Tag Archives: Wizard Dojo

What Makes a Game a 10?

*The following blog owes credit to the many banters between me and Red Metal of Extra Life Reviews*

Since I launched Wizard Dojo on Christmas Day of 2014, I’ve reviewed nearly 300 different video games. Of that lot, I’ve awarded six games a perfect score of 10/10 as of this writing, and I plan on reviewing the remaining such games soon. But what makes a game deserving of such top honors? Well, that’s a question that will of course elicit different answers depending on the individual you ask. But if we’re going by my personal ratings, there are a few different ways to look at it.

The easiest answer is simply that a 10 represents the absolute best I think gaming has to offer. The shortest way to describe what makes games 10s is that they are games that not only define their genre’s, but execute everything they do so greatly that whatever missteps they may have are entirely inconsequential.

During the 2000s decade, there seemed to be an utterly batty mindset amongst many gamers on the internet that, because nothing is technically perfect, that no game deserves a perfect score. That is, of course, a load of BS. If you have no plans on using a rating system, why the hell do you have a rating system? As long as you have a rating system, you should use it to its fullest, if even only on occasion.

What’s funny is that things have seemed to have taken a complete 180 turn during the 2010s, with many sites and gamers dishing out perfect scores left and right, if the hype is strong enough. Now, not everyone has to be stingy when giving out perfect scores (different rating systems will work differently, of course), but I can’t help but feel a lot of people are just trying to make up for lost time for how stingy they were during the 2000s.

The way I see it, the 10s I award can be separated into two primary categories: contemporary masterpieces that I believe showcase the pinnacle of modern gaming through both staggering quality and invention, and classics from yesteryear that have defied the aging process, and can still go toe-to-toe with the best of modern gaming.

Of course, because video games are a medium that evolves so quickly, many games of the past can quickly begin to feel outdated. As such, a game that has endured through the years and can still claim to be among the best is a pretty rare thing. Because of that added achievement, I do think the number of retro games that I would award a 10/10 would ever-so-slightly outnumber my more contemporary 10s. But for those same reasons, my near-perfect score of 9.5 would probably be housed more by modern titles than old-school ones. Obviously, the overall quality of the game itself determines how highly I’d rate a game, but that added “test of time” could be what edges one game over the 9.5 category and into the realm of the perfect 10.

This also leads me to some hypocritical territory, as I have trouble thinking of a game released during the 2000s decade that I can safely say I’d award a 10/10. Now, the difference between me and others who never awarded perfect scores during the 2000s is that, if one were to ask my past self during the 2000s the games I’d give top honors to, I probably would have listed a few games from those years. But because I started this site in 2014, I am primarily looking at things retroactively by modern standards. So most of the games I’d award 10s to can claim to be either A) the most exceptional titles from the 2010s or B) the rare 1990s game that still feels like it gets everything right.

That’s not ruling out the possibility of a “perfect” game from the 2000s decade, of course. Just that I can’t think of one right off the bat like I can for the decades immediately before and after it. Namely because I feel that many of the best games from the 2000s have been bettered by similar experiences from the 2010s, and since I’m doing things retroactively, they can’t help but be compared to each other. The original Super Mario Galaxy from 2007, for example, is a 10 for all intents and purposes, as the issues the game does have are incredibly minimal. But if/when I get around to reviewing it, I may award it a 9.5, because I feel its 2010 sequel (which I have reviewed and gave a 10) polishes the experience all the more. And since both games are relatively similar experiences, the edge goes to the latter.

Had you asked me back in 2005 some of the games I’d say deserve top marks, I might have listed The Wind Waker and Shadow of the Colossus among them. While I still think incredibly highly of both of those titles, I think their shortcomings are a little more obvious to modern eyes. Again, those are still among my favorite games, but I’d be lying if I said they felt as technically sound as something like Breath of the Wild.

Does that mean that my modern 10s will one day fall short of future standards? While I suppose that’s possible in some cases, I do think 3D gaming has finally reached a level of quality that I think will hold up strongly down the road, much like 2D gaming did when it reached the SNES days. And once again, I don’t give out perfect scores freely, so I try to make sure that when I do dish them out, it’s to games that I can see still being regarded as classics down the road. Or at the very least, that I can see myself still obsessing over down the road.

Again, it’s because we can’t peak into the future and I can’t say for sure what will hold up the best why modern masterpieces often get the 9.5 treatment from me, whereas the timeless classics get that extra .5 to make it a perfect 10 (though of course there are exceptions in both categories). I can only give my best shot and predicting the future. But I do think gaming is at a point where it becomes apparent how a game will hold up relatively quickly.

This now brings me to a little bit of a dilemma in my potential future 10s. Of course, people’s opinions change (if even slightly), and one’s criteria may change over time. Though one’s favorites tend to endure, they can also fluctuate. I’m even thinking about reviewing subsequent releases of some of my 9.5 games (such as the PS4 version of Undertale and the upcoming Switch port of DKC: Tropical Freeze) to see if they go that extra mile, now that they’ve had time to marinate in my mind.

My “dilemma” stems from the fact that some of my criteria has fluctuated since Christmas of 2014. Not by a whole lot, mind you, but enough that it has dictated two possible outcomes for my ultimate amount of 10s I would currently grade to the video game world.

When I first launched Wizard Dojo, I knew I wanted to make sure that awarding a perfect score would feel special. But of course there are different ways of going about that. Again, the quality of the game is what ultimately dictates the score, but there was always the question as to what should define that quality. As stated, a game like Super Mario Galaxy puts up an argument for that elusive 10, so did I give 10s based on that quality alone, or did I go the route of comparing games with similar titles and allowing personal preference to tip the scale in favor of the game I feel is superior?

