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Game magazines and game sites are little more than high publication game forums. These high circulation tabloids are experts in marketing for which ever game company gave them enough perks before shipping them a free review copy of a game *before* it's retail release.

What's the alternative, or what could they do better you might say? Well, the game magazines could separate fact from opinion clearly in their reviews for one thing. Early Gamepro magazines did this fairly well. The reviews broke down the games by graphics, sound, and gameplay, scored each in comparison to other games on THE SAME SYSTEM, and then threw in a fourth rating for "funfactor" which was clearly described as the reviewer's opinion of the game overall.

Nowadays they let the fourth rating affect everything about the review. Beyond the fact that actually enjoying a game will depend on your own personal tastes, and because of that no opinion on a game is a fact about that game, I suspect this love or hate is also highly dependant on PR reps from the game company kissing their butts with free trips and nifty stocking stuffers or collectables.

I would like to see these magazines show a little more maturity and responsibility with the immense amount of power that they have to sway the public's opinion. To print an opinion as fact, or make casual buy or don't buy recommendations without fully playing a game, or especially allowing a reviewer who is biased for or against a game to review it, is simply irresponsible. These games represent millions or tens of millions of dollars invested by the companies in question, they should be given more consideration before being bashed or praised.

The only alternative I could recommend for the individual is to read as many sources as possible, and especially get real gamer's opinions on the game in a forum or Usenet before making a purchase decision. Ultimately, the best thing to do is to know what you will and won't like, and try to gain relevant knowledge about the game from reviews, while ignoring the ranting and raving of these Industry paid fanboys.

Jump to: Gamepro letter // Gamepro's Street Fighter II Fiasco // EGM GTA:VC // EGM Shinobi PS2 // Game Informer on GTA:VC // Game Informer on Sonic Adventure DX // Game Informer ignores the PS2 defect rate // Gamespot on TJ&E 3 // Gamespot Revising History //Jeff Gerstmann's review foolishness // IGN's framerate massacre // Old Nintendo Advertisments

Letter to Gamepro:

Dear Sirs:

I have been a subscriber to Gamepro Magazine since the free Toys R Us
issue back in the late 80's. I've stuck with you for so long for two
reasons, you provided factual non-biased news and reviews, and I had every
issue and wanted to keep it that way. However, the first reason has since
changed, so much so that I am very willing to not renew my subscription in
September of 2000. I hope that this letter will allow you to correct what
has been happening in Gamepro so that I can continue to be your customer.

Perhaps the definition has changed, but I define a factual review as
one that strictly speaks of the different aspects of the game, comparing
them to other games on the same system, and maybe including an overall
opinion of the game separate from the facts. This is not what I have been
getting from your reviewers as of late. Since your magazine also seems to
enjoy taking pot shots at Sega, a company that I have followed closely since
the Master System, and since I see no such bashing going on towards Sony or
Nintendo, my letter will focus on your coverage of Sega.

Major Mike's Review of Virtua Fighter 3tb (December, pg 200) is a good
example of one of my complaints. His comments on the techniques in the game
were just plain ignorant, not to mention gives a false impression of what
the game actually is. If I were to make my decision based on his review of
the game, I would have thought that it was Slaughter Sport 2, not the near
perfect port of an innovative arcade game. In this game's case, I would say
innovative is a rather large understatement, but that is beside the point,
the review was foolish at best, and deceptive at worst.

Four-Eyed Dragon's review of Zombie Revenge (Jan2000, pg 110) was
equally misleading. It fails to mention the advancements in control over
Dynamite Cop 2, which he compares to as equal. There is no mention of the
zombie poison effecting moves, or switching up the combos with the weapon
and punch button, or the block button or grab moves for that matter.
Neither does he mention the charge moves or details like pulling pipes out
of enemies and beating them with it, which the game is littered with. All
of these things paint a very different picture for the game than his
description of "using only one button for punch and kick combos and another
for weapons". The game has much more depth in control and interaction than
that, certainly more than DC2 does, why was this not included in the review?
It's as if the game were played for five minutes, the review written, and
then was set aside.

Gamepro's reply to Newton Nicholson's letter (January 2000, pg 24) is
another fine example of biased writing. "Comparing the Saturn to the N64 is
nasty". While this is a mild example, wouldn't a better reflection of the
facts have been to either leave Saturn out of the reply, or state that a
system failing to reach the market does not automatically make it bad,
especially since this particular system had plenty of A titles too, but fell
to poor marketing and stiff competition. I understand that Sony has had
great success with the Playstation, and that the N64 has done much better in
the US than the Saturn did, and it is largely Sega's fault for its failing
in the US, but media hype contributed plenty. With the Dreamcast very
successfully launched, with plenty of A titles as well, and Sega clearly
educated by its past mistakes, why stunt its growth with unreasonably
negative reviews, articles and comments that many gamers will take
seriously?

Your coverage of the defective Dreamcast discs at launch (December, pg
30) seemed well over the top for something that Sega did such a thorough job
of fixing. For that matter, I don't recall nearly such a big deal being
made over Sony's defective Playstations, something the company has yet to
admit even exists. If Gamepro were really interested in being a responsible
magazine, I would expect the exact opposite. Heck, why not cover the facts
on the steps Sega has taken to ensure the Dreamcast's success?

It's obvious from the Editors' Choice Awards (Jan2000, pg 48) that many
of Gamepro's editors think very little of Sega, Dreamcast, and Dreamcast
games, but I would expect a respectable magazine to make sure that these
opinions do not effect the quality of the reviews. I'm sure you don't want
me to go into any more detail and make this letter any longer, just as I'm
sure you know of even more instances of this kind of "journalism" in your
magazine. So, that is all for now, and unless I see a complete turn around
in the issues between now and September, expect to have one less customer.

"Major Mike" went on with his Sega hating, so far as to say that the PS2 version of Crazy Taxi was "okay" but still way better than the Dreamcast version, for the sole reason that he didn't "have to play with those flimsy Dreamcast analog triggers". He also claimed that Sega was either going to go out of business or go software only in that year's Editor's Choice Awards. Now, this might not seem like a big deal now, since Sega did go 3rd party, but back in 2000 they were in the spotlight, and this magazine has a lot of circulation, so a statement like that was just another hit against their reputation, another reason for joe blow American to wait for the PS2. It was little more than slandering Sega's name in print, because it was just that editor's opinon, printed as fact with no actual facts to back it up.

EGM reviews GTA Vice City....

... in their December 2002 issue with three perfect 10s. Each reviewer rates the individual aspects of the game with 8s 9s and 10s. So, a graphical rating of 8, sound of 10, *ingenuity* of 8 and replayability of 8 adds up to a perfect 10 in EGM's math book. The reason they all claim that the game should be scored perfect, even though it's parts obviously are not? Why that's because the reviewer said he had fun, and because they wanted to claim they were first in stating that GTA:VC was going to be as popular as GTA3.

Shinobi for PS2...

.... is scored with three 7/10s in the December 2002 Issue of EGM. Even though they admit that its character is fresh and original, and the gameplay is *flawless*, each reviewer claims that they didn't have as much fun as they could have, had the level design been different. This could be a valid complaint, if the levels had some glaring flaw to them that they could spell out to the reader. However none of them specifically details what they didn't like about the levels, or how they could have been better, much less a game that does better than Shinobi does. So they marked the game down because their imaginations held back their enjoyment of the game? It's possible that they marked it off for no other reason than they didn't think their readers would have "fun" with it. That does appear to be the focus of their reviews, to make buy or don't buy recommendations for their readers based solely on how much "fun" they had with the game.

Game Informer does the same thing as EGM with GTA:VC.

Not only do they have an eight page spread about GTA:VC in their September 2002 issue, that's little more than free advertising for the game, but their "The Bottom Line" for the review on page 105 of their December 2002 issue is a 10/10. Yet read the following blurbs about the game:

Then click here to read the full "review".

-Matt

Concept:
The most important game of the last five years takes a trip back to the 1980s.

Opinion stated as fact #1

Graphics:
The new character models are much improved, as are the textures, but people still have deformed claws for hands.

Noted Flaw #1

Sound:
Featuring nearly 100 tracks of '80's classics and guilty pleasures, this is probably the most ambitious soundtrack ever released, video game or otherwise.

