Incoming Content

Uh oh, this is another filler blog, isn’t it? Maybe. But hey, it’s a good means to write about what I have in store for this site, which in turn is a good way of getting around to writing those things.

Anyway, I am currently in the process of writing reviews for Red Dead Redemption 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Creed II, in addition to my annual Christmas Special. Admittedly, this is the first time I’ve worked on this many different posts simultaneously for this site, as I usually follow the unprofessional (yet affective) method of writing a single blog all in one sitting, while maybe writing another in bits and pieces at a time on the side.

So the aforementioned posts will be the ones to look out for in the near future. I also have some reviews in store for January, as well as some potential top 5/10 lists (including Top 10 Nintendo Consoles). Hopefully my reviews for God of War (PS4), Ni no Kuni 2 and Pokemon Let’s Go will be among the January lineup. Lord knows I’m overdue on those. Naturally, I also have my movie/game awards planned for January, but depending on how many more 2018 movies and games I’m able to watch and play in the coming weeks, my awards may be postponed to February. I have a few other surprises in store for the first few months of 2019, which I will explain more in my Christmas post. So stay tuned.

Oh, and you may have noticed (but probably not) that I added a new “Specials” sub-page under the ‘Writings’ category. This will be where you can get quick access to my past awards, milestone blogs, and the aforementioned Christmas specials.

So yeah…something better next time… hopefully. Sorry for the filler.

Advertisements

Something about 10/10s, Best and Favorite Games

*This post is something of a follow-up of another one I wrote several months ago on the subject of 10/10 games. That post was from when I still used a .5 rating system, but much of what I said then still applies, so I’ll try not to repeat myself too much.*

I have a weird interest in trying to guess the favorite games (and movies) of people I know based on how fondly and frequently they bring up certain games (and movies). I can tell you from experience that trying to list your own favorites isn’t always easy. As soon as you think you have it figured out, you remember a few others that creep in. This has sparked my aforementioned “weird interest,” as it seems like, based on what people praise the most regularly, that it may take someone else to acknowledge those works as a person’s favorites. Now, obviously this is no exact science (there is no exact science for favorites of anything). But I like to think that the inner indecisiveness can sometimes be filtered out when speaking to others, to some degree anyway (or, I could just be full of BS, which also seems likely).

Anyway, recently this got me talking to a couple of my friends about what our top 10 games are. One of my friends is a big Sonic fan, and naturally had multiple Sonic titles in his top 10: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic Colors and Sonic Mania. He also had his favorite Zelda game, Majora’s Mask, and a Phoenix Wright title included, as well as Tetris. My other friend’s list featured the likes of Super Mario World, Twilight Princess, Okami, Red Dead Redemption, and BloodBorne (that’s as far as I got with my guestimations on both their lists).

But then, we got around to talking about my favorites, and that brings us to this particular post. One of my friends guessed that Super Mario World and Super Mario 64 were on my list. I agreed that Super Mario World would have a spot, but I questioned that 64 would quite make it into my top 10, as I’d say the Super Mario Galaxy titles and Odyssey are better 3D platformers. But then I got to thinking, with how many times I’ve replayed Super Mario 64, and all the memories I have of it over the years, am I lying to myself by claiming it’s not among my top 10?

Naturally, this brought up the prospect of “favorites” versus “bests” when discussing one’s top 10 of anything. If I’m going by the warm and fuzzy memories, Super Mario 64 pretty much has to be in my top 10. And while it would still find a spot on my list somewhere, if we’re talking games I appreciate by their quality, 64 is bested by a number of titles.

Of course, with my OCD-riddled mind, making big deals about pretty much every thought that passes through my head just kind of happens. And in this case, it means this discussion lead me to thinking about how I score video games I review here on my site, primarily the big 10/10s.

As of this writing, I’ve awarded nine different games a perfect score: Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country 2, Super Mario RPG, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Dark Souls, Undertale, Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. I stand by my giving these games 10s on their own individual merits, but I also started to wonder if all of these games are necessarily my favorites. Like Super Mario 64, they all may rank somewhere on such a hypothetical list of mine, but I’m not sure if they’re all top 10 material.

