

We took a bus tour to see the sights of Hollywood, which was a lot of fun. In addition to the Hollywood sign and the celebrity homes, we were driven through Beverly Hills and around Rodeo Drive.

Dinosaur of a tree in Beverly Hills

Rodeo Drive

All the palm trees!

After our tour we stayed in Hollywood to hang out. We checked out the Walk of Fame and other popular sites, but we wanted some more authentic experiences. And alcohol. So we stopped at a couple of bars in Hollywood!

The Roosevelt Hotel

We started at the Roosevelt Hotel, to experience how rich movie stars of the 1950’s might have enjoyed their cocktails. It was fancy. I mean, check out that indoor fountain! But the prices were fancy too, so decided to check out a speakeasy on Sunset Blvd. called Adults Only. The fake store front was a pretend porn video store, but when you walk in there was only slight amounts of porn and large amounts of old VHS tapes from the 1990s, from Sleeping Beauty to Indiana Jones. All fake placeholders put up in the vestibule, because only a few steps brings you into the actual bar, which was GORGEOUS.

Dimly lit, classic vibe speakeasy Adults Only.

On the big screen they had some old black and white movie that we couldn’t name. The menu consisted of movie titles that described the flavor and theme of the cocktail. It’s kind of dark but I took a picture to give you an idea. (I was drinking Clueless!)

The menu was in a VHS cassette case!

OK, so there were no dinosaurs here, but we were enjoying some delicious alcohol in some very old bars! (Well, old by California standards, anyway.)

At this point, you may be thinking that I had exaggerated about the dinosaurs. I DIDN’T. We encountered many more dinosaurs the next day – at Universal Studios Hollywood!!

Hogwarts Castle

We stopped at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter first. There was a scary dragon on the Harry Potter 4D Experience ride, but that’s not exactly a dinosaur. I get it. But don’t forget… Universal also has a Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park – THE RIDE

Sadly, I didn’t take any photos of the dinosaurs that I saw within Jurassic Park – The Ride. It was a water ride (not a log flume by definition, as we were in yellow raft style vehicles) that took us through Jurassic Park. But then we realize that the dinosaurs had broken out of the park! They were roaming through the ride area! We got sprayed and splashed as we went through, but nobody on our raft was prepared for the big drop. Tensions rose as we climbed to the highest part of the ride, readying ourselves for the final, sharp angle drop and then… A GIANT T-REX HEAD DESCENDS DOWN ON YOU. Adding just that extra amount of terror and adrenaline as you begin to drop straight down into the water below! AHHHH!! And then as you land the entire raft is hit by a giant WAVE of water and literally everyone comes out drenched. There’s no ‘oh if I sit on the edge I’ll be dry.’ Nope. Everyone. Gets. Drenched. And then they direct you into the gift shop, stocked full with clean, dry, brand new Jurassic World t-shirts celebrating the new movie. I see right through your marketing tactics, Universal!!

Then we saw Blue.

Blue

Unlike all the other dinos we had seen, Blue was not in a cage. Blue was not behind a fence. Blue was not tranquilized. Blue was THERE. Being FIERCE. People lined up to take photos with Blue, but the danger was reallll!!

Blue getting angry.

Blue was very realistic. She moved and blinked and roared and screeched. She chopped her teeth at the young babies being offered for ‘photo ops’ (aka lunch?!?!) and scared the bejeezus out of some little boy that was watching on the sidelines. He almost cried. That’s how real Blue was. It was no joke. I should have taken a video instead of photos. Oh well!

I bet you won’t ever see as many dinosaurs in Los Angeles as I did!! Anyway, if you enjoyed the pics from my trip, there’s many, many more on my Flickr Album. Check it out below! Hit the side arrows to move to the next photo. Let me know what you like!

LOS ANGELES

 

Oh yeah and don’t forget to see see Jurassic World in theaters now!!

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Disney’s Magical Game

Pretty much all of my other games can just kiss me goodbye for the next few weeks, because I’ve found the ultimate game for me!!

Disney’s Magical World is everything I’d hoped it would be and more.  It’s like a combination of all of my favorite types of games, from Animal Crossing to Harvest Moon, with a touch of Diner Dash/Cake Mania, plus a little third-person action/adventure element too… all set in the Disney world, of course!

I fell in love with this game immediately.  I enjoy collection games where you have to seek out and collect as many items as you can, and that’s what this game has in spades.  Every area of the in-game world has special themed collectables, which you use to create new dishes for your Cafe, or to assemble new clothing sets, and craft themed furniture items too!

