Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone! How about that Rogue One, eh?
Yes indeed, it’s Christmas Day 2016. That alone is reason enough to celebrate – what with all the figgy puddings and jolly, fat prowlers delivering presents via chimneys – but it’s twice the special occasion here at the Dojo, as Christmas marks the anniversary of Wizard Dojo’s launch!
That’s right, my loyal minions, Wizard Dojo originally launched on Christmas day 2014, meaning that today marks the second anniversary of this site!
Okay, so the domain name and stuff was set up a few days prior, but who cares? What matters is the content, and I started publishing content on Christmas of 2014. So that’s the anniversary.
Yep, it all started with my review of the excellent Mario Kart 8 (though I published numerous other reviews and such on the same day, Mario Kart 8 was the first). Since then, I’ve written over one-hundred and fifty video game reviews, over one-hundred animation reviews, and some other crap too!
While I still have yet to compile my list of all-time favorite video games (here’s to 2017!), 2016 ended up being a productive second year for the Dojo. Here’s hoping that 2017 is all the more productive!
But let’s cut the crap and get to the good stuff. It’s Christmas! And that means it’s time to write an extensive bit of nonsense. Think of the following as the closest thing to a Christmas gift that a blogger can give his readership.
Chapter 1: The Best of Wizard Dojo’s Second Year
Here’s some of the more notable stuff I wrote this past year. Think of it like one of those clip show episodes of a classic sitcom.
Notable video game reviews
Notable animation reviews
Notable… Other Stuff
Chapter 2: Top Five Worst Christmas Movies
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. The season of giving. Peace on Earth, good will to men. All that jazz. The Christmas spirit has found its way into a few classics of cinema (It’s a Wonderful Life, The Nightmare Before Christmas), but it has somehow produced movies so bad, they go against all the good will that Christmas stands for.
There are a lot of really bad Christmas movies out there, and truth be told, I’ve stayed far away from a lot of them. But as for the Christmas stinkers I’ve seen, these are the worst of the worst.
Runner-up: The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
The first “The Santa Clause” film, starring Tim Allen as the reluctant new Santa, is actually one of the better Christmas movies. I very much enjoy it. The Santa Clause 2, though certainly more juvenile and ridiculous, is definitely a guilty pleasure of mine, as I still find it to be fun, and the evil, Nazi-esque toy Santa (also Tim Allen) is a hoot.
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, on the other hand, is just awful. It dumbs the series down to unfathomable lows. It’s definitely aimed more at the young tykes than even the second film, but this one is so bad, it insults the intelligence of the children it was made for. Martin Short joins in as Jack Frost, who wants to become Santa Clause. And Tim Allen’s Santa/Scott Calvin is going to have a baby or something. Characters who were important in the first two movies either have minimal roles or aren’t present at all. It’s just really bad…
5: Christmas with the Kranks
Another Tim Allen Christmas movie? I’m sorry, I really like Tim Allen, but he’s been in more than a few really bad movies.
In this laugh-less Christmas “comedy,” Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis plan to skip Christmas and go on a cruise after their daughter heads of to Peru, much to the chagrin of their Christmas-obsessed neighbors. Tim Allen and JLC then begin a rivalry with their neighborhood (which may easily have been avoided had they just said the cruise was a means to celebrate the holiday, but whatever).
Then, a bunch of stuff happens, none of it being funny or memorable in any way. But then, when their daughter calls and informs her parents that she’ll make it home for Christmas, the Kranks rush to undo all of their Christmas undoing.
It’s stupid, sloppy, and in a weird way seems to be promoting conformity. Spending Christmas with the Kranks is worse than a lump of coal in your stocking.
4: Deck the Halls
Unless we’re talking about Farris Bueller’s Day Off, Mathew Broderick’s presence in a movie is not a good sign. Granted, the idea of a movie being built around two family’s competing to see who has the best Christmas lights display is so stupid it had the potential to be funny. But it’s not. At all.
Mathew Broderick gets into a feud with Danny DeVito, which escalates into a competition over whose Christmas lights display can be seen from space. The movie is just stupid, and tries to hammer home a misplaced feel-good message at the end. It’s just another holiday stinker.
3: Four Christmases
To believe this holiday turkey was directed by the same guy who a year earlier brought the world the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is nothing short of baffling. This is another Christmas “comedy” that fails to elicit even the tiniest of chuckles.
Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon play two jerks from dysfunctional families, who, despite their best efforts of trying to avoid family for the holidays, end up with no choice but to visit the four households of their families (both their parents are divorced, so they have to celebrate “four Christmases.” Get it?). It’s just your typical modern day raunch comedy, but somehow made way dumber than normal.
