The Planet of the Fitness

Even nerds should work out. I don’t care what shape you’re in, staying active is important. I have a chronic spinal injury and for years I was full of excuses and didn’t join a gym. But this year I finally was peer pressured into joining Planet Fitness by my awesome colleagues who encouraged me to come with them after work.

Before joining a gym I had gone to physical therapy for my back, so I know which machines to avoid to stay safe. My routine currently is about a half hour of cardio and a half hour on the weight machines… plus 5-10 mins on the elliptical. I’m still not in perfect shape but I’m making small improvements, and I feel a lot better about myself for at least making the effort.

Planet Fitness is a great starter gym for people like me who are a little intimidated to get going. The best part is the price – $10 a month if you are dedicated to one location, and $22 a month for Black Card, which allows you to go to any location and take advantage of some other perks like the hydro massage therapy beds (this alone is worth the Black Card membership fee imho). I went with Black Card because I love going to different locations, free massages and half price drinks.

Of course, not all locations are the same. Depending on which gym is your ‘home’ location, you’ll find different membership fees and other fine print. Luckily I found a gym near my house on LI to set as my home, to avoid the $10 sign up fees at the NYC locations. Gotta shop around and be smart!

Planet Fitness Great Neck

It’s important to tour a gym before committing. My favorite PF location is in Great Neck, NY. It’s located under a shopping center and has a ton of square footage. The weight room just keeps going and going. There are always enough treadmills and elliptical machines. They also have the most hydro massage beds and massage chairs that I’ve seen in any gym location. My only complaint about Great Neck is that the cardio machines don’t have little TV’s installed in them like the machines in NYC have. You are stuck watching the pre-selected news channels and whatnot that are showing on the many TV’s posted around. But there is free Wi-Fi so I could just put on Netflix on my phone and watch whatever I want.

Planet Fitness Carle Place

Another location on LI that I’ve frequented is Carle Place, NY. This location is convenient because it’s near my house, but that’s really the best thing I have to say about it. I think this gym is a little awkward because the cardio machines and the weight machines are facing each other. You can stare at other people working out! Oh boy! It’s not THAT big of a deal, but I just wonder why they chose to set it up that way. Regardless, it’s clean and not very busy, so I still go there. I can watch the big guys work out on the heavy weights while I run. Not such a down side, I guess lol!

In NYC, I’ve been to Tribeca and Herald Square. They are very different! Tribeca has a nice giant square shaped space where the machines are set up similar to Carle Place, except the machines DON’T face each other. And the machines all have mini TV’s in them, which is fun. You can watch whatever you want, turn on CC and listen to music… whatever works for you. Herald Square on the other hand, is set up among three floors. It’s very confusing and disjointed. There are elliptical machines in a space that looks like a hallway. Some of the treadmills were broken the last time I went there. But the Herald Square location is right next to Penn Station, so it’s great if I’m in a rush. That is, if I can find an open locker! It’s definitely the busiest gym I’ve been to out of the four.

Machines with TV’s in them!

Even despite the down sides of some of these locations, I really love Planet Fitness no matter which location I go to. It is definitely a ‘judgment free zone’ and you see people of all fitness levels and age groups working out. The staff is usually a bunch of young people so naturally they would rather socialize than do work. I get it, I was that age once, lol! But they are still friendly if you approach them and ask them for help.

Overall, my biggest con for PF is that they don’t offer organized classes in the traditional sense. They have little meetup sessions that you can sign up for and get some guided exercises with a staff member, but it’s not really the same as a Zumba class. But that’s okay – I’m more of a lone wolf anyway! I like to use an app called C25K to get back into running shape. It uses interval training to get your body used to running long distances. It’s just enough guidance that I need to stay motivated.

Hydro Massage!!

But what really motivates me is the hydro massage bed. It’s my favorite thing. You can lay on it for 10 mins at a time and you can customize the massage to be exactly what you want. Laying on the hydro massage bed after working out feels so amazing. It makes my sciatica go away for the rest of the day. It’s the best thing!!

If you are scared of committing to a gym, give Planet Fitness a try. It’s cheap and not all locations require an annual contract. (Again, shop around!!) Or if you recommend a different gym, I’m all ears! What gym do you think is the best??

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Game Review: Go Vacation!

Go Vacation!

It’s Labor Day Weekend! Do you have any big vacation plans? I don’t! Except of course, my private handheld getaway: Go Vacation for Nintendo Switch! This game is packed full of different activities and mini-games to play. Let’s take a quick look at what the different resorts have to offer.

Marine Resort

I’ve never been to Hawaii, but Kawawii Island must come pretty close in comparison. You get to explore the island using a marine bike, ATV, and a surfboard. Activities include beach volleyball, skydiving, scuba diving, and even a triathlon. You can take a scenic flight tour around the island to see beautiful views, or you can swim around the cove searching for secret treasure boxes. What I especially like about Go Vacation is that you can easily jump from the various activities using a menu, or you can roam freely around the island using your character.

