Friday, November 17, 2017

The Line of Reviewing Little Kids Material

Personally, it kind of breaks my heart when certain things that are aimed for little kids get treated unfairly by adult reviewers. (or teenagers for that matter) I wouldn't be surprised if it's been this way for almost 70 years or more since the start of television. It is a little different depending on the format. Some may offer things for both kids and adults. Others might go towards one demographic.

Film is hard to critique. I don't think critics have much choice to review the ones that they may not care for for the sake of their jobs. Especially in the case of family films, I think it's fair game depending on the film being talked. There are many aspects to talk about, and if judged right, may be looked at as a fair and competent review. Then you got guys Armond White who couldn't review anything and look to be anti to what others say of specific films. Everybody has their own tastes in what they like in theaters and on TV, and that's what makes it a hard format to talk about.

Television is a little different from film. You got channels that cater to specific demographics. On website forums and videos like YouTube, there is this huge thing on complaining about material, especially regarding kids cartoon channels. It does come off as borderline creepy if someone doesn't have children of their own or other family members kids. There is this generational cycle that occurs every time a new group of kids watch the new shows. The older group complains while the younger ones just watch. This keeps happening every time, and it was probably that way back in the 70s, 80s, 90s, etc... With the rise of the Internet the last 20 years, it makes it easier for ones to express their opinion in a very bad way about how networks don't cater to them. Case in point:

This guy on Toonzone here is very obsessive and wants things to be like the 90s again. The sad thing is that there are others like him. It's easy to see why these kind of networks don't care for these type of losers. Altering something that is for kids to be more for adults could hurt the final product.

Now video games vary. You got the critics and you got the user reviews. For the most part, the consensus is mostly on par with agreement. There are games that both sides will love and hate at the same time. Disagreements are seen, which is par for the course. Then you got games where it doesn't make sense. Especially for edutainment and ones aimed for toddlers. I think the problem is when users review them, they judge it like a regular game and give it an unfair score, bashing things that they don't realize is going to be difficult for a child. However, it's not like the area is hated unanimously. If quality is there, it will get some love. Look at the Carmen Sandiego games. They are looked at as educational, but fun because of the search for her. On the other side, there are titles like Mario's Time Machine that are edutainment disguised as games and hated for how they are managed. Still, critics are not going to be swayed by how users are regarding the games.

If only users knew what they were getting into before reviewing kids material.  You really have to think like a child and wonder if it will keep a child interested in the game they are playing. Otherwise, scores are going to be skewed in one direction for something that shouldn't be hated. Stop the hate.

YouTube Videos: November 10-16

Thursday, November 16, 2017

No Tripping: Grayson Allen's Return

In the midst of college football and the teams being stunned or winning lopsided scores, basketball has begun once again. All eyes will be on Duke, who won their latest game to start the season against Michigan State. Leading the way is senior Grayson Allen, who had probably the game of his career as he hopes to do a few things. One is to help draft stock. The other is to improve his image and the bad taste he left in a lot of people's mouths last season.

It's very early in the season, so there is no idea what can possibly during the time. Duke is on that list of most hated basketball programs. Really, North Carolina basketball throughout the state. The amount of success they have had under Mike Krzyzewski. Many championships and a very rowdy fanbase/crowd make it easy to see why there is so much negativity. Even if Allen didn't do the tripping a few times last season, he would still easily make the list of hated players ever. Due to the fact of the tripping, he probably got a lot more hate than Christian Laettner, who had a lot more success and got Duke their first National Championships.

Allen has been open to the stuff that happened. He wrote an article for The Players Tribune about what it meant to go to and play for Duke. There seems to be something very humble about him wanting to return for his senior year to not only graduate but also to be a guy that can lead his team. College sports is not an easy evaluation. Some live and die on where they could possibly land in the professional level. What they do on and off the playing field also is detrimental. Look at Dak Prescott. He was a 4th round pick in last year's NFL draft because of a DUI arrest. Basketball is a question on who is going to leave, who is finished up, and who could wind up coming from Europe to play in the NBA.

