8.8? Are you fucking kidding me? Shit goddamn. I'm going to have to slit some throats over this one. What the fuck is wrong with you Jeff Gerstmann? Why would you ever give a Zelda game less than a 10? I hope you're happy! Miyamoto is rolling in his grave! Is Miyamoto dead? No? Fuck it.
This was me. These were the thoughts floating around in my head in November of 2006. I may have embellished them with a slightly more inflammatory style than I was capable of at age 11; but you get the idea. This was the sort of unbridled rage that a review score I didn't agree with could conjure in me. A white hot anger that, up until that point, I had never felt.
But who can blame an 11 year old, right? What are 11 year olds good for? Nothing. They can't drink. They can't drive. They can't gamble. Most of them can't even speak properly. Idiots.
The problem is that this type of anger stayed with me for quite some time. It stayed with me long after I could blame it on youthful folly.
This is the story of how - over the past year - I've stopped getting so worked up over review scores.
Let's skip ahead a couple of years. The next major console Zelda game, and the same website gives it a lowly 7.5.
You probably don't need to be told this, but I am a giant Nintendo nerd. A Nintendo bitch, even. I'm the guy gushing over anything Miyamoto has touched. I'm the guy who hasn't written a single blog without mentioning Nintendo. I'm the guy trying to convince people that New Super Mario Bros. 2 is an innovative new take on the platformer genre. You get the idea. What this means, is that I have an irrational and almost emotional bond to any game made by Nintendo. It's pretty fucking unhealthy.
So naturally, when Tom Mc Shea had the unmitigated audacity to give a Zelda game a 7.5, I was livid. I was entertaining some truly violent and unhealthy thoughts towards the man.
Let's be clear. I never commented on the site. I never actually hurled any of these hysterical and homicidal thoughts towards Tom Mcshea or Gamespot proper. I did, however, read just about every hysterical and homicidal comment on the review. I did read just about every blog post and video response to the review. And I did feel vindicated in the knowledge that the man I hated so virulently was receiving such a strong backlash.
Of course, I hadn't actually played the game yet. That would make too much sense.
Let's skip forward again. March of this year saw the release of Luigi's Mansion 2; a game I was hotly anticipating.
I played Luigi's Mansion 2 to completion before I read the reviews. That's not usually how I do things, but I decided to try something different. Simply put, I loved the game. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that there was a Nintendo logo on the front of the box. That usually does it.
I checked the reviews right after I finished it. Most of them reflected my own personal opinion: somewhere between an 8.5 and a 9.5.
Then I saw the Gamespot review. Then I saw the 6.5. I could feel the white hot anger beginning to brew within me. I scrolled down the page, looking for some vicious comments to help me justify my own rage.
The first comment I saw absolutely disgusted me. The reviewer - Carolyn Petit - is a trans Woman, and this commenter wasted no time in throwing out as many slurs as they possibly could. It made me feel awful. I didn't want to be associated with someone like that.
But I couldn't just respectfully disagree with Carolyn, could I? She gave a game I loved an ostensibly bad score; so the only natural reaction was to harbour a violent grudge against her. Right?
Wrong. As I came to learn in June of this year.
The Last of Us is a game I adore. It's one of the most emotionally moving gaming experiences I've ever had. But it wasn't made by Nintendo. Which means that I don't have a weird, unhealthy and irrational love for it. I just really really like it.
I read the reviews and - as with Luigi's Mansion 2- most of them matched up to my personal approximation of the game's score.
Then I saw the Gamespot review. Then I saw the 8. And the most amazing thing happened. I didn't get angry. I didn't feel the need to physically and verbally assault Tom Mc Shea. I didn't agree with him at all, but that was totally okay.
I scrolled down to the comments. They were filled with the same sort of violent hate that filled the comment section of every review I've mentioned thus far. I suddenly saw these comments for exactly what they were. A vulgar, horrific and embarrassing waste of time.
The transformation that started with Luigi's Mansion 2 was almost complete. But the biggest test was yet to come. Another Nintendo game.
Pikmin 3? More Like Dick-min Pee. I'm sorry. It felt like there hadn't been a joke in a while.
I love Pikmin 3 so much. You have no idea. The story mode is terrific, the mission mode is stupidly satisfying and my friends and I are still finding new and exciting ways to fuck each other over in Bingo Battle.
I read the Gamespot review first this time around. I saw that the score was a little under what I would have given the game. But for some odd reason I didn't feel the need to kill Tom Mc Shea. I didn't even scroll down to find justification for my position. In fact, I entertained no malicious thoughts whatsoever.
It was utterly refreshing. A revelation. I read the review; respectfully disagreed with it; and then went straight back to playing Pikmin 3.
So that's how I'm going to approach reviews from now on. Getting worked up over scores just doesn't make sense to me anymore. Tom Mc Shea can give my favourite games whatever score he wants. I'll still be interested to read the review, but I won't feel the need to send him death threats.
But mark my words, if he gives Super Mario 3D World anything less than a 9.5 I'm going to slit his fucking throat.