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The Game Score's Gospel: your comprehensive guide to what review scores really mean

Hey, you. Yeah, you reading this. The one that looked up at that title and thought, ‘Well, this guy is obviously dumb because review scores aren’t that important, it’s the content that counts.’ Wrong. Review scores mean everything. Think about it: when you read a review, the so called ‘journalist’ of the particular piece might have some bad points to say about a game that you already know is completely perfect in every regard. And that hurts you, bad. They all do it because they all hate that you’ll actually enjoy the game, and they are all corporate robots who haven’t got a clue. Because that's what people do. Luckily though, you know they’re completely wrong because of that trailer you saw maybe that one time on youtube: the bandwidth may have been crummy, but you still saw it.

The fact is, gamers have gotten stupider over the years. They’ve lost that ability to understand what the numerical values attributed to games actually mean, instead focusing on words and this thing called reading. Well I don’t have time for reading. I want to know how good the game im going to buy anyway is right now. And what’s a better way to tell me that in a quick, unbiased way than with a perfectly rounded number. The only problem these days is that nobody has bothered to write a guide that dictates which scores should go to what games. So I present to you now...

The Game Scores Gospel: a simple to understand guide as to what those little numbers are actually all about

Ever since the numbers were invented, each one has been imbued with its own mystical aura. From one to one hundred, they all have a specific power which dictates wholly goodness. Manipulation of this power is the key to understanding review scores. Now, apparently the race of people who can see the energies surrounding numbers are dying out, but fortunately, I am one of their last remaining members. I am the only one who can rekindle the world’s light it has lost: that words are mostly irrelevant and that numbers can tell all that you need to ever know. We will work our way chronologically, from top to bottom I think that means, starting from the 90%’s, and then working our way down. So come my friends. When you’ve finished this guide, you’ll never have to waste another second reading again.

This score is often given to games that felt the hype move on, but ultimately didn’t live up to that exact degree of potential we thought they had. With a 90%, you can usually tell that a game is good, but not that good. Think Heavenly Sword. The sheer amount of press this game had was enough to justify something in the 9's, but ultimately didn’t live up to expectation. But hey, you’ll enjoy it anyway right? It got a 90%!
It can also be given to not so great games by a big name publisher. Wii Play: not really much of anything, but comes with a controller. Give it 90%. Wii Fit. Bit of a hefty tag, but for the technology that a balance board does it has to get something good. 90%. This percentage is all about pity for something you’d hoped was the next brilliant thing.

Oh boy, now we’re getting to the big hitters! This pair of scores were made for the best of the best out there. Unfortunately for them though, their names aren’t big enough to get any higher. Pikmin is an example: loved by many, but it isn’t Mario now, is it? Games given these two scores are often quite similar, so if you have a choice, get the 93%. You’re usually guaranteed to enjoy it just a little bit more: by a fraction of one-hundredth to be precise.

These games are slightly dubious. Often, they are accompanied by a feeling of ambivalence, followed by, ‘Well, I can see how people might like it, but its not my kind of thing. It got 94% though, so I must be enjoying it.” When Mario Kart: Double Dash came out, I saw it get a 94%. It was alright, didn’t like it as much as the old ones, but I guess I could see how it might be a good game. Therefore, this is the aura that a 94% must have. Any reviewer that says otherwise is biased.

Now come on. These are just five percent away from being the perfect games in existence, ever. What’s stopping them? They’re on handheld’s! Yes, 95% is the highest score that a handheld game can ever receive, so obviously, there’ll be some big names in this category. And what an honor! This is where your Chinatown Wars, New Super Mario Bros., and Phantom Hourglasses go. It is also the score that The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks has been pre-determined through fate. I know this, because I have clairvoyant powers. Only joking! When I was on the time machine this morning and played it (great final boss btw!) I also read a review score, and it was 95%.

To take the examples from the previous number, Super Mario Galaxy, Twilight Princess and Grand Theft Auto 4 all fit here. Only are the highest regarded, highest crowned releases given the 97% badge of honor. To be honest, the quality of the title doesn’t matter for heck with this one. It can have the flaws of a chipmunk minus the front teeth and still get away with murder. Doesn’t matter if it’s exactly the same game as its predecessors, nor is it a factor whether the game is broken up by bloody annoying phone calls which ask me to stop doing what I brought the game for in the first place. No, this game’s magic number is all attributed to a combination of how much the public wants it, cross-combined with how much fellatio the developers are willing to give.

