News Article

Talking Point: Review Scores and Unwinnable Arguments

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Just how important are review scores?

Last week we published our Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate review; we liked it, despite some flaws that we outlined, and gave it a strong recommendation with a score of 8/10, which counts as "very good" in our review scoring policy. Such was the reaction to the review here, elsewhere and to the game in general, we wrote an article looking at series reboots (of various types) that have divided gamers, while including the range of metacritic review scores for each title. In terms of those score ranges — with no exceptions in the examples cited — there was a minimum swing of 40% between the lowest and highest review scores, while in the case of the latest Castlevania title that swing was 67%. When it comes down to it, a lot of these high profile games are rated as indispensible must-haves in some quarters, and disappointments to be avoided in others. All summed up in one little number.

Unfortunately, or so it seems to us, the focus on that number — which we've just perpetuated, admittedly — can sometimes over-ride the content of the actual review itself. In the case of Castlevania's 3DS entry, a lot of chatter around a high-profile low review was along the lines of "X only gave this score", with the conversation often instinctively saying little about what the review actually said. It's something that happens on all websites, including this one, that we may write a 1000 word review on a big release and an early reaction may be "oh, it got an 8, thought it would be a 9".

In itself, that's not a problem, far from it, and we doubt there's a member of the Nintendo Life staff that hasn't at some point viewed a review and simply skipped to see the score first — it's in the DNA of gamers, it seems, even from the earliest days when magazines would print the score in a prominent, eye-catching graphic. This focus on scores only becomes a problem when it's all that's considered, making the words of a review almost an unwelcome gatecrasher. If a review gives a hotly anticipated game 5/10 while other sites are awarding nines and tens, there's a temptation to accuse the site in question of seeking hits through controversy, and simply stirring the pot.

What should happen, and does in the majority of cases, is that we all consider the text of a review and then the score. If a reviewer dislikes a title but gives reasoned, fair opinions on why that's the case, then that should be fair enough; if not, if the review seems intrinsically biased or unreasonable, then the score can perhaps be called to account. We can't escape the fact that reviews reflect opinions of individuals, after all. Reviewers do have to at least form that opinion based on the game's qualities and as little personal prejudice as possible; for example a writer may not be a big fan of driving games, but a fantastic racing title should still be acknowledged as such and given its fair dues.

These details of the writer's approach should matter in a review, and none of them can be picked up from a simple number at the end. Rather than being the definitive judgement on a game, the number is an additional piece of the puzzle, while more — and ultimately the quality of the review — is learned from the text above it.

In any case, there's been a fair amount of debate in the past week; our sister-site Push Square has recently looked at the issue in relation to reactions to God of War: Ascension's review scores, while it's been a hot topic on our forums. It's also been prompted by the launch shambles of SimCity on PC — reviewers may have loved the experience and praised it, only for consumers to encounter significant issues with online servers; as it's an always-online game, that's a big problem. The more drastic arguments have suggested that review scores be dropped, some are experimenting with flexible scoring that changes to match circumstances like those with SimCity, and other are keeping fixed scores but seek to give full coverage of issues for people to see.

And yet review scores, while not the be-all and end-all, are still relevant as a part of the whole process of assessing a game. Dropping them entirely takes away convenience, as plenty of people no doubt like to browse varied scores and then read the reviews behind them — they're a valuable indicator. The arguments between flexible and traditional fixed score have pros and cons — fixed scores can be caught out by uncommon circumstances like those with SimCity, but flexible scores can confuse the matter and be prey to whims and over-reactions to issues.

From our perspective, it's interesting that writing the text of a review can sometimes — though not always — be a relatively easy process, but deciding a score can be trickier. We know that some place great value in scores, so it feels important that it's a true reflection of our overall opinion of a game; in that respect they're important, as they force us to take everything in one picture and say, with confidence, "with everything weighed up, our opinion is that this is worthy of X/10".

But we're curious on a number of things about how you, the Nintendo Life community, read and digest reviews. We've included some polls below to learn better how you read our reviews — and others — and whether they ultimately have any impact on purchasing decisions. Let us know with some votes and comments, below; as we always want to know what you think.

How do you read reviews on Nintendo Life? (521 votes)

I read the text and then the score

37%

I check the score first and then read the text

53%

I only bother looking at the score

5%

I read the text and ignore the score

  3%

I don't bother with reviews at all

  2%

Please login to vote in this poll.

How many reviews do you read for a game you're interested in? (505 votes)

I only read one or two from trusted sites

59%

I read up to half a dozen from various sites

33%

I find even more reviews and check them all

  5%

I avoid reviews entirely

  3%

Please login to vote in this poll.

How do reviews influence your purchasing decisions, if at all? (509 votes)

A single review and good score from a trusted source is enough for me

18%

Multiple reviews can influence my decision either way

43%

A game's average score on Metacritic is the most important thing

  2%

A combination of the above factors influence my decisions

24%

Reviews have no impact on my decision to buy a game

14%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (155)

Squashie

#1

Squashie said:

Admittedly, I always check the score first. But as a game reviewer myself, I do try and avoid looking at any scores before writing my review, as I don't want anyone else's score to influence mine.

Dpullam

#2

Dpullam said:

I consider review scores to be somewhat of a guideline to how much you might enjoy a game. The most important information though is the review itself. If the game the reviewer describes sounds fun to you, then you will most likely enjoy it regardless of its score. It really just comes down to your preference of genres. There are many games I have enjoyed that don't get really high ratings.

Dashtag

#3

Dashtag said:

I read the text first, especially if it's a game I care about. If it's a game I might've heard about but don't care abouut, I'll look at the score and then the text.

Wonder_Ideal

#4

Wonder_Ideal said:

If it's a game that I care about, I'll read the whole thing. However, when it's a game I have little interest in, I'll just read the score because I'm curious to see what NL's overall impressions were. After reading this, I may read some the reviews more thoroughly.

SunnyShores

#5

SunnyShores said:

I check the score first and then read the text to see what influenced the score.
but a bad score has never determined whether or not I buy a game because I know that i disagree with a lot of reviews, and I will (as in most cases) enjoy the game regardless of the review. I loved ZombiU, but it got a bad review. oh well. to each their own and call it a day.

Kroisos

#6

Kroisos said:

When I find myself obsessing over a review score, invariably it's because of something external to the game; perhaps I want validation of an opinion, or I take umbrage that someone else disagrees with me, or something. For instance, I'm still pissed at Nintendo Power (R.I.P.) for giving Fragile Dreams a 5.5. Which is ridiculous, but less so than remembering what the score was in the first place. When I need a review to inform a purchase, I'll read entire reviews and use that as my primary guide; I'll consider the score, but I try always to do so relative to other factors. I love turn-based JRPGs, but a reviewer might not. New Super Mario is fun, but is often more-of-the-same, so might get lower scores. There are plenty of 6's I'd rather play than 9's; it's just a matter knowing when that will be true.

Bass_X0

#7

Bass_X0 said:

When I'm looking down a list of games for what I may be interested in, I don't have time to read each and every review. So I just go by review score and read the highest ones to see if it is my type of game.

And I agree there are some games on NL scoring 6/10 that I'd rather play than some games rating 9/10. A lack of originality may not be a turn off in some cases despite the review being negative due to it. I loved the Phoenix Wright games on WiiWare but NintendoLife hates Phoenix Wright because its near enough a straight port of the original DS games which doesn't bother me, and it was also rated low because of the poor motion controls which I've never used.

C-Olimar

#8

C-Olimar said:

I think Thomas' review is ridiculous. It reads like a clear 8 or 9, but he goes ahead and awards a perfect 10. There are way too many flaws in that game. Despicable.

WiiULoveSquid

#9

WiiULoveSquid said:

If I could read the entire review before seeing the score I would not scroll to reveal the score first. I just don't want to see it as I'm partway through reading.

Geonjaha

#11

Geonjaha said:

People checking the score first doesn't prove that scores are useful. Of course people are going to look at the big number of stars for a quick overview of how one person received the game - that doesn't make them essential to gaming reviews. Arguing that they help the gaming industry is just laughable. Good reviewers don't need a big shiny number to get their point across.

Bass_X0

#13

Bass_X0 said:

Arguing that they help the gaming industry is just laughable.

Not saying they do. Looking through the list of games, I'd rather read a review of a game that is rated highly than a review of a game that is rated low. Why read a 4/10 rated game to see if its good enough to buy?

