February 2023 Retrospective
Last month I grumbled about all of the major stock markets posting gains across January and how it felt like we were at the top of a roller coaster. Well the Nasdaq, Dow Jones, S&P 500, and TSX just posted decent losses across February so perhaps we've finally crested the peak. Although you would not think so based on the Ontario housing market. Houses are starting to close above asking price again even in relatively small markets.
It still boggles my mind that if you take out a $1,000,000 mortgage today your monthly payments would be above $5500 CAD. That means if you're making $200,000 a year (which puts you in the top 5% of all Canadians) you're spending more than half of your monthly income on your mortgage. If you "only" put 20% down the maximum price of the home would be $1,250,000 which would barely allow you to purchase something in the Greater Toronto Area. And even those homes are probably desperately in need of renovation.
And yet idiot realtors are still trying to convince me to buy because "there is nowhere to go but up from here".
Read Murder on the Orient Express
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a murder mystery set in the 1930s and I truly believe that every single person on the planet Earth should read this book.
Read Tress of the Emerald Sea
Tress of the Emerald Sea is the first book from Brandon Sanderon's record-breaking Kickstarter and to the surprise of no one, I absolutely adored it.
It is actually quite a departure from Brandon's regular tone but he still hit it out of the park in my opinion. It is a gender-reversal of the damsel in distress trope, but that is just the light thread that underlines the story. What pulls you along are the well realized characters who you can get attached to and root for, like in all of Brandon's novels.
The only real negative I can give it is that for a stand alone story it really does feel like you need to know a lot about the Cosmere. There are so many things that tie to Brandon's other books and I cannot say that I would have fully understood Tress of the Emerald Sea if I didn't understand the rest of the Cosmere. For those reasons I will still recommend Mistborn as the first Brandon Sanderson book anyone should read.
Read I'm Glad My Mom Died
I'm Glad My Mom Died is a memoir from Jennette McCurdy, star of iCarly, and as the title suggests it deals with the death of her mother.
But the book is about so much more than that. While it pivots around her mother's death, McCurdy's harrowing life before and after this event is almost too crazy to believe. We've all heard stories about child actors and the pains they can typically go through. But Jennette McCurdy was dragged through hell and somehow came out the other side able to write a simply fantastic book about her trauma.
Nearly every chapter has some moment where I would wince at the ludicrous shit she was put through, but at the same time she tells these tales with an almost whimsical attitude. There is something about that stark contrast that just kept me wanting to read more.
I would like to recommend that everyone read I'm Glad My Mom Died but there are some particularly brutal moments that I know sensitive people will not be able to stomach. But if think you can laugh along with the author about a life that probably no one reading this blog could survive, take a chance on I'm Glad My Mom Died.
Model building workshop at Little Canada
I wrote about this last month but I just cannot stop praising Little Canada. The model making workshop has continued to be a blast and I'm even starting to believe that my diorama is going to turn out decent and not be complete shit.
By the time you are reading this the workshop is most likely complete so I will aim to upload a photo of the final result in my March retrospective.
Beat Persona 3 Portable
After 60 hours I finally beat Persona 3 Portable on easy mode, on my Steam Deck.
There really isn't anything to add to what I wrote last month but I wanted to put out an update so I could compare P3P's story to other games in the series.
I think I would place Persona 3 above Persona 5 and just short of Persona 4. To be clear, I absolutely adore all of these games and they are better than almost any RPG out there. But there was something about how Persona 3's story unfolded and how the characters were introduced and interacted that really made love it. I think what puts Persona 4 above all is that its story is not about some apocalyptic end of the world, but a murder mystery that only your character can solve.
If that rumour about a Persona 3 Remake using the Persona 5 engine is true, I think we're going to see a release of one of the greatest JRPGs of all time.
Hitman's Freelancer mode
Last month Hitman 3 was rebranded Hitman: World of Assassination as it now contains all three games that make up the "World of Assassination" trilogy. The biggest addition to this rebranding however was a new game mode called "Freelancer" which is suppose to be a roguelike along the lines of something like Hades. Agent 47 has a main base where he stores all of his equipment and takes on contracts which are the equivalent of a "run" in the roguelike genre.
But for whatever reason IO Interactive decided to make this game mode brutally punishing. It is more like Escape from Tarkov because whenever you die you lose absolutely everything. At the start of Hitman Freelancer you have no equipment and if you cannot successfully complete a run then you'll most likely not be adding anything to your main base. I played for two hours, tried four separate runs, and died in every one. So after playing this game mode for two hours I had made literally no progress.
That isn't why I play Hitman. I love save scumming through levels, trying to understand all the intricacies, and eventually attempting a pull off the perfect assassination with very specific equipment. This idea of you have nothing, you gotta find random equipment, and if you fuck up once your done, that just isn't enjoyable to me.
Hitman Freelancer left me so disappointed that I immediately uninstalled the game. Fingers crossed this was some random B-team's attempt at DLC and the next game by IO Interactive has none of these elements.
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
In my most anticipated games of 2023 article I wrote:
I suspect Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is not going to be able to live up to my expectations. I want a more story driven game like the earlier ones in the Batman: Arkham series but I suspect I am going to get a cooperative shooter where you just need to make sure the numbers keep going higher
and then this month during another one of Sony's mediocre State of Play presentations...
we got exactly what I feared. Destiny with a DC Comics coat of paint. I cannot fathom how Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. Games think this is going to be a success after the monumental failures of Marvel's Avengers and Gotham Knights, two IPs that are undeniably larger than The Suicide Squad.
Played Like a Dragon: Ishin!
I am about eight hours into Like a Dragon: Ishin! and it has been a mixed bag so far.
Most of the things I love about the Like a Dragon series (previously known in the West as Yakuza) are here. The main story is super serious and engaging. The feudal 1860s Japan setting is absolutely beautiful and a joy to explore. The side characters and quests are silly like usual. I'm scared to admit how much time I've spent tending to my farm's crops and then lost all my profits at the chicken races.
Unfortunately, the combat is utterly atrocious in Like a Dragon: Ishin! I have come dangerously close to turning the difficult down from normal to easy because the enemies take too long to kill. Combine that with incredibly slow attacks that you cannot cancel out of and you've got an incredibly frustrating combat system. Which is really strange because both Judgment and Lost Judgment had fantastic combat which I adored.
I am definitely going to finish Like a Dragon: Ishin! because I want to see the end of Sakamoto Ryōma's story but I suspect that I am just one more bullshit boss fight away from abandoning the combat altogether.
This month my cousin took me out to Pastiche, an excellent bar / restaurant in the Ossington area of Toronto. It gets a big thumbs up from me but unfortunately anyone reading this article probably won't be able to get a reservation unless you're able to plan 3+ months in advance. But if you do have that kind of patience I think you will come away quite satisfied.
Review February Goals
- 🙅🏻♂️ Start exercising you fat fuck!
- ✅ Beat Persona 3 Portable.
- ✅ Read Tress of the Emerald Sea.
- 🙅🏻♂️ Replace the fan in my Nintendo Switch.
- 🙅🏻♂️ Prototype an app using Apple's Stable Diffusion package.
- 🙅🏻♂️ Start converting this blog's engine to Swift.
- Read Spook Street.
- Beat Like a Dragon: Ishin!.
- Replace the fan in my Nintendo Switch.
- Prototype an app using Apple's Stable Diffusion package.
- Start converting this blog's engine to Swift.