Review backlash

Man, the fanboy angst over the Mario review in Gamespot is already heating up. It got an 8.0, very respectable, but I’m sure it’s a bitter pill for some after the run of 9+ ratings. I wonder if Jeff Gerstmann will get some extra e-mail this week.

I haven’t got my copy yet, so I can’t really say if it’s deserved. Of course, most of the fanboys don’t have copies yet either…

In a way, I’d rather have scoreless reviews of ye olde CGW days… it seems like everyone goes right to the numbers and ignores the text. I guess readers get what they want, though. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have guessed that the Gamespot guy liked it enough for an 8 from his text – the summary at the end was especially bleak:

>The Mario series has almost always been nothing short of incredible. If you’ve been playing video games for even a few years and have tried to come up with a list of the best games ever made, chances are you placed at least two or three Mario games high on that list. But Super Mario Sunshine has trouble living up to that legacy. On its own merits, Super Mario Sunshine is a solid game with a really distinctive look and some great moments, but it also has its fair share of shortcomings. While the game isn’t overly difficult, too many of the game’s goals are the sort that make you think, “Well, at least I’ll never have to do that again,” immediately after completing them. While some gamers will be able to look past or even embrace the fact that Super Mario Sunshine sticks extremely close to Super Mario 64’s formula, others will find that the game suffers from a lack of innovation. The game’s technical issues and often-gimmicky design are still tougher to ignore, and they combine to make the game seem surprisingly unpolished and somewhat rushed at times. In the end, though, there’s enough in Super Mario Sunshine to warrant a purchase, particularly when you consider that there really aren’t any decent platformers to be found on the GameCube and that this really is the only new Mario game out there.

The hard part about scoring is that you eventually get twisted into some difficult positions to defend. The unambitious Cube platformer Pac Man World 2 got a 7.9 from Gamespot, so is Mario really only .1 better?

I’ll see soon, because I dearly love good platformers.

Its the guys opinion on the game. If it got a 9.5 I could see people saying “Its just Mario 64 with better graphics, so why should it get a high score?”. I just see this as the ‘Internet Jackles’ seeing something else to pounce on.

I’ve thought Mario Sunshine was a sunken ship from day one. Of course, however, you do realize that this means the Most Amazing Game EVAR! is coming next, don’t you?

Look at The Original Trilogy. Super Mario Brothers was just fucking fun as hell. Super Mario Bros. 2 was extremely odd, but still fun. It had it’s shortcomings. But then, oh yes, then they came out with Super Mario Bros. 3. Perhaps the most innovative and best game ever.

I suspect, if Nintendo would get off their dumb-fuck Japanese asses and actually realize that they -can’t- float on their old boat forever, they’d make some great games. Just tell them to start cranking shit out faster. Make another Mario game for 2003 that’ll blow all our socks off. Do it. Make Metroid Prime the most fun game since the baby seal clubbing game we all played at age 8 at Chuck-E-Cheese.

Otherwise, fuck Nintendo. And fuck Sony in a decade (less?) or so, they’re following the same path.

Did maw-maw teach you to talk tough like dat, widdle boy? She must be pwoud of her widdle man for telling that bad “Japanese dumb asses” what to do.

Good for you, widdle one! You make mommy pwoud!

Yawn.

I am getting my copy of Mario Sunshine today, so I have no idea how accurate that Gamespot review is, but I thought on first pass that it was well written and well thought out. It was a generally positive review that didn’t sound like it was coming from a fanboy enthusiast, and the claim that a Mario game could possibly (gasp!) be repetitive and numbing deserves some sort of “courage in games journalism” special little gold-plated arcade token.

It may not be fashionable to say so, but I find Gamespot to be doing a pretty good job right now. 'Course, I haven’t seen that new redesign yet.

The point of Pac Man getting the 7.9 vs. Sunshine’s 8 brings up the question of whether a game should be judged in comparison to previous games in a series or on its own. In the case of Mario I don’t see how you could ignore the whole Mario legacy in judging the latest iteration.

It’s like Mario has risen to such heights that he is now judged in the Olympics, where a 9 is really hard to achieve, but maybe Pac Man is in the Pan-American games and so doesn’t have to live up to the same standards. And then Paint-Brawl Extreme is in the Special Olympics, and still managed to impale itself in the pole vault.

I think the 8.0 is a product of the extremely fucked up way that Gamespot rates their reviews. I prefer to just ignore their scores entirely but it’s hard to do that when it’s like a pulsing beacon on the first page you go to from the review link.

Cue Desslock’s defense of the rating system…

–Dave

They put up a little image on the front page that shows what the redesign looks like. From that, it seems to be a bit better organized, but it still retains some of my chief annoyances (too much clutter, colored text on a black background) while adding one potential new one (big animated feature banner).

I don’t like Avault, but I wish other sites would emulate their website design, because it’s better than that of any other game site I’ve ever visited. Simple, clean, good article layouts… and bad articles. Ah, the irony.

I won’t be surprised if Mario Sunshine really is somewhat on the average side. It looked good when I messed with it at E3, but it didn’t look great. Metroid Prime looks much better. As does Super Monkey Ball 2 (which is out right now).

I can think of few better ways to insure you never get laid again than to brag to a new love interest, “Boy, did I lay into that Gamespot reviewer who was harshing on Super Mario Sunshine.”