C-Olimar

#14

C-Olimar said:

Reviews certainly influence me a great deal, and I always read them in detail to be sure on the true quality of a game, but they're not always the only thing that influence's me when buying games. I bought Zombie Slayer Diox and enjoyed it, despite never reading a positive review.

I also occasionally buy games without reading a review, for example Planet Crashers, (coincidentally the worst game I've ever played)
@Bass_X0 Just because a game receives a 4/10 in one review doesn't mean you won't like it. If you read the review you may find that the game is one you may like, e.g. My Pokemon Ranch, Zombie Slayer Diox.

zionich

#15

zionich said:

I read the first paragraph, guess then check the score, then read the rest. I'm batting over .500

edhe

#16

edhe said:

Sometimes I don't have the patience to read all the way through a review, but I am aware that there are some games on this site that I would really not enjoy (despite the score) - simply because it's of a genre I don't play.

In many cases, I get a better impression of a game if I can see it in action - either via a video review (hint hint), or a Let's Play.

In some cases (like with the recent Aliens game), I might read through a review just for fun.

DarkCoolEdge

#17

DarkCoolEdge said:

I don't like them but they are fun (try to guess them, enjor the forum wars, etc).

About the review of Mirror of Fate in certain site, the text was the whinning of a fanboy. It felt strange and false. To add salt to the wound, its writer holds sony's machines very near his heart and even wrote an article about why 3ds would be squashed by Vita. Suspicious at the very least, even more being a 3ds exclusive...

theblackdragonAdmin

#18

theblackdragon said:

like i said in the forum thread about this, a score is about as handy to me as a screenshot — a good score looks pretty, but only the text can explain for sure whether I'll like it — no perfect-scored dungeon crawler is going to do me any good, for example. Same for a poor score, the text will tell me what's going on i get around to giving the review the proper consideration (usually when i've got some spare time on my hands), and sometimes it's indeed the mindset of the reviewer that got in the way there, and it turns out i'll probably like the game very much. the score is an at-a-glance value that helps me figure out what games i'll probably like or not, and then the reviews (and forum impressions, and advice from friends) follow through to seal the deal, yea or nay.

WiiLovePeace

#20

WiiLovePeace said:

@C-Olimar Really? I disagree. I think it was the greatest review to have ever existed, & the game is definitely worthy of 10/10 :D

& as for reviews I personally skip down to the score on games I'm not all that fussed about, just to see what NL gave the game. Then I'll read each paragraph going back up to the top of the review :p Saves me scrolling to the top then back down haha

Aqueous

#22

Aqueous said:

Text first but for a game I have no interest in, sometimes I'll jump to the score, mainly Philip's, as a low score often means some good sarcasm on a game I had no interest in and from it occasionally a good laugh.

cornishlee

#23

cornishlee said:

Like everyone I have a limited amount of time and so I tend to approach reviews (video games, books, whatever else I'm interested in) the same way as I might read papers for work: I'll read the conclusion first to get an overview (then look at the score if there is one); if I'm still interested I'll read the first paragraph and if that's still got my attention I'll read the rest of the review. Like others have said here I might then check a video review or other game play footage if I'm still on the fence.

Those games I'm anticipating before release I'll read the whole review from the off.

Some suggestions NL might like to consider:

  • Change the score graphic to one which includes a definition too (i.e. 8/10 Very Good) - reviewing policies are different and not everyone visiting the site will have a look at your reviewing policy. Let readers know straight away what your 8, 7, etc. means.
  • Break scores down. I think it was Sega Power that used to do this but I may be confusing my magazines. What I mean is, give an overall score, but then subsidiary scores for things such as graphics, sound, gameplay, narrative, etc. This is like a half-way house for someone between checking out the overall score and reading the whole review, letting readers quickly get a rough idea of why a particular game got a certain score (does Gamespot still do that? Some kind of memory triggered while I was writing this; I tend to avoid their reviews these days).
NintyMan

#25

NintyMan said:

I almost always read the review first and then see the score. What's actually in the text is what really matters, because it's from the points described in the text that makes the score. Just seeing the score only gives you a very vague snapshot of what the reviewer thinks and doesn't tell you clearly what he or she thought about the game.

I only read reviews from one or two trusted sites for a game I'm interested in, but I also like to see what other sites and magazines have to determine about the game so there's a well-rounded critique.

Airola

#26

Airola said:

I guess I more often look at the score first and then read the review, but if it's a game I've been waiting for a long time and hugely interested in it, I usually read the review and try to do my best to keep the score a secret until I've read the whole review.

LavaTwilight

#27

LavaTwilight said:

I can spend a lot of time reading and re-reading a review of a game I'm interested in but not yet convinced. This is ongoing for me atm actually for a few titles. I like 'user' reviews but for pre-releases I only trust NintendoLife and ONM-UK because they have been the most consistently unbiased around. Usually when considering User reviews I go for someone who hasn't given the game a perfect score or an abysmal one. I don't think any game has ever got a perfect 100 and if it has the reviewer is probably biased either towards that console or towards that genre and the same goes the other way round, so I always try and get the most balanced review possible to highlight the good aspects but also the bad.
Most importantly a good reviewer must take into consideration the target audience, not just his/her personal experiences.

Morphbug

#29

Morphbug said:

About checking the score first... I only do that when I don't really care about the game.

If I'm looking towards the game and its review, then I always see the score after I read the review.

DarkCoolEdge

#31

DarkCoolEdge said:

@cornishlee I agree on the first point. I totally disaggre with the second. More numbers is not the solution. People would start complaining about all of them and comparing with other games like crazy.

Lan

#32

Lan said:

I don't really rely on reviews, I prefer to read around and see what people say about the game. And reviews are too much opinion, I'd rather have facts than someone's opinion.

Peach64

#33

Peach64 said:

I definitely use reviews as a way to judge which games to buy. It always bugs me a bit when people say we should all make up our own minds. A great idea in theory, but how many can afford to buy every single game to see if it's good or not?

Obviously I'll make my own mind up wether or not a game interests me, but negative reviews can stop me buying something I'd been interested in, and positive ones can make me check out something I hadn't previously given a second glance (Bayonetta being a prime example).

Eurogamer and Edge magazine are pretty much the only reviews I really use for this. Sorry, Nintendo Life, I love this website and your news reporting, but I don't find the reviews reliable. Most of my Wii collection scored 10s here. I love those games, but they're not 'as close to perfection as can be expected' as your scoring policy says.

On the topic of scores specifically, I'd quite happily accept reviews that do away with them. Metacritic scores mean nothing to me as everyone has a different scale. An Edge 8 is VERY different from an IGN 8 for example.

AbeVigoda

#34

AbeVigoda said:

I'm shocked how few people use Metacritic. Finding out a game has scored an 86 average from 25+ reviews is much more useful than reading IGN and Nintendo Life and seeing the same game score a 10 and a 6.5.

BakaKnight

#35

BakaKnight said:

It's hard to ignore numbers, but when I'm considering a game, or want to get a feel about how it is, I leave the score for last and focus on what the review say.

Numbers are often untrustable while a well written review is always deeply useful.

A particular example happened to me often is that a game could even score only a "5" or a "6", but reading the review could make me understand that the game is actually a must-have for me, despite the negative impact it left even on the reviewer XP

So I'm all in for texts and hope that the Nintendolife staff will keep writing them with their great care, your reviews guys are one of my favourite readings on the web ^O^

ivanmata

#37

ivanmata said:

I guess a better approach would be to have multiple reviewers for every game (I think you guys do one game one reviewer) and then have those multiple reviewers discuss based a specific rubric, a standard list of criteria. You mention how the reviewer needs to assess the quality of the game even if it's not his/her type of game, I agree with that, but that I think is really hard, I recall reading your review (which received a low score compared to other websites) on f1 2011 for 3ds where a low score was given just because the reviewer did not like a single component in the game, I would agree that you can give a low score based on a single criterion if that lowers the overall game experience, so, going back to my comment I would say you wouldn't have this variability in people's opinion regarding your scores if you define and abide by a standard rubric.

MegaWattsAdmin

#38

MegaWatts said:

I think another important question to ask here is how many people look at the score and know/refer to the scoring policy?

I only ask because essentially comparing scores between sites is kinda pointless, if their scoring criteria is different. For example, a 10 can meant different things to different people: is it very good? One of the best games ever made? Perhaps it's revolutionary and deserves full marks as a result? Unless you consult the scoring policy and bear in mind that it may differ from another site when comparing scores, then there really is no point comparing them - reviewers can and do look for different things.