City Resort

If you were a fan of the old Tony Hawk games from way back in the early 2000s then you will like the City Resort. This area gives you a pair of inline skates and a skateboard to roam the city with, and there are tons of half pipes to do tricks and rails to grind on. You gain points towards your character if you successfully complete a trick at any time, whether you are in an official activity or just doing your own thing. You also gain points by completing challenges in each resort, which in the city include activities like street racing, skate tricks, and fun arcade games like whack-a-mole and table hockey. What are all these points for? Unlocking furniture for your customized VILLA, of course!

Yes this game has a bit of everything; my need to design and customize a house is met with Go Vacation’s Villa! (Plus my need to like, own a beachside villa. This way is a LOT cheaper lol!) There are several decor themes to unlock, so there is a lot of motivation to complete ALL of the game’s activities to rack up as many points as I can get. The Villa area isn’t a resort with activities, but I thought it was worth mentioning here.

Snow Resort

For those of us who enjoy winter sports, Go Vacation includes a ski resort on a mountain, complete with bunny slopes and as you climb higher, there are steeper and more perilous options. There is a chair lift, but I like to use the snowmobile to get up the mountain. You can also use a set of skis, a snowboard and a snow tube to get around in this area. Activities range from your typical ski slaloms and long jumps to dog sledding, snowman making and snowball fights!

Mountain Resort

Honestly, I think this area should have been named Ranch Resort, because a lot the activities are what you might find on a dude ranch. You can ride a horse, an off-road car, or even in a kayak in this forest/mountain resort. There are lots of shoot-em-up target practice activities to play, as well as white water rafting, tennis and equestrian sports. Not to mention paragliding, where you can see more gorgeously designed aerial views while hitting balloon targets.

Is that all? No. I didn’t even describe all of the various activities in each resort, you’ll have to play for yourself to learn about everything! But there are also fun little side objectives, like finding all of the bungee jump locations in each resort, or taking photos of all of the animals that can be found on the different terrains. (Yes, this game has that Pokemon Snap element too lol!) There’s also fishing, treasure hunting, photo op spots… Go Vacation truly has all of the things I like!

The only thing that is missing are cats. You get a pet dog in-game (obviously because of the dogsledding activity – guess a kitty can’t pull a sled) but the only cats to be seen are in the City Resort, roaming around… or a giant lion sitting in the middle of the street.

Which resort do you think sounds the coolest in Go Vacation? It’s a great way to take a vacay without paying for airfare! I think the activities are a lot of fun, and is a nice change of pace from some of the other games I’ve been playing lately. I like how the joy con controls aren’t too overly complicated, and I look forward to trying out the multi-player functions at a gamer meetup next week. It’s also worth noting that Go Vacation was a little cheaper than most Switch games, priced at $49.99. I traded in some old games towards the price and I am quite satisfied! If you need a vacation, but only have fifty bucks to spend… try Go Vacation!

 

 

 

Planning My Planner

Are you like me? Do you enjoy the feeling when your schedule (and LIFE) is organized? Do you hate forgetting appointments, parties and plans? Do you like WRITING in a BOOK once in a while? If so, chances are you already have a planner.

The Simple Elephant Planner

There are SO MANY kinds of planners. It’s very overwhelming. There’s a Bullet Journal craze going on, and I do like to explore my artsy side, so this past year I’ve been using what’s called the Simple Elephant planner.

This planner has absolutely been meeting my needs – it is undated, has monthly and weekly spreads, goal setting pages, and a big section of blank note pages where I can do my own thing. I liked this format because I wanted to try to make a bullet journal, without the additional work of writing out a monthly spread myself, and setting up layouts each week. I don’t quite have time for that! I’ve been using the blank note pages whenever I have a Bullet Journal (#bujo for short) idea, and it is a lot of fun.

Admittedly I’m not the BEST artist, nor do I always commit a huge amount of time to doing this, so I use stickers a LOT. Because stickers are fucking awesome. I subscribe to two different monthly sticker clubs, and I highly recommend both and here’s why:

  • Stickii Club: This club has more of an Asian flair, with a lot of imported stickers from Japan and Korea. Each month the stickers are shipped in an adorable A5 organizer binder page, and includes a binder ring, a funky shaped paperclip that matches the month’s theme, a fun stationery sample, and several sheets of stickers. You can buy previous month packs on their website, so if you don’t want to commit to a monthly club, you can just buy what you like! Check em out!
  • Pipsticks Club: This club feels like it’s marketed to women who grew up collecting stickers in the 80’s and 90’s, and now want to get in touch with their childhood hobbies, or share their love of stickers with their kids. (They offer a kids sticker club too!) There are no monthly themes with this club, but every month you get several sheets of fun stickers with funky designs and characters, and they always throw in a blank postcard to decorate. One time, I got a giant roller skate sticker too!

I’d like to add that both of these sticker clubs have phenomenal customer service, so don’t be shy! If you had a sticker book in elementary school, you might understand what the RUSH of excitement feels like when I see a monthly sticker pack waiting for me! They are pretty affordable too. Me likey.

