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Perfect Game ≠ Flawless Game
Editorial by 
Editor
July 21, 2011, 09:24:28
 
Every single gaming editorial publication is asked this at least once in their lifetime. Why did you give a perfect score to to a game with flaws? I was recently asked this question in my latest review for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D. It's a fair question and, in order to answer it, I need to get a little bit technical and philosophical at the same time.

A perfect game is not a flawless game. Negative World, like some other sites, has a review scale that goes from 0-10. If there is a game that is so terrible with absolutely no redeeming qualities (not even one), then I think it should deserve a big fat zero. However, if there is a game out there that does absolutely everything right, with maybe one or two meaningless wrinkles that are wholly overshadowed by the rest of the positives, then I don't see why I should deny the rarely given and elusive "Perfect Score." Like Anthony Burch once wrote (yes THAT Anthony Burch), "Perfection is an ideal, never to be practically reached by any art form at any time. That's just the way it works. With that in mind, why would you waste an entire point on the 1-10 grading scale by devoting it to something that can, by definition, never truly exist? Instead of calling 10/10 "perfect," why not just call it "will cure cancer"? They're both equally likely to happen within our lifetimes. To hold the 10/10 score back as an ideal for the perfect game, just in case it ever exists, is to degrade the entire 1-10 system into a 1-9.9 scale."

I feel that a "Perfect" game comes out maybe 1-2 times per system (sometimes 3 if we are lucky) , if that system has a lifetime of 4+ years. Let me list how many "perfect" scores there are per system, in my opinion.

NES: 1
Game Boy: 0
Game Boy Color: 0 For now. There are 4 games I want to play before making my final judgment.
Game Boy Advance: 1
SNES: 5 I find that the SNES constitutes the Golden Era of gaming.
N64: 2 And you already know one of them.
Game Cube: 1 and it's not Wind Waker or Super Mario Sunshine
DS: 2 and they are both remakes.
Wii: 1 I have to finish another game to see if it is worthy of a 10, but I'm not playing it soon.
3DS: 1 for now.

Game Gear: 0
Genesis: 0

PS1: 2
PS2: 0
PS3: 3
PSP: 0

XBOX: 0
XBOX 360: 2

If you look at other sites, you will see that, even though they have perfect scores in their review scales, they all agree that there is no such thing as a perfect game. I leave you with some examples:

Gamespot:
10.0: PrimeThis exceedingly rare score refers to a game that is as perfect as a game can aspire to be at its time of release. Obviously, the constantly changing standards for technology and gameplay will probably make this game obsolete some day, but at its time of release, a game earning this score could not have been improved upon in any meaningful way.

Nintendo World Report:
10 - We don't believe any game can actually be "perfect." But some can get pretty close. We give our highest grade to games which are the best of the best. Games that aren't necessarily "generation-defining" can still be given top marks for this reason; if a game is all it can be and stands out among those like it, it can get high marks, too.

Game Informer:
Outstanding: A truly elite title that is nearly perfect in every way. The score is given out rarely and and indicates a game that cannot be missed.

And my favorite definition of a "Perfect Game" goes to IGN:

IGN:
10.0 - Masterpiece
The pinnacle of gaming, a masterpiece may not be flawless, but it is so exceptional that it is hard to imagine a game being better. At the time of its release, this game is the not just the best the system can offer, but better than we could have expected.

Example: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

I would like to conclude the same way I began, just to hammer the point. A perfect game is not a flawless game.

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Posted: 07/21/11, 09:24:28  - Edited by 
 on: 07/21/11, 23:10:02    
 
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@Mr_Mustache

Yea, to be honest I just don't really care about reviews. If they ceased to exist, I'd probably lose nothing and be saved from annoying citations to Metacritic and Gamerankings, not to mention people being up in arms about games not being rated properly.

Sounds like a paradise really...


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 01:20:42
@Mr_Mustache

7.4 for WWF Warzone?

That game was pretty trashy.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 01:27:16
Mr_Mustache said:
@Jargon

Alright, well, I guess that "pass up" thing is more geared toward XBOB then.

I typically don't base my gaming choices on a single review. In fact, most of my purchases come from games I'm already waiting for or big word-of-mouth games. When I do use reviews, I browse several different reviews to get the feeling for what I want. If I could boil all these reviews down to "Buy it!" or "Don't!" without having to necessarily read 3 pages of text, that'd be cool, too. When I want to read review text, I like it to be very informative, so that's always great, but when I'm already aware due to other reviews of a fair amount of ins and outs of a game, I like to see if there's any major dips or spikes. Deadly Premonition is a great example. IGN really didn't "get" the game, but at the same time, you can't really blame them for the score.

