News Article

Talking Point: Considering the Methods and Means of Game Reviews

Posted by Nintendo Life Staff

Andy Robertson suggests evolution, Tom Whitehead simply seeks standards

In this special Talking Point feature, we consider a question fundamental to one of the core aspects of Nintendo Life — game reviews. They're often a source of huge interest around the web on hundreds of websites, and also the potential cause of controversies that are, at times, wildly out of context. We've seen plenty of sites adjust their review policies, introduce evolving scores and more. For our part, we've stuck to our usual formula.

Perhaps no review policy is perfect, and Andy Robertson — who specialises in gaming for families — feels that his experiences suggest that the approach to reviewing games should maybe change. Features editor Tom Whitehead, who's been on the end of supportive comments and scathing criticisms in his time reviewing games for Nintendo Life, takes a different view.

Andy Robertson

I’ve written and talked about family gaming for some time. While the Wii popularised the idea that anyone can play a videogame, I prefer to get people playing proper titles rather than watered down mini-game collections.

Each time I encounter a new game though I often find myself saying similar things about it. As a reviewer I have the things I like to see in a game, and the things that wind me up. This is often more about my personal preferences than the game itself or the target audience.

Then last week, as you can see in this Swap Force preview video, I got my son to review some Skylanders Swap Force figures for me at family festival in London. It was a revelation.

Not that he particularly made incisive or telling points about the game, but that the way he looked at it was entirely different to me. Seeing him holding the figures was totally different to holding them myself.

Firstly the scale of them was altered. With his smaller hands he had to clasp round the Swap Force characters – they were suddenly bigger. While it took me a while to get round to mixing the characters up his fingers moved, seemingly instinctively, to snap each character apart and together. The magnets fascinated him as did the ability to twist the characters at the torso, making them almost articulated.

Then it came to the names of the characters. My son was much less interested in what each character was called and more about how they looked. Playing with a Robot and a Chicken seemed to appeal to him. He wanted to know about how the powers worked to upgrade the figures, whether this was stored in the top or bottom of the figure. This is a feature that is lacking in Disney Infinity and I think has diminished their enjoyment a bit.

He really liked being able to recognise the different elements on the base of the Swap Force figures and identify which families they belonged to. This continuity would be easy to loose with the new figures and wasn’t something I had really considered in my previews for the game.

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Moving on from the figures to the Swap Force game itself, he quickly highlighted the novelty of the dual element gate. I had thought this may be a negative, requiring the player to have a particular combination of elements in play, but my son thought this was actually a great feature.

We then spent time playing with the Hoot Loop character and he found different uses for his attacks. One which simply hadn’t occurred to me was using the ability to teleport to hunt out treasure with the targeting ring.

The best feature of the game for my son after playing a level was not the new graphics or enhanced audio but the continuity with the previous games and the return of his favourite characters. But the killer feature for him was still the snapping apart and putting back together, that he did endlessly while we were trying it out.

In our half hour with the game I realised that I needed to seriously reassess how I reviewed games. While I was concerned with graphics and sound and next-gen support on Swap Force, my son’s concerns were much more about the magnet snapping of the toys and being reunited with old friends in the game like Flynn.

Of course this is harder to apply to more mature titles. Who, for instance, is the right player to review Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U, or Mario Kart 8 when it arrives? I’m not saying that review scores are redundant but that together as reviewers and readers we need to put them in their place. The best game is not the one with the highest Metacritic score, but the game a particular person enjoys playing the most.

I know this may be a bit controversial considering the emphasis placed on scores here at Nintendo Life. But equally I appreciate the profile the site gives to the reviewer. Each score is not definitive but the opinion of that person on that particular day. Or at least that’s how I read it. It makes me wonder if we would be better off without scores at all.

Tom Whitehead

Andy clearly makes some really valid points in terms of how his assessment of a Skylanders game is perhaps at odds with the audience that title's targeting, kids. In our reviews of the Skylanders franchise and recently Disney Infinity we've clearly had adults doing the job, and while I think a children's perspective is vital, so is a writer's opinions for our target audience. I don't think a change is needed to our approach at all, I think it's a proven system — what is vital is that we maintain high standards, and that readers treat a score as a part of the review, not its defining feature.

In my view a reviewer's job, and something we all strive for — I'm not saying we're perfect and hit the mark every time — is to judge a game on its merits and on what it's trying to achieve. I've read arguments in the past that pricing, format etc shouldn't matter in a review, and I've never understood that. I won't wear the same reviewer's hat for a DSiWare puzzler that costs 200 Nintendo Points as I will for a retail Wii U game, as it's all about context. So in that respect if the game I'm reviewing is clearly targeting young children, I won't automatically say it bores me to tears and give it 1/10, but I'll consider whether it's delivering for its audience. I reviewed over 20 Successfully Learning games — I'm not joking — but I didn't type 200 words of frustrated expletives after the 20th, I probably said it was the same-old competent edutainment game (they were all practically identical) and gave it six stars.

Yet to stick with the children's games analogy, I think it's our responsibility to try and consider the angles important to a young gamer, but write for our audience regardless. We have a broad userbase here at Nintendo Life, but when we review a children's game it's for people old enough that they're actually here reading the site anyway, whether good readers of a young age, teenagers, adults that like children's games — because why not? — and parents. If a parent is reading, I suspect in some cases the toys may matter less than whether the game is a glitchy mess, or if it offers decent value for money, fun gameplay and intuitive controls. Our job as writers is simply to share our views on these factors, and more, in a literate, clear way. We're giving opinions and information not to tell consumers what to do, but to perhaps help them gain a perspective before they dive in — we also give a clear link to Metacritic to access lots of other reviews, too.

