Marvel’s Spider-Man: Hit or Miss?

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Talk about split identities!

Who doesn’t love superheroes? After all, they are a big thing right now. Comic-book superheroes used to be such a niche market. Usually, only nerds would be into superheroes. However, we’ve reached a point in our society where superheroes are immensely popular. They may not exist, but people love partaking in stories involving these would-be protectors of our realm.

When it comes to superheroes, there are few that come close to the kind of popularity Spider-Man has! The stories of Peter Parker and spider-based alter-ego have become synonymous with the genre. With a hero as popular as Spider-Man, it was inevitable that there would be many variations on the popular franchise.

Never was this more present than television, where many adaptations of the classic comic book were made. Classics such as: Spider-Man 1994, Spider-Man Unlimited, and Spectacular Spider-Man. However, in 2012 we got the (arguably) worst possible adaptation of Spider-Man ever: Ultimate Spider-Man. I’m not talking about the comic or video-game of the same name, I mean the infamous Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.

This was a cartoon that ignored many key principles of the Spider-Man mythos, presented Peter Parker and his alter-ego as complete idiots, and ran way too long for a show that was mostly a comedy series. Did this show really need 104 episodes? Seriously?

Shortly before the series ended in January of this year, another Spider-Man cartoon was announced. This show would bring Spider-Man back to his science geek roots, and promised to be better than its abysmal predecessor. So, is this new Spider-Man show any good? At the time of writing this, there are only 5 episodes available, so it may be too soon to say.

Regardless, I thought I would get my opinions out on this new series of Spider-Man. So, is it any good? Well, it’s decent. It’s not terrible, and it’s not great, just acceptable. Let me discuss what I liked, and what I didn’t like about this show. Let’s start off with the good: The voice acting is pretty dang solid. The voice actors fit each character well, and aside from a few vocal performances thus far, things have been good.

Some characters are fairly well-designed, and the show possesses a rather pleasing anime-like art-style. I also liked how this show focuses on villains who are more obscure, such as The Jackal and the Spider-Slayers. Those are some of the good things, how about the bad?

Unfortunately, this new Spider-Man show has a lot of bad. Remember how I said this show has some well-designed characters? Unfortunately, a majority of the cast don’t share this philosophy. A lot of the older characters look downright ugly, and some designs barely resemble their comic book counterparts.

Worse still, some character designs don’t fit at all. For example, in this show Dr. Octavius is meant to be in his 20s-30s. Here he just looks like an overweight teenager, not unlike the principle cast. Also, the animation can be fairly choppy at times. Characters can float into the shot, or just randomly appear.

The show also employs CGI backgrounds and objects, which have a tendency to clash horribly with the 2D animation. The show is also trying too hard to be “scientific”. Almost every second line has something to do with science, and most scenes are filled with Peter prattling on about some obscure scientific fact.

It felt so forced and didn’t really add anything to experience at all. This gets annoying in some of the more recent episodes, as the characters have a tendency to talk about science facts without explaining them. There are points where the “science babble” gets so bad that I feel I can’t properly follow along.

It’s not as bad as other shows, such as “Betterman”, but it’s still rather aggravating. I’m not going to make too much of a comment on the story. This is mostly due to the fact that we are still very early in the show’s run, so it wouldn’t make sense to judge this facet of the show too harshly. So far, the series has done a good job of setting up future events, even if several of them probably should’ve been saved for season 2.

Those are my thoughts on the new Spider-Man show. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, though it definitely has some problems. Still, it’s a vast improvement over the previous series, and I’m willing to give it a chance. It feels like a more “authentic” Spider-Man story than we’ve been getting the past few years, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the writers can do with it next.

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First Impressions: Miitopia

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Shigeru Miyamoto’s singing is a punishment no mortal man should be forced to sit through.

I’ll admit something, I’ve never been a fan of Nintendo’s “Miis”. For over three console generations, Nintendo has tried to push these customize-able avatars onto its audience. This on its own isn’t bad, but Nintendo kept trying to make these paper-doll characters a household name. They were in several games, including ones where they were just guest stars.