In the end, I went with the latter method, partly as a means of limiting the number of 10s I give to make them feel more special (which is admittedly a wee bit pretentious on my part), but it’s also a nice way to let personal taste come into play to better define which ones are my all-time favorites, given the retroactive nature of many of my reviews (As much as I try to be professional and objective with reviews, when it comes to reviewing what I think are the best of the best, why not let my personal take tip the scales a little? Despite having more objective traits than many other forms of media, video games still provide more than enough room for subjectivity).

With that said, I still find myself somewhat at war with these two methods of awarding 10s to games even today, as this balancing act of objectivity and subjectivity allows my list of 10s to continue down two different directions. Again, I’ve currently awarded six different games a perfect score. The way I see it at this point, I could either continue reviewing the remainder of my shortlist of potential 10s, and should they hold up, my total number of 10s might be around double what they are now. But the other way to go about things is to allow my perfect 10s to solidify my top ten all-time favorite games. So ten 10s to define my favorites.

Now, some might argue that the latter method would pigeonholed my perfect scores. But I’m not saying those would be the only 10s I’d ever award (there’s always going to be another one down the road, and I could always discover one from the past that I originally missed out on). I’m just saying that – with my reviews so often being retroactive – making my 10s and my personal top ten favorites one and the same at this point would set the standard for any future (or retroactive) 10s thereafter. The former method is obviously less confined for the time being, but neither way prevents the possibility of more perfect scores.

By this point you’re probably thinking I’m just way other-thinking all of this, and you’d be absolutely right. Of course I’m other-thinking this, these scores are after all not an exact science or mathematic. Rather, they’re just a vague way to sum up what I feel are the greatest works in a creative, artistic medium. Creative mediums aren’t so exact, which is one of the reasons I love them so much (with all due respect to science and math, I could never love them the way I love the arts). Plus, I have OCD, so over-thinking things is just how I am.

Wow, this has really gone off-the-rails now. I only wanted to give a little bit of an insight as to why I give some games a perfect 10/10, while other games that are on a similar level receive the “near-perfect” 9.5/10. But now I’m rambling about solidifying my favorites and whatnot. Again, these scores are, in the end, little numbers that we try to use to sum up our feelings to what we’re reviewing. Hopefully the people who read my reviews actually care about the words that lead up to that number, and not just the number itself.

So whatever route I ultimately decide to take – whether it be basing my favorite games around my perfect scores or my perfect scores around my favorite games – I hope you enjoy the reviews I write, and look forward to my eventual list of favorites, and whatever else I write down the road.

Oh, and one more note. Although I technically “broke” my scale in the past to dish out a couple of 0/10s, a means to showcase the works so bad they don’t even count, I will not be breaking the positive end of my reviewing spectrum. Awarding anything higher than the highest score is just wonky; even when people mean it as a joke it doesn’t make sense.

“Sorry Eleven, no 11s here.”

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Wizard Dojo on Patreon!

Well my friends and dear readers, this isn’t exactly something I wanted to do until this site (potentially) got relatively popular, but due to some unforeseeable circumstances, I had to pull the trigger on it. Wizard Dojo is now on Patreon!

I know, I know, it seems kind of pushy to resort to a form of crowdfunding for a site this small, but hear me out. The truth is – as I’ve said before – I really want to branch out my endeavors a bit, including making videos (like YouTube and Twitch stuff), and of course my seemingly never-ending quest to learn game development so that I can make my own video game at some point. But I still very much want to continue reviewing stuff and writing crap here. But life has recently dealt me one of its unexpected low blows, and times are rough.

I decided to make a Patreon now for the simple reason that any little bit helps. I don’t get paid to write these reviews, and I gotta purchase video games and movie tickets with my own dough. Suffice to say less money means less games and movies, and thus, less to write about. With just a little extra help, I can keep things going for Wizard Dojo as is, while also taking care of other matters. And with a little extra extra help, I can begin my other creative endeavors in the near future.

Now, I know I’m not currently in the position to give out any meaningful backer rewards for those who would support me on Patreon, but I will try to provide what I can to backers, and gradually include more rewards as I get a better hang of this Patreon thing (maybe backer-exclusive blogs or something). Because of this, I don’t expect a whole lot of support (I mean, even less so than I would with my current status). But again, any little bit helps.

Oh, and don’t worry, if this Patron thing ever catches on, I will give AfterStory his share of the profits for his contributions. I’m not greedy. Just a bit needy.

If you want to help me continue to produce content for this site, and help me branch out into other endeavors, you can become a Patron here. But you don’t have to. No pressure.

2018 Video Game Awards

Here you can find all of my 2018 Video Game Awards (celebrating the best of 2017) in one convenient place.

Best Sound

Best Music

Best Visuals

Best Remake/Re-release

Biggest Surprise

Best Online Multiplayer

Best Local Multiplayer

Best Content

Best Handheld Game

Best Indie Game

Best Gameplay

Best Platform

 

And of course, Game of the Year.

 

Happy New Year! Here’s Some Updates!

Happy New Year, everybody! I hope you had a good New Year’s Eve, and that the new year brings you lots of happiness and assorted goodies.

Thought I’d ring in the New Year’s Day with a few updates, primarily revolving around what I have planned for this site in the first few months of 2018.

First of all, please don’t hate me, dear childrens, but I may kind of/sort of postpone my long-promised, certainly-overhyped list of favorite video games of all time list. Not by very long, mind you, but please, let me explain.

