“Tool Arc” EDC Multi-tool Review and Comparison

Posted Posted in Gear, Prepper, Updates

When it comes to multi-tools, I adore my titanium Leatherman Charge with its S30V blade and 18 other tools. But at 250g, I am guilty of sometimes leaving it at home. Lugging around an extra quarter of a kilo can really tug at my pants. Which is why I started scouring the market for an everyday carry multi-tool. In other words, something lightweight that I wouldn’t leave behind. Like this one that was funded on Kickstarter last September: Tool Arc by TFD.

Tool Arc didn’t break any Kickstarter records or start trending over social media when it came out. But even though it flew under the radar somewhat, it did manage to get double its original goal of $2500, and manufacture a quality product.

At 2.5oz / 70g, you get a 15-in-1 tool. That is a hefty selection of tools. You get wrenches, a safe serrated edge, replaceable screwdriver bits, a wire stripper, a nail pry, etc. At $26 during the Kickstarter campaign, it was a pretty easy decision to support this company. Particular as they do all the work of producing their designs in house. It’s like a mom-n-pop shop, but with CNC machines.

Tool Arc 15-in-1

The best multi-tool is the one that you have on you. As it is attached to my keyring, I haven’t yet left the house without the Tool Arc since it arrived in March. Thus far, I’ve used it to slice open multiple boxes of geeky postage, tighten the screws of my door lock, help my friends put together their quail coop and pull up a stabby nail. Damage-wise, the Tool Arc has sustained cosmetic scratching from being amongst my keys, but otherwise has no visible defects – rust or otherwise. So far, it seems to be living up to its promise of being a Tough Lifetime tool.

However, the magnetic core that is supposed to hold it all together has failed me once. A relatively hearty bump against a cupboard door caused the core to get knocked out of its housing, letting loose my 2 screwdriver bits. Small moment of panic as the cat went chasing after them. I also discovered that the bits only slide in and out perfectly when you allow gravity to pull them back into place. It’s a small thing, but as I sometimes enjoy spinning its wheel (it is my multi-tool-fidget-spinner) just for fun, it can get a bit irksome.

Will this be my forever multi-tool? To be honest, it is still a bit on the heavy side. If this had been made out of titanium, my answer would probably be a hundred times yes. As it is, you can feel even 70 grams. Who knew. Then again, this may just be a matter of always wanting it lighter, and never being satisfied.

Furthermore, although I received my Tool Arc (I was backer #49 out of #136 and they are delivering 1 by 1), many others haven’t. Despite not having finalized delivery to their Kickstarter backers, TFD has the Tool Arc for sale on their website, with an estimated shipping date of 3-5 days. This is quite surprising, especially as TFD have stated that their CNC machine is only able to cut out 2 Tool Arcs at a time. I guess that’s what we get for not shipping manufacturing off to a third world country.

Tool Arc Website

At the end of the day, I will continue to use my Tool Arc, as it definitely does what it says it should. It is a tough, hard-wearing tool, that has not failed me. That is, until something better my way comes. I should probably get the tool hoarding under control. Right after I get the board game hoarding under control. Oh, who am I kidding.

Everyday Usefulness Rating: 4/5

Zombie Apocalypse Usefulness Rating: 2/5  

Here’s how Tool Arc stacks up against other EDC multi-tools:

NameCost (USD)WeightTools
Tool Arc$39.0070g15
Gerber Dime$34.5062.3g10
Leatherman Squirt$32.9556.4g9
Leatherman Micra$24.9551g10
SOG Crosscut$20.0048.2g9
True Utility FIXR$22.9945.3g20
Leatherman Style$24.9544.7g8
MyKee$19.265.2g18

 

“Scurry” Webcomic Review – Apocalypse for Talking Animals

Posted Posted in Books, Dystopian Comic

Mice! Adorable, semi-realistic, beautifully illustrated mice. Mac Smith put the first page of Scurry up on the 17th of January 2016 and it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, the community loved it so much that Scurry raised over $100,000 on Kickstarter in October 2016 for a print run of the first book. Scurry is now 5 episodes in, and updates twice a week.

Mouse under a leaf is my photo goal.