Reviews by their nature are opinions based on our own experiences, and like any other form of critical writing are flawed and imperfect — there is no perfect reviewer, and if they say they are they're deluded, bonkers or both. It can be a balancing act as while anything we write is inevitably personal opinion, we also have to step outside our heads to consider a broader picture; if a genre isn't our favourite, we must still judge it fairly on its merits. All reviewers should play lots of games, write well, and ultimately think beyond themselves when writing.

And this is where I think the key point lies. We're writing for our readers that are, in most cases, consumers. It's those with money that ultimately need reviews — though don't take that as a claim to over-importance — from various sources to help decide whether to take the plunge on the game. Some may read dozens of reviews and still wait to see what their friend thinks anyway, while others may read a few trusted reviews and plonk down a pre-order; each to their own.

Reviews by their nature are opinions based on our own experiences, and like any other form of critical writing are flawed and imperfect.

It's simple, really. We give opinions while attempting a level of objectivity — just loving Sonic or Mario as franchises shouldn't guarantee 10/10 and gushing praise — and give a score. Should we ditch scores? No. Some film, book and music critics apply scores, some don't, game sites should decide for themselves. I won't insult anyone by denying that scores are important from a business sense, too. I'm not at the business end of the site, but applying scores is an industry standard that, if ignored, reduces exposure; that reduces traffic, and any website's ability to fund costs. That's just the reality right now, whether people agree with it or not.

I would suggest that with this being such a young industry scores are a sensible inclusion to add to the text. We shouldn't ditch scores, but rather the daft focus they're given. Whenever someone criticises a score I give a game, I want to know whether they've read the text. If they have read it and disagree with me, that's very welcome, if they didn't actually read the review then I'm simply not interested in that criticism.

Scores aren't arbitrary, they're a tool, and we must all review to cater to those that form our audience. It's our job to consider the perspectives and opinions of a game's target audience, and we can only do our best. But it's also our job to cover a game fully, to give it a fair assessment and to provide the information that we think can help readers to understand more about the game. We can't focus excessively on the way toys click together any more than we can on which semi-automatic is the best gun in an FPS. We must cover the full product.

I believe we should stick to our process on Nintendo Life, in any case. The system's fine, what always needs to be watched carefully are our own standards, while readers should accept opinion and individual experiences while deciding whether they trust in the objective honesty of the reviewer. If the reader answers no to either of those points, then they're wasting their time reading the review anyway.

From the web

User Comments (82)



Volmun said:

well from what iv red of the reviews thay seam fearenuff tbh. Besides its all opinions eniway.



3Daniel said:

I think standards are in order. i'll point to the recent angry birds wii u review where price wasn't considered. typically, price shouldn't determine fun factor, but prior mobile to console releases did receive negative feedback due to increase in price, granted most are a more shallow experience than AB, related to the transition to console/handheld porting. now the review didn't bother me, AB just isn't something I care for, but at 10x the cost of the mobile versions might have been something to call out. Seeing as an eshop release would have remedied the pricepoint. But I don't review games, I just play them... so what do I know?



Araknie said:

I have a simple request, give a longer end comment and ditch the score. If you do that i might come back and read game reviews because i won't have to deal with a score that changes your mind.

A score is bad because people wont even read the review and go directly to it, you know it's true, and when they do that score changes their mind.

Give a comment, a detailed comment in witch you say what's this all about. Even if people skip to read only that, would be much better than finding a score, at least they would read the final opinion.

I simply don't read reviews with a score because you can't talk about it later, the staff gets angry at you because you pointed out that the score doesn't reflect the review, people gets angry at you because they are fanboys and you get angry at yourself because you regret having the ability to word what you think.

Scores makes only a mess.
And who cares if Metacritic won't put your review in the mix, you want to be the medium or the good one?

I repeat, since 2012 i don't read scores reviews, and i explained above why.

(Sorry for my english, i'm learning everyday)



Peach64 said:

I'm a big fan of reviews without scores. It's ridiculous that 7 or 8 is considered average by the majority of websites. Why bother having a scale with 10 points on if you're going to score everything 8, 9 or 10? Fans are even worse. I've seen some crazy comments on here saying that any Mario game should be at least a 9 and if anyone scored a Mario game below 9 then they were clearly a fanboy of a rival company.

On the other hand, I don't agree with those people that flame people for reading reviews. "Make up your own opinion", they say. Well, most of us can't afford to play every game, and no, watching a video doesn't count as trying it yourself. Over time, you'll start to find your taste in games match up with particular websites, magazines or even individual reviewers, and then you can start paying more attention to what they think of a game than anyone else.



Morpheel said:

Yeah. It bothers me how some people seem to interpret the 1-10 scale as "anything under 8 sucks and should made fun of".



ferrers405 said:

For me reviewers are not like Film Critics or Art Critics, they utilize personal opinions not based in the form of the art, direction or construction of the characters, they just point to either this game is good or not because of their opinions, for me i like the score just to get ride of really bad games - for me like 4 below - the others i usually see a gameplay or rent before buy to decide by myself.



PhillaLoup said:

I've not read the article yet. But here are just my 2 cents on the topic. Reviews and Average Scores (e.g. Metacritic) matter to me a lot. I'm only able to buy 1 game a month and own both a Wii U and 3DS. I only want the very best games and just cannot afford to buy much more than that. That being said, I'll make exception for indie games and stuff that I feel like supporting and on the other hand don't support watered down ports like Mass Effect 3 for Wii U no matter the score.



