Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mario Tennis Open First Impressions

I have to admit I'm a little disappointed with the 3DS's game library so far.  I only own 4 games for it.  By this time in the original DS's life, I had about a dozen games, none of which I regretted buying.
Mario Kart 7 is a lot of fun and I hope I can get around to posting a proper review of it in the next week or so.
But anyway, I bought Mario Tennis Open this passed weekend and thought I would go ahead and talk about my initial impression of it:
I'm really really disappointed that Nintendo still hasn't revisited the "RPG" mode they included in Mario Tennis for Gameboy Color; that was my favourite of the Mario Tennis games for that very reason.  I'm not a fan of traditional JRPG's, and Mario Tennis (GBC) was anything but traditional with it and made it a lot of fun.  Mario Tennis Open, on the other hand, feels like it was the minimal effort Nintendo could have put into it without having to call it a demo.
There is a Tournament mode which takes some cues from Mario Kart with it being split up into "Mushroom", "Banana", "Fire Flower", etc. tournaments and that's as close as the game gets to a career mode.  There are some mini-games which I have yet to try out.
So anyway. as of right now, I'm very underwhelmed with the newest Mario Tennis title.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Updated Thoughts on the Ultimate Spider-Man TV Series

So, back in the beginning of April, Ultimate Spider-Man (the TV series, not the comic) premiered and shortly thereafter I posted my initial impressions of it.  In short, I was unimpressed but hopeful.  Now that we are 8 episodes in, I'm just barely hanging onto the show.
Before Ultimate Spider-Man premiered, Greg Weisman addressed a fan asking about the details of Spectacular Spider-Man's cancellation.  His response can be found here:

He finishes his answer with an optimism-instilling note.  When I read it today, I just felt a little depressed.  Weisman's own words were, "There's no reason to think (Ultimate Spider-Man) won't be as good or better than (Spectacular Spider-Man)."
How I wish that was true.  Ultimate Spider-Man is decidedly a step down from Spectacular in just about every way; the voice work, the animation (higher detail but much less fluidity and infrequent framerates), the humour and especially the story-telling.
Of the 8 episodes so far, only two of them (in my opinion of course) have been worth a second viewing and even then aren't exactly great television.  Contrasting that with Spectacular; in the 2008 cartoon, the first 8 episodes gave us two and a half story arcs, setups for almost the entire cast of characters, pivotal plot points such as Peter being fired from his lab job, major characterization such as Peter deciding he needs to be Spider-Man while in psychological turmoil, etc.  And it managed all that without feeling rushed or poorly paced.  Even the 90's series (a show which I dislike) did a much better job than Ultimate of keeping things interesting for its first set of episodes; though it did feel poorly paced.
Ultimate's first season is set to have 26 episodes which is double the length of Spectacular's seasons.  So it may be fair to say that Ultimate still has a lot of time to do better, but even proportionately speaking (so, by episode 4), Spectacular still had a lot more going on by this point.  To date, Ultimate seems to be making as little an effort as possible to create an actual continuity.  There doesn't seem to be any bigger story to anything that's happening, it's just a bunch of events that happen in totally isolated manners.  Sure, we have the Venom symbiote returning and Norman Osborn and Dr. Octopus are shown to be behind a few of the schemes Spidey's had to deal with.  That's it though, and neither of these elements have had any real impact so far.  The show is far more episodic than it seems to want its viewers to realize, and the total lack of character development for any of the heroes that this highlights is becoming more and more of a glaring flaw.

I really wanted to like this show.  I mean, I really, really did.  But I don't.  I'll probably give just the next episode a watch, but it's going to have to do some great stuff to keep me watching anymore.