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300 Video Game Reviews!!

“Har har! I’m making a 300 reference!”

I have finally amassed 300 video game reviews here at Wizard Dojo!

That’s right Kevin, my recent review of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars marked the big 3-0-0!

Funny thing is, back in the day, Super Mario RPG was going to be my 100th video game review, but because I had (relatively) recently given perfect scores to both Super Mario World and Galaxy 2, I decided to hold off on reviewing another of my favorite Mario titles. I was then going to review it on the 20th anniversary of its release (May 13th, 2016), but I didn’t get around to playing it in time. It was then going to be my 200th video game review, except I was at one-hundred and ninety some-odd reviews at the time I was playing Breath of the Wild, so making that review number 200 was just too good to pass up. From there, I contemplated making Super Mario RPG number 250, or even just any random number. After I got to a certain point, however, I knew Super Mario RPG had to be the 300th.

So, here we are! After over three and a half years, I have finally reached that 300 video game review milestone. Admittedly, that last one-hundred took me longer than the hundreds that came before, so here’s hoping I don’t slow down too much. I’d like to be celebrating 400 and 500 in the not-too-distant future.

I know some people will say I’m cheating, because some games that have different versions/releases I’ve reviewed twice (Shadow of the Colossus on both PS3 and PS4, Mario Kart 8 on Wii U and Switch, Undertale on PC and PS4, and DKC: Tropical Freeze on Wii U and Switch). But I wrote brand new reviews from the ground-up even for the repeated games. So they count!

Anyway, I’d like to give a big, fat thank you to all of my readers, and I hope you continue reading my crap for as long as I’m writing it. But, y’know, no pressure.

For those interested in all 300 of my current video game reviews (as well as those by AfterStory), you can find them all on the Game Reviews page, or you can go right to the thick of things and see all the games me (and AfterStory) have scored a perfect 10 or a near-perfect 9.5. 

Or, for quick reference. Here are the eight games (as of this writing) I personally have given a perfect 10/10:

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario World

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Review #100)

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Review #200)

Super Mario Odyssey

Undertale

Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (Review #300)

Yep, I’ve certainly come a long way since I launched Wizard Dojo on Christmas Day of 2014, with my review of the original release of Mario Kart 8 being the very first thing posted here. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take me quite this long for the next 300. I still have so many games in my library that I have yet to review, and there’s always more new games around the corner. Though I think I might slow down on new purchases in the near future, not just to save money, but time. I’m sorry, but modern games are too damn long. If I ever want to make a game of my own I have to dedicate less time to playing others. So while I may have plenty, plenty more reviews to write, I think pretty soon I’ll only be purchasing the games I just really, really want. No more “eh, why nots?”

Anyway, I’m rambling. Nothing new there.

Thanks again my dear readers, for sticking with me for 300 video game reviews, some-odd hundred movie reviews, and, uhhhh…all those other things I wrote. Here’s to many more! Stay beautiful!

“Now, give me cake!”

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Reflecting on my Time at E3 2018

“Is that the real Master Sword that Link actually used in the game?!”

Another E3 has come and gone. Although this was far from my first time at the event, it was only my second time attending since I launched Wizard Dojo, which in a weird way feels like a whole different era for me (even though it’s just a wee blog). Though the fact that E3 has had a bigger attendance than ever the past two years means that the lines to actually play the games can be, well, downright evil in their tests of patience, it was overall a very fun show.

There’s plenty to be said about the mostly disappointing presentations. Whether it was Sony’s unusual format of changing revenues and taking noticeably long breaks, or Nintendo’s maybe-too-focused-on-Smash Bros.-Direct, there weren’t a whole lot of surprises, or even as much of a lineup as last year’s show.

With all that said, however, there was still plenty to enjoy. Especially for someone like me who’s just lucky to be able to attend E3’s show floor. I’ve already written some blogs dedicated to some of the games shown at E3, but now let me write just a little bit about my own experience.

“The world’s greatest necktie.”

Naturally, the first day for me was all about Super Smash Bros. (though I also played it the latter two days as well). Though the gameplay is familiar to the Wii U version, it feels like it’s getting the right level of polish, aiming for something of a combination of Melee and the Wii U game to make the definitive version of Super Smash Bros. Though I still have some reservations (please, don’t waste whatever new characters we get with clones!), Super Smash Bros. is one of the few games where I always get sucked into the hype before release. Since the demo didn’t have my main man King Dedede playable, I spent most rounds as Bowser (who is actually my favorite Nintendo character, so wouldn’t that make him my main man?), or Donkey Kong and Mega Man. I won more than I lost *brag brag* but I admit I made more than a little bit of an oopsie when I went into sudden death as Ridley (I’ll really have to practice that up-special of his). Anyway, I’m just really keeping my fingers crossed that Geno actually makes it in this time. Hey, Sakurai’s behind the idea, if only Nintendo can twist Square’s arm…

Other notable titles I played over the three day event were Marvel’s Spider-Man (which I wish had a more unique title) and Mega Man 11. Other titles that caught my eye but weren’t playable (at least not from what I could tell) were Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Dreams, the former of which comes from Hidetaka “Prepare to Die” Miyazaki, and the latter by Media Molecule, the creators of LittleBigPlanet who really look like they’ve upped their game.