2: The Star Wars Holiday Special
It’s worse than the prequel trilogy. What else needs to be said?
Horrible production values. A campy, bottom-of-the-barrel variety show setup. A nonexistent plot. Extended scenes of Wookies barking at each other without subtitles. Mark Hamill wearing way too much makeup. A scene in which Chewbacca’s father looks into some kind of virtual reality quasi-porn video. The Star Wars Holiday Special is just dumbfoundingly bad.
It only makes it onto the number two spot here because, while some folks continue to upload it to YouTube, George Lucas has – in an unparalleled instance of actually giving fans what they want – made sure that this holiday special has never received an official release after its initial television airing. So it’s now little more than a perverse curiosity.
1: Surviving Christmas
Good heavens above, this movie is awful! Thankfully, people quickly realized this, as Surviving Christmas was an absolute bomb at the box office. So much so that it was rushed onto home video less than two months after it was released in theaters.
It’s just awful! Ben Affleck plays some rich guy who has no strong connections with anyone, so he pays a family to play the part of his family for Christmas.
Surviving Christmas is just another one of those stupid Christmas “comedies” that likes to get raunchy and cynical, and then tries to shoehorn a feel-good message at the end, which just feels awkward after everything it put us through.
Ben Affleck has since redeemed his name by becoming an acclaimed director, as well as being the one redeeming aspect of Batman V. Superman. But I’m sure the abysmal Surviving Christmas is something he wish he could forget.
Chapter 3: Random Top Fives
I like to make top 5 lists sometimes. These are top fives that are kind of random, and I probably wouldn’t get around to dedicating full-on blogs to them.
Top 5 Angry Video Game Nerd Episodes of 2016
James Rolfe’s Angry Video Game Nerd series is one of the best things on the internet. Although the frequency of episodes per year has slowed down considerably (the five listed here are the only AVGN episodes of 2016), they still elicit the laughs. Let’s rank this year’s episodes of this long-running web-series.
5: AVGN Sega Peripherals Christmas Special (Episode 143)
This year’s annual AVGN Christmas special was…okay. It was nice to see him have a guest in Keith Apicary, and the episode elicited some laughs. But there’s a severe lack of AVGN’s deceptively genuine commentary on the peripherals he’s reviewing. The slapstick is funny, but maybe a bit excessive.
4: Beavis and Butt-Head (Episode 141)
A lot of people seemed to not care much for this episode, but that’s probably because this episode served as a love letter to the Beavis and Butt-Head series (complete with a safety warning in the intro, and a second segment featuring a drunk AVGN making stupid comments on the game, much like the titular duo would “critique” music videos). If you’re not familiar with Beavis and Butt-Head, the change in style may seem somewhat alienating. But the episode is still a lot of fun.
3: Paperboy (Episode 140)
AVGN’s Paperboy episode is one of his more controversial, since he negatively reviews a beloved game (usually, his anger is directed towards bad games, or at least the difficulty in a good games). Still, the Paperboy episode provides some good laughs at how silly some of the game’s aspects are (all non-subscribers to your newspaper live in red houses, you can make them subscribers by breaking their windows, etc.). It’s just fun.
2: The Barenstain Bears (Episode 142)
The Barenstain Bears may seem like an odd subject for this year’s AVGN Halloween special, but the episode in question works on so many levels. The critiques of the Barenstain Bears games are genuinely fun and insightful, and the episode goes off the rails (in the best way) once it goes into the idea of parallel dimensions based on the spelling of the book series (many, including myself, remember it being spelled Barenstein Bears).
1: Mega Man (Episode 139)
One of the best AVGN episodes ever (even if I strongly disagree with his stance on Mega Man Legends). The Nerd starts reflecting on the Mega Man series and how great it was, before he stumbles into the less savory Mega Man titles, destroying his faith in gaming and calling it quits. He then somehow ends up time traveling into past AVGN episodes, trying to convince his past selves to quit while they’re ahead. The episode has some fun reviews on one of gaming’s most iconic series, and is just really creative in how it uses the Mega Man franchise as a means to celebrate the history of the Angry Video Game Nerd series.
Top Five Regrets/Mistakes I Made in Wizard Dojo’s Second Year
I don’t regret much, but every once in a while I’ll look back at something and give myself a good palm to the face. Thankfully, you can always go back and fix blogs, but it doesn’t change the “what was I thinking?” taste they’ve left in my mouth.
5: Not placing any of the countless skeletons from the Dark Souls series – or Death from Castlevania – on my list of top five video game skeletons. Self-explanatory.
