Photobucket had recently changed their policy and now all the images from my 650+ blog posts are disabled. I am slowly editing them by moving my images to my own server at AWS, but it will take time. In case there is a particular old post you want to see the images of, kindly drop me a mail at mizohican@gmail.com and I'll keep that at a high priority. Thank you.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Chp 643. Happy New Year!


This is my last post for the year 2016.

This is also my 50th blog update this year. And for 10 years in a row now since 2006, I have been posting at least 50 blog posts every year! :)

I thank God and everyone in my life who had influenced and encouraged me to keep writing. Blogging is easy. Anybody can do it. But being consistent is the toughest part of being a blogger. I had known so many amazing writers and photographers who would update their blog with such rich and informative content, only to wane out after a year or two.

And there are many reasons why people stopped blogging. New job, new life, new wife, and so on. As for me, I started blogging during my MBA phase. Continued blogging during my jobless phase in Mumbai. Followed by my born-again phase in Mizoram. Followed by my coaching class phase in Delhi. Followed by my family man phase back in Mizoram. Followed by my Advertising agency phase in Mumbai. Followed by my Start-Up creation years in Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad. And now I am finally in my Pune game designer phase. With all the new changes I have faced many times, it really feels good to know I was able to write at least 50 blog posts every year.

The main reason why I continue blogging dedicatedly is because I've realized that my blog posts serve as a great memory recollection stimulant!

Since I usually blog about a great experience that happened to me or something that I am strongly opinionated about/against, it is very reminiscing to read about that incident again years down the road :) Sometimes memories fade as time goes by, but reading about it again really refreshes that path down memory lane.

Sometimes I would have this vivid fantasy, you know, that I had been in an accident and suffered a serious head trauma and thus lost all my memories, and as I tried to piece my life back together, I stumbled across my blog post through an accidental Google search, and slowly started recollecting my memories one by one by reading through my old blog posts, and eventually discovered my accident was actually a failed assassination attempt and I ended up killing the perpetrators and prevented a nuclear bomb from going off at the Parliament. Ahhh… could be a good movie plot :P (or maybe a game plot? *wink*)

So I guess my New Year message to all my friends and blog readers is for you to get into the habit of blogging. Write about your life, what happened, what do you think of so and so, even a review on your homemade scrambled eggs would suffice. Make it a habit, and trust me, this investment will pay off years from now when you go through your old blog posts again. It is never too late to start something new.

Cheers everyone, and have a great New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Chp 642. Age of Empires - Burmese campaign


Growing up, many of us had fond memories of playing many computer games. All the hours we spent immersed in a game and the overflowing satisfaction of having completed it.

For me, one such game was Age of Empires. Classic RTS game, the mother of all strategy games. And the beauty of AoE is that, they are still active even today!

Though this popular franchise had many series and expansions, the most popular was AoE II, which was first released in 1999 as "Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings". This was followed by the much awaited expansion "Age of Empires II: The Conquerors" the next year. This was during my engineering college days, and I missed many classes because of this game (and Diablo II). I barely managed to scrape through on attendance requirement.

AoE II came to Steam gaming platform in 2013 as "Age of Empires II: HD edition" along with a new expansion "The Forgotten" introducing us to new civilizations - the Italians, Indians, Slavs, Magyars and Incas, along with many new units, techs, maps etc. Two years later, the third expansion set "The African Kingdoms" was released, which had new civs - the Berbers, Ethiopians, Malians, and the Portuguese.

I bought all the games above on Steam, not just because I wanted to relive fond memories again, but mainly to pay back the developers for having downloaded their pirated games years ago. Those were the days when it was either really difficult to buy a game because of no online payment access or they were too expensive at Landmark, which was the only outlet back then that sold PC game CDs here in India.

Last week, Age of Empires II released their fourth expansion set "The Rise of the Rajas" featuring four new civilizations - the Burmese, Malays, Khmer, and Vietnamese. I pre-purchased the DLC  immediately the moment they announced it. Though I have bought many games on Steam, this was the first time I had pre-purchased a game!

I was sooo looking forward to it, mainly because of the Burmese civilization. I know, we had the Indian civilization in "The Forgotten" expansion, but it was about Prithviraj Chauhan's campaign, featuring battles among the Rajput clans and against the Sultanate invaders. While it was cool to charge into battles with Elite Elephant Archers and Imperial Camels, as a Northeasterner, all that didn't quite hit close to home for us. I mean, the present day NE wasn't a part of any of the ancient Indian dynasties, whereas Burmese civilization felt more of home to us.

I took two days leave from office the moment the game was available for download, and I played the Burmese Bayinnaung campaign immediately. Two days of bliss (and frustration) but I was finally able to complete the campaign. And when I did that, it was my first zero percenter achievement!