Spider-Man’s greatest joy was simply how much it makes you feel like Spider-Man when playing it. I spent more of my time in the demo trying to find and ascend the tallest building than I did with any of the objectives. Mega Man 11, meanwhile, felt like the proper continuation of the beloved series that it should be. Mega Man 11 boasted the usual Mega Man gameplay, but with the added bonus of some fun twists on the level design.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice already looks like it could be one of my favorite games of next year. It’s interesting to see a game that follows suit with Miyazaki’s Dark Souls/Bloodborne series, but that omits the RPG elements, instead opting for action/adventure. The only downside is no multiplayer, which admittedly feels like a step back from the genius twists to co-operative and competitive multiplayer the Souls series brought to gaming. As for Dreams, well, it looks like the ultimate game-making game, with players seemingly able to make every single asset of a game (including genre, characters, environments, sounds, music, etc.). Let’s just hope the in-game gameplay doesn’t suffer as LittleBigPlanet did.

Other games I managed to play on the show floor include Team Sonic Racing, a new Senran Kagura title for PS4, Mario Tennis Aces, and Fortnite (which, believe it or not, was actually my first time playing Fortnite). Team Sonic Racing felt like a fun successor to the Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing series, though the removal of non-Sonic Sega characters actually seems like a step back (after all, Mario Kart eventually added Zelda and Animal Crossing characters into the mix. It didn’t start with them then take them away). Senran Kagura is…well, it is what it is: a mindless but fun guilty pleasure. Mario Tennis Aces actually surprised me with how much fun I had in my short time with it. I mean, playing as a Chain Chomp with a tennis racket in its mouth? How can it not be great? And although I sucked in the round of Fortnite I played, I can definitely see the appeal, seeing as it feels like PUBG, but with an actual personality and additional elements like crafting. Plus, Fortnite is now free on Switch, so I have no excuse not to get it.

Sadly, I never got the chance to play Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, because the lines were always too damn long. Same goes for Kingdom Hearts 3. But hey, I’ll probably play them eventually. Besides, I got to meet the REAL Pikachu and Eevee in person! That counts for like, 10 demos of the games.

“Squad Goals.”

Being able to play all these games was great of course (even if the lines could be insufferable), but just the experience of being at E3 is fun in itself for someone like me. Basically, it’s like Disneyland: wait in monotonous lines most the day, get rewarded with a few moments of quality entertainment, and overall you just enjoy being there. The experience was made all the better, however, by little things like conversing with other people with similar interests while I waited in those aforementioned lines (one particularly interesting individual in line for Smash Bros. also wanted Geno to make the roster), seeing a Solaire cosplayer fat-roll his way through the exhibit hall, walking right passed The New Day and getting a photo with Charles Martinez!

“It’s-a him!”

Yes, another E3 has come and gone, and while most will be discussing the big, news-y aspects of the event, for me, it was just  blast being there, and am itching to return next year.

Mega Man 11 is the Real Deal

I don’t get this “Mega Man 11” thing! It just looks like Capcom is trying to rip off Mighty No. 9!

All joking aside, I got to play Mega Man 11 at E3 today (after an excruciatingly long wait in line), and walked away very impressed with the game, which is now on my radar as one of my most anticipated titles of the year.

When Mega Man 11 was first revealed, a lot of fans were disappointed with the new visual look, and wanted another 8-bit throwback title. Personally, I think making another 8-bit entry would have felt a bit tired by this point. Besides, Mega Man 7 and 8 weren’t 8-bit, so it’s not as if Mega Man 11 is the first entry to go against the series’ NES roots.

“At least the long line included monitors with fun questions and factoids about Mega Man’s history. This was by far my favorite one.”

One concern I did have though, was that the new look may have meant a new direction for the series’ difficulty, and maybe ease things up a bit to grab a new audience. I’m not one of those people who demands that every game be extremely difficult, and that any game that’s on the easy side is automatically bad. But in Mega Man’s case, the difficulty is as much a part of the series as the Blue Bomber’s ability to steal the powers of defeated Robot Masters.

Although only one stage was available in the demo (Block Man’s), it proved to be pleasantly challenging. Perhaps more importantly, the challenge was brought about by some creative ideas in the level design, with the standout moment being Mega Man navigating through confined rooms which are on a conveyor belt heading for an insta-kill grinder. Mega Man has to shoot path-blocking stones, and navigate the rooms by jumping and sliding in order to escape them and, by extension, escape the grinder. But once one such mini-room is completed, there’s another one in line on the conveyor belt.

