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Topic: So I reviewed New Super Mario Bros Wii for this site called Game Observer...looking for some advice

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Kid_A

1. Posted:

http://www.gameobserver.com/review/inside/all-platforms/new-s...

It was a pretty cool experience, and they said any time I want to submit a review or editorial or something I can (I don't know what kind of crazy website lets you submit reviews whenever the heck you want, but I'm not going to argue). But anyway, I'd really like some advice. From the reviewers here, or just anybody that feels like offering up some constructive criticism, what can I do better? Or maybe just general advice for reviewing a game. It's not a perfect review, I know. Just want to know what I can improve on in the future.
(The next thing I'll probably do is a bit article on Wii Music, just for a heads up)

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bro2dragons

2. Posted:

i would advise to make the next just a little more formal. you don't want it to sound like a thesis, but it always helps to feel like your reviewer is authoritative, and not just some dude on the streets who lifted a copy of the game from his local Walmart. things like "friggin' hard!" and "how many people own Wii Speak? Like, 10? In the world?" are.. ok... in a parenthetical format and probably rephrased a bit, but shouldn't be a part of the main review, in my opinion. but what do i know? ;)

overall, nice job, though. closest i've gotten to something like that is the metroid prime trilogy review i wrote for my college's newspaper.

Edited on by bro2dragons

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Ramandus

3. Posted:

Its pretty good. But you can also include a quick synopsis of the story. I know NSMB Wii doesn't really have a story, but if it doesn't, you should just include a quick sentence like, "The princess gets captured again". My only two questions while reading the review were, "What's the story this time?" and "Is Peach a playable character? There is a screenshot with her in it".

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Strofan7

4. Posted:

@bro2dragons I think that may be more of an opinion because I like when personality shows through in reviews, for some reason it makes me believe the person a little more like they aren't holding back and they are really just saying what they want to say about the game. because after all, it is their opinion of it

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Odnetnin

5. Posted:

Totally agree with the "one of the best multiplayer modes ever conceived" bit.
"If you don’t have a ridiculous amount of fun with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you must be a cold, heartless shell of a human being."
I know some reviewers say things like that, but not everyone has to like a game and not everyone likes a game. This by no means makes them a cold person. In fact, my dad and mom played it with me (on two different occasions, one with Dad, one with Mom) and I can tell they both had some fun with it, but are easily frustrated by the difficulty and don't necessarily like having to turn into a bubble or be carried by me through an entire level. They are not gamers. Nor is there anything wrong with them emotionally.
"New Super Mario Bros. was the best-looking 2-D Mario game out there"
Disagree.
"It doesn’t have online play, achievements, Zombie DLC, Spec-Ops Mode"
Why make such an obvious comparison to MW2, and are those exactly things people would want in a Mario game anyway?
"The new motion controls add a bit of skill into the equation"
Skill? Nah, just a steady hand.
"The Penguin and Propeller Suits are already some of the series’ best Power-Ups."
Yup, especially the Propeller Suit.

Will add more comments and actually throw some writing critiques in there later. :P

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Kid_A

6. Posted:

Strofan7 wrote:

@bro2dragons I think that may be more of an opinion because I like when personality shows through in reviews, for some reason it makes me believe the person a little more like they aren't holding back and they are really just saying what they want to say about the game. because after all, it is their opinion of it

See originally it was very formal, but as a result I found it really boring to read. I always appreciate reviews that have personality. If the personality is overwhelming or annoying it doesn't work, or course, but I also don't want to sound like some pompous snob who uses a lot of hyperbole and big words. I kind of like reviews to be a little informal (well written, but informal) because it's more like a friend giving you a recommendation, and less like some guy who's trying to wave around his vocabulary.

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Kid_A

7. Posted:

Odnetnin wrote:

Totally agree with the "one of the best multiplayer modes ever conceived" bit.
"If you don’t have a ridiculous amount of fun with New Super Mario Bros. Wii, you must be a cold, heartless shell of a human being."
I know some reviewers say things like that, but not everyone has to like a game and not everyone likes a game. This by no means makes them a cold person. In fact, my dad and mom played it with me (on two different occasions, one with Dad, one with Mom) and I can tell they both had some fun with it, but are easily frustrated by the difficulty and don't necessarily like having to turn into a bubble or be carried by me through an entire level. They are not gamers. Nor is there anything wrong with them emotionally.
"New Super Mario Bros. was the best-looking 2-D Mario game out there"
Disagree.
"It doesn’t have online play, achievements, Zombie DLC, Spec-Ops Mode"
Why make such an obvious comparison to MW2, and are those exactly things people would want in a Mario game anyway?
"The new motion controls add a bit of skill into the equation"
Skill? Nah, just a steady hand.
"The Penguin and Propeller Suits are already some of the series’ best Power-Ups."
Yup, especially the Propeller Suit.