For example, arguably the game I most regularly praise on this site is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which currently sits at a 9/10. Since it was originally released in 2014, I’ve beat it several times over (both in regular and hard mode) and can’t seem to praise it enough. To put it simply, it has as good of a chance at being in my personal top ten games as any game I’ve given a 10/10.

Point being, should that make it a 10/10? As I stated on my prior blog on this subject, one idea I’ve bounced around was to – at this point in time – award a total of ten 10s, to reflect my top 10 (as I stated in the past, I would of course add more 10s should one be released or I discover one from the past I missed out on. But the top 10 would set the precedent). Of course, if I were to go this route, I may have to alter some of my existing scores, if some of my current 10s don’t quite rank in my personal top 10 (should I actually manage to solidify it). I’m not a big fan of altering my scores (although I’ve done it in the past, but not with perfect scores), and again, I stand by my 10s in terms of their quality.

Of course you want to be objective when reviewing anything, but seeing as video games are a creative art form, should my personal taste have a little more influence than I’m giving it? Again, Tropical Freeze (along with Bloodborne, for that matter) is basically a 10 in my heart, so should I really deny it of that because it may not match up to what I’ve designated as a 10 in my head?

Basically, if my top 10 were to be ranked by personal sentiment/enjoyment, there’s no doubt that Super Mario 64, Banjo-Tooie, one of the Super Smash Bros. titles and Tropical Freeze would make my top ten. If I were to go by what I think are the best of the best, my top ten would simply include games I’d award a 10/10. And if I tried to find some middle ground, I could potentially place some 9s in with some 10s. A combination of quality and personal experience, meaning that Tropical Freeze could sneak its way in anyway, seeing as I see it as my ‘uncrowned 10’ (again, along with Bloodborne).

The weird thing is, I don’t feel this same indecisiveness with the films I’ve given 10/10. My perfect scored movies currently sit at only four: Inside Out, Frozen, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away (yes, all animated so far). I would easily say all four of those films are among my favorites, so there’s no second guessing from me there. But when it comes to my game reviews, I’m pondering if my 10/10s consistently reflect my ‘favorites.’

Essentially, I guess the point of this entire post is to once again display my indecisiveness when trying to concoct my concrete list of favorite games. Perhaps I simply need someone else to point out what games I’ve leaned towards over time. The other point of this post is that it got me to thinking if I should re-evaluate my 10s. Again, I don’t like to change my scores – and on one hand, the idea of altering my 10s makes me cringe – as changing scores seems fickle, and risks devaluing my rating system. At the same time, I’m kind of intrigued at the idea of pulling a Thanos, snapping my fingers and altering the landscape of my 10s.

Now, I don’t want to appear pretentious, and be one of those people who thinks they need to have as minimal perfect scores as humanly possible just because. But at the same time, I don’t want to feel overly generous with my scoring, either. I mentioned how DKC: Tropical Freeze and Bloodborne are akin to my “uncrowned 10s,” and while I have thought about upping their scores to give them perfect grades, the idea that I can award some of my all-time favorites with 9s, I feel, makes my 9s mean something as well as my 10s. I also don’t want to be one of those critics who holds 10s on some pedestal, yet every other score seems interchangeable.

I remember the days when Edge Magazine was pretty conservative when dishing out perfect scores (they still are relative to other magazines, but you can still pretty much guess when they’ll award them these days). Or the (sadly) recently discontinued GamesTM Magazine, which also only awarded so many 10/10s. Again, I don’t want to be stingy for the sake of it, but when those publications give/gave 10s, it meant something (or, at the very least, it tried to). I’ve always kind of wanted to achieve something similar to that. And while I think I have succeeded to some extent, I have to wonder if my flip-flopping of my favorite games should alter my list of 10s.