Skeletor said:

I've found this site to actually review games rather well, as opposed to a flash opinion and verdict. Perhaps the most recent game showing this was DuckTales Remastered. Most sites blasted it for, in a nutshell, not being a modern game with modern conveniences. I think I only read one other site that actually viewed the game as a re-release of an older, and favorite title.
As for scoring, I usually find myself being intrigued if a game is given a 6 or above. I think that it is a fair enough score to investigate the game more. What I look for in reviews is about any game breaking flaws or glitches, engaging story, and controls.



FiveDigitLP said:

I don't always agree with what you have to say on here, my friend, but I definitely agree with you here. I prefer reviews without scores, but I can certainly see the advantages they provide.

As you suggest, I've actually discovered certain reviewers that follow my tastes and are very critical. Sometimes they don't always have the same opinion as me, but it's still interesting to read. (One of my personal favorite reviewers is at



unrandomsam said:

I think they should do what Famitsu do - 4 people 4 scores.

Interestingly when I first looked the Nintendo Life average on metacritic was exactly 70% now it has gone significantly down.

Metacritic as a whole is not something I trust now.



unrandomsam said:

I care mainly about Japanese imports as well. (If people know what it is like asap we have a better chance of getting it released outside Japan).



Emblem said:

@Peach64 I totally agree with you, i'll add that as an older gamer 'professional' reviews in general have got a lot worse since the days of magazine reviews. When i was younger reviewers would always complete the game and try out every function of the game thoroughly such as multiplayer, different control schemes etc. Nowadays i read reviews from reviewers that have blatantly not spent much time with the games they are reviewing.

In any case a lot of my best games have bad reviews but i loved them so i rarely put much stock in reviews. That said Nintendolife's reviews are usually spot on and in depth.



FiveDigitLP said:

I'm curious what triggered this talking point. I noticed a few people discussing this topic on Twitter yesterday, but one that really caught my attention was JP Kellams (@PG_jp) from PlatinumGames. He had this really long rant about how reviews in the game industry are quite irrelevant and shouldn't even be considered on the same plane as criticism produced my movie critics.

If you haven't already, you'll want to read the whole thing to get a full sense of what he was talking about, though.



unrandomsam said:

@Peach64 Score it too low then you lose review copies and advertising from that publisher. (Then you review it last and then nobody goes to your site).



unrandomsam said:

Scores can be ok as long as something is done to make it so that the same score is given regardless of who reviewed it. (Or an aside from someone on the team who disagreed. A few lines like that is often more useful than the whole review).

What Super Play did was good if something like that still existed I would buy it. (Never seemed like it mattered who did the review).



BakaKnight said:

Interesting perspectives and somehow good explanations of how to read a review.
Definitely I prefer words to scores. Reading the whole review means I can get all the reasons behind the final number: Audience targeted, bugs, flaws in gameplay, and other things mentioned in this article as important and what eventually can really help understand a game.

Sometimes I found myself totally disagreeing with numbers, loving a "4" title or hating an "8" one, but still I really rarely disagree with the review's words if it is written well (as often happen here in my opinion).
Sure, time to time I even disagreed with a whole review, but it's simply the amazingness of how games can give a totally different experience to different players : )



Captain_Gonru said:

I appreciate an well-written review over a score. But, I don't think you can do a review on today's internet without a score. I wouldn't mind a standard, but who should establish it?



ThePirateCaptain said:

Fantastic article guys, I agree with both sides of the spectrum. I don't really think that a numerical score is necessary myself, but Tom made some great points.



triforcepower73 said:

I think the review system here is fine. And I agree with both Andy and Tom on different. I think scores are a nice convenience to have. They are like the front flap of a book where it tells the basic plot of the book. It's just something that can indicate whether or not you might like the book. But scores definitely get WAY to much attention.



Quickman said:

The only thing I have a problem with is retro reviews, gaming has changed an awful lot and it's incredibly difficult to gauge how good a game was and is now, too many overriding factors.

That and 13 year olds on YT reviewing SNEZzz games, pretending to remember the 90s, it shouldn't be allowed!



Spoony_Tech said:

I'm more old school in that I want to see 3 to 4 people review the game. One opinion never appealed to me. What if the one person was given a game in a series they don't like?! It happens a lot and you can tell by the review itself. I know its near impossible to have that many review one game in these times but I do miss them!



rjejr said:

I like reviews and scores and think this website has done a pretty good job with both. I always look at the number first so I know how to read the review and what to look for and expect. What I don't understand is how upset people get when they disagree, and how seriously people take the numbers. Reviews are good, peoples reactions are what's bad.

I do probably read reviews differently, I'm usually more interested in "facts", like how long the game lasts, how many players, how difficult it is, and if it's broken, rather than if the person enjoyed it or not.



Peach64 said:

@FiveDigitLP This is just a guess, but there seemed to be a lot of debate in the comments of the Angry Birds review, wether or not the price should be taken into consideration. Some people felt you should, others were adamant you should just review the game and not pay any attention to wether or not it costs $1 or $50. This Talking Point might be a sort of response to that.



Nintenjoe64 said:

Get rid of numerical scores!! People just skip the words to see the score and unless only one person gives scores, relative scores will always be meaningless.



Geonjaha said:

A good review expresses how the reviewer feels about the game and how much they enjoyed it, meaning that if someone actually read the review they don't need you to tell them what score you would give it. Whether or not someone will have fun with a particular game is very dependant on what flaws they shy away from or what strong points they look for in games. When you apply a number to a game you draw attention away from those points and make it all seemingly more objective.