Playability:
They fixed the weapon targeting - PRAISE GOD! I just wish that water vehicles controlled as well a the cars.

Noted Flaw #2

Entertainment:
An already amazing franchise builds on its strengths, and gives gamers another unforgettable experience.

Opinion Stated as Fact #2

Replay Value:
High

Second Opinion

-Justin

Vice city rekindles all the amazement I felt from GTAIII.

Good, Justin starts out making sure to express that these were his feelings.

Where its precurser blew you away with innovations and size,

Oop, maybe not, blew me away huh? Sorry bud, I didn't see what you were talking about with GTA3, you're talking about your opinion there, not fact.

Vice City heaps on familiarity and kitsch. You'll rock out to Loverboy and Twisted Sister, talk with Dennis Hopper and Lawrence Taylor - all while wearing penny loafers and headbands. This is far more than GTAIII with a makeover. Rockstar North couldn't be more ambitious, adding an unfathomable list of new features in such a short time. My favorites include smashing into guys on motorcycles, evading cops on four flat tires, buying property, and scanning rooftops in a helicopter - but there's so much more!

Good, here are at least some relevant gameplay details.

The targeting problem is fixed, too. Suspect wall collision and minor camera issues

Noted Flaw #3

can't stop the fact that Vice City is insanely deep, witty, open-ended, musical, star-studded, violent, addictive, and all-around the most entertaining product money can buy.

Those are not facts buddy boy, words like "insanely deep, witty, open-ended, addictive and entertaining" are all statements of opinion, no fact can prove these things either way, and they certainly aren't facts themselves. Opinion Stated as Fact #3

It's going to take a hell of a lot to top this. Justin- 10/10

Yeah, I'm sure it'll be GTA4, or GTA-some other city too. If you like the game so much, give more gameplay details, and less opinion stated as fact next time.

Game Informer does it again with their Sonic Adventure DX for Gamecube review. Keep in mind, that this is the same magazine that gave Super Mario World, a straight port of the original SNES game, for the Gameboy Advance a perfect 10/10 because "it's still just that good."

Sonic Adventure DX, pg 87, May 2003

Sorry Sonic

Sega's re-release of the mascot's 1999 Dreamcast launch title with enhanced graphics, sound, and a boatload of extra features doesn't make up for the fact that Sonic Adventure was certainly not his most shining moment in an otherwise noble career.

This director's cut offers six playable characters, GBA connectivity for Chao raising on the go, the all-new mission mode with 60 mini-missions, and unlockable versions of the hefty Sonic Game Gear library on a pretty little platter for gamers to lap up.

My problem is that the pumped-up graphics look pretty mediocre at best; the soundtrack still includes those hair-metal rock/ballad interludes; the plot is stinky like doggie poo; and the game mechanics are bland and simlistic - like the worse of the Genesis era. Don't call me a hater, I just want to see the blue hero evolve.

The included Game Gear library is the only redeeming factor for this title. Most of the bounty is unlocked as special prizes during regualr play of Sonic Advenute. Trust me, all the favorites are included, and some still hold their nostalgia value; unlike the main event in this release, Sonic Advenure - Lisa

The Bottom Line - 5/10. This has to be the absolute best proof of Game Informer's worthlesSNESs thanks to their hard-core bias or stupidity, or both. www.gameranking.com paints a totally different picture for SA1 on the Dreamcast, with a scored average of all recorded reviews placing it at a safe 88 out of 100. Also, read my review of the original Sonic Adventure and add to the game details what this review describes as extras, especially the undescribed 60 mission's strong mission mode, and it's clear that even on a new system Sonic Adventure should at least rate in the top twenty percent.

Game Informer skirts the PS2's defect rate issue.....

August 2003 issue, page 18 in the "Dear GI" section:

"READ(ER) ERROR>>>

I have been a Game Informer subscriber for the last two years, and have yet to read any information on the PS2's infamous "Disc Read Error." I have been told that these errors occur because of voltage screws and/or a dust problem. What's the deal? My PS2 is useless right now because you have failed to guide me in how to cheaply correct this problem. Until then, my Xbox is keeping me afloat. Please help me fix my PS2 or show me where to go.

Garret Via email

We certainly get our jollies by helping those poor, unfortunate souls with busted equipment. For complete instructions on how to get your Playstation fixed, check out us.playstation.com/support/howtoobtainservice or, more directly, call 1-800-345-7669 for repair pricing and shipping information. If your PS2 is less than 90 days old, the machine is still under warranty and you will only be respondible for shipping costs.

When we talked to the very courteous and informative representative John, he suggested the following trouble-shooting techniques, 'Try different games to see if they all give the same results. Make sure the disks are free of scratches and/or fingerprints. Clean the disks with a cloth wipe - these are available at most electronic and music stores. Try the system without a GameShark or similar device plugged in. Try the games in a different PS2 to determine if it's the games or the system having problems. Run the PS2 self test and try again.'

If these steps don't resolve the issue, you'll problably have to send the system to Sony for repairs. Give them a call for shipping address, packaging instructions and a service identification number. We were quoted 15-20 working days for the repairs to be completed and Sony foots the bill for return shipping via UPS Ground."


Notice specifically that both Game Informer and the Sony rep refuse to admit to the known defect rate of PS2s with the "disc read error" problem, and that they imply the problem was caused by the user.


Gamespot.com...

...is notorious for worthless opinionated reviews, but nothing tops their Toe Jam & Earl III for Xbox review. It's accused of being a 5/10, or "mediocre" not for having unoriginal or flawed gameplay, but for not being funny or hip enough for the reviewer. He even goes as far as to say that the gameplay is just as good as the original, with the additions of the second game, and even more additions on top of that, including boss fights. But simply didn't have "fun" with the game because it didn't pinch his ultra-cool funny bone, and that it wasn't hip enough for him.

Behold, an entire paragraph of opinion stated as fact:

But if the funny parts aren't, well, funny, then some games can get downright painful to watch or play. ToeJam & Earl III, a tale of three funky hip-hop-loving aliens, unfortunately falls into the latter category. It certainly tries to be funny, but the humor almost always falls flat. With the surprisingly clever exception of a reference to the album artwork for Run-DMC's classic album, King of Rock, the rap music tie-ins feel fake and forced. It's as if three men who had never heard of hip-hop sat in a room for three hours while watching tapes of Yo! MTV Raps from around 1988, retained maybe 15 percent of what they saw, and filled in the rest of the blanks with tired '70s funk references. During play, each time you see an earthling become "funkified" and watch as Bootsy Collins star-shades appear on their eyes and Afros pop out of their heads, all you can do is groan.

All *I* can do is groan huh? What if I find it funny? What if I don't have the overexposure to all things "hip" and "cool" that you do, and think a big peach colored, and shaped, alien acting like a rapper is great fun? Oh, you didn't consider that did you, you just thought you'd share your opinion with the rest of the world, on a very public web page, as fact.

Gamespot.com...Revising History for the fanboys: (Black = me, brown = gamer, blue = Gamespot)

I've been obsessive about how the media and gamers are attempting to rewrite the history of the Video Game Industry. This rewriting is a seriously big push to make it look like the most popular console (worldwide or "overall"), which also gets the bulk of the good press today, was actually far and away the best system of its generation (in graphics, sound, games with "good" gameplay). Most of the regulars of RGVS also know that the likes of Gamepro, Game Informer and Gamespot have been some of the more outspoken proponents of this historical fallacy. I've personally felt that, while the former two were obviously just tabloids for the company with the deepest pockets all along, Gamespot was merely flirting with the idea and occasionally demonstrated that they were still "on the fence". I was wrong.

It turns out that, much like Gamepro and Game Informer, the "burning questions" mailbag section of Gamespot reveals even more of their bias than their previously griped about Sega reviews already did. Reviews like Shenmue 1+2 (7.3, 7.8 out of 10), ToeJam&Earl III(5.0 "mediocre"), Sega GT (7.3 for "poor control" compared to GT2, ha!), Spikeout Battlestreet (5.2/10), Sonic Adventure DX (5.7) and the like being ranked on a scale 1-2 points lower than other websites' reviews of the same games. Gamespot has consistently rated other "mediocre" titles in the same genres higher (i.e. 'Ty2' 7/10, State of Emergency 7.8/10), apparently for just not being made by Sega. That is, there isn't anything intrinsically better about these games than the Sega games they rated lower. These last two weeks of "Burning Questions" really take the cake though.