Some bujo spreads that I made in my Simple Elephant (plus my cat Twinkie)

So I’ve been having lots of fun with my Simple Elephant planner, making bujo pages, writing in my events and appointments and keeping my life organized. It’s definitely fun to design a custom bujo page, but sometimes I feel like it’s a bit too much work. I don’t do it enough, and lots of the blank note pages in the back section are going to waste. This has lead me to search for a new planner that might fit ALL of my needs.

I’ve learned that during the summer, most of the planners available are Academic Calendars, meaning they are from July – June of next year. I don’t want that. Amazon was proving to not be helpful in my research.

Last year, I was using the Passion Planner. While it is AWESOME in terms of setting goals and goal tracking, I didn’t like it. My problem was with the weekly spread – it was too regimented by hour, and I don’t have enough meetings and appointments in my day to day that requires such an intense spread.

Passion Planner Weekly Spread

If you DO have a crazy schedule that you must track by the hour, then absolutely give this planner a strong consideration. It’s definitely great. I think it encourages a lot of creativity while also engaging the right brain’s love for organization. But it just wasn’t for me and decided to keep searching.

EVO Planner

Another planner that caught my eye in my search is the EVO Planner. Wow this thing is REALLY cool! It has a slightly different format based on how your brain operates, which I think is super neat. (My brain type is Oracle!) I love the design. Plus it has a cool feature that allows you to scan your page and it interacts with a mobile app! But here comes the downside… each planner is only a quarter of a year. You have to buy four to get an annual planner. And it’s expensive AF. Maybe once the hype dies down I’ll get one, or when a few copycats make knock-off options?? lol

Well, I was still at square one in my search for a new planner. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a planner that doesn’t function the way that I want it to. I don’t want intensive daily spreads. I want monthly grids, weekly overviews, some space for reflection and goal setting, plus FUN! I need fun. Fun is vital.

Remember that sticker club Pipsticks that I mentioned earlier? That company knows all about fun. So much so, that they started sending out emails that they too were selling a planner. I was intrigued! They teamed up with Workman Publishing to create fun planner that is unique and creative. Check out the three designs here!

Planner Size Comparison

I decided to purchase it because I’m already a happy Pipsticks customer, and I also happened to have a coupon. I decided to get the “This Changes Everything” planner. But when it arrived, I was in a panic… because it was DIFFERENT!

After opening the package, I was dismayed that I didn’t look at the dimensions of this planner before ordering. It’s considerably larger than my Simple Elephant. At first I thought this was a MAJOR issue, but the more I’ve been holding it and flipping through the pages, the more I love it. The planner creators really made an effort to create a planner that was fun and functional. Here is the August monthly spread, to give you an idea.

Pipsticks Planner Monthly Grid

There is a little creative challenge in the corner of each month. There’s room for special dates and notes, plus PLENTY of space in each calendar square. There is also plenty of room for STICKERS! Now take a look at the weekly overview.

Pipsticks Planner Weekly Spread

It may be hard to read, but on Wednesday there is a little mini-quiz. I love how the days are split up into sections, so I can separate work and after-work activities. At the bottom there’s space for any big DAY reminders or notations. There is also a little YAY in a circle on each date, this is to be used with the included stickers to indicate if I’ve done something that I’m tracking that day – such as working out, drinking enough water, or whatever my current goal might be.

Pipsticks Planner Sticker Page

The included sticker pages are really cute too, and are separated by season and have fun stickers that coordinate with the theme and color schemes of the monthly pages in that season. They clearly put a lot of thought and care into this planner.

Yes, I wish it was a little bit smaller. But I will embrace this planner, and all the extra space that it allows! One thing I can’t seem to remember (and I am writing this at work so I don’t have it in front of me) is if this planner has blank pages in the back for me to get my bujo on. I want to say yes, but I’ll have to check at home and update later lol! However, even if it doesn’t have blank space, every month has a review page and that’s basically the only thing I’ve been writing in the bujo section of my Simple Planner the past few months anyway. I think once I adjust to this planner I will really love it. Change is good. And as my new planner states, THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING.

The end of July is upon us and I will start using this new planner in August! Do you use planners to stay organized, or does Google Cal handle your life? If you like to use a planner, please share what you use! I’m all ears!

 

Traveling the Octopaths!

Wow it’s been a while since a game completely took over my life the way that Octopath Traveler (by Square Enix, available exclusively on Nintendo Switch) has done! Before the game’s release, I wasn’t even that crazy or hyped about it, merely interested from what I had seen in the demo. But now that I own it… I’ve logged over 45 hours played. The game only came out 12 days ago.

For those who aren’t familiar with Octopath Traveler, it is a classic RPG style game, using throwback retro graphics with a next-gen twist. I’ve described it to a friend as “Final Fantasy mixed with a Choose Your Own Adventure Novel.” This is because of the game’s unique format – you are given a choice of one of eight characters to begin your story with, and this character becomes your Main Character who cannot be switched out. (So choose wisely!) As you progress in the game, you encounter the other seven characters, and have the option to add them to your party and progress in their separate story lines at your leisure. Each character has different abilities and strengths, making the balance of your team a strategic undertaking.