Scurry Webcomic Review:

Scurry is set in a dystopian future, where the humans have all disappeared. Human-centric narratives usually espouse a world that would continue on without us. But what if it didn’t? What if, instead, we follow a community of human-dependent mice that are beginning to starve in the wake of the apocalypse. After all, how can a house mouse live without humans to buy the groceries? So out they’ve gone into the long winter, searching for food as they skirt past the cats and hawks. Scurry is a gripping action adventure tale of bravery and sacrifice, change and death, centered around a little red mouse named Wix.

Seep
How cute is that satchel!

The mice treat us to a view of the apocalypse that is quite literally tiny. Their whole world is a house, a suburb. And now they have been abandoned. While some have an inkling that things are very wrong, their size has prohibited them from realizing the true scale of things. So they continue trying to live the life of the civilised mouse (not like those wild forest mice *shudder*), adhering to their societal rules while they wait for the humans to return. But how long should they wait? How long can they wait?

Scurry isn’t a laugh-out-loud sort of webcomic, though it does have its moments of dark humour – almost ingesting rat poison, for example. However, this doesn’t quite gel with those moments when the writing could have been better. Such as the very tropey conversation between “girl mouse” and “respected elder” of ‘yes, I care very much about the boy I grew up with’. Also, there is 1 obviously female character at the moment, and she is mainly kept protected. Sure, her dad says it is to help him, not protect her, but she has been kept in the whole time, not just this one time. I am hoping this will change considering that we are 111 pages in and barely scratching the surface of how epic this tale could become. After all, the writing in Scurry is generally good – with a nice pace ranging between character introduction, riveting action, epic excitement and curious exploration.

But what really makes Scurry, is the art.

My window shades look just like that.

The detail Mac has placed into every panel, from the cats to the microwave cable, is simply stunning. All the mice and cats have distinctive features that make it easy to differentiate between them, while still keeping to a natural colour scheme. The digitally-painted scenes have an atmospheric, almost mystical quality to them, giving credence to the talking animals. Mac’s skill is obvious in the various expressions and tones he is able to portray on a page. And he has the resume for it to boot, after working with big name companies such as Blizzard Entertainment (WoW).

Annoyed cat on the left is my favourite.

 

115
1 – 2
5-?
4 / 5
Comic Pages
Read Hours
Comic Volumes
Geek Rating

 
If you enjoy stories about the apocalypse or talking animals, then I recommend picking up Scurry. There are a few kinks in the storytelling, but the art is beautiful enough to forgive most of it. And if you missed out on the physical copies, fear not as Mac has them available for pre-order. The comments section of the Kickstarter is also showing that the books have been delivered to satisfied customers – always a good sign.

“Dark Matter” Syfy TV Series Returning 10th June 2017

Posted Posted in Entertainment, Sci Fi Series

Dark Matter is coming back to our screens for Series 3, with their first 2-hour premiere episode titled “Being Better Is So Much Harder” airing on the 10th of June 2017. I have already added it to my calendar; nothing is going to get in the way. Well, the occasional medical emergency… maybe.

Are you ready? #BadGuysHaveWayMoreFun

Posted by Dark Matter on Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dark Matter Upcoming:

What have we been missing? Action, adventure, thrilling escapes. It has been 9 months since we saw the Android, #2, #3, #5 and #6 attempt to stop galactic war, while on a space station that was blowing up in the Season 2 finale.  It seems everyone we cared about has survived to season 3, and that #4 is the next target of the crew of the Raza, probably because he stole the blink drive. Well maybe not everyone we cared about…

What’s more, we are also getting a bit of a treat this season, in the vein of Talking Dead. A new after-show – After Dark – is premiering to run us through all things Dark Matter, hosted by Zoie Palmer (I miss Lost Girl!). Another chance for us to pretend we’re just friends picking apart our favourite shows on a couch.

Dark Matter Review:

For those that haven’t sunk their teeth into Dark Matter yet, here’s why you should.

Dark Matter opens aboard a spacecraft that is in trouble. All the crew start waking up from hyper-sleep to save the ship and themselves. The problem is, they have no idea who or where they are.

It is a wonderful exposition of the clean slate. We have all seen the character that loses their memories, and how this changes them, changes dynamics. For a show to start on the premise that all of the main characters have a history – a dark history – and have them not remember that, gives this sense of tension and discovery that has become rare in television.

