Arcade Block Unboxing and Review for September 2015

Here comes my second unboxing and review for September, and this one is my third Arcade Block. I had my fingers crossed for this one because they kept hyping it up as a special box for “The Legend of Zelda”‘s anniversary. It did have a couple of decent items in it, but it also had…well, you’ll see when you watch the video:

If you watched the video, you now understand. If you didn’t watch the video, well, you’ll figure it out soon in the breakdown…

“Boo” plushie:
The first item in the Arcade Block was truly adorable. It was this cute little stuffed “Boo” ghost from the Super Mario franchise. He’s a decent size and is sticking out his tongue in true Boo fashion, and he’s just all around pretty great. The two options for this item were “Boo” or a “Goomba”, and I’m glad I got Boo because I’ve actually already got a big Goomba and a Paragoomba. In other words, this little guy goes great with my collection! You can get your very own little stuffed Boo on a number of websites, including Amazon, for approximately $10.

“Wind Waker” t-shirt:
I’m on the fence about the t-shirt that was included in this Block. On the plus side, it’s a “Zelda” shirt, so that’s nice. On the negative side, it’s one of my least favorite Zelda games. Don’t get me wrong; “Wind Waker” was different and cute, but it just wasn’t one of my favorites. I would have preferred something from “A Link to the Past” or “Ocarina of Time”, or maybe even something from the very first original “Zelda” game. That said, the shirt is still acceptable, and I’ll still wear it. Standard value of $15 for this one.

“Cucco” Springz Dashboard Accessory:
Okay, this is kinda funny. I kept using the word “chicken” in my video, but what this is actually called is a “Cucco”, and it’s one of the chicken-like creatures from the “Zelda” universe. In several of the games if you’re crazy enough to attack these cuccos a number of times, they’ll team up and attack you right back, usually slaughtering you miserably. It’s a funny little dashboard accessory, but as I said in the video it’s a little bit dumb because as soon as you take it out of the box and out of the context it just looks like a chicken sitting in your car. This item also seems to be an exclusive, so it’s hard to put a value on, but the average price of similar items I can find is $10, so we’ll go with that.

“Hyrulean Shield” keychain:
This one is pretty cool, although my keys are pretty damn crowded at this point so I don’t know if I’ll be able to fit it on. It’s a silver keychain accessory in the design of Link’s shield from the “Zelda” series, and it’s not too bad looking at all, to be honest. I’m pretty okay with this item; I just don’t know where I’m going to put it since my keys take up half my purse already. This is supposed to be another exclusive item, but I’ve been finding keychains online that appear to be identical, so I don’t know what’s up with that. Those keychains retail for an average of $6, so that’s what I’m giving this item.

“Galak-Z” 7-inch record:
And here it is: the item that made my head explode. Right off the bat, I’ve never heard of this game, so I can’t really comment on that, but when I figured out that this music collection is actually a record I seriously almost had a breakdown. Two months in a row I was complaining that Arcade Block keeps sending CDs, a medium that is pretty rapidly dying out, and now all of a sudden…RECORD. This is a very niche item. There are definitely people out there who love records and collect them, but the chances that many Arcade Block subscribers both love records and are into this video game…they just don’t seem very good. To make it even more ridiculous, Arcade Block included a coupon code for 15% off a turntable at Crosley. Basically, they’re admitting that there is a better-than-excellent chance that you don’t have the equipment required to actually listen to this thing, so they gave us a code so that we can go buy said equipment. Guys, seriously, if I have to go buy something to be able to use the item, it’s kind of a horrible item.
I don’t even know what kind of value to assign to this because it’s exclusive AND it’s a freakin’ record. So, I’m just going to go with my gut and say $5. The 15% code adds a few more bucks, but I refuse to count it as value in the box because it’s something I would have to pay a ton of money for in order to make use of said value (the cheapest turntable on the site is about $90, before tax and shipping).

