Wizard Dojo’s 2019 Up Until Now (Q3)

Well, September of 2019 has come and gone, which not only means I am officially in my 30s, but we’re three quarters of the way through 2019.

Wow, hard to believe how fast 2019 is going. It’s been quite the year, to say the least. Unfortunately, the Summer wasn’t nearly as productive for the Dojo as I would have liked, but I still managed to crank out some content.

Just as was the case for quarters one and two for 2019, let’s reflect on how the third quarter of the year turned out for the Dojo. Let us chronicle Wizard Dojo’s 2019 so far, and look into what the remainder of the year has in store, and what could be coming the Dojo in 2020!


Naturally, let’s begin by reflecting on all the proper reviews I’ve written for the Dojo so far in 2019 (titles in bold were released this year).

Total Movie Reviews Written in 2019 so Far: 29

Total Video Game Reviews Written in 2019 so Far: 30

 

Yeah, again, it hasn’t been my most productive year for Wizard Dojo (remember in this site’s first year, how I wrote 100 different video game reviews alone? Those were the days). But I like to think my writing is getting better. So…quality over quantity, I guess? But I’d like to have both…

 

January Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 8

Bumblebee – 7/10

From Dusk ‘Till Dawn – 5/10

Mary Poppins Returns – 6/10

The Cat Returns – 7/10

Ralph Breaks the Internet – 8/10

Unbreakable – 7/10

Split – 6/10

Glass – 3/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 5

Wario Land II – 6/10

The Haunted Island: A Frog Detective Game – 6/10

Inside – 7/10

Donut County – 7/10

Tetris Effect – 8/10

February Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 1

Fighting With my Family – 7/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 3

Red Dead Redemption 2 – 8/10

Wario Land 3 – 6/10

God of War (PS4) – 8/10

 

March Reviews

Movie Reviews: 2

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World – 5/10

Captain Marvel – 5/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 10

Kingdom Hearts 3 – 5/10

Tetris 99 – 7/10

Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove – 7/10

Wario World – 4/10

Sonic the Fighters – 2/10

Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble – 4/10

Tails’ Skypatrol – 2/10

Tails’ Adventure – 5/10

Sonic R – 2/10

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – 9/10

 

April Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 5

Dumbo (2019) – 6/10

Shazam! – 7/10

Marvel’s The Avengers – 8/10

Avengers: Age of Ultron – 5/10

Avengers: Infinity War – 8/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 3

Yoshi’s Crafted World – 7/10

Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee – 5/10

Wario Land 4 – 7/10

 

May Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 2

Avengers: Endgame – 9/10

Pokemon: Detective Pikachu – 6/10

VIDEO GAME REVIEWS: 2

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe – 7/10

Wario’s Woods – 7/10

 

June Reviews

MOVIE REVIEWS: 5

Aladdin (2019) – 7/10

Godzilla: King of the Monsters – 6/10

X-Men: Dark Phoenix – 4/10

The Secret Life of Pets 2 – 5/10

The Dark Crystal – 5/10

GAME REVIEWS: 1

WarioWare, Inc. Mega Microgames – 7/10

 

July Reviews

Movie Reviews: 2

Toy Story 4 – 7/10

Spider-Man: Far From Home – 7/10

Video Game Reviews: 3

Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty’s Revenge – 4/10

Wario Blast: Featuring Bomberman – 6/10

Mario Vs. Donkey Kong – 6/10

 

August Reviews

Movie Reviews: 2

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – 5/10

The Lion King – 5/10

Video game reviews: 2

Super Mario Maker 2 – 8/10

WarioWare Touched – 6/10

 

September Reviews

Movie Reviews: 2

Dora and the Lost City of Gold – 7/10

The Peanut Butter Falcon – 6/10

Video Game reviews: 2

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night – 8/10

Wario Land: Shake It! – 7/10


 

My reviews may have slowed down during the Summer, but hopefully I can pick them back up a bit in the coming months. There are still a few 2019 movies on my radar that I’d like to see/review, and I mean to get back to reviewing more older movies again, seeing as my last movie review for a non-2019 feature was The Dark Crystal way back in June.

