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Reviewing games and scoring woes

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The thinking man with a critical eye for green dinosaurs

I just reviewed Yoshi’s New Island for the 3DS yesterday. As of today, my score is the highest on Metacritic because I gave the game an 8.5. As it turns out, not many other sites agree with me.

The game stands at an average of 6.4 with 12 positive reviews. 22 mixed, and 3 negative reviews. Sure, I’m not the only positive review on there, but the reviews are mainly mixed to negative. So am I wrong? In terms of reviewing, the optimal result is all reviewers to agree on a score, but that is never really the case. I think there are several factors that go into how people review games.

Very similar

Lets look at the game in question. Yoshi’s New Island is a traditional platformer based off a game from 1995. I think traditional, 2D platformers are going through a strange fatigue where people are either sick of them, or have played too many of them.

Ain't it a bitch
New Island, like many Nintendo franchises, banks on nostalgia, and people who truly love the original game. Unlike other Nintendo franchises where Nintendo tries to do something different like with Super Mario 3D world or Super Mario Galaxy, New Island stayed very close to the original game.

This worked to their disadvantage by banking on nostalgia so much that the game could be considered unoriginal or mediocre. USGamer, who scored the game an eight shares my sentiment:

“And Yoshi’s New Island is done well. If Yoshi’s Island was not your jam, there’s nothing here that will sway you towards love, so you can skip it. If you thought Yoshi’s Island was great, pick this up, because Yoshi’s New Island is every bit as endearing as the original. Mostly by walking directly in its footprints. “

Fortunately for me, New Island was a fresh experience, since I never played the original as a kid. It’s understandable that this game could be seen as middling to those who prefer the original. It’s a shame because it’s definitely not a bad game.

Then you have the fatigue of a certain genre. In the same way that it is difficult to release a shooter that isn’t seen as mediocre, it is very difficult to release an engaging platformer. The running left to right thing might’ve been new and still explored back in the 80’s and 90’s, but nowadays it needs to be turned on its head to get any kind of attention.

Which is why, especially in the indie scene, you see a lot of innovative puzzle platformers rather than action platformers. In fact, Super Meat Boy is rare that it was a traditional platformer focused on execution and speed, which was still well received. New Island unfortunately was not there, and probably came off as boring to most reviewers looking for innovation to keep their eyes glued to the tiny 3DS screen.

Then there’s the old chestnut of subjectivity. All reviews are simply one person’s opinion, with evidence and logic to (hopefully) back it up. I can vouch for my own, but also for others. Whether or not a Metacritic score will help you decide to purchase a game is also subjective. Maybe you’re the type of person who think all or some websites are full of crap, and that’s ok! These polarised scores show that scores can never be an objective truth.

Last Updated: March 14, 2014

54 Comments

  1. I think the Big Game Site like Gamespot and IGN and those ppl give scores based on the items they get for reviewing.. I could be wrong.. but at times it does feel like that..

    Reply

    • RinceIsIngwer

      March 14, 2014 at 14:26

      Lol, I read ‘items’ as ‘interns’ and agreed whole heartedly!

      Reply

      • Sk3tz0

        March 14, 2014 at 14:29

        that could be true as well.. toss the game to the interns tahts chain to the corner office.. let them have a battle royale to the death to see who reviews the product when they done u just put ur name to the article and post it.

        Reply

    • Rags

      March 14, 2014 at 14:31

      Gamespot is pretty solid imo. Only place which reviews I still somewhat value.

      Reply

  2. Umar Praise The Golden Sun

    March 14, 2014 at 14:10

    Is any one reviewer ever completely objective?

    Reply

  3. Hammersteyn

    March 14, 2014 at 14:11

    The biggest problem other reviewers had was that it’s not as long,good or nostalgic as the old one. It’s the same with movies. Everyone who grew up with Robocop thinks the reboot is inferior. Also someone had to give the highest review. It just so happens to be you this time round.

    Reply

  4. General JJ the Fett

    March 14, 2014 at 14:14

    Snook. You always bring some interesting stuff here.

    Reply

    • Stephen Snook

      March 14, 2014 at 14:48

      Thanks!

      Reply

  5. Hammersteyn

    March 14, 2014 at 14:15

    Eight other sites gave it 78 or higher.

    Reply

    • Stephen Snook

      March 14, 2014 at 14:49

      They actually popped up right after I wrote this. The discussion is worth it though.

      Reply

      • MakeItLegal

        March 14, 2014 at 16:57

        U rock , me Aussie

        Reply

        • Stephen Snook

          March 14, 2014 at 18:39

          Cheers! Good to see more aussies on the site 🙂

          Reply

  6. Rags

    March 14, 2014 at 14:15

    We can only know how ‘right’ you are once we have played it anyway. Only one reviewer was brave enough to give Diablo 3 PC its deserved low score. You may turn out closest to general public opinion.

    Reply

  7. General JJ the Fett

    March 14, 2014 at 14:16

    Speaking of opinions. I miss those cool lists LG made.
    Maybe do a list per genre sometime?
    Those things were serious conversation starters.

    Reply

    • Rags

      March 14, 2014 at 14:17

      Mass Effect should be #1. Always. 😛

      Reply

      • General JJ the Fett

        March 14, 2014 at 14:18

        I’m assuming that includes RTS games?

        Reply

        • Rags

          March 14, 2014 at 14:29

          Yes 😀

          Reply

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      March 14, 2014 at 14:17

      Best RPG:

      1) Fable 1
      2) Fable 2
      3) Fable 3

      Reply

      • KingKappie

        March 14, 2014 at 14:18

        O hell no Skyrim fo #1

        Reply

      • General JJ the Fett

        March 14, 2014 at 14:18

        Geez man. You could’ve at least called spoiler first

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          March 14, 2014 at 14:21

          Zoe is the spoiler!