Either way, change could ultimately help. If Allen can stay committed to playing fundamental basketball and not do anything stupid, he could be looked at as someone you hate because he played at Duke. Some can mature quickly, and for now, he seems to be on the right path. A wait and see situation.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nintendo Switch Assessment (Review of 2017)

We are about a month and a half away from heading into 2018. For PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, they are still far from being finished. Nintendo, on the other hand, is pinning all its hopes on their Switch system, which debuted at the start of March this year. I do not own one, but so far, it has done well and it has companies scrambling to get content onto the hybrid. What is it that made this do well compared to the atrocity of the Wii U?

Marketing: When looking at best selling systems, their advertising is a reason to consider success. You think Genesis Does for Sega, Live in your World. Play in Ours slogan for Sony when seeing system campaigns. The idea of being portable and playing on TV is a big point for the Switch. Nintendo is actually showcasing the system on a number of channels, something they didn't really do with the Wii U outside of some major titles. People are aware of it. It's just a matter of if they will buy it.

No shoehorned gimmick: Part of the reason why I think the Wii U failed was because of its GamePad. You didn't have much choices other than Wii controllers and Classic type controllers, and the system price might have hurt from having it. With the Switch, the controller is a basic setup. Nothing exactly shoehorned or forced. They simplified it, and trying it at a store, it felt comfortable. My only complaint if people are going to look to buy the system is additional controllers costing 70 plus dollars.

Heavy hitter killer apps: You know what the big titles are going to be on a Nintendo system. Getting a Zelda title out after numerous delays gave the system a glimmer of hope. Having a new Mario game out last month, and certain ports and original titles helped the Switch in its first year. Not to mention that Zelda and Mario are trying newer things to make experiences fresh for veteran gamers.

Now, first party is fine and dandy, but if Nintendo has to do something, it's this. They have to really support it beyond 2017. Odds are they will, but it has to be at the caliber of what they have done. No doubt, there will be a new Smash Bros. game, a new Pokemon, but what else? Not to mention getting the system promoted, which seems to have done way better than the Wii U debacle. After 2013, Nintendo gave up. With Switch, they are getting back onto the scene.

Third party is still a question mark, something Nintendo has struggled with since 1996. The consensus is that it has a lot of indie companies on board. It's no joke. Having titles like Shovel Knight for example show how willing the House of Mario is to get new customers. As far as major companies, they have stuff like Super Bomberman, Ultra Street Fighter II, Sonic Mania as some of their support. In this month of November, it has Doom. L.A. Noire will be out by the time this blog is finished along with Skyrim at the end of the week. Some are testing the waters, and that will be the true test for 2018. Are third party companies going to keep supporting the Switch? I don't see why not, but the system still has a lot of work to do.

So... should you buy a Switch? I'd say yes. It's got titles for a variety of people and it feels like there should be support for a good while. The question would be how you feel about spending 300 plus dollars. Other than that, I'd say get on the hype. Nintendo is back in town for now.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Is the Holocaust Funny?

Last week's Saturday Night Live monologue from host Larry David has been met with a lot of criticism. There's also a group that knew what to expect out of him, especially if they are familiar with Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm We've seen jokes made of national tragedies, some with varying results. I'm not sure how much you can get away with making Holocaust jokes. It's also important to know that David, much like Jerry Seinfeld, is Jewish.

When David did his monologue, he talked about some of the scandals in Hollywood in a vague way. That would translate him to talking about Holocaust stuff about seeing women in them and wanting to get one. It doesn't surprise me what he's saying considering his career. I've viewed David as the type of person that is anti to the norm. He went against things that NBC had in mind at times when Seinfeld was on the air and viewers loved it. His "no hugging, no learning" aspect helped him. George Costanza is probably the greatest sitcom character ever because of how David molded him and perfected by Jason Alexander. The character is someone you could see in real life.

That being said, using the Holocaust as your crutch is not going to bode well, and it showed. I don't think it's a generational thing considering the audience for SNL and their head people being young and from the Collegehumor website. If someone made a September 11th joke, that would not fly (no pun intended) with people. Now, Seinfeld had references to Nazis in a number of episodes. Hell, two episodes were focused on Nazis. One was The Limo with the rally at Madison Square Garden. The other was The Soup Nazi.  However, they don't directly talk or joke about the Holocaust.