There's a whole array of other aspects to take into consideration when writing a review such as audience. We write our reviews predominantly for Nintendo fans, a national newspaper though might be gearing their review towards the more general consumer, who's likely to be looking for a different experience.

The written part of the review is super important as it lends credibility to that number at the bottom; if they don't match up, then basically there's no point writing 1000 words or so in the first place. I think at NL we get this right virtually all of the time (but hey, I'm going to be biased!) - again, check the scoring policy every time you read a review. Nevertheless, as with us and any other site out there, everything is subjective!

sketchturner

#39

sketchturner said:

I do read a LOT of reviews. However, I would say the biggest factor in my decision to purchase a game is from watching gameplay videos. I can best assess how much I'll like a game after watching 10 minutes of gameplay. There are plenty of "great" games that are reviewed well but don't appeal to me personally. For instance, games like Pokemon, Fire Emblem, and Final Fantasy are just not my cup of tea, no matter how well they are reviewed.

Portista

#40

Portista said:

I do what @3Dash does. If it is a game that I know I'll love, I'll look at the score, because I don't want to ruin the experience for myself.

Portista

#41

Portista said:

Oh, and I also love to play the games first. I would probably get black ops 2 for wii u, but I want to try a demo first. That also is a huge priority to me.

RaylaxStaff

#42

Raylax said:

We need an extra option:

  • Check the writer. If it's Phil, read the hilarity, pity the writer.
Yanchamaru

#44

Yanchamaru said:

Nintendolife is one of the few sites I trust. A lot of people who write for magazines and websites give favorable reviews to receive advertiser dollars, exclusive stories and free gifts from publishers. This is the main reason why the cumulative review score on Metacritic is garbage.

I wish Nintendolife had more than one person reviewing the game. The more opinions the better. Also, let the users rate the games and post these scores next to the review.

Bass_X0

#45

Bass_X0 said:

I would prefer a pros/cons than a score.

How would that work on a list of 200+ games? The DSi has a lot of generic titles but have wildly different quality. The pros and cons cannot be listed beside each game. Out of 10 provides an at a glance perspective when looking through lists of numerous games. I like to arrange the lists by score order and look through them that way.

ToxieDogg

#46

ToxieDogg said:

I always look at the score first, then read the actual review to see why the reviewer came to that descision. If I'm really interested in a game though, then no bad reviews on earth will stop me from getting it, though I'll still read through them to see what bad things and annoyances to expect

DePapier

#47

DePapier said:

I think the score and conclusion here on NintendoLife.com should been hidden and only accessible through a click. I ALWAYS first scroll all the way down to see the score and read the conclusion, and only if it's a game I truly anticipate I read the review, and sometimes read the review first in that case.

You should ask us if we want to see the score, so that we can't deny having responsibility for our own judgement.

zool

#49

zool said:

The Castlevania reviews were enough for me to NOT purchase the game. It sounded like to much button bashing and to many bosses and not enough adventure.
Having said that I think Mario Sticker Star should have got a higher score.

I purchased Hyroventure because of the good reviews, but I feel that it was a waste of money. The idea of the game was good, but turning the 3ds 360 degrees was not good. A gimmick that did not work well. My score 4.

DePapier

#50

DePapier said:

I have to say though, that NintendoLife is the ONLY site I truly trust when it comes to games on Nintendo hardware. I'm a fan, and if I want a trustful advice I want to hear what another biased fan thinks if he already has the game.

But honestly, nothing is better than Miiverse on that matter.

Klinny

#51

Klinny said:

Generally I'll read a portion of the text, then scroll down the read the score, and then if I'm still interested and curious I'll read more of the text.

If I'm interested in the game, then the actual text is more valuable to me than the score. However, I will keep the overall score in mind while reading as it lets me know how important a certain aspect of the game is. For example, if there's a paragraph detailing a particular flaw, (annoying voice-overs for example) but the game got a score of a 9, I know that the annoying voice-overs are a very minor concern.

As for influencing my buying decision, a good score will confirm my pre-existing desire to purchase a game while a poor score will lead me to cross-reference and research the game more thoroughly. A good review generally won't be enough to convince me to purchase a game that I had no previous interest in.

SethNintendo

#52

SethNintendo said:

Look at score first then I read the review. There has a been a few games underrated on Nintendolife but I usually have about the same feeling for most of the games. I trust Nintendolife more than any other site. This is the only review site I visit considering the only other site I am active on is VGC.

DePapier

#53

DePapier said:

@zool I would have to ask you to forgive me in defending Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, but I would believe from owning, playing and enjoying the game that reviews have shaped your perception of it. This is truly what I hate about review, and I think it's very sad when the demo of the game is available and was available before release for players to make their own decision.

SethNintendo

#54

SethNintendo said:

Are you guys willing to change reviews based on patches? Such as Trine 2 added in game chat with a patch. Zen Pinball 2 might make a patch where the buying of tables/etc would be more user friendly. If your main gripes are addressed in a patch would you raise the original score? I doubt it but it posses an interesting question/dilemma.

This would perhaps promote the terrible Bethesda culture of releasing games that are broken/need patches day 1. Their games still get high reviews even with their numerous bugs that may or may not be ironed out later with patches.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#55

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Pay most attention to reviews of trusted reviewers to which NL are one of them. If its a genre and series I care about 6 is fine. Finite game budget 7 or over. Its the review content that matters most but many reviewers revw contents aren't that good, unlike NL's

bonham2

#56

bonham2 said:

I'll admit that I tend to look at the score first, but if it's a game I am even slightly interested in, I'll always read the review with an open mind. I also prefer familiar sites (like this one) because over time I learn the reviewers' likes and dislikes. I know if I'm reading a Zelda review written by a Call of Duty freak, I shouldn't put too much stock in it. And on the flip side, it annoys me how people will praise the latest game in their favorite series with a 9.5 or 10 only to bash it in the next few weeks/months.

-KwB-

#57

-KwB- said:

Mostly NL decides my decision to buy the game, although sometimes looking at other scores just out of curiosity ! :)

SethNintendo

#58

SethNintendo said:

If it was a game I was interested in and got a 6 or 7 on NL then I will look at some of the user comments. If I see more than half the people stating they enjoyed the game then I won't even bother with what most the review says. I only read reviews for games that I have no clue what the game is about (which happens a lot for most VC games). However, if it was Animal Crossing (New Leaf) and NintendoLife gave it a 6 or 7 (highly improbable) then I wouldn't give a F what the reviewer said. I would buy the game anyways due to my own tastes.

Moguri

#59

Moguri said:

Looking at the result of the survey, the score should be located at the top of the game's review. :)

MasterWario

#60

MasterWario said:

For the first question, it really depends. If I am highly anticipating a game I will usually read the review first and then the score. If I'm a bit interested in the game, I'll look at the score, and if the score is 8 stars or higher (sometimes also 7), then I'll read the review. If it's a game I'm not interested in much, I'll just look at the score. Also, when I immediately scroll down to the score, I will also read the conclusion.

LittleIrves

#61

LittleIrves said:

The scoring system of almost every gaming site/magazine is kind of ridiculous. Or rather, the perception of the score is the problem. If an 8 is seen as "okay," you basically have a 3 tier scale: Great / Okay / Bad. I know that's not the intention, but that seems to be how a lot of people read 9 / 8 / 7. Which is silly.

Personally, I almost like reading reviews for games I have little interest in playing, but want to understand what the big deal is. I'll probably not play Tomb Raider. But I read a bunch of reviews. I bought and loved Fire Emblem but I didn't read a thing about it (okay I wrote something, but that's different). So for me reviews don't help with purchases, as much as they're a supplement to playing the games in the first place.

SethNintendo

#62

SethNintendo said:

@LittleIrves, I didn't even read one Fire Emblem review. I know the series and enjoyed the previous versions. I'm enjoying this Fire Emblem the most. Some games you don't need reviews (most Nintendo games).

SparkOfSpirit

#64

SparkOfSpirit said:

The only review I've ever outright disagreed with here was the Rayman Origins one. Most of the time they're pretty balanced and fun to read.

Bazly

#66

Bazly said:

I honestly think dropping the review score would not be a bad idea. I've never on here seen a reviewer say "I really hated this, this, and this about this game. But I think it deserves an 8/10." Obviously, the score is always directly linked to what they thought of the game, and it's an entirely subjective opinion.