Yikes, I’m really going off on another tangent, aren’t I? Basically, I guess my point is how difficult it really can be to categorize your favorites of anything in any “official” capacity. Although my taste has remained surprisingly consistent throughout my life, things do fluctuate. Who knows, this entire post may end up being entirely pointless and I won’t change a thing. I already hit a soft reboot when I swapped my ‘.5’ rating system for one consisting of whole numbers, so I’m not sure if tinkering with things at this point alters my site too much. Again, I don’t want my scores to end up feeling pointless and finicky. But at the same time, the benefit of running an independent site is that I can change things to reflect my changing tastes when necessary.

If any of my kind readers have any feedback for how I should approach things going forward, feel free to share.

Coming Soon to the Dojo…

Well, looks like November isn’t much busier here at the Dojo than October was. I’m really hoping that changes soon, and I can get back in my stride. Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride. Ain’t nothin’ gonna hold me down. Oh no, I’ve got to keep on moving’!

Anyway…Since things have been quiet, I figured I’d at least let my readers know what I’m working on for the near future.

First of all, video game reviews! I plan on finally playing/finishing some of this year’s biggest titles, and will review the following games as soon as I can.

Marvel’s Spider-Man

God of War

Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Red Dead Redemption 2

And of course, I plan on reviewing Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate when the time comes. Red Dead Redemption 2 will be a special case in which I will write separate reviews for its single player campaign and its upcoming multiplayer mode (if both are going to be released as their own entities, why not review them as such?). Also, I might finally get around to Detective Pikachu and Octopath Traveler at some point, but don’t be surprised if those two reviews don’t happen until 2019. Finally, I plan on playing through/reviewing the surprise kind of/sort of/somewhat (but not really) sequel to Undertale, Deltarune.

All those reviews should keep me busy for a while, but I hope to also have a few movie reviews written here and there. And as stated in the past, next year I suspect I’ll be reviewing more movies and older games, and maybe the occasional TV show. But I only plan on buying a small amount of 2019 video games. As much as I love gaming, I’m becoming less and less able to invest the ludicrous amount of hours modern gaming often requires. Sure, I’ll be getting Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Animal Crossing Switch, and a few others that I’m really excited for. But with the possible exception of Kingdom Hearts 3, I don’t see myself getting prominent games for the sake of reviewing prominent games anymore (and if I make an exception for KH3, it’s because I’m a sucker for Disney). Gotta choose wisely if a game’s going to take me forever to beat.

Yeah, I know. I complain about the length of modern games a lot these days. But it’s because of a valid reason… Modern games are too damn long!

As for what TV shows I plan on reviewing, well, it may seem cheap to start with some personal favorites, but the way I see it, it may make it easier to get into the groove of writing about something I haven’t before (in this case, TV shows). So I suspect Twin Peaks and Stranger Things might show up, among others. Maybe I’ll also give Castlevania on Netflix a looksy, and review it if I have enough to say.

To add a cherry on top, I’m hoping to finally write some top 5 and top 10 lists I’ve been meaning to get around to. While I don’t want to spoil what all of them will be, I may start with something like “Top 10 Nintendo Systems,” “Top 10 Nintendo Franchises” and “Top 10 Games from my Childhood” (as in, what games enthralled me the most during my adolescence, as opposed to which ones have held up the best since then).

Oh, and I’m hoping to finally get back into making sprites and studying game design, so depending on how quickly I start making progress on that, I will also try to update how that’s going every now and again. As I’ve stated ad nauseam, I’d like to make my own game, damn it!

Well, that’s about all I have to say for now. Sorry again for the slow updates. I hope to get the ball rolling once again as soon as possible. Hopefully now that I’ve mentioned some of these things it will help me get around to writing them faster (I’m in the process of writing my Spider-Man PS4 review, so I suspect that will come first).

Alrighty! Take care you handsome devils!

I Say! An Update!

October 2018 has been my slowest month of updates on this site since I launched it back on Christmas Day of 2014. I’ve only written three posts (two game reviews and a movie review) so far, so I figured I’d write a little something so things don’t seem too empty.

Don’t worry your pretty little head, my slower updates aren’t a sign that I’m losing interest in this site. I have no plans to stop writing Wizard Dojo. Even if I become a successful game designer or something along those lines (as I hope to be), I’d still try to find some way to update this site.