The majority of Season One revolves around the crew figuring out who they are and who to trust, knowing that one of their number could have caused the amnesia. They think that figuring out their history will tell them who they are, but as they learn their history, some of them start thinking that they would rather not know.

Every character snippet reveals a reason not to trust anyone, making the audience second-uess their own predictions. Dark Matter does an amazing job of keeping me on my toes, while still having me root for all of them to get it together when the bigger bad guys pop their sinister heads up.

Which is the other reason to watch Dark Matter. The universe and politics that are larger than their individual stories. Dark Matter reveals a compelling futuristic society, that just gets better as the seasons progress. Antagonists and corporations are introduced that you want to know more about (e.g. Wil Wheaton as Alex Rook), while plots start unfolding themselves with the Raza crew at front and center.

And did you know that Dark Matter started as a graphic novel? Check out the snippet below.

Dark Matter Graphic Novel
Dark Matter Graphic Novel

   Amazon Shop

“Star Power” Webcomic Review – Astronomer Turned Superhero

Posted Posted in Books, Sci-Fi Comic

Star Power is the brainchild of seasoned webcomic creators Michael Terracciano and Garth Graham. It is a sci-fi comic set in a distant future, starring assistant astronomer Danica Maris a.k.a. the superhero Star Power. The comic is currently at Volume 4: Star Power and the Last Jump Gate. It updates on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I discovered Star Power back in 2013, after following Michael over from his debut work, Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire. Back then, I had already found the comic beautiful, brilliantly designed and full of character. But it was a baby. As it was only 14 pages in, I decided to place it in my “read in the future” bookmarks. So, welcome to the future.

Star Power = Evil
I love this take on Dark = Evil

Star Power Webcomic Review:

Star Power gets off to a bit of a bumpy start. The quick mutation into a hero 7 pages in, the lack of early character establishment and the less than creative first antagonist (his name is Black Hole Bill, for goodness sakes) are all less than desirable. But get through the first chapter and you could very well find yourself hooked, just like I was.

Danica Maris is an interesting heroine. One part saviour complex, one part insecure introvert (mommy issues *hint hint*). That may sound like most heroes, but finding a heroine with a personality and backstory is rare. She starts the story off as a quirky assistant that nicknames her favourite stars, and rails against the institution in very relatable ways (if you won’t let me do this at work, I’ll do it in my own time!).

She becomes a Star Powered Sentinel through this very trait – by watching her favourite star Mitch who is actually a sentient computer/energy/shiny thing. Mitch turns her into a sentinel just in time for her to save her station from the Void Angels (a murderous gang for hire led by a very Jaafar-like alien). And best of all, Michael’s work on her character development over 4 volumes has been steady and surprising, exactly what you want from a main character. She gets stronger and weaker, all without compromising the core of the character.

Star Power = Strength

The art in Star Power is sensational. Garth Graham’s style has come a long way since his first comic Comedity in 2005. Star Power has the feel of an established publication – rivaling the art of the Marvel/DC universes. The environment, the backdrop – I imagine all the work that goes into each star and well, colour me impressed. Furthermore, each alien race having their own features and expressions, that are equal parts unique and accessible, is simply masterful. One of my favourite aspects is how Garth manages to convey Star Power’s expressions even with solid white eyes.

Star Power = Cthulhu
Quite simply the cutest Cthulhu ever

However, it isn’t Danica or the art that truly makes Star Power worth reading. While those are both amazing aspects, it is the world that Michael and Garth have created that is truly compelling. The Millenium Federation consists of more than a thousand worlds, races and cultures. Star Power gives us an amazing variety of alien races, a full-bodied cast of support characters, an ever-moving universe with ridiculous TV shows, intriguing universe-shaking secrets, thousand-year-old genocidal antagonists and the promise of exploration, of venturing into uncharted space. It also does a fine job of touching on world issues without being preachy, ensuring that it meets the standards of the Bechdel test and not shying away from or glorifying in death. Also, I really appreciate that Michael transferred his love for puns from Dominic Deegan to Star Power.

Star Power = Psi Cop

In conclusion, go read it. What’re you waiting for?

 

432
2 – 5
4-?
4.5 / 5
Comic Pages
Read Hours
Comic Volumes
Geek Rating

 
You can buy physical copies of Star Power from Shark Robot or read it online for free.