I know its easier to look at a score rather than looking into the review itself and picking out what bothered/interested the reviewer about the game, but that's what better helps people understand personally whether the game is for them. Adding a score on top of that review seems harmless, but a lot of Nintendolife reviews depend on that score to get the general point across, simply because they can.

Metacritic is its own problem in the industry; weighing sites differently and applying a single system to every score ever given (a 5/5 is not equivalent to a 100/100 when it comes to reviews - very far from it), and moving away from scores only helps get rid of it. I realise this means considerably less exposure, but it just comes down to respectability in my opinion, assuming you actually believe that your reviews would be better off without scores (to act as a huge label for those not willing to actually judge the game at all for themselves).

In my opinion scores however have their place. When large amounts of people are putting in their opinion into a consistent system (/5, /10, etc.) then the general response of a game can be viewed on a large scale. However, seeing one person give their score, and having it be the only one on a site as big as this about a particular game? Does more harm than good.



PanurgeJr said:

I'd say get rid of scores altogether, but that will never happen. The best feasible thing I can think of is in-depth reviews. I've developed good enough instincts over the years that it has been a long time since I've bought a game I wish I hadn't, and it is infrequent that I buy games that I'm indifferent to. But that's only possible if I can read reviews ahead of time. A quick synopsis and a score doesn't give me enough information. I need enough discussion so I can gauge how the reviewer's opinion is likely to contrast with my own. An excellent example is The Wonderful 101. The reviews suggest to me that a) Kamiya is in full form, and b) if you're willing to work at the control you will find that it works well, which is exactly what I ended up thinking about Kid Icarus: Uprising. Kamiya is worth a learning curve, so on Sunday I'm going out to get it (and I'm desperately trying to finish Ni No Kuni so I can play it). No number of scores would tell me what I needed for this decision.



sinalefa said:

Usually if I am interested in a game but I am on the fence, I go to Metacritic to see all scores and the synopsis and then I read the reviews from websites I trust the most. Still I try to read as many as I can to give me an idea, as I cannot rent games here.

The number does not bother me, but I lean towards the text itself.



unrandomsam said:

There is lots of reviews on here that make me think they haven't played the full game. (The Star Parodier one doesn't mention the terrible lag on stage 7 with all the balloons for example). The original doesn't seem to have it if the youtube videos that say they are on real hardware actually are.



MegaWatts said:

I think Tom hit the nail right on the head when he discussed scores in the article. We need to give them because that's what the audience demands. At times, it's quite depressing after having written a 1000-1500 word review to discover that people are disagreeing with my score, yet haven't bothered to read the review. Believe me, as a writer there is nothing more I'd love to do than get rid of the score, if only because it might mean everyone takes the time to actually read my work.

My personal wants aside - scores are easily digestible and save people time; we don't all have the time to read a huge essay in detail. With the current system, we at least cater for both those that care about score and those who want an in-depth read.



GoldenBanana said:

I think it´s possible to literally ditch the score but, keep it in disguise in a healthy way that doesn´t induce harmful prejudice against the game, from the people that usually go straight to the final score.
I liked the idea of a final and larger end comment that "Araknie" posted, but for helping visualizing the final comment, I would try to implement adding "stickers" (instead of the score) that summarize the idea of the conclusion for the game. I think the stickers should be meant to be extremely simple and a few, showing a very short phrase each, and altogether compressing the comment somehow, and in a way, also giving the review an idea of the view that should be best taken or was taken by the reviewers playing the game, for example: "local multiplayer must" , "internet multiplayer must" , "good 4 kids" , "must for your daughter" , "instant classic" , "original concept" , "piece of art" , "good gameplay" , "short" , "healthy challenging" , "japanese challenging" , "great OST" , ""hardcore" classic", "unplayable", etc, etc. I don´t know, they could be anything, but for sure, words would be more healthy than numbers, often people like to quantify everything and not everything should be or can be quantified (like Whitehead said, reviews are always imperfect, and thats because there cannot exist an absolute scale in measuring things that are born from human thought).



odd69 said:

I might hate reviews as stated before, but yet i always read them. Instead of looking at the score, i take all the information from the reviewer and decided whether or not i like it, this includes screenshots,and videos



ikki5 said:

I usually take reviews with a faint of heart, they are usually biased in some areas or just plain stupid opinions. take Gamespot for example on ducktales remastered. they gave it a 4.5..... I damn 4.5. Personally if I am looking at a game and want to know about it. I look at play through, trailers and I read about the game



Discostew said:

At the very least, the people reviewing games should at least know what sort of game they are reviewing, and how the controls work. Seriously, ZombiU is an example of the former where some reviewers thought it was a completely different game than they believed, so it got initial low scores based on that. W101 is an example of the latter where a reviewer, not understanding touch controls, gave it a lower score because of their inability to do something most everyone else could figure out in a couple of minutes.



x-mas_mii said:

In my opinion, I think that nintendo life should have multiple "star bars". One should be on the controls, one based upon the picture, and so on. While this will promote the use of "Too Lazy, Didn't Read," It would help the average NLifer who only reads the end notes understand the reasoning. And possibly add the MSRP of the game in there, and whatever there is across the lake, and compare those to the other platforms.



HawkeyeWii said:

I encourage many of the people who adopt this ''if it's 7 out of 10 or worse, it sucks'', to pick up a game that they originally found appealing, but the reviews weren't good. I've done this several times and haven't had a bad experience. If you're interested in a game you will more than likely end up liking the game regardless of review scores. I use review scores to gauge what looks like an absolute must have, like Super Mario Galaxy for example.