In response to whether Gamespot would do a Sega Master System feature like the ones they did for the PS1 and NES already, Gamespot editors replied with the first linked quote below, in which they title "Inferiority Complex". In response to my friend Garret's reply to the first, they assigned him the title of "Nutjob of the week" and claimed they were "obviously" only joking. That's the same Garret who has the 720p Dreamcast set up using the VGA box, and who has over 1600 games, the majority of which are PS1 games for which Gamespot awarded him the "bad taste award". He has his collection cataloged on Gamespot, and just read their vehement accusation against him for pointing out their position of influence and that the SMS had its advantages to the NES.

The only truthful thing they said is that the e-mail complaints against them, for the Sega Master System, outnumbered questions over the upcomming E3. The show in which the Playstation 3 will be revealed finally got less e-mail than the Sega Master System did, that really ought to tell them something.

http://www.gamespot.com/features/burningquestions/index.html?story=6147341

"Inferiority Complex"

Where is my Sega Master System Flashback?!?! Everyone that owned and enjoyed an NES got one. Now it is time for us fans of that wonderful and admittedly better system to be given a flashback. How about now!!! OK, I will be nice now.

Robert "Clay" Branch Granada Hills, California

For those of you not in the know, our friend "Clay" is referring to our system-flashback features, like our looks back at the NES and the PlayStation. As much as I'd love to help you out "Clay," I'm afraid GameSpot only has time to flashback systems that actually mattered. OOOHHHH BURRRNNNNNN. YOU GOT FACED, SON. ALL UP IN YOUR FACE. GASSSSSSFACCCCCCE. OOOOOHHHHH.

*cough* Right, anyway. So, for serious, let's ask the lady who handles all these freak features of ours. Carrie, earn your paycheck and answer this fella's question!

Hey "Clay", Thanks for showing interest in our Flashback series. It's too bad that you're completely and utterly crazy! While the Sega Master System had both Snail and those super cool 3D glasses, it can't even hold a candle to the awesomeness that is the NES. However, since we love all our readers, even the loony ones, you can expect to see an update to the Flashback feature some time this year. The question is...will it be for the SMS? Will it be the Vectrex? The world may never know (until the feature comes out, at least). Keep your eyes peeled to find out!

-- Carrie Gouskos
"

http://www.gamespot.com/features/burningquestions/index.html?story=6147735

"NUTJOB of the week."

"Why is it that the biased and ignorant always seem placed in a position to poison the well of public opinion? Anyone with sense knows that the SMS was a technologically superior console to the NES. Both consoles had good, bad, and great titles (I personally own and have played hundreds). The NES had a crucial head-start in the North American market and highly-restrictive 3rd-party publisher contracts with virtually every publisher worth mentioning at the time, which all-but ensured their dominance throughout the 8-bit generation.

To say that the SMS was not a system that "actually mattered" or that fans of SMS games are "completely and utterly crazy...loony" reveals your collective ignorance or at least lack of couth. Based upon your responses to Robert "Clay" Branch's question, I highly doubt that either of you have played an SMS game (and glitchy emulation doesnít count), and that is probably the source of the problem. Passing off unresearched hearsay or overheard opinions as your own in a public forum presents a sort of willful shying from the truth; this is a dangerous trait in a journalist. When influential editors (and that's what Alex Navarro and Carrie Gouskos are) let their opinions cloud their integrity, gullible and less-informed site visitors remain poorly informed. I challenge you both to do better for the sakes of people who aren't old enough to remember the NES and SMS as living systems or diligent enough to discover the truth for themselves. I donít visit this site to read revisionist and faulty views of history.

Garrett
Texas

You were probably one of those kids that would fly into a fist-punching rage whenever some kid would tell you that Transformers were better than Go-Bots, weren't you? You'd have to be to get so pissed off about what was clearly a lighthearted joke. Like, clearly. If my using the term "gasface" wasn't enough to clue you in that I wasn't being serious, then you're beyond help, friend. And Carrie was also kidding--but given some of the letters that came into the mailbag this week, maybe she was right. You guys need to lighten up.

There is nothing particularly wrong with the SMS. It's a good system, has some legitimately great games. But I stand by the notion that anybody who thinks it's a superior system to the NES is out of their cotton-pickin' minds. You can sit there and spit stats at me about how the SMS had one advantage or another that Nintendo didn't for their system, but that doesn't change history. The NES still had one of the best game libraries of all time, and regardless of how it accumulated that library, that library still very much exists and is still very much superior to that of any other system from that era. Hands down. Inarguable fact. Technological superiority does not always make a system's legacy, my friend. And while the SMS is, again, a fine system that I do actually remember pretty fondly, no way, no how is it better than the NES.

So, again, I have no problem with the SMS. Carrie has no problem with the SMS. I'd even go so far as to say that one day in the future, you might see an SMS flashback feature from us "biased" types. You, however, seem to have a problem registering facetiouSNESs. Perhaps that sentiment of not letting one's opinions cloud integrity is one best directed right back in your own direction, eh? -- A.N. "

Gamespot's claims are false all around. This is one of the reasons I did the "Notable" gamelists for each generation in the first place. The NES did not have lead of more than than 23% of the number of quality titles the SMS had by the beginning of 1989. Four years after the NES launched, a full year more than the SMS was on the market, and including Nintendo's illegal licensing contracts, the NES only had 20 or more released titles people ever played and enjoyed for gameplay related reasons. That is not a "far and away better library", no matter how you try to spin it.

The statement is based on a biased view of history, in which the bulk of the NES library, which was released after the Sega Genesis was dominating the market, somehow transported back in time to blast the SMS out of the water. The NES' dominance was an exercise in over-marketing and shady business tactics, and is not attributable to the size and quality of its library, which filled out after it dominated the 8-bit market, not before. The same phenomenon occured with both the PS1 and PS2, they didn't have the majority of "quality" titles while there was stiff competition, the vast majority of their final libraries were released after the battle was heavily stacked on Sony's side.

http://www.gamepilgrimage.com/NESSMSTG16.htm#list

I've also posted Gamespots actions on this topic to Rec.Games.Video.Sega to get the group's reaction to it:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.video.sega/msg/376b97ad07864112?dmode=source

I'm honestly not sure what we can do about it even collectively. We'd have to start a mainstream game magazine, take all of their business from them, and spend countless dollars on articles and advertisements which sets the record straight about the stiff competition Sega gave first Nintendo, and then Sony. We're seeing history in action, and it's true democracy, the loudest smelliest bastards always win in the end.

Jeff Gerstmann...

... of Gamespot fame was fired last night for his Kane and Lynch review.
http://www.shacknews.com/laryn.x?story=50134

What I want to point out is that he clearly had it coming and should not be considered a victim of the system. Below is the text of a thread I ran on Gamespot's forums and the Whip Ass Gaming Forums in 2006, reviewing Gerstmann's anti Sega and anti-Action game bias over the last decade.

Jeff Gerstmann was notorious for rating good action games very poorly without adequate explanation. In the case of some games he even misrepresented the gameplay in order to bash a game he didn't like. If the game wasn't in a popular genre on a popular system, he was the worst kind of journalist.

I have attempted to document all of the games that Jeff Gerstmann unfairly rated down in his reviews. I have done this in order to demonstrate what is biases are.

At the outset, with what I have seen so far in mind, I would say that he is not very good at action games in general, and lets his dislike of Sega as a company guide his review of Sega games. Whenever Gerstmann reviews a Sega title, the score is automatically 2 points lower than literally anybody else thinks the game should be rated at. He also typically finds "flaws" in the gameplay, but is unsuccessful at describing these flaws and offering another similar game as an example of "good" gameplay in the same style. This bias of Gerstmann's has not gone unnoticed. However, nobody has been successful at proving that he is a biased reviewer, partly because his poor reviews span all systems.

With the criteria that I will use defined, I will begin with the earliest reviews, and move on to the more recent ones.