When I discovered that the 100 Acre Wood was the area where you can farm, I was so excited!  I love Winnie the Pooh so much.  After I planted some crops, I noticed that Pooh, Piglet, Rabbit, etc. would come over and help me water the crops and pull weeds!  How freakin’ cute is that???

So far I’ve unlocked areas for the following Disney themes: Cinderella, Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland and Aladdin.  (Note that I’ve only been playing the game for like 4 days lol!)  I literally cannot stop playing this game.  I’ve heard some criticism on the “grind” but I don’t even notice.  I love collecting everything, and as you play further in the game certain collectables become extremely easy to obtain and it all becomes second nature.  The action/adventure aspect is so much fun because you can craft new clothing that gives you better defense, and you can increase your offense by upgrading your magic wand.  It’s so cool!

I love being able to customize my Mii by wearing different outfits.  You can put together your own look by wearing different Disney themed hats, shirts, pants and shoes.  On top of that, you can unlock costumes, Quest outfits and formal wear.  I’ve already completed the Cinderella gown, so I get to run around dressed up in a fancy ball gown!  It’s adorable.

Honestly, I could go on all day about how much I love this game.  I hope I don’t beat it too quickly.  All I can think about as I write this is how much I want to play the game.  I’m obsessed.

There are two criticisms that I have of this game.  First of all, there is no Wi-Fi (aside from DLC) for online multiplayer.  Secondly, while there is free DLC, there is also paid DLC.  As of now there’s only like $5 worth of DLC you can buy, but I can see that easily adding up over time as they release new themes.  I’m a sucker for this stuff so I might be in trouble lol!

Holy Awesome Games!!

If you haven’t seen the latest Nintendo Direct, or rather, the Smash Bros. Direct from 4/8/14… well you are missing out.  The half hour long presentation has taken the Nintendo community by storm!  New game footage and details have been revealed about the upcoming Smash Bros. games for Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS.

There is just TOO much to hype about in the upcoming Smash games!!  So many new Pokemon playable characters, the Animal Crossing Villager character, new stages, new Final Destination stage options, new game modes for the 3DS version… and the graphics for the Wii U version are just so fantastic, I can’t get over it!  If you haven’t checked out the Nintendo Direct, watch it here.  Even if you’ve never played Smash Bros. before, now is the time to get into this franchise.

Can I just say that I totally LOVE Sakurai??  His hair is awesome!  He clearly is a huge Pokemon fan, has a hilarious sense of humor, and definitely represents what I consider to be “my generation” of gamers.  Is it bad that I secretly wish Sakurai would host all future Nintendo Direct videos?  😛

The bad news is that we have to wait.  Super Smash Bros. 3DS won’t be released until this summer.  The Wii U version is slated to be released this WINTER (holiday season no doubt) so we have a while before that new challenger will approach.  Not to mention we don’t have any actual concrete release dates.  I hate that!  My main worry is that the Wii U version will eventually be pushed back to 2015.  Fingers crossed that the developers stay on schedule.  Super Smash Bros. is going to be huge for StreetPass communities, and I can’t wait!!  So what am I supposed to do until then?

Good news!  Lots of cool games are coming out in the coming weeks and months.  Tomorrow, April 11th is the release date for Disney Magical World, which I’m sure many of my readers are psyched about!  If you haven’t heard of it, it’s kind of like a cross between Disney Infinity and Animal Crossing, with a touch of Harvest Moon.  You’re in the Disney world, and you get to interact with the Disney characters in a similar way to how Animal Crossing works.  From what I understand, it follows the daily calendar.  But you also get to gather items and collect things, which you use to craft OTHER things, which is why I say it’s also kind of like Harvest Moon.  Plus there’s some action/battling and you also run a cafe.  Everything I like!  If you want to learn more, check out this trailer:

Lots of cool games are coming out in May as well.  Namely, the awesome new Kirby Triple Deluxe and Mario Golf are both slated to be released early May.  At the end of May comes Mario Kart 8 for Wii U, which also looks to be AMAZING.  Sweet HD graphics on Rainbow Road?  Yes please!!

So hopefully all of those new games will tide us over until the release of Smash on 3DS later this summer.  I know I barely have time to play the games I have… I bought Yoshi’s New Island recently and have barely had a chance to play it because I’m still backlogged!  I was rushing to beat Pokemon X before the PVGC, but now that the big competition is over I can put Pokemon down for a minute.  What I really want to do is finish Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward which I had rented from GameFly.  I’m like half way through it so that’s my goal.