In addition to this interesting new format, the graphics are so cool. Yes, Octopath Traveler uses retro 8-bit style graphics, but they add elements of layering and focusing that make the entire environment seem 3D and robust. Plus the focus effects make the game look simply BEAUTIFUL. They even added sparkles to the water and the snow to bring it to life. Ugh I can’t get over it!!

Another retro aspect of the game design that I really enjoy is how the boss battles are done. The bosses often have a bunch of cronies or minions to assist them and defend them so they don’t break their shield. But that’s not all – the bosses are GIANT SIZED! It’s epic and fun! They are intimidating yet comical! It’s a great throwback to old boss battles from ye olden dayes. I love the strategy of breaking down the minions to get to the big boss. So much fun!!

Once you have all the characters unlocked, you start to travel the map and follow their story lines at your choosing. Depending on who is on your team, different ‘travel banter’ situations will come up and the characters will talk to each other about what is going on in the current “chapter” of the story. It’s interesting to see how some of the characters get along (or don’t get along!!) and the wisdom they impart to each other. I really like being able to choose the story as I go. You can focus on just following the character stories that you like, or train all of the characters evenly and complete all of their stories. The choice is yours!

Think that’s all there is to the game? NOPE! You can also have secondary jobs. For example, I chose Primrose to start, but she can only do dark elemental damage attacks. I added on the Scholar as her secondary job, which means now she can dole out fire, ice, and lightning attacks just like Cyrus! In the above photo, you might notice that Primrose is wearing a dark Scholar outfit, Tressa sports an Apothecary satchel, and H’aanit is wearing blue Warrior robes. That’s to reflect their second job roles! It’s really fun to mix things up and see what the most IDEAL team might be in a given type match-up.

Sooo 45 hours in, and I’m only starting Chapter 3 stories for my characters. This game gets really HARD once you get through the second chapters, so I’m at the part when you just have to grind it out for a while. I’ve tried to battle that giant poison tiger thing three times and I ALMOST got him last night, but one wrong move and the balance of the battle can swing the other way! It’s no joke. You really have to plan out your strategy!

It may take a few tries to figure out the best way to proceed, but I won’t quit!! Godsdammit!!

If you’re an RPG player and you’re on the fence about this game, definitely check out the FREE demo on the eShop. It’s such a good game. I can’t wait to play through all of the stories! Maybe I’ll do a recap post after I beat the game.

Are you playing Octopath Traveler??? Which path did you choose???

Carnies Come to Taproom 307!

What do you think of when you hear “Brooklyn, NY”? For most people, maybe it’s the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Barclay’s Center, or Junior’s Cheesecake. (All wonderful things!) But when it comes to me, I think of Coney Island!

Coney Island is so much fun to visit. They have roller coasters and amusement rides, a minor league baseball team, a beachfront boardwalk, a museum, an aquarium, and of course the freak show! There is an old world kind of charm that still lingers on Surf Ave. I used to go there a lot when I lived in Park Slope – I recommend that everyone visits Coney Island, and the original Nathan’s Hot Dogs location at least once! This is also the home of the Coney Island Brewery, which has awesome beer and hosts lots of super fun events, like when they hosted a Cinnamon Toast Brunch to celebrate the launch of their Cinnamon Toast Kolsch beer.

But I know. Sometimes it’s hard to make the trip. From where I live now, it’s like a two hour endeavor to get to Coney Island. Luckily, Coney Island Brewery understands that it’s not easy to get to them all the time, so they coordinate with local bars in Manhattan to bring a little bit of Coney Island to the heart of the city!

Most recently Coney Island Brewery hosted a tap takeover at Taproom 307. It was SUPER fun! I was greeted by a stilt-walker before I even got inside.

For me there were two highlights – delicious Watermelon Wheat Ale and the professional Sword Swallower: Claire Kasper! She was beautiful and talented, and of course very friendly and nice. Not only did she swallow a sword, but she used a hammer and nailed a nail up her nose. 😱

I got a video of the sword swallowing. Claire had this crazy wavy looking sword. Seemed pretty risky! Check it out!

Sword Swallowing

Love it!!! She’s so cool! Anyway, we had a lot of fun and I highly recommend everyone to check out Coney Island Brewery beers, events and the brewery itself! It’s super fun and they do lots of giveaways. I got Mermaid Pilsner pins and CIB sunglasses.

They give out raffle tickets when you buy their beer at the tap takeover, and then give out cool prizes! My friend won a sweet cooler!!

Napping in the City that Never Sleeps

People love New York City because of all of the hustle and bustle. So much opportunity! If you can make it here you can make it anywhere! It’s the city that never sleeps! No wonder we’re so stressed out.

I’ve been lowkey going on a spiritual journey and exploring new ideas and methods of finding true happiness. (Sounds deep, I know.) My first step was reading self love books, which I still do and enjoy very much. And there are TONS OF BOOKS about this. After doing some reading, I realized there was a lot of potential in meditating regularly. (Since then I have also been exploring tarot cards, crystal grids and more… but I want to stay on topic here.)