5.4 "Mediocre" for Virtual On - Sega Saturn
January 21, 1997
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/action/virtualon/review.html

"In the end, Virtual On is a mindless chunk of fun. There isn't much to it, but it's the type of game that can be picked up and put down at the drop of a dime. Have five minutes to spare? Play a round or two of Virtual On, then move on with your life. Maybe that's why it did so well in the arcades; one could blow up a couple of robots, and then go play a real game."

Anybody who has actually played Virtual On should know that the strategy required by both players far exceeds Gerstmann's "review." What Gerstmann means by "go play a real game" is go home and play a console game and forget about arcades altogether.

4.7 "poor" for Amok -Sega Saturn
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/action/amok/review.html

"If you're looking for yet another mech game and don't care if the game is any good or not, Amok might be right up your alley. The only new twist Amok provides is a couple of underwater levels, which play exactly like the walking levels, except that you're forced to shoot sharks. Going down...."

"Despite its pluses, however, Amok doesn't meet the daily recommended dosage of mechanical fun. Save your money until MechWarrior 2 hits the consoles."

Or, you know, you might just like to get MechWarrior 2 when it comes out six months down the road, along with GunGriffon and Amok, because they're all solid titles. Gestmann clearly states that there are no significant flaws in the gameplay, but rates Amok as "poor" basically for no reason at all.

7.3 "good" for Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter - Sega Saturn
November 30, 1998
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/action/marvelsuperheroesvssf/review.html

"If you're still interested in the Saturn, then this game is definitely one to import."

In this review, Gerstmann admits that the game is a perfect arcade port, that will "easily smoke" the PS1 game, but rates the game down well below what the sum of its parts imply. The reviewer doesn't give a reason, but one can assume from his tone that it would be merely because the game is on the Saturn, and because he presumes that the Saturn probably is not "interesting" to his readers. I will offer that another motivation for Gerstmann's 7.3 for Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter is that it was an Arcade game in the first place.

7.4 "good" for X-Men vs. Street Fighter
December 12, 1997
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/action/xmenvsstreetfighter/review.html
This:

"There is no better looking 2D fighter on any console system."

is negated in Gerstmann's mind by:

"X-Men vs. Street Fighter is yet another Capcom cookie-cutter fighting game."

"Cookie-cutter" goes on to be undefined by Gestmann however. How convenient.

4.7 "Poor" for Bug Too!
January 7, 1997
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/action/bugtoo/review.html

"Bug Too! is a game for the few people out there that enjoyed the first Bug!"

Gerstmann reasons here that the "forced path" gameplay of Bug "grows tiresome extremely quickly".

Nevermind that he fails to expose any reason why the game is actually "poor", just trust Gerstmann, because that is all his review calls for. Understand also, that this game was rated lower than Batman Forever: The Arcade game, which got a "mediocre" 5.6 rating. Glenn Rubenstein describes Batman Forever fairly accurately as a mediocre game, Gerstmann fails to demonstrate how Bug Too! is worse.

6.8 "fair" for Dead or Alive - Sega Saturn
March 4, 1998
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/action/deadoralive/review.html

"In the end, Dead or Alive is an above-average fighting game."

Yet Gerstmann ends his review with:

"if you're PlayStation-less, import away."

Again the reader has to presume that by merit of the game being on the Saturn rather than the Playstation (totally different game) it should be marked down even though it is "above average."

6.4 "fair" for Legend of Oasis - Sega Saturn
January 23, 1997
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/rpg/legendofoasis/review.html

"The Legend of Oasis is a solid title and contains a lot of good gameplay. However it's not different enough from the original Genesis title to justify its upgrade to the Saturn."

So, it's a great game not a "fair" game, but some gamers might already have the prequel so it is no longer a great game. It doesn't make sense.

Speaking of games which are not significantly different from their Genesis counterparts:

7.0 "good" for Sonic 3D Blast - Sega Saturn
December 12, 1996
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/action/sonic3dblast/review.html

This one is a Genesis game, the main game is identical to the Genesis game. "Sonic 3D Blast is an entertaining game. The music is great and the graphics are very colorful".

Interesting considering his thoughts on Legend of Oasis, which is actually a sequel to Beyond Oasis.

5.4 "Mediocre" for Powerslave - Sega Saturn
December 1, 1996
http://www.gamespot.com/saturn/action/powerslave/review.html

"For those who've scorched through the bowels of Doom and Final Doom and burn for more, Power Slave might just quench that fire. "

Nevermind that Powerslave runs at over twice the framerate of the PS1 versions of Final Doom, is fully polygonal and features real time full scene lighting. The controls are great, the graphics were well ahead of their time, and the game is "mediocre".

I did a quick scan of the Playstation 1's library looking for action games, and I could not find any examples as blatant as the Saturn game reviews I have already posted. I did find that Gamespot categorizes action adventure and mission based adventure games (like Spiderman) as action games.

With that on indefinite hold, I will move on to the Dreamcast library, where I know there is another wealth of review material. Thank Gamespot that Gerstmann didn't get a hold on DOA 2, Soul Calibur or Sonic Adventure 1+2. Whoever it was who reviewed Shenmue sure did a number on it (recall also that the original score was even lower), but none of this is on topic.

7.4 "Good" for Street Fighter III 3rd Strike
Posted July 11, 2000
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/streetfighter3thirdstrike/review.html
This review features contradictory statements:

"If you skipped out on Double Impact - or if you're fanatical about your SFIII - 3rd Strike is a good, refined 2D fighter that won't disappoint."

"While the two releases are roughly the same, 3rd Strike delivers new characters and enough new options to make it a worthwhile product, even if you already own Double Impact."

So the game features new characters and options, enough to make it a worthwhile product, but if you owned Double Impact it's worth less? It doesn't make sense.

5.0 - 1/10th of a point above "bad" - for Mortal Kombat Gold
Posted September 3, 1999
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/mortalkombatgold/review.html

"It's not that MK Gold is a bad game or anything. It's an outstandingly accurate translation of Mortal Kombat 4, with a few new characters thrown in for good measure. But the new characters don't really bring anything stellar to the lineup, and you're left with a game that you were finished playing around with back when it came out on the N64 and the PlayStation more than a year ago."

Nevermind the higher framerate and resolution, which does in fact affect gameplay positively. What did Mortal Kombat 4 get on the PS1 and N64? 8.6 and 8.9, "great" respectively. Regardless of whether we "were finished playing" Mortal Kombat 4, 5.0 for the much improved Gold, a Dreamcast launch title, makes no sense.

MK Gold and SFIII 3rd Strike exemplify one of Gerstmann's reviews common illogical leaps. A good or great game removed a year or two does not become 'Mediocre" unless it was mediocre from the beginning.

9.0 "superb" for Marvel vs. Capcom
Posted Apr, 2, 1999
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/marvelvscapcom/review.html

"While I wouldn't call Marvel vs. Capcom the most balanced fighting game in the world, it makes up for its shortcomings by simply being a whole lot of fun."

"OK, let's bypass the intro to this review and make one thing perfectly clear. The gameplay score in this review is based on playing the game with Sega's arcade-style joystick, which is sold by Agetec here in the States. If this joystick didn't exist, and the only option was the standard Dreamcast controller, it's likely the gameplay would have gotten a lower score."

Read between the lines here, the Dreamcast controller would have crippled the gameplay, according to Gerstmann. What is more interesting than that is his description of why MvC is better than its predicessors that he personally rated down to 7.3 and 7.4.

"This cross section of comic book heroes and video-game characters gives the game a truly new and diverse feel, even if the gameplay hasn't changed too much since the last Capcom vs. fighting game, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter."

Here we have another one of Gerstmann's illogical leaps. No change in gameplay means that the game is the same game, regardless of whether you like the characters better. Secondarily to that, new characters automatically introduce new gameplay to a fighting game, which Gerstmann does not seem to realize. So, if the gameplay is not actually more balanced as a fighting game by merit of the character selections, either the prior games on the Saturn should have been closer to a 9.0 also, or Marvel vs. Capcom should have been closer to a 7.3. An 8.0 for each of these vs. games seems more than fair considering the weight of public opinion and the quality of the products.

7.6 "good" for Powerstone
Posted on March 3, 1999
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/powerstone/review.html

"Expect to enjoy it immensely for the first week or two, but don't expect to find very much long-term fun."