And if you are wondering… I have NO idea how I am going to manage 3 ACNL towns as well as Disney Magical World.  I haven’t even played ACNL in over a week, I’m sad to say.  There are just not enough hours in the day!  I’m hoping I will make some time to play games this weekend, even though I will be in Boston for PAX East.

But what can I say?  I have a ton of awesome games to play so I really can’t complain can I?  😀

 

So Much Going On!!

Time sure flies when I’m having fun and being busy as heck!  There are so many awesome games out right now and I barely have time to play any of them.  I actually just quit one of my jobs… OK, I didn’t actually quit so I could play more games, but hopefully it will be a happy consequence.  I’m toying with the idea of working for GameStop, but I hear a lot of horror stories about that job, and the pay isn’t that great.  So I haven’t decided.  Hopefully I can just make ends meet doing my graphic design and social media job.  We’ll see!  Anyway…

Disney Infinity

I’ve made some progress in the different story modes that I have currently in Disney Infinity.  I’ve only actually played the generic Playset that comes with the Disney Infinity Starter Pack, which includes “Pirates”, “Monsters University” and “The Incredibles.”  Honestly, I haven’t played too much of Monsters U.  Not sure if I just need to see the movie to “get it” a little better, or if the rival college hijinks just isn’t doing it for me, or if the other story modes are just more appealing, but Monsters U is definitely the game I’ve been neglecting the most.  Incredibles, on the other hand, is a really fun action/adventure game and while I haven’t played too much of the story mode yet, I’m looking forward to delving into it more.  Pirates, as I mentioned in my last post, is my personal favorite and I’m almost done with the main story in that game.  I just love navigating on a pirate ship and attacking other boats!  Plus the ship customization is REALLY cool, I can make my ship look like it’s a shipwreck, or made out of bones, or look like a British Royal ship… so many options!  That’s why this game is so amazing!

Recently, JDubz and I celebrated our two year anniversary together.  He got me a TON of new figures and sets as a gift!  Here’s the full collection.  I haven’t even opened most of it yet.  The only figures I bought for myself were the “Cars 2” Playset and I won the “Violet” figurine at E3.

Yep, I’ve got hours and hours of DI Playtime ahead of me!!  I got that Limited Edition “Lightning McQueen” silver car at Toys R Us, which seems to be the place to go for DI accessories.  For some reason, Toys R Us is getting a lot of exclusive items for the Disney Infinity lineup!  And I’m not just talking about these figurines, there are also exclusive Power Disc “gold packs” that TRU is selling.  Just this past week was I able to retrieve both the “Tron” and “Mike’s Car” power discs, which are rare TRU exclusives.  They have translucent red plastic instead of clear, and feature holographic images instead of the regular ones you find on normal power discs.  These power discs are fun to collect, but I have assembled quite a collection of duplicates and spares as well.  Here’s my current spare power discs.  Do I have something you need?  Comment or email me to request a trade!  One power disc I have yet to find is “Elephant Abu”, so please let me know if you have an extra you want to trade!

Pokémon Rumble U

As if Disney Infinity wasn’t taking up enough of my spare time, there is also the newest (and last game of Gen. 5) Pokémon game, the third installment in the Pokémon Rumble series.  This latest game, Pokémon Rumble U, is a Wii U eShop exclusive.  Not only does this game blow you away with it’s HD graphics and all 649 Pokémon, but the game takes on a new form with the addition of the Pokémon NFC Figures.  Pokémon NFC figures are only available at GameStop, and they are little mini Pokémon toys that look exactly like the ones in the game.  But what you can DO with them is what makes Rumble U so much more fun – the NFC Figures can be “scanned” into the game via the Wii U GamePad, and then you can customize your NFC figures by upgrading their power and changing their moves!  I really love this new feature, even if it does make the game a bit more expensive.  You really feel like you are a part of the game since you can touch and feel your Pokémon toys and make them your own.  Here’s some of my Pokémon NFC collection:

I have to say, I do have a couple of complaints with the new Pokémon Rumble U game.  My main issue is that this latest game has gotten rid of the different “areas” that, in previous games, your toy character could walk around in and preview what the different boards will be.  Now it’s just a linear list of stages.  Another change, which I don’t mind quite so much, is that all of the stages are now “Battle Royale” style.  In the older titles, there were lots of boards that you just walk through and fight Pokémon, and each area had a boss battle in the arena.  In Rumble U, every stage is a Battle Royale in an arena, and every stage has a boss at the end.  I personally like this change, but plenty of other Pokémon fans had issues with it, so I wanted to mention it.  Another problem is that the toys that you collect in-game cannot be upgraded, customized with moves, or even organized.  The game itself shows all of your collected toys as a huge army that is simply organized by power level.  There is no search function, so if you’re looking for Oshawott and you don’t have him saved as a favorite, it might take a long time to find him out of a sea of hundreds of Pokémon!