I think what matters more is WHY the reviewer did or didn't like it. For the sake of "convenience", someone reading who does not want to read the entire review, could just jump to the "conclusion", to see a summary of what pros and cons the reviewer felt were present.

To be honest, I think having a score system at all just ruins the purpose of reviews. Because now people will simply go to a review, jump down to the score, see it's a 4/10 and go "Oh well, that game sucks. Pass." I think people would be provided a better service if your reviews encouraged them to actually look for WHAT the reviewer SAID about the game, what they liked or didn't like, and what the key features, pros, and cons were about the game. This way they can determine how those things compare to their own tastes.

Flowerlark

#67

Flowerlark said:

I admit I get curious about the score so much that I look there first, then read the conclusion, and if I get curious about what's written in the conclusion, I read the whole review. I try not to disagree too much with the reviewer scores, but sometimes I give my two cents about what I think it should be, but that's solely MY opinion- I'm not disagreeing with the reviewer, just sharing my viewpoint. I don't think I've ever said the reviewer was wrong to give their score (because they're not), but sometimes I like to share mine, as well.

Dizzard

#68

Dizzard said:

Usually I look at the score first and if it's a game I'm interested in anyway I'll read the review. (if it's not a game I'm already interested in I just look at the score)

To be honest usually I read reviews to solidify my decisions....if I want to see if something completely new is for me I go to youtube and check gameplay footage.

Dizzard

#69

Dizzard said:

Also I wouldn't say reviews don't impact me at all.....but I would say they impact me less than the average.

Usually I have a good idea of what I want and what genres I like. I kinda feel like if a game needs a review to convince me to buy it then it might not be for me.

SethNintendo

#70

SethNintendo said:

I'm a big fan of the Netflix rating system (1-5) with 1 - hate it, 2 - dislike it, 3 - liked it, 4- really liked it, 5 - loved it. Sure it will never be implemented and the last place that I remember that did it 1-5 was Gamepro (which got more lame every year it existed). There are probably more sites that go 1-5 but I don't care about them nor will I ever. The problem with 1-10 is that it isn't fully utilized like some have already stated. You hardly see people give crappy games 1,2,3. Instead they give it a 4 or 5 because that is considered crap. So 1-10 scales are never fully used.

RudysaurusRex

#71

RudysaurusRex said:

The score is very important to someone with a low income. I can't buy all the games I want. I trust reviews (more than 1) so I can choose which is the best of the games I want.

Jellitoe

#72

Jellitoe said:

Reviews effect me when I am on the fence about a game. But if I want a game, a bad review will not change that.

AugustusOxy

#73

AugustusOxy said:

I find game reviews to be rather pointless. Even on a tight budget, I've noticed that I have, in the past, when I trusted reviewers, let some good games sleep through my fingers while playing some god awful ones. So honestly; I find little or no faith in hearing what another individual says about entertainment media.

Why? Because it is unique to the player. As far as I'm concerned, turn based games are god awful, boring, lobsterboy fair. I love to play fast paced games like Sonic, which other people hate. They don't hate it because it sucks, just like I don't hate turn based games because they suck. Its just different games for different people. Sonic requires timing and skill to play, turn based games require a type of strategizing that just isn't my thing.

So different strokes for different folks. I don't trust reviews, they have lead me down dark paths of over-hyped craptacular games.

cornishlee

#74

cornishlee said:

@DarkCoolEdge said:
@cornishlee I agree on the first point. I totally disaggre with the second. More numbers is not the solution. People would start complaining about all of them and comparing with other games like crazy.

The first suggestion I regard as a stronger one too, so thanks. The second one has other alternatives like pros and cons, as mentioned elsewhere here but really, as you imply, should do nothing to detract from actually reading the review.

@Lan said:
I don't really rely on reviews, I prefer to read around and see what people say about the game. And reviews are too much opinion, I'd rather have facts than someone's opinion.

What facts? Whatever someone says about a game is opinion, I'm vaguely intrigued but really don't understand what you're saying.

C-Olimar

#76

C-Olimar said:

@SethNintendo Seconded. If it's Nintendo you almost never need a review; I always buy Ninty eShop games as soon as they're released, without reading a review, and it hasn't failed me so far.
I am a little scared I might buy a WarioWare: Snapped! quality game :o

cornishlee

#77

cornishlee said:

@SethNintendo
The problem with a scale like that it is that it allows no room for ambivalence. It's my one criticism of Grouvee and the thing I like most about GoodReads. There are plenty of things I might rate as 'OK' - i.e. that I neither particularly liked nor disliked it, whereas if I don't like something then I'd be hard pressed to describe how much I dislike it. Frankly if I can find no merit in something then it matters little how much I wanted to stop playing it.

That said, I know others don't like the GoodReads system I just mentioned which only goes to show we all think in different ways.

ScreamoPichu

#78

ScreamoPichu said:

For me, I'll really just read reviews if I'm on the fence about a game but reviews very rarely affect my decision to buy a game. If I'm super excited for a game, I'll buy it no matter what. Pikmin 3 for example, I've been looking forward to it before it was even announced. If, as much as I hope not, it starts getting bad reviews a week before launch. I'm still going to buy it because I've been waiting years for it, but I'll check the score for the game. Mainly because it's hard to avoid and I'm still curious. With a game I'm super excited about, I want my experience to be as fresh as possible. With knowing as little as possible going into the game, so I usually won't read the reviews. (Not saying I avoid all places of seeing the game, I'll still watch interviews with devs and trailers etc.) Now a game like Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, which I've never played a MH game before but the demo was fun and the 3DS to Wii U features sound awesome, but I'm not super excited for it. If bad reviews start to come out, I may put it off but I'll still get it at some point because of my curiosity. Also with a game I'm on of the fence about I'll usually thoroughly read reviews to know as much as possible to get me to see why I want the game or not, with the score not really affecting my decision of purchasing a game if what was talked about in a review (or that I've seen of the game) was something I think I'd enjoy.

BossBattles

#79

BossBattles said:

I used to not care, but now im of the thought that scores are pretty problematic when it comes to games like Castlevania Mirror of Fate, because people will approach that game expecting something that just isn't there, and was not designed to be.

Damned ifnyou do, damned if you don't.

Complain games don't change, and complain when they do.

SparkOfSpirit

#80

SparkOfSpirit said:

Though the reaction to the ATV Wild Ride 3D review was a bit silly. Whenever NL puts out a review that's lower than anyone else's reviews they just assume it must be right and everyone else is wrong. Just look at half the comments totally writing it off because of one review, that's the attitude that feels annoying to me.

PhillaLoup

#81

PhillaLoup said:

@AbeVigoda I agree there. I must say I heavily rely on Metacritic scores nowadays. I just can't afford to buy every game I'm interested in and like to play it save there. If a game gets a 80%+ score and I'm already interested in it, I'll get it. I love to support very good games, especially indie eShop games with a good score.

Big_Al1

#82

Big_Al1 said:

I have to read reviews, as I live in a developing country and I have to either pay a premium or import (and pay the corresponding import expenses) to get a game I want. I basically can't afford spending money on bad games, where bad is something that doesn't work or I won't like.

What I look for are info on the game mechanics, the story (if any) and if there are any game breaking bugs. That's why I like the reviews on this site; I know the reviews are pretty straight forward and "journalistic", in the sense that the information is presented with minimum bias (or the bias is clearly explained), and several relevant aspects of the game will be analyzed. Other sites are pretty juvenile, and add a lot of posturing and snark to their comments rendering the reviews useless to me.

I remember a mag I used to read when I was a kid, where a dvd that interested me was being reviewed. One of the reviewers in the panel just said "It's not (name of thematically different movie)". I decided right then that if the editors let them do that lazy crap and let it pass as a review I was not going to buy the stupid mag anymore.

To conclude, I read the reviews to understand what the game is about and how it works. All the other drama surrounding scores is a waste of time to me, and is basically another case of confirmation bias rampant in the internet.

ajcismo

#83

ajcismo said:

The only things I look for in game reviews are controls and really if the reviewer had fun playing the game. Scores can usually reflect those with some accuracy, but a good writer will be able to convey how the quality of the game is with their words. Quality is king, and I like to know if I'm going to get what I pay for.
Interesting topic. I like reading all of the reviews, even of games I have no interest in. If anything, I know a little more about whats being released in different parts of the world because of them.