I feel I'm getting a bit off topic here and becoming slightly unclear, so I'll stop, since I'm kind of losing the point I was trying to make since I'm multi-tasking. Think I was going to say something along the lines of I'd rather have a major Call of Duty game score a 6 from a reviewer if it meant they were honestly sick of recommending the same game over and over rather than it scoring a 9+ because the game is technically still good and "hits the points it should". (Just using CoD as an example, not as a point of contention.)

As it stands, a reviewer would be terrified (Or ecstatic that they'd be stirring the wasp's nest.) of giving a game like CoD that score because it'd be like saying "This game is SHIT!" rather than "I can't recommend this game again, buy one of the older ones for cheaper for a similar experience at a much lower price point." And if you said that in the review and still gave it a 9.8, it'd confuse the crap out of people.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 01:29:13
@Jargon

Haha, yeah, this whole thing sprung from that thought. If you don't want to get invested in scores, thats fine. But, like I said before, if you see that I have a game, or someone else has a game, don't hesitate to ask about it. I'm with you though; my interest is 99% (an actual 99%) driven by by urge to buy the game the first second I hear about it. I'm not swayed at all by reviews from IGN or whatever, and the only thing that MIGHT make me buy a game I wouldn't necessarily want is word of mouth. I got Resident Evil 4 and Zack and Wiki solely because of this.

@stephen08

Not at the time. It was the first WWF game on the N64, it has create-a-wrestler (the first out of any console-based wrestling game), sweet entrance themes, and the best graphics of a wrestling game on the N64 to that point. WCW vs NWO World Tour crushed it in control/fun though, of course. You'll notice that Attitude is a slightly better score than Warzone got, but No Mercy decimated it.

@Xbob42

Thats another thing. I think I'm more wary of the "10" because someone could just give it that, just because, and you don't really know how they got to that point WITHOUT having to read, so I think we're definitely on the same page there. Bottom line: sounds like there really isn't an "ultimate score" that'll "make" anyone run out and buy a game. And thats cool. Like I said, there is a 0% chance of me getting No More Heroes or Madworld ever, and thats purely my choice. I don't like the cut of their jib, so I'm not sailing. Or I guess I AM sailing. You know what I mean..

I just picked 9.8 because that is how Chrono Trigger comes in on my personal scale. And I DO think they'd be terrified (or ecstatic) to give a low score to a game that people were expecting otherwise. My best friend Daemon burned Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (and wrote an equally horrrrible review while relishing the fact that he was making people mad, I presume; remember how he feels about the Wii.. --and I'm still talking about it!!) and slapped a super-low score on it. People were like "thanks! Now I don't have to get this!" MISTAKE.

I know there are some people here who don't like that game (Het_Nkik; he didn't score the first one), and thats ok, but for most RPG fans (and fans of the game here), or people who love that type of game, passing that up is a huge no-no. It felt a lot like the first, and things they took away were replaced with other things, so it wasn't that bad. I really enjoyed the game, but his score/review singlehandedly hurt the sales of that game to some extent. No, I'm not saying the game would've went triple-platinum without his interference, but the fact that he even turned away one person -- by definition -- hurt sales.

Doing more of the same is a hard thing to score. I mean, thats why a franchise is a franchise, right? If I wanted a different game, I'd BUY a different game. People who like Call of Duty like that type of stuff. They really shouldn't expect much different.. Same with Madden. Its football. Its a football game. Its not NES PlayAction Football, its not Tecmo Bowl, and its not the 2K series. Why SHOULD it be different from year to year? It really shouldn't. They should be scored against their predecessors and taken that way, but like you also said, it often is "more of the same" and you could potentially buy one of the older games for cheaper at a lower price point. If I were telling you (exciting online Wii stuff aside for my own selfish desires to play you in a League!) to buy a Madden game (if you didn't care about rosters), I'd probably suggest the 2004, 2005, or 2006 game.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 01:49:29
Well, yeah, sometimes getting more of the same is good, ala Super Mario Galaxy 2. But if we had Super Mario Galaxy 3 next year, and 4 the year after that, even hardcore Super Mario fans might start to think it's getting a bit stale and ask where Mario is going or if he's gonna be stuck, thematically, for all eternity. I think a game can feel similar and faithful to its predecessors while still shaking things up and wowing the world. Assassin's Creed 2 is a great example of a game most people thought was meh at best and making it something really special. Sure, lots of people like CoD (Again, just an example.) in its current form but it has so little changing each iteration and it comes out so often that it's going to collapse into itself like Guitar Hero.