“Master Sword” canvas print:
I wasn’t terribly impressed when I first saw this item, but it’s actually grown on me. It’s a canvas print of a very minimalist portrait in which Link is standing in the forest, pulling the Master Sword from the Triforce-adorned stone. The reason I wasn’t impressed at first is because it’s so minimalist that at first glance you wouldn’t even really notice what it was. But I actually do like it, and I think it’ll look pretty nice next to some other nerdy pictures down in our geek room (once we get it all finished up). It’s a print from Russ Moore, and it’s another Arcade Block exclusive, so it’s hard to put a value on, but based on similar items (and working with the fact that those items are generally larger in size), I’d wager the value at approximately $15.

Total approximate value of box: $61
Total approximate cost to me: $41


So right off the bat, the value is there for this particular box, although as usual I have to say that a good part of that value comes from things that I would never, personally, pay that much money for. The “Cucco”, for instance, is pretty funny, but since it’s just a chicken once it’s out of the box I would definitely never waste $10 on it. So, okay, the value is technically there, but my personal assessment of the value isn’t that great.

The items themselves I’m up and down on. Five out of the six items were exclusives, which sounds pretty awesome, but are they really exclusives? As I mentioned, I found keychains online that look identical to this one, so it makes me wonder about some of the other items as well. The best item, in my opinion, was the only one that isn’t exclusive: the stuffed “Boo”. He’s definitely adorable. And the worst item? Obviously the record. I mean…seriously, what the hell? As one of my YouTube viewers commented: “They’ll be sending you an 8-track tape next!”

All in all, I give this box a hesitant one-thumb-up. There were three nice items, an okay t-shirt, one funny-but-ultimately-kind-of-dumb item, and one brain explosion that I may never get over. It was definitely a better box than the first one I received, and probably about on par with last month’s. At least they stuck pretty closely to their “Zelda Anniversary” theme, but there’s just absolutely no excuse for the record. ๐Ÿ˜›

So what did you guys think of September’s Arcade Block? If you got one of your own, did you get a Boo or a Goomba? What was your favorite item? Least favorite? Please share!

Loot Crate Unboxing and Review for July 2015

Unboxing number two in the list of late boxes is Loot Crate for July 2015. The theme for this particular box was “Heroes 2”, which is a sequel of sorts to their “Heroes” box from last year. I believe the “Heroes” box was my first from Loot Crate, so in a way we’ve come full circle. Let’s take a look at the “Heroes 2” unboxing:

I had to take a trip to the past in order to remember what was in the original “Heroes” box, but after having done so I’ve got to say that these two boxes are pretty comparable. I loved that one then, and I love this one now. To the breakdown!

Wonder Woman pin-up poster:
Thus far I haven’t really gotten around to doing anything with all the mini-posters I’ve collected through these boxes, but regardless of that I have to admit that I like this one. I like the old 50’s pin-up style, and with Wonder Woman breaking some chains…I just think it’s cute and clever, not to mention well-drawn. Of course, it doesn’t add much value to the box – I’m going to say it’s worth $2 max – but it’s a nice little addition.

Vulcan Salute air freshener:
This item totally gave me a giggle. Some people may find these air fresheners dumb, but I kinda love them because why shouldn’t my car be geeky too? And what way to turn your car into the ultimate geek-mobile than by having the Vulcan salute hanging there, waving at everyone as you pass by? Too funny. Unfortunately this item doesn’t add much value to the box either; I was able to find 2-packs for $4, so this single-pack is only worth about $2.

Loot Crate “Heroes 2” button:
I usually don’t remember to add this to the list, and it definitely doesn’t matter much because it’s probably worth less than $1, but I’m going to try to start remembering to add it because it is, after all, an item in the box and deserves to be recognized. This month’s image is Batman standing on a rooftop.