Starpower Links:


 

It doesn’t seem like it will be finishing anytime soon, so if you need anything to tide you over after binging like I did, you can always check out Michael and Garth’s other works. Dominic Deegan, Comedity and Finder’s Keepers are all available to read online. You can also support them on their Patreon page so that we all get more Star Power.

Dominic Deegan
Dominic Deegan – I miss you Spark

Comedity
Comedity – I really like cats

Finder's Keepers
Finder’s Keepers – The Wyrd Bazaar, like Diagon Alley but Wyrd-er

p.s. Patreon is a site where you can donate a buck a month or more to as many artists/creators/entertainers as you want to call yourself a patron of the arts.

Bill Potts is the Best Thing to happen to “Dr Who”

Posted Posted in Entertainment, Sci Fi Series

Pearl Mackie is being hailed as the breath of fresh air that Dr Who needed. Twitter went nuts after the pilot episode, with people everywhere proclaiming their love for Bill Potts. 5 episodes in, and that love has yet to abate. Personally, it’s been years since I’ve laughed this much watching an episode of Dr Who, and I love it. After the serious days of Clara the Impossible Girl, I didn’t think that Dr Who could head back in this direction. I have never been more willing to be wrong. It feels reminiscent of the no-nonsense Donna era, but better.

Bill Potts is real. Even Pearl Mackie herself thinks so: “You want people to like her [Bill], but I did when I read the script. I was drawn to her and felt there was something quite fresh about her attitude and the way she spoke. She’s very real, very much someone you might just bump into on the street.”

This is just part of what is making Bill one of the most relatable characters to ever step onto the Dr Who set. She isn’t burdened by a complex backstory; she doesn’t have trauma or revenge to exact (yet) and she is full of happiness and wonder. Her sense of wonder is the most amazing aspect of this season. Just watching Bill watch the world around her with awe helps bring the viewers and the Doctor back to the fact that this is, first and foremost, a show about time travel to far off and wondrous places.

Bill Potts fatted

We also get to see a new aspect to Peter Capaldi’s Doctor in this season, as he plays off Bill. He is warmer, happier, a mentor in every right. He gets to bring Bill on journeys that are about time travel and heroics by choice, rather than because of some grand timey-wimey plan. All the monsters and aliens have simply been a backdrop to their relationship up to this point, and it has worked. In fact, everyone in this season seems to be having fun, even the TARDIS who is technically the one that chooses to save ‘Nessie’. Well, everyone except maybe Nardole, who is playing the part of the dutiful house husband reminding the Doctor to keep his promise and guard the vault.

Pearl Mackie has been in the media more than past companions before coming onto a show, in part due to Dr Who having been off the air for over a year and the other part because she has been hailed as the first openly gay “official companion” on Dr Who. But Moffatt and Co. have handled her representation of her various communities beautifully, leaving no one with any doubt that Pearl Mackie will soon be acheiving (if she hasn’t already) fan favourite status.

Bill Potts whitewash

Bill Potts, asking the real questions:

“What is that? A Police telephone box? Did you build it from a kit?”
“Yeah, but why?”
“Did you run out of money? Is that what happened to the doors?”
“Can I use the toilet?”
“Do people ever hit you?”
“Imagine how it would feel if someone did this to you.”
“So the TARDIS has dresses and likes a bit of trouble?”
“Hearts, though, why two?”
“How’s it sonic?”
“What is sky made of?”
“Where’s the steering wheel?”
“Why would you name your box in English?”
“It’s hidden itself as a box with pull to enter on the front?”
“What happens if I throw up in my helmet?”
“Time Lords. That’s hilarious. Do you wear robes and big hats?”
“Doctor, have you killed anyone.”

Want to binge watch more Dr Who while waiting for the next episode of Bill Potts? You have options! Sign up for a 30-day free trial to watch it on Amazon Prime, or a 30-day free trial on Netflix. Links below:

Amazon Shop   

Is “Pokemon Go” past its Best Before Date?

Posted Posted in Mobile Games, Updates, Video Games

 

Ten months ago I was enthusiastically Go-ing with all the other wannabe Pokemon Trainers in the world. But in the last 5 months, I’ve clicked on it, felt frustrated and swiped it off. So, is Pokemon Go past its Best Before Date?