“Gather ’round, childrens. Let me spin you a yarn!”

Although I was gunning for a February/March deadline to make my list (something that isn’t entirely off the cards, mind you), I’ve noticed I’m currently sitting pretty at 278 video game reviews. For those of us who are good at “the math,” that means I only have 22 more video game reviews before I hit the 300 milestone. So I figured, instead of letting time dictate my list, why don’t I just wait to do it after I hit the 300 mark as a means to celebrate…or something. As promised, among those 22 games will be the remainder of my 10s, and either most of or all of my remaining 9.5s. Other games to be reviewed may be some additional ones included on the SNES Classic and Rare Replay, as well as a few suggestions from friends and family.

Given my current output of video game reviews, this really shouldn’t delay things for too long. But once I start readying my list for the site, I’ll let you peeps know.

Also, seeing as it’s January, I really need to start getting to my annual awards. Because everyone has their own awards these days! I will start my gaming awards shortly, but I will put a few good hours into Persona 5 before I do so (why do modern games have to be so long?!). Also also, I figured in the interim between my 2017 video game awards and my list of all-time favorites, I’ll revise my “Game of the Year for Every Year of My Life” list, this time making it its own sub-page on the site (that way, those two or three “less definitive” years can be updated with a different GotY, should I happen to play a game from said years that usurps their current placeholders. Not to mention it just makes it easier to find).

On top of that, I plan on doing my list of top 10 movies of 2017, and I may find some way to name my favorite TV shows of 2017 as well. And of course, I hope to crank out more movie reviews this year, starting with some of the late 2017 films I still somehow haven’t reviewed yet (why don’t I have a review for Coco posted yet?). And as mentioned in my most recent Christmas Special (I think?), I would like to write at least a few reviews for TV shows, as well as make some more top 5 and top 10 lists. Also, some more opinion pieces and such (I’ve certainly been itching to do a write-up about how nostalgia is negatively affecting fan reactions to the new Star Wars movies, which so far have been pretty excellent, if you ask me).

So…sorry again I’m delaying my most delayed post, but I think it just makes sense this way. I hope you look forward to whatever nonsense I end up writing, and more importantly, I hope you have a happy New Year!

Oh, and here’s a picture of my face. That’s something different. Don’t mind the creepy look, I’m not photogenic in the slightest, and doing something stupid is the only way I can take a selfie (that’s what the kids call them, right?).

The 2017 Christmas Special/Three Year Anniversary Celebration/10 Years of Blogging

Merry Christmas and happy holidays, paisanos! How about that Last Jedi, eh?

Wow, it’s Christmas Day 2017 already? Wow, time really flies… Christmas is of course more than enough reason to celebrate – what with the stale fruitcakes and aerial reindeer and glorious, glorious presents – but here at the Dojo, Christmas is twice as special, because it marks the anniversary of when the Dojo was officially launched.

On Christmas day, 2014, the Wizard Dojo descended from Mount Crumpit, and introduced itself to Whoville via my review of Mario Kart 8. Okay, so I posted some other stuff on that day, but I chose Mario Kart 8 to be the very first, because Mario Kart 8 is freaking awesome.

However, Christmas Day is doubly-doubly as special this year, because it also marks the tenth anniversary of when I started blogging. From ghosts of websites past to my Gamespot blogging days, I first started blogging on Christmas Day of 2007. Though I was younger and…ehhh…less professional (I mean, even less so) at the time, I never would have Digivolved into my current blogging state if I didn’t start somewhere.

It’s been a long, hard, fun journey of varying quality in content, but I’ve really grown to love blogging…even if I hate the word “blogging” itself. But hey, I’m an opinionated bastard, and this gives me a means to express and share my opinions. So what the hell! Blog blog blog bloggy blog blog.

So once again, Merry Christmas everybody. Let’s now partake in the Wizard Dojo tradition of writing a few “chapters” of nonsense about various topics to celebrate both this site’s anniversary, and this badass holiday.


Chapter 1:The Best of Wizard Dojo’s Third Year

The biggest news of Wizard Dojo’s third year would be that AfterStory joined my crew. So now I’m not the only one writing here! Thank you for your contributions, Mr. AfterStory, may our partnership continue to thrive. And may a beautiful friendship bloom.

Now, let us reflect on the better stuff me and Mr. AfterStory wrote here at the Dojo during the year that was 2017.

My better stuff.

Notable Video Game Reviews

ARMS 

Banjo-Kazooie

Banjo-Tooie

Battletoads

Battletoads Arcade

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Video Game Adventure

Blast Corps

Bubsy 2

Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy 

Cuphead

Dark Castle

Freedom Planet

Hong Kong ’97

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Metroid: Samus Returns

Senran Kagura: Estival Versus

Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash

Sonic Forces

Sonic Mania

Splatoon 2

Star Fox 2

Star Soldier: Vanishing Earth

Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer

Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting

Strikey Sisters

Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Sunshine

Super Punch-Out!!

Tetris Attack 

Tetris Battle Gaiden

Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers

Xena: Warrior Princess: Talisman of Fate

After Story’s Video Game Reviews (He’s busy, so he can’t write as often as me, but he’s probably more in-depth)

Nier: Automata

Nioh 

Persona 5

Splatoon 2

Super Mario Odyssey

 

My Notable Movie reviews of 2017

An American Tail

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Cars 3

Despicable Me 3

Digimon: The Movie 

The Emoji Movie

Felix the Cat: The Movie

Food Fight!

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Justice League

Kong: Skull Island 

Leap!