Bankai

#84

Bankai said:

Review scores are the bane of creating good discussion around a game.

We by all rights should drop them, but then we all do new those metacritic traffic. .

tripunktoj

#85

tripunktoj said:

I actually decide based on gameplay videos, I only read reviews to get some details clarified and see what others are thinking and get an idea on how it'll sell.

Sean_Aaron

#86

Sean_Aaron said:

I really dislike scores; in fact I originally begged off reviewing at NL and just wanted to write articles and Japanese WiiWare previews because I didn't want to have to pick scores for games.

When I read a review I read the review. I might look at the score, but it really means nothing to me. I need to know about gameplay or control issues - a score doesn't tell me about that.

SheldonRandoms

#87

SheldonRandoms said:

I usually read the reviews, but if it's for a game that I don't really care about, then I look at the BIG STARS, BECAUSE THEY ARE SWELL and then read the review sometimes, another reason I do this is because if it's for a game that I find months/years later, I then remember NintendoLife did a review on it, look at the stars and see if it's good for the price, also knowing about the flaws and other stuff.

I hope that made sense...................

Randomname19

#88

Randomname19 said:

I check both the last paragraph(like the conclusions in this site) and the score.If I'm interested I read the rest.

Silvervisiona

#89

Silvervisiona said:

I check the score first to give me context on the character of the game and character of the reviewer. Extreme or moderate scores add a lot of context to what to expect from the text, and prepare me to agree or discredit what they may have to say.

GiftedGimp

#90

GiftedGimp said:

Reviews are 'Opinions' and those of others won't necessarily be the same as your own.
The best reviewer is yourself.
I personaly only buy games if:
Its a Franchise I Trust and/or
If a 'real-world freind recommends the game
and/or I am able to try the game beforehand, either as a demo, borrowing from freind/rental or in-store.

Any game I'm interested in from press blurbs, word of mouth etc, but am unable to try I buy when it turns up in the bargin bins long after its release.

MetalKingShield

#91

MetalKingShield said:

There's nothing wrong with scores. I think it's pretty universal that 6 = Above Average, 7 = Good, 8 = Great/Very Good, 9 = Excellent and 10 means near-enough to Perfect that little flaws don't ruin it.

What we need is for fans to stop getting annoyed about scores either way. I do believe the latest Castlevania was reviewed honestly, and people simple had different opinions.

But if I'm honest, there was a huge difference between what sites gave Skyward Sword (a lot of 10s) and what the gamer consensus is (I'd give it 7/10). The latter is backed up by less-than-impressive sales. The trouble is, fans got really angry about the reviews that said it was a 7 or 8/10 (accusing them of attenion-seeking - before they'd even played it themselves, naturally, same with TP), and yet to many of us, those were the reviews that represented our thoughts on the game.

That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with scores, it just means both sides of the coin need to be heard.

duskao

#94

duskao said:

Part of the problem is that people tend to look at scores like 5/10 as crap now lol. When realistically 1/10 is crap and 5/10 is mediocre. So the numbers are now skewed to how people want to see it, so when it's all said and done now, reviews are essentially moot lol. People will take from them what they will and if someone thinks a game is ranked too low from a review then they will discard that review, or vice versa, if someone thinks the game will stink and it gets a good review it could still get dismissed. Sometimes these numbers come from bias as well so once again it throws it all in the trash. Almost to the point where games should be given words instead of numbers. Bad, Okay, Mediocre, Good, Great. It's essentially the same thing but then it's harder for people to change a 5 to equal garbage as opposed to the average/mediocre rating it was actually given.

Neram

#96

Neram said:

If it's a game I'm curious about but not hoping to find out if it's good enough to buy, I'll usually skip over the main bit and just read the conclusion. I'll use my common sense to fill in the details, all I need a simple synopsis. I'll read the entirety of a review for a game I'm interested in, though.

As far as unwinnable arguments go, well that's just a fact of life here on the interwebs. The gaming community is full of hundreds of opinionated, and bored individuals who are just trying to get their voices heard. If you're seriously considering a game, or hardware even, sometimes it's best just to ignore the noise and assess it for yourself, make up your own mind, if you have a chance to.

k8sMum

#97

k8sMum said:

as long as there is a number rating along with an in-depth review of how that number was achieved, i do not see the problems you all seem to.

it's all based on opinions, be they from professional journalists or regular gamers. there are going to be biases and preferences, likes/dislikes in genres.

it is up to us as consumers to utilise the different sources available to make intelligent choices. it ain't rocket science, folks.

Dpishere

#98

Dpishere said:

For myself personally I don't care about reviews too much if it is a franchise I enjoy and know I will like it, regardless of a score. If it is a franchise I am unfamiliar with I tend to check reviews to see if that type of game will suit me, the actual score itself doesn't mean much to me, nor does it affect my enjoyment of the game.

gojiguy

#100

gojiguy said:

I generally only use reviews to check to see if there is something seriously wrong with a game, never to see if it meets someone elses tastes.

Take Aliens: CM for example. Based on all I'd read and seen, I was convinced I would buy and enjoy the game. Then I checked reviews which warned of it being a misleading product and a piece of junk. So I steered clear.

However, when a reviewer complains about the most recent Dynasty Warriors game being "too much of the same" I generally disregard their opinion and go to the Koei Warriors forums to hear what ACTUAL FANS think.

So its hard to pick one choice for whether they influence my decision or not.

timp29

#101

timp29 said:

Sometimes I just jump straight to the score then read the review. (games I'm not overly interested in)

Sometimes I read the review taking great care not to scroll down and reveal the 'stars' before I finish reading the conclusion. (games that I am interested in)

Sometimes I read the opening paragraph and the conclusion. (when I'm bored or busy)

As I've stated in the past I prefer this kind of voting system, (was it Gamepro who used to use it?) where you score individual categories and then add them up... like graphics, gameplay, sound, story etc

WaveBoy

#102

WaveBoy said:

Still waiting for NL to adopt the more interesting .5 System.
That, or going Retro 'GamePro' style with the crazy face rating system. :p

Slapshot

#103

Slapshot said:

@MegaWatts The majority of gaming sites scoring policies are very much the same nowadays because of Metacritic.

To be completely truthful, I buy very few games that are reviewed with a 9/10 or higher here at Nintendo Life; it's always been that way for me here. That's not a bad thing, as I acknowledge that my taste are much different than the majority of the reviewers here.

I've grown quite fond of the lower scoring methods though. When so many games get 7/10 or higher, it makes the above average games seem, well, average.

GreatCrippler

#104

GreatCrippler said:

I tend to be over critical about everything. That said, when reading the article about series reboots, I believe NL gave everything in debate an 8 or higher. NL Is my first stop for reviews, but you guys tend to be too forgiving, and rate games a touch higher than they deserve.

JMDS

#105

JMDS said:

I think the fact the numbered scores are there at all is kind of silly. They only seem to be a means of making an argument. I get why reviewers would want to include them, though. They appease the readers who just want that simple, easy answer. Not that that alone is a very good "review" for a game. The score itself isn't a "review" at all.

As far as the whole graphics, sound, story individual rating idea is concerned...I think that that's even more silly, because each of these aspects of a game aren't all held to the same standard. Halo 4 has great graphics, but so does LocoRoco, but to judge each of these by the same scale wouldn't make any sense. Same thing with the story. Why would you judge Final Fantasy's story on the same scale as Super Meat Boy? I guess you could provide those scores just in the context of THAT game, but then they would 1) be pointless, at times, because something simple like Super Meat Boy would just get an auto-10, and 2) still be put side-by-side on the lists of the site, like almost every site with this system does.

MrGawain

#106

MrGawain said:

To me it makes sense to say: 'RPG A is worth a score of 90% if RPG B is worth a score of 80%, but how on earth do you compare a racing game to a FPS? Also a rating has to be grounded: A NES game 25 years ago may have got 95%, but how do you rate it now against a Wii U game that gets 75%? Plus a score alone doesn't take into account how easy a game is to get into, how long it will last, the difficulty level, how essential multiplayer is to it, value for money, is game brilliant until a game breaking flaw in the game late on, is this game brilliant because of its technical side, it's ingenuity, it's storyline, or some other reason I may or may not give a fig about.

When I was a kid we bought magazines for score based reviews because that's all there was to guide us, now there's gameplay videos, amateur reviews, game demos, websites, forums, and a bunch of other stuff you can waste more time on than playing the actual game. A lot easier to make a good choice with than 6 blurry screenshots and an explanation of what each button does on the controller.