"While the company has ventured into 3D in the past, nothing it's done has been even remotely like Power Stone."

"The game's sound effects and music are very good, but the announcer's voice, which you hear mainly when you are picking up or dropping a power stone, is stupidly annoying."

"All in all, Power Stone is a very fun and unconventional fighter."

Gerstmann describes how Capcom in every way managed to make an entirely new kind of fighting game, and then relegates the score to merely "good" because he didn't like certain aspects of it, and imagines that the "excitement is short lived." It doesn't make sense.

7.0 "good" for Air Force Delta
Posted on September 9, 1999
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/sim/airforcedelta/review.html

"During the course of your battles you'll do everything from assault convoys of battleships to escort civilian transports away from the danger zone.

Air Force Delta is eerily reminiscent of Ace Combat 2. So much so, in fact, that you could easily call AFD an Ace Combat clone."

"That's not to say that Air Force Delta is a bad game."

"The graphics, while nice and sharp, still look a bit bland at times. "

"The game controls pretty well in both the novice and expert settings, but the button configuration can be a bit awkward."

"The wide array of missions keeps the game interesting, and the briefings manage to move the story (what little there is of it) along without bogging the game down. In fact, the whole game has a real stripped-down feel to it."

At least Gamespot is consistent with rating down flight action games like Ace Combat and Air Force Delta. Ace Combat 3 was rated evel lower than Air Force Delta, a Dreamcast launch game, so there is consistency. However, the only complaint that Gerstmann offers in this review is that the fully customizable control scheme "can be a bit awkward." This descriptor completely fails to explain why the game should be a 7.0. Gerstmann also fails to mention the more unique missions, such as flying through a mountain hangar base, or shooting down a falling giant satelite before it crashes into a coastal city. He also fails to mention that the enemy plane AI is more than capable of dogfighting with you in Air Force Delta. The dogfighting in this game is something that Ace Combat 4 did not even approach. Ah well, the game is forever relegated to being merely "good," for virtually no reason at all except that it isn't a popular genre.

6.2 "fair" for Gundam Side Story
Posted on September 22, 1999
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/gundamsidestoryrisefta/review.html

The reviewer signed his name "Christian Nutt" but the fuzzy logic is the same. With that said, there are plenty of other Gamespot reviewers of the same "style" as Gerstmann, so this one really could be anybody.

"One has to wonder why we should give a crap about sub-Gundam machinery like the GM."

"They instead have GMs - the substandard mass-produced version of Gundam the federation came up with. Yes, your heroes can't even lay claim to the mecha that the game is named after."

"Be that as it may, you land and proceed to scout Zakus and Doms and pick them off. If you were expecting the action that goes with the romantic image of Mobile Suit Gundam, tough luck. This is a down-and-dirty mech simulation. It's a good one, but it's not for action fans."

"...the missions take prudence, thought, planning, and time."

"This is mostly a miss - unless you are a serious realism enthusiast. Although action-game fans will find it plodding, this game will feel just right to those who want an actual mecha simulation."

Action fans don't like details or realism?

That is an assumption I cannot find any evidence for.

7.0 "good" for Fur Fighters (Dreamcast)
Posted on July 18, 2000
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/furfighters/review.html

"Fur Fighters has all the trappings of a first-person shooter - it controls like an FPS, features FPS-style puzzles, and has items that you'd expect to see in an FPS. But there's only one catch: Fur Fighters isn't a first-person shooter. And unfortunately, the game's third-person perspective introduces a lot of problems that could have been easily avoided."

"Those problems aside, Fur Fighters has a fun premise and very good gameplay. "

"The sound is tolerable, with one major problem: Instead of going the extra mile and recording voice-overs, the game adheres to the Starfox method of voice work. So while you're reading text at the bottom of the screen, you're listening to meaningless jabbering. It's cute at first, but it quickly becomes way, way annoying."

Annoying is relative, unless we're all Jeff Gerstmann.

"While the control is spot on, and the game has more than enough going on in the level department, forcing the game into the third-person perspective really causes trouble, as the camera angle is marginal at best."

So, 3rd person by default makes the game's excellent gameplay somehow worse. It doesn't make sense.

6.7 "fair" for Toy Commander
Posted on October 5, 1999
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/driving/toycommander/review.html

"Toy Commander is exactly what you would imagine it to be."

That's interesting, because reading of the premise made me imagine it would be a great game.

"Everything from racecars to jets fall under your jurisdiction. Before you're through with it, this mission-based game will have you shooting pencil missiles at submarines, taking out miniature SAM sites, flying through rings, and even pushing eggs into a pot of boiling water."

"The first level is the kitchen, where you'll go through a quick training and a few other missions, in which you'll pilot tanks, trucks, and planes. After completing some of the missions in the kitchen, you can move on to the bedroom, and so on and so forth. Each room has a boss, but you'll only be able to face the boss if you can achieve the best times on most of the missions in the level."

That sounds like everything that I would imagine and more...

"Likewise, some of the levels are easy to complete, but some are just crazy. Most of the time, the difficulty doesn't really come from enemies - simply completing the tasks given is difficult enough. This is mostly caused by the game's ultra-loose control, which prevents you from ever feeling totally in control of your toys. The toylike physics of the game don't exactly help, either, though it is a nice touch. Sometimes you'll find your truck simply sliding off the side of a countertop."

"The game has an extremely frustrating learning curve, since you must get used to the control while dealing with missions that require an extremely delicate touch. Also, the game seems to flip-flop between missions that are too easy and missions that are too difficult - there's never any true middle ground. The result is a fair game that will easily frustrate you in both its single-player and multiplayer modes."

So, the game is "fair" by merit of the challenging learning curve and overall game difficulty. I wonder how Gerstmann would have rated the Street Fighter II when it first came out. It's a good thing Contra had that 99 lives thing going for it eh?

7.1 "good" for StarLancer
Posted on December 6, 2000
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/sim/starlancer/review.html

"The less than engaging storyline and the heavy focus on defensive missions holds the game back and keeps it from being as good as the classics that made the genre popular."

"Throughout the life of the space-sim genre, the level designs have stayed roughly the same. Either you're out on patrol, attacking a capital ship, or defending a capital ship. The developers of SarLancer apparently have something against the first two types, as it seems like you're spending most of your time in the game defending your fleet against fighters and torpedo bombers. This means you're going to spend a lot of time targeting and destroying torpedoes before they hit your ships and cause you to lose the mission - not exactly the definition of fun. As you progress, the defensive missions become a little less frequent, but more offense up front definitely would have made the game easier to get excited about."

Ease of excitement has what to do with whether or not the game plays well? I would like to see Jeff Gerstmann's measuring cup for "fun."

"StarLancer is a pretty good game. It looks nice and it has nice control. "

The man means what he says, he really knocked the score down because he didn't like the story and thought the missions should have been divied up differently. The game was fully playable online on the day of its release, that didn't factor in to the score either.

7.1 "good" for Psychic Force 2012
"Christian Nutt" struck again on:
March 16, 1999
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/psychicforce2012/review.html

"Psychic Force 2012, a victim of limited appeal, will be easily scoffed at by those who don't give it the chance it deserves. For open-minded fighting fans, it represents what a niche fighting game should strive to achieve"

"What will make or break this game for you is really the original and unintuitive gameplay. It's truly unlike any other fighting game out there. Easily dismissed, this game needs time devoted to it before its qualities begin to shine."

"The first few times you play this game, your initial reaction may be to blow it off and never try it again because of the difficulty and the bizarre game system. That said, it really is worth a second or even third look, because there is depth here to to be found."

That 7.1 rating sure won't help anything, and isn't justified considering the completely unique gameplay that the reviewer found no fault with. I wasn't aware that a major category in the rating system was "accessibility and perceivable popularity".

I wonder if Pac-Man should be rating down based on the preponderance of people who cannot play it well, or don't like playing it.

7.0 "good" for Outtrigger
Posted on July 25, 2001
http://www.gamespot.com/dreamcast/action/outtrigger/review.html

"Outtrigger is a fast-paced shooter from Sega that works well as an online game, but it doesn't have enough to it to outlast the likes of Unreal Tournament or Quake III Arena."