Despite these few shortcomings, I am enjoying Rumble U immensely!  I usually play it at JDubz’s house, since I can bring over my NFC figures and play on his system by scanning them in.  It’s also just fun to have a collection of little Pokémon toys that I carry around with me everywhere.  :3

EarthBound

When I’m in the mood to get my RPG on, I turn to EarthBound.  This game is hilarious and has the zaniest enemies to battle!  I’ve been making good progress, and I’m currently “stuck” on a notoriously tough boss, named Master Belch.  The only reason I’m stuck is because I think I need to be leveled up a bit more, and I need to use my Fly Honey.  Plus Jeff needs to get his rocket launchers!  Yeah I just need to be more prepared when I go into battle against Master Belch!  He stinks!

Animal Crossing: Wasabi Village

Of course, when I’m not home playing my Wii U, I’m playing ACNL.  I still carry both my regular 3DS XL with Jubilife City, as well as my JP 3DS with Wasabi Village… but unfortunately Wasabi often is the neglected town.  I usually only sign in to Wasabi when there’s a Japanese holiday, or if I need to check turnip prices, or feel inclined to splurge at GracieGrace.  Last week there was a JP Holiday (we get it in the US too, but on a different date) called Weeding Day!  This is Leif’s only holiday… you know him, the little weird looking guy from the Garden Store!  Unfortunately I hadn’t “prepared” Wasabi well enough for this holiday.  Leif tells you that if you can pull 30(!!!) weeds in town on this day, then he’ll give you a special prize.  I tried, and I counted only 26 weeds that I was able to pull up.  So I didn’t get whatever the special prize was, but I did get this snazzy Flower Screen!

The only other updates coming out of Wasabi is the sad news that King (aka Elvis in the US version) slipped away during the night and moved out.  He was kind enough to send Neko a signed photo, but it’s just not the same!  I feel awful for neglecting my Japanese town and in turn, losing one of my favorite townies.  I don’t have any vacant resident spots in Jubilife, so I think he’s gone for good.  😦  Cue the depressing Elvis classic:

Are you lonesome tonight,
Do you miss me tonight?
Are you sorry we drifted apart?
Does your memory stray to a brighter summer day
When I kissed you and called you sweetheart?
Do the chairs in your parlor seem empty and bare?
Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there?
Is your heart filled with pain, shall I come back again?
Tell me dear, are you lonesome tonight?

Animal Crossing: Jubilife City

Jubilife, on the other hand, is bustling and busy as ever, with exciting fall holidays coming up on the horizon, such as Halloween and the Harvest Festival.  Earlier this month we celebrated Labor Day, which consisted of Isabelle handing out picnic baskets, and a funny face cutout standee was displayed.

Gracie made her first official appearance in Jubilife City, and I was subject to the first of four Fashion Checks that will allow Gracie to add her store to the Shopping District, which ultimately will mean that I’ll get the Department Store upgrade.  My first Fashion Check was for a “modern” style, so of course I played it safe and wore as many items from the Gracie fashion set that I could get my hands on!

I passed the test and received a Sweets Bookcase.  I really hope to get all of my Fashion Checks done during this season, because the Sweets series is my favorite, and I can’t afford to pay full price for it right now!  Gracie gives you a free item from whichever the current season series is, which is why I hope to finish my evaluations during the fall!  Wish me luck!

My favorite news about Jubilife is the fact that I’ve caught the elusive Petaltail Dragonfly!  This wily bugger is one tough insect to catch.  It’s only available from August to October, from 5pm-7pm daily.  I’d been looking for it in Jubilife for the past month with no luck.  So I figured I’d try to hunt for it in Wasabi instead, and I caught it quickly and easily on a rock!

I was so excited!  Hooray for me!!