Nintendojuenger

#107

Nintendojuenger said:

Especially in the puzzle genre I don’t count on review scores. Much more important for me are the control scheme, the impression from gameplay videos, the publisher and the developer. Often it seems that a lot of reviewers aren’t really familiar with this genre.

Znerd

#108

Znerd said:

as far as reviews go i think the concept of a score system should be removed entirely see the gamer we like to play games that have high scores that assures us that we will buy a good game. while scores are a very good way to rank a game i think the most improtant thing of the review is to explain the game rather than try to judge cause everyone has their own taste.
for example i know someone who only buy games that have a score obove 8 or something higher.
Me i once bought a game that got a 6 and i enjoyed alot. what iam trying to say is that a game reviw should be about how the game is and what works and what doesnt work not to be based on a score

Sean_Aaron

#109

Sean_Aaron said:

@JMDS: totally with you on ratings breakdowns like what IGN does - it really does my head in. Ultimately the problem seems to be Metacritic and the fact that a lot of people use it and follow it to review sites. The only way to get a listing is to give a numeric rating to something. I never read the site myself, but I understand why sites that support themselves via site traffic and ads use it.

SuperKMx

#110

SuperKMx said:

I think a lot of the issue comes from that fact that as reviewers, we have to have a different agenda to a lot of gamers, whilst still actually being gamers ourselves. Our opinions have to be our opinions of course, but they have to also be relatable by fans of the game series, fans of the genre who aren't fans of the game series, people who have never heard of the game, people who have devoured every minute piece of information about the game and are expecting it to get a 10/10, and also the more casual player who maybe is considering taking a step into the unknown, not to mention your audiophiles, the people who solely play multiplayer games, and also those who would give a maximum score to anything with shiny graphics. Oh, and those that have been gaming for 25 years...and those that are thinking of getting into gaming. And those who like co-op games. And probably a few others.

Most of those demographics would - in a lot of cases - give a different score to the same product, meaning that a large percentage of them would disagree with my review of the product, no matter how I try to hit the bases.

Oh, and we also have to quiet the happy little beast inside when we're reviewing a game that's part of a series that we've loved for years. :D

Nobody has the definitive answer about how a game will be perceived by a specific person. Even aggregation doesn't work for that. A lot of the time 10 reviewers will give an average of 9 out of 10, and a good percentage of people will hate the game and think it should have been given a 2 or 3 out of 10. There's no way around that, really, outside of giving every game a score of 5 out of 10 and just saying "you might love it, but you might not."

But, if people disagree with a reviewer's opinion, let them disagree. It really smarts when they question your motives, your intelligence, your gaming ability, and your knowledge of the subject, sure, but after writing the better part of 1,000 game reviews over the last 15 years, I've (finally!) learned to just ignore it. :)

What we can - and should continue to aim to - do, is provide a balanced opinion that is our OWN opinion of the product. That's it. That's the task. That's all there is. If you can sit and say "Did I give an honest opinion on that game?" and answer with a definite "Yes", then your job is done, and done well.

Icefreak45

#112

Icefreak45 said:

It really depends. If it's something im on the fence about I'll read multiple reviews and, of course, the actual score plays a factor in my purchasing of said game. If I know I want the game and have already played a demo and approved, scores wont do much to sway me. But if it's like a small game that im just vaugely intrested, I'll admit, the score would be the deciding factor.

AlexSora89

#113

AlexSora89 said:

As people have mentioned demos in the above comments, so will I. (Before getting to the topic itself.) There's nothing that can give you an idea about a game than getting to play a bit of it. Which is why the tricky-to-advertise, gotta-play-it-to-believe Nintendo 3DS is a perfect fit for demos, and while giving demos a limited number of uses is indeed a poor move, it's also a good way to see how much you like a game. Only three uses left? Then this game's gotta be a must-have one. However, demos' heyday dates back to the PlayStation era, when demo discs were given with official magazines.

Which is why reviews are an important thing when it comes to deciding to buy a game you don't feel sure to purchase. Are they, as an article on Tv Tropes ("Reviews Are The Gospel") says, "the Gospel"? Nope. Are they a good measure unit when you're planning to get a title? Given the expensiveness gaming seems to be associated (and, let's say it, stuck) with, yes, a gamer needs to read a review.

Now why a review can't be a "Gospel"? Because you can't trust completely a review, considering different people have different tastes, and reviewers are people after all. Then again, there's lots of biased reviewers (Ben Croshaw and Jim Sterling, anyone?)... but that doesn't mean there aren't any objective reviewers either. And reviews need to be trusted to at least some extent.

The "unwinnable arguments" alluded to in this article's title might have something to do with the infamy of "not enough close to perfect" scores in some reviews (check out "Eight Point Eight" on Tv Tropes to elaborate on this further), as fans might expect their favorite series' latest entry to get a higher score than they did on this or that review... but you know what? "Hey, are you sure this game deserves a better score? Fine! If it's perfect to you, then just go get it if you haven't already!". That kind of sums up my thoughts on the matter.

As far as my personal experience with reviews goes, I have to say I'm a loyal reader of the Italian Official Nintendo Magazine, but this doesn't mean I have to agree on every single score they give out. Kingdom Hearts 3D got 8/10 while Theatrhythm Final Fantasy got a 9, alright - well, I own both and to me, it's the other way around, but that doesn't mean I have a problem with their scores either. It's just that I trust the points the reviewers make when describing either this or that game, as they know not all licensed games necessarily have to suck, or all Mario games have to be perfect, either (referring to their "6/10" review for Mario Pinball Land/Super Mario Ball). It's a streamlined reviewing style that I've gotten used to, to the point my tastes have broadened a lot since the times I was like "Crash 'n' Spyro forever! Mario? Never!". (Ten points to anyone who got that reference.)

NintendoLife's reviews are just as trustworthy, to me, as the staff doesn't necessarily treat all of Nintendo's output as sacred cows (80% of 'em are, I'll give ya that).

But in the end, a review's job is to allow its readers to get a good idea of what the game is like, and as impossible as giving a game's feeling may be, the review's prime directive is to let gamers know the enjoyment they can achieve through an experience with said game... but that's it, people! If you "know" the game's "gonna suck", you can leave Jim Sterling's 9,5 review for Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 3 where it is, who cares? And if that same reviewer gave Mario Kart 7 a 7,5 for "not changing anything" (I can hear your brains breaking from over here, by the way), again, who cares? We're Nintendo fans, and the biggest middle finger we can give to such reviews (regardless of the mind-blowing contradiction between the two scores and their own reasons) is not to give them the hate mail they want from us and just go get the game already.

Now if you fine folks don't mind, I'm going to play Epic Mickey: Power Of Illusion (the Mickey Mouse comic book subscription sure has its advantages, heh).

Marioman64

#114

Marioman64 said:

i don't trust reviews as a factor of if I'll like the game simply because NO ONE IS ME. I'll read it to look for key features, what glitches to be on the lookout for, but that's about it. anything that says "feels repetetive" or "boring" or any other opinion words I ignore completely. I'm a very happy camper because of it
Yoshi's Story anyone?

Slapshot

#115

Slapshot said:

@KenB Or you can just realise that the review is indeed "your" opinion and write it as such, because that is, in fact, exactly what it is. I quit writing my reviews for the "masses" awhile back and I've never enjoyed writing reviews as much as I now do. ;)

I think one of the largest problems with game reviews, is that they are sometimes written by extremely passionate gamers. While this might sound crazy at first - I'll admit that I used to be exactly this - that "passion" sometimes blinds us to the flaws that actually need to be addressed within the review.

shredmeister

#116

shredmeister said:

Hey, I check this site every day. You guys must be doing something right. I hardly ever look at any other site when it comes to Nintendo games. I used to check Gamespot, but over the years I felt that they became completely biased against Nintendo games. The Zelda: Skyward Sword review they had was the last straw for me and I haven't looked at a single review from them ever since. Do you know how many people told me that Skyward Sword is a bad game without actually having played it? Ask them where they heard that, it's always Gamespot. I feel that I missed out on some great games because of them.

