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Disney Heroes is almost exactly the same game as Star Trek Timelines except it’s featuring Disney heroes. I didn’t pick the game because I liked Disney, but because I had heard good things about the game and it seemed time to try something new (I always knew that Star Wars: Galaxy Of Heroes was a similar game, but that universe never appealed to me enough to try it).

The game has only been out 2 months (another factor in starting it) but surprisingly, it is already a more full-featured and polished game than STT is after 2.5 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if STT is just poorly designed, but it looks like Battle Mode has put thought into the IAP, ramping and balance (or they copied other successful games in this genre).

Like most of these games, the first couple of days is intense with a lot of gameplay. I expect that to level out as I get into a rhythm of what needs to be done at what time. However, the fact that it is a lot more fun than STT (even at the beginning) is promising.

While I will continue to play STT (e.g., keep up my collection); my goal is to play Battle Mode as a pure F2P and slowly build up my hero roster here. Let’s see if that plan continues!

I’ve been playing Star Trek Timelines for almost 2 and a half years now, and spent about $200 on the game (sunk cost). I still enjoy it from a collection/completist POV, and play through it every day because of that. The game itself isn’t very fun, but it strikes a balance between the collection and other aspects that other games couldn’t achieve for me (looking at Pokemon Go).

Because I’ve been playing for so long, I am at a point where progress is minimal. I don’t have a complete collection, but I have a large collection that one could reasonable achieve without being a whale on the game. The gameplay every day is more maintenance than anything else, continuing to climb really tall mountains.

In a way, it’s a lot like Hearthstone, where there is a continual maintenance to complete quests -> farm gold -> save for expansions. Farming is easy, especially because you can complete quests by playing “friends”. However, it ends up being a drag because the rewards are minimal compared to the effort required.

I actually pulled back on Hearthstone this month. I stopped trying to maximize my quest/gold farming and maybe I will just focus on getting the season card back for the next little while (I did the same thing when the Goblin vs Gnomes expansion came out). I’m also trying to compress my STT gameplay into shorter bursts because I picked up a new game to play now – Disney Heroes: Battle Mode.

Over the Christmas break, we went down to the Rogers Centre Skydome to see the annual Disney on Ice. This was our first time, and luckily we have a kid with us now because if we didn’t, we would look really odd. This was primarily a kids event, with lots of girls dressed as princesses and lots of boys brandishing swords. It is basically a collection of your favorite Disney classics that feature prince and princesses; such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty & the Beast, the Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Rapunzel. Each classic had a choreographed skate, usually a pairs dance, but sometimes just a single performer and backup skaters. Some of the acts were more intricate than others (such as the Little Mermaid and Aladdin), and some had cool props like a Dragon that breathed fire (Sleeping Beauty) or Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.

The skating was pretty good, a couple of falls although you wouldn’t expect any quads (I think there were one or two triples, but I’m not an expert). I imagine it would just be cool for kids to see their prince or princesses moving so smoothly. I liked how some of the skaters had to wear intricate costumes (such as a spoon, fork, and knife sticking out of their back for the Beauty & the Beast act) – you don’t see those types of costumes on TV.

We got a good deal on the tickets so they ended being less than $20 each. Parking was more expensive because we saw that matinee show (4pm) so we had to pay for 9-5 level parking downtown. But it’s pretty affordable to bring your kids down to see every year.

Pauline and I went on opening day to see the much hyped by me Tron Legacy. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a line up to get in nor was it sold out. I guess not everyone was as enthusiastic about it as I was.

We saw it in 3D, which in retrospect was a waste. The best 3D parts were the trailers (i.e., Pirates 4) before the movie! Most of TRON: Legacy was in 2D, and the majority of the 3D parts were close ups of the various characters. I wanted to see the action scenes (like light racing) in 3D!

The movie itself, not surprisingly, was mediocre. It stayed within the “family movie” range by being rated PG and being a Disney movie. I think this was a contributing factor to making the movie disengaging as the story seemed dumbed down. I couldn’t connect with the villain at all, he seemed to have a singular mindset that hurtled him forward on his scheme for domination, yet there was no explanation behind his motives except for the statement that he was tasked to create the perfect world. Perhaps his one-dimensional nature is due to that direction, like a line of code is, or an excuse to not waste time on character development.

From watching the movie, I never got the exciting feeling that there could be a mystery world in the grid (unlike one of the characters on the grid who loved Jules Verne’s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth), some feelings that, I am guessing, watching the original in 1982 might have stirred. Instead, there were a lot of throwbacks to the original film, some of the original sets and several of the constructs on the grid (i.e., the Command Line). I don’t think this is a good movie on its own, but a good cash in on TRON nostalgia.

The best part about the movie is the style that TRON portrays. From the music to the world inside the grid. That is fun to watch and experience. The best part of the movie is a club scene where the DJs are Daft Punk. This style elevates the movie from a 2 to a 3 start out of 5 for me.