David's shtick could be a good indication that he needs to be more careful with what he talks about. I don't think he should give up being anti to the norm, but better choices could help. And his Holocaust joke dragged SNL to from what I've heard, a very forgettable one with the usual politics skits that they have been using throughout the year. While it's not strange for the show to do political sketches, their over reliance on that and Alec Baldwin to keep portraying Trump gets tiring. Look at South Park. They decided to not follow the trend because they knew what was going to be seen from other shows.

Getting back on point, I'm not sure how much this will impact David. SNL I would think would keep using him for Bernie Sanders and a couple other things. He's got a long way to go to repair some of his image. He would have been better off doing that bit on HBO with Curb.

Friday, November 10, 2017

YouTube Videos: November 3-9

Boston Sports Journalism: An Utter Disgrace

While obviously there are some that wouldn't have any sympathy for Roy Halladay's sudden passing, you wouldn't think it would come from radio station guys in a major sports town. What Michael Felger and Tony Massarotti from Boston 98.5 did is nothing short of disrespect, poor taste, and typical arrogance from Boston journalists.

Most of the articles talking about these guys include Felger saying Halladay deserved to die. He also went on to say Dale Earnhardt deserved to be killed at Daytona in 2001 and would always root for the wall. It has been met with overwhelmingly negative responses from people on social media. It's sad that I'm even creating another blog article here, but this stuff shouldn't happen. The one thing coming to my mind is Don Imus when he got fired around 2007 or 08, calling a woman's basketball team nappy headed hoes. To be fair, Imus' show was more of a nationwide show.

Still, Felger, Massarotti, and Tom E. Curran show a lack of ethics and journalism for covering sports. I don't know if it's this "Us vs. the World" mentality, but Boston is tough on their own teams and players. David Price this year would be a huge example of that. Still, ever since Tom Brady took over for New England, these kind of journalists act with huge egos, especially since Spygate. Curran will defend anything on his Patriots. However, that's child's play, though that doesn't mean much. What Felger and Massarotti (mostly Felger, from what I'm getting) did is severely uncalled for.

The major sports of Boston have championships. Some legit, some tainted. That doesn't excuse how today's journalists in that city are. Felger and Massarotti deserve to be fired for this. There is no room for arrogance and disrespect in a city wide or nation wide radio station. Another reason to hate Boston sports overall.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Too Soon: Roy Halladay's Legacy.

I would say the baseball world is still shocked more than 24 hours later of the sudden death of Roy Halladay. The pitcher was flying his own plane when it crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. An outcry of support has been seen by many and a little bit of ridicule by some individuals. (I hope those two guys from the Boston radio station 98,5 get fired. And Boston sports fans wonder why they are hated by most of the country) Nevertheless, he leaves behind a wife and two kids.

Until more details emerge, there isn't much that can be said for Halladay's career. It speaks for itself. One of those September call ups in 1998 for the Toronto Blue Jays, he wasn't anything special from 99 up until 2002. For his '02 campaign, he started lighting it up, becoming an All-Star and leading in innings pitched for the American League. His next season was even better. For 2003, he led the AL with 22 wins, the most out of any year in his career. He led his league again in innings with 266, nearly 30 games worth. Though he gave up a lot of hits, he had nine complete games, which helps to his legacy. All in all, he got a Cy Young for that year.

After a subpar 2004 season, Halladay got back to form. Within a few years, he was back to being dominant. In fact, he seemed stronger than ever. In a seven year span, he would lead in complete games for whatever League he was in for six of those years. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010 and still put up stellar numbers. Most will think the highlight of his career would be the no hitter he threw in his first ever playoff appearance. Unfortunately, the Phillies were at the peak of their run as a decent team, so Halladay's playoff runs were only in 2010 and 11. He would wear off a bit in the final two years of his career.

