Category Archives: Top 5 & 10

Top 10 Films of 2016

Yes, I am extremely late in writing this. You may think “why bother making a top 10 films of 2016 list by this point? We’re more than five months into 2017 now!” Well, this is my site and I can do what I want on it. That’s reason enough for me.

In all serious though, I intended to write this some time ago, but there were a number of 2016 films that I had wanted to see that I didn’t get around to until much later. Now that I’ve seen them, I can write this with a deeper knowledge of 2016 films.

Of course, keep in mind that this is my own personal list. Ergo, my personal taste will probably make this look wildly different than many other lists. For example, I like movies that actually gain an audience and make money  a lot more than professional award committees seem to. Sure, I’m open to liking any movie if I think it’s good (hell, sometimes I like movies that I know are bad, if they provide enough entertainment). But I’m not going to place some critically acclaimed, artsy films just to make me look more “legit.” I like what I like, so that’s what’s going to be here.

As a whole, I don’t think 2016 was as good of a year for movies as 2015, but it still provided some gems. These are said gems that I really liked.

But first, I’d like to give a shoutout to both Dr. Strange and The Founder, both of which I greatly enjoyed and wish I could place on here as well. But top 10 is the tradition, and it’s a perfect number that appeases my OCD. So they have to settle for runners-up spots. Still, one’s a great superhero movie that changes things up by actually including magic (instead of skipping around it like Thor) held together by Benedict Cumberbatch and Mads Mikkelsen. The other is a surprisingly engaging look into the origins of the McDonald’s fast-food restaurant chain, lead by a great performance by Michael Keaton.

Okay, now onto the top 10.

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Top 5 Video Game Skeletons

After last year’s list of top 5 video game witches, I’ve decided to carry on this tradition of Halloween top 5s. This year I’ve popped out a list of the top 5 video game ghosts, and am now giving it a counterpart list of the top 5 video game skeletons!

Now, lists like this are always difficult. Narrowing almost any category down to five is always a hefty task, and considering that skeletons have been a staple in video games for decades, a category like this will mean there will always be contenders I forgot to mention or will remember after the fact. Oh well, I guess I could always make a revised list later if need be.

Keep in mind that the skeletons I’ve included are all from games and series that I’ve played. So my sincerest apologies to Grim Fandango fans, but if I haven’t played it, I’d feel awkward placing its characters above those I’ve actually had experience with. Simply put, don’t hate me for not listing things on my list. It’s my list. It’s only five. I can’t please everyone.

So without further ado, the top 5 video game skeletons!

 

5: Dry Bones (Super Mario series)

Dry Bones

Much like Boos (and many other Mario enemies), Dry Bones first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3. These undead Koopa Troopas are among Mario’s most persistent foes. Not only have they shown up in numerous games, but they only stay down for so long. While most of Mario’s enemies will be defeated with a jump to the head, Dry Bones will merely crumble for a few seconds, before picking himself back up.

Their placement in the Super Mario series has made them iconic, but their undead persistence is what makes Dry Bones so great.

4: Greg the Grim Reaper (Conker’s Bad Fur Day)

Greg the Grim Reaper

Perhaps the oddest depiction of the Grim Reaper, Greg pulls off one of the best “man behind the curtain” gags in gaming. His introduction at first seems dark and foreboding, before he steps into view to reveal his short stature and squeaky voice. He’s an expert of the nature of game overs, and has a perennial hatred of cats (whose nine lives make his job incredibly difficult).

In case the first chapter of Conker’s Bad Fur Day weren’t surprising enough, Greg the Grim Reaper’s introduction is proof that Conker is a game that just keeps the surprises coming.

3: Scorpion (Mortal Kombat series)

Scorpion

Though Scorpion’s true face is usually hidden underneath a facade of a human face, which in turn is hidden underneath a ninja mask, Scorpion is actually an undead warrior, complete with skull face. So he totally counts.

Scorpion’s undead self make him a particularly powerful Mortal Kombat warrior, with otherworldly abilities that make him an exceptionally deadly opponent.

A badass ninja on the outside, a horrifying undead warrior on the inside, it isn’t too hard to see why Scorpion remains one of the most popular Mortal Kombat characters.

2: Skull Man (Mega Man 4)

Skull Man

Skull Man is technically not a skeleton, he’s a robot. That’s the only thing preventing him from topping this list. He still makes it this high up despite his robot-ness, however, because he’s Skull Man.

Seriously, look how badass he is! He has the coolest character design out of any Robot Master in the Mega Man series (which is saying something), has an awesome stage with cool music, and his arena is made entirely out of skulls. What heinous acts did Skull Man have to do to make that place?

Even as an 8-bit sprite, Skull Man looked like an imposing figure. Let’s forget the fact that his mimicry of Mega Man’s moves make him one of the easiest bosses in the game, and that the power Mega Man earns from defeating him is just another Leaf Shield duplicate, everything else about Skull Man is awesome.

If the Mega Man series ever sees a resurgence, and old school Robot Masters are brought back for whatever reason, Skull Man is a must to make a return to the series. So cool.

1: Sans and Papyrus (Undertale)

Sans and Papyrus

Sans and Papyrus are skeleton brothers in the monster world. Sans is the shorter, fatter (big boned?) one with a penchant for bad jokes, and Papyrus is the tall, dimwitted one with a love of spaghetti. Like many of the characters in Undertale, their character development depends on the choices the player makes. Should you go the pacifist route and spare every creature you encounter, they’ll become best buds with the player. But if you go the way of a madman and kill every monster in battle, Papyrus will do his best to put an end to your tyranny, while Sans will serve as your final judge, jury and (potential) executioner as the final boss.

Both Sans and Papyrus are bursting with personality and charm, and perhaps better than any other character, represent what Undertale is all about. For a couple of skeletons, they certainly are fleshed out.

Ouch! That was worthy of Sans…

Top 5 Video Game Ghosts

Happy Halloween everybody! Last year on Halloween, I made a list of the top 5 video game witches. So I figured it made sense to follow it up this year with another such list, this time with ghosts!

Now, I know I’m going to be leaving out a ton of ghosts. There have been so many of them in video games it’s not even funny. Ghosts have given us perennial enemies and allies in the world of gaming, and narrowing it down to just five is never going to be easy.

Perhaps I’m a bit of a softy, or it’s my love of classic video games, but this list isn’t really comprised of genuinely terrifying specters. Perhaps some time I’ll get around to making a list of the scariest ghosts in video games, to better represent the horror genres of gaming. But this particular list is mostly comprised of ghosts who stand out to me, so they’re going to be more iconic than scary.

If you have a problem with that, deal with it and move on with your life.

Anyway, let’s get on with this Halloween celebration by shedding some light on my top 5 video game ghosts!

*Honorable mention goes to LeChuck from the Monkey Island series. But because he’s sometimes a demon and sometimes a zombie, I can’t in good conscience just list him as a ghost. sorry.*

5: Wrinkly Kong (Donkey Kong series)

Wrinkly Kong

The interesting thing about Wrinkly Kong’s status as a ghost is that she wasn’t always a ghost. But she’s been one ever since DK64, so she’s consistently been depicted as an apparition since then. After running a school in DKC2 and housing Banana Birds in DKC3 (both times serving as a save point), she passed away at some point, and has been DK and company’s friendly guide from beyond the grave ever since.

4: Poes (The Legend of Zelda series)

Poe

Poes are something of an easter egg hunt in the form of an army of ghosts. Whether it’s in Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker, Twilight Princess, whatever, Link is always going to have to track down Poes, defeat them, and capture their souls in bottles for one reason or another (aren’t they already ghosts? How are their souls separate entities?). One thing is for sure, the constant side quests provided by Poes have made them an invaluable element in the Zelda series.

3: Ghastly, Haunter and Gengar (Pokemon series)

Pokéghosts

There have been plenty of ghost-type Pokemon added to the series since its inception, but the spot on this list has to go to the originals. In Pokemon Red and Blue, there were only three ghost Pokemon, all part of the same evolutionary chain. Ghastly, Haunter and Gengar were all among the coolest Pokemon from the original titles, and added a mischievous charm to the otherwise cute and cuddly Pokemon of the day. They paved the way for all ghost Pokemon to follow.

 

2: Boo (Super Mario series)

Boos

Cutest. Ghosts. Ever.

Boos first appeared in Super Mario Bros. 3, and have become one of the most iconic and beloved Nintendo baddies ever since. But what really gets Boos such a high spot on this list is just how cute they are! I’m not just talking about their simplistic character designs, but the concept behind them as well. They’re ghosts who are shy! They’ll only try to spook their unsuspecting victims when their backs are turned. Should Mario (or anyone else) be looking at them dead on, they’ll stop in their tracks and blush. How adorable!

1: Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde (Pac-Man)

Inky Blinky Pinky Clyde

The original gaming ghosts. Not only do Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde date back to the golden age of arcades, but they also set the stage for the many “cute ghosts” who were found in gaming during the 80s and 90s. Without this quartet of ghosts, perhaps Boos wouldn’t be as cute as they are (I shudder to think)!

Really, when you think of video game ghosts, who else would come to mind first? The Pac-Man ghosts may not be terrifying like the ghouls found in modern video games, nor are they even as cute as some of the specters they inspired. But the fact remains that they are the video game ghosts. Their simplistic “bed sheet” character designs, distinguished solely by their differing colors, made them instantly recognizable. They’ve been the eternal thorn in Pac-Man’s side, and paved the way for countless other ghosts to be eternal thorns in the sides of other video game heroes.

Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde are the video game ghosts.

My First 150 Reviewed Video Games…Ranked!

At least one-hundred and fifty, or more to see! To be a Pokemon master is my destinyyy!

That’s right, the Dojo has finally amassed one-hundred and fifty video game reviews! All of which were written by yours truly, of course. Perhaps one day I’ll sucker in some poor souls to help me write this stuff.

Anyway, with these one-hundred and fifty video game reviews, I figured it would be a fun idea to rank each and every last one of those games from least to greatest. While we’re at it, I wonder if anyone can find a way to make a Pokerap parody out of these games?

I’ll keep this introduction short since we have a lot of games to cover. For my full reviews of each game, just check out the Game Reviews page.

Before we move on to the rankings, keep these little notes in mind.

  • Games are ranked by the score I gave them in their respective reviews. Each number scored is akin to its own category, so a game that scored an 8.0, for example, will be weighted against all the other 8.0 games. The list will begin with the lowest score of 1, and will gradually get higher as each game within each score gets better and better.
  • These games are all ranked by personal taste and how well I think they hold up. Things like historical significance and the like don’t matter here at all.
  • This is not my long-promised list of favorite video games (if it were, why would I be putting the games I graded badly on here?). Some of my favorite games do appear here towards the top of course, and may give you a sneak peak into my upcoming favorites of all-time list. But said favorites of all-time list will be happening at a later date, after I’ve reviewed even more games and stuff.
  • The top four are basically interchangeable. Don’t hold it against me if I say something that contradicts this list later.

That’s really all you need to know. Now, let’s see how these 150 games stack up against each other! Continue reading

Top 5 Pixar Soundtracks

Though Pixar’s films tend to lack the big musical numbers that make the soundtracks of Disney’s animated films so iconic, they’ve still provided audiences with some fantastic and largely underrated soundtracks. Even without the Broadway-style songs, Pixar films have featured soundtracks that rank up there with Disney’s and Studio Ghibli’s as some of the best music in animated films.

This begs the question as to which Pixar soundtracks are the best of the lot? While everyone is sure to have their own say-so, the following are what I consider to be Pixar’s best soundtracks. So if you’re a fan of film scores, I highly recommend giving each of them a purchase and repeated, obsessive replays.

One more thing, this list represents Pixar soundtracks as a whole, not individual pieces of music. Though I will highlight some of my favorites from each soundtrack. With that out of the way, let’s get to the top five! Continue reading

Top 5 Reasons the Best Animated Feature Oscar is Great

The Oscars have come and gone, and amid all the forced social statements that only served to make the people involved feel important, some good did come out of the event. Mad Max: Fury Road won a bunch of stuff, and Inside Out won Best Animated Feature.

On the downside, Best Animated Feature was the only thing Inside Out was allowed to win, given the Academy’s blatant bias against animated films (diversity!). Lord knows more than a few animated films should have won Best Picture by this point, especially after the turn of the new millennium, when more and more animated films have become more and more sophisticated. It’s also well over due that a director of an animated film gets a Best Director nod, and hell, why not nominate a voice actor if their performance deserves it (in the case of Inside Out, Amy Poehler definitely should have got some recognition). And don’t get me started on why on Earth no animated film has been nominated for Art Direction (shouldn’t they dominate the category?). In short, it would be nice to see animated films win more than their token award and the music/song categories.

With all this said, the Best Animated Feature category, in the fifteen years its been around, has become something special in its own right. Now, the Academy has been sure to stunt it as much as they can, often handing the award out in filler moments and “bathroom break” segments, not to mention in the award’s early years they often had filler nominees (Jimmy Neutron? Shark Tale?!), many great animated films that should have been nominated weren’t (Ponyo, The Secret World of Arrietty, etc.), and not all winners have been deserving (Happy Feet, Brave). But the award has slowly evolved into something meaningful, and even with all the missteps in its early years, it has greatly boosted the efforts of animation over the last decade and a half.

So while there’s still some work to be done, a lot of good has come out of the Best Animated Feature Oscar. Notably, it has allowed for certain types of films to be nominated (and win) awards that the other, more live-action-y awards would never allow.

Without further rambling, here are five reasons why the Best Animated Feature Oscar is not only great, but even manages to outdo the live-action awards present at the show, including Best Picture.

 

5: Films that make money can actually win

Frozen

While the Academy Awards often seem to have some kind of allergy towards movies that make money, no matter how good they might be (note that The Force Awakens didn’t win a single award), the Best Animated Feature Oscar is apparently immune to this particular bias. A number of winners have all been huge box office successes, with Toy Story 3 and Frozen both being billion-dollar movies. Not every movie that makes a lot of money is great, but there have been plenty of films that are both quality movies and financial successes, and it seems too often the latter prevents certain films from winning anything, so it’s nice that at least one award has the door open for movies that people actually cared to see.

4: Foreign films can be nominated… and win!

Spirited Away

How many times have foreign films been nominated for Best Picture? How many have won? The answer to the former is very few, and the answer to the latter is none. Meanwhile, Best Animated Feature has seen an increasing number of foreign nominees, from earlier years with the likes of The Triplets of Belleville to this year’s award with When Marnie Was There. Notably, the award’s second-ever winner, Spirited Away, hails from Japan. In just fifteen years, the Best Animated Feature award has shown more diversity than Best Picture has in eighty-eight.

3: The winners are actually entertaining

Inside Out

Okay, so this one’s more subjective. Look, there have been a number of entertaining Best Picture winners over the years, but most of them were decades ago. Aside from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, what Best Picture winner since the dawn of the twenty-first century has had any substantial form of re-watchability? Have any others been anything more than that same, particular style of “Oscar movie?” I’m not even saying they’re all bad, but are they the kind of movies you’d be quick to go to when you want to watch a great movie? Some of the nominees maybe (Mad Max), but probably not the winners. The Best Animated Feature award, on the other hand, has provided some highly enjoyable winners, and not just for children. Films such as Spirited Away and Inside Out are incredibly insightful, while still being a whole lot of fun.

2: History actually remembers the films involved

Finding Nemo

Let’s really think for moment how many recent Best Picture winners will go down in history as all-time classics. Does anyone even bring up Argo or Slumdog Millionaire (movies I enjoyed, by the way) in conversation anymore? Does anyone revere The Hurt Locker or The King’s Speech in the same way they do the classics of yesteryear?

You know what people do remember? The Finding Nemos, Toy Stories, The Incredibles, the Ups, the Spirited Aways, the Frozens, I could go on. Animated films simply have a universal appeal that break age and cultural barriers. More people will openly admit to crying during the first fifteen minutes of Up than they would about any of the recent Best Picture winners. Animated films have a way of leaving an indelible mark on audiences. That’s more than you can say about most the movies the Academy deems Best Picture worthy.

1: Animated films win something!

Big Hero 6

I’ve saved the most obvious for last! The number one reason why the Best Animated Feature Oscar is great is that it allows animated films to actually win something.

Yes, it’s a crying shame that the award has become something of a token, since there’s very little else the Academy seems interested in even thinking about nominating animation, let alone having them win. But as stated previously, the existence of the award itself has encouraged a stronger output of animated features. And because of it, some animated films that many audiences might not otherwise know about (like the aforementioned foreign films, or smaller features like the delightful Song of the Sea), can actually receive some recognition, and may gain an audience or two.

If only the award were given better treatment by the Academy itself. Still, the fact that this award allows animated films, and by extension, all the above categories, to be recognized in any way makes it a showcase for far more versatile and entertaining storytelling than Best Picture has allowed in a very, very long time. If not ever.

Top 10 Kongs in the Donkey Kong Series

As part of my continued celebration of Donkey Kong Country 2’s twentieth anniversary, I thought it’d be fun to make a top 10 list of the Kongs themselves. That is to say, the simian characters who have appeared throughout the series.

Of course, there are a total of thirteen Kong characters who have appeared throughout the series, so I may as well say the three who won’t be appearing here from the get-go. Tiny Kong won’t be on here, because she’s just an unnecessary and sucky version of Dixie. Chunky Kong also won’t be here, because he’s just an even dumber version of Kiddy Kong (why didn’t DK64 just reuse the characters from DKC2 and 3 instead of making goofy replacements for them?). And Candy Kong won’t be here. Because eeewww.

Now with that out of the way, here are the top 10 Kongs from the Donkey Kong series!

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