Now, I don’t think the Miis are a bad idea in practice. The problem was that for the longest time Nintendo didn’t really know what to do with said characters. The thing about Miis is that while they were in a lot of good games, their appearance never enhanced the feel or enjoyment of the game. That’s because these were paper-doll characters, generic templates that are hard to project on to.

Now, this is a common practice with a lot of games. Several games will let you make your own character and adventure as your chosen avatar. What makes Miis different is that Nintendo wanted these to be a franchise, they wanted to sell their template characters in games that only managed to show how generic of an idea it was.

This all changed with the release of Tomodachi Life though. Tomodachi Life was unique, and changed up the concept of Miis quite a bit. Nintendo focused on showing the weirder and more bizarre side of these characters. The game was a life simulator, one that focused on putting the custom characters of the player in bizarre and random situations.

This focus on weirdness and all around oddness became a selling point for the game. Unlike previous games such as Wii Music and Wii Party, Nintendo managed to take a boring concept and morph it into something enjoyable. A lot of people really dug the game, so Nintendo kept this going. Nintendo brought us Miitomo a little while later, which was a conversation app that utilized Miis. For a little phone app, it was decent, though nothing groundbreaking.

However, we would get the next big Mii game in 2017. This game was Miitopia, a JRPG for the Nintendo 3DS. Now, I haven’t played the full game yet. I was curious about this game enough to play the game, though. So, what do I think of the game thus far? Well, it’s a pretty darn fun game! Miitopia is pretty unique in that it lets you cast various Miis in the roles of the game’s cast.

These Miis could belong to you, or you can choose from a pool of Miis made online. I used the only Mii I had made as my hero, and cast the rest using “Mii Central”. This lead to some rather bizarre results, I must admit. For example, my village was populated with a ton of fictional characters: Brock from Pokemon, Hercule and Android 17 from Dragon Ball, Heath Ledger’s Joker from the Batman movies, and Batman himself as the mayor!

This game is like crossover city! While villagers and certain random NPCs are cast as miscellaneous Miis, you are free to cast whoever you want in most of the major roles. This lead to a lot of craziness, as I found myself casting random fictional characters as the primary cast. The villain was Skeletor, the Great Sage was Segata Sanshiro, and one of my party members was Spiderman!

And the story actually had a pretty solid setup and unique scenario. What happened was that the “Dark Lord” came down, stole everybody’s faces, and put them on monsters. So, it’s now up to you to get everyone’s faces back. The world being infested by custom characters is really a unique idea. It’s a ton of fun, and the crux of what makes the game so entertaining. Seeing all these characters, both real and fictional interact is a ton of fun!

The combat is pretty simple, in that you only control your own hero in combat. All of your other party members are computer controlled, and often act depending upon their selected personality. Different personality types work better with different classes, so mixing and matching is always fun in this game!

The primary problem I had with the game was its simplicity. There’s not a whole lot to the gameplay, even if a bit of it does involve strategy. However, the game itself managed to avoid being repetitive. This is due to party member taking completely random actions in combat.

This could involve them helping or hindering certain party members, or even not getting along with other characters. This makes these paper-doll characters feel 3-dimensional and also allows for some unique scenarios to play out. Battles feel more like legitimate fights than most RPGs, taking the sometimes random nature of D&D and mixing it with Final Fantasy.

It’s nothing new or revolutionary, but it’s refreshing enough to feel like its own thing. Another thing I liked about this game was its surprisingly epic soundtrack. I wasn’t expecting such an amazing soundtrack out of a Mii game, but this game was full of sweet tunes! It had rock music, Japanese sounding music, music that sounded like it was sung by a choir, and even some genres which I didn’t really recognize.

From the demo alone, I have to say this game is definitely solid and entertaining. Sure, it’s simple and is pretty easy at times, but its unique character creation and customization opens make it really unique. I’m definitely going to buy the physical game and give it more in-depth review. I think this game will mostly attract a niche audience, but I think the more hard-core audience probably won’t play much of it.