Meditation can be a powerful tool in helping you to focus, calm yourself, or seek answers to a problem that you are having. In my meditations, I have experienced various kinds of visualizations, from out-of-body experiences to seemingly traveling to far off places… But this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it can be very hard to focus; my mind wanders, or an outside element distracts me. This setback has caused me to start looking for new places to meditate, or maybe a class.

My search brought me to Nap York, located right near Penn Station. (Conveniently located for commuters who might have missed their train and need a place to chill while they wait for the next.) Nap York provides various services: the first floor is the Nap York Cafe, which I haven’t tried, but serves a variety of healthy looking organic fare. At the cash register you can enroll in a yoga or meditation class, or you can reserve a private nap pod. I had received a token for a free 30 min nap pod, so that is what I tried out.

I was told to walk up the stairs to the fourth floor, and to go into Pod 19. Admittedly, I was a little nervous – it was VERY dark and quiet. I was worried about making a noise and disturbing someone. When I got to the fourth floor, I found a wall of giant cubby holes. It was like a pod hotel; there were 2 rows of pods stacked one upon the other, with little steps to get into the top row pods, if that’s where you were assigned. Along the opposite wall were leafy green plants and a humidifier or some kind of incense burner. It wafted out a light, pleasant smelling fog.

Inside the basic nap pod is what you see in my photo: a pillow, a blanket, a little shelf with what looked like ear buds, and a strobe light. I say strobe bc it flashes briefly occasionally to give you your bearings without turning a light on. I have a feeling if I had messed with it, I could have turned the light on and used it for a reading light or something. But that’s not why I was there. I crawled into my little pod, drew the black curtain closed, and turned on one of the guided meditation recordings I have on my phone (using my own ear buds bc that’s not the kind of thing I like to share with strangers lol). On the top of each pod ceiling was a small sea of illuminated stars.

I felt that the nap pod was a great place to meditate. While there were a few dim lights in the pod, the overall deep darkness of the space allows you to really tune into your other senses. My meditation was deep and refreshing, and the time went by quickly. I definitely recommend Nap York for someone who needs a quiet escape, even if for just a half hour. (You can absolutely book much longer reservations, btw.) I am extremely interested in checking out one of their guided meditation classes.

Now, a review wouldn’t be complete with a few negatives. Here were my minimal gripes:

  • The “studio” space reserved for classes looked really small. I saw two girls warming up for a yoga class on the second floor, and their studio space was simply a part of that room, sectioned off by large planters. I would imagine if there was a class with more than 5 students, it would be very cramped.
  • There was nobody on the fourth floor to guide me to my pod. I think someone was supposed to be there. Since I felt very alone, I also felt a little insecure. Was I in the right place? What if some stranger jumps into my pod?? (Turned out that I actually did go into the wrong pod, but I didn’t notice until I was leaving, and nobody was there so it didn’t matter.)
  • I had a headache basically as soon as I left. Not sure if that was going from the darkness to the light or what, but that was kind of weird.

ANYWAY, I still liked Nap York. I think it is a great place to take a break and recharge my spirit. I think I might join their membership because I will get a discount on all services – which would allow me to try out one of the more DELUXE nap pods. I like the convenience of the location by Penn Station. They are open late too, which is nice to know. You can learn more about their services and pricing here: napyork.com/rates

Do you have any secret spots like this that are good places to escape? Let me know where you go to recharge, I’m open to new ideas!!

Inside the Nintendo Labo

With birthdays come presents, and so on Friday when I (and thousands of others) received the Amazon Treasure Truck alert for Nintendo Labo pick-up in NYC and a friend suggested this be her gift to me… I decided to go pick one up!

Amazon Treasure Truck!

I’ve never purchased anything through Treasure Truck before, so I was interested to see how it would work. My pickup location was near a Whole Foods, so I walked over to the store and found the truck stationed around the corner. There was only a short line – I don’t know if that’s because I got there on the early side, or if the demand is low for this game, but I was relieved that this wasn’t going to take too long. A table was set up for people to enter to win a free Nintendo Switch, and other workers were scanning our Treasure Truck QR codes and handing out the huge Nintendo Labo boxes.

Practice Tutorial: Joy Con Holder

The Nintendo Labo Variety Kit is a collection of “Toy Con” construction sets, as well as a Nintendo Switch game to guide you through the assembly and facilitate the cool game features that the Toy Con unlock. While the game is certainly geared towards kids, an adult is most likely required during the Make phase, which can get a little complicated! I’ve only made the RC Car Toy Con so far, check it out!

The RC car has no wheels, and is powered by the Joy Con inserted into the side, causing vibration down the legs of the RC car, propelling it forward. (It only works on hard surfaces, and my room is carpeted so I just used the Labo box.)

The RC Car set comes with a cardboard car to follow along with in the instructions, a matching ‘antenna’ to stick on the Switch console, as well as a few extra add-ons and stickers! It also comes with a second cardboard RC car that you can build if you have a second set of Joy Con to use with it. Right now I only have the gray set, but I’m going to get a colored Joy Con set with a birthday gift card. (SIDE BAR: I really can’t decide which color Joy Con set to get! Red and Blue, or Neon Yellow and Pink?? They are both really cool! I wish there was an Orange and Blue option… Leave me a comment on which set I should get tho!!)