Bass_X0 said:

When you're looking through lists of games you don't know on NintendoLife to see what you would like to play next, what catches your attention first? The title or the score?

Its the score for me. I don't have time to read every review so if I see a game scoring 8/10, I'm going to want to read more about it. People wanting to get rid of the score assume that every review is going to be read by everybody. Its not about being too lazy, its about not having the time to read everything.

So how about a test for two or three weeks - hide the score for every new game reviewed just to see how people react. Then at the end of the period, the scores are revealed or sooner if people are complaining too much.



unrandomsam said:

@HawkeyeWii It is even worse for games the sites decide are niche beforehand if it doesn't have the name associated with a big franchise it seems to be reviewed more harshly.

There is nothing at all wrong with Under Defeat HD for example. (Prior to its release the Dreamcast version was selling for well over £100).

Commando: Steel Disaster is very solid for what it does (But got 5 out of 10 and a review that basically said it wasn't Contra). It is better than Metal Slug 7 probably about as good as Contra 4. (Me trying to be objective - I prefer Metal Slug to Contra - It is a bit easy though (review says it is difficult) Physical cart is supposed to be harder but its very expensive.



unrandomsam said:

@Bass_X0 Problem is if you like games that are difficult but possible (Not necessarily super long once you get good at it. But only way to progress is to get better and better at the game.) they nearly always get mixed in with the ones that are technically broken.

Reading every review is not what i want to do at all but it is the only way to actually get stuff I want whilst it is still available. (Not at 200% of the original retail used). Those dev's are the ones that need the support of getting stuff straight away the most as well.



ThomasBW84 said:

@FiveDigitLP Andy triggered it last week actually. He pitched his part of it, and while we thought it was excellent it seemed right to add a perspective in line with the site's policy. I think both ends of the argument are valid, really. I'll try and look out the Platinum comments you're referring to though, I'm always curious!



SphericalCrusher said:

Well, it's important to know that a review is one person's opinion about a game. When it comes to gaming, there is no such thing as a "professional review" even if the person is a good writer. For instance, when you read a review from IGN, you read a review that one person wrote. Given all of this — I'm typically not a fan of reviews. I don't care about review scores one bit and it annoys me to beyond at some people basing their gaming purchases directly on gaming review scores. I don't mind looking over reviews, to see some information about a game or to check for a major flaw (such as the online being down, not specifically bugs)... but again, the scores don't sway me one way or another.



Bass_X0 said:

When it comes to choosing a game from those I don't know well, I go through the list of games from highest rating to lowest rating. There are numerous games scoring 4/10 or below and thats all I really need to know. I don't need to know why its bad, just that it is bad and worth avoiding. Anyway, I go through the list checking the title, and genre. If a game sounds interesting to me, I read the summary to that game. If I am still interested, I read the whole review.

Without a score, how would I be able to pick out the AlphaBounces (9/10) from the Panda Crazes (2/10)? Checking the Panda Craze review, I still only really need to know the conclusion. Its bad. Don't buy it. In a gaming magazine, Panda Craze would only have been given enough space to give the conclusion. So I do still feel an eleven paragraph review for such a bad game is unnecessary. Maybe I should praise NintendoLife for going above and beyond the call of duty in their dedication to tell us exactly why such a game is so bad.



Williaint said:

When I am reading reviews, I often look at different websites, multiple reviews/opinions. I believe it would be a good idea to have at least two different reviewers on a single game (even if it is a child...).
Having the "%" or "/10" rating system makes it easier for people to advertise decent score, but without facts or details about the game, just having a score isn't enough; I want to know why it's bad, or why it's good.
Something that's very common with reviews is comparing them directly to a previous release in the series, or something similar, instead of as a game itself (It happens more often with TV show reviews, which is why I don't read them anymore). It's nice to have a bit of comparison, but when it becomes a review based on bunch of opinions, a review can lose it's credibility.



astarisborn94 said:

Review scores do have their positives in that if a person is just looking to see if a game they want looks good but don't have time to read the entire thing, they can scroll down and see the score and then read the reviews later.

However, the problem with scores in reviews is that it can bias the reviewer to review the game as if it needs X point to be good, which is a poor way of thinking. Games are not 8/10, 9/10, etc., they're subjective and as such, a score can't properly be provided.



unrandomsam said:

Another thing nearly all the Disney Infinity reviews do not include calculations related to cost. (Only one I found listed the whole lot at a minimum of 460 AUD RRP). It seems to me that is an absolutely critical thing to know before you even think about starting to buy.

(Can only think of Disney asking for it to not happen and it being in the financial interests of the sites concerned for it not to be.)



unrandomsam said:

@astarisborn94 The more people giving a score (That have actually completed the game) the better it will be. (I find the Famitsu scores quite useful there is always 4 for each game).



Squiggle55 said:

I think those awarding scores should ask only 1 question: how does this game compare to its contemporaries in the same genre?

When Fire Emblem comes out on 3DS you give it a 10 because it's an absolute must play for srpg fans of this generation. The scores of other srpgs should then be docked accordingly for not being as good. =)

I'm sure some reviewers already think this way but I personally think it's vital to stress that the game should be compared only to others in the same genre. Then it can be quasi-ranked against the other games in that genre and you can give it a number accordingly. If that is done properly you would see a lot more 4s, 5s, and 6s, because, let's face it, most games aren't the absolute best game in their genre.