As of today, only 0.02% of AoE players on Steam have earned this particular achievement so far! :)

There are five missions in the Bayinnaung campaign.


The first one is The Burmese Tiger where we must fight against the Khmer, Chinese and Indians, with an option to become an ally with the Portuguese (by paying a tribute). The objective of the mission is to kill King Takayutpi of Hanthawaddy and capture the monument in Prome.

Quite an easy campaign. The secondary objective is to kill King Takayutpi within 5 minutes, but I said screw it, I like to play slow and steady. I took my own time building up my resources and techs and slowly invaded each empire one by one. Your base will also be rarely attacked by the enemies, so just put a couple of watch towers and that's enough. But stones are hard to find, so be smart where you place your towers.

Once you come across the Portuguese on the western part of the map, for just 500 gold, they'll become your ally (I guess if you don't agree to pay that tribute, they'll attack you?). And after that, for another 500 gold, you can control their entire unit. But of course by then I had already wiped out all the empires and the only objective left was to capture the monument in the center, so I had a super army storming Prome. :) Fun mission.



Mission 2: The Mandalay Cobra. In this campaign, we must fight another Burmese king Ava, and there are two other enemies as well, the Chinese and Malays. Challenging campaign because the map was in a pilgrim city, so we could not build any walls. So I had this huge open space where attack could come from anywhere. I failed a couple of times in the beginning.

The main objective of the game is to accumulate 4000 gold. You cannot build mines and there are no gold deposits, but you have a couple of monasteries with relics in them that generate gold. Enemies will keep coming, trying to destroy the monasteries and you have to protect them with your scattered forces. There are Burmese allies too who will join your army once reach them. Since the population limit is set to just 100 for this map, I best advice you max up your pop first before getting these new recruits.



Mission 3: The Royal Peacock. Another extremely fun mission. I read online that people found this mission tough, but I got lucky because in the beginning, instead of reaching my force directly, I explored around a bit and found a priest who joined my force. And using him, I was able to convert all the Ballista Elephants my Khmer enemy was sending in the early part of the game.

The objective of the game is to kill the other four Burmese kingdoms, or build a wonder. I allied with the most powerful enemy closest to me by paying a hefty tribute, after that I cordoned off the entire central area, placing Ballista elephants as guards. And I kept mining every resources I could find. I even went to my ally's area, built a wall around the mines so his people couldn't access them :D Soon I had enough resources to build a wonder. The other three Burmese kingdoms attacked me but they were no match for my horde of converted Ballista Elephants, thanx to the Khmer. You win after 200 years once the wonder is completed.



Mission 4: The White Elephant. Really tough mission. You must place a relic in four different Khmer monasteries, all heavily guarded, and you cannot take your own time because you must do that in 695 years. I saved and replayed a lot, because I had to save time and do everything as fast as possible. Even if I managed to place a relic in a monastery, I replayed a saved file again because I took too much time doing it or I lost too many units in the process. There's a population cap of just 40, so yeah, I had to rely on my monks to convert enemies as I progressed.



Mission 5: The Old Tiger. Lolz, one of the toughest AoE campaigns I have ever played! I took more than a day playing this blasted mission. But yeah, it was so much fun. The objective of the game is to bring Bayinnuang to four different Buddhist Temples, all well guarded, where he will meditate for a short while as you protect him from the attackers. He or his son Nanda cannot die. And you have a hell of an army - 171 units to be precise.

You have 10 Battle Elephants, 20 Arambais, 8 Knights, 14 Two-hand swordsmen, 3 Bombard cannons, 3 Monks, 3 Villagers and 2 trebuchets led by Bayinnuang and Nanda from the eastern side. On the western side, you have 18 War Galleys, 4 Cannon Galleons, 3 Demolition Ships, 4 Fire Ships, and 6 Transport Ships carrying 30 Two-hand swordsmen, 12 Pikemen, 8 Arambais, 5 Sunda Royal fighters, 2 Bombard Cannons, 8 Battle Elephants, 2 Monks and 2 villagers led by Thinga Dathta. That's huge.

But hehe, not easy at all! As you move towards your first monastery, you will be attacked by the defender of that empire. Apart from that, you will also be continuously attacked by the Portuguese and Vietnamese from behind! Died so many times. The Portuguese had superior tech, and the Vietnamese archers were deadly too, whereas I didn't have any ranged units. My Arambais, which is the unique Burmese unit, is a ranged cavalry that throws freaking darts at the enemies, and they have extremely low accuracy!  Useless.