Pokemon Go Stats:

The meteoric rise of Pokemon Go last year had everyone going wild, with the world claiming it as the “health app” of the year and the cure to the sedentary geek lifestyle.  But of the 650 million downloads of the app, 65 million people still use the app on a monthly basis and 5 million on a daily basis.

These numbers are still huge. Niantic has raked in an estimated $1 billion to date, averaging about $2 million every day. But, these numbers are steadily dropping and have been doing so for the last 6 months.

Pokemon Go Statistics
Pokemon Go Statistics

Pokemon Go Pros:

What was it that attracted us to Pokemon Go to begin with? For some, it was to catch ’em all. For others, a lot of nostalgia was mixed into the game, reminding us of days gone by when we wished that our parents would let us leave home at the age of 12 to catch dangerous animals and force them to fight each other in an arena. Then there is the gym battling, something that isn’t particularly fun or rewarding, but addictive nonetheless. And many more people played for the social adventure, the treasure (pokemon) hunting aspect of Go.

Niantic also continues to introduce new features and content. They have come out with a wearable device, launched the apple watch app, provided 80 more Pokemon and a buddy feature. All these enticed many of us to play, and came with the benefit of us walking more than our allotted 10,000 steps a day, often in the company of our friends, our family, our community.

My First Jigglypuff
My First Jigglypuff
Pokemon Go Cons:

Every game naturally loses customers after the initial hype, retention is hard, guys. But then came the bad. On the extreme scale, people died.  14 people to date  have died in Pokemon Go-related incidents, and 54 more have been injured. The ripples these events sent through the world started a spike of negative feelings. Was Pokemon Go putting people at risk? #dontpokemongoanddrive and #pokemongomademe started trending soon after.

These safety concerns on their own wouldn’t have been enough to topple the giant that Pokemon Go had become. What really started to spell out its end was the game itself. Or rather, the lack of game.

Pokemon Go at its core was nothing more than walk, click, swipe, catch and gym battles. For a game that marketed itself as “become the real-life Pokemon Trainer you always wanted to be”, there were little to no actual role-playing or story elements to the game. Many other light mobile games offsets this weakness with daily quests, not so with Pokemon Go.

Furthermore, Niantic didn’t simply not implement sought after content and features, they took it a step further. They removed Pokemon Go’s most popular feature ‘Pokemon Tracking’, and cut off the ability of third parties to fix this for gamers. Then, Niantic placed a ban on legitimate users because of their phones’ capacity to geo-spoof the game (pretend they are walking when they aren’t). Finally, they signed their own DNR (do-not-resuscitate) with silence. By ignoring the community and simply “doing what they thought was best”, Niantic managed to alienate a large majority of the Pokemon Go gaming community.

Pokevision Down
Pokevision Down
So, can Pokemon Go come back?

Can it stabilise? Or is it well and truly past that best before date? There are options for Pokemon Go to come back, such as by socialising with the community and/or implementing real-time battling. But whether Niantic will be able to do this before losing everyone, we will just have to wait and see.

 

Need something else to play now that the hype has gone? Check out my Top 7 Mobile Tabletop games. Or maybe you still want to play Pokemon Go? I’m thinking of giving it a 14th chance to get back in my good graces too. So here, take these Pokemon Go download links.

   

“Renowned Explorers: International Society” Video Game Review

Posted Posted in PC Games, Video Games

40+ hours into Renowned Explorers: International Society, and I’m still going. And with the new expansion The Emperor’s Challenge having been released 4 days ago, I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

I thought I would try it, maybe I’d like it. I didn’t expect to love it. The art is great, the writing is smart, and RE:IS still manages to surprise me after all this time together.

Renowned Explorers is a deceptively deep strategy adventure game. The cute characters with their over the top emoting doesn’t give the impression of depth, but it is actually their emotions that makes this one of the most realistic battle sequences I’ve ever played. The game demonstrates that words can always hurt, and hurt all the way to becoming the most renowned explorer in all the land.

Yes, you will fight sheep. And make them feel baaad about themselves.

The battle system for Renowned Explorers involves 3 sets of skills. Aggression, Friendliness and Deviousness. You can use any one of the three to win a battle. So hug it out, wave your arms around angrily or stick your tongue out at them to win. Watch your enemies slink away in fright or go out of their way to help you, depending on the tactic you chose. It introduces the idea of non-violence to a statistically aggressive genre. It also makes it more real. As does the starvation mechanic. More often than not, my gamble of “starve to collect treasure” has led to failure.