Aqueous said:

Actually, I normally try not to see the score before I finish reading. I love it when I can't even see the score when reading the final comments. I don't normally use the number when it is a game I'm interested in and the review found nothing wrong but I do have games I'm uncertain on and using that range thing that Nlife uses for number meanings can sometimes be helpful, even then I normally ignore them and take the risk if I was going to in the first place. The writing means more to me and I find it frustrating if I read one and features are left out and things aren't mentioned but yet they are in the game and the review then feels lacking. It makes me curious if things were forgotten or left out and normally gets me asking questions about the missing details. I'll likely just use the numbers as the recommendation type scale that Nlife uses here if I pay attention to the number.

Though if I see a game I have no interest in, find ChickenBrutus has it, well I have to see the score first, just to set the mood before I read whatever clever writing he has for problems with the game if it has issues.



Bender said:

The only issue I truly have with is reviews is typically the reviewers themselves (thankfully not a problem on NL). I get kinda irritated when sites like IGN have their resident FPS-reviewer review games for Nintendo platforms, as they usually complain about things that have never been a problem to anyone (like Luigi controlling as he should with floaty jumps) or complain the game is not "up to the standards set by modern games such as insert generic FPS here"... I know they are little things that should be taken lightly, but sometimes it gets pretty annoying.



unrandomsam said:

@Squiggle55 Dragon Force (Sega Saturn) is the best SRPG. 10 is perfect - the DLC could have been done in a much better way not affecting the balance with Fire Emblem. (As an expansion that took place after the main game or whatever not just make it easier).



JaxonH said:

I will. I'll support ANY game that I want to play. I never let politics get in the way of a fun game. Like Splinter Cell Blacklist. Sure, it's missing local co-op, but who cares lol. It's one of the finest games on the Wii U, and the gamepad integration is so right on it puts the other versions to shame. I bought Mass Effect 3 at Wii U launch, and to this day I'm glad I did. It was a great game, well worth every cent, and again, with the gamepad integration and commanding your allies via the gamepad, I don't understand it when people say "but there was a trilogy" or "but it didn't include DLC". That stuff does not negate the quality of the game. The game was worth it before any DLC was ever made for it, and the game was worth it before a trilogy was ever released. So how can it not be worth it now? It doesn't make sense.



unrandomsam said:

@B3ND3R It annoys me more for stuff that people consider niche. Even when it is close to perfect for what it is they review it with a low score it is less problematic for Nintendo.

e.g (Sine Mora is utter garbage compared to Under Defeat HD which is basically perfect for what it is. The Dreamcast version was >£100 prior to the release of this because it is brilliant.)



JohninMotion said:

My issue with reviews is, most times, the reviewer. One reviewer is assigned to a review, and we are all supposed to take his/her review as if it is gospel. At best, all we can do is weed through the article and draw our own conclusions of the game, but then what good is the review in the first place other than a guide?

That's why I love podcasts so much. There are usually a group of people who throw in their own comments about a game giving you insight from multiple perspectives. Some times they might even shed some light on the game that a previous reviewer might have missed. It is, after all, hard to see the entire picture when you are trying to get something out in a reasonable amount of time.

EGM (and other publications) have done the multiple reviewer angle with pros and cons at the end, and I think that's best. Get up to four people to write a review of a game from four different angles. That way, you are better equipped to give your readers a fuller sense of the game, you are less likely to miss anything, and a better conclusion can be drawn by all.

As for the number system, I feel it's lazy. It means nothing. It's there for the casual reader to skim through and say, "Nintendo Life gave the game a score of 9 while IGN gave it a score of 7. What gives?" Nobody ever reads the damn review to get the main points and the number is supposed to be some summarized conclusion of the entire article... all down to a single number. No thanks.

In short: multiple reviewers for a single game to get a wider view of the game from multiple angles. Pros and cons at the end of the article. Get rid of the stupid number system.



Bass_X0 said:

And as I said, how are we supposed to identify the good games from the bad games without having to read every single review on the site?



MrGawain said:

Personally I think the idea of percentage scores is outdated- how exactly do you come to a score of 76%? Why is it one percent more than 3 quarters good? And don't people have psychological cut off point where a game of 90% is brilliant but 89% is mediocre. Plus there is the endless argument where someone says 'well the game I own got 2% more than the game you own so therefore my existence has more meaning and I win at life in general'.

Undoubtedly, you can only really compare a game with the peers of is genre, age range and system. Can we really say a racing game on a PS3 can be compared to one on the 3ds? No, because they are intentionally built differently for the style of play each system is designed to do. Also reviews should try to balance where a game ranks against its competition: Rayman/Mario/Luigi, Skylanders/Infinity, Assassins Creed/Arkham City.

What we really want to know is: Is this game 'the best of it's genre', 'a bit of fun to fill in the time', 'only for diehards who can ignore the faults, or 'avoid like the plague'. This gives us a starting point to make a purchasing decision.



XCWarrior said:

I do think some game reviews need to be catered to multiple audiences. Maybe for games like Swap Force or Disney Infinity, say, "8 out of 10 for your kids, but probably a 6 out of 10 for core gamers." SOmething like that. Not needed for all games, but some.

Also, post what a number means on your site. As others have stated, the nonsense that anything under 8 is bad is garbage. At the bottom of each review, have all 10 numbers and what the number means. for example:

10 - Legendary (Perfect is not a good word to use)
9 - Awesome
8 - Great
7 - Good
6 - Solid/Above Average
5 - Average
4- Below Average
3 - Bad
2- Horrible
1 - Legendarily Awful

I think that would be great to see.



JohninMotion said:

@Bass_XO I understand what you are saying, but I generally have an idea if I am interested in a game before it is released. The review is there to let me know the particulars of the final release. It's like me asking my friends if they liked the game. They will tell me what they liked and didn't like and I will make a judgement off of that. No where in our conversation, unless jokingly, will they tell me a number score.