Speaking of Dark Crystal, holy smokes, is the Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance great! While I may have mixed feelings on the original movie, I think the Netflix series lives up to the potential Jim Henson’s imaginative world. I’m just going to come out and say it, I think Age of Resistance is probably the best cinematic fantasy epic since Peter Jackson brought The Lord of the Rings  trilogy to the silver screen, and it’s quickly become one of my all-time favorite series alongside the likes of Twin Peaks, Seinfeld, the first seven or so seasons of The Simpsons, and Stranger Things. Once I start reviewing TV shows, expect Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, as well as Stranger Things, to be among the first ones reviewed. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Age of Resistance.

 

Also, you may have noticed that I lowered the scores for both Kingdom Hearts 3 and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World from 6/10s to 5/10s. After further consideration, I just couldn’t, in good conscience, keep them on the upper half of my rating scale. Yes, I appreciate the Disney fanservice Kingdom Hearts provides, but outside of that, it really doesn’t have anything going for it. And even that Disney fanservice gets bungled. I repeat my past complaints that this is a game that features a world based on Disney’s Frozen and yet you don’t get Anna and Elsa on your team, you don’t visit Elsa’s ice palace, and it blatantly skips over important plot elements from the film (as well as the others represented in the game). Only Tetsuya Nomura could bungle such an easy victory of a crossover.

As for How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World… Eh, it just didn’t leave an impression. It was the weakest entry in what I already found to be an overhyped series. Kung Fu Panda is the far superior Dreamworks trilogy, hands down. Fight me.

 

I have to admit, this has been a pretty interesting movie year for me. It’s something of an oddity in that I’ve awarded one 2019 film a near-perfect 9/10, yet have yet to dish out a single 8/10 for any movie this year. That 9/10 of course being Avengers: Endgame which, yes, is far and away the best film I’ve seen so far this year. I know, I’m an independent blogger, so I’m supposed to hate superhero movies and be all contrarian and everything. But unlike that crowd, I like to think I’m decently unique among my peers for the simple reason that I like things. I don’t actively want to hate anything because it’s popular or whatever. Endgame is 2019’s best film so far. I regret nothing.

Conversely, I have awarded 8/10 to a couple of 2019 games – Super Mario Maker 2 and Bloodstained – but I don’t think anything I’ve played so far this year approaches a 9 in my book. At least not under my current criteria, whatever such vaguely-implied standard entails.

 

Along with (hopefully) catching up on reviews, I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the next few months see me getting back into the groove of making top 10 lists and stuff. I really miss doing those. The Dojo hasn’t been the same without them.

Some of the lists I’m planning still include…

Top 10 Nintendo Systems

Top 10 Nintendo Franchises

Top 10 Most Influential Video Games

Top 10 Video Games from my Childhood

Top 5 Nintendo Supporting Characters Who Deserve Their Own Game

 

Yeah, those are all ones I promised before, but I didn’t want to promise any extras until, y’know, I actually start making them.

as for those aforementioned reviews…

2019 Movies I plan to review

It: Chapter 2 (already seen)

Joker

Frozen II

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Old/older movies I plan on reviewing at some point

It: Chapter 1

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (short film)

The Mad Max series

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

The Star Wars series (yep, even the prequels)

Yeah yeah, the prequels may get (unfounded) love these days because the memes are funny, but while I can enjoy a good prequel meme, funny memes don’t equate to good movies. If anything, the reason prequel memes can be funny is because the prequels themselves are so bad. Also meme culture is just so repugnant, it’s time we stopped pretending like memes give things value (exceptions being ‘Steamed Hams’ and Robbie Rotten memes).

Also as previously mentioned in past posts, I’d like to finish reviewing the directorial filmographies of Hayao Miyazaki and Quentin Tarantino in the not-too-distant future as well.