Finally, after my 50th retry, I decided to change my tactic. The four defending empires will attack you only after you start attacking them, but the Portuguese and Vietnamese from the north will keep attacking you wave after wave. And so I decided to get rid of those two mofos first :D

From my Eastern army, I ventured out with my Battle Elephants and Arambai units, along with my 3 monks and Bayinnuang (who is also a monk). Instead of marching East towards the 4 monasteries, I assembled to march up North. I placed all my Elephant units on the first line, all in defensive stance. Behind them the monks, and behind them the Arambais, also in defensive stance.

When the Vietnamese archers or Portuguese came down to attack me, the Elephants bore the brunt of the attack, and I quickly healed them while trying to convert as many as I could. They usually attacked in 3-4 units so I ended up converting quite a lot of archers. The Portuguese pikemen dealt more damage to my Elephants than the archers, who were quickly eliminated by my Arambais and converted archers standing behind my monks. I saved my progress many times, as I couldn't afford to lose any monks.

And then I called on my 2 trebuchets and attacked the walls and towers of the Vietnamese empire. They kept attacking, and I kept converting as many as possible. Also it is very important to immediately recall converted enemies to your flank and heal them, and also to change their stance to defensive, because by default, they are offensive and they will rush out to attack enemies on their own. Soon I had a very strong range unit and my total army count crossed 250. After many more saves and replays, I wiped out the Vietnamese and later the Portuguese. I got lucky as I converted 2 monks and 1 trebuchet, making my progress faster.

With the Vietnamese and Portuguese gone, it was much easier attacking the four empires. I mean, that took me quite a while too, but it wasn't as frustrating as attacking them directly.

And with that, I completed the Burmese campaign. What an experience indeed.

The Burmese also have a unique tech upon reaching Imperial Age that gives the Arambai additional +6 damage against buildings. The name of that tech is "Manipur Cavalry" :D


And so that was how I spent my Christmas eve, lolz. Happy holidays everyone.






Friday, December 23, 2016

Chp 641. Northeastern food in Pune


A review on a restaurant I have visited five times the past one month.

As I have mentioned in my previous post about demonetization, I had gone many times to the HDFC bank near our office to withdraw money, only to see a really long queue or "no cash" signboard, and be disappointed and head back to office solemnly.

It was during one such futile attempt to withdraw money that I noticed a new restaurant had opened up right above HDFC bank. I decided to check it out. I love eating at new places, especially the ones near office where I could spare a quick 1-hour lunch break for a fulfilling stomach experience.

The name of the restaurant is "Mineority". A play on the words "Mine" (as in miner, mining) and "minority", I guess.


The first thing I asked as I entered the place was whether debit cards were accepted. The waiter replied, "Yes sir, but only Indian cards, not international". He probably thought I was a foreigner, or maybe it was just a normal formality reply and I was over-thinking much :)

The place was really cool and unique. Very interesting decors and arrangements.



Yuss, those are actual books above painted over with a portrait.



A mining themed restaurant, awesome, it was my first. And then when I looked at the menu, I exclaimed in surprise and joy to see a couple of Northeastern dishes! That was when I assumed the restaurant got the "minority" part of its name, because of its minority community indigenous dishes? The menu had a lot of interesting items, ranging from all across India like Bihar and Kalimpong to International destinations like Ethiopia and Kenya!

The waiter told me there was "Happy hours" on the drinks menu, but since it was my lunch break and I had to head back to office, I politely declined (now you don't see me doing that very often :P ).

As I glanced through the menu, mouth watering and stomach pounding, my eyes were locked on the Mizo fish!


"Grilled bhetki fish, miso paste from Mizoram, kuchumber, with steam buns."

I didn't know we Mizos had a miso paste! :D But I was dying to find out. Miso is Japanese stuff, a fermented soybean paste to be precise. But since we Mizos use a lot of fermented soybean in our indigenous dishes, I was assuming that was why they included it in the ingredient. Plus "Mizo" and "Miso" both rhyme pretty sweetly too :D

While my order was being prepared, I was given this cute little side dish to munch on - a mix of muri and chanachur with pudina chutney.


I had written many blog posts in the past where I talked about "bekang" which is our Mizo fermented soybean. It can be made as a side-dish chutney or added to main dishes like our Mizo bai etc. Much as we Mizos love bekang, it also has quite a pungent smell, and my non-Mizo friends would call it "stinky beans" (and an untrained nose might even find it repelling as well). But it is delicious as hell. I was surprised and impressed the restaurant was going to serve me something like that in public :)

But when my dish finally arrived… man it was not what I was expecting at all.