The simple fact of the matter is…I’ve been busy.

Along with life being, well, life… Zipping through all those Mega Man X games in September also kind of burned me out (BURN TO THE GROUND!). So I was already going to take things easier in regards to this site in October,  though I didn’t mean to take it this easy.

Looking ahead to November and December, I hope to pick back up some steam, and carry it through 2019. With that said – and I’ve mentioned this before – I expect my reviews of more recent games to slow down a bit moving forward.

There are two obvious, simple reasons for this. Reason A) video games are expensive, and as much as I’d love to review every big game that’s released, I don’t get paid to do this, and my wallet just can’t keep up. Reason 2) modern video games are just too time consuming. I love video games, but my word, they’ve become quite the time-investment (the recent release of Mega Man 11 was a total delight. A game I can complete in a few sessions? Lovely!). So again, while I’d love to be able to play through and review every last major release, I simply don’t have the time to do that. I’m just now getting back into God of War on PS4, a game that came out months ago, and still need to start playing Ni no Kuni 2, which not only came out in the first quarter of 2018, but was one of the games I was most looking forward to this year.

Between life and priorities, in addition to having other interests and endeavors (again, I’d like to make a game myself some day), I just can’t dedicate 60+ hours for every game that comes out just to beat them for a review. I’ve actually heard some people online complain about Super Mario Odyssey and Marvel’s Spider-Man’s campaigns being “too short” at around 15-20 hours. That actually seems like a more ideal length for a contemporary title from start to final boss (optional content is always welcome, because it’s optional). I mean, that’s most of a day right there! How is that short?!

*Also, speaking of Spider-Man on PS4, that’s probably my next game review*

Long story short, I have no plans to slow down this site in terms of content, but I think it’s safe to say most of my reviews going forward will be for shorter games (retro titles, indie games) and movies. Yes, I still plan on reviewing TV shows at some point, but don’t expect them to be a regular occurrence.

As of this writing, I’ve reviewed 319 video games, so I don’t feel like I’m leaving my readers short if I slow down on AAA titles and such. Besides, it’s not like I’m never going to review big-budget, lengthy games, just that you can expect my reviews building up to the 400 and 500 (and beyond) milestones being mostly comprised of games from yesteryear and those of a smaller scale. And also games with 15-20 hour campaigns. Which are short, apparently…

Oh, and yes, I still hope to make videos of some capacity. And what’s that? My list of all-time favorite video games? Yeah, that’s still a thing at some point.

Alright, this filler update has gone on long enough now. I hope you’re not too bummed about my recent dry spell and the news that I’ll be slowing down on high profile games in the not-too-distant future. Hope you’ll still put up with my nonsense.

Coming Soon: Mega Man Month (and Other Stuff Too!)

Alls been quiet of the Dojo front for about a week now. Sorry about that, old chaps. Wanted my Top 5 Most Wanted Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Characters to pick up more steam. And it did!

But I always hate my extended breaks here at the Dojo, so here’s some stuff I’m planning for this site in the not-too-distant future.

First and foremost, I plan on making this September a tribute to Mega Man, in honor of the release of Mega Man 11 in early October. Now, I already reviewed Mega Mans 1 through 8 back in 2015, but since I recently picked up the Mega Man X Legacy Collection, I figured it’s about time I reviewed the Mega Man X games. And maybe I can squeeze in Mega Mans 9 and 10 after all this time, as well as one other Mega Man title I’ve been meaning to review for a while (three guesses what it is). If I can, I may also toss in some Mega Man-related top 10/5 lists.

Of course, I also hope to squeeze in some other reviews for movies and games. So depending on how much time I have in between Mega Mans, I have a good few other things I’d like to write about.

In the not-too-distant future, I’m also hoping to review the films of Quentin Tarantino (the first of which should be done soon), and hopefully review the three remaining Hayao Miyazaki-directed features. And yes, I still hope to start reviewing some TV shows from time to time.