I think the scoring, again, should come from how the reviewer feels about the game itself. If they're just totally exhausted on the series, then a much lower recommendation would convey this without calling the game poo. But scoring high technically while at the same time openly recommending a previous title sends very mixed messages, I think.

Of course, each of us feels our own way, but I try to think of it from the perspective of one who wants to buy, not one who wants to rate. Maybe a "TECHNICAL SCORE: #" and a "RECOMMENDATION SCORE" of sorts?

Something like this... (I know it might seem like it'd be cluttering up reviews a bit, but I think it'd offer a wider range of freedom to authors of reviews and give a bit more info to potential consumers, I think more info is always good as long as it's clear and concise what's on the table.)



With little tooltips popping up like that to inform/remind the reviewer about the differences between the scores. To further reduce confusion you could even change the recommendation score (I know, so catchy.) to something like stars (the Mario kind!) so as to separate them and prevent confusion.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 02:14:54  - Edited by 
 on: 07/22/11, 02:15:07
@Xbob42

I guess that could make things a little more interesting (and clearer in some ways), but it might also muddy the waters a little bit more, wouldn't it? I mean, some people here find it unfathomable to differentiate between a 9.1 and a 9.3, whats to say someone can tell the difference about the ability of the game and how much they recommend it? I feel like we'd be getting a lot of the same scores, but it certainly makes sense to me. I fully understand. While Pac-Man isn't knocking anyone's socks off, should you play it? Absolutely, 10.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 02:35:23
Well I assume we ('We' being Zero, and me completely assuming things because I can!) have to try to fight against the idea of having to dumb everything down to as absolutely simple as possible so that no one, ever, gets confused. We're not going for huge ad clicks here, so I think trying something a little different might be pretty cool.

Came up with an idea for an icon-based one that you could just scroll across like a lot of other websites, two different ideas, in fact:



One big heart from empty to full (So a 5-point scale.) and multiple little hearts that go in halves like stars (As many as you feel are necessary.) I think it'd fit the site pretty well!


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 02:39:44
New Forms said:
@Jargon

I think words with a score is a good thing. It reinforces the scale you are using.

That's what the review is for.

You guys kinda seem to be forgetting that the score is completely secondary to the text itself. Let's take, say, Resident Evil: Mercenaries. That game didn't really do so well critically, right? But who cares? It's a matter of knowing what you're getting.

"Mercenaries gets a 6 because it has no story!"

Well... yeah. What did you expect?


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 04:24:14  - Edited by 
 on: 07/22/11, 05:44:31
@Secret_Tunnel

But then there are cases such as the Jam City Rollergirls review that Mr_Mustache brought up, where I was saying "hey, if you were interested in this, the game has problems and it's limited but it still has something to offer you", gave it a 6, and apparently that score killed Stache's interest in the game completely.

Words accompanying the score would help.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 05:03:26
@Guillaume

A score alone shouldn't kill someone's interest in a game though. Reviews are supposed to influence (or un-influence) a person to buy a game- if the reader chooses to focus only on the score, well, their loss.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 05:36:45
@Xbob42 I hate the idea of two scores for a game. And adding a technical score in addition to a recommendation score seems weird to me anyway, it's just combining a bunch of random stuff. Like... what the heck would the BIT.TRIP games score on a technical level? They have "weak" graphics technically, but awesome style. And their music freaking owns.

For that matter, I hate how the Olympics are scored, and figure skating is the absolute most boring thing to watch because no one actually tries anything new due to the way the scoring works. I think skateboarding got a bit boring too when it started getting all formal and technical scores popped up. Back in the days, you watched a competition and WHOEVER DID THE DOPEST SHIT won.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 06:07:43
You have zero games scored the highest according to your system on the PS2?

