Arcade Block Unboxing and Review for October 2015

And to finish off the Nerd Block family of boxes for October, we have Arcade Block, which I have been thus far a little bit mystified with. There have been cool things, and there have been stupid things, and there have been “oh my god, what were they thinking?” things. So what kind of things did we get this month? Check out the unboxing video to find out:

Breakin’ it down…

“Call of Duty: Black Ops 3” t-shirt:
As far as t-shirts go, I can’t say that this isn’t a nice one as far as design. Unfortunately, right out of the gate, we have a game that I am not a fan of. In the video I said that I wasn’t a first-person-shooter person; my husband pointed out that this is not really true since I like games like Bioshock and Metroid Prime. What I’m not is a “man vs man, military-style” first-person-shooter person. And this is one of those. So, while I appreciate a nice design, this isn’t an item for me. Approximate value: $15

“Fallout” Funko Mystery Mini blind box:
Now this is an item I can get behind, although I haven’t played enough of the Fallout franchise to have known the name of the guy I got (Super Mutant) and have been thusly called out. Still, I love me some Mystery Minis; these little guys are actually rather well made and painted, so I’m happy enough with my little dude. Approximate value: $8

“Atari” baseball cap:
Okay, I don’t really wear baseball caps, like…ever, but this is kinda awesome. It’s nice to see a different kind of wearable besides the usual t-shirts and the wristbands that subscription boxes seem to be obsessed with, and since this is a throwback to my first ever gaming system, that’s pretty sweet. I love how it’s Breakout…totally cool. I am actually rather amused. Approximate value: I couldn’t find this online, but I’m thinking probably about $15?

“Retro City Rampage DX” PC disc and download code:
Okay, I was disappointed when I found out that this game was going to be a big item in this box, because I already have it downloaded on my Vita, and although it’s also a physical disc for PC gaming, I don’t really game on my PC, like…at all, so it’s a bit of a bust. That said, I do appreciate the awesome packaging job. Making the box look like a Super Nintendo game and the disc look like an old floppy is pretty neat, so kudos to that. It’s just to bad it wasn’t a game I didn’t already have! Approximate value: $10

“Titanfall” K’NEX playset:
Okay, my feelings are kind of all over the place on this one. On one hand, it’s a blatant toy, which I’m normally not a big fan of in this boxes, but on the other hand it’s a building toy, and those are wicked. Back on the other hand, it’s K’NEX, which isn’t compatible with Lego (which my daughter has a bunch of), so that kinda sucks, but I can get over it. It’s also Titanfall, which is a game that no one in my household has played, so it loses a little bit of its glamour there. But still, building toys are awesome, so my final thoughts are definitely on the positive side. Approximate value: $7 (which is actually quite surprising because this same set, if it had Lego stamped on the box, would probably be closer to $25)

Total approximate value of the box: $55
Total approximate cost to me: $40

Okay, so as usual I have to talk about price and value, and the thing is that, depending on whether or not I high-balled the value of the baseball cap, this may actually be one of the lowest-value boxes I’ve ever gotten. And when you combine that with the ever-present pains of the Canadian dollar, that means that I didn’t really get my money’s worth on this one. When you take into account that I already had the game I really didn’t get my value’s worth on this one.

Is everything about market value? No, obviously. I do like the mystery mini, and the hat is pretty awesome even if I never wear it, and I’m sure my daughter will find use for the Titanfall K’NEX when combined with all her Lego. It’s just that those three items aren’t worth the $40 I paid, and additionally aren’t things that I would have picked up on my own, had I seen them in a store. Throw in a shirt for a game I don’t like and a disc for a game I already own, and wow…this box is actually even more of a bust than I was originally thinking.

Honestly, it wasn’t that bad a box; it’s just that two of the bigger items aren’t for me, and the remaining ones, while cool, don’t make the money I spent worth it. So I guess in the end I have to give a this one a “Meh”.

What do you guys think? Did you like October’s Arcade Block? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? Don’t you just LOVE building toys? Please share!

A to Z Challenge Day 7: Gau (the Wild Orphan)


Video games have been an important part of my life, off and on, for the past two and a half decades or so. I had an original Atari, which I was absolutely obsessed with, and I’ve owned every generation of Nintendo console and hand-held aside from the Virtual Boy (because I honestly never knew it existed until years later), the 3DS (because my regular DS works just fine, thanks) and the Wii-U (because screw it, I’m not that big of a sucker). I’ve also, in partnership with my husband, had all four Playstations (plus the Vita), and the first two X-Boxes (the third will probably come along at some point), and we’ve got a Dreamcast squirreled away upstairs somewhere.

There have definitely been times in my life where video games became less important, but I’ve always loved them since I was barely old enough to be able to figure out how to play them, and to this day turn-based RPGs are my favorites. And of that classification, Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan) definitely ranks at the very top of my all-time favorites list. I can not tell you the number of times I have played through this game. I love everything about it from the story, to the characters, to the battle system. To this day I get the random urge to pop in my Gameboy Advanced version and start a whole new game right from the beginning.