"Outtrigger takes the first-person shooter genre and strips it down to its core gameplay elements. The result is a fairly simplistic game that is built for speed."

"Graphically, Outtrigger looks great. The small arenas allow for a very fast-moving game, and the frame rate doesn't suffer as a result of the game's speed. The game is colorful as well, and the models look pretty good. The sounds are your standard gunfire and explosions, but they sound pretty nice. The music, however, gets pretty annoying, especially if you're chatting for extended periods of time."

"In the end, Outtrigger earns points for being a simple, easy-to-play game, but it isn't for everyone. First-person shooter fans will still be better served by a more diverse game, such as Quake III Arena or Unreal Tournament. But if you're a broadband-adapter owner looking for something new that supports your woefully neglected device, Outtrigger fits the bill nicely."

So it's less diverse than Quake III and Unreal how, we don't know from this review. From my experience of Outtrigger and Quake III, I found very little to compare because both games focus on entirely different aspects of the FPS genre. Whether one likes one over the other will depend on whether they are open to new takes on the genre.

5.0 "Mediocre" for ToeJam & Earl: Mission to Earth
Oct 22, 2002
http://www.gamespot.com/xbox/adventure/toejamearl3missiontoearth/review.html

Gerstmann's only gripe about the game was that he didn't think it was funny. The gameplay is still like the original game's, it's got all of the elements of the original, the additional gameplay elements, and boss fights. Even in concept TJ&E3 sounds much better than "mediocre" to me. Having owned it, I now know that the Gamespot reviewer just had some beef with TJ&E's style of humor. Seriously, in the whole review all he says against the game is that it wasn't funny, and he didn't like the music or the rapping. He even says that it plays like the original and lists all of the functions of the gameplay that would make it do so:

"The actual gameplay in ToeJam & Earl III is like a cross between the first two games in the series. Like in the original, you, either alone or with a friend, must move from level to level, exploring the maps from a third-person perspective and ending each level with a trip in a flying elevator. Like in the second game, you'll find earthlings and, with a blast of your "funk fu," bless them with the healing power of the funk. The game is broken up into worlds, each with a handful of different stages and each culminating in a boss fight or other task. However, the standard level gives you a checklist of things to accomplish. Some levels will force you to convert every earthling in the level. Others will have you unlocking "presents," which are the game's equivalent to power-ups. You'll discover presents that give you various movement items, like spring shoes, rocket skates, and so on. Other presents are weapons, such as the large funk fu blast or the funkify notes. Still others are simple pleasures, such as life-recovering food, a decoy to trick pesky earthlings, and the like.

Regardless of the tasks at hand, all you really need to do is run around, blasting humans with the funk via your funk fu attack or the specialized weapons granted by the presents. Along the way you'll pick up keys, microphones, and other items that can be used to unlock later levels. In cooperative mode, the two players can split off from one another, which automatically changes the game's viewpoint to a split screen, which remerges when the two players enter the same area--a nice feature that unfortunately doesn't help the gameplay much. "

and then:

"The game's music, which is unlocked as you collect more of the missing records, is mostly drum machine and synthesized slap bass. It may be on par with early Genesis games, but you'd probably expect to hear something that sounds a little more current. "

and his conclusion:

"Big fans of the original ToeJam & Earl game will probably have very mixed feelings about the game. On one hand, the gameplay is roughly the same as that of the original game, full of wacky presents with varied effects. On the other, the poor voices and music really date the game and make it feel incredibly stale. The simple mechanics certainly don't help hide the game's other flaws, either, and ultimately the original ToeJam & Earl still remains a better game overall. So anyone looking for a ToeJam & Earl fix would be better off digging up a copy of the original. And anyone who has no idea what the previous games in the series are even about should look elsewhere for entertainment, at this point."

These are the only useful paragraphs in his entire review and even they are dripping with his bias against the game. Everything else is just whining about the game not being as "hip" as he'd have liked it to be.

Toe Jam & Earl is an amazing game! It's one of the few that I played for ages without end, never caring that I was replaying sections to get to the next. I still cringe when I think of the Gamespot review of TJ&E 3 on Xbox, and its subsequent rejection, it's every bit as good as the original. The only real problem is that it doesn't try to be anything but what it is. If it'd tried to look like Jak & Daxter, or whatnot, no comparisons to "hip hop" culture would have been made, it just would have been pronounced "good".

If you like Toe Jam & Earl 1, it's a very good continuation of that concept. If you're looking for anything else, I seriously doubt you'll find it.

5.2 "Mediocre" for Spike Out Battle Street on Xbox
Mar 31, 2005
http://www.gamespot.com/xbox/action/spikeoutbattlestreet/review.html?sid=6121394

"This arcade-style brawler actually sounds pretty wicked on paper, but unfortunately, the game itself is lousy.

The Good: Lots of unlockable dudes; four-player online cooperative; it's only 20 bucks.

The Bad: Weak gameplay; very short; awful cutscenes."

"Spikeout: Battle Street is trying very hard to kick it old-school. It hearkens back to a simpler time, when Final Fight and Streets of Rage were king, and walking around with the sole purpose of beating the living crap out of anyone in your way was the order of the day..."

"It lets you play alone through a story mode, as well as with up to three other players. And those three other players don't need to be in the same room, since Spikeout has cooperative play over Xbox Live. Sounds cool, right? Unfortunately, this would-be renaissance is marred by a pretty serious problem. The game itself is lousy."

"The difficulty seems to scale up slightly as you add players, but not in such a way that would maintain the game's same level of challenge. Also, story mode's much more difficult because it doesn't let you continue. Here, you can enable continues and tweak a few other settings as well. All this adds up to a game that you'll finish in two hours or fewer. After that...do it again. You do want to unlock every single character, don't you?"

"Well, let us answer that question. No, you don't really want to unlock every single character, because most of them are almost identical. There are some speed differences, and some are more powerful than others, but with the exception of a few unlockable bosses, your combo strategy remains the same. The game's combo attack asks you to rise to the challenge to somehow hit the X button six times in a row. It's rough, but, thankfully, each time you execute this extreme maneuver, you'll be rewarded by hearing a deep voice that deems it to be "Cooooooool." You can mix up your attacks a bit by working in the charge-move button, but if you do that, the game won't claim that it's cool. So forget it. The charge-move button lets you pull off launchers, stun attacks, and, if you charge it up all the way, a devastating blow that will kill most normal enemies. It's not all that useful, though. More useful is the sidestep button, which is tough to master but will let you escape from some attacks once you get good at it. All kidding aside, the game quickly boils down to button mashing, and most normal enemies can't manage to put up a decent fight. The game tosses lots of bosses at you, and they're only harder because they occasionally hulk up and become immune to your attacks, giving them free shots to grab you and fling you around...unless you've gotten good with the sidesteps."

I'd say that Gerstmann must have been playing the game on the unlockable easy setting, if I didn't know that setting doesn't have the gameplay he describes either. He partially describes the gameplay fairly accurately. Yes, the game only comments on your move if you complete a six string combo. However, you're rewarded in different, yet much more meaningful, ways for discovering each character's unique moves, and becoming practiced at using those moves in the appropriate situations.

For example, you have a special attack which attacks all enemies around you, if you try to defeat a boss by saving these up and using them all you will most likely lose. Some bosses require you to grapple with them more than straight on attack them, some will counter you if you attempt to grapple but don't attack quickly enough. Within the grapple itself you have a straightforward button masher attack, the possibility to attack and throw, the option (at any time) to cycle around behind and do a throw or a jumping throw, or a special throw attack which damages other enemies. There are also a wide variety of combinations to be made by switching back and forth between the regular and charge attacks, and each character has differing moves dependant on each. Doing only the basic combo attack will not actually get you as far as it would in the Streets of Rage games. Which is to say, you might fumble your way through, but you're missing the real fun.

Yes, each character controls similarly, but each character also has enough changes to their moves to require an adjustment in strategy to avoid unnecessary damage. Yes, the basic enemy can't do all that much to you, without a large group cornering you. What were the greatest beat-em ups in the genre like? Just like that.