You crazy.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 06:27:48
@sirmastersephiroth

Way to go sirmastersephiroth! You just had to review OoT, and then just cause someone calls you out on the score you felt you had to justify to this person why you scored it the way you did. And then all that did was open the ignorant can of worms of reviewing games and how they should be scored. (I"m just giving you a hard time)

Though, I would never have made a special thread trying to justify why you scored the game the way you did. Fuck those people who don't agree. Honestly, it really didn't do any good. The dude still ended up being ignorant about it. And then this whole review score debacle started again.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 06:38:33
@gamewizard65 Yeah but it may lead to a refining of the current system into something that works better for everyone. That's not a bad thing at all.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 06:39:35
@gamewizard65 and @Zero. That's exactly what I was aiming for. I actually didn't write the editorial to defend the review. I feel that a review is very personal and everyone should be entitled to their opinions. If not then everyone would like the same things and there would be no variety to life. I wrote the editorial for three reasons:

1) To let our readers know that there is no such thing as perfection and that a perfect score does not mean that a game can have no flaws. I'm pretty sure that if you mention any game or movie here that you feel is perfect, anyone else can mention at least one or more flaws. You may be aware of those flaws, but they don't detract from the overall value of the game or movie. For example, a movie that I would give a perfect score to is The Dark Knight. It has a few flaws, for example, I didn't buy into 1) Killing Two-Face and 2) Making him a martyr. However, in my eyes, the movie still gets a perfect score because, as a whole, it was leagues above everything else.

2) Like @Zero said, I feel that our scoring system may need a little bit of refinement. It may be in the way of descriptions or even a change of scoring system. However, this wasn't going to happen unless the community itself expressed their opinions about our rating system. The only way to do that was by confronting the problem head-on. Remember that "a stallion must first be broken before it can reach it's potential."

3) Lastly, I wanted to clear the path for all future perfect scores that the reviewers of this site may award to games. I didn't want every perfect score to be criticked and over-analized in the comments section of the review, which would derail the point of the review and turn this into the troll-fest that became of another site's boards that shall not be named. Anytime that happens the reviewer can either point them towards this editorial or any new rating system scale that may be devised. I would like to post on a board where everyone's opinion of a game is valued. For example, while @gencid doesn't agree with my score, I appreciate that he backed up his opinion. I have a different opinion on everything he said, for example I think the motion and touch controls add a lot to the game, the graphics are beautiful interpretations of the original concept designs without straying too far from the source material, and the Boss Challenges, Gauntlet, and Mirrored Master Quest are more than extra value added to rebuy this game. The one thing we kind of agree on is the music. The music is dated but unlike @gencid I actually prefer for it to be dated. The original soundtrack just fits THIS game better than having an orchestrated soundtrack. There are other remakes where changing the soundtrack would be a plus, such as in Resident Evil Remake. In fact, I'm sure we will have this debate again when Star Fox 64 comes out and people start complaining that some of the voices don't sound as cool as the original.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 07:23:04
@Guillaume

Haha, that isnt' true at all, man. I told you that I'd still give the game a whirl, I just haven't. I love Rollerjam!
Stop lying man. Slander! Slander!!

@sirmastersephiroth

They're changing the voices for Star Fox?? Wow, I think thats a huge mistake.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 08:15:03
@Mr_Mustache They tried to hunt down most of the original voice actors but all the voice recordings are new. Sometimes this can lead to things like changing accents (Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes and this was the same actress) among other changes.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 08:25:38
Zero said:
@Xbob42Like... what the heck would the BIT.TRIP games score on a technical level?

The technical level is basically the "success" of what the game does in each category, so I guess a "technical" score wouldn't be accurate. If you thought BIT.TRIP's visual appeal (Not it's technical prowess.) was great, then that's what counts, not the amount of shaders.

I personally don't really see a problem with a multi-scoring system, because the current system in place, for a lot of people, is basically an Olympic scoring system, and if you deviate from it, then it makes it look like you're saying a game is poo.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 12:20:24
Xbob42 said:


I personally don't really see a problem with a multi-scoring system, because the current system in place, for a lot of people, is basically an Olympic scoring system, and if you deviate from it, then it makes it look like you're saying a game is poo.

But then isn't that where the review (ie: words) comes into play? "This game isn't the most advanced game but.."


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 12:32:54
Yes but we're specifically discussing score, here, which seems to be hotly debated as to exactly what it should be.

Personally, I'd like to be able to sort games by score and know that anything under a certain threshhold isn't just an unfortunate low-budget title, but titles people genuinely felt I didn't need to play, and didn't feel obligated to score higher due to high budgets, hype, etc. Just whether or not they wanted me to play the game.


Posted by 
 on: 07/22/11, 12:38:53
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