The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Ninjago Movie

Megamind

My Neighbor Totoro

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Norm of the North

Pokemon 3: The Movie – Spell of the Unown

Pokemon: The First Movie – Mewtwo Strikes Back

Pokemon The Movie 2000

Spark: A Space Tail

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

TMNT (2007)

Your Name

Notable…Other Stuff

Arlo Interview

E3 2017: Day 1

E3 2017: Day 2

E3 2017: Day 3

Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You Shows the Good in Nostalgia

Praising a Nintendo Game Doesn’t Equate to Bias

Star Wars Day 2017: Why We Love Star Wars

Super Mario Galaxy Turns 10!

Why Kingdom Hearts Fails at Storytelling

Wizard Dojo/After Story Gaming Alliance


Chapter 2: Fun Facts

Everybody loves fun! Most people love facts! Put them together, and you have fun facts! Here are some stupid fun facts in regards to Wizard Dojo!

Fun Fact #1: Many reviews are posted on significant dates

You may have noticed (but probably not) that each post shows the date in which they were published (a little something that every blog on the face of the Earth does). But what you probably didn’t notice is that many of the reviews I write are posted on a significant date to what I’m reviewing, and you definitely didn’t notice that others still are posted on dates that are significant to me personally (obviously, since you’re not me, how could you notice the personal connection?).

Of course, this usually only applies to bigger reviews (like 10s, 9.5s, and so on). To name some obvious examples, my review for Super Mario Galaxy 2 was posted on May 23, 2015, which was five years to the day of Galaxy 2’s original release in 2010. Similarly, I reviewed Donkey Kong Country 2 on November 20 2015, to commemorate the game’s twentieth anniversary, and followed suit two days later to celebrate the same milestone for Toy Story. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was also reviewed on its one-year anniversary on February 21 2015.

On a more personal note, Super Mario World was reviewed on my birthday, September 18, 2015. And Spirited Away was reviewed on March 31 2016, the thirteenth anniversary of when I first saw the film on March 31 2003 (I have the movie ticket stub to prove it). And of course there are also reviews I post on holidays, with Disney’s Frozen being reviewed on Christmas day last year, and Bloodborne being reviewed on Leap Day of 2016 (I figured it’d be four years before I got another chance, so why not?).

However, there is at least one instance where related reviews for coincidentally posted on the same date. Disney’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast was reviewed on April 10th 2015 which, as far as I know, is not a date of particular significance for the movie. But two years later to the day, I posted my review of the 2017 live-action remake of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It wasn’t until a few months later that I realized I posted the latter review exactly two years after the former. Purely a fun coincidence.

 

Fun Fact #2: Some of my reviews are written to be something of “sequels” to previous reviews.

Here’s one that I think would be difficult for people to pick up on without me explaining it, since it’s something I can only go so far with, but when writing certain reviews, I write them to be something of a “sequel” to a previous one. For obvious reasons, this usually applies to games/movies that have connections with each other (like a movie and its sequel, or two games from the same series). On a more obvious note, I often reference and compare my praises and complaints between the two, but perhaps less obvious is that I try to write such reviews in a similar tone…if that makes any sense.

You may notice that the score I award a game or movie often reflects the tone of the review itself (with the middle of the road reviews being more direct, the high-scoring reviews being my attempt at sounding more sophisticated and talking about the work on a more artistic level, and bad reviews often being riddled with grumpiness and confusion). Of course, these tones vary in between the individual reviews themselves, and not just the score. But if I’m reviewing something that has a strong connection to something I’ve already reviewed, I try to carry that tone over, while still touching up on my critiques as is appropriate. So you could say I try to keep a similar feeling to the original while also changing things up, like any good sequel… Though I probably just end up sounding like I’m repeating the same exact crap, like any cheap, cash-in sequel…

 


Chapter 3: Random Top 5s

When I first started Wizard Dojo, top 5 and top 10 lists were going to be a point of focus. Well, I certainly failed there, since my lists are the most seldom updated section of this site. Though I hope to rectify that in the coming months, there are some top 5 lists I have ideas for that are… a bit more silly, and I’m not sure I would prioritize making a whole post dedicated to them. So why not randomly list those lists here? Because why not?

Top 5 Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Characters Who Just Mysteriously Disappeared

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of the better sitcoms of the 1990s. It perhaps never reached Seinfeld levels of greatness, but its sense of humor remains entertaining even today. With that said, Fresh Prince still suffered from a few unfortunate sitcom tropes of yesteryear (unwillingness to change up the formula, story arcs that were dropped quicker than they began, etc.). Among the most annoying sitcom tropes Fresh Prince fell victim to was the forgotten character. That is to say, characters who at one point were important (or at the very least, built up to be), but then suddenly vanish from the series, without so much as a mention. Perhaps some of these actors just wanted off the show or found work elsewhere, but you’d think the characters would at least get a passing reference or two within the show itself, considering they had at least some degree of significance to the main characters.

Honorable mention: Lisa Wilkes

Lisa Wilkes was one of Will Smith’s longest-standing girlfriend in the series, and the show even went through a story arc where the two were bound to be married… before pulling the annoying old sitcom trope of the characters deciding against their marriage during their wedding, giving the equally cliched excuse that they “rushed into things.” Will’s mother than marries Lisa’s father, effectively making the two step-siblings (awkward). Lisa, her father, and Will’s mother are never seen again in the series after that, which really made me want to put them on this list, but because their final appearance at least wraps up a story arc, they’ll all have to settle in the honorable mention position.