          Reply

          • General JJ the Fett

            March 14, 2014 at 14:23

            Shh. She’ll hear you.

          • Her Highness the Hipster

            March 14, 2014 at 14:38

            i hear everything….

          • General JJ the Fett

            March 14, 2014 at 14:44

            I imagined that as one of those hovering voices that come from nowhere.

          • Her Highness the Hipster

            March 14, 2014 at 14:46

            as intended 🙂

          • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

            March 14, 2014 at 14:46

            Nowhere? You mean right behind you?

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            March 14, 2014 at 14:50

            No, the African Azure server centre :/

          • General JJ the Fett

            March 14, 2014 at 15:00

            Damn it!

      • Sk3tz0

        March 14, 2014 at 14:20

        Stick of Truth Best RPG 😛

        Reply

      • RinceIsIngwer

        March 14, 2014 at 14:27

        Ouch 🙂 That’ll get you ‘let go’…

        Reply

      • MakeItLegal

        March 14, 2014 at 16:57

        Really ? Or is it a joke ( no harm intended ) played fable 2 when I still had an xbox was ok but not great

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          March 14, 2014 at 18:55

          That was a joke at the expense of their poor innocent intern. 😉

          Reply

    • KingKappie

      March 14, 2014 at 14:24

      Let start a war Best FPS.
      1) COD
      2) trololol

      Reply

      • General JJ the Fett

        March 14, 2014 at 14:25

        But FPS will have to be split between MP and SP games. Otherwise it’s just unfair.

        Reply

      • Sk3tz0

        March 14, 2014 at 14:25

        Rise of the Traid.. Best FPS hands down.. most memories of playing that during break on college Lan..

        Reply

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          March 14, 2014 at 14:53

          Best part of ROTT MP… Drunk missiles heat seek after a few seconds 😀

          Reply

          • Sk3tz0

            March 14, 2014 at 14:54

            Wat ever happened to that remake taht was coming out… was it ever released ???

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            March 14, 2014 at 15:00

            Yes, a few months ago already. I’ve got it, still on the backlog though.

          • Sk3tz0

            March 14, 2014 at 15:02

            cool.. must look out for it then

  8. Alien Emperor Trevor

    March 14, 2014 at 14:17

    What I hate in a review is reading a wall of negativity & criticism, then the game gets 7/10. It just doesn’t make sense to me. And when it’s overly snarky simply for the sake of it.

    Reply

    • CAE9872

      March 18, 2014 at 07:31

      Yeah this! And that comes from the mainstream press a lot. Reads like a really bad game = 8. Turn page…reads like an OK game = 5.

      Ummm what?

      Reply

  9. Sk3tz0

    March 14, 2014 at 14:22

    You know who they should use to review games.. 5yr olds.. Nobody more honest that a toddler.. they tell u quick if its a kak game or not..

    Reply

    • General JJ the Fett

      March 14, 2014 at 14:23

      And then straight to rehab after playing The Stick of Truth.

      Reply

      • Sk3tz0

        March 14, 2014 at 14:23

        Nah.. Stick of Truth builds character..

        Reply

      • Unavengedavo(aka. Bilbo)

        March 14, 2014 at 14:30

        Dark Souls?

        Reply

        • General JJ the Fett

          March 14, 2014 at 14:31

          When he’s scratched out his eyes a rehab won’t be of any help anyway.

          Reply

    • KingKappie

      March 14, 2014 at 14:35

      Well if you think of it a lot of 5yr old play COD so Y not

      Reply

  10. HvR

    March 14, 2014 at 14:51

    Interesting analysis but applying Ockham’s razor there can only be one logical conclusion.

    It is because you are Australian.

    Reply

  11. Wyzak

    March 14, 2014 at 16:13

    I look at the average of the critic reviews and compare that to the average of the user review. If the user review average far exceeds the critic review average it’s probably a great game to play and it’s been underhyped. If the critic review score far exceeds the user review score it’s probably been overhyped. I tend to buy way more underhyped games than overhyped games.

    Reply

  12. Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    March 14, 2014 at 16:19

    I’ve dabbled in reviewing in the past, I’ve even written a few opinion pieces, and it’s true a review is ultimately one person’s subjective opinion. What worries me though is the lemming effect – among the gaming media. All you really need to sink or laud a game is a few of the major players writing a smashing review, hyping it up, and the rest follow hook line and sinker. It only rectifies itself a few weeks later, when you get the late-arriving community reviews (Take Spec Ops The line as an example), but by then a game has either been destroyed sales-wise or some exec’s already buying a new yacht.

    That’s one of the reasons why I never read reviews of games that I’m reviewing. I don’t want to be influenced by the views of others, and instead I want my readers to get an honest appraisal of a game. That’s why I’ve sometimes loved games that others have hated, or hated games that have been praised as the second coming (here’s looking at you Titanhype).

    Reply

  13. MakeItLegal

    March 14, 2014 at 16:56

    Don’t stress lazy gamer , atleast we know u guys are ( poor ish ) and judgin by lack of you guys boasting about flat screen TVs and new BMWs we all know that your reviews are spot on

    Damit Ea pay the reviews more lol

    Reply

  14. CuntstableCockMuffins

    March 16, 2014 at 08:36

    The original game was one of the few Mario games I never completed, I thought it was shit.

    Reply

  15. Sageville

    March 17, 2014 at 09:47

    This is the second time you have written an article defending your review score.

    Why bother?

    Reply

  16. CAE9872

    March 18, 2014 at 07:33

    I have never bought a game from review score alone. I tend to know if I would like the game. On occasion I buy the game because gaming community has said its great. But a review alone – nope.

    Reply

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