The guy was very lethal. He knew how to play the game, and it certainly got him a bit of respect in the clubhouses of Philadelphia and Toronto. Halladay was probably one of the few bright spots in his time with the Blue Jays. It wasn't that they were playing horribly during his tenure. What doesn't help is the Red Sox and Yankees being more dominant during that period. There would have been benefits if the fifth playoff team was in effect 15 years ago. The stuff he was able to do could have changed outcomes, but that's all hypothetical. Either way, he gave the Blue Jays and Phillies hope.

So where does he stand as far as numbers go? The only guy I can think of for comparison is Pedro Martinez, and Martinez's numbers are obviously much higher. Halladay amassed 203 victories and 105 losses. He had a career 3.38 ERA to go with 2700 plus innings pitched. The two Cy Youngs help along with being an eight time All-Star. He pitched 67 complete games, and led leagues in innings four times. He certainly has stuff to be in the Hall of Fame, but I don't know. Then again, there are some players that get in with numbers you wouldn't think would be good enough.

No doubt, the Blue Jays and Phillies will honor Halladay for the 2018 season. It's always the people you least expect to end up in something tragic. Yankee fans will understand that with what happened to Thurman Munson in 1979 and Cory Lidle in 2006. Baseball will be in huge mourning for a good while.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sonic Mania Review

It's been a few months. Let's delve into Sonic Mania. There has been a very strong reception for the game and it has been looked at highly. After all the hype, is this a game you should be getting? That answer is yes. It is a great game. Maybe a few flaws, but a very strong game. Keep in mind this is the brainchild of Christian Whitehead along with Headcannon and PagodaWest games. Whitehead is known for his ports of Sonic CD and the first two Genesis games of the series, where the engines are done from the ground up with newer features compared to their original releases and ports. I played the PlayStation 4 version for this review.

There isn't much to Mania's story, but it's pretty simple. Stop Dr. Eggman. He has a group of bad guys this time trying to take a gemstone that is very powerful. In the process, it takes Eggman's group, along with Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles to the Green Hill Zone. The trio must get the gemstone, known as the Phantom Ruby, and keep Eggman from using it to conquer the world. It's a 90s type idea.

Three systems come to mind when looking at Sonic Mania. They are the Sega CD, 32x, and Saturn. Regarding the main levels, they use a vast array of colors, similar to the 32x. Those who have played Knuckles Chaotix will understand this. The backgrounds, areas, and characters go beyond being a 16-bit game visually. Animations are a lot smoother due to the system's power. It's that great. Special Stages go for a combination of Sega CD scrolling with the characters looking like they came from the Saturn. It's a little dated, but there is a charm to it. Even the intro if you don't press buttons at the title screen screams a nostalgia overload. Whitehead knew what he wanted and succeeded.

The audio doesn't exactly play straight music. Most of the music from the other games have a bit of a remix to it and go with the tone of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic and Knuckles with each act of a zone having a different tone. Even the original zones go that way as well. It's cleaner, and a bit more lively. Sound effects are what you expect out of the series. You can't be 16-bit unless you got vintage type sounds. I'm not huge on this aspect, but not against it either.

Getting into the gameplay, Sonic Mania is a continuation into the formula of the 16-bit games along with Sonic CD. You go left to right and vice versa, trying to stop Dr. Eggman and his cronies. To describe it, you are playing Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. You will feel right at home with the mechanics to it along with the controls. It's been a long time since there was a platformer in the series that allowed multiple characters in the main meat of the game. Much like 3 and Knuckles, each character has the same abilities. Sonic can use shields to his advantage. Tails can fly. Knuckles can glide and knock certain objects out. You get a lot more bang for your buck in replayability compared to most, if not, all Mario platformers. Saving is similar as well with save files keeping track of progress and lives along with scores if the game hasn't been completed yet.

There are 12 zones in the game. Eight of them are from the Genesis games and Sonic CD. The four that are new show inspiration from stuff in the older games and prototypes that cut out zones. Each one has two acts, each one having a boss fight. Take them out and the act will play out and end like 3 and Knuckles. All the monitors from the trilogy are here. From your basic shield to the Eggman ones, no stone is left untouched. New is a blue ring monitor that holds onto your rings. You get hit without a shield, big rings will come out and you can get all your rings back. Speaking of which, enemies from their respective games are brought back. The new zone enemies add a bit to how they can be dealt with.

