Sunday, June 29, 2008

Review Structure

The Sega Genesis is making a comeback here in my life. I was able to pick up a handful of decent games yesterday as I travelled around town to local thrift stores. I'm looking forward to playing Cliffhanger (the movie adaptation), ESWAT, IMG Tennis, Winter Challenge (Olympic party game), and Streets of Rage (an Arcade classic).

This puts my total genesis game collection at a measly 26. Sad, yes... but growing. Last night I started a cataloging system that may grow into something more then an excel sheet in the future. Right now it will serve as a database for all the games in the Genesis collection. It's got Title, Genre, Developer, Distributor, Avg Ebay Price (item must have Box, Manual, Cart), my assigned value, rarity and general demand; all the regular stuff but then I took it a bit farther by hashing out my own way to review games by breaking them down to 1-5 scores in several key areas i find thought and discussion provoking on top of accurately assigning a score I am satisfied with.

The categories are as follows:

- Story
- Objective
- In-Game Design (meters, game menus, maps, etc...)
- In-Game Artwork (graphics)
- Audio/Sound
- Gameplay (controls, too difficult or easy)
- Emotional Impact
- Longevity
- Historical Significance
- X Factor (is it fun?)
- Package Design
- Package Artwork

For me, something like this works because it levels the playing field a bit. It also forces me to consider the game instead of just saying it is fun and put's structure behind what I'm saying. It's more interesting with more to think about. I've taken what others might see as one category like story (writing) and broken out objective because a game can have a great story but be ruined by the games objectives execution (go there, get that, unlock this, etc).

Design and Artwork go hand in hand but are distinctly different. Some games have great design (Madden games), but completely drop the ball on graphics (Madden). Current generation games may have a leg up in this category, but have you ever gone back and looked ate a game like Comix Zone or even Jungle Book on the Genesis? The look great. That said though, some games don't look so hot but still work and innovate with the overall design of the game screens (both menu and in-game). Right below, you'll see screen shots from a couple Ghost Recon Games. I'm not going to comment here about which I prefer, but you get the idea of what I'm getting at. Graphics and Design in games are different.

Longevity and Historical Significance help the older games. Again separate things. Longevity can be aided by time based achievements, easter eggs, online play, updates, co-operative play, hi scores, just plain fun, etc... On the other hand Historical Significance is a game that made an impact on the industry or sometimes other industries. A good example of a game that has longevity would be something like World of Warcraft or Golden Eye and Historical Significance would be something like Spacewar! or Pong.

Design and Artwork are split out again for Package Design and Package Artwork. Warlords is and excellent example of greatness being achieved in both categories:

After seeing this image you have to wonder why games then began to use images like the below to sell games:

Structuring out a review based on certain cornerstones is nothing new. Nor is it necessarly the best way to approach anything. Had a professor in school told me to do this I would have gotten angry, stating that art is emotion. Perhaps the old me is right in a way. But using numbers as a way to gauge a video game ads backbone and heck, it is fun.


Unknown said...

Have a copy of Gunstar Heroes yet? Definitely the best in my collection. Also, if you pick up a 32x, check out Kolibri. I can safely say that it is the best hummingbird based shooter of all time.

Larry W Johnson II said...

Never had a copy of Gunstar Heroes but did play it. The game was over the top in a great way. I'll check out Kolibri if i can, sounds enticing.