2019 VIDEO GAMES I OWN BUT HAVEN’T REVIEWED YET

Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Astral Chain

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)

Untitled Goose Game

 

The good news is the latter two games should be reviewed soon (I finished Link’s Awakening last night). The bad news is Sekiro and Crash came out some time ago and I’m still not close to being at a point where I can review them. Crash Team Racing is decently fun, but we live in a post-Mario Kart 8 world now, it’s hard to go back to other kart racers (but I still plan on getting back to it). Meanwhile, I hate to admit it, but as someone who LOVES Dark Souls and Bloodborne, I couldn’t really get into Sekiro. That could change when I play more of it, but if I were to write about it now, I’d have a lot to gripe about. I actually have a lot I want to say about it, so maybe I’ll get back to it soon and try to finish it for a review. But at the same time, if it’s going to take me dozens more hours to complete, I’m honestly not sure if I want to bother.

Still, the other games mentioned above should be reviewed (relatively) soon. Along with these…

Games I’ve played through in 2019 but still haven’t reviewed yet for some reason

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

Deltarune

Celeste

 

And yes, I have just enough Wario games currently in my library to continue to review one Wario title per month through all of 2019.

“Sexy beast.”

You might think that’s a lot on my plate, between all the reviews and the lists and the, uhhh, other things. But I didn’t say these are all immediate. Many of these I plan to do before 2019 is through, but others will keep me busy into 2020. And I have other things planned for the months ahead in addition to what’s been mentioned here. But I don’t want to spoil any surprises…or reveal them before I’ve even followed through with that other stuff I’ve been saying I’d do for a while now…

So these past few months may have slowed the Dojo down a bit, but I’ll do my best to get back on track. I hope you look forward to the Dojo’s future for the remainder of 2019, into 2020, and beyond! I got some good stuff cooking’! And hopefully you won’t be underwhelmed by those aforementioned ‘surprises’ when the day comes…

See you around and read my crap!

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A Very September Update

Don’t worry folks, while this may be a ‘filler update’ in many ways, I still actually have some stuff to say this time around. Plus, with how slow of a month August was for the Dojo, I wanted to ensure I at least wrote something within the first few days of September. To help build momentum for the coming weeks…or something.

To be more explanatory, I actually have some reviews lined up for September. In terms of video games, I’m hoping to review Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions, and Wario Land: Shake It! (continuing my 2019 trend of one Wario game review per month). I may even do more than that. But those seem the most likely to happen within this month.

I also have some movie reviews planned. Some newer movies, some older movies. I may also review both ‘Chapters’ of Stephen King’s It if I get around to seeing Chapter 2 soon enough. But stay tuned for those movie reviews, including one recent movie I can’t believe I actually ended up liking…and quite a bit, I might add.

And yes, I do have some long-promised top 10 lists waiting in the near future, as well as some television series reviews. I will try to do one or two (at least) of the former within September (here’s hoping I can follow through), though I don’t want to promise when exactly the TV reviews will be. I will say though, that my first TV series review will be for the first season of Stranger Things, with the subsequent seasons hopefully following soon after. On that note, I’m also in the middle of watching another Netflix original, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and will review that when I can as well. You might remember that I reviewed the original Dark Crystal movie not too long ago, and gave it a score of 5/10. I praised its imagination, practical effects, and unique mythology, but felt it didn’t quite stick the landing as a movie due to the flat, empty main characters. I ended my review with this.

“As of this writing, Netflix will soon release a prequel series to The Dark Crystal. Here’s hoping that said series finally brings out a story and characters worthy of the imagination Jim Henson littered Thra with.”

And I have to say, having watched six episodes (out of ten) so far of the Netflix series, I honestly think that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance does just that. It’s a genuinely gripping fantasy series. I love the world of the original movie, but not the original movie (if that makes sense). But I think this series has done a great job at creating a story worthy of Jim Henson’s passion project. I’m actually quite surprised how much I’m enjoying it (a lot of surprises for me lately, it seems).

On an entirely unrelated note… Banjo-Kazooie were released in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate today! An absolute dream come true!

Naturally, I’ve been having a ball beating up Fire Emblem and Kid Icarus characters as Banjo-Kazooie as I get to learn the bear/bird duo’s moves (which are more or less how I always imagined… more or less). It’s great to see Banjo-Kazooie in Smash.