Will add more comments and actually throw some writing critiques in there later. :P

Yeah I believe that's called having an opinion :P
Of course I don't expect everyone to agree with everything I say, but I do sincerely appreciate the feedback :)

Just for the record: I DID NOT WRITE THE SUBHEADINGS! I would never write something as ridiculous as "Wii Like to Play on the Couch or "Crazy Fun in Crazy Fun Land" :p

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Strofan7

8. Posted:

@Kid_A it looks like we have exactly the same opinion on this haha

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Adam

9. Posted:

It requires that you have the skill to shake things.

Come on, friends,
To the bear arcades again.

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Bankai

10. Posted:

I've done a really quick read through and made some notes.

I've tried to go easy on you - There's a lot more you could fix than what I've mentioned below, but these are the main points. I'm an editor by trade, mind you, so don't take it to heart - they're just pointers to improve what was actually a pretty good review.

‘New Super Mario Bros Wii’ rocks

  • Terrible headline. The headline is meant to be catchy and draw a reader into the article, not tell them everything you’re going to say.

There was a lot of skepticism about New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and rightfully so. The way Nintendo was marketing it you’d think it was a shallow port of the DS game; a watered down party title disguised as a Mario adventure.

  • What? You can’t say something like this without backing it up. Anecdotally, that is not what I saw in the market at all, so you need to back that claim up with some evidence.

I realize there have been a lot of complaints and temper tantrums

  • You’re using redundant wording here with ‘complaints’ and ‘temper tantrums’ – they mean the same thing. Don’t repeat yourself in your sentences.

This is a very under-rated game visually

  • You’re the one rating it. You can’t say it’s underrated. Rule of thumb of criticism – act as though you’re writing in a vacuum – other reviews don’t exist. Sourcing them just distracts attention away from your own argument.

it doesn’t exactly push the Wii to its limits, but there are some pretty impressive graphics for a Wii game in here, and it’s all very vibrant and colorful and...
well, Mario-like.

  • You’re too contradictory here. “Looking good for a Wii game” implies pushing the hardware to the limits. You need to reword this.

But it’s not the graphics that matter. It’s the gameplay. And in that regard Nintendo has truly outdone themselves. Although the big attraction is the multiplayer, the game still excels in single-player, first and foremost.

  • Again you’ve contradicted yourself. The big attraction in multiplayer implies that by default the single-player game cannot be “first and foremost.” You need to reword this.

The new motion controls add a bit of skill into the equation: a shake of the remote at the tip of your jump gives Mario about a half-second more air, which can separate the men from the boys when making difficult jumps and trying to get seemingly-out-of-reach Star Coins.

  • What’s a star coin? (I’ve played the game, but you can never assume your audience knows what you’re talking about.)

There are even platforms, cannons, and gears to move that involve tilting the Wii remote. It’s a fun and smart way to use the Wii’s unique hardware -- and like Galaxy, it doesn’t beat you over the head with complex motion controls. It does what it needs to do. Most importantly, the controls never fail, even the motion-sensitive ones -- if you die, it’s your own stupid fault, and not the controls’.

  • Never call your actual reader ‘stupid’ – even when you’re trying to be amusing. It’s ok to say something along the lines of ‘people are stupid’ (though be careful), but anything that risks directly offending your reader is a bad idea.

    There are also some fantastic new Power-up

  • Grammar – power-up should not be capitalised.

    suits that not only look cool (or in the case of the Penguin Suit sickeningly adorable), but also add much to the gameplay and make for some clever puzzles. The Penguin and Propeller Suits are already some of the series’ best Power-Ups.

  • Grammar again, and be consistent, even when you get it wrong. You didn’t capitalise ‘Up’ up above, so you shouldn’t do it here.

The level design is easily the most creative I’ve ever seen in a 2-D Mario game. Every single stage throws some new gameplay mechanic or level design quirk at you, meaning you always have to stay on your toes. One welcome addition that wasn’t anywhere to be found in New Super Mario Bros DS: difficulty. NSMBWii is friggin’ hard! The difficulty ramps up surprisingly quickly (the 4th level in the game is a doozy) and only gets harder. This is certainly not a complaint: I like my Mario challenging, and thankfully it never feels unfair. Finding all the hidden Star Coins in each level adds an extra layer of challenge, replayability, and fun.