FOURSIDE_BOY

#117

FOURSIDE_BOY said:

The problem I see with sites like ign and gamespot is that they don't know what the hell they're talking about, like AlexSora89 pointed out, I really just don't get it when a reviewer gives call of duty 33 a 9 or a 10 and then nintendo unleashes something like metroid ultimate for 3ds or something, they just give it an 8 for being TOO KIDDY, TOO REPETITIVE, TOO STALE, TOO DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER GAMES IN THE SERIES, ETC ETC ETC ETC. That's why I trust nintendolife with scores, because they're not nintendo-biased, for example: they gave excellent scores to fire emblem, kid icarus, the mario games, and zelda on the 3ds because the games deserved that score, but mario tennis open, an awful game, got a 7, which I agree completely because it lacks so many things and feels empty nonetheless. A game's demo can either be an excellent tool to get more attention and sales (as in the case of lords of shadow, the demo hooked me instantly) or can be your worst enemy you yourself created (I'm looking at you monster hunter 3 demo), and I agree that it is essential in either give a game a chance or discard it from your wish list.

Lalivero

#119

Lalivero said:

I don't ever let a review take over my mind if I've been looking forward to getting a game for a while. If I wanted it enough before, I still want it and will make my own judgement about it. On top of that, it's painfully obvious how someone's tastes will reflect in their review(no matter how hard they try to not be bias) and while someone may find the controls irritating or this or that, someone else may in fact love that.

What's more bothersome than the reviews are how too many people let the reviews make their decisions for them. A good example is how ATV Wild Ride 3D scored a 5/10 here and all people did was look at that, like other reviews, and be like 'wow thanks for helping me not get a sucky game'. In reality, it is a really fun title and the online is even better.

RaymanFan2

#120

RaymanFan2 said:

I'll buy anything that gets a ten from you guys! This purchasing strategem hasn't steered me wrong yet.

Spectator

#121

Spectator said:

I look at multiple reviews first, then breakdown genre, before I make a decision. Its better to read the reviews before looking at just the score. When a majority of the reviews begin to start sounding the same, then I weight how much that would discourage me from enjoying the game. People would be surprised how many games with average to slightly better scores can be more enjoyable then games that get higher scores. Unfortunately I think their is a biased in reviews for certain genres, but people have opinions, its best to research the game if people are truly interested and think for themselves.

WildMan

#122

WildMan said:

Nice read! Personally, I always look at the score first and then read the review. However, depending on the game and how interested I am in it, sometimes I will just skim through the review..

SKTTR

#123

SKTTR said:

Before purchasing an interesting game I watch 1 or 2 gameplay videos and check the developers and their history. Usually that's enough for me to get a big enough picture.

After I'm done with a game I really like (or really dislike) I rate it myself, and then read reviews... coz well, it's more exciting to me reading other peoples opinions after having my own.

Zodiak13

#124

Zodiak13 said:

I usually read the score 1st, then read the article if I feel like it. Honestly many games I never plan to get but I am just curious how they rate. I've enjoyed many games that get 60% average (I use gamerankings), and dislike many games that are above 85% average. I never get to heated about a review I disagree with though, it is afterall just an opinion.

Wolfgabe

#125

Wolfgabe said:

Remember people reviews are mainly opinions first and foremost . There are many games who have not gotten good scores but I enjoy greatly. IGN gave Sonic 4 ep II a 6.5 yet I think its was tons better than episode I

grunthos64

#126

grunthos64 said:

I am probably one of the biggest Castlevania fans around. I got instantly hooked on Symphony of the Night, went back and played all the older ones...liked them but fell in love with the Metroidvania style Symphony created. Been loving every game since......except the 64 ones. The GBA and DS trilogies in particular are some of the best games of all time IMHO. Saying that, I thought Lords of Shadows was good not great. It was a God of War clone, just like how the PS2/Xbox games were ripping off Devil May Cry a bit. It was too linear and felt like it was appealing to the mainstream too much. It sold big so they did what they set out to do. Kinda sad to see the series restarted but it kinda needed to be done i guess. This game sounds great and what I've heard of the story i am really digging as a reimagining that just threw all the mythology together kinda like how the Friday the 13th remake pretty much redid the first four movies. But I can also see that it probably is missing alot of the charm of the older games and the intense focus on combat kinda bothers me a little. Everyone can have an opinion and an 8 is still really respectable. Besides this site gave Power of Illusion a 4 and i think it deserved a 7.

Ren

#127

Ren said:

I saw the ten and tried to figure out what game it was without reading anything. based on the picture it looks like something about a 3 piece metal band and some fire and ice or something; maybe something that uses my crusty Nyko guitars?

DaemonSword

#128

DaemonSword said:

Colin Moriarty gets a ZERO. How in the blu hell did he get his job, supposedly as an 'avid' gamer? Mirror Of Fate isn't perfect, but overall, the game deserved higher.

GreenDream

#129

GreenDream said:

Rating scores are a finicky sort of subcultural thing. Back when Monster Hunter 1 came out for the PS2 in the western world, it was consistently getting 5s and 6s from the general gaming press, yet the user base was mostly giving it 7s and 8s.

It wasn't until Monster Hunter Freedom Unite for the PSP, and Monster Hunter Tri for the Wii, that the general gaming press suddenly flip-flopped and starting giving the games 7s, 8s, and 9s, alongside the usual 7s, 8s, and 9s of the user base. The games have certainly had their content refined over time, but they're basically the same concept and type of game as the first PS2 title... So why give a significantly higher score?

I suspect that emotions play a bigger role than pure logic in most review processes... and not everyone will experience the same emotions over the same game. I think many review sites just make up numbers to cater to certain audiences, rather than genuinely attempting to be logical...

GreenDream

#130

GreenDream said:

Let's just say I wouldn't be surprised if some people lowered the score for this Castlevania title because one of the sequences blatantly rips off Shadow of the Collossus for the PS2. If that game never existed, I bet you all the scores for this Castlevania title would be higher across the board within the general gaming press.

Blizzaga

#131

Blizzaga said:

After Balloon Fight and Cave Story, I'm not as big on Nintendo Life reviews. I read the context first, saw the score, and highly disagreed to the reasoning behind both.

So when it's a game I really like, I don't really care about the reviews.

CharbroiledEwok

#132

CharbroiledEwok said:

If it's a first-party Nintendo title from a franchise I already like, I usually go ahead and pre-order it online - I just trust Nintendo THAT much.

But if it's a game I'm unsure of (usually a third-party offering), I first seek out FULL reviews from NintendoLife and IGN, then a few "lesser" sites (Nintendomination, Gametrailers.com, etc.).

I avoid Metacritic like the plague, because I've found MOST review sites to be biased against Nintendo in general, so the aggregate scores are often skewed.

I also check the Nintendo eShop(s) for consumer reviews, because I like the way they're structured: you must have played the title for an hour or more to score it, the rating scale is 1 to 5 stars, and...we ARE talking about REAL customers here (not jaded game journalists).

The final scores from review sites are only a very small factor in my purchasing decision, as I'm more concerned with WHY they didn't like it. If the reviewer cites flaws that I've personally contended with (funky camera controls, unreasonable difficulty, etc.), I may take their grievances under advisement. But, far too often - esp., with Nintendo reviews - the complaints are petty, and just a laundry list explaining how Microsoft and Sony do it better. :(

ToxieDogg

#133

ToxieDogg said:

One of the saddest things for me is when I read the comments underneath a middling review score and they say things like 'Ouch, only a 6/7 out of 10? Well I guess I won't be buying this game now' or something like that. Basically from people who were interested in the game before and most likely haven't even read the main body of the review, just looked at the number underneath and then instantly made their descision based off of that. Always best to read WHY the reviewer came to that conclusion as if it's a game you wanted to play beforehand, it's often likely that a few flaws won't completely spoil it for you. Sometimes it can be worth looking at actual gameplay footage on Youtube...a friend of mine uploaded a video of a 'dancing alien' glitch from Aliens: Colonial Marines which was the thing that finally put me off paying full price for it.

Ndayday

#134

Ndayday said:

Review implies careful thought and constructive criticism of a game, not assigning a game an arbitrary number. Ever had someone peer edit an essay? There are people that read your work and circle numbers that quantify their opinion, but sometimes never qualify it. Why is my word choice a 4/5?

That said review scores are nice since there usually is a substantial review along with it (it kind of gives you a general idea of what they thought), but it's still important to see why the author decided on that score and not just say, "Oh, a 6/10, guess I won't get it."

erv

#135

erv said:

One thing I use to see if I trust you as a review site is to backcheck on otherwise overlooked brilliance. Monster hunter lower than 8? You're missing points. No more heroes not a 9? sorry, lost credit. Little king's story not a 9? You missed out.