Geeze, people. Super Mario Frickin Sunshine?

Back to BF1942…

Excuse me. I was thinking this would be a good place to talk about scoring, reviewing, review feedback, etc. Perhaps not.

For what it’s worth, Gamespot tends to have pretty thorough reviews, and the SMS review isn’t an exception. If I were writing a contrarian review like that, I would’ve done it with a bit more style. This one was kinda bloodless. If I was going to get a couple thousand fanboys upset, I’d want a memorable line or two.

For what reviewers are paid (or not), it seems like they should have a little fun with the writing.

Ratings suck. Whether they’re 5 stars, 10 points, 100 points. Ratings suck.

They are the crutch of people who can’t read. They are amorphous and imprecise. Taken alone, they are often misleading.

You struggle to articulate the good and the bad in a complex game, in a way that is both useful and entertaining to the reader, searching for the most effective words to accurately describe a game within the limited wordcount, and then try to reduce it all down to a “7.8” or “3.5 stars”. Balderdash.

They lead to stupid arguments over the “rating” by people who don’t disagree one iota over the review itself, but go ballistic because of the “score”.

In my utopian world, ratings would be replaced by good writing and a good summary statement at the end of the review. And anyone who complained that they couldn’t understand the review without a rating would be told they are officially too stupid to have access to a computer.

In the interest of fairness and an open mind, I’ll now step down and let someone who thinks ratings are neccessary and good (and is therefore wrong) to take the floor. :wink:

Paging Mr. Desslock. Mr. Desslock to the white courtesy phone.

I agree with Lackey but somehow I find myself vaguely disappointed when I read a Newsweek movie review (which are scoreless). I can understand the review and get a sense of whether its a good film or a bad film… but I still wish he’d give me a damn number too.

What I can’t stand are people who put way too much thought into a rating. Whether gained by mathematical formulae passed down through the millienia from when the Greeks ran Gamespot, or arbitrarily 5 minutes before the game is due. A rating at its very best can only give a sense of worth, there’s really nothing precise about it. That example above of Pac-Man All Stars getting a 7.9 and SMS getting an 8 is a good example of what I’m getting at. Both are essentially 8 of 10 but their reviews sure don’t back that up. Who is at fault? Nobody really.

Now, coincidentally, my editor is asking me why NFL 2K3 is getting a 5 of 5 score and Madden 2003 also is getting a 5 of 5 score, when NFL2K3 has this in the review summary: “NFL2K3 is a great game yet still just a few yards short of the reigning champ Madden 2003.”

I could only explain it this way: “Madden is better… but not 1/2 a star better. Give them both a 5 of 5.”

Mario Sunshine is definitely an 8/10 game.

Different reviewers weight games differently, and it’s embarrassing that the average fanboy can’t understand that. There’s a lot of squealing about how Gerstmann gave Tony Hawk 3 a 10/10, but peep dis: TH3 is pretty much a flawless game given what it sets out to accomplish. Being technically flawless doesn’t make it fun (tm Not Tom Chick) to everybody, as I’ve found, but there’s no egregious flaws with the game, and if you’re a hip sk8boarder, TH3 is pretty much your license to nut at will.

Conversely, SMS is NOT a flawless game, and even Mario fans will have a few issues with its wacky camera and the occasional stupid level objective.

The trouble is that Nintendo fan fruits priortize games differently, yet they can’t seem to intellectually acknowledge it.

>>Cue Desslock’s defense of the rating system…
>Paging Mr. Desslock. Mr. Desslock to the white courtesy phone.

Yikes, no thanks. Had that conversation too many times, and I have an ironclad rule never to talk about videogamespot, er, whatever it’s called these days. Even though they use the same system, I’m not sure I’ve ever been to the video games side of GameSpot in my life. But I’m sure they’re doing a splendid job, which others can better explain, heh.

I agree with Lackey: ratings suck. Read the text.

I think 8.0 is a good score and is justified by the review. That’s all. The camera problem has been solved; there’s no excuse for it to pop up in a game released today. An 8.0 says to me that it’s still a fun game worth playing. I think it’s a step in the right direction-- away from ratings inflation.

I just can’t figure out why they have decimal points. If you’re using tenths, why don’t you just use a hundred point scale?

Decimal points make it sound more scientific.

If they want to make it more scientific, let’s go to exponential notation.

“It’s a mixed bag, but a lot of fun. I give it 2.356 x 10^3 By Tom Chick.”

Ok… lemme stir the pot a little.

The purpose of the review, that which you are getting paid, is to guide the unwashed masses through the morass of bad coding that exists in the world today. You, as mighty Game Journalist, have the power to influence game sales, affecting the fortunes of many a publisher. And, as we all know, WGPCGR.

If it’s easier for folks to understand “2 stars bad. 4 stars good,” then that’s what you must give them. The written review itself is, more often than not, an intellectual excercise that, dependant on your audience, will go over the heads of 90% of your readers.

I mean, c’mon guys. Do you ever read the posts on most gaming forums? LOL, KTHX BYE. Hell, for that matter, there are tons of reviews written by the same uneducated morons these days. But that’s another thread, right? :wink:

Write the best review you can. Some will appreciate your carefully constructed metaphors and clever entendres. But also include a score, because most of the monkeys buying your magazine or reading your website need it to get the gist of what you’re trying to say to them.