  • Again, what are Star Coins? What do they do? – you should also be careful when discussing difficulty levels – it can and will impact on the fun that some people are having.

Of course the main new attraction here is multiplayer, and it does not disappoint.

  • If it’s the main attraction, you should discuss it earlier in the review, now down in the middle of it.

Some have complained about the fact that there’s no online support, and I was one of them. However, after actually playing the multiplayer, I can tell you that it really wouldn’t work online. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a social experience -- a game where you want your friend next to you, either to trash talk, to plan your next move, or to punch in the face when they screw you up.

  • This is your strongest bit in the whole piece, well done. However, the paragraph overall is too long. Split it up, like I have just done.

Sure, Wii Speak might have been able to replicate that, but first of all, how many people own Wii Speak? Like, 10?

  • This is writing, not teenage-girl talk. Get rid of the ‘Like’ – it offends me.

    In the world? It wouldn’t be any fun at all having to play a level with a bunch of people hell-bent on screwing you up, or that didn’t have any clue what they were doing. Second of all, this is a twitch platformer. This is a game of skill. If there was any lag at all it would just ruin the experience. If I die, I want it to be my fault, not the Internet Connection’s.

  • No need to capitalise ‘Connection’

Edited on by Bankai

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Kid_A

11. Posted:

weirdadam wrote:

It requires that you have the skill to shake things.

Yeah, you have to shake the Wii remote, but at least it's not wild shaking for wild shaking's sake (like Wario Land Shake it...)
You actually have to time your shakes, which is why I said it required skill. As crazy as it sounds, some of my friends simply can not time the "shake-at-the-tip-of-your-jump-to-get-a-bit-of-extra-air" thing right (gotta think of a better name for that). And manuvering those tilt-based platforms was pretty tricky. In my opinion, it required skill. The action of shaking the Wii remote doesn't, but actually using the shake properly does.

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bro2dragons

12. Posted:

@strofan: yeah, i agree, i just think there are better ways to do so. you can show personality and really give out a strong feeling one way or another without resorting to jive. but that just comes with time and practice with writing. i don't think the review was bad, just that he can do better, and will do better as he keeps writing and figuring out his own style.

read some of chicken's reviews to see kinda what i mean. he's gotten games that he ABHORRED before, and reviewed them (i remember one particularly sarcastic one, though i can't seem to remember the game) in such a way as to show tons of personality and make it extremely enjoyable to read, without sounding as if you were just talking to your friend on an ordinary day. in my opinion, there's a place for that... when you're talking to your friend on an ordinary day. in a written review, i think that stylistically, it doesn't need to be formal, but it needs to be a bit less casual. but that's just my opinion, and i shall leave it at that.

keep writing, Kid_A!

Edited on by bro2dragons

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Kid_A

13. Posted:

WaltzElf wrote:

I've done a really quick read through and made some notes.

I've tried to go easy on you - There's a lot more you could fix than what I've mentioned below, but these are the main points. I'm an editor by trade, mind you, so don't take it to heart - they're just pointers to improve what was actually a pretty good review.

‘New Super Mario Bros Wii’ rocks

  • Terrible headline. The headline is meant to be catchy and draw a reader into the article, not tell them everything you’re going to say.

As I've mentioned before in this thread, I DO NOT WRITE THE HEADLINES AND SUBHEADINGS!! Believe me, I know it's terrible. You can blame the editor on that one ;)

There was a lot of skepticism about New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and rightfully so. The way Nintendo was marketing it you’d think it was a shallow port of the DS game; a watered down party title disguised as a Mario adventure.

  • What? You can’t say something like this without backing it up. Anecdotally, that is not what I saw in the market at all, so you need to back that claim up with some evidence. Okay, good point. From what I was reading on forums and blogs prior to its release, people seemed to think that this was a port of the DS game, and that this was a multiplayer party game (which would therefore water down the single player experience).

I realize there have been a lot of complaints and temper tantrums

  • You’re using redundant wording here with ‘complaints’ and ‘temper tantrums’ – they mean the same thing. Don’t repeat yourself in your sentences. Good call

This is a very under-rated game visually

  • You’re the one rating it. You can’t say it’s underrated. Rule of thumb of criticism – act as though you’re writing in a vacuum – other reviews don’t exist. Sourcing them just distracts attention away from your own argument. This is very good advice, the kind of stuff I'm looking for. Certainly something I'll think about in the future

it doesn’t exactly push the Wii to its limits, but there are some pretty impressive graphics for a Wii game in here, and it’s all very vibrant and colorful and...
well, Mario-like.

