Reviewing video games and movies (predominantly animated ones) is the main focus of the Dojo, as such, each score is heavily considered before being bestowed on its respective reviews. Most people seem to only care about whatever number grade comes at the end of a review (especially with video games), but hopefully you actually pay attention to the content of the reviews themselves, since that’s what ultimately dictates their scores.
Since its inception at the tail end of 2014, Wizard Dojo has utilized a 1-10 rating system, with scores of .5 in between every number number grade (with the obvious exception of 10). I know people tend to favor “.1” based scoring systems these days. But the Dojo finds such things needlessly nitpick and filled with more than a few superfluous scores (what’s the difference between an 8.3 and an 8.4? And what the hell is a 7.7 all about, anyway?!). A .5 system just seems to work better. Think of those that receive that additional “.5” as being exceptional works within their respective number range, even if they don’t quite reach the next rung of the numerical ladder.
Keep in mind that when reviewing retro games, I’ll not only be taking into account how well a specific game was made for its day, but how well it holds up by today’s standards. Some may deem that unfair, as technology gets better and games become dated. But I don’t entirely agree with such thinking. Yes, a lot of games age like sour milk, but others hold up beautifully. So even if one classic game may be more ‘important’ than another in retrospect, a ‘less important’ game may still be more fun to play today. As such, the ‘less important’ game would be given a higher score.
Also take note that I use the same rating system for both video games and movies, but for obvious reasons, they are judged by different criteria. They may be different mediums, but the same scoring system can be translated between them. At least I think so, anyway.
Here is a brief run down of each score, as well as a short description of what they mean, and a few examples of video games to go with each score (I will update these to include movie examples later).
10: Masterpiece – This is as good as it gets. A definitive experience that’s as close to perfect as possible. Timeless.
Video Game Examples: Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario World, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Undertale
9.5: Classic – In a lot of ways, a 9.5 can be as good as a 10, though it may have a flaw or two that prevent it from reaching that elusive perfect score.
Video Game Examples: Super Mario Bros. 3, Bloodborne, Dark Souls III, Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Mega Man 2, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
9.0: Fantastic – A top tier title with minimal drawbacks. Forget that it isn’t a perfect or near-perfect score, a number of all-time greats might fall under this category.
Video Game Examples: Shadow of the Colossus, Overwatch, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Mega Man 3, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Banjo-Kazooie
8.0 – 8.5: Great – A thoroughly enjoyable experience that may have some notable flaws, but the overall greatness heavily outweighs the drawbacks.
Video Game Examples: The Last Guardian, Ico, Mega Man, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, ARMS,
7.0 – 7.5: Good – Despite a common misconception, I don’t see a “7” as something to be ashamed of. They may have needed a bit more polish and/or thought, but they are solidly entertaining nonetheless.
Video Game Examples: Star Wars: Battlefront, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, F-Zero, Kid Icarus Uprising, New Super Mario Bros.
6.0 – 6.5: Decent – Any title that falls under this umbrella is one that, while good, needed some extra work. They’re enjoyable enough, but they may not demand return visits.
Video Game Examples: Donkey Kong 64, Metroid: Samus Returns, Spelunky, Star Fox 2, New Super Mario Bros. 2, The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes
5.0 – 5.5: Mediocre – Titles that fall under the “5” category could be worse, but they could also be a whole lot better. They have their merits, but are ultimately forgettable.
Video Game Examples: Mighty No. 9, Goldeneye 007, Gyromite, ZombiU, Metroid, The Wonderful 101, Pupeteer
4.0 – 4.5: Lackluster – Receiving a grade in the “4” range means that the title may have some redeeming attributes, and maybe even a good concept, but as a whole it just falls flat.
Video Game Examples: Paper Mario: Sticker Star, Game & Wario, Mortal Kombat 4, Yoshi’s Story, Street Fighter: The Movie, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
3.0 – 3.5: Bad – This is when things get irritatingly bad. A “3” simply isn’t enjoyable.
Video Game Examples: Electroplankton, Metroid: Other M, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, ClayFighter,
2.0 – 2.5: Awful – A terrible waste of time. Avoid at all costs.
Video Game Examples: Shaq Fu, No Man’s Sky, Ikari Warriors, Wayne’s World SNES, Mario is Missing
1 – 1.5: Abysmal – My eyes! The goggles do nothing!
Video Game Examples: Dark Castle, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video game Adventure, Where’s Waldo NES, Superman 64, Deadly Towers, Xena: Warrior Princess – Talisman of Fate
0: Ungodly: Run…
Video Game Examples: Hong Kong ’97, CrazyBus.
You may be wondering why 9.5s get their own category while the other .5 numbers are lumped with their .0 counterparts. The answer is, as I said, the .5s are more exceptional works within their range, but I feel a 9.5 is a little something more. It is, after all, the near-perfect score. I feel near-perfect scores have become something of a lost art in recent years. I want to be sure that a 9.5 remains a big deal at Wizard Dojo. The same could be said about a 9.0, which I still view as an incredible, top tier title. Even an 8.5 can be a Game of the Year or Best Animation/Film of the year.
So just because I don’t give your favorite video game or movie a perfect 10 doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s good. Too many people these days seem to have a “10 or nothing” mentality with these things. I try to make sure that every score means something, and I do my best to remain consistent with it.
However, I would like you to care about the review itself, and not just the number at the end. After all, a review is more than just a number.