It’s concepts like that why platformers remain one of gaming’s greatest genres. Even with a template as old as Mega Man’s, getting creative with the level design is all the developers need to make things feel new again.

Additionally, Mega Man now possesses an ability to slow down time for a short while, with certain level elements and enemies taking advantage of the mechanic. One enemy hides within a spinning wheel, which has only a small opening for Mega Man’s blast can make it through. While Mega Man can time his blast to destroy the enemy under normal conditions, the enemy’s wheel spins fast enough to make it difficult to get the timing down. That’s when slowing down time comes in handy, as it turns the small opportunity to hit this particular enemy into a much bigger one.

The time-slowing mechanic is a fun little twist on the Mega Man formula, and hopefully a few similar mechanics are introduced to keep things fresh.

From what I can gather from my limited experience with the game, Mega Man 11 looks to not only revive the series after a notably lengthy absence, but also adding to the series’ norms in ways to make it feel like a proper continuation for the franchise, and not simply a throwback.

I was tentatively excited for Mega Man 11 when it was announced, but after playing a stage of the game, it’s really looking like the Mega Man title the gaming world needs…especially after Mighty No. 9.

“I’m a better Mega Man than Mega Man! I’m actually aiming my mega buster at the bad guy!”

Well, Now I HAVE to Get Kingdom Hearts 3

I may not be the biggest Kingdom Hearts fan out there. Despite some fun ideas, I find the games are bogged down by an utterly convoluted, incomprehensible plot, cliched original characters, and often monotonous gameplay. Not to mention the fact that all the spinoff titles released on a myriad of different platforms all serve as parts of the main story have made it impossible for anyone but the most diehard of fans to follow.

But by God, Kingdom Hearts 3 has a Frozen level!

Allow me to fanboy-out for a moment here. Frozen is my favorite Disney animated film, and yes, one of my favorite films, period. And yes, its presence in Kingdom Hearts 3 is enough to sell me on buying the game (again, the series isn’t horrible. If it were, I wouldn’t buy it even with the Frozen stuff).

Now, this really shouldn’t come as any sort of surprise. Seeing as Frozen is the biggest animated film in history – and is especially popular in Japan – it would be nothing short of dumbfounding to leave it out of a game filled with Disney franchises. But to actually see it in action is just…YES!

On the downside, some of the dialogue in the reveal trailer suggests that this entry may still suffer from the narrative gobbledygook of the series. But heck, I’ll push through it for Anna and Elsa.

Although I still have my skepticisms with Kingdom Hearts 3, I do admit I’m intrigued by the fact that it seems to be emphasizing modern Disney movies more than past entries of the series. Along with Frozen, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, and Pixar films like Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. have already been announced. I’ve made it no secret that I think Disney’s current run is their best ever (I don’t care what your nostalgia says). So while some older Disney films will be making a return (Hercules), I’m happy to see something as prominent as Kingdom Hearts is putting modern Disney in the spotlight.

Yeah, I would probably prefer Kingdom Hearts if it were just the Disney (and Final Fantasy) characters. But whatever. We get Frozen. And they even nabbed Josh Gad to voice Olaf for the game, which is pretty great.

Anyway, here’s the reveal trailer for the Frozen stuff in KH3, though be warned, some elements are clearly unfinished (pretty sure Elsa’s ice blast is supposed to have sound), which makes some parts a little awkward. Same goes for the fact that Haley Joel Osment is still the voice of Sora, despite the actor now being 30 and the character still a teenager (have we learned nothing from Goku’s ungodly Japanese voice?).

 

…I promise I’ll add meaningful content soon.

The 700th Blog Spectacularsaurus Indominous Alpha III

 

Welcome my friends, to the 700th blog spectacular(saurus Indominous Alpha 3)! That’s right, I’ve written a grand total of 700 blogs for this site! Oh, joy!

Ah yes, there are many ways to celebrate such a landmark blog, none of which are quite as good as a bombardment of gifs!

 

“The cuteness!”

Alrighty, that’s enough gifs (for now). Let’s move on to (relatively) serious matters. Continue reading

Happy Star Wars Day 2018!

Okay, another May the 4th, another day I missed the opportunity to write some meaningful Star Wars content. I promise I’ll get to reviewing every Star Wars movie, writing opinion pieces on aspects of the movies, and complain about how toxic the fanbase has become.

So in the interim, I hope you just enjoy this celebratory post of all things Star Wars. But yeah, I do promise to do my best to get to all my planned Star Wars content at some point. So yeah, I hope you look forward to that, and also hope you’re a sensible Star Wars fan who can accept the franchise as the children’s science-fantasy series that it is, and don’t try to hack a new Star Wars movie’s metascore because it undoes those crappy expanded universe novels from way back when.

Let’s all raise a glass of blue milk in honor of this timeless franchise about magic, space samurai and arms/hands getting lopped off.

Happy Star Wars Day, everyone! May the fourth be with you!