As the maps, events and resources are all randomly generated each time you start a game, no adventure feels quite like the last one. The rogue-like exploration theme brings you new cultures, new artifacts and new skills to boost your party. All this in the name of gathering scientific discoveries, finding treasure and gaining reputation so that you can end up with the most renown at the end of 5 expeditions.

Eggs. Eggs are a treasure. And it is AWESOME.

Everything in RE:IS is interwoven beautifully. How you approach an encounter determines the reactions of the NPC’s and of your own characters. My characters turn evil, enemies praise the  ground I walk on, and sheep follow me everywhere (which is really annoying). Once, I thought I’d gotten a great bonus when all my enemies turned to smoke. As it turned out, I barely leveled up during that expedition due to a lack of encounters and lost the game on my next expedition out. My only complaint is that when almost every non-combat event is decided by a spinner wheel, I’m probably going to lose as I’m a terrible dice roller.

The first time you play a new game, you will lose. The game is setup so that you need a few playthroughs to start coming to grips with how each of your choices will affect the next. But don’t be disheartened because losing can actually net you a few cool things. You can unlock new characters to captain with (Kiwi!), and camp stories with the More to Explore expansion. Unless you are some kind of gaming-god-genius of course. And if that’s you GGG, there are a few games with legendary items I’m going to need you to help me with.

I just have Agatha left to unlock. But I have yet to find a combo that works well with her. Sigh.
Conclusion:

I loved this game. It was polished, never crashed and kept me entertained for hours. Don’t get this game if you can’t handle dying a lot, with mainly collections to show for dying. Get this game if you enjoy immersing yourself in a beautiful world for hours on end, in order to understand its multilayered intricacies in all their Renowned Explorers glory.

Renowned Explorers Links:

      

Saving Mars Series

“Saving Mars” is a 6-Book Binge Session

Posted Posted in Books, Dystopian Books, Sci-Fi Books

Finishing the Saving Mars 6-book series this morning was bittersweet. I have to admit that I put off the last 50 or so pages of the book for a few days just because I didn’t want it to be over. But it is, and so here I am, presenting my Saving Mars book review.

“You’ve made my life immeasurably better by not barbecuing my dog.”

The Saving Mars series follows 17-year-old Jessamyn Jaarda on her mission to, well, save Mars. The series is set in a Dystopian future where Mars colonists have been all but forgotten by Earth after the end of the war. We get to see the day to day struggle of living on a planet that was not meant for human habitation in the value they place on water (don’t cry, and if you do, drink your tears or you’re wasting water), the Planetary Dog that children get to visit on their birthdays, and the lack of food save for  the Earth-raided ration bars.

And then there is Earth. An Earth that still has deep dish pizzas and surfboarding, ruled  by 1 overarching dictator who has stayed in power for over 300 years by continuously ‘re-bodying’ herself illegally. That’s the sci-fi twist to Saving Mars. 200 years of peace because they move minds into different bodies every 20 years. Do well, you get a better body. Annoy the government, and you get a body with no legs. Rule the world, get access to as many bodies as you want and then kill the witnesses.

I really enjoyed this series for its worlds. Every extra descriptor about Mars was a gem. I love how cultures meshed indistinguishably, such as “Mount Cha Su Bao” (Pork Bun in Chinese) and swearing at ancient Greek Gods “Hades and Aphrodite!“. Another standout factor was the women. From the antagonist Lucca to the Secretary General of Mars, Mei Lo. All of them were strong, formidable and flawed. It made Saving Mars a refreshingly uplifting series that I would love for young girls today to pick up.

That’s not to say it wasn’t without its flaws. It takes a little while to get into the meat of the story as you get through Jess’s teen angst in the very beginning, meaning that Saving Mars has a pretty slow burning start.  Also, the “hotshot teen” trope was in full force. Multiple people insisted that only this particular teenager could save the world. “It has to be you Jess” is said, very very often. While in my head I’m screaming ‘SHE IS A CHILD’. But they have to, it’s YA literature.

