Lutron Caseta Wireless Dimmer & Remote Review

The dimmer in my living room decided it is time to retire after 30+ years of service. It stopped working Wednesday night unannounced. So I think, it is time to try something new, something “smart”.

After some research, I decided to give Lutron a try. Lutron is definitely the leader in the business of regular and smart switches/dimmers. They are also the leader for smart home solutions. Usually their products are top of the line, with top of the line price tag as well. However, Caseta Wireless is the new product line Lutron created for the mid-end consumer market with a reasonable price. $60 for a dimmer and a remote bundle. Not cheap, but acceptable.

I got mine from Amazon: Lutron P-PKG1W-WH-R Caseta Wireless 150-Watt Multi-Location In-Wall Dimmer Kit w, White. I am a prime member for 5 years, they never let you down. I placed the order on Wednesday night, received it Saturday morning.

First Impression

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This is dimmer + remote bundle with wall plates. And it is only $5 more than a bare dimmer. It is well worth the extra $5.

To Be Continued.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius Review

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, or FFBE, is a Final Fantasy spinoff mobile game about to launch in world wide including North America. It was launched in JP in October 2015. Although it’s not available in Google Play or the App Store yet, you can pre-register, or just download it from QooApp.

People who played the Brave Frontier before will find the game familiar. They are from the same developer A-Lim. Compared with FFRK, FFBE is more of a traditional turn based RPG with collections. There is a story line in it, although it’s not very attractive. And you can do exploration which is like a dungeon crawling. The exploration part is not particular fun though, because sliding on the phone to move is just awkward. A controller is much better for this task.

The game isn’t really about exploration though. It is still a F2P game with tons of FF characters waiting for you to summon use hard to earn in game currency Lapis. You can of course buy lapis with real money.

FFBE has a better graphics than FFRK. Character development is fun. You bring them in battle to earn EXP. Besides level-up which is relatively easy with the EXP dungeon etc., you will consume a lot of time earning trust if you want a really strong team. Each character comes with some reward for you after earning 100% trust. Once obtained, you can use the reward on any characters. Sometimes it’s a skill, or a strong weapon. It seems easy, but the trust is not easy to earn. You can earn about 0.1% trust in battles randomly. Expect to earn the 100% trust in 10,000 battles.

For lucky or heavy IAP players, there’s an easy way to earn trust. You can upgrade a character with other unit. If you use the same one, regardless of rarity, you will earn trust fast. 2-3 of the same unit can net you about 10% trust.

So you see, the developer did all the things to make you spend money. To some extend FFBE’s developer overdid it that they got lots of complaints in App Store / Google Play for the Japaneses version. People mainly complained about how ridiculous the drop rate is to obtain their favorite characters. There are 5 levels of rarity when you summon a crystal. In the paid pool, it’s guaranteed to be 3 stars. However 3 star characters are mostly useless. You want the diamond crystal, which is 5 star. Square Enix didn’t announce the stats, but based on my experience in several days of re-rolling, the rate to see a diamond crystal is only about 1%. And seeing a diamond crystal doesn’t guarantee it’s a real 5* rarity either. Some characters can be upgraded from 3* to 5* or even 6*. You may see a diamond crystal, but it turned out to be Kefka who can be obtained from a blue crystal which corresponds to 3 star characters. My advice to you if you want to start playing this game, is to ensure you have a good start. I learnt this a hard way that I eventually abandoned my old account, and started rerolling at the current event, in which Lightning has a higher rate to drop. So far, Luneth and Lightning are the well known best characters to start. They can use dual wield, have the best stats and boosts or elemental skills.

You can check the JP wiki for characters ranking to decide which characters to develop. To save you some time translating Japanese, I can tell you the top 5 characters here:

オルランドゥ
オルランドゥ, Orurandu of FFT
12.5 5~6 stars 物理攻撃魔法攻撃
回復強化
弱体守備
魔人フィーナ
魔人フィーナ, Majin Fina of FFBE
12.5 5~6 stars 物理攻撃魔法攻撃
回復強化
弱体守備
エクスデス
エクスデス, Exdeath of FF5
12.0 5~6 stars 物理攻撃魔法攻撃
回復強化
弱体守備
ライトニング
ライトニング, Lightning of FF13
12.0 5~6 stars 物理攻撃魔法攻撃
回復強化
弱体守備
ルーネス
ルーネス, Luneth of FF3.
12.0 5~6 stars 物理攻撃魔法攻撃
回復強化
弱体守備

Note that the best rated characters may not always be good for new players. Some of them requires trust to shine. The best starting characters are Luneth and Lightning. It’s best if you can get an account with 2 of Luneth, Lightning and Paladin Cecil. Cecil may not have the best attack stats, but his trust reward (120 ATK duel wield weapon) is a must for Luneth or Lightning. Cecil can be star 3~6.

セシル
セシル
10.5 星3~星6 物理攻撃魔法攻撃
回復強化
弱体守備

Well, once you have a good start, enjoy the game! More tips coming soon. Please check back.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir Platinum Strategy and Tips

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is an enjoyable game and easy to platinum. Total time to platinum is about 50 hours. It can be shortened by skipping scenes.