4: Not naming either Paper Mario or Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door as one of my Game of the Years for their respective year in my Game of the Year retrospective. Seriously, I love Paper Mario (at least the first two, the third and fifth are good enough, but the fourth was just bad). I guess I was trying to go for more variety (seeing as five other Mario games claimed a Game of the Year in said retrospective), but screw variety! All hail the plumber!
3: Not successfully capitalizing on my “Pixar month.” I had planned on June being dedicated to Pixar-themed posts. I ended up not writing a whole lot of them. I even tried stretching it out into July, and still didn’t write nearly as much Pixar-themed posts as I wanted. I really, REALLY need to make up for this…
2: Only placing Bloodborne at number 4 on my top 5 best games of 2015 list. While I do not regret naming Undertale as my Game of the Year for 2015, BloodBorne was the most well put-together and immaculately executed video game of 2015. Why the hell did I only place it at number 4? Well, I hadn’t gotten all that far in it at the time (a bad move on my part), and I guess I just got stupid. Bloodborne is fantastic. Simple as that. Could have easily been my Game of the Year. At the very least I could have placed it a little higher.
1: Still not getting around to making my list of favorite video games, despite multiple attempts at doing just that. Do I have to go over this again? Look, I fully intend to make a list of my favorite video games. But as I’ve stated before, I’ve never made an “official” such list before, and I feel if I want it to be taken at all seriously, I can’t make a revised list for a couple of years. So I want to get it right the first time around, so I won’t need to revise it unless my opinions change drastically enough, or somehow a number of absolutely fantastic titles are released, that warrant me to revise it.
Because of my uptightness on the creation of said list, as I’m contemplating it I just end up writing more and more different things, and the list keeps getting pushed back. In my Christmas post last year, I said I’d get around to making it in 2016. Oops. Here’s hoping I manage to force myself to do it in 2017.
Top 5 Overwatch Waifus
Let’s face it, the ladies of Overwatch are pretty darned attractive. Some are cute, some are sexy, but all of them are good looking (well, except maybe Zarya). Here are my top five Overwatch cuties!
Chapter 4: Pro Wrestling Awards
Once again, the Christmas special brings out my not-so-secret love of professional wrestling (don’t judge me, it’s fun!). Maybe I should start writing more on the subject around Wrestlemania season or something, but this is a good place to post some year-end awards for pro-wrestling, since it would make very little sense to suddenly just whip them out on their own without writing any other wrestling-focused blogs.
Anyway, I have to confess once again that these are more of “WWE awards” than they are full-on professional wrestling awards. With life and other hobbies taking more and more priority, I’m not able to watch as much variety in my wrestling as I once did (I do miss you, Pro Wrestling Noah). So I basically stick with what’s easily accessible. So here they are, my WWE-focused wrestling awards for 2016!
Male Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles
For so many years, it seemed like AJ Styles would never end up in WWE. He was a mainstay in TNA for years (yes, that promotion is somehow still around), and went to the indies and Japan for years. But in 2016, AJ Styles finally came to WWE and made many dream matches a possibility. His matches with John Cena, Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns were some of the finest of the year, and in a matter of mere months he was holding the promotion’s top championship. Phenomenal.
Female Wrestler of the Year: Charlotte Flair
Despite Charlotte Flair’s in-ring talent and great heel work, I kind of hate admitting that she was the best female wrestler this year, simply because – in a year that saw WWE’s women’s division finally mean something – many of the wrestlers that should have competed with Charlotte’s role as the best female wrestler of the year didn’t do a whole lot. So Charlotte almost wins by default, which is a crying shame.
Sure, Sasha Banks helped make Charlotte’s year with their year-long rivalry, but her character hasn’t been as developed as Charlotte since they were called up to Raw. Bayley has been criminally underutilized, and Becky Lynch and Alexa Bliss – despite the great talent of their own – were moved to Smackdown, away from RAW’s more prominent women’s division, since WWE needlessly split the women’s division between the two shows, spreading its depth a bit thin on the Smackdown side.
Even with the lack of competition, Charlotte was arguably the best heel of the year, and put on a number of memorable in-ring performances. Here’s just hoping she has more competition this time next year.
Tag Team/Faction of the Year: The New Day
Not only did the New Day’s tag team championship reign become the longest in WWE history (though it was bizarrely ended mere days after breaking the previous record), but they were easily WWE’s most consistently entertaining entity for the second year in a row. Simply put, New Day rocks!
Feud of the Year: Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
I have to admit that this rivalry went on waaay too long. Despite the sheer talent of both Sasha Banks and Charlotte, they may have only feuded for such a long time because they didn’t have enough worthy competitors.
