Okey Dokey

Right before GenCon, Tasty Minstrel Games contacted me through my Instagram asking if I'd be interested in trying out one of their new releases, Okey Dokey. Tasty Minstrel has often delivered hits for me, including Scoville, Orléans, and Eminent Domain. I'm even currently waiting for a much anticipated copy of Chimera Station that I backed on Kickstarter. All that said, I thought: Why now? My copy arrived Monday, so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

Quick Overview

Okey Dokey is a light and simple cooperative game. In it, you are trying to help an orchestra filled with cute animals preform. Everyone gets a hand of instrument cards. It's your groups job to play the instruments, moving the music sequentially (starting with 1 and moving to 8). You'll play 10 rounds to win, during which you can only play in the current column you are filling. You can play a single card of a particular instrument. So, if you have a set of the piano/purple cards in your hand, you can't play your 2, ,4, 5 each time it comes to you. During the round you'll be playing a total of 4 instrument cards & letting one section of your orchestra rest. Each instrument will rest twice, placing the Panda (0) its column spot instead the instrument card itself. These rests act as a reset for that instrument. So if you've played the 4, 5,and 7, you can start playing lower numbers in that instrument's row again. This will also let you discard up to 3 cards from your hand and draw back up.

Seems easy. However, when talking to your group, you can't use specifics about what numbers you have. You'll need to figure out a way to communicate what you want to play without getting specific. So, if you have a 2 in the violin, and your friend has a 1, you'll have to learn to read each others clues. That way you can't go "I'm planning on playing the 2." "No, don't do that! I have the 1."

Playing It Solo

One of the great things about co-op games is that you can often play them solo. Okey Dokey is no exception. I'll just say it... I REALLY liked this game solo. I received this game Monday night, and was able to play a couple of games of it during my breaks on Tuesday. Is simple. It's puzzley. Most importantly for me: It's quick. I get a few 15 minute breaks, and a 30 minute lunch. So sometimes I can have a single player co-op on my desk for days. This one I can set up in a minute and play in 15. I like it enough that I might consider buying a second copy just to have at work. While you lose the nuances of talking out card play with your fellow players, there's still plenty of challenge to be had. For instance, you have less cards "out" in people's hands, so going through the deck to find that card you need takes longer.

Multiplayer

Sadly, I did not get to check this out with a very high player count, but I was able to rope my friend Xavier into a quick game on Wednesday. Here is where we got to think about our communication and this, for me, added a whole different layer of fun. We really got into saying things like "My Piano... is severely out of tune. Also, I have laryngitis. But you should really hear my rocking drum solo!"

The Good

Things I appreciated.

  • Theme: Super cute. I mean, It's animals playing instruments. What's not to love?
  • Quick.
  • Simple. Not hard to teach, easy to learn, and easy to set up.
  • The art is simple, yet incredibly fun.
  • The cards quality is excellent. Mix this with the art, and I just fell in love. This mixture strongly reminded me of the cards in the copy of game I used to play with my grandparents, Elfer Raus.
  • Plays well as a single player.
  • Small box. It's smaller than my 6" Baymax Pop! Vinyl, making it easy to grab and go.
  • Solid gameplay.
  • Replayability. Because it's essentially a deck of cards, there's no "here is what we do." On top of that, there are several levels of difficulty you can try.

The Bad

What I don't like, or can see others not loving (even if they're part of the good).

  • Simple. You're not going to have a lot of variation to the game play. You also don't have a lot of "tough" decisions to make. Each game will play the very similarly.
  • Art. I've stated that I enjoy the art very much (most likely for the nostalgic feel it gave me), but, like the game, it's very simple. For those who love staring at artwork on cards, this won't do the trick.
  • Table-space. This game is a table hog. I don't know that there's a way to get around it, but while it's easily transportable, you won't be able to play this at a restaurant while you wait for your food.
  • A potential to break. part of what makes this game interesting and fun to me is trying to communicate in code. But like any game that utilizes this concept, people could fall into the trap of "when this is said, he means he has a 2."