Spikeout is lacking, by modern standards only, in presentation and gameplay length if the player is an instant master at the game. I have not covered in detail the gameplay complexities, I've only pointed out most of what I use each time I play the game. At the time I originally wrote this description I had already played Spikeout Battle Street for more than two hours, and I have played it for many more since then and still not beaten the game's normal difficulty Story mode. Nobody that has ever actually played this game has mistaken it for a button masher or "easy".

3.3 "Bad" For Final Fight Streetwise on Xbox
Mar 1, 2006
http://www.gamespot.com/xbox/action/finalfightstreetwise/review.html?sid=6145222

"Final Fight: Streetwise doesn't look good, doesn't play well, and it can't even get its unlockable bonus--the original arcade game--right."

"The Good: Features Mike Haggar.

The Bad: Ugly graphics; horrible speech; lame gameplay; needless cursing makes the whole script sound hokey; camera is usually pretty bad."

"The beat-'em-up is dead. Really, it's been dead ever since gaming went polygonal. Early 3D attempts like Fighting Force set the tone for games like Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance and Spikeout: Battle Street, making bad cameras and generic, boring action the new hallmarks of a genre that used to have no fewer than three stand-out games in it: Taito's Double Dragon, Sega's Streets of Rage, and Capcom's Final Fight. Fresh for 2006, Capcom has a new take on its series, the curse-filled fist-fest Final Fight: Streetwise. But all this game manages to do is further nail the genre's coffin closed, while sullying the good name of an arcade classic along the way."

I can't help but agree here. Streetwise's premise, however, is so obviously lifted from the GTA fad that it is hardly exemplary of beat-em ups 3D or otherwise.

" You go from one spot to the next, beating people up and triggering cutscenes. The dialogue and speech are almost universally awful and don't even work on an ironic level. They're just packed full of lame, gratuitous cursing. Not even the presence of the greatest video game mayor of all time can help save the pathetic story and objectives."

"Of course, if the action were interesting, you'd probably be able to look past the busted story. But the fighting system is awfully basic, and most of your opponents will go down if you simply get in their face and slam on the weak attack button over and over again. They make up for their individual stupidity by often attacking you in quantities. In some spots you'll go up against around eight or 10 guys at once. But they don't all attack at the same time, and your attacks can (and will) hit multiple enemies in many cases, so the fighting is rarely challenging. The boss fights are a little more pattern-based, so you'll have to do some blocking and strategizing here, but not enough to pique your interest. As you play, you learn new moves and are given the opportunity to purchase more combos, but these are rarely useful, since the whole "pound one button until everyone around you is dead" tactic works even better if you spend your cash on increased attack damage."

Ah, the curse of the effective and user friendly one button combo, how did we ever play those old beat-em ups anyway?

"Adding to the insanity of this package is the original arcade game, which is available as an unlockable bonus. Despite a pretty good emulation of the arcade version appearing in Capcom's classic arcade compilation last year, the version in Streetwise isn't that version. It runs at a ridiculously choppy frame rate and doesn't play well at all. In addition to that, there's also an arcade mode that focuses more intently on the weak fighting rather than the weak story. If you're a fan of the original, get Capcom's recent arcade game compilation and avert your eyes from this disaster of a game, especially if you hold any nostalgic feelings about the original game."

As much as I don't like this GTA twist on the Beat-em up, I have to say that I don't know why this game is "bad" based on the details in this review. Just because mashing one button works, doesn't mean that the player is forced to be that linear with the gameplay. I can play a great Beat-em Up like Double Dragon Advance without using any of the new moves also, does that mean that DDA is a bad game by Gerstmann's standard? From these reviews, I would say that all a "bad" game needs to be boosted to "good" in a Gerstmann review is a story that tickles his sensibilities.

7.2 "good" for Sonic Mega Collection
Nov 18, 2002
http://www.gamespot.com/gamecube/action/sonicmegacollection/review.html?sid=2897902

"It's true that the inclusion of even more Sonic games would have added a lot, but there's still a ton of gameplay to be found in Sonic Mega Collection."

"It seems the retro game compilation trend is trucking right along--plenty of companies are taking the time to mine their back catalogs for their previous hits and are bringing them to modern systems. While some companies take the bare-bones approach to compilation design, the better packages toss in a handful of extras along with the games, such as old commercials, manual scans, video documentaries, and more. Sonic Mega Collection has a few of these sorts of extras, but more importantly, it combines most of the core 16-bit games from Sega's long-running and popular Sonic the Hedgehog series of fast-paced platformers onto one disc."

"When you first open up the games menu in Sonic Mega Collection, you'll find the basics right there in front of you. Right off the bat, you can play Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic Spinball, and the Puyo Puyo-style puzzle game with a Sonic makeover, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. Five unlockable games are also available after you play the initially available games a specific number of times. While some of them--the lock-on version of Sonic 3, for example--fit in nicely with the rest of the Sonic games, there's also some non-Sonic-related filler here, namely Flicky and Ristar. Not that there's anything wrong with Flicky or Ristar, but considering this is supposed to be a collection of Sonic games--and it's missing at least one key game in the Sonic series--the inclusion of these seems a little cheap."

"All the games play just fine with the GameCube controller, even if you're using the analog stick instead of the more accurate D pad. The game defaults to using the B, A, and X buttons as the Genesis' A, B, and C buttons, respectively. You can choose from a few different control options, but the default works just fine."

"The graphics and performance of the games in the collection match their Genesis counterparts perfectly. "

"While it's great that all the basic Sonic games have been included here, there's still quite a bit missing. It would have been nice to see this collection expand beyond the Genesis into some of Sonic's more obscure adventures. Sonic CD, in particular, is a noticeable exclusion, as it's arguably the best Sonic game ever produced. Sonic R, Sonic the Fighters, and the three-player arcade-only Sonic game are also missing and would have been welcome."

Okay, so even though the gameplay and graphics are perfect to the originals, according to Gerstmann, the compilation is a 7.2 for not having more Sonic games on it. How all of the original Sonic games on one disk can collectively average out to a 7.2 when the originals themselves individually scored perfect or near perfect scores is not addressed by the reviewer. When Sega delivered the games Gerstmann wanted, in Sonic Gems Collection, Ryan Davis of Gamespot gave it a 6.3.

This is where I would like to start hopping around a bit to demonstrate Gerstmann's inconsistency with sequels and compilations. First I would like to point out that whenever anything relating to Mario is the subject of the review, it will automatically score at least an 8.0, as seen in:

Super Mario Sunshine: "great" with "camera problems" and all.
Aug 26, 2002
http://www.gamespot.com/gamecube/action/supermariosunshine/review.html?sid=2878399
8.3 "great" for Super Mario Bros on Wii
Jan 2, 2007
http://www.gamespot.com/wii/action/smb/review.html?sid=6163683&tag=reviews;title;0

" Super Mario Bros. is still totally sweet, even after more than 20 years.

The Good: Minus world is totally intact; terrific control over mario, just like in the original.

The Bad: Could have used voice acting (kidding!); kind of easy to finish once you get used to the controls again."

Unfortunately for Sonic the Hedgehog this same principle doesn't apply.

8.9 "great" for Twilight Princess
Dec 14, 2006
http://www.gamespot.com/gamecube/action/thelegendofzelda/review.html?sid=6163226

"Twilight Princess contains the same expertly designed puzzles and time-tested gameplay that you've come to expect from the series, though parts of its presentation feel stuck in the past.

The Good: Compelling characters and story; outstanding world and puzzle design; longer than most action adventure games; terrific graphics, from an artistic perspective.

The Bad: Graphics and sound sometimes go from nostalgic to dated."

"When game consoles transitioned from offering primarily 2D games to polygonal 3D games about 10 years ago, all of the tricks and gameplay ideas that developers had been relying on for years flew right out the window. During this time, Nintendo quickly found its footing and released masterful takes on its old franchises that retained the fun and feeling of the older games while properly updating them in exciting and impressive new ways. 1998's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was a prime example of this. It featured a more realistic take on the series' fantasy world than ever before, while implementing innovative new controls and offering a good sense of freedom without making the player feel lost. It's one of the greatest games of all time, so it's hard to fault Nintendo for revisiting that same formula. And that's precisely what the latest game in the series, Twilight Princess, does."