The Legend of Zelda sweatband:
As mentioned in the video, I don’t really know if I’ll ever wear this or not because sweatbands aren’t really my thing, but it’s still kinda cute. Loot Crate announced before the box shipped that there was going to be a Legend of Zelda “wearable”, and it’s interesting to see something like this for a change as opposed to a shirt or socks, which have come in many boxes. It sports the Hyrulean crest (like what’s on Link’s shield) and I can almost consider it snazzy. Maybe I’ll wear it after all. This is a Loot Crate exclusive, which makes it difficult to value, but based on similar items I’m going to say it’s about $6.

Batman multitool:
Just so you guys know, my husband confiscated this pretty much the second he knew that I’d finished recording the video. It’s a pretty neat item, and super sturdy, although he had a difficult time managing to get a bottle of beer open with it. Even if it doesn’t work at all, though, he loves it because Batman. I found this item on several websites, going for approximately $12.

QPop Classic Series Batman figure:
This little guy absolutely steals the show in this box. He’s a super-cute little mini version of Batman standing on a stone gargoyle, and he also comes with a “Kapow!” speech bubble, which you can personalize with a dry-erase marker. The original figure from Qmx is meant to be a more modern version of the Dark Knight, but this version is a slightly different Loot Crate exclusive. They added a little bat-symbol to his belt, drew in the shape of the nose and eyebrows on his mask, and I believe they made his coloring a little different, all in order to make him look like the 1960’s television version of Batman. It is cute as all hell, and as with the multitool my husband confiscated it pretty much immediately. The original figure goes for $20 on the Qmx website.

“The League of Regrettable Superheroes”:
I’m not usually a big fan of books in my subscription boxes, but this one might be pretty interesting. It’s all about the worst and most ridiculous superheroes who ever graced a comic book. Not everyone could be a winner, right? I’ll definitely take a skim through, because I really want to know what the idea behind “Doctor Hormone” is. Loot Crate even sent us the hardcover version of this book, which goes for about $17.

Brawlhalla download code:
Brawlhalla is apparently a Steam game that is similar to the Smash Bros. style of fighting game. Right now it’s in early-access-beta, and for the life of me I can’t figure out whether this code for skins is worth anything or not. If anyone can tell me, please do, but until then I’m just going to go ahead and say it’s $1, just to say that it adds something to the box.

Total approximate value of box: $61
Total cost to me: $39

So, as with Nerd Block, this box has gotten a little more expensive due to the weakness of the Canadian dollar right now, but since shipping is included in it’s flat-rate cost, the rise wasn’t nearly as much as it was for Nerd Block and thus still acceptable. The value of this particular box was definitely up there, and though several of the included items added little to nothing to that value, they were all cool items. The QPop Batman and the multitool are totally awesome, for sure, the book looks like it might be quite interesting, and the air freshener and mini-poster are cute little additions. All in all I definitely can’t complain. Pretty much everything in this box made me smile, and I’m super-excited for next month’s “Villains 2” box!

One Kid’s Video Game is Another Kid’s Raging Obsession

wpid-writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2-1.png.pngToday’s writing assignment, along with the accompanying twist, introduces us to the idea of linking blog posts together to make a kind of series. Depending on what you choose to write about, this can be a way to keep readers coming back. Just like when reading a series of novels, if your readers enjoy the first one they’re going to want to check out the second. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

Today’s assignment is to write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life and isn’t anymore. Today’s twist: make today’s post the first in a three-part series.


I grew up in the video game revolution. When I was only a toddler I had an Atari with such amazing joy-stick-based games as ‘Mouse Trap’ and ‘Plaque Attack’. When I was a bit older my parents got me a Nintendo Entertainment System and I spent hour upon hour with the Super Mario Bros. The true gem of my childhood, however, was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which I got for Christmas when I was about 8 or 9.

The SNES introduced me to some of my very favorite games of all time. I spent ridiculous amounts of time playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Final Fantasy 3 (US version), and the little-known gem, Uniracers. And then my best friend told me about this role-playing game that she’d tried out from the local rental place (do you remember those? If not, you’re too young to understand the joy of the SNES). It was called ‘Chrono Trigger’, she told me, and to hear her tell it this game was absolutely amazing.