Final Thoughts (7)

I'm really glad to have this in our collection. It hits just the right spot for me. When I first played it and won using all 3 wild cards. Instead of gradually increasing the difficulty, I took all three out, thinking maybe it was too easy. And I failed. Hard. Twice. So mastering this will be a fun challenge, and one I'm looking forward to. With only a $10.99 price tag on CoolStuffInc, I think this game is a steal. Go get it!

Life is Like a Hurricane...

Ok. Let's start out by saying that I was skeptically nervous when they first announced that they were rebooting one of my all-time-favorite television shows as a child: DuckTales.

I mean, I loved this show. I own t-shirts from it. I used to have stuffed versions of Huey, Dewey and Louie that I carried with me around the house and called them "my boys." Cause apparently at 5 I wanted a posse. Yes, I may even have an old Scrooge toy from my childhood that sits on my desk at work. I still have/play the NES version of the video game... OK. You get the point. I loved DuckTales.

As the first glimmer of the reboot began to circulate (see above), i was worried. The art style, at first glance, looked like the new Mickey cartoons. Which, while I initially enjoyed, grew to hate as I watch them. Reminded me of Ren & Stimpy. Let's just say, those cartoons disappoint me. So was this what was to become of my beloved show? More content, and I was started to feel better. Even excited. On Saturday, it finally debuted. Here are my thoughts.

Design Style

Like I said before, I was nervous about this. Not anymore. I LOVE IT. No, it's not exactly like stepping back into the 90s cartoon, but it is like stepping back into the 1950s comics with a 2017 twist. You can see this in the new opening, as characters jump in and out of comic book panels. Watch as the camera pans and you see the 50s comic art, including the halftone dots that appear as shadowing. I sat back and just drank in the beauty of it. Where the old version used the faux 3D style, our reboot embraces the 2D and says "this is what a Carl Barks comic looks like animated." So, as a graphic designer: I'm in love with the choices they made.

Characters

The characters are not a perfect translation of the ones we grew up on. Webby isn't the token girl. She's an adventurer. The nephews aren't completely interchangeable. They have personalities, desires, and different goals. This will make for a much better show, and I'll elaborate on that soon. The inclusion of Donald hearkens back to the original comics, not the show, but I don't mind this. What I like is that Donald is DISTINCTLY Donald. Not some modern version. He's angry. He's almost down right inaudible. I've read some complain about this, and I can understand why. However, I feel like it's the same way he was in the shorts I watched as a kid, his minor appearances in the original show, and even Mickey's Christmas Carol. Launchpad isn't.... nope... he's still exactly as Launchpad should be. Beakley in the most interesting development, as she's gone from an hysteric maid to a BA Bodygaurd type character. I'm not sure how I feel about this, and only time will tell.

Story

It parallels the original well. Donald hands the nephews off to a reluctant Scrooge. Scrooge is kind of a jerk. Boys are stuck in a crummy room and want to know/impress Scrooge. Soon Scrooge softens to them, discovers an adventure, and takes his nephews along. Originally they go for the the Treasure of the Golden Sun in a 5 part miniseries. Here we have an extended 1-hour episode hunting for Atlantis. It's similar enough, but not a carbon copy. We have a new origin story. We see how the nephews really affect Scrooge, and why his heart softens for them. In reality, it's a much more intricate origin despite being 90 minutes shorter, and because the characters have more depth, it's much more engaging.

Nostalgia vs New

This is the big one. Will it work for the 90s kid? Will it work for my kids? Short answer: Yes. I believe so.