So if you have a reputation of being able to value originality and step out of the box a bit, you'll be the better source to me in the future.

In general, I have found nintendolife reviews very good. Open to originality, honest about possible downsides, usually quite clear about what the main game brings and where the fun is at. Oh, and very generous for the positive aspects of the game, which is far more important than critical assessment of negatives if you ask me.

Granted, with ngamer gone, I find it a bit harder to check out the right games.

Ristar42

#136

Ristar42 said:

I never worry too much about the numbers, as subjective taste is always going to come into things. As long as a game works, and it is a genre that interests me, if I like the graphics and the gameplay, I don’t get upset that others may not feel the same.

I've recently been playing Double Dragon Neon which I really enjoy, as I like the 80s styling and scrolling beat em up genre, I know its not about to score 10/10, but thats fine.

I understand that reviewers have to create an objective system for the purposes of 'reviewing', but unless there is some fundamental problem with a game, a 6 or 7 wouldn’t put me off if it looks interesting to me.

Its so easy these days to look up gameplay videos these days, and they help me decide if I'm going to buy a game as much as review scores.

rastamadeus

#137

rastamadeus said:

As I said on PushSquare during their article on this I do wish review scores would just disappear. They cheapen the review and are absolutely worthless. Almost everyone now is obsessed with what score it got on site X or magazine Y and what it's MetaCritic score is. It's pathetic. Edge and GameCentral (the UK's much-missed TeleText magazine) have both in the past come close to dropping scores entirely and I hope a big profile site/mag soon does, causing others to do it too.

rastamadeus

#138

rastamadeus said:

@erv Your system is absolute nonsense. So if a site hasn't liked quirky games that you personally like then they're disregarded by you? Who do you think you are? The Queen? So pretentious. Some people don't like all sorts of games so could score it low whereas some people would think its amazing. GTA4 was praised universally while I think it's possibly the worst game I've ever played, so should I ignore all the sites that rated it highly? Of course not. That would be stupid.

Big_L91

#139

Big_L91 said:

i really wanna do away with scores! you can tell what a games like by the review alone.

Faruko

#140

Faruko said:

Destructoid, Eurogamer and NintendoLife are the "big" ones i check, but i dont care too much about the score (RE6 its a great game if you forget the RE part of the name)

And i do have to add that i wuld love (if scores are going to stay) be a little more harsh... make a 9 a REAL 9, most of the time a 6 (good score) feels like a 1...

Araknie

#141

Araknie said:

I never care about the score, it's really useless for me. I might check sometimes user scores, but nothing more than that.
I read only one, 2 at most, reviews and not even for every game i'm interested in.
Overall reviews have no impact on what games i buy.
I bought Red Steel 2 having italian reviewers give an harsh treatment on that game, and i finished the game at 100%...twice.
I bought and finished also Metroid: Other M at 100%, and it's my second favorite Metroid because reminds me of Super Metroid a lot.

All in all, i read reviews but the only impact they can cause is a "they agree with me" or "the don't agree with".

I forge my opinion on buying games and i go through some crappy ones oh well my fault, i don't want to skip something that could be very good for my taste because of somebody else's taste.

russellohh

#142

russellohh said:

I've played maybe 400-500 games, and own another 300 across the major platforms. I can honestly say I've only once enjoyed a game that got below an 8 average. That doesn't include sports games or GTA's, which I've never really gotten into for other reasons. I typically skip to the number, then go back up and read only if needed.

RetrogamerFan

#143

RetrogamerFan said:

NL is my go-to website for reviews so keep up the good work.
I don't get too worried about a game's score, i'm more interested in the text explaining what's good/bad about a game. I think some people probably miss out on some good games if they only ever buy a game which gets a high score.

XyVoX

#144

XyVoX said:

For me i think it fair to say if multiple places 7 or more say score a game 9 or more its almost certainly a Good game, now whether you enjoy that game or not is entirely another matter.

mookysam

#145

mookysam said:

I haven't read reviews before buying or considering buying a game in a very long time (perhaps 4 years). They're opinions, and sometimes will not correlate with my own. Reviews are subjective and it bothers me when it is argued they're held to some sort of objective test. They're not. It's impossible - we're all human, afterall. A further part of it is not wanting a review to influence my own opinion of a game before I've even played it, and not wanting to spoil a game I've been looking forward to. In the past, whole segments of games have been ruined by trailers and previews and the relentless hype train.

When deciding on a game purchase I'll ask myself "is it a genre I like? What have I thought of previous games in the series? What are the developers previous games like?" I'll ask my friends what they think of a game. When exploring new games that I'm not sure about, I may watch gameplay videos or play demos. I haven't bought a game I haven't enjoyed since not reading reviews. :-) I've also played a lot of games that I've loved and gone on to discover have received "dreaded 7's" from the gaming press.

banacheck

#146

banacheck said:

Reveiw scores are someone else's opinion of that game, take ZombiU i played the game before coming past any review scores for it. And when i did see the review scores i was surprised, every non-nintendo website review scores i seen gave the game around 5-6/10 while nintendo gave it a 9/10. ZombiU for me was 8/10 a very good game while staying true too a survival horror game, so i don't good by review scores.

Vehemont

#147

Vehemont said:

I read as many different reviews on games as much as possible. Games are expensive entertainment and I work hard for my money and I don't want to throw it away on a game that is not worth my time. I usually check gamerankings.com and read a lot of reviews to get as many opinions to get a bigger picture. Some sites you can't trust or have a bias, so if I see a lot of people saying the same things (good, or bad) than I know what to expect.

Drawdler

#148

Drawdler said:

I only read reviews for fun. The only time a review will influence my attitude towards a game is when it's a very positive one for a game I would have completely ignored(I.E. Gunman Clive), and that only motivates me to see the community reaction which is what I prefer to get impressions from.

Gridatttack

#149

Gridatttack said:

I only read the conclusion and look the score. And nope. Reviews dont impact on the decision of the game I would buy.

AJWolfTill

#150

AJWolfTill said:

If it's a game I had little or no knowledge/interest in, such as most eShop releases and games like Etrian Odyssey 4 then I will check the score first. If I didn't have any interest in the game before, why would I read a full review before checking if there is a reason to be interested in the game.
If it's a big release or a game I've been looking forward to Virtue's Last Reward or Lego City then I will read the whole thing first.

ToxieDogg

#151

ToxieDogg said:

@AJWolfTill Just because you've never heard of a game before, doesn't mean it's not something you'd personally really like. I've changed my opinion from 'not interested at all' to 'very interested' before now based on how a review describes a game. If you just look at the score, think 'meh' and move on without even finding out what the game's about, then you're limiting your options and possibly missing out on stuff you'd enjoy.

eviLaTtenDant

#152

eviLaTtenDant said:

And this is why there should be as many demos as possible. At least for games that the majority of people can't really compare to others.

I think somewhere i've read about the 3DS Castlevania having „Street Fighteresque“ combat. Needless to say it felt very different in the demo which was much better than i expected. The rest of the game would have to be quite bad to pull the game down to less than a 7/10 for me. If there hadn't been a demo i'd have believed anything from a 4/10 up to a perfect 10/10.


Anyway, i'm glad you guys review a lot of games since most of the time you give the game a chance instead of writing it off from the get-go. After reading your reviews i usually can imagine how the game will feel. That's all i can ask for really.

Review scores become important for me when for a while i haven't read up on or gotten the stuff i'm interested in. Then i prioritize my reading by the review scores to filter out the heaps of abysmal releases out there.

marakassi

#153

marakassi said:

I usually check the conclusion and score first, then decide if I read the text. Of course if review is about Mario or Zelda, then I read it top to bottom :)

NINTENBOY

#154

NINTENBOY said:

I wish I could have picked all the above on that last one because all 5 of those cases has happened in my life.

Vampire-Jekyll

#155

Vampire-Jekyll said:

If you're worried about giving a game an unfair review score but don't want to stop giving scores entirely, why not give the game a range instead? For example:

"I feel Resident Evil 6 scores in the range of 2.5-8, 2.5 being the given rating at the lowest of points in the game, and 8 being the given rating at the highest of points in the game."

Of course you could just as easily average these numbers out to produce a singular number, but a game rated with less of a spread may offer more of a consistent experience.

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