Two distinct special stages are in Mania. One is the big rings. That is the Sonic CD type special stage. You are on a timer via depleting rings as you chase a UFO carrying a Chaos Emerald. The character is slow, but picking up blue balls will fill up a meter to make you faster. It's sort of complicated, but you will get the hang of it. The second kind of stage is the Blue Sphere type which can be accessed via a lamppost. There is the ones from 3 and Knuckles as well as original ones. Completing them will earn you medals but whether you get the rings will determine your medal.

With the level designs here, Mania feels like what made the Genesis games great. There is that sense of exploring the zones, but at the same time, offering a sense of speed that will have the characters going very fast. The levels from the Genesis and CD are remixed, so those familiar with them will have to figure out these versions. One part might look the same, but some elements may have changed.  For the original levels, they look as if they could have been in the originals from the early 90s. Just overall, Whitehead and company got this passion project and gave it a labor of love.

Other modes include a time attack mode like CD. Each character has their own statistics. It can be restarted at any time if you mess up. I haven't had a chance to try competition, but it has that Sonic 2 type of competition. There is a few features that can be unlocked, along with a lot of callbacks that will surprise you a few times.

That being said, Mania is not without its issues. One of my complaints is the Special Stages for the emeralds. I think I've struggled more in these than I've had with any of the Genesis ones. The very first Sonic game was difficult, but it wasn't impossible. It's hard to get a good momentum on the UFOs and catch up to them at times. My only other ones are some cheap boss fights and some over relying on the older zones, though the latter is just a very small nitpick.

You will get some good hours on this game, and it has a high replay value due to how Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles play. Definitely get Sonic Mania. It's worth what it is being asked digitally. With Whitehead's knowledge of 2D games, this guy should be approached by other companies to do other series that have loved entries in 2D. Get it on whatever system you have it on (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) A heck of a way to celebrate 25-26 years of a franchise.

Score: 8 out of 10

Friday, November 3, 2017

House of Cards Cancelled: Netflix Not Taking Chances

Since the Harvey Weinstein scandals of sexually harassing people (how true it is, I don't know), there have been all sorts of stories from a number of celebrities and non-celebrities of things that happened to them. One example is Terry Crews saying he got assaulted by a producer when Weinstein's incidents came out. Netflix has caught wind of Kevin Spacey's sexual harassment  and has decided to end their long running show, House of Cards.

I have never watched House of Cards and probably never will, but I can get why Netflix is canning it. An actor, Anthony Rapp, is claiming a story that Spacey sexually harassed him when he was 14 years old in 1985. Sites have reported the show has been halted in production. An apology has been said by Spacey, as is him getting treatment, but some are not buying it. It has been an interesting year considering certain celebrities with relationships, arrests, yada yada yada. It's hard to know who is telling the truth or not.

There's always these questions as to why these "victims" never report their crimes on them. I think it's fear. Especially with a celebrity, they don't know if something insanely bad will happen to them. They got fans on their side if they are loved by many. There's always those superfans who will kill or maim for the sake of it. Even local stuff can happen, whether it's someone's family member, lover, whatever. Stuff that happens behind closed doors and doesn't get heard unless they go to one of those morning news shows. I'm not saying this stuff doesn't happen, but it's hard to really know what is true. Look at football player. Brian Banks. He was falsely accused of rape and lost five years of his life due to it, spending it in prison. He could have been in the NFL if some dumb woman didn't make a false story. The media gives sympathy to women and gives them an audience to talk about their fake incident.

Sidetrack aside, this is damaging to Spacey and Netflix is not taking chances on their original show. It's the kind of stuff, if true, can oust you from Hollywood. How deep this will keep going, I don't know. One thing is for sure, though. It's not over yet. With Brett Ratner being removed from Warner Brothers, there will be more people that are going to get the boot. Who it is, however, will be a big deal depending on the person involved.

The Line of Reviewing Little Kids Material

Personally, it kind of breaks my heart when certain things that are aimed for little kids get treated unfairly by adult reviewers. (or teena...