I hardly found any traces of fermented soybean in the dish. Instead, the fish was all buttered up… I mean the amount of butter used was crazy, and that gave it a really awesome taste. The fish melted right in my mouth, it was grilled to perfection. But sadly, no it wasn't an authentic Mizo dish.


We don't eat any of our dishes with "steamed buns" either. Not even chapattis, rotis, naans etc. We just eat everything with rice. And of course in my later visits, I learnt that I could have asked for rice instead of steam buns. *slaps myself with a large trout, a Mizo trout*

It wasn't very filling as well, but I guess the Rs. 550 price tag filled me up :D Plus taxes, don't forget the Service Charge, VAT and Service Tax. The whole thing crossed 700 bucks and the bill was served in a neat contraption –


Overall, was it tasty? Definitely yes. Very tasty, something totally different from the food you'll find in other restaurants. Was it authentic Mizo? Nopes. Was it worth the price? Urrrmmm… hard to say here. If it was any other restaurant, I would say no, but the place kinda gave me this whole "fine dining" vibe, and for such a place, I guess it is ok.



On my second visit to Mineority (which to be honest, I was actually going again to HDFC bank but there was a "no cash" sign and so I decided to go upstairs to the restaurant to vent my frustration), I tried their pork dish.


Guwahati gateway pork - Succulent stir fried pork, onion, Himalayan garlic with buttered kasundi rice.

Now I'm not an Assamese food expert, though I had my fair share of Assamese cuisines cooked by my chef friend Gitika Saikia, and so I was just going to enjoy the pork dish and not judge whether it was authentic or not.

The waiter again told me about the "Happy Hours" on drinks, and again, I had to forcibly decline because I had to get back to office. Yeah it would have been great to gulp down a cold pint or two because I was so frustrated about not being able to withdraw any money.

Finally the dish was served.


The aroma of the stir fried pork was just pure yummm.


The "buttered kasundi rice" was also something I was having for the first time.


Great combination indeed.


My only disappointment was that there was no fat at all. The pork dish was just pure meat. But still, yup it was truly delicious.



On my third visit to Mineority, the waiter didn't even mention about the "Happy Hours" offer. He handed me the food menu and the drinks menu, and I politely returned the drinks menu to him. He smiled.

I went for the "Evergreen chicken" - Assamese green chicken curry made with fresh mint and wild coriander, matchstick yam fries, with aromatic sticky rice.


The so called "aromatic sticky rice" and the "buttered kasundi rice" I had the other day, looked the same, and I think they tasted the same as well :D But it was an awesome combo and I cleaned out the plate like how my dog used to do to his bowl :)




On my fourth visit, the waiter didn't even hand me the drinks menu. He gave me only the food menu :D

I was quite hungry that time. One thing I want to mention - Mineority stated on their menu that one main course "serves a minimum of 2 people" - that is completely false. I don't eat much, but one main course definitely is not enough for two people, in fact if you're hungry, one main course may not even be enough.

And so that day, apart from one main course, I ordered extra chapattis.

The dish that I decided to try out that day was the Shillong mylliem chicken.


Succulent stir fried chicken, khasi pepper, onion, Himalayan garlic, ginger, with garlic pav.

Not to make the same mistake I made with the Mizo fish, I immediately requested that I want rice instead of the garlic pav, and the waiter  noted that down.

My mouth watered. FINALLY, some spicy northeastern dish was on its way, I thought. I was assuming the "khasi pepper" mentioned above was going to be some hybrid version of the "ghost pepper", also known as bhut jolokia, or red naga chilli, or u-morok (known by different names depending on which northeastern state you're from). The world's spiciest chilly at one point of time, currently third or fourth spiciest today.

Sadly, I guess "khasi pepper" is just some normal pepper used by the khasis, because when the dish finally arrived, there was nothing spicy about it :(


But it was tasty nonetheless. It went well with the rice, and also with the extra chapattis I ordered.






The fifth time I went there was this week. Can't believe I've been going there for five times in just one month! I was so comfortable with the people who worked there that I high-fived the valet parking attendant, fist-bumped the doorman, and chest-bumped the waiter. Ok just kidding on all that, but it definitely felt more homely than the first day I went there.

I sat at my favorite table, and ordered the "Arunachali Thukpa" even without glancing at the menu :)

"Chicken or pork?" The waiter asked.

"Pork of course!" I replied.

I love thukpas. I always order one every time I visit a Tibetan restaurant in Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Shillong etc.

Here's the description of Mineority's thukpa from their Zomato page - "Arunachali Thukpa – Hearty and healthy clear stew, red amaranth dumpling, fresh greens, with choice of chicken or pork".

I was wondering if they were going to put dumplings in it instead of the usual noodles?

I got my answer when my food arrived.


