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Soapbox | What Even Is A Game Review?

Is the idea of the video game review 'broken'?

Over the years, many gamers have become accustomed to the basic 'review'. Reviews ranging from GamePro, EGM, and Nintendo Power all the way to modern publications online such as Gamespot and IGN.

The basic review. An overview of sorts giving the reviewer's perspective as to why they feel a certain way about the game in question. The standard outline formula of items:

- Story

- Graphics

- Sound

- Control

- Gameplay

This is the outline Smash JT attempts to diligently follow. Recently, the question has arisen regarding how long must a reviewer actually play the game prior to reviewing.

- Reviewer must play a game until completion for a proper, complete review.


- Reviewer must play a game until they have an extremely firm grasp of the content offered.

Depending on who you ask, the answers will undoubtedly vary. I am a firm believer in: If a game is bad, it's bad. Playing it beyond the point of having a solid grasp of the gameplay will not change this perspective (keeping in mind that this moment can happen 20+ hours into a game at times).

What needs to be focused on instead is when is that actual moment of having a solid grasp on the content offered occurs. Each review created is done so with a personal bias, whether knowingly or not. Having the proper expectations going into a game makes all the difference. If a game is advertised to the player as one type of game, and ends up being something completely different, it could have the same effect to the reviewer as drinking milk but thinking its water. It's gross. The taste (or in this case, review) in effected from the mindset heading in.

Case in point: Initial impressions on the Secret of Mana Remake. It was bad, riddled with glitches and game breaking bugs. After playing onward, I realized it wasn't as bad as originally thought. I kept playing because my frustrations were self-created. They were my personal bias going in. They were expectations not being met. Once that realization occurred, I approached with a clear head, to see the game on it's own, for what it was, and ignore the original bias that existed going in.

The Secret of Mana Remake is good. Not great, but good, about 5-6 hours in, the epiphany took place. Once that happened, playing through to the end didn't change my mind. I had already realized what had been missing when the original approach was reevaluated.

There are a tremendous amount of variables that could convolude a review. Did the reviewer play for 5 hours straight and become mentally exhausted; or stop enjoying the experience that they would have liked if they had taken a break and come back the next day? Do they have a personal undisclosed bias going into a specific game for an infinite number of reasons? How long is the game? There's a huge difference between a 10 hour Indie title and a 100+ hour AAA RPG. Are there updates that fix bugs and change perspective? DLC? So many things to consider with each review, so it's best to find a reviewer (or site) that fits your game style

Smash JT reviews games with the premise of a basic overview, what I like about a game and what I don't. I leave the majority of the game to be experienced by the viewer themselves. In doing so, hoping that the review is helpful in making the decision on if it's the right game for you or not.


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