I understand, from what the article mentions, about the business side of rating a game and what you mention in one of your earlier comments. Sometimes it is nice to bypass a game rated 2 instead of reading through eleven paragraphs of text explaining how much it sucked. I guess that's where the Pros and Cons list would come in. Never-the-less, a rating system would make that easier.

I guess my problem with the rating system is there are no clearly defined guidelines on these ratings. What makes a game an 8 rather than a 9 exactly? It seems all arbitrary. So many people scrutinize over this scale and these numbers that it becomes maddening when what really matters is if the game is enjoyable or not. Will you really enjoy Shantae: Risky's Revenge (10/10) more than AlphaBounce (9/10)? Most likely not unless the specific gameplay elements don't suit you well. Some reviewers didn't like the Wii U Murfy levels in Rayman Legends so they knocked it down a point from other reviews (i.e. here @ Nintendo Life), but I actually enjoyed those levels. So what do these numbers actually mean?



SwerdMurd said:

I use my 5 and 8 year old nephews for similar social education. Watching them try to figure out my "super intuitive" controller-based interfaces always blows my mind.

Watch a kid use an iPad. It's pretty awesome.



thatguyEZ said:

@MrGawain Exactly! It's like when people try and compare Mario 64 to Mario Galaxy saying that Galaxy is the better game. it's like how can you honestly feel like comparing those two games is even fair? People are ridiculous. -_-



Kasplat said:

@Cohort Im still in my teens myself, but I grew up on Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario World just like a lot of other kids in the 90's. So don't discount those kids!

At one time I trusted ign reviews. But the longer I stayed there the more anti-nintendo it felt, so Ive started using this site for my gaming fix!



3Daniel said:

@Peach64 i dont think price should change a review but i believe consistency is important. Cut the rope was marginally marked up but price was pointed out in the review. AB trio has a huge mark up but price was never mentioned. Consistency is all Im asking.



MAB said:

Reviews of anything should just be abolished completely... Make people buy rubbish games and play them like we had to do back in the good old days



astarisborn94 said:

@unrandomsam Not always. It depends on how the score is judged. Building a review around the score is bad because the score bias the review to where the review doesn't seem as honest as it should be. That'd be like writing the conclusion to your paper before writing down the main contents.



erv said:

Oh, please keep the scores.

It's a point of reference and usually a classification of which games are must play titles and which games end up being "worth it some day".

I mean, using scores you can amplify the value of originality, as you showed to be doing with pikmin, w101, no more heroes, little kings story - all games that get moderate scores on any other gaming site because they don't see that originality. This way, we all have a point of reference to see whether or not we're going to believe most of what you're telling us in the review based on the history and valuation in line with the stuff we like.

Nintendolife reviews are great reviews, and the score only helps putting a context to the quality or, for lack of a better word, must-playness of the title.



Kirk said:

As someone mentioned above; why not have a few reviewers for each game?

Remember when Mean Machines used to have a couple of reviewers give their opinions on each review... It worked brilliantly.

Look at how Famitsu does it...where each game is reviewed by four people. That's a pretty good way of making sure a review doesn't just come down to one person's subjective and possibly slightly misguided opinion.

How about this; have three people review each game; two professional reviewers and one amateur that's actually part of the target market for the game. That way you really are judging the game from multiple points of view and ways of looking at it. You could still have a single review score at the end but it would be an average of what those three individuals think and you'd intersperse the general details of the game with paragraphs containing each person's opinions throughout the review.

Basically; just like Mean Machines did it so many years ago, brilliantly I might add, and now with an additional target gamer opinion thrown in too for good measure.



DualWielding said:

the worst review I ever read was one guy who gave 2/10 to Football Manager because it didn't play like Fifa, other than that I don't mind reviews and with all their flaws I still find them useful when deciding whether to purchase game, I like reviews that take into account the length of the game and the amount of content it offers as I always want to know if I'm getting sufficient bang from my buck and length is something you cannot gauge by playing a demo



Quickman said:

@kasplat Say you were born in 1994, you'd be 19 now, thats a little different than someone who wasn't even alive during that period, but pretends to remember it all..



Rerun said:

As much as I hate scores, it's something that has to exist in reviews because people need things to be quantified. I like the Famitsu style where they have 4 reviewers. Helps reduce bias.
I don't like how Metacritic just averages scores though. I prefer to know the median rather than the average since a really biased score can throw off your average.
Personally, I read reviews just to make sure that the game isn't broken (controls, glitches, balance). If I like a game and it isn't broken, I'll definitely buy it (or wait for a discount and then buy it).



GiftedGimp said:

Scores are irrelevent, Traditional score based reviews should be scrapped these days. One or two people reviewing a game is only an opinion and with every system allowing users to rate games on the store, aswell as most retailers letting customers rate/review games and Miiverse and even social media its easy to find a overall opinion across a large cross section of actual users.
Also although Nintendo seems to lack the number of game demos on estore than other platforms demo's are great way, in conjunction with Miiverse and Social media etc give the most important person, yourself, the chance to form your own opinion about if a game is for you or not.



GiftedGimp said:

@MadAussieBloke Magazine cover disc destroyed that concept... those were the days though. Buying the magazine reading a review of "X" Game seeing the game get 95%, bugging your parents to buy it you or if you were old enough not to rely on parents money go out, buy the game, only to find out 10 minutes after slipping the game cart into the slot the game was rubbish.. and back then you didn't have stores doing trade-in's (or they weren't common place anyway) or ebay.. you were screwed... mainly what you did was try and do a swap with a freind hoping they will give you one of thier good games not knowing about your game being naff.



