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Perfect Game ≠ Flawless Game
Editorial by 
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 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:

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:

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    
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?

I actually think that's a good idea.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:31:01
Also let's step back for a second and think logistics, because apparently being the sole designer/programmer left here I'm the only person who thinks about this stuff.

If we were to adopt a brand new multi-score system, every current review would have to be re-scored by the original reviewer. That's already a mini-nightmare. And then new code would have to be created to handle the new scoring system.

And we also have ratings, which would either have to follow the same scoring system (logistically: next to impossible) or follow a completely different one, which would be even more confusing, because reviews would have to be totally separated from the averages and such.

Not a good idea. NEXT.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:34:11  - Edited by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:35:08
Who cares about the past or a retrofitting process? We're talking about an ideal system.

This whole topic is just about reviews, in general, right? Not NW ones, specifically.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:40:48

I did at one point have my rating of Animal Crossing: City Folk set as 0. But figured that wasn't all together fair. If I were to start out the series with this game, I'd probably like it quite a bit, but being what it is (a slap in the face to fans of the series) I have nothing but contempt for this pathetic cash-in. This of course ties back to what you said, that games are "totally subjective." And in my case, I'm far too bias to review this particular game without putting more of an extreme anti-curve on the title than would be necessary. Which relates to the nostalgic factor, perhaps, and how much the original Animal Crossing meant to me. So, yeah, it's probably best I not rate or rank things officially. I'm sometimes too cut and dry with my views.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:42:20  - Edited by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:54:55
@Anand Well you asked me if I think a "perfectly-formed game with a small scope" deserves a perfect score. I'm not exactly sure how the two score system came into it, because "a perfect score" seems to imply one score. And if we're talking a one score system then yeah, I think scope matters. If we're talking a multi-score system then I suppose I'd have to go with whatever the various categories are.

And I'm always talking about here, because where else would I be scoring games? Everyone should score games here and here only!

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:50:03  - Edited by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:51:47
Hire illegal immigrants!

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 00:53:07
See, personal preference, but I don't necessarily consider scope when I review a game. What's scope? A 40 hour RPG? A 30 hour FPS? A sim-sports game with a deep ruleset?

Meanwhile, how many hours have I put into Tetris over the years?

Personally, i think if something is small and perfect, it's still perfect. Just my own opinion, there.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 01:16:25
PogueSquadron said:
Tl;dr but my thoughts are, what's the point of having a scoring system if a game can never get the top score? A 10/10 doesn't mean that the game has absolutely nothing wrong with it, but it just exemplifies that it is the cream of the crop, better than any game comparable to it, and likely will be for some time.

NoName said:
Anand said:
A lot of games are 10s in my book. Basically, any super-solid game that I had a ton of fun and good memories with. Totally subjective. That's how I roll. Especially for older games that exist only in nostalgia-colored memories.

This is easily the best thing said thus far that matches almost exactly, however scarily so, to my feelings on the matter.

Even current games that are fun-filed gaming feasts are worthy of a ten if one makes that special gaming connection with a particular game even if said game is not without flaws. Scores are nice to glance at when looking at games that haven't been on one's radar or for games that one wants to be worthwhile, but knows that this game or that game might be nothing more than smoke and mirrors. I've never been fond of traditional scoring systems myself - one of the reasons I've yet to officially write up a review of a game here. I like the simpler approach of two thumbs up, or something to that effect.

I'm with you guys (and sirmastersephiroth as well) regarding giving 10s to my favorite games despite minor flaws.

As for the whole rating system: I've been happy with the 100 point scale we use here on NW, and I use it in a way where I can tell which games I personally favor over other ones, according to my tastes. I've always understood that everyone will use the 100 point scale in a different way, and that's ok.

@NoName, I would be very interested in reading a review by you, because I've always found your insight valuable. For a review, I focus on the text more so than the score.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 02:00:09
I think my favorite rating scale is surprisingly the one they use over at ScrewAttack. Buy it, Rent it, or F it. Of course, there's a lot of gray area in between, and renting games isn't a priveledge that a lot of us have, but it works for me. I just want to know if a game is good and deserves my attention, if it's ok and I might like it, or if i should just avoid it because it's not that great.

For me, that's all I even want to hear anymore, because I'm going to make up my own mind about it.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 02:09:59
If NW's scoring ever resembles that of the olympics - I'll shoot myself.

No Technical triple axel, No Gut feeling, no 'perfect execution', no double toe tap - just the gaming basics thank you. Please, talk about all those things in your review, but if you must score (1 number out of 10 like it is now) ...just score what makes a game a game: Gameplay, Graphics, Sound, and Play Control and add that all in your head.

I'm really happy with the way our editors have reviewed games - and pay attention more to the wording then the actual grade at the end.. Because of Zero's glowing review of Sin and Punishment, I rented it.. Worth a rent..but not my type of game. *dodges ban*

Paying attention to the written review is what I normally do anyways..if I was so hard up on grades, I would have passed up on Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles on Wii.. that would have been a big mistake.


Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 02:15:49  - Edited by 
 on: 07/23/11, 02:17:23
I think the argument that the scoring system is currently "fine" is in itself a flawed argument when there's a six page thread debating a better way to do it.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 02:54:52
@Xbob42 I don't get it. Do you expect everyone to agree? There is no scoring system that wouldn't lead to a 6 page thread debating a better way to do it. Debates don't happen because things aren't working, debates happen because people have conflicting opinions on things.

We can work on some improvements, but your premise is flawed.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 03:00:57

I don't think we need to to change the rating system necessarily. What I do think we need is to come up with definitions for the different score ranges, like other sites have done. That way, reviewers have a better idea how to assing scores and readers know what the reviewers mean by the scores at a glance (they should also read the text of course).

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 03:03:07
Zero said:
@Xbob42 I don't get it. Do you expect everyone to agree?

I was referencing the fact that a few folks in this thread have claimed the system is "perfectly fine," insinuating that no change is needed at all, and potentially everyone is happy with it. I think the industry scoring system in general is silly and archaic.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 03:07:11

.... a better idea how to assing scores
.... how to assing scores
.... to assing
... assing

heh heh he heh.. you said...assing.

Damn you T-bun...thanks to your beavis and butthead thread I now have their line of thinking fresh in my mind!

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 03:07:38

For a second there I though I had actually spelled it wrong. It's a a good thing I didn't write cockpit.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 03:19:56
Oh that happens to everyone. Ever since I first saw the movie with a buddy 10+ years ago, it's gotten hard to shake their infectious style from my mind!

...Huh huh, hard.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 03:23:36
@Xbob42 But saying something is fine isn't insinuating that "everyone" is happy with it. Everyone is never happy with anything, that's an impossible bar to set.

To me "fine" means that it gets the job done and there isn't a clear alternative that is significantly better.

I think we can (and will) add descriptions to our score ranges, but I'm not sure that there is a clear "better" outside of that.

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 03:31:10
I say instead of actual numerical values, we have a picture of box art for each game. A 0 would be like, E.T., and at the top would be a picture of a group full of nerds strangling each other over which game would constitute a 10!

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 03:47:46
No, a 0 should be Action 52. It cost more!

Posted by 
 on: 07/23/11, 05:25:12
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