So it's come to this - Doctor Who for the Nintendo DS.
However I watch the minisodes, because they are TV episodes of a sort. Then more recently there have been live shows which have included footage that, viewed in isolation, to all intents and purposes form further minisodes. Similarly, computer games contain cutscenes.
And then there's this one.
This handheld computer game from Asylum Entertainment features a mere five - count 'em five - cutscenes starring Smith and Gillan as the Doctor and Amy, that are audio only. (at a picky stretch ten if you factor in the DS' dual screens, stacked above each other)
Unlike the BBC's Adventure Games series, they don't even sync with any moving images - just stills, and drawn ones at that. If they're not good enough to count, then by the same token, maybe I should no longer watch slide-show reconstructions of the missing TV episodes from the 1960s, productions which are themselves spin-offs, like Big Finish's original TV cast CDs? Hrrrm.
And yet, author Oli Smith has scripted these nuggets of banter to be so enticing…
Amy: "You need a screwdriver to fix your sonic screwdriver?"
Doctor: "I'm not fixing it. I'm improving it."
[AMY SIGHS IN DESPAIR. THE TARDIS MONITOR EXPLODES.]
Amy: "The WHAT?"
Doctor: "The time-defibrilating-re-bustler!"
Amy: "Is that really what it's called?!"
Doctor: "I don't know, 'time-defibrilating-re-bustler' just sounds better than what I usually call it!"
Amy: "And what's that?"
Doctor: "Well the 'if-you-press-this-the-TARDIS-will-stop-being-bigger-on-the-inside-than-the-outside-and-crush-us-in-forty-seconds-switch'. See - that's even less catchy!"
Amy: "Why do you even have one of those?!?"
I have to admit, I wanted to believe in dialogue like this so much, that I was unable to construct an argument not to. Yes, I was sucked in by the script. I guess I should be pleased about this.
All right, all right, onto the game then…
With Amy impressively still wearing the same outfit as in the BBC computer games series (I never notice what the Doctor's wearing), this story features the duo helping mankind to abandon the future Earth onto a giant spaceship only hours before the solar storms will start to do their thing. Along the way, and with agonising slowness, they repeatedly pause to help out just about everyone they meet with some task or other, although quite why the Doctor would want to fix a broken water tap when everyone is about to evacuate the planet is anyone's guess.
This results in a huge collection of puzzles to solve, most of which are very simple. Indeed, in the case of the sonic screwdriver mini games, a few of them seem to even be identical. And that's when the characters even remember that they have the sonic - other tasks require a lockpick! Nearly if not all of them are fairly irrelevant to the action that they are intended to represent though. For example, cracking a password - a repeated need here which you would have thought a touchscreen computer game could replicate quite well - is on multiple occasions achieved via a game of Pipe Dream.
Stretched out across these four chapters, there is a legitimate Doctor Who story getting up to speed, but not one which I've really found myself daydreaming about between sessions. There are some nice pieces of design, such as Eleanor's quarters, and plenty of nods to the TV series' long history.
Amy: "Doctor? It's them. The squad we defeated in the future!"
Doctor: "They must have engaged the time axis at the last minute."
Sheesh, when/where was that? During City Of The Daleks - a computer game by another company - in which the Daleks' home planet was arguably in the future?
Or does the answer lie somewhere in sister game Return To Earth which Asylum Entertainment went onto release a week later for the Wii?
Naw, surely they didn't release these the wrong way around?