It’s obviously meant for the casual crowd, though I found myself enjoying it quite a bit. This isn’t a game that’s going to change the way people look at RPGs, but it’s something that definitely stands out as both unique and interesting. It’s a fun little time-waster meant to be played in short-bursts, which is something I truly appreciate.

Is Monster Hunter Stories Worth Getting?

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This is without the most colorful box-art I’ve ever seen for a Monster Hunter game!

In about a month or two, a new Monster Hunter game (or new to the West, at least) will be hitting store shelves. This game is known as “Monster Hunter Stories”. This game marks a large departure from the classic Monster Hunter formula. In this spinoff game, you actually befriend the monsters and can fight alongside them. In most other Monster Hunter game, you are often slaying the monsters as opposed to working alongside them.

Stories managed to change the more action-oriented combat, into a more turn-based one. Now, I still have yet to play Stories. It’s not coming out in America until next month, which is why I plan to pick it up. While the game looks to be a clone of Pokemon, still want to give it a shot. I’ve been playing a lot of Pokemon-styled games of late. While I can’t stand the original Pokemon series much anymore, I can still enjoy the games that use the same style of gameplay.

So, with Stories I’m definitely excited. I love the idea of being able to ride a dragon through the sky, and explore a larger more open-world. I’ve always been a big fan of Monster Hunter, so seeing them tackle an entirely different sub-genre is definitely interesting.

It’s been a year since I’ve played anything Monster Hunter related, so it’s gonna be fun to get back into the game. I hope that everyone gets into the game as well, so we can tell Capcom we want more Monster Hunter games like this! Once I get my hands on the game, I’ll probably get around to watching the anime adaptation as well. Emphasis on “probably”.

Pacific Rim 2 Uprising: Why I’m Excited

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Only half of these robots become important in the film, that’s a rather sad fact.

Believe it or not, when it comes to new movies I tend not to get that excited about them. I tend to be this way when it comes to films, unlike with video-games. With video-games, I can get a bunch on sale for a few bucks. When you go to the theater, you have to pay 15 bucks for a single film. So, I tend to mostly play games as opposed to going to to the theater to see all the new films. Their sadly just isn’t enough new and interesting stuff to entertain me.

This all changed in 2013, when I saw a film that was surprisingly refreshing. Pacific Rim was a love-letter to fans of the giant robot genre, and one of those few modern films that I can say I truly loved. I’m not calling Pacific Rim a modern masterpiece or anything. It’s a film about giant robots, who are being piloted by humans, and having to fight an alien menace. This film is almost as cheesy as Independence Day or Starship Troopers, yet it’s somehow really impressive and fun.

People forget that a movie doesn’t to be perfect or amazing to be a great film, the mark of a truly great film is being unique. I can’t think of too many giant robot movies out there, aside from Transformers and Real Steel. Nothing like Pacific Rim was really out at the time, at least not on the same scale.

Pacific Rim was this rare film, a film that emulated old mecha anime and managed to be its own thing. Humans pilot mechs known as “Jaegers”, fight giant monsters known as “Kaiju, while an AI that sounds like Glados from Portal gives them advice. It was something different, maybe a bit too different for Western audiences.

The film sadly did not do well in the West, barely breaking even and didn’t make up for the productions. Thankfully, the film did amazingly well overseas! It made a killing in countries like Japan and China, to the point where the filmmakers were given the go-ahead for a sequel.

Next year we are finally getting that sequel, a whopping five years after the original. After all, a film of this scale and magnitude takes time. Am I excited for this film? Oh, definitely! However, their are a few things that have raised some red flags for me. For one thing, the film is titled “Pacific Rim: Uprising”. You could not come up with a more generic sub-title for a film, even if you tried!