Just a head’s up, there’s a holiday coming up on 9/19 called the Autumn Moon Festival.  While this festival occurs in every region’s version of ACNL, every region has a different special item that can only be obtained from that country.  So I am going to open the gates of Wasabi Village from 9pm – 11pm on Thursday night so people can come and get the JP exclusive Autumn Moon item, the “Dango.”  Feel free to join in!  I made a Facebook Event for this, so hopefully you can join me!  See you then!  😀

Disney Infinity… and Beyond!

Disney Infinity was finally released last weekend!  I had tried the game at E3, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on it ever since.  I picked up the Starter Pack, which includes the game, the Disney Infinity Base, and three figures (Capt. Jack Sparrow, Sulley and Mr. Incredible).  My preorder with GameStop entitled me to a free figure, so I also picked up Davy Jones.  I also had a figure that I won at E3, which is Violet (the daughter of Mr. Incredible) and I also picked up the Cars Playset AND a Mater figure… so I’m pretty stocked up right now!  I only need a few more figures to complete the first Wave of toys available for this game.

I have to start by saying that I am extremely impressed with the figures.  These Disney Infinity figures are really high quality, they look great and are quite detailed.  Honestly, I would probably pay $15 for these figures to just sit on my shelf, yet they are worth so much more.  Each figure unlocks more content for their particular game.  So even when I finish playing Monsters University with Sulley, I’ll still have to pick up Mike and Randy, because they add more objectives and missions to the game.

On top of all this are the Power Discs, which can be bought for $4.99, and Toys R Us (among other places) are doing lots of great sales right now to help everyone collect as much as they can afford.  There are 30 Power Discs in the first Wave, with 20 more due out in Wave 2, and another 15 in Wave 3.  Not sure when those next Waves will be, but hopefully holiday season will be the next!  That’s what I’m assuming anyway.  The Power Discs are fun to collect because they feature different Disney characters, they add more power to your characters in Playset mode, and unlock new toys and options in Toy Box mode.  Phew that’s a lot to take in, and I haven’t even talked about the game itself yet!

When I first started up my game, I didn’t know what to expect.  I’d played the demo at E3, but it was at a specific part of the game.  In my previous experiences with Disney games, I sometimes end up disappointed.  The controls tend to be confusing or cumbersome, and the explanatory text on screen is usually so small that you need a microscope to read it.  (I experienced both of these issues while attempting to play Disney’s Epic Mickey game.)  Luckily, these issues are nonexistent in Disney Infinity!

Right when you start your game for the first time, there is a tutorial/introduction.  You go over the basic controls while “creating” and exploring the Toy Box area.  Disney characters greet you and guide you along as you learn to jump and climb.  Did I mention that the HD graphics are INSANE??  They look fantastic, and you can play either on the TV or the Wii U Game Pad.

Once the Introduction is complete, you are free to do whatever you’d like in Disney Infinity.  You can play around in Toy Box, where you can build and create your own world.  The Toy Box can be fully customized, and there are also pre-made Toy Boxes that can be downloaded as well.  If you crave a bit of structure, you can try some of the Toy Box Challenges, which further explore the different controls and features within the game.  Also in the Toy Box is the Hall of Fame.  Each playable character has a statue in the Hall of Fame, and the statues change as you progress in the Playsets.  (I don’t want to give too much away here so I’ll stop at that.)

If the Toy Box wasn’t enough, there is Playset mode, which are entirely separate games that you can play.  Each Playset takes place in the setting of the movie that the character is from, for example, the Pirates Playset takes place in the Carribean!  You can sail the high seas, firing cannons at enemy pirates from your customizable ship, or fight Davy Jones’ minions on land.  Treasure is hiding everywhere, and it’s up to you to find and collect it!  Each Playset also has collectibles scattered all across the world, and the collectibles unlock new Toys that you can use in the Toy Box!  I don’t want to give too much away about the storylines for the Playsets, so I’ll stop there.  I might go into more detail after I beat one of the Playset story modes.

I’ve only had the game for a few days, but I’m already really impressed with the amount of content available for Disney Infinity.  I also just read that there is going to be a PC version of the game, as well as an iPad version coming out soon!  So far the only complaint I can think of for this game is that I haven’t been able to save a screenshot to the Miiverse.  But who has time to play around with that when there are pirates to fight, monsters to scare and super villains to battle??

Just a word to the wise, this game is best for people who have their own dispensable income, as the Starter Pack retails for about $75 and the figures are $15 each at some stores.  If you can afford the habit, this is a fabulous game and I highly recommend it!!