  • You’re too contradictory here. “Looking good for a Wii game” implies pushing the hardware to the limits. You need to reword this.
    Yeah, you're right. Didn't pick up on that before*
    But it’s not the graphics that matter. It’s the gameplay. And in that regard Nintendo has truly outdone themselves. Although the big attraction is the multiplayer, the game still excels in single-player, first and foremost.
  • Again you’ve contradicted yourself. The big attraction in multiplayer implies that by default the single-player game cannot be “first and foremost.” You need to reword this.
    I suck*
    The new motion controls add a bit of skill into the equation: a shake of the remote at the tip of your jump gives Mario about a half-second more air, which can separate the men from the boys when making difficult jumps and trying to get seemingly-out-of-reach Star Coins.
  • What’s a star coin? (I’ve played the game, but you can never assume your audience knows what you’re talking about.)
    Whoa, good point.*

There are even platforms, cannons, and gears to move that involve tilting the Wii remote. It’s a fun and smart way to use the Wii’s unique hardware -- and like Galaxy, it doesn’t beat you over the head with complex motion controls. It does what it needs to do. Most importantly, the controls never fail, even the motion-sensitive ones -- if you die, it’s your own stupid fault, and not the controls’.

  • Never call your actual reader ‘stupid’ – even when you’re trying to be amusing. It’s ok to say something along the lines of ‘people are stupid’ (though be careful), but anything that risks directly offending your reader is a bad idea.
    There are also some fantastic new Power-up
  • Grammar – power-up should not be capitalised.
    suits that not only look cool (or in the case of the Penguin Suit sickeningly adorable), but also add much to the gameplay and make for some clever puzzles. The Penguin and Propeller Suits are already some of the series’ best Power-Ups.
    Grammar again, and be consistent, even when you get it wrong. You didn’t capitalise ‘Up’ up above, so you shouldn’t do it here. *The editor said he'd fix the grammer errors that I missed. I blame him :p *

The level design is easily the most creative I’ve ever seen in a 2-D Mario game. Every single stage throws some new gameplay mechanic or level design quirk at you, meaning you always have to stay on your toes. One welcome addition that wasn’t anywhere to be found in New Super Mario Bros DS: difficulty. NSMBWii is friggin’ hard! The difficulty ramps up surprisingly quickly (the 4th level in the game is a doozy) and only gets harder. This is certainly not a complaint: I like my Mario challenging, and thankfully it never feels unfair. Finding all the hidden Star Coins in each level adds an extra layer of challenge, replayability, and fun.
Again, what are Star Coins? What do they do? – you should also be careful when discussing difficulty levels – it can and will impact on the fun that some people are having.

Of course the main new attraction here is multiplayer, and it does not disappoint.
If it’s the main attraction, you should discuss it earlier in the review, now down in the middle of it.

Some have complained about the fact that there’s no online support, and I was one of them. However, after actually playing the multiplayer, I can tell you that it really wouldn’t work online. New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a social experience -- a game where you want your friend next to you, either to trash talk, to plan your next move, or to punch in the face when they screw you up.

  • This is your strongest bit in the whole piece, well done. However, the paragraph overall is too long. Split it up, like I have just done.
    Sure, Wii Speak might have been able to replicate that, but first of all, how many people own Wii Speak? Like, 10?
  • This is writing, not teenage-girl talk. Get rid of the ‘Like’ – it offends me.
    I wanted that bit to sound like teenage-girl talk (I'm a teenage boy,actually). I'm not changing that one :p*
    In the world? It wouldn’t be any fun at all having to play a level with a bunch of people hell-bent on screwing you up, or that didn’t have any clue what they were doing. Second of all, this is a twitch platformer. This is a game of skill. If there was any lag at all it would just ruin the experience. If I die, I want it to be my fault, not the Internet Connection’s.
  • No need to capitalise ‘Connection’ My word processor was convinced that I needed to capitalize it. It felt wrong, but I gave the brainless machine the benifit of the doubt. Big mistake.

Thank you so much for taking so much time to give me advice. It really means a lot :)

Edited on by Kid_A

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Kid_A

14. Posted:

bro2dragons wrote:

@strofan: yeah, i agree, i just think there are better ways to do so. you can show personality and really give out a strong feeling one way or another without resorting to jive. but that just comes with time and practice with writing. i don't think the review was bad, just that he can do better, and will do better as he keeps writing and figuring out his own style.