 

5: Carlton’s Mail Woman Girlfriend (Michelle Williams)

Okay, we’ll start with a character who was never really important, but seemed like they could have been, and were even intended to be.

One of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’s biggest running gags was Carlton’s romantic life… or lack thereof. So when a cute mail carrier began flirting with him during one episode, and found Carlton’s naivety to her flirting to be endearing, it seemed like the show introduced a potentially recurring character to be Carlton’s love interest.

But nope.

In the character’s second appearance, Carlton fails to understand Michelle’s playful banter, as she hands him a letter that is not-so subtly her way of asking him on a date. Carlton remains his usual naive self, but Michelle – in a complete 180 from her reaction the first time around – gets annoyed with his naivety, and blows off the date. The episode in question still suggests Carlton might have a future with Michelle Williams, as Carlton only ends up going on a double date with Will Smith later in the episode once the latter promises him he’ll have “the worst night of his life” (thus ensuring the double date doesn’t mean anything, and won’t hurt Carlton’s potential budding romance with Michelle, as is sitcom logic). But that ends up being the end of it.

Yep, the one time Carlton found a potential girlfriend who wasn’t either using him or ended up ditching him for Will just ended up leaving the poor guy over the very reasons she was attracted to him to begin with. Poor Carlton…

4: Tyriq Johnson

I was tempted to put “Ice Tray” on this list, seeing as that character was described as Will’s childhood best friend in the one episode he appeared in (only to never be brought up by Will ever again). But I decided to go with Tyriq, who was a recurring character on the show, and was depicted as Will’s “other best friend” after Jazz. In fact, both Jazz and Tyriq competed with each other to prove who was Will’s “real” best friend so they could accompany him on a game show in the episode “Eyes on the Prize.”

Of course, seeing as that episode marked Tyriq’s final, non-clip show appearance in the series, I guess it’s obvious that Jazz was the winner in that scenario.

Now, Tyriq wasn’t exactly the most memorable character, being defined almost solely by his stupidity (a character trait which Jazz already had covered), but he never really got the chance to be anything more. He was always Will’s “other friend” whenever he showed up. And then he was off the show by the third season, with the series not even giving us the whole “X-character moved away” passing reference.

 

3: Kellog Lieberbaum

Kellogg Lieberbaum – affectionately referred to as “Cornflake” by Will – was Will and Carlton’s caucasian friend from Bel-Air Academy, and one of the show’s more memorable side characters during the early seasons. Kellogg Lieberbaum was something akin to an inverse Carlton Banks. While Carlton was strictly conservative and often brushed off Will’s more easy-going, fun loving lifestyle, Kellogg Lieberbaum, while similarly conservative, was more impressionable to Will, finding Will’s behavior to be a breath of fresh air to the stuffiness of Bel-Air Academy.

This made Kellog a good foil for both Will and Carlton, as he was something of a bridge between the two personalities. Kellog always had Will and Carlton’s backs whenever they needed help with their shenanigans, going so far as to lock himself in a classroom with Will to protest their favorite teacher losing his job. And when Will was being teased by just about everyone when he was interested in a “heavier” girl, Kellogg was, along with Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian, the only person who supported Will.

This makes it all the weirder that the character just disappears from the show without explanation after the second season. Even in the series finale that sees Will and Carlton graduate Bel-Air Academy, good ol’ Cornflake is mysteriously absent. Where did he go? What happened to him? The world may never know, which is a true shame, considering he had a lot of untapped potential as a character.

 

2: Jewel/Hortense

Here’s one that I would assume would have irked many viewers in the 90s who watched the show from the beginning. Of course, Will’s best friend Jazz had a mysterious way with the ladies, and had a particular eye on Will’s cousin Hilary, whom continuously rebuffed his affections, which is an old sitcom way of saying there might be a relationship between the two down the road (that’s how real life works, right?).

That potential romance is thrown out the window in one episode, when it is revealed that Jazz is marrying a prison inmate named Jewel, whom he fell in love with after seeing her on an episode of COPS. Throughout the episode, Hilary throws herself at Jazz (“the forbidden fruit is always sweeter” says Aunt Vivian), only for him to now reject her, effectively turning whatever plans the showrunners may have had for the two into little more than a punchline for a single episode.

So, Jazz marries Jewel, and the two seem to be off to a happily ever after. One episode even reveals that Jewel is pregnant with Jazz’s child. Admittedly, though it may have got in the way of one of the show’s earlier potential character setups, it made for an unexpected change of pace, and it looked like Jazz – odd though he and his bride may have been – were going to have a happy life together.

But nope.

In a later episode, it’s revealed that Jazz and Jewel split up, after Jewel repeatedly cheated on him, and apparently lied about everything about herself (her real name is Hortense). Of course, this all ties into Will’s aforementioned reservations about his marriage to Lisa, as Jazz’s ordeal plants seeds of doubt in Will’s head about his own nuptials. The episode doesn’t even mention Jewel’s pregnancy, most likely due to the fact that reminding viewers of that detail would bring the depressing reality of such a situation to life, and they could no longer treat Jazz and Jewel’s separation as a joke to set up the events of that particular episode.

It’s an unceremonious write-off to one character, and an utter dismissal of the importance of another (Seriously, what does it say about how the writers felt about Jazz that the idea of his pregnant wife leaving him is little more than a passing joke?).

It’s just all kinds of bad right here.