You probably wanna see the RC car in action. It’s actually pretty loud. I made a quick video for you to see that this actually works. In the video you can see that I use the Switch console as a controller and press buttons on the screen to make the RC car move – and I can control the left and the right independently if I choose. That’s cool and all, but a little bland, right?

When you complete the initial construction and play through the mechanics, you are taken to the next phase of the Nintendo Labo game, the Discover phase. In this separate section of the game, you can explore some additional features of the new Toy Con you just built, and see some suggested new ways to play. When it comes to this RC Car that I made, did you realize that since the Joy Con utilize built-in IR technology that this RC car also has a fully functional ‘night-vision’ camera?? I didn’t, until I was checking through this Discover section! I used it in the day time but in my photo here you can clearly see the camera POV of my RC Car as it sits on top of the Nintendo Labo box.

There are other hidden features in the RC car, such as the ability to auto-navigate via use of reflective tape. There is also a ‘two player’ mode for people who have a second set of Joy Con. You can build that second RC Car that I mentioned and set up RC Sumo Matches! Or try racing them! Or come up with something else… I had fun freaking out my cat with my RC Car!! lol

OK so now you have your RC Car, and maybe a friend to RC Sumo with, but you still need to add a little SOMETHING to make this more fun? Nintendo Labo also provides a few extras to customize your RC Car. There is a Plow attachment, an Elephant head attachment, and a Sunglasses attachment. The Discover section also shows ideas on how to use paints, markers, and all sorts of materials to really customize the RC car and make it special. As a bullet journal enthusiast, I have plenty of washi tape and stickers on hand. Here is my final RC Car Masterpiece:

My RC Car! Does he need a name??

What do you think of my RC Car? If anyone else has this game and wants to race or sumo wrestle their car, hit me up!! lol

Since Nintendo Labo is so hands-on and mysterious to everyone, I’ll continue to document my construction of Toy Con projects for future blog entries. Unless you totally think this is over-sharing and want me to stop, let me know in the comments about that too hahaha!!

In closing, Happy Earth Day! And Carney‘s Birthday! Plus it’s Nature Day in Animal Crossing Pocket Camp! (Not to mention there’s ANOTHER new feature coming soon in ACPC! I’ll blog about it when it’s released!! Yayyyyy!)

Interview with a Pokédeck

ITS MY BIRTHDAY!!!! *rah rah* The animals in my Pocket Camp are all wishing me a happy birthday. How cute! But more importantly, I got an amazing gift yesterday at my birthday party. My always-thoughtful and amazing bestie CarneyVorous gave me what is called a Poke Box. It’s a deck of tarot cards that are Pokémon themed and beautifully designed. I couldn’t wait to try them out! I’ve learned from Carney that a good way to get a feel for how a new deck will work for you is to do a ‘deck interview.’ I ask a list of questions to the deck, pull a card to get an answer, and get to know the deck a little. Here’s how it went:

Tell me about yourself.

2 of Swords: I’m a “Pokédeck.” Throughout my set of beautiful cards, you will find an assortment of the 721 Pokémon found in the sixth generation of the series. On the Two of Swords we see a blindfolded Samurott wielding what appears to be an unsheathed Doublade, standing beneath an ominous crescent moon. There are seemingly endless choices and countless possibilities of what Pokémon you might encounter in this deck. Do not let the information overload overwhelm you!

What are your strengths?

Knight of Cups: My cards are beautiful depictions of Pokémon living together in their world. The artistry of the illustration will inspire and motivate you to keep learning to read these cards. In the Knight of Cups, a Knighted Piplup rides the back of a mighty Keldeo, a water-type Legendary Pokémon, as they pass a small stream. This scene is an imaginative example of the potential outcomes of a reading with this Pokédeck. But while the romantic fantasy shown on this card is enchanting and reassuring, do not be too taken in by my charm. I am still a tarot deck, with deep spiritual messages and lessons to be learned. Just because I am cute does not mean I am not to be taken seriously. Do not have unrealistic expectations that the guidance will be easy or happy all the time. Do not assume that because there are Pokémon on my cards that this deck is for children. Most assuredly, I am not.

What are your limitations?

The High Priestess: I am a tarot deck to be used to help you develop your intuition and gain connection to Higher Powers. I am intended to help you seek out the deep questions within your subconscious mind and help focus your path to enlightenment. On my card, Cresselia the Psychic-type Legendary is illustrated as the High Priestess. She is guarded on both sides by the Black and White Legendaries, Zekrom and Reshiram, the yin and yang of the Pokémon world. Remember that this deck is to guide you on a spiritual level, and I can’t predict who is going to beat the Elite Four.

What are you here to teach me?