I also wasn’t in love with Jess’s really fuzzy head throughout most of the books, I didn’t feel like it fit her character of being a pilot and an avid reader. But then, she was 17. And on the plus side, her character definitely grows up by book 6. She still makes some terrible decisions, but you can actually see her start to think.

Bottom line, Saving Mars got me interested in Mars. I even watched National Geographic’s Mars television series (which coincidentally is also in 6 parts and is so good!) because I got so hyped up. It will definitely appeal to a younger audience more so than those seeking a more mature story, but I found it engaging nonetheless. If you’re looking for a book set in space, with 4 strong female leads, you should pick this up. The boys aren’t too bad either 😉

 

351k
25 – 30
6
3.5 / 5
Total Words
Read Hours
Books in Series
Geek Rating

 

Where can you get it? The eBooks are available from Kindle. Or if you prefer, you can always get a physical copy from Amazon.

Saving Mars Links:

Kindle Download  Amazon Shop

Need more books to read? Check out my list of the 7 best Dystopian Novel series.

7 Best Retro PC Games

7 Best Retro PC Games from the 90’s

Posted Posted in Mobile Games, PC Games, Video Games

I still have me a hankering for games I first played  20+ years ago. And no one scratches that itch for me as well as Good Old Games. Well, Abandonia helps too but you often need an emulator. Anyway, since I’ve been retro gaming quite a bit lately, it seemed only natural that I judge how well some of my childhood favourites from the 90’s have held up. So here we are, my list of the 7 best Retro PC games from the 90’s.

7 Best Retro PC Games from the 90’s:

1. Heroes of Might and Magic II 1996

Heroes 2 is a turn based strategy RPG all rolled into one. A lot of gamers applaud Heroes 3 as being the Heroes game, but there is just something about Heroes 2 that will always hold my heart. Oh wait I know what it is, it’s being able to be a traitor. Yup, that always gets me. Being able to play as good for the first half of the campaign and then decide whether or not to Betray the King is just magic. The RPG aspect of Heroes 2 will always trump 3 for me. Also, I don’t think my hand will ever forget how to type 32167 super quickly (It’s a cheat to get 5 black dragons in case you didn’t know), something I have to watch out for when setting passwords.

2. Lords of The Realm II 1996

Playing games like Lords of The Realm 2 was fundamental in subconsciously making me pretty okay at math. It remains one of the best management war combinations I’ve ever played. It beautifully avoids the trap of “I’ve got the biggest army I win” and allows players to actually strategize. The political scene, the cows, the catapults. I sunk many hours I was meant to be doing homework into this game. And I sink many more hours now when I’m meant to be writing into this game. It is full of charm and personality, allowing you to taunt your opponents and grow crops all at once. Oh and peasants, they get so mad when you raise taxes. It’s cute.

3. Diablo 1996

I was legitimately terrified of the Butcher. Sometimes I would restart the game till I got a story line that didn’t include him. There is a lot of trauma associated with being chased really fast by something that wants to chop you up and eat you. I did eventually move past that fear, but I remember it. Oh do I remember it. Be still, beating heart of mine. Be still. Diablo was an amazing game, still is in my opinion. There was so much that would change every time you played. Every time you’d come up from the labyrinth something else will have gone wrong in Tristram. Something you’ll probably hear from me a few times, is that this one was harder than its descendants. A lot of games now involve characters being able to move at lightning speed. Games in the 90’s didn’t quite do that. Which is probably why I like them, makes me feel like I could almost be them if I was fit. If. Maybe. Probably not. But still. Maybe.

4. Theme Hospital 1997

Theme Hospital is just as hard to win today as it was when I was 10. Maybe even harder considering how decrepit I am becoming. I know I managed to get past the halfway mark back then, why can’t I now?? In Theme Hospital, you run a hospital that cures ridiculous diseases that are a commentary on our social landscape (invisibility, popping of bloated heads, elvis impersonators etc.). Most of your time will be spent moving tired doctors around because they walk too slowly, shooting rats, cleaning up puke and building more and more rooms. If you do well, you get a letter promoting you to run an even bigger hospital. Do this enough times, and you might win! I wouldn’t know… *grumble* but I’ll keep trying!

