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Arcade Game Reviews

Nikolinni

Niko Linni
Well, it's time for my token "I'm not sure where this goes" post. Wasn't sure if this belonged in Writer's Bloc or here, but off we go anyways.

A while back I used to do a blog called "Razzle's Arcade", which was supposed to be a blog centered solely around arcade games, though mainly what were known as the VMRs, or "Via Mame Reviews". As the name implied, this was a review of an arcade game using the arcade emulator MAME, and giving it a score out of 10. This was based off of Graphics, Story, Sound, and Gameplay. There was a lot of leverage given though; for example, I'm not going to rate Pac-Man's graphics a 4 or 3/10 because they're old, unless the graphics just didn't date well at all.

But for whatever reason, I stopped. I guess motivation to write the reviews just went out the window, and I stopped caring. But Razzle the fennec, the mascot of the blog so to speak, has been bugging me to take another shot at it, so why not, right? Except, this time I'd revamp the grading system and what's being graded.

After watching Angry Joe's reviews of video games and movies, I kind of like how is rating scale is different; to most people, a 7 is average, but on the AJ Show, I believe a 5 or 6 is just average. So I was thinking of using that; 1 - 4 is below average, 5 - 6 is average, and 7 - 10 is above average, with my own little subtitles (IE 1/10 being called "Unplayable" and a 9/10 being called "Awesome" or something like that) to go with it.

For what would be rated, here's what I think should be graded:
Graphics: How good the game looks. Since these are older games, some leeway will be given, though I will try to do some research into what kind of graphics were standard at the time. But just being at standard or above standard isn't enough to get a good graphics rating. How is the game's looks overall? What about the character design? Do they stick with your generic baddies, or do they get inventive? What about the settings? Do they look awesome and immersive, or just bland and blah?

Story: Just what ARE we fighting for? Well, most older arcade games, like Pac-Man or Digdug, had little to no story. While later ones had your typical "I'm a bad guy and rawr evil", and some actually had some good plots, at least for an arcade game. Or, like most fighting games, there was lots of backstory to the characters, but it was All There in the Manual. So this one I'll be laxed with the most. A lower rating will most likely result from games that have stupid stories or the worst excuses for fighting the bad guys, and I don't mean cliche ones like "Some guy punched my girlfriend in the stomach and took her away". But story will also look at other things, such as the enviorments and characters. Yes, there's the graphics that focuses on that, but story will tend to focus on WHAT the settings are, rather than HOW the settings look, if that makes any sense. So extra points can be earned for some interesting settings and what not.

Sound: How does the game sound? Does it have catchy tunes, or are they about as forgettable as a study subject you hate? Do they sound pleasing, or do they want to make you reach for the mute button? This will also take a look at sound effects as well. Does the blasting of your lightgun add to the frantic action of CarnEvil, or just get in the way and sound annoying? Points are given for good tunes and nice sound effects that help add to the experience, while points are lost for either unmemorable, unmovtivated tunes and sounds or ones that just make people go "Dude, what the HELL are you playing?"

Gameplay: How well does this game play? Well, yes this is on a computer, and yes pressing arcade buttons can make a difference between the lever and buttons, but if your game has crappy controls and bad layouts, not even a well kept arcade joystick can hide that. How responsive is the game? Do the controls work good? How easy is it to execute moves? Also, if possible, I'll try to take a look at the original arcade controls and give insight and commentaries on those as well. For example, in my old CarnEvil review, I gave special mention to the pump-action shotguns that acted as the light guns for the game. So if I choose to review say Time Killers, despite the game having so-so controls, it still gets special mention for the unique button layout that tries to resemble the human body.

Fun-Factor: This would be a new addition to the review. How fun is the game to play? Is it enjoyable, even though everything about it is subpar, or is it a wreck, eventhough it's got a kickass soundtrack with beautiful sprites? This is the section that will address that question. Originally a game was overall rated on how fun it is, but I feel that it shouldn't be the be-all-end-all decider of a game's final rating.

And finally, there would be the Overall, which I'm still trying to come up with a way of calculating. I was thinking of adding all the scores from the 5 areas and then getting the average, or just looking at the scores and deciding myself. What do you think? In addition, the overall would have final words on the game, and a summary of the best (and worst) parts. Another feature I was thinking of adding was "Game Locator", which would tell you where you can find this game. So if I reviewed "Time Crisis 4", and I knew it was at Golf-N-Stuff in Norwalk, CA and in the local movie theater at the town center, it would be added to the Game Locator. I would also ask around if I heard someone mention a title I reviewed say either on the forums, in the chat room, on youtube, etc. So this would be something that's constantly updated as I gain more info.

Whew, that was a lot. But what do you guys think? A lot of us love love love the good ol' arcade games, but would we love reading reviews on different games and learning about the different games found in arcades everywhere?
 

Alastair Snowpaw

The Skull Paw
To answer your last questions no. there unfortunately aren't any arcades really left and reviewing arcade games seems super unnecessary. Its completely unnecessary cause not only have we all played them, made our own opinions of them, heard other peoples opinions of the, discussed our opinions of them, shove our opinions of these games down other peoples throats cause people can't get over nostalgia. But if it is somehow a game no one has ever heard of or anything, there would be no real way to play it or experience it. Doing reviews of old ass arcade games has no relevance today for multiple reasons. Like how no one needs a review for pacman at all and seeing one today would just be silly since we don't need someone elses opinion on a game we have seen probablly thousands of times now, along with pretty much any opinion about it. Also it's something tons of others have done as well.