My problem is I'm really not used to this kind of writing. For my senior thesis I'm writing and illustrating a novel--my creative writing voice is entirely different (and much more interesting) than my reviewer voice. Admittedly, this is a player review I did on Gamespot. Game Observer read it and contacted me, saying that they wanted to use it. I edited it as much as I could, but I really don't feel it's my best work.

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Blackout

15. Posted:

I have always held the position that reviews need to be reviews and not opinions. While similar in comparison, they have important subtle differences. After reading your review, I feel like I just read your opinion about the game and not a review. A review needs to be unbiased and completely objective, and easily the most important thing is to not make claims based on opinions, ie. " it’s Mario’s best 2-D outing yet, even managing to top Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World."
For example here is a review and an opinion. Review: "The character's motion, in regards to forward movement, provides the character with forward momentum that requires two to three steps to cease forward motion after pressure is released on the D-pad. This contrasts with previous titles where forward momentum ceased the moment pressure was released on the D-pad." Opinion: "The gameplay has been made more realistic. The character now takes a few steps to stop. In previous games he stopped immediately when you were not pushing forward anymore. This adds to the realism and improves the gaming experience in comparison to older titles."
I know the review example is very dry, but I don't expect the review to be that boring. I'm trying to make the point that opinions have their place on forums and comments, but reviews should be seperate. Reviews should exist so that opinions of the game in question can be formed based on an unbiased review. I know being unbiased can be hard for a game you obviously enjoyed and feel is deserving of praise, but don't let that taint your report of the game. I hope this helps. Good luck.

Blackout

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V8_Ninja

16. Posted:

Score! Unfortunately, I don't have any advice since I'm a n00b of the internet. However, just keep in mind one thing:

Gameplay > Everything Else

...except if it's an turn-based RPG. Then it's story over everything else. Good luck with the future job/minor occupation! :)

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Bankai

17. Posted:

Thank you so much for taking so much time to give me advice. It really means a lot :)

No worries. Always happy to help up-and-comers :)

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Ramandus

18. Posted:

Oh my gosh WaltzElf... this isn't a speech about health care for Obama to read...

but I'm glad he enjoyed your feedback since I would want detailed feedback if I wrote something...

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Kid_A

19. Posted:

Blackout wrote:

I have always held the position that reviews need to be reviews and not opinions. While similar in comparison, they have important subtle differences. After reading your review, I feel like I just read your opinion about the game and not a review. A review needs to be unbiased and completely objective, and easily the most important thing is to not make claims based on opinions, ie. " it’s Mario’s best 2-D outing yet, even managing to top Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World."
For example here is a review and an opinion. Review: "The character's motion, in regards to forward movement, provides the character with forward momentum that requires two to three steps to cease forward motion after pressure is released on the D-pad. This contrasts with previous titles where forward momentum ceased the moment pressure was released on the D-pad." Opinion: "The gameplay has been made more realistic. The character now takes a few steps to stop. In previous games he stopped immediately when you were not pushing forward anymore. This adds to the realism and improves the gaming experience in comparison to older titles."
I know the review example is very dry, but I don't expect the review to be that boring. I'm trying to make the point that opinions have their place on forums and comments, but reviews should be seperate. Reviews should exist so that opinions of the game in question can be formed based on an unbiased review. I know being unbiased can be hard for a game you obviously enjoyed and feel is deserving of praise, but don't let that taint your report of the game. I hope this helps. Good luck.

Here's my problem with this: reviews are a well organized collection of one person's opinion. You can sugarcoat it any way you like, but that's what it is. Granted, the reviewer has to present the facts, and has to be as unbiased as possible. But there's no mathematical way to score games. In the score breakdown side of the review, I did not get out my calculator and create a complex equation to forumlate the score for the graphics (Ironically, even if I did, it wouldn't have mattered. The staff at Game Observer put my Graphics score as an 88, when in fact I had actually gave it a 78). It's just an opinion. The way I see it, I'd rather read a well written and interesting article on someone's opinion about a game than a cut-and-dry review (by your definition). Maybe I didn't do either of those things, but that's what I have to work on.

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Kid_A

20. Posted:

Ramandus wrote:

Oh my gosh WaltzElf... this isn't a speech about health care for Obama to read...

Yes it effing was! You didn't catch the political undertones and symbolism I had going on? I swear, some people...

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