Four of Swords: The card I am showing here is what appears to be the remains of an old Regigigas, asleep for centuries and overgrown with moss in an old temple in the mountains. (Yes Poké-nerds, this is exactly like the movie “Giratina and the Sky Warrior.” The artist who made this deck is clearly a devout Pokémon fan!!) Imagine the complete stillness and silence of the scene on this card – this is the level of concentration and relaxation that you can strive toward. Your life has had it’s share of challenges lately, so take this time to relax and reach a refreshing zen state. Recharge your batteries. Also note that there is one separate Aegislash laying beside the Regigigas – this suggests that there is one key issue in your life that we need to explore and address to help you achieve your goals.

How can we best collaborate?

Seven of Swords: I need you to be committed and not sneak away if my readings seem too complicated or intimidating. Psychic/Ghost Mythical Hoopa is shown on this card, stealing  a pile of Aegislash (the themed Pokémon for the Swords suit) and using one of his rings as a portal to easily transport away from the scene. Hoopa is winking, showing that he is crafty and prepared for his stealthy heist. Use the information that you learn from my deck strategically for best results.

What’s the potential outcome for our relationship?

The Chariot: You want to be the very best, like no one ever was? I am here to help you achieve victory! Every challenge along the way, with courage you will face. You will battle every day to claim your rightful place! I could sing the whole theme song for you, but this card with Lucario riding in a Coliseum under a starry sky, in a chariot pulled by two Luxrays is pretty much as epic of a visual you need to get the idea. One of the Luxrays shown is a SHINY Luxray, making the illustration even more special. Lucario is wielding a gleaming golden Aegislash in a confident and strong gesture. The Chariot card represents strength and courage, victory and determination… all of the facets you need to be a Pokémon Champion. You got goals and dreams? We’re gonna catch ’em all.

How will you evolve over time?

Ace of Wands: Yes, one would think that because I’m a Pokédeck that I’d evolve like most Pokémon. However, like the image on the Ace of Wands, showing an illuminated Ho-Oh flying off towards a rainbow in the sky… I am Legendary. I can help you use creative powers to unlock inspiration, and use your instincts to hone your intuition more clearly. It is more likely that YOU will be the one doing the evolving!

What is your special move?

Four of Cups: My specialty is looking introspectively and contemplating decisions. This card depicts an Eevee that is deep in thought, with three cups holding different evolution stones set up before him. This scene indicates that Eevee is trying to mull over the important decision of which evolution stone to choose. However, Eevee is so deep in thought that he does not notice the fluffy Cottonee floating next to him, offering another cup… the option of more unknown possibilities. Keep this card in mind and remember that while this journey may teach you the strength of looking inward to find answers, there are still other possibilities to which your eyes might be blind. Remember to seek advice from external sources as well as through this Pokédeck. 

I think this tarot deck will take me on a deep journey towards seeking inner peace and enlightenment, while also fueling my fandom for Pokémon and appreciation for the artwork and thoughtfulness that went into the creation of this deck. The creator really did their homework both on the messages of the cards and converting them into themes that work directly in the Pokémon universe. I’m really so impressed with this deck, and I think that the interview was correct in that the beauty of the deck will keep me inspired to use it daily. I am already in love!!

Is that an UPDATE in your Pocket [Camp]??

While we all anxiously wait for the inevitable announcement (someday) of an Animal Crossing Switch title, most fans are content to play Nintendo’s mobile version Pocket Camp. I really want to give them kudos because I think this game encompasses the AC feel and cuteness of the main franchise, while seamlessly adapting it to a mobile platform and play-style.

People complained about it a little at the beginning, but Nintendo has been adding a TON of updates and new features to this simple mobile game. It seems that every two weeks there is a new in-game event regarding holidays, gardening or collecting items to craft fun new themes. This week there was another big update and there are even MORE new features! I am pretty psyched about ’em and I wanted to make sure everyone was aware and would log in and start playing some more!!

Gulliver!

The first new addition to AC Pocket Camp is Gulliver and his ship! No, not a space ship… it seems that Gulliver has hung up his space suit in favor of a sailor suit and is now in the import/export business. What’s really going on here is the game has finally added the ability for you to get rid of extra furniture or clothing items (if you befriend enough animals, you end up with some duplicate t-shirts automatically). And not only can you get rid of these unwanted items – Gulliver will bring you treats in return! Depending on the rarity of what you are throwing out, Gulliver brings snacks of varying star rating that you can give to animal friends to help them level up. It’s a win-win! And you don’t have to worry about shooting him down because Gulliver shows up at regular times and is super easy to find in ACPC.

The feature that Nintendo seemed the most excited to announce is apparently the most controversial on the internet right now, the Fortune Cookies! Personally, I think they are really cute. People are complaining b/c they are basically ‘loot crate’ cookies that give you a random item and you might end up with a repeat.

Pocket Camp Fortune Cookies

From what I’ve seen, there are 5 types of Fortune Cookies: Marshal’s pastry cookie, Rosie’s pop star cookie, Filbert’s rocket cookie, Timmy’s cookie and Tommy’s cookie. The first three are pictured above and can be purchased with 50 leaf tickets. The cookies contain new, rare furniture items and clothing to collect. And the best part – if you do manage to collect all the items and have the right animals visiting at your camp, you can unlock cute little “Memories” which I can only assume are little cut-scenes.