Here's why:

  • Already we see some hidden nostalgia gems. Probably too many for me to have caught with my first viewing. Almost right away we hear a reference to Cape Suzette, our beloved city from Talespin. Appearances in the garage for both the magic lamp and the head of Armstrong gives me a wink that says "Yes, this show is meant for you." I can't wait to see what other bits they throw our way.
  • There's enough of the original triplets, mainly their mischievous nature, to feel like the original, while providing unique personalities that I'd want from characters from any show I'd watch as an adult. These updates to the nephews & webby allow for interactions, humor, and character growth that a nostalgic adult will understand, while still remaining silly enough to make my kids laugh. Sure, we often laughed at different moments, but we both laughed. Now, this isn't the low-brow adult humor that I refer to as "Dreamworks" humor. We didn't "adultify" Ducktales. Think more "Phineas & Ferb." It doesn't rely on hidden dirty innuendo, but rather clever wit and timing: "You're here because you're the cheapest of the best."
  • Launchpad is Launchpad. He didn't need to change. He shouldn't have changed. So I'm glad he didn't. He's the same absolutely lovable and bumbling idiot he was before. Slapstick for the kids. Slapstick for me. He's summed up in the line from the show: "You know, family really is the greatest adven... OH NO THE GROUND!!" The delivery is perfect. I laugh every time I've seen that clip. Every. Time.
  • After it was finished I was ready for more.
  • After it was finished, my kids asked "Can we watch more?.

And there it is. I wanted more. My kids wanted more. In a world where reboots have been pretty terrible, DuckTales KNOCKS IT OUT OF THE PARK. It felt like it took a lesson from Girl Meets World (which I also thought was a pretty decent reboot), but also figured out how to improve upon that formula. Because it's hard for me to criticize this at all. I wanna re-watch it. I wanna see more. I want to watch every episode with my kids.

Conclusion: WATCH IT NOW!

Whole30

SUBJECTS:

Honestly, I don't remember how I discovered the Whole30 at this point. I know I got the book from the library (then wound up buying it), read it cover to cover, and something (probably the promises it made) just made me inspired and determined that I was going to do this!

What is the Whole30?

The Whole30 was created by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig. I would consider the Whole30 an experiment. The creators emphasize, it is NOT a diet (and it's not). Diets are about losing weight, and you typically do them until you reach a set goal or fall off the wagon. The Whole30 is done for a predetermined amount of time, and the ultimate goal is to figure out how different foods may affect you, with the added benefit of breaking food addictions.

You cut out the following food groups:

  • Dairy
  • Legumes/Soy
  • Grains
  • Sugar

At this point you might be thinking sheesh, what CAN I eat?

  • Meat & Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Nuts & Seeds

And you can eat until you're satisfied! No counting - carbs, calories, or anything else! As they'd say on Whose Line Is It Anyway - the points don't matter!

I cannot recommend enough to read the book for yourself. I cannot tell you how many times I've been browsing Pinterest and seen recipes for "Whole 30 approved xyz" (Fries, Pudding, Waffles - you name it!), that are NOT Whole30 approved at all! But you wouldn't necessarily know that if you didn't read the book for yourself. This is where the idea of food addiction comes in. If you can use whole foods to recreate a food that is more commonly known as "junk" food (including the list I just mentioned, think pancakes, ice cream, etc.), it's still not allowed. This is basically an effort to rewire your brain so that you don't see food as some sort of a reward, as that can lead to serious eating problems.

After 30 days of eating this way, you then reintroduce the food groups you eliminated, one at a time, and take a couple of days to see how your body reacts to having the food back in your system. While they reintroduce the foods in an order that is supposed to have the least effect to the greatest effect (legumes, whole grains, dairy, gluten), it was actually the opposite for me; and hey, that's okay! That's what this program is all about! Legumes wreaked havoc on my stomach and whole grains made me an emotional mess.

While it is recommended that you take measurements and weigh yourself before and after doing the Whole30 to see visible results, what the creators really want you to pay attention to are your "non-scale victories". For me, this included things like: MUCH clearer complexion, clothes fitting better, leaner appearance (I didn't necessarily notice this, but people at work kept asking what I was doing, so someone noticed it!), not needing (or feeling like I needed) an afternoon nap, control over cravings, and in my children: improved behavior!

It's a serious program (if you cheat, you have to start from the beginning!), but it also yields serious results!

Why not give it a try? What do you have to lose?