It has been a long time since I was excited and anticipating a movie, but that is certainly the feeling I have for Tron: Legacy. The obsession started from listening to the Daft Punk penned Tron: Legacy OST. It is not a typical Daft Punk work in that it is mainly orchestral (as with most soundtracks), but it is also noticeably electronic and shares shades of familiarity with Daft Punk’s work.

I’ve never watched Tron before, and did not know much about it aside from the name. I even saw a Tron bike (which I now know is a light racer) at the 2008 Fan Expo:

It was cool, but *shrug* there are so many sci-fi series that you can’t possibly follow all of them without being an uber-nerd.

I went to watch the Tron: Legacy trailer and it seemed to me like 1) a video game, and 2) had aspects from a real life version of Interstella 5555. All-in-all very stylish. I was interested in seeing it and then it occurred to me that I should probably watch Tron first to know what the heck would be going on!

Tron was originally released in 1982, also by Disney. To imagine Disney putting out a geeky computer and non-children movie is quite odd when they were releasing films like Bambi and Fantasia. Anyways to watch it now, Tron is quite dated; even the majority of the computer venacular they use is common knowledge, maybe it was just a children’s movie too early for its time. But it is also campy and b-movie type material, without context, I would probably give it a 2.5/5 (and that’s because I’m a geek!)

I did find it interesting for the ideas that it portrayed. It antropomorphisized computer programs and gave them a diety (the user). In fact, it’s almost like the reverse-Matrix where you plug into a computer world instead of unplugging from it. The “computer graphics” were simply, but they reminded me a lot of Rez and Spectre VR; which were probably influenced by Tron. The solar sailer and terrain that it travelled over also reminded me of some sci-fi themes.

I’m interested in seeing these images from Tron refined and stylized in Tron: Legacy (and maybe in 3D!) although I kind of expect that it will just be very cool and not have the depth or context of watching Tron 28 years late.

On Christmas day, we went to Disneyland to see their Christmas parade; and also because I’ve never been to Disney* before (although I went to 3 Disney locations in 2008 – Paris, Tokyo and LA). We expected a lot of people to show up for Christmas, so we arrived by 9:30. We didn’t have to line up to get tickets, but the park was already busy.

We started our day at the Main Street Opera house which houses a museum to celebrate 50th anniversary of Disney. It was useful for me to learn the history surrounding the origin of the park, and I’m surprised that the Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland themed areas still exist to this day. We headed to Tomorrowland first, which was the most interesting to me. Back when Disneyland opened, Tomorrowland had exhibits of what the future looked like; now it is much more boring and consisted mainly of rides (such as the Star Wars ride, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Space Mountain that we went on). There was one exhibit called Innoventions which is basically a shill for Microsoft, Siebel and HP. I saw most of their “exhibits” at Microsoft Home in 2004. Instead of being interesting, Tomorrowland has been killed by commercialism.

Fantasyland was better since it was the representation of Disney’s core strength – fairy tales! We went on the Pinocchio, Snow White, and It’s a Small World rides here. The It’s a Small World ride was neat since they updated their animatronics to festive decorations.

After spending some time in Fantasyland, we queued up for the Christmas parade. I was disappointed in the parade, because it’s like a Santa Claus parade, but with Disney floats. It wasn’t any more extravagant or “magical”. However, we were lucky because we were at the start of the parade, because after Santa’s float passed by, we actually became part of the parade and walked down the route waving to the crowd. That was a bit surreal and hilarious.

We didn’t have as much time to spend in the other parts of the park. I liked Toon Town since the building designs were comical.

In Adventureland, we went on the Jungle Cruise in the dark, which added to the experience I suppose. If it was during the day, the animatronics would have been even more fake. In Critter Country, we went on the Winnie the Pooh ride – twice, and the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean ride in New Orleans Square. I was interested in seeing the Pirates ride since it must be pretty amazing to spawn a movie right?? It wasn’t that impressive but was pretty good compared to the other rides at Disneyland. We thought the ride would be pretty laidback, and brought hot tea onto the ride. Which was a horrible idea in hindsight after we looked ahead and saw drops coming.

After sundown, there were a lot of photo opportunities because the park was lit up. We stayed at the park for over 12 hours, because we wanted to see a couple of night performances. We saw Fantasmic which used water fountains as a project screen, and waited for the evening fireworks. The fireworks were initially delayed because of strong winds above Disneyland, but eventually started. The fireworks themselves were pretty standard, but it was coupled with great (Disney-style, fairy tale) music which made the show memorable. Also memorable was the fact that the abruptly cut off the fireworks without explanation (I’m guessing it was the wind). There was also fake snow, which is nothing like the real thing and more like soap bubbles.

I can now scratch off going to Disney* from my bucket list. For a $64 ticket it was worth the experience. And if you truly wanted to experience all the rides, you will have to get a multi-day ticket.