5. Star Craft 1998

Some people have actually never stopped playing Star Craft. It is that good. Star Craft 2 is good sure, but if you’re a master of 1, then you’re a master of 2 because 1 is much much harder. It’s the strategy game that spawned the era of gaming competitions that just keeps growing. Enter a military sci-fi universe where we get to kill insectoid aliens? Hell, yes. (Die Zerg, die!) Best of all, Blizzard has remastered Star Craft and its expansion Brood War, and made them free. FREE.

6. Septerra Core 1999

Compared to graphics today, Septerra Core can seem pixelated and old. But if you can look past that, you’re in luck because Septerra Core is clever. It is clever design, clever writing, clever characters, epic story. They built the world of Septerra so differently and in such depth, building on the idea of a living computer as the creator of the world. I wished I could live there. And since you get about 100 hours of gameplay, it sometimes feels like you really are. It is also one of the few games out there with a strong female lead, who basically came from the scrap pile out to shine in this JRPG.

7. King of Dragon Pass 1999

I don’t think there is a single other game I finished as many times as I finished King of Dragon Pass. Not that it is a short game, mind you. But because it is addictive. This is the main game I play on my phone now, ever since they ported it over. But the classic retro PC game is still my favourite due to it having the village screen where you can see the physical changes your decisions throughout the year have brought to your clan. From heroquesting to the Realm of the Gods, exploring hostile Beast lands, raiding your neighbours for cattle, taking on thralls, and finding a baby that years later becomes my Queen, King of Dragon Pass just had it all for me.

   

Feel that other retro PC games should be on this list? So do I! But there wasn’t room. Below are some other great games I’d have loved to put in my top 7, if 7 meant 45.

Other Great Retro PC Games from the 90’s:

7 Best Mobile Tabletop Game Apps

Posted Posted in Board Games, Mobile Games, Mobile Tabletop Games, Tabletop

For when you can’t find someone who will game with you, here’s my list of the 7 Best Mobile Tabletop Game apps to date, in price order. These apps make it semi-okay when your friends refuse to play Pandemic with you again.

7 Best Mobile Tabletop Games:

1. Coup – Free

It actually works. You wouldn’t think that a game based on calling other people’s bluffs would work online, but it does. It’s good enough and free enough for me to ignore the couple of crashes I’ve had. Tabletop episode.

Coup on the App Store   Coup on the Play Store

2. Ticket To Ride – USD 1.99

Ticket to Ride is a modern classic about building the longest train route. Solo mode works great, but there are some multiplayer glitches. It is such a great way to get non-gamers addicted, it has been featured on Tabletop twice.

Ticket to Ride on the App Store   Ticket to Ride on the Play Store

3. Splendor – USD 1.99

Splendor is a game of who is going to get famous first. Famous in this case is 15 prestige points. No dull moments as players only get 1 action out of 3 possible actions on their turn (collect a gem, buy a card or reserve a card). The app can be glitchy, but looks great.

Splendor on the App Store   Splendor on the Play Store

4. Catan – USD 3.99

Some people hate the robber. Personally, I think he’s the best defense against hoarders ever. This is one of the most true to life adaptations that I’ve played yet. Tabletop episode.

Catan on the App Store   Splendor on the Play Store

5. Lords of Waterdeep – USD 6.99

The design of the app is fantastic. Probably the least glitchy I’ve tried. Keeps you rulebook accountable, while you rule Waterdeep as one of its Lords.  Tabletop episode. This one has Felicia Day! Just leave me to my fangirling.

Lords of Waterdeep on the App Store

6. Stone Age – USD 6.99

Great resource gathering worker placement game that I personally felt was worth the price tag. It looks a  bit different to the IRL game, but for me this meant “better”.  Tabletop episode.

7. Carcassonne – USD 9.99

Build your medieval world, tile by tile. Well yours and every other player. I mean just look at that city. Who builds a uterus city? Only in Carcassone. The expansions are so reasonably priced, it almost makes you forget that you forked out $10 to begin with. Tabletop episode.

Carcassonne on the App Store   Carcassonne on the Play Store

And that’s my top 7. Well the 7 I keep playing and haven’t stopped playing anyway. 🙂 There are many more games that I love that didn’t make my list for one reason or another (personal preference, glitches, price etc.). And since I wouldn’t want them to go without some love, here are 67 games for iOS and 55 for Android.

68 More Great Mobile Tabletop Games for iOS:

56 More Great Mobile Tabletop Games for Android: