The 800th Blog Spectacularsaurus Indoraptor III: Third Strike

Behold and quake in fear, mortals! For I have amassed 800 blogs here at the Wizard Dojo!

Gee, I’ve certainly been a busy bee, haven’t I?

Thank you, my kind, dear readers, for sticking with me for these past four-plus years and seven-hundred and ninety-nine blogs. You people are what keep me keepin’ on keepin’ on.

Anyway, let’s get to celebrating this milestone with some answers to questions and lists and stuff!

Now then, let’s hop to it.

 

Continue reading “The 800th Blog Spectacularsaurus Indoraptor III: Third Strike”

Advertisements

L’Ochestre de Jeux Video Appreciation Post

I’ve made it no mystery that my love of video game music rivals my love of video games themselves. Though I’m no musician, I can appreciate (and am often mystified by) what music can do both on its own and for other mediums. Though there are a number of film scores that have left an impact on me (namely Joe Hisaishi’s work on Hayao Miyazaki’s filmography), for the most part, I think the musical side of my heart belongs to video game scores. Whether it’s the infectious soundtracks of the Mega Man series, the atmospheric sounds of Donkey Kong Country, or the epic scores of Dark Souls, video game music continues to shape and mold my creativity as much as video games themselves.

As such, I not only have a rather impressive collection of video game soundtracks (if I do say so myself), but frequently seek out remixes, covers and live performances of video game music. And a number of months ago, I discovered one of the best.

L’Orchestre de Jeux Video is an ongoing orchestra that specializes in video game music. As someone who has frequently sought out video game orchestras, I do believe L’Orchestra de Jeux Video (or ‘OJV’ for short) is the most consistently excellent I have discovered so far.

Some of their performances reflect the original feeling of the music they’re covering, brought up to the epic score of an orchestra. Other times, they recreate classic pieces in new ways, bringing new appreciation to both the pieces in question as well as OJV’s abilities.

Seriously, I can’t speak highly enough about what OJV does. Oftentimes when I’m writing a review late at night, I listen to their performances, and I swear it helps my creative juices flow, and even some of my trickier reviews start coming together. I guess you could argue that a number of my writings owe a little something to OJV.

But enough jib jab from me, here are some of my favorite performances from OJV, direct from their own YouTube channel.

Let’s start with one of my all-time favorites, Super Mario Galaxy.

A little Banjo-Kazooie always does the heart good.

Here’s an entire performance dedicated to my main man, Bowser.

Some Undertale music, because that’s always wonderful.

Of course, you can never go wrong with the iconic Dr. Wily theme.

And naturally, I of all people have to include their performances of Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario RPG. I just hope they do some more covers from them in the near future, because you can never have too much of a good thing.

 

Simply beautiful!

If you would like to find out more about L’Orchestra de Jeux Video, you can check out their website here. Or you can find more of their performances on their official YouTube channel. It’ll be well worth the time of any lover of video game music.

Another January Update

Oh no, am I doing another one of these filler posts? Sadly, I am, but with reason. In my last January update, I mentioned I was planning on reviewing some big games during the month (namely God of War, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), and that I plan on doing (at least) one top 5 list and one top 10 list per month. Obviously, I’m running out of time in January to get all that done. There’s maybe time to squeeze in another big review before January ends, but not all of these things. So I’m here to apologize. I should still be able to get to all of these soon, however. But sorry I couldn’t get it all done when I planned.

As for the top 5/top 10 lists, I do plan to start doing those on a monthly basis, and it does suck that I couldn’t start on the first month of a new year. But, as always, better late than never, I suppose. I will say I am working on my list of Top 10 Nintendo Systems as we speak (err…as I write), which I planned to have up for a couple of weeks, but have backpedaled on the ordering of said list numerous times, thus postponing it (I know the top 4 for sure, but I keep flip-flopping the others).

So yeah, sincerest apologies for more filler, but I’d hate to have mentioned doing those reviews/lists this month, not do them, and then say nothing of it. So I hope you look forward to them. On the plus side, this filler post brings me closer to my 800th blog milestone, and these delayed posts should probably push me to said milestone. Then it’s off to my 2018 video game awards, and beyond. But I’ll keep that “beyond” a secret for now.

Thanks for putting up with me.

WWE Royal Rumble 2019 Review

Let’s take a moment to talk about wrestling once again. This time, it’s the 2019 edition of WWE’s Royal Rumble, the first of WWE’s “big four pay-per-views” in the calendar year and probably WWE’s most loved PPV aside from Wrestlemania. Now, if you include the pre-show, this Royal Rumble went on for nearly seven hours, I’m going to try and keep my synopsis as short as possible. And I’m skipping the pre-show bits. Now let’s get started.

Becky Lynch vs. Asuka (C) for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.

The pay-per-view proper started off with a bang, as Becky Lynch challenged Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a great match. Surprisingly, Asuka won completely clean by making Becky Lynch tap out, but they found a way to end the show making both women look strong, and it was such a strong match that Becky still looked strong in defeat.

The Bar (Sheamus and Cesaro) (C) vs. the Miz and Shane McMahon for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

This match was…okay. Everyone involved pulled off some strangely stiff shots on each other, and Shane McMahon got some time to do his usual ‘he’s-too-old-to-be-doing-that-kind-of-thing’ top-rope stuff, including ending the match with a Shooting Star Press for the win and the tag team titles.

Ronda Rousey (C) vs. Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship

This match should have been better than it was. Not bad, but with how much progress Ronda Rousey has made in her year as a wrestler, and how good Sasha Banks always has been, it was a bit clunky. Rousey retained of course, and I don’t see her losing the title (or a match) until Wrestlemania.

30-Woman Royal Rumble match

This felt like the proper Royal Rumble of the night, and should have gone on last. Not a whole lot of surprise entrants, but we had the ironwoman of the match (Natalya Neidhart), the blink and you’ll miss it entrant (Liv Morgan), and all that jazz. It wasn’t anything too special, until Becky Lynch interrupted the entrance of an injured Lana, took her spot in the match (which makes no sense, but don’t worry about it), and went on to win the Rumble despite being beaten and battered after her war with Asuka. Great finish that, again, probably should have closed the night.

Daniel Bryan (C) vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Championship

“uhhh, okay… why not? I guess…”

As expected for two wrestlers of this world class caliber, the in-ring action was stellar. The ending, on the other hand… kind of random. Erick Rowan (AKA the guy who was one half of a tag team whose gimmick was carrying around giant mallets for all of last year) made his return, and conveniently showed up about a minute before the referee got knocked out, gave AJ Styles a choke slam, and helped Daniel Bryan retain the title. Because reasons.

This was just an utterly random ending. And if this were the route they were going with, couldn’t Rowan have entered the fray sooner? I get that it’s a show, but having the guy who’s bound to interfere enter the scene mere seconds before he’s supposed to do his thing kind of crushes the suspension of disbelief.

Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Finn Balor for the WWE Universal Championship

*Sigh*

Look, I get it. WWE has some bizarre infatuation with Brock Lesnar, despite the fact that his “special attraction” aura disintegrated years ago now. I knew Finn Balor wasn’t winning this. And to their credit, WWE did give Balor a lot of really good offense. So he almost looked good in defeat.

I say ‘almost’ because WWE decided to give the match a crap finish by making Finn Balor tap out after a less-than ten minute match. Okay, I get that the show was obnoxiously long already, but was this really the match to trim down? And making Balor tap out kind of undermined the whole “David vs. Goliath” story they were going for. Couldn’t they have made him pass out from taking too much punishment and refusing to give up or something? You know, an ending that would play into his heroism, even in defeat. And what about after the match? Balor just got destroyed by Lesnar some more! What was the point? Who benefits from this? I mean, other than Vince McMahon and his fetish for overplayed acts?

30-Man Royal Rumble Match

This was decent, but not as good as the Women’s Rumble. Seth Rollins won, of course. Narratively speaking, they haven’t built up anyone else who could have won (unless they did for Finn Balor what they did for Becky Lynch). So it was a pretty obvious conclusion, but at least they didn’t show a video package ahead of the show that more or less screamed who the winner would be like they did with Randy Orton in 2009.

The only real noteworthy story was that Nia Jax, after having been eliminated in the Women’s Rumble, beat up R-Truth during his entrance and took his place (again, don’t think about it too hard). She managed to eliminate Mustafa Ali, before taking a super kick from Dolph Ziggler, 619 from Rey Mysterio, and an RKO from Randy Orton before being tossed out (you would think she would have eliminated more people if WWE went through the trouble of adding this mini-narrative…but again, we’re talking about the company who still thinks the idea of Brock Lesnar as champion warrants a shred of interest).

 

Overall, it was an okay show. The Royal Rumble matches are always fun to watch as they happen, but after the fact you can think about how well everything played out. And well, the Rumble winners were expected but deserving, and the in-ring work of every match was solid. But the ending to Daniel Bryan/AJ Styles (a match that needed no screwy finish), and especially the ending of Lesnar/Balor really dampened the show. And with a five-is hour main card, and a total of seven hours including the pre-show, and the 2019 Royal Rumble was another example of a modern WWE pay-per-view being waaay too long.

The only other noteworthy bit to take away from the show is that Kacy Catanzaro and Naomi out-Kofi Kingston Kofi Kingston. That is to say, Catanzaro and Naomi saved themselves from elimination in their Rumble match in more creative (and believable) fashion than Kofi Kingston did. I always enjoy the Kofi Kingston spots we get to see every year during the Royal Rumble, but this year Kofi did two, both of which seemed derivative of previous spots from yesteryear, and both of which I swear both of his feet hit the ground anyway.

An okay show, and hopefully Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch’s victories mean things will pick up from here. And here’s hoping that something will actually come out of Finn Balor’s loss, instead of him just being another unnecessary burial to Lesnar. Far from the best Rumble (I don’t think it was nearly as entertaining as last year’s edition), but not the worst either (that would be 2015).

Ask Me Anything IV

 

It’s that time again! I’m fast-approaching my 800th blog here at the Dojo (this particular post is number 790). And that means it’s time for another edition of Ask Me Anything!

Yeah, I know, I never get a whole lot of questions. But who knows, I have a relatively larger following now. Maybe I’ll get a decent amount. But probably not. But maybe.

Anyway, if any of my loyal readers have any questions they’d like to ask me about this site, my opinions on stuff, my hopeful game-development endeavors. Basically anything, really. You can ask multiple questions if you wish. You can even suggest a game or movie you’d like me to review. Just leave your questions and such in the comments of this post, and I will answer them in blog #800.

And I’m thinking after I reach the 800 milestone, I’ll finally get around to my video game awards for 2018. After that, I’ll try to have some surprises in store along with my usual reviews and such.

Now then, ask away!

The Inconsistency of the Smash Roster

I ramble about Super Smash Bros. a lot, and I plan to write my full review of Ultimate really soon, so I’ll try to keep this quick. But the other day, I saw a tweet that made a good point, claiming that Ultimate, more so than Brawl or Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, has a list of Assist Trophies who should be playable characters, and playable characters who should be Assist Trophies.

Now, this person did leave out the first four announced newcomers in Inkling, Ridley, Simon Belmont and King K. Rool in their argument. Some people argued that that skewed the original poster’s point, but they emphasized that they left those characters out because they thought they were deserving newcomers. Hard to argue that, seeing as Ridley and K. Rool have been two of the three most wanted characters for over a decade, Inkling represents a contemporary Nintendo franchise, and Castlevania’s history with Nintendo goes without saying. But they pointed out that the remaining newcomers – including echo fighters – when compared to a number of characters who were relegated to Assist Trophies, leave a lot to be desired. And I kind of agreed.

Yes, I am aware that the echo fighters “don’t take up much programming space” yada yada yada. I get that. But let’s face it, they’re still difficult characters to get too excited over. Especially when we get reminded of the characters we could have had. And if the remaining newcomers are a little on the… ‘iffy’ side, well then those echo fighters are going to mean even less.

But let’s get back to the remaining newcomers. Isabelle is a choice that makes sense given Animal Crossing’s immense popularity. And you know what, I like that she’s in the game and think she’s very fun to play. However, whenever I remember that Shovel Knight and Bomberman are simply Assist Trophies, Isabelle’s placement as a playable character loses some of its appeal. Yeah, she’s a good addition, but if I – and many, many others – had a choice between Isabelle and Shovel Knight or Bomberman, well, I think we could all agree that’s a runaway victory for Shovel Knight and Bomberman.

“Even Incineroar is embarrassed he made it in before Geno.”

Then of course, we have Incineroar. Now, again, I completely understand the popularity of Pokemon, and have stated in the past that it’s one of the few series where it could potentially have as many characters as it wants. But, also again, when we look at characters who didn’t make the cut who fans have been begging for for years (Isaac from Golden Sun, anyone?), it boggles the mind that a Pokemon as random as Incineroar would be chosen instead. I mean, at least someone like Decidueye would be unique with his grass/ghost typing and emphasis on archery. But Incineroar kind of just seems to cover ground that’s already been covered in Smash being a brute character with fire moves. Again, I don’t hate Incineroar, but why are so many characters fans have wanted relegated to Assist Trophies in favor of random selections like Incineroar.

“Kill it with fire!”

Oh, but then we have the soon-to-be-released Piranha Plant. Now this is where I feel the selection was just a massive letdown. I mean, no one asked for a generic enemy (and if they had to add one, why not Goomba? At least Goombas are kind of the most iconic generic enemy in games, so they have that going for them). Some people claim Sakurai wanted to do something unexpected to surprise fans, but does a surprise really matter if it ends up disappointing? I mean, if someone ding-dong-ditched me and left a flaming bag of dog poop on my porch, I’d be surprised, but certainly not happy about it.

Sure, Piranha Plant could end up being a fun character to play. But its inclusion still seems like a slap in the face to all the fans who have been dying to see their favorite characters make the cut. I repeat, people really, really wanted Isaac, Bomberman, Shovel Knight, and many others. No one wanted Piranha Plant. And for a series as grounded in fanservice as Super Smash Bros., it just seems like a counterproductive move to so blatantly go the opposite direction of what fans want.

Yeah yeah, I’m going to bring up Geno again. Of course I am. But I don’t continuously bring up Super Mario RPG’s possessed puppet without reason. Fans have begged for the character’s inclusion for perhaps longer and more adamantly than any other character (wit the possible exceptions of K. Rool and Ridley), and yet, time and again, Super Smash Bros. fails to deliver on him. Granted, there’s still hope for Geno to make it as DLC, seeing as he doesn’t appear as an Assist Trophy. But there’s no guarantee to that. Some people think the fact that he shows up as a spirit deconfirms him, but that just sounds like a weak argument, since the spirits are just stock images that boost stats and don’t actually appear physically in matches.

But as I’ve stated ad nauseam, Geno’s continuous absence seems to personify the wonkiness of Smash’s character selections and omissions. I mean, if the most requested characters by fans can’t make it in, but Piranha Plant can, it seems to go against the very nature of the series.

Some people defend these selections by claiming that “it’s Sakurai’s game” and while that’s true, his is a game series built on fan service. It’s not like he’s telling a deep, personal story with the series. It’s Nintendo (and other) characters beating the crap out of each other.

What’s really annoying is when Sakurai apologists lash out against disappointed fans, as though they don’t have a right to be disappointed. We all love Smash Bros., but again, when the characters people want keep getting ignored while seemingly random selections make it in, it’s annoying. I love Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and I think it’s the best game in the series. But would I enjoy it more if I could play as Geno? Oh, hell yeah! Without question.

Look, I understand that not everyone can be pleased, and some fans are always going to be disappointed. But there’s a difference between certain characters not making the cut, and the characters people have wanted most for over a decade not making the cut in favor of characters no one asked for (again, that damn plant!). It just comes off as spiteful (even if that isn’t the intent).

Even K. Rool and Ridley, despite their demand, had to wait until now to finally make it into the series, with Sakurai always coming up with rather weak reasonings for their omissions in the past (the “character uniqueness” statement in regards to K. Rool was particularly laughable, given all the similar characters already present in the series). I don’t want to complain too much about that, since they’re here now. Better late than never and all that. But given some of the characters who made it in before them, it’s pretty head-scratching.

What’s particularly hypocritical of the fans who dismiss those who express disappointment is that they’ll often ridicule fans of a particular character when they’re not in, but once a character makes it in, they suddenly act like they were always onboard with the idea since Sakurai and company gave the green light. It’s like, what a bunch of trollish sheep.

Look, I hope I never sound too negative in regards to Super Smash Bros. I truly love the series. But that’s why I get so passionate about it, both the good and bad. It’s easy to love the games themselves, but it’s often hard to ignore what could have been… especially if what we get is Piranha Plant.

Again, I hope to have my review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate up soon. And since the omissions of my (and other people’s) most wanted characters isn’t a serious fault in terms of game design, I won’t be talking much about this stuff in my review. Hence why I decided to get it out of the way here. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve ranted about the Smash roster, and it surely won’t be the last.

My review of Ultimate is definitely going to be mostly positive (except in regards to World of Light). So please don’t think I’m just a grumpy guys when it comes to Smash. It’s just that I, like many fans, have the right to be disappointed when the series, frankly, disappoints in certain areas.

A Very January Update

I was going to try and post another movie review today, but it won’t be done in time. But I want to keep these January updates rolling for a bit, so I figured I’d give a brief preview of sorts of things to come here at the Dojo.

Some of my next movie reviews include my much-overdue review of Ralph Breaks the Internet, as well as Mary Poppins Returns, and in keeping with tradition, I’m going to try and post a review for a Hayao Miyazaki-directed film on January 5th (Miyazaki’s birthday). But I’ll keep it a secret as to which one it is for now.

As for video game reviews, I figure I’d (finally) get around to reviewing Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as well as a retro title or two sometime in January.

Additionally, one thing I’m hoping to improve on with the Dojo in 2019 is to make more top 5 and top 10 lists. My current plan is to do at least one top 5 and one top 10 list per month. So hopefully I’ll get cracking on that soon.

And, of course, I hope to start my video game awards for 2018 in the near future. Though again, depending on how long it takes me to finish the last couple of 2018 games on my list, I may have to push them into February. We’ll see.

So there’s just a quick preview of the things I have in store for January here at the Dojo. Who knows, maybe a surprise or two will show up as well. And hopefully I’ll have a review or something up tomorrow.