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.

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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.

Small Update On Some Future Things and Stuff

Apologies that updates have been a wee bit on the slow side as of late. I hope to fix that soon. But since things have been slow, I thought I’d share some updates on things I’m planning for this site in the not-too-distant future, as well as some changes I’ve been contemplating. Let’s blast through them, shall we?

  • I am indeed starting piecing together my list of favorite video games. Because that’s a thing I’ve been saying for a while. Can’t say when it will be done though.
  • I also would still like to make a joint list of “greatest games of all time” with some of my fellow bloggers, if we can find a way to communicate on such a thing (why doesn’t WordPress have direct messages again?).
  • I hope to start reviewing movies a bit more frequently.
  • I plan to start reviewing TV series, probably by seasons, while maybe highlighting exceptional (or not-so exceptional) episodes.
  • I have still been considering changing my rating system from the current ‘.5’ system to a whole number system. Or my humorous-but-serious “mostly whole number” system, which would be a whole number system but with the ‘9.5’ score intact. But I may just keep things as they are.
  • While I do hope to continue climbing the centennial ranks with my video game reviews, I do see my purchases of new gaming releases shrinking come 2019. Seeing as I don’t get paid to do this, video games remain an expensive hobby and – these days – an incredibly time-consuming one. And I’m the kind of person who likes to take their time with games, so I can see myself reviewing a few notable games released in a given year, with handfuls of older, shorter titles (or shorter indie titles) comprising more and more of my reviews. I just can’t dedicate myself to one 100+ hour game after another like I used to.
  • Like my list of favorite games, I’ve also been promising to do some form of videos, and I plan to try that out soon. I’ll start with something simple, and if that goes well, I may just expand on that. My reviews will still primarily be in written form, so I’ll think of other things to do in the video format.
  • I plan on getting back into sprite-making and to further my studies on video game design. As I’ve stated ad nauseam, I’d like to create video games someday, so I best start dedicating more time to that. I may even use this site as a means to show/talk about my progress. Or maybe I could make another site for that, if you good people feel that would get in the way of things here.
  • I have also been tempted to share some of my drawings and/or creative ideas on this site. I am no great artist, nor do I pretend to be. But I like to draw weird, cartoonish creatures and cute characters, so I dunno. Maybe a sketch or two here and there. Or maybe not.
  • I have contemplated making simple changes like making sure to do a weekly movie review (Movie Monday?) and game review. Not that such a weekly review would be the only day for a review in any given week, but it would be a consistent one.

Okay, there’s some stuff. I’m going to try and write a review or something more meaningful next time, I promise. …Or maybe something else about Waluigi.

300 Video Game Reviews!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario World

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (Review #100)

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

Super Mario Odyssey

Undertale

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

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

Anyway, I’m rambling. Nothing new there.

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

“Now, give me cake!”

Reflecting on my Time at E3 2018

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

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

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

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

“The world’s greatest necktie.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Squad Goals.”

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

“It’s-a him!”

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

Responding to Blogging Awards + Wizard Dojo Fun Facts!

Originally, I was going to include these as part of my 700th blog (spectacularsaurus…whatever I called it). But that ended up long enough as it was, and I was writing it really late. So I had to cut things a tad short, but I still wanted to write these bits, so here they are!


Continue reading “Responding to Blogging Awards + Wizard Dojo Fun Facts!”