There were neither noodles nor dumplings in the so called thukpa!


I mean… can it still be called a thukpa without that?

Taste wise, it was fine. Not that great. Not bad either. The pork pieces added to it also felt forceful, like they didn't belong there, they just didn't blend with the soup. It was basically just a vegetable clear soup with pieces of pork thrown into it at the last minute.

And how much did this cost?


700 bucks for that single thukpa. Not worth it at all.



And with that, my five days experiment with Mineority's northeastern food was over. Here's my overall feedback –

1. Mizo miso fish - Try it only if you're looking for something that is different and tastes really good as well. Avoid if you're looking for an authentic Mizo cuisine.

2. Guwahati gateway pork -Very tasty and well prepared. Go for it.

3. Assamese evergreen chicken - Good stuff, but quite common, didn't feel very northeastern to me. Go for it.

4. Shillong mylliem chicken - Not spicy as I assumed it would be. Still, very tasty. Go for it.

5. Arunachali thukpa - Avoid it, unless throwing away 700 bucks for a bowl of veggie clear soup is your thing.

In all my five experiences, the waiter and staff were extremely courteous to me and the service was extremely fast. I received all my orders in under 15 minutes. The place was never crowded, maybe one or two tables occupied in all my visits, probably because it was late lunch hour. And all five times, the main reason I went to this place was to withdraw money from the bank below, which unfortunately I never could.

For more reviews and feedback on Mineority, you can check out their zomato page here. All photos above were taken with my OP3.

Cheers for now, and hope you found this review helpful.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Chp 640. The demonetization effect so far


More than a month ago, I wrote my first blog post on demonetization, on how it was a very bold and enormous move on the government's part to combat black money. We were assured everything would be back to normal in a week or two. We're on day 40+ of demonetization now, and things don't seem to change much.

Till now I haven't withdrawn a single paise from the bank (ATM or counter) because the lines in front of the ATMs near my apartment or the two banks where I have an account - HDFC and ICICI, are always super long (with a "no cash" signboard put up most of the time). And so I would transfer money to my colleague's account at Kotak Mahindra Bank and he in turn would withdraw it for me because there are apparently no queues at that bank (other colleagues have also reported that there are no queues at Standard Chartered Banks).

But I couldn't keep doing that forever, asking him to withdraw for me especially with the weekly withdrawal limit that he too might want to utilize, and so last week I opened a new bank account with Kotak and shifted my salaried account from ICICI to Kotak. Bye bye ICICI.



And of course the government is now pushing people to go cashless, or use less cash. I for one had been following this rule obediently. I have been using my debit card even to purchase stuff like cigarettes and bisleri, my daily needs.

Before demonetization, on an average, I used my debit card around 10 times a month. Here is my one-month account statement, from 7th October to 7th November, just before the demonetization announcement.



And here is the next one month account statement, from 8th November to 8th December, right after demonetization.



The statement is 5 freaking pages long! That's how active I've been using my debit card. I will skip the middle pages and jump directly to the last page…



Yeah. 72 times I used my HDFC debit card in the first month after demonetization, compared to 9 times the previous month. I feel so patriotic now :)

But what really made me realize from these two comparison is, damn I'm a privileged asshole. I always thought I was a common man, an aam aadmi, a person from the middle class just struggling like everybody else, but now I know I'm freaking lucky enough not to be affected by the problems and difficulties demonetization is throwing on other people. What about the millions who don't have plastic or no internet access to pay through PayTM etc?

I really hope things get better soon. For country and for the people.

And oh, one more thing I have observed - debit card PIN numbers are no longer deemed personal or secretive. :D

Remember when you got your first debit card and then you received that sealed letter with your 4-digit secret PIN number? You would treasure that, making sure nobody could see what code you're entering as you punch in the numbers at the ATM machine. Those were some good times. All that is history now. 

Today, with most people now using their debit cards, if you're standing in a packed shop and you give your card to the shopkeeper who goes to his counter to swipe it, and then he shouts "PIN number?" you have no other option but to shout out your PIN number for all the other customers who are also waiting with their cards to hear. The others too do the same! "4-5-1-2"… "7-9-1-0 bhaiya"… "3-7-1-4, uncle, 1-4, not 1-5"… "5-double-7-3 boss"…

Lolz, it felt so weird though :D

The general store below my apartment and a lot of other shops near my apartment all know my debit card PIN number now. And remember when we were told to switch off our mobile phones or not use them at petrol pumps? Now we are encouraged to use our phones (PayTM etc) at such places as much as possible. I guess in a way, such drastic changes are necessary. Whatever be the change required, I really hope the situation improves soon, especially for the common man.