Filbert Fortune Cookie Prize

What people seem to be upset about is that the Marshal, Rosie and Filbert cookies can be purchased with leaf tickets as well, and at 50 leaf tickets each… that is a little pricey. But maybe they don’t realize that these premium cookies are also in the regular rotation. I bought a Filbert cookie for 5,000 bells yesterday and got this cool Control Room Desk without spending a penny!

Keep in mind that the log-in bonuses to kick off this new update are two fortune cookies, and then 5 days worth of 10x leaf tickets, so Nintendo is giving away a decent amount for free. And if you play diligently, it’s actually pretty easy to accumulate plenty of leaf tickets without buying a premium pack. I have yet to spend any money on this game. I think Pocket Camp is pretty generous for a freemium game. They make it much easier to get premium currency for free than some of the other mobile games I’ve played on my phone.

So aside from this controversial new Fortune Cookie feature, there are even more updates in Pocket Camp that I think are even better. They are just little things, but bring more of the full Animal Crossing experience to the game. New animal requests have been added, and in certain requests you can actually select which fruit, fish, bug or flower that you want to give away. Also, the ‘perfect fruits’ that were introduced in ACNL can now pop up in your fruit trees at random. Which is great, because if you choose to gift a perfect fruit in an animal request, they will give you bonus treats and sometimes even a fortune cookie!

But if you’re a long-time hardcore AC player like me, then the new fish and bug additions in the update are the most exciting! I caught a loach the other day! AND they added the ability to see the quantity of each item that you already own when you catch a fish, pick up a fruit, catch a bug, and pick up a shell. No more wasting inventory with a million corals because you forgot you already had them. It makes managing your items a lot easier.

Maybe the haters don’t like this new update, but I am once again re-inspired to log in and check on my campers. I would also like to mention that one of my favorite things about Animal Crossing Pocket Camp is that your favorite animals NEVER LEAVE. It’s not like the other AC games where townies will slip away in the night leaving an empty lot and broken hearts behind. In Pocket Camp, the animals stay until you say so! You can keep them forever and dress them up. I truly hope this sort of idea is passed along into the next AC game. Nothing is worse than the loss of your favorite animal bestie lol!

OK well I gotta go do some missions and earn some more fortune cookies because I want to unlock these new Memories! Have you been playing Pocket Camp? Are you excited or upset about the new features? Let me know your opinions!

Detective Pikachu Review

What. A. Weird. Game.

Nope, overall I’m not happy with the new game “Detective Pikachu” which came out for Nintendo 3DS last week.

For those who are unaware, Detective Pikachu is based on an upcoming movie that isn’t out until next year. And Detective Pikachu is not like other Pikachus, with their cute squeaky voices and mannerisms. This Pikachu has a deep voice and talks in a strangely gruff manner. To me it was extremely off-putting and not amusing or funny in any way. It was a major distraction to me the entire time.

The game works similarly to Professor Layton games in terms of exploring different areas by clicking on things that show up with a magnifying glass indicators, keeping notes and putting together the clues to solve mysteries. But it was NOT difficult or challenging like Professor Layton games. In between this ‘evidence collecting’ exploration game play, there are cut-scenes and overly simple “Press A at the right time” action sequences. On top of that, there times when Detective Pikachu decides he has something to say, and you are forced into watching these redundant Pikachu cut-scenes where he reviews info that you literally just discovered two seconds earlier and then has a sloowwwww fade out before returning back to your game play. Like why?? I would have loved to turn that feature off.

I’m going to post some vague spoilers here. I don’t recommend playing this game. Your life will be okay if you read on lol!!

To end each case, you use logic to solve whodunnit mysteries for random Pokemon owners that you encounter. But what really annoyed me was that there was a completely unresolved subplot. The character that you control is a young man searching for his missing father, and his missing father used to be Detective Pikachu’s partner. Detective Pikachu has amnesia and can’t use his Electric abilities. They never find his father. They never address the fact that they don’t find his father. They never explain WHY Pikachu and your character are able to communicate easily despite him being a Pokemon and you being a human. WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS???

My assumption is that these questions might be answered in the upcoming Detective Pikachu movie. But that movie doesn’t come out until next year. By then this game will be irrelevant and forgotten.

Don’t get me started on the Detective Pikachu amiibo. The only cool thing about it is that it’s huge. But that means it was $30. What does it unlock? Pikachu cut-scenes that you might have missed in the game. No thanks. (I bought it bc FML I am obsessed with collecting Pikachu stuff lol.)

It is really cute tho.

Another [useless] thing I liked was that the game came with a digital download for a Detective Pikachu home menu theme. It plays latin inspired music like in the characters’ favorite coffee shop, and features a little cameo from Mimikyu.

The cute Pokemon characters throughout the game were fun too, I must admit. Being able to communicate with other Pokemon via Detective Pikachu was pretty adorable as well. But overall the game was pretty disappointing to me. The unresolved subplot and complete lack of any post-game whatsoever make this game a “definite pass.”

Have you played Detective Pikachu? What are your thoughts?