There are a number of reviews and lists I’d like to finish by the end of 2018. I’m also hoping to continue my game design endeavors really soon. And while yes, that will be time-consuming and effect my website to some degree, I have zero plans to ever stop writing for this site. But learning how to make a game, combined with the financial and time investment of modern gaming, means I’ll be cutting back on my new gaming purchases starting in 2019. So aside from a few AAA games here and there, I see most of my gaming reviews in the years ahead being retro titles and indie games. Y’know, games that don’t take an obscene amount of time to complete.

Maybe I will post updates on my game design progress here on this site, if there’s enough interest. I may even show off a few drawings/sketches from time to time. Not that I have much to show off. I’m not that good.

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. This is an update. I hope you enjoy Mega Man Month in September, and whatever else I write. I love you people.

The Times They are a (Really) Changin’!

Wizard Dojo Digivolve to! ….. Still Wizard Dojo, but different!

“Wizard Dojo’s change is not THIS drastic…”

That’s right, I’ve finally changed things up here at the Dojo, you’ve probably noticed the site has a new overall look. Though admittedly, I’m not sure this is the look I want to stick with since I can’t seem to have the site’s different pages right at the top of the homepage like I did before (the links to them are still intact on the right side, however). But I figured the changes I’ve made deserved a fresh coat of paint.

Now it’s time for the big change… I’ve actually revamped my rating system to include only whole numbers, 1-10.

*Before I continue, I’d like to emphasize that this only affects my reviews. AfterStory can continue using the .5 system if he so desires, or can follow suit if he so desires. That’s entirely up to him.

In a way, things have come full circle, since whole number scales are what I once utilized way back before the Dojo existed. When I launched Wizard Dojo, I used the .5 system for two main reasons: to start fresh and differentiate what I did before, and to build the prestige of the “near perfect” score of 9.5. I feel I was decently effective in both respects, but over time, it became apparent how that system was only being partly utilized.

What I mean is that there may have been a clear-cut difference between a 9.0 and a 9.5, and even between 8.0s and 8.5s, but when you get lower and lower on the spectrum, the .5 scores seem superfluous. Does anyone care about the difference between a 3.0 and a 3.5?

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed using the .5 system, but when a good number of the scores seemed to have no concrete difference from each other, I felt a change was in order.

Does this mean I’m going to be a softer grader now that I’ve effectively pulled a Thanos and eliminated half my scoring system? No sir! I’m going to do my best so that each number actually means something, and isn’t just a number. If you want more information, you can check out my updated scoring system page.

And yes, I did go back and rescore every single one of my reviews, both video game and movie, to reflect my new standing (boy did that take some time). While many of my reviews still retained a similar score (some 6.5s became 6s, and so on), others were more notably changed.

For example, to still keep the prestige of the “near-perfect” score, what I once gave a 9.5 is now the standard for the ‘9’ score. Most of what I rated a 9.0 in the past are now in the 8 (great) range, with only the 9.0s where I seriously considered a 9.5 keeping their nine-dom (Mega Man 3, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Overwatch, Shovel Knight, and so on). The rest of the former-9.0s are now 8s. Not as punishment, but to give the 8 score more prestige of its own.

This has had no effect on my perfect 10s, however. In fact, I purposefully reviewed my most recent 10, Dark Souls, right before I made this change to hit the point home. The 10s are 10s. Dark Souls was the bridge from the old rating system to the new one, showcasing that the best of the best are still the best under any criteria. …What the hell am I talking about?

There were, however, a number of games that dropped in scoring. Perhaps the most notable being The Last of Us, which I originally scored a 9.0 back in the day, before lowering it to an 8.5. But it now sits at a 7, to reflect some of my changing thoughts on the game that have occurred over the years. I still ultimately think it’s a good game, but one that stumbles a lot more than it itself realizes. And I have altered/added text to the review to reflect that. Other games to drop include Cuphead and Dragon Ball FighterZ, which now sit at 7 as well.

Going forward, I’m going to do my best to make sure these number grades more effectively represent my standings. But as always, read the whole review to get the meat of my thoughts!

Now, join me on embarking on this new chapter of Wizard Dojo. Because numbers!