Until next post then, cheers.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Chp 639. Three Years Ago…


Exactly 3 years ago, at this very moment, my friend Abigail had invited me to her house party, located at the upmarket Nargis Dutt road in Bandra.

She had also invited the visiting Boomarang rock band members along with a couple of common friends, so it was really hard to decline the invitation.

The only problem was, my flatmate had gone to Delhi so I was alone at home, with our dear and spoilt little dog Saddam. There was no way in hell that he could be left on his own.

I called up Abigail.

"Can I bring my dog to your house? Is your housing society pet friendly?"

Abi replied, "No issues with pets, but boihteii is scared of dogs!"

Dayymmmm!

It seemed like I had to forfeit the party, when suddenly I decided to try my luck and called up my friend Shweta. She had gone back to Delhi for a couple of days and I wanted to know if she was still there or not.

"Hello Keemz!"

"Hi Shwetz! Are you still in Delhi?"

"No I'm back here in Mumbai, in fact I just landed today. Wassup?"

"Oh My God, Oh My God, that is sooo awesome!"

"What happened?"

"BIG favor. I know you must be tired and all, but I’m invited to this house party tonight, and I cannot leave Saddam at home alone…"

"Of course, bring him right over, he can spend the night here!"

And so there I was, taking an auto from my apartment to Shweta's pad at 8 in the night, armed with the over-excited Saddam and all his stuff like his feeding bowl, his ready-made breakfast that our maid had already prepared, his chewey toys, his treats etc.

I thanked Shweta profusely, and then bid them both good night and rushed back to my apartment, changed, and finally proceeded to Abi's apartment.

If you really think about it, I nearly canceled going to Abi’s party that night!

Had I not gone to her party that night, and had Shweta not returned to Mumbai that day, I would have spent that night cuddling next to Saddam under my cozy blanket, but my life right now would have NEVER been the same!

Because it was at Abigail’s party that night that I met DP for the first time and we became close immediately, and we have been in a relationship ever since that magical night. Yup, tonight is our three years' anniversary!

Happy Anniversary my love :*

All the fun we had, all the fights we had, I can't believe we've already touched three years together. Here's to many more years and even a lifetime of togetherness, cheers. Love you. :)

[Our first pic together that night]

Funny how the happiest things in life can happen out of sheer luck :)

Until the next post, cheers.





PS. Just noticed that the chapter number of this particular blog post happened to be 639! All divisible by 3, the topic of this post. Hah, another coincidence! :D

PPS. Here's my old blog post about the events of that night three years ago :)



Monday, December 12, 2016

Chp 638. Reaching 30 Perfect Games


As I have mentioned in my previous post, recently I reached 30 Perfect Games on Steam.


I wrote earlier about my First 10 Perfect Games, in which I covered the following games:
    > LYNE
    > Hexcells
    Hexcells Plus
    Hexcells Infinite
    Hook
    Gunpoint
    Thomas Was Alone
    To The Moon
    The Purring Quest
    A Bird Story

    In this post, I would like to cover the next 20 games where I got 100% achievement, with a brief description and review about the games, including a link to their store page. Hope you find this post useful. The games are listed below in no particular order. Also, as is with the first list, here too puzzle genre games dominate the list. What can I say, I just love puzzle based games :)


    1. The Silent Age

    Total achievements unlocked: 24/24
    Total time played: 4 hours
    Game link: The Silent Age
    Cost of game: INR 369

    One of the most immersive "point and click" games I have played so far. Initially I thought everybody’s gonna be silent and not speak in the game or some stuff like that because of the title, but man, the storyline and plot was awesome, and the conversations were really gripping as well. Get ready for a couple of "whoah" and "dayymmm" moments. In terms of achievements, there were around 3-4 missable achievements, so once I enjoyed and completed the game, I played a few levels again to unlock those. Totally worth every penny.



    2. Evo Explores

    Total achievements unlocked: 8/8
    Total time played: 2 hours
    Game link: Evo Explores
    Cost of game: INR 119

    So far, this is the only game on Steam I've actually reviewed. Because I love it so much. It is pretty much a copy of "Monument Valley" but it has an equally amazing ambience, storyline, and a very well executed minimalistic look and feel. Plus there were a couple of new types of puzzles that aren't there in Monument Valley. Not to mention that it is much cheaper than Monument Valley and it is available for PC. Hence the reason I refrain myself from calling it a "poor man's Monument Valley", which it really isn't. Do buy.


    3. Zenge

    Total achievements unlocked: 1/1
    Total time played: 2 hours
    Game link: Zenge
    Cost of game: INR 58

    Another minimalistic puzzle game with a soothing ambience and gameplay. I totally enjoyed the two hours I spent on this game, solving 70 jigsaw puzzles. It is not too difficult and at the same time not for the brain dead either. Great soundtrack and smooth game mechanics.