It’s a well known fact that gamers are unable to handle numbers which are over two digits long, so the 100% score is never used. Otherwise, all the game’s that you like would be getting them, wouldn’t they? The trick is, that every time a game isn’t rated as high as you wanted it to, its because it was so awesome that when the reviewer was typing it they couldn’t contain the number’s sheer magnitude, and had to revert to something far lower. Its nothing to get upset about, just substitute the right numbers in and voila! Now you can feel sorry for the poor reviewer, whose in-superior mind wasn’t strong enough to comprehend giving out the right score.

Right! So now the highest ones are done, but now we get to the tricky part. I realise that there are a lot of numbers in between 90 and 0, but fortunately, and especially for time sake, not many of them have been given their energies yet, therefore they are just meaningless numbers. And yes, I know, the concept of a meaningless number may be difficult for some of you to accept, but bear with me now. I will go through the relevant percentages in groups of ten, only highlighting the few that are currently imbued with magical properties. So, without further waiting, lets roll on...

Oh, and be warned, the next part of this guide will include things like sports games and on-rail shooters, which everyone knows aren’t real games because I cant use words like “sprawling” and “robust” to describe them. I’ve included them anyway for fairness of the guide, because while they may not be the hardcore titles I know we all want, they still need their place. No matter how low it is.

The almighty 80%’s
Ahhh, onto eighty-territory! You know you’ll be safe with a good, solid 80% game. Usually they’re the best games from other publishers that don’t often do well, like THQ and Ubisoft. We feel for them, we really do, but we’ll probably still pick their games up second hand at some point: while not generating any revenue to the developers for a sequel, still garnering legions of fans who love their work and wonder why a follow up was never made. Out of Starfox Adventures, Beyond Good and Evil, and Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, which is the most enjoyable? Well, I know that only one of them makes it into the 90%'s because of a certain furry fox, but the rest will still always be in our memories.
88%’s and 89%’s are usually the best here, because of their lovely, voyeuristic curves. Just look at them! Everyone likes to see curvy numbers. 92% and 93% are positively thriving off this fact; they have a massive roundness to them, and they’re way up high! We don’t choose women who look like anorexic sticklets. That’s psychology for you! The curvier the better, everyone knows that.
85% was designed with sports games in mind. It is written that once, a sports game did make its way into the nineties. Then each successive year, that game was re-released to the public eye to be played again, and again, and again. With these updates, the reviewer couldn’t simply give the game -as good as it is - the same score: no, that would be wrong. So he cut it to 85% and hoped nobody would notice.

The ‘it’s a bit average’ 70%’s
Meh, they’re alright. Maybe for a small child or something. Usually by this point, the reviewer just doesn’t have the heart to really trash the game, so it’s off to an auto 70 something. Oftentimes are platformers that are good, but not great, kart racers which are alright, but have been done better before, games based on films, RPG’s which feel far too old for their time, you get the picture. They’re technically video games, but they just fail to innovate at all. And innovating is the most important thing ever. This is true because Nintendo said it about a billion times in a press release once, and what they say is always right.
Rail shooters are commonly given the 79% treatment. They’re enjoyable, but for some reason I cannot move from this fixed path. And a game that doesn’t let me move surely cant be good enough to warrant any higher. Particularly when we’re getting into ultra-round territory.
The worst score a reviewer can give, if he feels really cruel, is a big 77%. Just seeing that number creates a feeling of pure average, like the life is being sucked from your very soul. It’s a similar feeling to working on a cash register at Wilkinsons. 77%’s are just very boring. Two straight lines with a bit of a flick, is that all you’ve got? No, any game given this score you should stay well away from. You can never be happy with it, just content.

The sucky 60%’s Only the absolute, pitifully lowest of the low are labeled with a sixty. I’ve no idea what kind of scum hole they came out of, but after the reception they garner I can’t see why they don’t just crawl back in. These sub-species of video game are usually just to make a quick buck, but we know better. Us true gamers would never fund their evil corporations of money-grubbing suits: not when lovely nice people like Nintendo and Namco are around. They’d never dream of ripping us off like these sixty scorers, and that’s why they get the lowest, most dirt-ridden percentage scores ever seen.

Well, its been fun and I hope you’ve learned a lot about review scores, but sadly I have to go. I think my cousin’s friend knows someone who knows Vin Diesel and I can get him to go and beat up the guy who did the Wheelman review at IGN.

I'll see you next time with an article on why people of a differing sexual oriantation to myself should not ever be allowed to play videogames, or be at liberty to any basic human rights.:)

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About Discarded Couch Sandwichone of us since 8:25 PM on 03.17.2009