Second Thoughts

So I saw Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for the second time last night, and I actually enjoyed it a lot more the second time around. Though most of my complaints still stand (the Indoraptor is not nearly as memorable of a movie monster as the Indominous Rex, too much of the film takes place in the Lockwood mansion, etc), I just thought it was a more fun film this second time around. Still not as good as the first Jurassic World, which is still one of my favorite popcorn movies of recent memory, but more enjoyable than I thought it was the first time around.

Of course, this has me considering if I should make some edits to my review of the film. Nothing major, mind you, but maybe enough to showcase my newer appreciation for the Jurassic World sequel. Normally, I hate changing my reviews (outside of correcting spelling and grammatical errors, and lord knows I have to go back and do that often), but it’s not like I’ve never done it before. Opinions do change, after all.

This also got me thinking of another 2018 movie I’ve been thinking differently about from when I first saw it, but in this case, for less positive reasons. This film is Deadpool 2, which I find myself liking less and less the more I think about it. Yes, I do think it was an improvement over the first Deadpool, and I think that it is decently well made for what it is. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I like what it is. I don’t hate it, but the whole self-referential/deprecating humor of movies has run its course in my book. In this internet age, when things are mocked for taking themselves seriously, entertainment and media has followed suit, insisting on mocking themselves to “stay cool with the kids,” as it were. This isn’t saying I have a problem with humor. A movie can still be a comedy or even a bit of a stupid entertainment, and still take itself seriously (perhaps “genuinely” is a more accurate word?).

But the more I think about it, the more I feel that all Deadpool is is self-referential jokes. There’s only so many winks and nudges I can take from a movie. And just because you make fun of yourself for following easy tropes doesn’t change the fact that you’re still following those tropes!

Okay, now I’m getting a bit sidetracked. I suppose I’ll save my rants on modern media’s insistence on self-parody just to appease the cynical internet age for another day. My point is that I initially awarded Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom a 6.5 out of 10, while I gave Deadpool 2 a 7.5. After consideration on Deadpool’s sequel and seeing the Jurassic World sequel a second viewing, I actually find myself wanting to flat-out reverse their scores. I haven’t quite decided on that just yet, so in the interim, I’ve altered both movie’s scores to 7.0s, until I can more strongly decide on whether or not to alter my reviews. Of course, some might say a second viewing of Deadpool 2 may be in order before making such a decision, but that’s just the thing. I don’t find myself particularly wanting to see Deadpool 2 again any time soon. Doesn’t that say something?

Does this dilemma of indecisiveness and possibly changing review scores make me a bad critic? Eh, maybe. But I’d also feel a bit lame if I felt my reviews no longer represented my opinions. Besides, it’s not like I’m altering something I thought was great and suddenly am claiming it to be terrible or vice versa or anything.

This whole ‘ordeal’ has opened up another can of worms, however, in that I’m once again considering changing my rating system from its current .5 state to a simpler whole number scale. With simple whole numbers, the possibility of altering a score just doesn’t seem quite as taboo. Then of course there’s my silly idea of the “mostly” whole number scale, in which it’s whole numbers, except the 9.5 score remains, both as a means to be a little cheeky and have some fun at the expense of people who are maybe a little too stingy with their scoring, while still being able to seriously retain the prestige of perfect and near-perfect scores. Because if my earlier sidetracked rant a few paragraphs earlier was any indication, I have a fondness for things that can balance sincerity and silliness.

Again, I’m sidetracked. Case in point: my complaints with Fallen Kingdom still stand, but I thought it was more fun the second time around, while Deadpool 2 seems less appealing with time, so I might change those scores. Hell, even Black Panther, one of the better movies this year which I scored an 8.5, is feeling more like an 8.0 to me. That is, if I keep that ‘.5’ differentiation at all.

So anyway, I thought I’d ask you, my beautiful, beautiful readers, your thoughts on the matter. Is altering scores and tweaking reviews too unprofessional? Or does the changing of opinions justify such actions, if even just on occasion? Am I a bad critic (even if I am, I’m gonna keep writing anyway. So that’s a moot point)? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments and whatnot.