I rented it for myself one night, and I was immediately hooked. Chrono Trigger had amazing graphics (for the time; shut up, youngsters), an amazing storyline, lovable characters, and something I had never seen before: multiple endings that were rewarded to you depending on certain decisions and achievements you made while playing. It quickly became one of my favorite games of all time (and still is), and it didn’t take long before I’d convinced my dad to buy it for me (a wise financial decision, considering the amount of money I was pumping into rentals).

Owning the game made me obsessed with collecting every item, achieving every ending variant, and maxing out all the characters’ stats. This required a massive amount of grinding (killing enemies over and over again to gain experience in order to gain levels) that took hours and hours of my precious childhood. It may seem silly, and a waste of time to people who don’t play video games, but it was a serious ambition of mine to grind enough to get all the characters up to the maximum level of 100 (denoted by a pair of stars next to the character’s name).

I was getting so close. I had two of the characters maxed out already, three characters in the 90’s levels, and two in the 80’s. I was going to do it.

Then, one day after school I came home, grabbed my SNES controller, and turned the game console on. The screen flashed for a moment, and then remained black. I began to panic immediately.

There may be some of you reading this who are too young to remember cartridge games, but the Super Nintendo had them. Instead of disks or digital downloads we had rectangular hunks of plastic with a circuit board sticking out of the bottom that had to be pressed firmly into the top of the game console. If the game was not properly pressed all the way down before turning the console on, you could cause a short circuit that could cause all kinds of problems. Problems like deleting your game save data.

I touched the top of my Chrono Trigger cartridge and pressed down. It moved a good inch, meaning it hadn’t been seated properly when I’d turned the console on. With my little heart dancing in my chest, I turned the console on again and loaded up the game.

Empty. My game save data was gone, as though the game was fresh from the store.

I can’t describe how I felt at that moment, but it was an interesting mixture of rage and depression. To a kid, losing that many hours of gameplay on a video game is like a college student accidentally deleting the term paper they’ve been working on for weeks. I felt robbed. Robbed of hours and hours of “work”, and robbed of my victory, my bragging rights. I was certain I would never come close to touching this achievement again, and I was right. Even as an adult with a remastered version of the game on a newer console, I never came anywhere near maxing out all my characters’ stats ever again.

But that’s not the end of this tale… You see, I hadn’t removed the Chrono Trigger cartridge from my SNES in weeks. So how, you might wonder, did the cartridge wind up popped out of the console and seated improperly? Well, that’s a story for another day…

A to Z Challenge Day 26: Zelda (the Hyrulian Princess)

Zzelda

A lot of you are probably unsurprised at my choice for the final letter, letter “Z”. After all, I’ve already chosen video games, and “The Legend of Zelda” series is up there with some of the greatest video games of all time. That said, some of you are probably quite surprised because, really…Zelda? Sure, the games are named after her, but she’s not evenย in most of the games for more than a few scenes. Link is the important character, the hero, so why talk about Zelda?

Well, there are two “Legend of Zelda” games in my history that were terribly important. One is “A Link to the Past”, the Super Nintendo game that is well-known by anyone who grew up through the 90’s. The other is “Ocarina of Time”, on the Nintendo64.

SPOILER ALERT, if you have somehow managed to avoid this game (not to mention all the “Smash Bros.” games) and yet have reason to want to play it in the future. I loved this game for a thousand reasons, and one of those reasons was “Sheik”, the ninja-like sheikah who appears throughout the game to help Link out, and then disappears just as quickly in a puff of smoke. Though you never got to play has him, Sheik was an extremely cool character in the game. He was mysterious and suave, skilled and knowledgeable. Playing through the game you just kept waiting for him to show up and desperately wanted to know who he was.

And then you found out that he was a she all along. It turned out that Princess Zelda had created the alter-ego for herself in order to escape capture, and had used that alter-ego to guide Link through his adventure.