"But once you get over the rush of excitement from a big, new Zelda game having finally arrived, it's hard not to feel a tinge of disappointment--there's a very noticeable lack of evolution here, which makes aspects of the game seem more dated than classic. Even so, there isn't much out there that compares to Twilight Princess, except for the Zelda games that have come before it."

"Objectively speaking, it's still a little disappointing that the series hasn't evolved much at all with this latest installment. You'll almost certainly enjoy the game for its terrific puzzles, colorful characters, and compelling story, but at some point the feeling of nostalgia crosses the line and holds this game back from being as unbelievably good as some of its predecessors. So as impressive of a game as it is, Twilight Princess seems like it could have been so much more if Nintendo had broken from the formula a little bit more. But even without that, Twilight Princess is a great game that stays extremely true to the Zelda franchise's past. That's excellent news for fans of the series, who'll find in Twilight Princess a true-blue Zelda game with updated visuals, some new twists, plenty of challenging puzzles, and a faithful dedication to the series' roots.

Editor's note 12/15/06: The original version of this review overlooked an alternate method for performing the spin attack. GameSpot regrets the error."

So, sometimes a game being identical to an older successful title is a good thing, and other times it is derivative, and Gerstmann's opinion of the original is all that factors in to the judgment.

IGN...

... falls victim to a double standard. During the Dreamcast's lifetime, they chopped off major points on any game that had a framerate that dipped or dropped in the slightest. Overall some of the following reviews make up for their criticisms with detailed gameplay descriptions, but why do they punish a game on the Dreamcast for framerate issues, when they don't even notice it on a game they like, or on much more "modern" games on the almighty PS2? Just watch how the framerate and camera buzz words somehow bounce right off of the PS2.

Sega Rally 2:

The game's legendary graphical quirk made it into the final US version, unfortunately, The framerate still stutters sporadically from time to time, mostly when you powerslide, it seems, regardless of whether or not you're using the behind-the-car view. This would be a big problem if it were to affect gameplay, but I was able to accept it after a couple of hours of play time, and now, thirty-five hours later, I barely notice it at all.

Graphics:
This would be among the DC's finest graphical achievements, were it not for framerate problems, popup, and sprite issues. It has its moments, though, and you'll overlook the framerate stuff quickly. 8.6

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 9.0 -- Anoop Gantayat

Draconus Cult of the Wyrm:

Ack. This game is pretty cool, but it could have been so much better. A shaky camera, stuttering framerate, and inconstant game design left this one just shy of delivering a masterpiece. It's really too bad that Draconus didn't come together a bit better, but it's still worth at least a rental for action fans.

Graphics
Beautiful backdrops and interesting creature designs fall victim to inexcusable texture seams, bad camera follow and a barrel of chop. Some of the character models are also pretty busted. 5.3

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 6.7 - Brandon Justice

Yet Brandon here doesn't seem to care about framerate problems in his Sonic Adventure review. Let me tell you, as much as I like this game, I can't help but notice the ultra low framerate in the later levels.

Sonic Adventure:

I won't bother BS'ing and pretend that I can count the frames per second in any given lop-de-loop, nor will I sit here and try to tell you that this game doesn't bog down every now and again, but just know that this game can haul balls when it wants to, and that turns out to be a good majority of the time.
(...)
To further the problems caused by this lack of consistency, the cameras for Sonic Adventure(...)are still incredibly frustrating at points. Slowing down only manages to be such a pain because the abrupt camera switches you normally don't notice because you're flying by them are all now painfully apparent, and the controls have a nasty habit of being dependant on he viewpoint. So much so, in fact, that you've got my personal guarantee that they will kill you more than you're lack of gameplay skills, or Anoop will eat his copy of Pen Pen.

Graphics
You may not always notice amidst the evil eye of the camera, but Sonic and Co. are lookin' mighty fine this go 'round. The most graphically impressive platformer we've seen to date. . 9.8

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 8.6 - Brandon Justice

Brandon does it again in his MDK2 review for Dreamcast. He loves this game so much that he completely fails to mention that the game barely maintains 30FPS in an open corridor with no enemies on screen, and is sub 20FPS throughout any action sequences. It's a great game, but come on man, if framerate is so important, shouldn't it at least get a mention on a game as inconsistant as this one is?

MDK2 -DC:

Graphics Very sweet. Great overall look, shadows, and use of particle effects. Enemy design and in-game cinemas are also pretty sweet. 9.2

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 9.4 - Brandon Justice

Here's a good example, I can personally attest that Ecco The Dolphin has no worse framerate problems than Sonic Adventure does, yet notice the over emphasis on the framerate "issues" in Chris Carle's review...

Ecco The Dolphin - Dreamcast:

Add a mediocre framerate to the mix and you have a good game that could have used about six months of tweaking.

(...)
But, somehow there is framerate drop in nearly every level. Especially when jumping above the surface of the water and interacting with textures, the game has a tendency to chug hard.
(...)
Graphics
The graphics could have been a 10, except for a chuggy frame rate on almost every level. Take away this annoying setback and you have one of the prettiest games ever, period. 8.4

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 7.6 -- Chris Carle

Ecco The Dolphin - PS2:

For fans of adventure games, Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future is a must-play. Its unique concept and lush visual imagery are enough for a rental, at least. While it's plagued by some gameplay and camera issues, it's still a fun view into a world that has been under-explored in the realm of gaming. If you're an aspiring oceanographer, like a challenge, or just want to try something new, pick it up. If you are easily bored by games that don't involve killing, or suck at videogames in general, you'll be frustrated with this one.

Graphics Gorgeous environments and good creature models on one hand. Bad camera and occasional slow-down on the other. 7

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 7.8 -- Chris Carle

...yet the word frame isn't even used in the three page PS2 review of the same game, written by the same reviewer. Why was framerate such a detriment on the Dreamcast version, but hardly even worth a mention, good or bad, for the PS2 version?

StarWars Starfighter on PS2 is a perfect example of a game that has a hideously stuttering framerate, at almost all times, and gets let off easy by the reviewer. Starfighter chugs to well below 20FPS every time you make your ship turn around, and everytime there are "stunning" effects on the screen. There is absolutely no level that is free of these framerate drops, and no part of any level that actually runs at a smooth framerate, 30-60 or even 20fps.

StarWars:Starfighter:

The only drawback is that all of this goodness doesn't come free and the game definitely takes a hit in the framerate department. The space missions are generally pretty smooth, but players will experience some slowdown in areas where there's a lot of ships and/or explosions on screen. Moreover, the general framerate in most of the ground missions is a bit lower than what we'd hope with some areas getting really choppy. Then again, the game's less than perfect framerate never really gets in the way of gameplay and most players will probably stop noticing it after playing the game for any extended period of time.

Graphics
This is one of the best looking titles you'll find on PS2 right now. The explosions, general lighting effects and ship models look superb. Only real flaw is that it can be a bit choppy at times. 9.0

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 9.0 -- David Zdyrko

The word framerate isn't even used in Doug Perry's Grand Theft Auto III review. This game has one of the worst framerates of any game off the PS1, and it isn't even mentioned!

GTAIII:

Graphics Good, stylistic graphics that often suffer from pop-in and texture clipping. They're nothing the gameplay and music don't make up for. 8.5

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 9.6 -- Doug Perry

At least their review of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 *mentions* framerate. This game stutters around at least as badly as I've seen any other game, especially any Dreamcast game listed here, does. A PS2 game from 2002 get's cut massive slack, yet a Dreamcast game running on Windows CE from 1999 gets marked off.

Need for Speed:Hot Pursuit 2:

The framerate can become a sticking point amidst all this, but only in crowded situations. Four competing cars on screen in an area with a lot of background architecture, like the burning section of the National Forest track, will see some pretty significant slowdown. However, the game runs smoothly for the majority of the time, and periods of slowdown pass quickly enough.

Graphics
It's not up there with the top of the PS2 market, but it looks good enough, with a great sense of speed. 7.0

OVERALL SCORE (not an average) 9.0 -- David Smith

All that slack cut for a system that was hyped for two years, while during those same two years many a Dreamcast game was dominated by negative statements of how badly the framerate dipped at points. Games they like, and PS2 games get excused because "it doesn't affect gameplay" while others get bashed and just didn't live up to their expectations. If that isn't a double standard, I don't know what is.

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