The review dilemma.
I remember when I was Thirteen years of age reading a review for Ocarina of Time and the game got a score of above 95% and I was quite shocked “This game must be good” I thought. It’s weird that has stuck in my mind to this day yet I can’t tell you what magazine it was in nor the exact score it got. The game was also famously the first game given a perfect score by Famitsu (one of eighteen on the list) which made people take note. However this won’t be about Ocarina of Time but about reviews. Since January of this year I have only written two reviews for this blog: Epic Mickey and Lost in Shadows and I was quickly aware of how hard this job actually is. Why is that?
I look for the negative when reviewing a game.
Is gaming art? Yes in the way that Star Wars is art, in the way that TV can be art but not in the way that the Mona Lisa is art. To put it at the most blunt video games are an entertainment medium and should be fun. I’ve found with reviewing a game I’m playing the game because I have to, not because I want to. For me if I play a game I pick up on the annoying things such as in Epic Mickey I notice that the camera is really frustrating and even in Ocarina of Time I found the sound lacking on some parts of the game. If I wasn’t looking to review the game I would not care about that and think “Meh just one of those things”. Don’t get me wrong some people have fun finding the rubbish things in a game, but for me that’s not fun but torture.
I’m going to pick on Famitsu here, they have given eighteen games perfect scores but on that list there is NintenDogs and Bayonetta. Don’t get me wrong they are great games but using their scoring system they are better games than Okami, Dragon Quest VIII, Super Mario 64 and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I could go off recent games and say where some sites have given CODMW3 a 10 but others have given it a 3. The problem with scores is not just limited to a big difference but just what a score is. For me a game that gets 10 out of 10 is a perfect game and has no flaws and a game that gets an 8 is one you should be picking up yet most people assume an 8 is a bad review. Take Gears of War 3 which was given an 8 by Destructoid and Eurogamer yet caused Cliff Bleszinski to take offense.
Don’t just read the score but read the review itself, I could give a Zelda game 9.5 out of 10 but note in the review that I am a huge Zelda fan so there’s a bit of bias yet SonyLee.com could give the game 8.5 and note they hate Zelda so marked it down. It’s a complex web we weave.
You need to be the same but different.
To make a review stand out it needs to be different. Take AVGN who went with very angry reviews and because of him a ton of copy cat reviewers went the same route even though AVGN wasn’t the first to use this review pattern. Then you look at the comments section and you see “well Nintendo Life gave this a 9, Edge a 10, Famitsu a billion but you just gave it 8 out of 10 therefore you suck as it’s not in line with them”. Good grief people they didn’t like the game but others did, different strokes for different folks. It would be boring if everyone thought Ocarina of Time was the best Zelda game ever (mine is LTTP) or that SMB3 was the best Mario Game (mine is Galaxy or Galaxy 2 depending on my mood). It’s an entertainment medium, it’s supposed to be varied. What if everyone thought Star Trek was better than Star Wars or that Pacino was better than De Niro? Music would be boring if everyone thought that the Beatles were better than Queen or that the best Christmas number 1 was not Mr. Blobby in 1995!
Video games are an entertainment medium and before you give a reviewer some flack for reviewing a game harshly just remember that we’re all a bit different and game blogs would be pointless is we’re all the same.