 

1: Jacqueline “Jackie” Ames

Here’s the most mysterious disappearance of them all. Jackie was easily set up to be Will Smith’s eventual love interest when she was introduced in the show’s fourth season. Being a friend of Will’s since childhood, it is even hinted at that the two had romantic feelings for each other in the past. In fact, her entire introductory episode is about how she’s mad at Will for not calling her once he moved to Bel-Air, with the resolution of the episode coming when Will reveals he didn’t do so because he “missed her too much” (which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but whatever). Jackie, realizing that Will still cares about her (evidenced by him not calling her???), renews her friendship with Will. She then becomes a recurring character in the series for a good while, where the show emphasizes their friendship as well as a potential budding romance.

And then she just disappears. No explanation whatsoever. She’s just suddenly gone one episode, without even the most fleeting of passing references giving any kind of explanation. You would think that Will’s lifelong friend who he clearly had feelings for would at least be important enough to be referenced after vanishing from the show. But the series never shines even the tiniest bit of light as to where she went or what happened to her. Did she move back to Philly? Did she get a career that required her to move elsewhere? What the hell happened?

Jackie may not have been one of the “main” characters on the show, but she was obviously being built up to be one. And given her importance to Will – the show’s main character – it seems all the weirder that she would just vanish into nothingness.

Hopefully Will at least called her this time…

 

Top 5 Angry Video Game Nerd Episodes of 2017

James Rolfe’s Angry Video Game Nerd series remains one of the most consistently entertaining things on the internet. After years of slowing the series down a bit, 2017 marked something of a resurgence, with more episodes released this year than the past two years put together. Here are my five favorite Nerd episodes from 2017.

5: Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi (Episode 154)

This Nerd episode was of personal significance to me, considering this is a game in which I felt the full extent of its horrors back when it was released on the PS1. It was a Star Wars fighting game! How could I resist? Too bad it was a broken fighter that lacked any semblance of character balance, and included a character named “Hoar” (a little tidbit the Nerd of course has to mention, because how couldn’t you?).

Sadly, this episode is a bit on the short side, which is a shame because it’s the kind of game that’s so bad I could still go on and on about it. There’s no shortage of video game suckage to discuss. But the Nerd is quick to poke fun of the game’s flaws, as well as take a few swipes at George Lucas’ constant re-edits of the original trilogy (help us Disney, you’re our only hope for a proper blu-ray release).

 

4: GameBoy Accessories (Episode 147)

Here the Nerd goes into the long, detailed history of the original Nintendo Gameboy which, despite its limitations, outlived most other handheld systems and home consoles. The Nerd then proceeds to introduce many of the odd gimmicks and gadgets Nintendo threw the GameBoy’s way to help sustain its longevity, and some that came from third-parties trying to capitalize off the GameBoy’s success. Some of these worked (GameBoy Camera, Super GameBoy), while others…not so much (the Booster). And the Nerd’s reactions to all of these accessories – like any of the best Nerd videos – are priceless.

 

3: Sonic ’06 (Part 1) (Episode 145)

Sometimes, the Nerd is at his best when he tackles the games that his fans consistently request him to review (tough this isn’t an absolute, as the most hyped game for him to review, E.T. on Atari, ended up in the polarizing Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie). And Sonic the Hedgehog ’06 was one of his biggest requests for years!

The tragic production and even more tragic execution of Sonic the Hedgehog ’06 is well documented, so it only seems fitting to have an AVGN episode tearing the game apart. It’s just a shame James Rolfe feels the need to wait for a game to be “retro” before reviewing it as the Nerd (at the very least, it seems that limitation should be lifted when it comes to games this notorious). But the wait was worth it, as the Sonic ’06 episode of AVGN provides many laughs at the game’s expense. From awkward hedgehog/human romances to clunky game mechanics and flat-out unfinished segments, Sonic ’06 provides the Nerd with plenty of hilarious material. So much material, in fact, that one episode couldn’t hold it all…

 

2: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers (Episode 144)

The Nerd’s first episode of the year was a great way to start things off for the series in 2017. With the release of the 2017 Power Rangers movie imminent, James Rolfe decided to dabble into the 90s phenomenon, culminating with an AVGN episode dedicated to just some of the many Power Rangers games that were released back in the day.

The Angry Video Game Nerd tries out various Power Rangers games, some of which he finds to be not all that bad, but eventually stumbles on the crappier side of Power Rangers gaming, which forces him to morph into the Super Nerd just so he can break a GameBoy cartridge.

Also, the Power Rangers-inspired opening is simply great.

 

1: Sonic ’06 (Part 2)

Perhaps the biggest surprise of any Nerd episode this year, the Nerd decided to revisit Sonic ’06 several months after uploading the first such episode, feeling that said first episode didn’t do justice to just how bad the game is.

Here, the Nerd elaborates on the elements he already touched upon in part 1, but delves deeper into the game and is shocked to find out just how bad it really is. From its broken level design to its nonsensical plot to THAT kiss, the Nerd has a heyday with the game’s countless flaws, and is utterly dumbfounded at just how far Sonic fell from grace.

Although I disagree with James Rolfe feeling that he “half-assed” his Sonic ’06 review the first time around, I’m certainly happy he decided to give it another go, as his revisiting of the nefarious game produced the best Nerd episode of the year.


 

Chapter 4: Wizard Dojo in 2018

“My waifu!”

Ah, the old “Wizard Dojo in the coming year” chapter! Y’know, the chapter where I talk about all the stuff I hope to accomplish on this site in the next year, but only end up doing some of it? Yeah, that one!

Anyway, hopefully this year I can stay committed and actually get these things done! At least to some degree…

First and foremost, I still plan on doing my reviewing thing. And seeing as I have now combined the pages for animated and live-action movie reviews into one page, I’ll probably end up reviewing more live-action movies in the next year. Also I hope I’ll be reviewing more animated films in 2018 than I did in 2017. I was a bit of a slacker in that department this year. I also would really like to make more top 5 and top 10 lists.