LavaTwilight said:

I think both authors of this article make equally valid points, but for the purpose of being argumentative I'm going to go ahead and take Tom's side. I thoroughly believe that the review is the main article and the score is just a tool to be used by the reviewer. A game that's given 7/10 isn't any worse than a completely different type of game being given 8/10 - it all comes down to the consumer reading the review.
Still I think Andy's point is equally valid in its own right (just want to reiterate that).
Andy = 8/10
Tom = 9/10



unrandomsam said:

@GiftedGimp Pretty much everything is rated 5 out of 5 in the eshop. The absolute lowest is 4 out of 5 which is for things that are basically terrible.



MathRaph said:

I have to say that personally, I'm growing out of videogames reviews. I've playing for more than 20 years now, and I feel like I don't really need them anymore. I now have the experience to quickly see if I would enjoy a game, based on some gameplay footage or a studio curriculum. Sometimes I'm wrong, but that's ok. Put it to the side and go back to it later. Still not good? Sell it.
I don't have anything again reviews, I think they are necessary as games can be outrageously expensive passion, there needs to be some sort of guiding. For me, it's a nice way to compare my experience. But sometimes I feel like guys who have played dozens, maybe hundreds of games still put opinions of others over their own personnal perception. They shouldn't. Your money, your collection, your opinions.



Relias said:

Nope keep scores.. and let multiple people do the reviews.. this was the best system even back in the PS2 era... and now since there is not hardly as many releases a month.. especially for the Wii U.. I don't see why this can't happen now.. ( Believe it or not there was magazines that had to review 30+ games a month.. that was how fast they were being released.. what is it now?? especially for one or two systems?? ) Just saying keep the points.. but put a few reviewers on it.. with different perspectives.. if you do this and a game gets high scores all around that tells us it is probably worth buying.. compared to one reviewer.. one perspective.. and one score..



Relias said:

@XCWarrior Better system

0= Take all copies and burn them.. then deny the game ever came into being..

1= poor effort.. not worth buying..

2= Average.. worth checking out and maybe buying if your a huge fan of said character, franchise, or genre..

3= Good.. worth a rent and perhaps a buy..

4= Very Good.. should probably be on every ones buy list if they are a fan of said genre.

5= Classic.. if you don't have this you don't know what's good.. you need this game period..



Kindread said:

I honestly have never read a Nintendo Life review. I always go to the bottom, and look at the closing statements first and then look at the score. For me, I do this because of spoilers. NintendoLife reviews are so content heavy that I fear they'll get too far into story elements that I'd want to discover for myself. The last paragraph though tells me exactly what I want to know about the game. I still take it with a grain of salt, but the information is very helpful when I'm making a purchase.



defrb said:

For me its important the reviewer shares the same enthusiasm as i do.

Like when you review oranges, you need someone hwo actualy like oranges ^^

I like to read metacritics lowest and highest scores before i make up my mind



XCWarrior said:

@Relias Clever, but not concise enough. As @Kindread points out, one fault of Nintendo Life (and honestly almost every gaming site on the web) is that game review are way too long. They need to be 500 words max, barring a RARE exception (and I can't give you one). Spoilers should be avoided.

Really should be -
1) Short intro paragraph
2) Paragraph on the story, non-spoiler
3) Paragraph on the gameplay
4) ONE paragraph on the sound, graphics
5) Paragraph on two things you really love and maybe one you don't, or vise versa on how good or bad game is
6) Conclusion, with a review score.

Just my opinion, but I want things short and to the point, spoiler free. Think readership of full review would go up.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Scores are especially important to me when i didn't keep up with new releases for a while. Gotta set priorities and filter out the biggest garbage.

And i do think that if a game is mostly aimed at children (educational ones especially) or people that mostly play in 20 minute sessions it would be great to have a bit of their perspectives in the review too.
Easier said than done for sure, but imo there's always something missing when someone reviews a game that never really had the chance to fully appeal to him.



ramstrong said:

I think it is extremely important to consider the intended users. I have had the experience of purchasing "good" game, but with faulty user interface because the reviewer is unfamiliar with the genre. I have also purchased "bad" game that I truly love, and wonder how that reviewer could possibly get the job.

It's why I never put a score to my reviews. I always consider the demographics. So, my conclusion tended to specify which demographic the audience is for. "Good" review usually means "wide" demographic.

As far as putting number to reviews, it's all subjective. I think that a better system would separate scoring art, technical, UI, bugs, bonus. It may be overkill to separate sound/music/graphic/animations, but you get the idea. That way, a brilliantly presented games full of bugs will be obvious at first glance.

Another thing to consider, e-shop uses Casual--Hardcore scale, and I think it's beneficial to have Twitch--Thinker scale to help people understand what kind of game they're playing. Some game review sites uses Luck--Strategy scale to review their games, and I think that merits mention as well.

In short, more at-a-glance info for the games, but deeper than what a single number can give.



Pahvi said:

I want to see verbose reviews that are more essays than the game's feature list written in whole sentences with a sidenote or two in the whole review. I appreciate a final one-word verdict, even if it weren't on ordinal scale. I use it to see if the reviewer found something to complain, and if yes, I'll check the complaints out and decide whether they're game breakers for me. I know I've played a game with Metascore 56 by far more than a game with Metascore of 74 (similar genre) and also enjoyed it a lot more as well.

The calls for reviews of one game by several different people make me think of book discussion clubs. I don't see it working with games that need to have the review written on the day of release, though, unless free review copies are given.

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