In more underwhelming Smash Bros. news, Terry Bogart from Fatal Fury has been revealed as the fourth DLC character in the five-character Fighter Pass. That’s about as exciting as getting no new character at all, really. Yeah, yeah, some people really like Fatal Fury. But come on, adding characters from a fighting game (that isn’t Street Fighter) into a fighting game just seems boring.

In other, better Smash Bros. news, it’s been revealed that there will be more DLC characters coming after these initial five. And thank goodness for that. Aside from Banjo-Kazooie, the DLC characters so far haven’t exactly set the world on fire (yeah, Joker from Persona 5 was cool, but considering he was only a year old character with no ties to Nintendo at the time, it wasn’t the same as, say, a character that fans have been begging years for finally making the cut). So glad to hear we have more than one hope to make up for Terry Bogard.

So please, Sakurai. Just give us Geno. We have Ridley, we have K. Rool, and we have Banjo. Geno is the only character left the series has sorely needed.

But we’ll probably just get Heihachi, right?

 

Anyway, thanks for reading this (assuming you read this). It makes writing these kinds of posts not a waste of time. Now I hope you enjoy the bevy of ‘real’ content and updates I have planned very soon…

My First Super Mario Maker 2 Levels

First of all, a thousand apologies that my updates have been so slow as of late. We’re almost halfway through August, and I’ve only written a single review so far this month (for Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). For that matter, I’ve been pretty infrequent with the updates all Summer. Again, a thousand apologies. Here’s hoping that, in the months ahead, I can pick the pace back up. Who knows, September is the month that features my birthday. Maybe I’ll crank out a bunch of meaningful posts in September as a gift to myself.

To make up for some lost time, here’s something…that isn’t just another dreadful filler post!

So here’s the codes for my first bath of created levels in Super Mario Maker 2! Admittedly, I’ve only made a handful of courses so far, as most of my hours in Super Mario Maker 2 have been dedicated to the Endless Mario Challenge. But hopefully I’ll get to making even more stages, and I’ll be sure to continue posting their codes here on my site.

So if you have a Switch, and Mario Maker 2…play my levels!


 

MKM-DYR-GYF

“High Tide Wine River”

For this stage, I utilized the Super Mario World aesthetics, and built it around two new gameplay mechanics introduced in Super Mario Maker 2: The On/Off switches, and using the Dry Bones shell as a boat.

I used the forest theme, with the nighttime element to change the rising water into deadly poison. Because said poison is purple – and as a nod to Super Mario RPG – I added the “Wine River” bit to the title. And the “High Tide” portion of said title is both in reference to the fact that the poison rises, and a little nod to the ‘High Tide Ride’ stage from Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.

To top it off, the stage features that soothing music/sound effect throughout. So even if you find the stage difficult (though it’s only categorized in the “normal” difficulty range), hopefully the calming music will help make things seem not so bad.

 

KM9-8QR-P8G

“Chuck E. Skipsqueak’s”

This stage uses the Super Mario 3D World style (I assume most my stages will be either SMW or 3D World), using the airship theme.

As you may have guessed from the name, the stage is something of an homage to the arcades of Chuck E. Cheese’s. More specifically, it’s a tribute to the classic “Whack-A-Mole” games you often find there (and basically any arcade).

Yes, I am aware I could have used any of the other game styles and used Monty Moles to more accurately replicate the game, but the 3D World style is the only one that includes the new Construction Mario power-up, which uses a hammer. On top of that, the Skipsqueaks come in a spiney variety, which can’t simply be jumped on to be defeated. Thus, by removing the ability to use Mario’s jump as an attack, and requiring the use of a hammer, I feel it better captured the feel of a Whack-A-Mole game.


Those are the only ‘real’ levels I’ve made so far (I’ve made one other stage, but it’s more of a joke and I’m not sure if I’ll keep it, hence why I haven’t discussed it here). Hopefully you enjoy these levels, and hopefully I’ll be making plenty more Super Mario Maker 2 stages soon.

