Patrick O’Rourke’s 5 favourite things of 2023

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Joined: Nov 2016

Every year, each member of the MobileSyrup team puts together a list of their five favourite things, and more often than not, I struggle to come up with enough things I’ve truly enjoyed over the past 12 months.

It’s not that I don’t like stuff or have perpetual hate flowing through my veins — far from it, I like a lot of things. It’s just that when it comes time to look back at the year, many of the devices, TV shows, movies and experiences I genuinely enjoyed have faded from my memory, and the older I get, the more difficult it seems to be to pull them to the forefront of my mind (I think it’s because I’m so perpetually online and consume a lot of content).

This year has been no exception, but as always, I’ve dug through the recesses of my brain to come up with five things I truly liked from this past year.

Let’s get into it:

Halo Infinite

I finally hit D1 in Halo Infinite Season 5.

— Patrick O’Rourke (@Patrick_ORourke) December 30, 2023

I’m a creature of habit.

This means Halo Infinite remained my go-to game throughout 2023. The latest Halo game still isn’t perfect two years after its release, but it’s come a long way in the past year. In fact, Halo Infinite is arguably the best arena shooter out there right now, thanks to the addition of Forge and ample new content hitting the game regularly.

The “boomer shooter” lives on, despite what many might assume.

Will Infinite ever hit the popularity heights the Halo series once achieved? Probably not. But that doesn’t make Halo Infinite a bad game or not a more than worthwhile holdover until the next entry in the series (rumoured to be a battle royale developed by Certain Affinity) drops.


— Patrick O’Rourke (@Patrick_ORourke) October 20, 2023

On another note, I’m not a huge fan of the still relatively new Bandit starts in ‘Ranked’ multiplayer, but I’ve slowly wrapped my head around the weapon’s mechanics (I still prefer the Battle Rifle). I understand why 343 Industries needed to shake up the game’s Ranked/Pro scene with a gun that requires more accuracy, deepening the skill gap, but for older players like myself, the transition has been more difficult than I expected.

Will Halo Infinite be among my favourite things of 2024 given it also appeared on my 2021, 2022 and now 2023 list? Probably. I don’t see myself putting down the game any time soon.

Analogue Pocket
I’ve been lusting after the Analogue Pocket since it was first revealed but have never convinced myself to pull the trigger on the ultimate retro-revival handheld device. After wrestling with the obscene international shipping costs for the Pocket ($39.99 USD [about $53 CAD]), I finally bought the yellow version of the device, at least in part because it matches the colour of my original Game Boy from my childhood.

For those who are unaware, the Analogue Pocket is a modern version of Nintendo’s Game Boy, right down to the handheld’s ability to play real Game Boy, Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance cartridges (it can also play other systems like the Game Gear and Neo Geo Pocket with extra attachments). Thanks to the fact that it’s built on the FPGA development platform, it can also run emulators and ROMS for various systems.

After spending several months with the handheld, does the Analogue Pocket live up to its lofty $289.98 USD (roughly $383.24 CAD) cost? I think so. Its 3.5-inch LCD 1600 × 1440 resolution display is stunning and leagues ahead of my remade Game Boy Colour. The overall design of the handheld is superb. Yes, it costs a ridiculous amount of money, but the Analogue Pocket is gorgeous and is my favourite device I’ve used this year by far.

Keep an eye on MobileSyrup over the next few weeks as I plan to write a story focused on my experience with the Analogue Pocket so far.

Vanderpump Rules

Image credit: Bravo

It’s likely surprising to those who don’t know me, but I love trashy reality TV. For me, there’s nothing more relaxing than watching attractive-looking people fight over meaningless things like their lives depend on it. It’s a reprieve from my own issues and is a great escape from reality.

My interest in this space is long-running and started with The Hills back in the mid-to-late-aughts. I even hosted a The Hills: New Beginnings podcast for a few years called Unwritten (unfortunately, the TV show the podcast focused on was awful — don’t bother watching it). This brought me to Vanderpump Rules, a TV show about often awful young people living in Los Angeles and in the early seasons, working at Lisa Vanderpump’s various restaurants (most of the cast doesn’t actually work there anymore and are now what I’d describe as b-tier social media influencers).

I’ve always known the TV show was around and have even seen the odd episode, but it wasn’t until season 10 and “Scandoval” that the series truly landed on my radar. Now, I’ve gone back to watch the entire series from the beginning. It’s been fascinating to see the cast grow (or regress, sometimes) into the people they are today, moving from very average apartments to palatial homes in the TV show’s later seasons.

If you watch Vanderpump Rules’ earlier seasons, you’ll probably be as perplexed as I am regarding why the whole Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix, Rachel ‘Requel’ Leviss cheating situation ended up being such a big deal, since at various points, the entire cast of the reality TV show seems to be sleeping with one another.

Blink-182 — One More Time…

Image credit: Sony Music

My boys came back in 2023 — for real this time.

Against the odds, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker kissed and made up with estranged band member Tom Delonge, bringing us new music from Blink-182’s original lineup for the first time since 2012. And somehow, One More Time… doesn’t suck. In fact, I’d argue it’s the best-case scenario for the middle-aged pop-punk trio, with unreleased Box Car Racer track ‘Terrified,’ the earworm of the album, ‘Dance With Me,’ and the off-the-wall ‘Terpentine,’ a song that makes no sense in the best way possible. Why does Delonge say, “Stick your dick in Ovaltine,” and say turpentine wrong throughout the song?

We’ll likely never know.

Sure, the album features a few duds, namely the painfully California-like ‘Fell In Love’ and the overwrought, too-on-the-nose ‘One More Time…’ that’s the album’s namesake, but as a fan of the band since I was 11 years old, this is the best case situation for a new Blink-182 music in 2023.

Kingston Penitentiary tour
I don’t like to travel or leave the comfort of my home, so it takes a lot these days to get me to do anything. For years, I’ve wanted to tour Kingston’s historic penitentiary, and thanks to my partner, it finally happened late last year on a brief mini-vacation for my birthday. I’ve always been fascinated by the inner workings of prisons, particularly those in Canada.

Initially opened in 1835 and then closed in 2013, Kingston Penitentiary is an architectural marvel that has been patched together in a fascinating way over the years, with several renovations and new additions added to the facility. Unfortunately, the prison is currently in a state of disrepair in some areas due to what seems to be ample neglect, but it’s still a fascinating tour that even features expertise and stories from guards who worked at the facility before it closed. Highlights include the gym, the yard (which is featured in several TV shows, including Mayor of Kingstown) and the workshop, a section of the prison that’s full of intricate stonework right out of a medieval castle.


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