With that said, Charlotte and Sasha put on some very strong matches, and much of their rivalry was actually well put-together story-wise. It may have overstayed its welcome a bit, but if there were any rivalry that really clicked in WWE in 2016, it was this one.
Best Gimmick: The New Day (Power of Positivity/Internet Memes/Pop-culture References)
The best gimmick around for two straight years. How can you go wrong with a trio of unicorn horn-adorned men talking about Pokemon Go whilst playing the Final Fantasy victory fanfare on a trombone?
Most Underrated Wrestler: Bayley
Many fans worried what would happen to Bayley when she got “promoted” from the NXT brand to the main WWE roster, and sadly, it seems those fears have largely been justified since Bayley made the jump. Sure, she’s won a number of matches, but WWE also booked Bayley to lose matches she really couldn’t afford to right now. She’s had little of anything resembling storylines on the RAW roster, despite being one of the most cheered wrestlers in the company. What the Hell gives?
Best Theme Music: Bobby Roode
Seriously, what the Hell else was it going to be?
Match of the Year: AJ Styles vs. John Cena (SummerSlam)
Wrestling is only ever really great, or really bad. There’s no middle ground. As far as the “really great” aspect goes in terms of match quality, no match shined brighter than AJ Styles vs. John Cena at SummerSlam. Though the two had a previous one-on-one encounter at Money in the Bank earlier in the year, its shenanigans-riddled ending left a lot to be desired. Thankfully, the rematch was simply a pure wrestling match. No over-the-top antics, no interferences. Just a great match all-around. And the right man won, adding a cherry on top of the whole thing.
In the world of pro wrestling, you can’t mention the good without mentioning the stupid. So here are the dubious honors for WWE and NXT in 2016
Worst Wrestler: Eva Marie
No. Just no.
Biggest Debacle: Insisting on Putting Roman Reigns in the Wrestlemania main event despite utter disinterest from fans.
Do I really need to explain this further? It’s right there in black in white.
Worst Gimmick: The Shining Stars (Primo and Epico)
Though Primo and Epico have consistently been good in the ring – and the Shining Stars gimmick is a step-up from Los Matadores – there’s only so much that can be done with a gimmick that is essentially just two guys handing out travel brochures to Puerto Rico…
Most Overrated Male Wrestler: Roman Reigns
Devil’s advocate here, but Roman Reigns is not a bad wrestler. But WWE’s insistence on putting him at the main event at every turn despite fans’ lack of caring is baffling. They keep writing him as a one-note, two-move force, and yet wonder why fans don’t get behind him.
Most Overrated Female Wrestler: Dana Brooke
Why did she ever get a pinfall victory over Bayley?
Most Unfortunate Injury: Finn Balor
One day after Finn Balor became the innaugural WWE Universal Champion, he was forced to relinquish the title due to a legitimate injury. WWE did a brilliant job at skyrocketing Balor to stardom at record-pace, but all that got put on hold, and basically all the main event plans for the rest of the year had to be rewritten just like that. Ouch.
Worst Match of the Year: The Rock vs. Eric Rowan at Wrestlemania 32
As great as it always is to see The Rock back in a WWE ring, and as surprising as it was to give him an impromptu match. Was squashing Eric Rowan of “The Wyatt Family” in a matter of seconds really a smart move? Especially considering that the Wyatt Family has had start/stop momentum for years now, and the group’s leader, Bray Wyatt, baffingly didn’t even have a match at Wrestlemania. So the group’s only appearance at the biggest show of the year was an embarrassing seconds-long loss. Who benefitted from tihs?
Chapter 5: Give a Panda
I was nominated by the great blogger Mr. Panda some time ago for his blogging award, as one of its first nominees! I gladly accept this award and decided to make it a part of my Christmas Special, to make both the award and my Christmas Special all the more…special.
The award is known as the PANDA, which stands for the Play A New Day Award, and… wait a minute? Did you say New Day?
Anyway… The PANDA has three rules.
1: Thank the person who nominated you (thanks again Mr. Panda)
2: Nominate any number of fellow bloggers.
3: Encourage said bloggers in any way.
For this PANDA I nominate the following bloggers and their wonderful blogs!
As for the encouragement, I just want to say that you’re all great bloggers and (I assume) great people as well. Keep up the fine work, folks! You’re the best, and your creative output helps inspire my own. You lovely, lovely people! Have some cookies. Chocolate chip! The greatest of cookies.
Chapter 6: Wizard Dojo in 2017
What does Wizard Dojo have in store for 2017? Well, more reviews for video games and animated films, of course!