There are no missable trophies in the game because you can select any chapter to replay. Inside each chapter you can jump through all the checkpoints you’ve been through. So you can just play the game without any guide and later pick up any missing items. But if you want to fast platinum, here are some tips (there may be minor spoilers):

  1. You need to collect all skills and texts. So if you see an archive icon or skill stone icon on the map, go get them.
  2. You need to taste all food made from the kitchen in the field. Make sure you don’t waste ingredient to save time. You even need a bad grape and an overripe muggle. But don’t worry too much as all ingredients can be purchased from the Koopa Village merchant.
  3. There are secret rooms in the game which hold skill stones and keys. Check this YouTube video to get them all.
  4. Although you will only use up to 4 skills, you can level all of them to get the ATK+1 bonus with low requirement. And it’s always helpful to level up passive skills.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir – first impression

odinsphere

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is an action RPG made by the same developer of Dragon’s Crown, which is Vanillaware. It feels quite similar to Dragon’s Crown, but not as exaggerated in human figure representations. In other words, you don’t see the shaking huge breasts barely covered by clothes which makes you ashamed of playing it in front of others. ‘Tis is a welcome change.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir tells five books of stories which are intervened. With the fancy drawings and decent voice acting, it feels like a Disney movie, pure and loving, which I quite enjoy. Although I can somehow guess the outcome, I still paid full attention to the story and wanted to see what’s going on next. Part of it is due to the lack of ability to skip scenes or conversations, but I have to agree that the story is still better than many other RPGs. It is simple, but with positive attitude which distinguish itself from many current generation games with violent background.

Gameplay-wise, it uses the same mechanism as in Dragon’s Crown. The visual and sound effect is satisfactory and you can control what skills you use and master, which is an element required by RPGs. You can collect recipes and earn more EXP from the food you cultivated by eating them cooked as opposed to raw. But I feel the skill level is more important than character level. It’s important to focus on only a few skills so that you can use the most powerful ones in battle. I chose those use POW as it recovers faster than PP, which is consumed by magical spells.

In the game, you sometimes need to find hidden items to learn all skills. The good thing is you can go to any of the acts freely, so there is nothing missable. I’m still on the path to platinum it but so far it feels a very pleasant experience.

Final Fantasy Record Keeper brings you back to the FF worlds – a review

FFRK is a mobile game on iOS and Android made by developer DeNA Games using Square Enix’ IP. It is a casual F2P (free to play) game which nicely resembles past Final Fantasy games. The developer makes money via IAP which allows players to draw relics for their FF heroes.

In FFRK,  you enter the pictures of those final fantasy records with a team of 5 to defend them. You recruit heroes along the way, make them stronger, and then fight to preserve more records. In order to fight, you need to consume stamina, which refills 1 every 3 minutes.

As most F2P mobile games, there’s no ultimate goal or ending to this game. Developer periodically release new challenges as well as new characters and relics. You as a player gain satisfaction by conquering all that are available, or raise your favorite FF teams. Either way, you want to make your heroes stronger and stronger. There are 3 ways in the game to make them stronger. 1. Level up characters, 2. create and level up skills, 3. improve equipment.  The first two need stamina, which can be bought with in game currency mythril or real money. The third one need good weapons and armors, which can only be obtained by drawing relics. Mythril is quite limited, so many users ended up paying money.

Gameplay: ATB based battle system. It’s like the one used in FFXIII. In my opinion, it’s the best choice for final fantasy fans who are used to, or even prefer turn based battles. In simple cases, you can click the auto button to let your heroes use basic attack. In more challenging cases, you often need to decide carefully what skills to use, as they are restricted resources. That gives you the incentive to keep improving, therefore more battles, and more enjoyments.

Graphics and BGM: the game uses retro style pixel art. You can still recognize the heroes if you are familiar. But I prefer higher quality graphics, given that final fantasy games have always been the best in graphics in their own time. But I understand if they want to keep the footprint small for a mobile game. The BGM on the other hand is fantastic. They used the original FF music with the pictures. So nostalgic.

Performance: I bet this game is made for iOS first. On iOS it runs smoothly. It still has places where loading takes some time, but that’s when the client is talking to server. Btw the game requires internet connection to play, because all actions must be synced with servers to prevent hack. On Android, it’s another story. It’s super lagging on Android 6.0 on my N5X. In fact, it has the worst performance among all the mobile games I’ve played on Android. However on Nexus 6 which runs Android 5.1 it’s as good as on iPhone 6S.

Free to Play: I add this category to rate mobile games because many people are interested to know if they can play the game without paying for long. Free games aren’t all the same. Some games allow you to obtain all the things in game, but if you are impatient, you can pay to speed things up. Clash of Clans is a good example in this category. Some games integrated gambling. Once you are deep into the game, it’s hard to resist the urge to keep gambling, which requires real money. e.g. Puzzle & Dragons. FFRK is like the latter, but at least it grants you access to all characters in game, and it gives out mythrils generously (about 50 per month thanks to daily login bonus and event dungeons). With the free draws, you can get a decent team already. But for completionist be prepared to pay for big because DeNA releases new and better equipment every week.

Conclusion: I would recommend all Final Fantasy fans to try out the game if they like mobile games. Although there’s no story in the RPG game, you will have so much fun in raising your favorite heroes. For other people, if you like RPGs, and enjoy researching for different strategies to win, the game is worth trying too unless you use a low performance Android phone.