For another change of pace, I’ve also been throwing around the idea of reviewing some TV shows for this site. As I’ve stated in the past, I’ve always been more of a video games and movies man than a TV man, and frankly, TV shows would just take longer to review. But there are some TV shows that I greatly enjoy (Twin Peaks, Stranger Things, Monk, etc.) and I would like to talk about them on this site in some capacity. Maybe I can review each season of my favorite shows, and write special reviews for some notable episodes.

Of course, the two biggest things I hope to do in 2018 (that somehow relate to this site in one way or another) is A) FINALLY follow through with making my list of all-time favorite video games, which may then lead to a list of favorite movies. And B) get a bit more serious about starting the creation of my own video game.

Okay, that second one doesn’t exactly relate to the site. But this site is a creative endeavor of mine, and making a video game would be a creative endeavor. So…they have that kind of/sort of going for them.

Anyway, I feel kind of bad, because making video games is a dream of mine, and I was actually off to a decent start in early 2017, learning how to make and animate sprites and reading up on game development. But do to one thing after another I really slowed down in my progress in learning game development in 2017. So I hope I can make up for that in 2018. Again, making video games is my dream, and here’s hoping 2018 is the year where I take my first steps into a much larger world by starting on my first of hopefully many games.

Also, more gifs in 2018.


Chapter 5: WWE Awards

Before I get started with these, we all know New Japan Pro Wrestling kicked all the ass this year, and the Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada matches were the best of this year and pretty much any other. But these awards are narrowed down to WWE, since I have easiest access to their product and therefor watch it the most (I’m sorry, I only have so much free time, and most of it goes to movies, games and things like this website and drawing and whatnot). So anyway, yadda yadda yadda, wrestling stuff!

 

Male Wrestler of the Year: AJ Styles

It’s all too easy to appreciate just how gifted AJ Styles is in the ring. But perhaps what’s all the more impressive is how WWE has actually treated him like the star that he is. While WWE has struggled to build up new stars (or long-standing stars that got their start elsewhere), they have treated AJ Styles like a legitimate big deal. As of this writing, he is in his second reign as WWE Champion, which couldn’t be more deserved, seeing as he’s delivered one quality match after another for the entire year.

 

Female wrestler of the Year: Asuka

Speaking of wrestlers that came from elsewhere but have received proper star treatment in WWE, it’s Asuka! While fellow Japanese wrestlers Shinsuke Nakamura and Hideo Itami have been the subject of questionable booking decisions in the company (Nakamura has at least been treated like a star, but WWE seemed to actively rob him of momentum during his feud with Jinder Mahal), Asuka has flourished.

Asuka’s reign as NXT Women’s Champion is the longest title reign of any kind in the WWE since the days before the company became international (back then, with only local audiences, it was easier for title reigns to last years at a time). And she only forfeited the title when she was out of action due to a legitimate injury. Soon enough, she was back in action on WWE’s main roster, where she continues the longest undefeated streak in company history.

More impressive than her scripted accolades, however, is Asuka’s stellar in-ring work, which is among the best of anyone on WWE’s current roster, save for maybe AJ Styles and Finn Balor.

 

Tag Team/Faction of the Year: The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus)

Who would have thought that Sheamus and Cesaro’s seemingly nowhere 2016 feud would eventually lead to them being one of the best tag teams the WWE has seen in recent years? The formation of the team has revitalized Sheamus’ career, and although Cesaro is long overdue for a world title run in the company, being one-half of “The Bar” has certainly given hima  bigger push in WWE than he’s had so far. Together, they’ve put on some fantastic pay-per-view matches and continue to grow as characters. Not to mention Cesaro finishing a match after (seriously) having some of his teeth get wedged up his gums after an in-ring botch is a testament to how dedicated to their craft the best professional wrestlers are.

 

Best Gimmick: “Woken” Matt Hardy

Perhaps no wrestler ever reinvented themselves for the better quite like Matt Hardy did when he became “Broken” Matt Hardy during his stint in TNA in 2016. You could also make a strong argument that there’s not another wrestling character quite as great as Broken Matt Hardy. Which is why it was all a shame that when Matt Hardy and his brother Jeff rejoined WWE in 2017, it seemed like legal issues over ownership of the gimmick would prevent him from bringing the oddball character to WWE with him.

Thankfully, over the last month or so, Matt Hardy seems to have (rightfully) won the legal battle, and has brought his unique persona to WWE, reportedly with full creative control of the character (though for reasons I’m not sure, the title of “Broken” was replaced with “Woken”).

Woken/Broken Matt Hardy is a difficult character to describe. While most wrestling characters of yesteryear have a gimmick that could be defined by a single word (Sergeant Slaughter was a soldier, the Undertaker was a dead man, etc.) and most modern wrestling gimmicks are more grounded in the wrestlers’ real personalities (albeit exaggerated), Woken Matt Hardy is something different entirely.

Boasting a faux British accent (which seems to fluctuate to other faux accents), speeches of past lives and connections to historical figures, and vaguely implied supernatural powers, Woken Matt Hardy is to wrestling what The Room is to movies, though here the irony is completely intended.

What’s all the more interesting is that Broken Matt Hardy had his own “Broken Universe” which seemed like a show within a show and saw the gimmick branch out to Jeff Hardy and other characters who were affected by Matt Hardy’s “brokenness,” creating something of its own lore that existed separately from everything else in wrestling, making it all the more ridiculous. Hopefully, “Woken” Matt Hardy will continue to shine, and bring a “Woken Universe” along for the ride.