Another thing is that a universal scale for all game genres is very meh. different genres have different aspects that are emphasized even in gameplay. Also reviewing graphics are just something i don't like, the only time graphics matter is if they hinder your progress or make the game harder to progress, otherwise you just mention what style the art is done in and if the style appeals to you or not. also fun factor is the most important thing in a review and should be the main reason wheter to get a game or not. Just another thing i never see in reviews is them going into depth about system, like basically no fighting game reviews ever talk about the actual systems or how the game plays out or will play out if you try to play it even semi-seriously, Along with that most all reviewers have no understanding of fighting games yet try to review it and judge it anyways. I imagine the same could be said for any game with versus multiplayer but i don't know really many other ones besides fighting games.
 
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Nikolinni

Niko Linni
I like your view on not having a universal scale. Perhaps with certain genres I can have extra categories (for example, like you pointed out, actually going in-depth with the fighting game system and knowing what the hell I'm talking about). I'll think about that.

As for it being unnecessary since we've supposedly all played most arcade games out there...well, we've all seen and played lots of games, movies, and so on, but we still continue to watch and read reviews on them and such. And I'm sure not everyone has played all the games or a lot out there, and maybe through the review series might come into contact with new games they've never heard of or played.

And for the part about not experiencing it, well there is emulation, I mean heck the arcade emulator MAME is in the review series' name (Via MAME Reviews). If someone reads about a game, and they want to download and play it via emulation, then they can if they want to. I know that it's technically illegal and all that, but there's still plenty of people who emulate regardless. But yeah, there is really no real way to experience playing the game on the actual machine (and we're not talking MAME cabinets, I mean the actual machines) unless you've got mad cash to blow. But again, there's no blogs out there that seem dedicated to arcade reviews. And yes, a lot of these games have been played, but I feel I should give it a shot anyway and see what happens.

I guess you're in luck though, as I am somewhat of a casual gamer of fighting games. I can get past button mashing and actually learn move sets and your basic combos and what not, so when reviewing a game I'll have some idea of how a fighting game plays and know when a game and its system is good vs when it's broken and hard to play.
 
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Car Fox

Formally "Torsion Beam"
I'm preaty sure if a young kid, or a fairly aged fellow read one, they might be interested in the review. Today , arcades are of low quantity, as well as the games that fill them, so if a lot of people were to read reviews of arcade games more often, and were interested in playing it, they would have to find an arcade that supplements the game, which may be too far for some people. A lot of today's arcade games are either also very accomplished console games, or are exclusive games you never hear about (a lot of them are fighting games yet still). Though if arcades are still going, you have to expect a re-surgence of arcades/arcade games at some point in time, so don't say it's a far fetched idea just yet.
 

Nikolinni

Niko Linni
I'm preaty sure if a young kid, or a fairly aged fellow read one, they might be interested in the review. Today , arcades are of low quantity, as well as the games that fill them, so if a lot of people were to read reviews of arcade games more often, and were interested in playing it, they would have to find an arcade that supplements the game, which may be too far for some people. A lot of today's arcade games are either also very accomplished console games, or are exclusive games you never hear about (a lot of them are fighting games yet still). Though if arcades are still going, you have to expect a re-surgence of arcades/arcade games at some point in time, so don't say it's a far fetched idea just yet.

What about emulation though?
 

Car Fox

Formally "Torsion Beam"
Since it exists, it plays a feral pet effect, where it is at the point where too many exist for them to be wiped off the media charts. Emulation is something that will always exist as long as there is interest in old games. Reviews for emulations are probably more risky, because, while they replicate and play games, a lot of the ways people obtain them are illegal, and will prompt federal governments to take action, making hard for people to emulate them. Though it's one of those things you can try while the fad is still hot.
 

Nikolinni

Niko Linni
Yeah, that's the kicker -- emulation is still illegal. That's why I'd make a post talking about how it is still illegal, and if you do it, it's on you if something happens. I mean for the most part, MAME games are easy to obtain and play (With a few that are ESV protected and cannot even be downloaded), but yeah, I could see how it being illegal could scare people away. But who knows? Maybe there's people who really like arcade games like me and are interested to read about them? Reviews are the main draw, but ideally I'd also like to do other types of articles, like something about a certain company, immersion and arcade games, music, stuff like that. And yeah I know...it's been talked about to death. So have other older video games, but people still make media centered around those too. So why can't I?
 

Car Fox

Formally "Torsion Beam"
Well, all that is to be done is to find a way to express it. There are many guys like you all over the world! And I'm sure lots of people will listen.
 
I love arcade games and for people (like me) interested in any obscure ones, I think it would be pretty useful. Sadly, no one cares about or likes arcade games except for about 9 people across the world. lol
 

Nikolinni

Niko Linni
Oh...there are sure some obscure arcade games out there.

EDIT: Actually, I was mistaken. Emulation itself isn't illegal...most forums I know allow talk of emulators, just not obtaining roms or asking about where/how you can get them. So, for example, discussing MAME and how to run it won't raise questions of if we're doing something illegal, however asking me where one can obtain a .chd and rom of CarnEvil would be something that most places don't allow. As such, my reviews and articles will never tell nor advise one on obtaining roms.

Of course, you can always be legit and obtain the actual ROM (ie the physical rom), and then dump it to your computer. That isn't illegal. But I don't really know many people who have 1)Roms to dump and 2)Cash to spend on ROMs.
 
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