From that moment on Zelda became one of the coolest characters ever. A princess, who until that point had only ever been good for getting captured, had suddenly become her own hero. Sure, she still relied on Link to do a lot of the adventuring, but it was also his destiny, so what can you do? The point is that the princess took matters into her own hands, designed a whole new persona for herself in order to outwit the bad guys, and then too it upon herself to journey into dangerous situations in order to assist Link in his destined tasks. She also apparently spent some time learning ninjutsu or something because damn.

The point is, I’m always a fan of female characters who refuse to sit around waiting to be saved, and I’m just as fond of characters (male or female) who realize that sometimes they need to stand back and allow others to help them out. Zelda – at least the “Ocarina of Time” version of her – has that in spades.

NaNoWriMo and Baby Elves

The “101” posts are going to be cut off short this turnaround because I was unable to get them written and scheduled ahead of time and now my attention is being snagged by a couple of fairly significant things that happen to pop up at this time of year.

First, we are now less than 9 full days till the beginning of National Novel Writing Month 2012. For those who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, it is a yearly challenge that occurs in November (although these days there are similar events during almost every month of the year) wherein thousands and thousands of people (no joke, there were over 70,000 people online on the forums this morning) attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. That’s approximately 1667 words a day. It is a difficult challenge, especially if you have a job/school/kids/other things that demand your time and attention. Sometimes it can be downright miserable. But it is also a ton of fun, a ton of motivation, and an incredible learning experience. The manuscript I’m currently working on editing started as a NaNoWriMo novel, and lots of previous NaNoWriMo participants have had their novels published. But if nothing else comes out of it, the feeling of crossing the finish line and being able to say you wrote 50,000 words in 30 days is paramount to running a mental marathon. I’ll be participating this year for the fifth year in a row, even though my current work schedule may very well prevent me from winning. If I don’t reach my 50,000 words it will be the first time I’ve “lost” NaNoWriMo, but I still want to make the attempt because I’ll feel like more of a loser if I don’t even try! If anyone else is participating, feel free to look me up; my username is Toreshi. If you aren’t participating, or if you haven’t decided yet, I definitely suggest you go to the NaNoWriMo website and look around for a while. Trust me, it’s totally worth it!

The other “fairly significant thing” that pops up at this time of year is a little thing you may have heard of called Halloween. Although I’ve noticed over the past few years that this spooky holiday is not nearly what it used to be, my husband and I are still big fans. Normally (i.e. when I’m not spending half the month in a camp in Northern Alberta), we watch a different horror movie every night of October, and on Halloween night, since we don’t get a whole lot of Trick or Treaters, we give out fistfuls of candy and chocolate to the kids who do show up. But a new tradition that only started last year, at the suggestion of my husband, is for me to make my daughter’s costume. Now lets get something straight…I am not a seamstress. I took a sewing course for kids when I was young, but it wasn’t exactly my thing and the most I’ve really done since is to close up small tears in my and my husbands clothes. So when he first suggested I make the baby’s Halloween costume (last year was her first Halloween), at first I balked. But in the end, since I was laid off at the time and had lots of time to work at it, I gave it a go. We chose a figure from our childhoods to dress her up as and I did a lot of thinking, planning, and cursing, and eventually created this:

20121021-050342.jpg

A million points to anyone who knows who she’s supposed to be. ๐Ÿ™‚

This year I had a tough decision to make because due to my work schedule (it all comes down to that, doesn’t it?) I wouldn’t have nearly as much time to work on the baby’s costume. To make matters worse, it was only a few days before I flew out that we realized that the playgroup Halloween party is scheduled for only one day after I fly home. In other words, if she was going to have a costume in time for the party, I was going to have to work on it while out West. Luckily I was able to get crafty with some cheap, plain clothing and a pair of rain boots she already had, but there’s still a bit of work to be done over the next couple of days… I assure you, it will be worth it. It’s not set together yet, so it looks a bit lopsided, but here’s a hint:

Didn’t I tell you it would be worth it? So you’ll forgive me if I just wander over here for a little while, right? *wanders away from the computer and slaves over a hot sewing needle*