The moniker of “Uprising” has been used in so many properties that I’m surprised it hasn’t become a running joke yet. That’s more of a minor concern, I’m more concerned about the director. Steven S. DeKnight does have talent, he’s worked on some great shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Heck, he was even the showrunner for the Netflix Daredevil show!

Thing is, it’s different to jump from running a smaller budget TV show, to directing a high budget action film. Especially a film with a large budget and a massive audience of fans worldwide. To be fair, most modern big-budget films now are handled by small-time directors and writers. Deadpool and 10 Cloverfield Lane are examples of this done right.

Still, it’s not gonna be the same without Guillermo Del Toro directing. The man brought a unique sense of charm to the first film, and he’ll directorial presence will certainly be missed. Still, I’m going to give Steve the benefit of the doubt and see what he makes. Regardless of the quality of the film, it’s still gonna sell like hot-cakes in Japan again.

So, even if the film turns out to be bad, their will still be a good turn-out for it. Do I want the film to be bad? Of course not! Even if it is bad though, people will still most likely show up for it. I do hope it is a good film, despite the change in directors and its rather generic title.

Pacific Rim is a film that deserves to do well and it needs more attention. I think everyone needs to see this film when it comes out, because the hard-working crew behind it need all the attention they can get. Pacific Rim is one of those few films that manages to be entertaining, merging a cheesy and somewhat silly story with intense action scene and amazing special effects. 4 years later and Pacific Rim still stands as one of the nicest looking big-budget films I’ve seen in years.

In my opinion, Pacific Rim is a good example of how to do an original property. They did their own thing, while paying homage to a genre that was mostly unfamiliar with a lot of Americans. They took chances and they did something new, making one of the best robot movies ever in the process. In fact, I can’t think of too many robot films that come close to matching its quality! Except maybe I. Robot, that movie was pretty dope.

First Impressions: Dragon Quest VIII For 3DS

So, recently I got Dragon Quest VIII using a gift card I got for my birthday. I’ve played about 30 minutes to an hour of it so far, so I thought I’d give my first impressions of it. Keep in mind that I had never played the original version of Dragon Quest VIII, so going into the new 3DS version was a new experience for me. Playing previous DQ games really helped get me into the swing of how the games in the series play. Without further adieu, here is my opinions on the first 45 minutes or so of the game.

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Wow, that’s new, a Dragon Quest protagonist that doesn’t look like that kid from Blue Dragon!

Dragon Quest VIII starts up with a really snazzy intro that utilizes the series’ trademark theme song. Once I hit the menu, I’m greeted with that elevator-sounding music that plays in every Dragon Quest game. The first thing that pulled me in when the playing the game for the first time was the voice-acting. Almost every character had an accent, be it a typical British accent or even a Cockney one. This gave the characters a good dose of vocal flare, and each character has a voice that goes well with their design.

I’m early in the game, but I have yet to run across a stale accent or voice role yet! Combat is about what you expect from Dragon Quest, a turn-based combat system that hasn’t changed too much over the past few decades. It’s still an entertaining little system, especially how it lets you “psyche” up your party members in order to have them do some sweet critical damage.

The game’s story is pretty interesting too. An evil wizard shows up at a castle and transforms all its inhabitants into planets, with the exception of the king and princess. Unfortunately for them, they get turned into a troll and horse respectively. You play as the one person who was spared by the curse, a protagonist who you get to name. It’s up to you and your crew of motley misfits in order to find the sorcerer and break the curse. It’s not a super unique setup, but it’s interesting enough to gain my attention.

Last thing I want to touch on is how the game looks. It looks marvelous, to be honest. Graphics are night and the visual effects look amazing!  Towns are well-detailed and environments look amazing and vibrant. So far, the game has me won over in terms of visual presentation.

If there’s anything that I don’t like about the game right out of the gate, it’s that the first dungeon can be pretty annoying for newcomers to the series. This game isn’t afraid to boot you in gonads if you choose not to play it in a strategic manner. Anyways, those are my first impressions on this game thus far. I hope to eventually review it, once I play enough of it.