I love pretty much all of the characters in this game, but one character I always thought was under-appreciated was Gau. He’s the sweet little orphan boy who was raised by monsters and joins the party simply because they were nice enough to feed him. He’s never been a fan favorite amongst the FFIII characters, but I think that was mostly because of the effort required to make him a force to be reckoned with. You see, whereas the other characters learned their special attacks naturally, Gau had to be fighting in a particular area, and in order to get him to learn new attacks you had to let him leave the party and then keep fighting in random encounters until he showed up again. You might fight ten battles and have him come back and have learned one new attack, out of the 250 attacks that he could learn…and often the one he did learn would be total crap.

But, if you were willing to be a little patient, Gau could become a great addition to your party, one who could do an enormous number of special attacks. Plus, he was just fun to have around. Come on, FFIII fans…speak up! You know he was the cutest thing since kitty-shaped sliced bread!

Young Me’s, Meet Older Me’s!

Occasionally I find it interesting to look back at my life, to mentally stack up the “Me”‘s from throughout history and to compare them. I find it interesting to look back and see how things have changed, how attitudes and interests have shifted…or how they’ve stayed the same, because some things never change.

An example of something that didn't change: I STILL get my hair in a ponytail this way.
For example, I STILL use this method to get my ponytail straight, even though it makes me look like a nut. 

When I was a kid I loved the winter. Now that I’m an adult with many daily concerns, I loathe it. I still love December because that’s Christmas and I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving Christmas no matter how old and crotchety I get. But as soon as the New Year rolls over I am officially DONE with winter, and then it’s just suffering for the next few months. When I was a kid playing in the snow was the best thing ever. Now it’s fun watching my daughter play in the snow, but only until my nose gets cold and then I’m bribing her with everything under the sun to convince her to come back in the house. I hate the wind, I hate the slushy crap that winds up everywhere once a bit of snow melts, and I hate the fact that it seems to last forever in Eastern Canada. There’s nothing worse than the first day of Spring when there’s still snow on the ground.

When I was younger I was an enormous scaredy-cat. I loved watching the “creepy” shows that YTV used to play on Friday night – Are You Afraid of the Dark? was my absolute favorite – and I read tons of scary books like the Goosebumps series, but underneath I was a total wuss. I’d hide my eyes during parts of the shows, and I’d have a hundred lights on around me while reading my books. I gave myself nightmares on a regular basis. And as I got older and was dragged kicking and screaming into more “adult” scary stuff, it got more pathetic. I couldn’t watch a horror movie without nearly having a heart attack. These days I couldn’t resemble that scaredy-cat girl any less. I partly attribute this to my husband who, while we were dating, subjecting me with a metric ton of horror movies, both good and bad, both genuinely frightening and only frightening in how ridiculous they were. At this point I’ve become so desensitized, it’s almost disappointing. I enjoy being scared now, but it happens very rarely. And these days my nightmares do not involve monsters, ghosts, or evil creatures; my nightmares these days involve my daughter having an accident, my husband leaving me, or my house burning down. Dammit, I’ve become such an adult.

In a twist, I was significantly more into video games as an adult than I was as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I loved video games when I was little. I had an Atari when I wasn’t even in school yet, I treasured my very first Nintendo Entertainment System, and I only know one or two people who logged as many hours as me into Chrono Trigger. But video games were not my life when I was a kid. I played them, and I loved them, but I also spent a lot of time outside, riding my bike or my roller-blades. I spent a lot of time writing and drawing, and “building” things (have I told you about the entire closet that I devoted to creating a dollhouse?). Truth be told, I did not spend nearly as much time playing video games during the first 18 years of my life as I did in the five years following those. Maybe that was because I got lazier and wanted to spend more time just loafing around. I don’t really know. But in my early twenties I definitely spent a lot more time on video games than I had at any other point in my youth. These days things have slowed down simply because I have a lot more responsibilities on my plate, but my Playstation Vita has been reigniting a spark in me, and don’t think for a second that I wouldn’t spend every waking second playing games if I weren’t able to convince myself that I have more important things to do.

I’ve always hated to cook. I really don’t think that’s ever going to change. There have always been a few things that I didn’t mind making. When I was a kid I’d whip myself up some English Muffin pizzas, and when I was a little older I’d fry up some hot Italian sausages and hash browns (a totally under-recognized meal, in my opinion), but for the overwhelming part the task of creating edible, enjoyable meals has always been one that gives me a twitch right above my eye. I enjoy eating. I hate cooking. I don’t mind baking so much because it’s usually very formulaic – add ingredients, stir, pour into pan, bake – but there’s only so much sugar you can serve to your family. I don’t think I will ever enjoy cooking. It’s just not my thing, and I screw up often enough that even the eating part isn’t always enjoyable.


Some things change, some things don’t. Some changes (or lack thereof) are quite surprising. Who else wants to share? Look back at yourself… What differences pop up in your mind and give you a little chuckle?