On top of that, I’m hoping to do maybe bit more top 5 and 10 lists than I managed to get done in 2016, because those are always fun. And, of course, I plan to finally, FINALLY make my list of all time favorite video games. I’m not going to give a estimated date as to when, since that’s not worked out so far. Instead, I’m going to wait until I hit 200 video game reviews, then just start writing my list. Once it’s near completion, I’ll announce when I plan on posting it. Hopefully, all of my fellow bloggers who I invited to make favorite video games lists of their own are still up for it. I’d love if we could all make our lists close together, and link to each other’s lists. Like one big, happy, blogging family. But with less fisticuffs.
Perhaps I will also make a list of my favorite films to go along with the video game list. Though I’m still trying to decide if I want to do that as one list, or split it in two and separate animated films from live-actiony ones.
One big announcement I have that may have an affect on the frequency of my blogging is that I plan on devoting much of my spare time in 2017 to learning how to create my own video game. That’s right, kids, the Wizard Dojo is kind of/sort of getting into the game-making game, as it were. I don’t want to say too much, since there’s no guarantee as to how quickly I’ll make progress. But I am determined to making 2017 the year I get closer and closer to creating my first video game. I have plenty of ideas (many of which I admit are far to ambitious for someone in my current situation), so hopefully within a few years I’ll have a game out. And hopefully that leads to more. I’d like to do more than one, you see.
So here’s hoping that my ambitions for 2017, as well as this blog, with reach some good, strong milestones.
Chapter 7: Why Jingle All the Way is Actually Great
Few Christmas movies are as heavily criticized as Jingle All the Way. The 1996 film about Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad trying desperately to find a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas on the eve of has regularly appeared near or at the bottom of worst Christmas movies lists (I take it these people have never seen Surviving Christmas). But in actuality, Jingle All the Way is great!
By that, I don’t mean that Jingle All the Way is a great movie. In fact it’s pretty bad. But it’s the good kind of bad. It’s not the kind of bad that makes you wonder if you could ever love anything ever again (like Surviving Christmas, or The Master of Disguise, or The Love Guru), but the kind of bad that’s just so stupid you can’t help but be entertained by it. It’s like the Super Mario Bros. movie, or the Street Fighter movie. It’s so bad it’s good.
Why is this the case? Geez, where do I even begin? Not only is Jingle All the Way one of the few instances where Sinbad chose to materialize into our world, but it is also the only movie to actually center around last-minute gift shopping for the Christmas season’s hottest item (like 1996’s Tickle Me Elmo, or this year’s NES Mini), which is both a relatable and stupid enough concept for a movie to make comedy gold. Or at least comedy tinfoil.
I mean come on, this is a movie in which Arnold Schwarzenegger battles a criminal underground of Santa Clauses, gets into a brawl with a reindeer, and ends up decked out as Turbo Man himself during a Christmas parade (the costume even flies! The budget on that parade must have been staggering). This is the movie in which the late, great Phil Hartman is Schwarzenegger’s womanizing neighbor, who puts on a guise of mister perfect so thinly you have to wonder how any of the people in this movie fall for it. The movie whose opening ten minutes suggest that you ay actually be in for a genuinely sincere Christmas flick, only for it to go off the rails and turn into something cartoonish almost immediately as Arnold realizes he forgot the Turbo Man doll.
Jingle All the Way is just so wonderfully stupid. It took the whole “take an action star and throw him in a family comedy” concept to all new levels of ridiculousness. There’s probably not a moment in the film that’s sane enough to actually make any sense. Every moment of Jingle All the Way is rooted in so many logical gaps that they raise more questions than answers (why is that parade costume a legitimate super suit? Does that criminal underbelly have a Santa Clause theme year-round?). But damn, if it isn’t the best kind of stupid.
And let us not forget it gave us this immortal little piece of dialogue.
Seriously, twenty years later, and Jingle All the Way is still one of the best-worst movies of all time.
Chapter 8: The Last One
Well my friends. No blog lasts forever, and it’s time to wrap up this year’s Christmas special. Much like the Ghost of Christmas Present, it’s time on this globe is very brief.
So let’s wrap this up by giving a big thank you to all of my readers, old and new. Your continued support and readership means I’m not just writing all of this stuff to entertain myself. You people are the best. Seriously, have those cookies I mentioned earlier!
Thanks for making Wizard Dojo’s second year even more successful than the first. May 2017 be ever fruitful for the Dojo, and to all of you wonderful people and your endeavors.
A very special thanks goes to Matt from NintendoBound, for writing the best gaming blogs around and for being my oldest ally in blogging. And to After Story, Mr. Panda and Red Metal, for continuously ensuring that my comments section is never empty. Thanks!
Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!
Here’s a picture of my dog to end things here.