    4. bOllO

    Total achievements unlocked: 6/6
    Total time played: 16 minutes
    Game link: bOllO
    Cost of game: INR 58

    Yet another mobile game that had been ported to Steam like many of the games in this list. Bad news is you start from the beginning again if you fail, good news is there are only 13 levels to complete in order to unlock the 6 achievements, so this is a good game for achievement hunters, but I don’t recommend it if you’re looking for a more serious and longer duration game. I completed the game in 16 minutes.



    5. Zup!

    Total achievements unlocked: 118/118
    Total time played: 31 minutes
    Game link: Zup!
    Cost of game: INR 58

    If achievement hunters had an orgasm, then this is it! 118 achievements unlocked in half an hour! In this game, all you have to do is land the blue square on the target destination, while making sure it doesn’t fall off or land on top of the yellow squares. There were around 4-5 challenging levels where you need to time your click really fast, but I feel that is too little for my money’s worth. Do get this game only if you want the achievements, otherwise skip it.



    6. 12 Labours of Hercules

    Total achievements unlocked: 22/22
    Total time played: 35 hours
    Cost of game: INR 169

    A fun Point-and-Click time management game with a narration and storyline that could get really corny and funny too. A game for kids, but I enjoyed it nonetheless :D Sometimes the levels can get a bit repetitive, so I wouldn’t recommend you trying to complete this game in one shot. Don’t believe the 35 hours you see in my stats, I must have left the game on during my client meeting or group discussions, you can easily complete the game and get 100% achievement in 5-10 hours.



    7. 12 Labours of Hercules: The Cretan Bull

    Total achievements unlocked: 22/22
    Total time played: 10 hours
    Cost of game: INR 169

    The second installment of the above game, it is basically the same, but they have changed a couple of gameplay elements, like for example the storage is limited while the resource to collect is much lesser, but this is balanced out by having 2 servants and sometimes 3 at the beginning of most levels. You can also call upon the help of the Gods more times in this version. The storyline is still as quirky as before, I found it cute how the writer tried to rhyme some words, even if they didn’t make much sense :)



    8. Save Jesus

    Total achievements unlocked: 17/17
    Total time played: 5 hours
    Game link: Save Jesus
    Cost of game: INR 55

    Ahhhh Jesusssss! Love this game. In this game you must roll a ball and knock out all Roman soldiers while making sure Jesus is not hit :D Totally cute game. Also funny to see Julius Caesar in the same era as Jesus. The game gets moderately frustrating if you’re trying to get a perfect game as you must complete the same level using every different type of balls in order to unlock all achievements.



    9. Plates

    Total achievements unlocked: 2/2
    Total time played: 68 minutes
    Game link: Plates
    Cost of game: INR 58

    I like this game, though it was extremely short. I finished the game in less than 15 minutes. But of course I took more than an hour to get a perfect game (100% achievement) because that is possible only if you find the shortest path for each level. And this is why I love indie puzzle games such as this – they are not yet popular enough for people to write guides, and so we have to earn the achievements the old fashion way. :)



    10. Sharf

    Total achievements unlocked: 3/3
    Total time played: 9 minutes
    Game link: Sharf
    Cost of game: INR 58

    Very simple game. Some even call it a walk simulator and has a mixed review. You can complete the "game" in under 10 minutes. However, the game is actually very dark and will make you feel the chills if you pay close attention during this short duration. It is about the rape and murder of a 15 year old girl in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. Kristina Storozhenko / кристина стороженко. In fact, this is such a local news that if you google her name, you will get result of this tragic incident only in Ukrainian language.



    11. Pythagoria

    Total achievements unlocked: 5/5
    Total time played: 32 minutes
    Game link: Pythagoria
    Cost of game: INR 119

    This is the perfect puzzle game for all you math geeks, or if you have sat through CAT entrance exams. :) It’s basically mathematics calculation using logic and reasoning. Rather than calculating the values of areas by crunching numbers in your head or on a piece of paper, you must instead make a geometric deduction based on the clues given. When I started playing this, it was just me sitting alone in front of my office PC. By the time I was towards the end, there were around 4-5 colleagues surrounding me, all hooked to the puzzles in front of us :D



    12. SquareCells

    Total achievements unlocked: 7/7
    Total time played: 101 minutes
    Game link: SquareCells
    Cost of game: INR 169

    A very nice minimalistic puzzle game. Something like minesweeper, but the squares contain the number of squares you much click for that entire row or column. Great way to relax and test your brains.