Talking of Super Mario Maker 2, I hope to have my review of the game up soon, as well as my review of the recent Lion King remake. So you see, I still have reviews and other such “real” posts in the pipeline.

Take care!

I Has a Super Famicom!

“Behold, my Super Famicom! … And cool posters!”

That’s right, Kevin! I am now the proud owner of the Japanese version of my favorite retro console, the Super Famicom!

With this purchase, I can now play (and subsequently review) SNES games that were only released in Japan. Not sure I’ll be doing RPGs though, considering the story focused nature of the genre means reading the on-screen text is pretty important, and I can’t read Japanese so…yeah, you see the dilemma there. Though I have long-since owned a copy of the Japanese version of Super Mario RPG, so I might have a go with that one, since I love/know the game so well anyway.

My long-time readers may remember that I have reviewed a Super Famicom title in the past in the form of Tetris Battle Gaiden. But to clarify, it was my brother’s Super Famicom and game I played. Now I have my own Super Famicom, which means I can review more of such games.

Will I be getting the Japanese versions of any other retro consoles? Probably not anytime soon. Like Super Mario RPG is to its genre, the Super Nintendo holds a special place for me in terms of retro consoles. So this is something I made an exception for. I’m not ruling out the possibility of buying more Japanese retro consoles, but it’s not on the cards as of now. The Super NES is just a timeless masterpiece of a console, so it gets the special treatment.

So yeah, on top of all the other reviews I’m falling behind on, I now have a whole other category added to my lineup…

A Very July Update

Oh no! It can’t be? It’s…It’s…It’s…. The return of the filler post!

I thought they were all dead! That we had killed them!

But no… At least one filler post still lingers, and it has now revealed itself for the month of July.

I promise I’m not trying to make these a thing, but whenever I’m having trouble writing something proper, but need to fill in the gaps, I resurrect these monstrosities so that, well, I’ve written something. And well, I had said I wanted Wizard Dojo’s July to be more productive than its June, and so far, that only applies to the video game reviews. And even then, it’s still been slow in that department.

So to make up for lost time, I’m writing this unnecessary little post, as a means of reassuring myself I’ve written something, I suppose.

But fret not, sweet, beautiful reader, for there are actual writings coming to the Dojo in the near future. These include…

Movie reviews for Spider-Man: Far From Home, The Lion King (2019) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. My upcoming 350th video game review (my next one), and a couple of long overdue top 10 lists. Also, there are a small handful of other articles I’ve been meaning to get around to, and some older movie reviews as well. So I hope you look forward to those.

So yeah… This is a thing. Sorry.

I’m sure I’ll do better next time. It was my first flight and I’m still getting used to my programming! Hey! Hey!

The Fourth of July 2019 Post!

Happy America, everybody!

I’m in the process of writing a few different reviews and other such things, but wanted to post something in the interim. And since I didn’t want to do another blatantly filler post, and its been a while since I wrote something festive (not counting Banjo-Kazooie’s introduction in Super Smash Bros., which should now be recognized as an international holiday). So a July 4th post just made sense. After all, I am a proud American citizen, so why not celebrate this awesome country’s birthday on this site?

“Hell yeah!”

I hope everyone has a happy Independence Day, eat lots of good food, set off awesome fireworks, and have some nice get-togethers and party! Just don’t party too hard…drive safely.

As for what’s in store for Wizard Dojo in July, well, as I said in the last post, my next movie reviews will probably be for Toy Story 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home, and maybe a few older movies as well if I can get around to them. I have a number of video games to review, including some you may not expect. I’m slowly but surely making my way through Sekiro, Crash Team Racing and Super Mario Maker 2. Not sure if I’ll review all three within July, but I’ll try to get to at least one of them. And finally, I hope to follow through with a Top 10 List of some sort this month. At any rate, I’m hoping to make July more productive for the Dojo than June was.

But enough about that. We’re here for America! Hamburgers and cowboys and apple pie and blockbuster franchises and eagles and fireworks and Jazz and super heroes. Y’know, American stuff.

Have a happy fourth of July, my fellow Americans. And for those of you from  around the world, have a great day as well.

Happy America, everybody!