 

Match of the Year: AJ Styles vs. John Cena (Royal Rumble)

Although WWE had its share of great matches in 2017, its best happened pretty early in the year, when John Cena took on AJ Styles in their third singles bout on pay-per-view (their SummerSlam matchup in 2016 was my favorite WWE match of that year as well). Granted, Cena winning the WWE Championship at the match’s end was really only a means to get the belt off one (then)heel and onto another (Bray Wyatt), so the result seemed pretty transitional. And the fact that the match’s incredible last few minutes were later recycled in a matchup between Cena and company golden boy (and fans’ archenemy) Roman Reigns – only for Reigns to survive the onslaught that felled AJ Styles just to make Reigns look better – does cheapen things a little bit. On its own merits, without taking into account how WWE would handle things later, was one hell of a bout.

Cena used to get a lot of flak for his in-ring work by diehard wrestling fans, but now it’s hard to see him as anything other than an exceptional pro wrestler (well, I guess we can also see him as a growing mainstream star, but according to his catchphrase we can’t see him at all). AJ Styles, always the showstealer, seems to bring out the absolute best in Cena’s abilities, and their Royal Rumble 2017 showdown was the best of their series. Here’s hoping WWE can find ways to top it in 2018.


Chapter 6: The Last One (And Also Special Thanks)

Yeah, I know, I’m cutting my Christmas Special two chapters short this year. But hey, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was only 6 worlds after Donkey Kong Country Returns’ 8, and we all know how much I love Tropical Freeze (praise be unto its name). Besides, according to my word count this Christmas Special is longer than last year’s anyway. So let’s not split hairs.

In all seriousness, a lot of personal things have been going on right with me right now, and I barely had the time for my site these past couple of weeks, let alone the time to work on my Christmas Special. The fact that I’m getting this done at all this year is a huge sigh of relief on my part.

Tell ya what though, lads. I’ll make it up to you fine people by writing some small, additional “special” blogs in the coming weeks…or something. And hopefully next year’s Christmas Special can be even more obnoxiously lengthy than normal.

Anyway, I just thought I’d wrap this up by giving special shoutouts to all my home skillets in the blogging universe.

Matt from NintendoBound: Always the source for exceptional blogging, particularly on video games (which I love), animated movies (which I love) and popular music (which I know nothing about…I’m very out of touch, you see). Keep up the excellent work, and thanks for being my longest-standing blogging ally (or something).

Red Metal from Extra Life Reviews: Congratulations on recently hitting your 100th gaming review. Your reviews are always excellent and well thought out. Here’s to hundreds and hundreds more! Thanks for all the lengthy, meaningful discussions we have on the mediums I love.

Mr. Panda of Mr. Panda’s Video Game Reviews: Thanks for the continued support over the last few years, and congratulations on your ever expanding reach on the video game world.

The Guys from Miketendo64: Thanks for the opportunities to help get my writing a bigger platform, and to help boost my readership. I don’t know how you guys keep up your site as often and as well as you do.

After Story: Thank you for deciding to help me out with this site. Your contributions are greatly appreciated, and thanks for being a good writer in general. Wait a minute, you’re already writing for me. What am I thanking you for?! Get back to work! (just kidding)

Well, there you go everybody. This year’s Christmas Special. Apologies again it had to run a little short (kind of). I’ll make up for that down the road.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Happy whatever holiday you celebrate! Whether it’s Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus, Finn Wolfhard’s Birthday… whatever it is, happy/merry that!

The Times They Are-a (Somewhat) Changin’

You may have noticed (but probably not) that there have been a few changes made to the Dojo lately. Its face is breaking out, it’s growing hair in unusual places, and it’s voice is cracking. Wait, that’s not right…

What I meant to say is I’ve updated the Scoring System page, changing most of the description and providing some video game examples for each score. I’m also in the process of updating the About page, but there’s still work to be done and deprecation to be had with that one.

The biggest of these recent changes, however, is that I have officially combined my pages for animated and live-action movie reviews, with the DNA Digivolution of these pages now being referred to as the “Movie Reviews” page. Granted, because I initially only focused on animation reviews, the animated films take up the majority of my movie reviews, and chances are I’ll still review animated movies more often. But I no longer see the need to differentiate the pages. Good movies are good movies, bad movies are bad movies. Doesn’t matter how they’re made, they’re all movies in the long run.

So yeah, some minor adjustments to the site, with some more on the way. Just thought I’d write a little update about it because, well, that’s what I do. Now I’m off to write more reviews, and get cracking on my annual Christmas Special and whatnot.

This is an Update

Hello people!

This is just an update to inform my dear readers that my reviews, lists, and other such nonsense will continue soon enough (and I have a thing about not updating this site for nearly a week). I had to put some things on hold due to some unforeseen emergencies, but I will keep on keeping on.

In short, sorry updates have been sparse this past week, I’ll get back to business as soon as possible. Reviews, top 5/10 lists, the whole shebang!

I have a list of video games and movies I hope to review soon – including, as stated in a previous blog, the remaining 9.5 and perfect 10/10 games I’ve played – as well as a few ideas for top 5/top 10 lists that I’d like to get to. And of course there’s my annual Christmas/Anniversary special. So I hope you look forward to all of that, as well as what I have in store for 2018, including my long-awaited list of all-time favorite video games (which will probably be ready in February…or March…or April).

Sorry again for the delays. Keep on keeping on.