    13. Tenrow

    Total achievements unlocked: 4/4
    Total time played: 32 minutes
    Game link: Tenrow
    Cost of game: INR 169

    This game is similar to the above game, but easier and simpler. Buy this game only if it’s on a discount.



    14. Puzzler World

    Total achievements unlocked: 14/14
    Total time played: 7 hours
    Game link: Puzzler World
    Cost of game: INR 259

    A great "one stop location" for all puzzle game lovers. This game has more than 1200 puzzles across 8 different types of puzzles. You must play 10 of each type in order to get 100% achievement. Good time pass, but for me there is a huge discrepancy in the difficulty levels. For example, games like Silhouette, Hangman (Unhung Hero), Jigsaw, Wordsearch etc were super easy, while games like Sudoku and Link-A-Pix were moderately difficult (I did spend a good amount of time on these two), and some Chain Letter games were very challenging, but the Crossword section was super tough (I confess I cheated here by referring to guides). The crossword section is very tough for me because of the use of many colloquial British words and phrases I’m not familiar with (example: A very noisy young person - Yob). I wish the developers would add more achievements because there are so many puzzles to play after you get 100% achievements.



    15. Puzzler World 2

    Total achievements unlocked: 17/17
    Total time played: 6 hours
    Game link: Puzzler World 2
    Cost of game: INR 259

    The second installment of the above game, this game has a revamped UI. They have also changed the mechanics of some games, like for example in Fitword you no longer have to type the words but rather drag-drop them to the allocated space. Link-A-Pix is now in four grids, which I find quite irritating. There are also four new types of puzzles, and you must complete 10 games of each puzzle type in order to get 100% achievement. And of course the Crossword section is tough as usual. But it feels good to see even Americans complaining about how tough the Crossword section is because of the British English :D



    16. Basketbelle

    Total achievements unlocked: 4/4
    Total time played: 105 minutes
    Game link: Basketbelle
    Cost of game: INR 259

    Sweet side platformer, though the control mechanics could get a little bit frustrating sometimes. You need to complete the game more than once if you want to get a perfect game. Nice storyline too. I see a huge potential in expanding this game and making it into a bigger franchise. There is also a game-stopping bug on level 3, which the developer isn’t able to solve, but other helpful users have given steps on how to avoid that bug in the discussion forum.



    17. Aurora Nights

    Total achievements unlocked: 5/5
    Total time played: 29 minutes
    Game link: Aurora Nights
    Cost of game: INR 58

    This is not a game for most gamers. If you like the stars and constellations, this game is for you. In this game, you must discover the constellations by connecting different stars correctly. In order to get 100% achievements, you have to play each constellation thrice. The first time is east, and then it gets tougher as other decoy stars also start appearing, and if you click the wrong star, you have to start again. Basically, you have to memorize the correct star pattern once you have played a constellation the first time. Very nice night-sky ambience, and there is also a mini-encyclopedia about each constellation. This game is developed by the same guy who made the game "Pythagoria" mentioned earlier above.



    18. Escape This

    Total achievements unlocked: 5/5
    Total time played: 6 minutes
    Game link: Escape This
    Cost of game: INR 58

    The only game from this list that I request you DO NOT buy. Very carelessly made and executed. I don’t even think getting an easy 100% achievement in 5 minutes is worth buying this game. Just avoid it. Horrible. Just plain horrible. There were so many ways the developers could have made it slightly better, but I guess they too just said, "Ahh screw it". Having a game like this in my inventory also lowers the quality of the rest of my games. Seriously. Avoid this crap.



    19. It’s Spring Again

    Total achievements unlocked: 4/4
    Total time played: 7 minutes
    Cost of game: INR 58

    I recommend you buy this game only if you want the easy achievements, or if you have 1-2 years old kids at home. After all, this game is made for kids. You just click through a series of seasonal changes, educating you about what happens in these four seasons, like the flowers bloom, the leaves fall etc. But I really love the unique art style :)



    20. Summer Sale

    Total achievements unlocked: 6/6
    Total time played: 90 minutes
    Game link: Summer Sale
    Cost of game: INR 58

    Hahaha this "game" is so stupid that I love it. Basically, it is a Steam sale simulator, where you buy a bunch of made up games (that you can actually play, but they’re all corny as hell). And what happens when you run out of money? You either play two not very exciting games that will earn you very little amount of money, or you play a click-fest game where every click earns you around 10 cents. So you just click click click on the screen to get money. Stupid yeah, but you’ll eventually get 100% achievements in the end.


    So those were the new 20 games where I got 100% achievements. Will update my blog on my next 20 again. Until then, cheers :)