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Forums > Submission Feedback > spaceworlder's Ninja Gaiden review

This thread is in response to a review for Ninja Gaiden on the NES. You are encouraged to view the review in a new window before reading this thread.

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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: July 05, 2009 (06:20 PM)
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I don't see how my review is a "rant". The language isn't very heated, and I think the points I bring up are pretty genuine criticisms. People might disagree that they are, but disagreement doesn't make something a rant. I also fail to see why a rant can't be a review either.

A rant is a one-sided argument. Heated language and superfluous exclamation marks are optional. Agreement (I happen to agree with the points you make) and disagreement on the part of the audience have no relevance when it comes to determining whether or not something is a rant.

A review is different from a rant because of the inherent change in purpose.

The purpose of a rant is to say "I like/don't like this" and maybe to provide some reasons, as you have done. The purpose of a review is to say "Here's how the game works and here are some particular points of interest that might cause you to like or not like it." In general, someone reads a review because he wants information about the game and because he wants to know whether or not he will like it. Whether or not the person reviewing it liked the game is almost irrelevant.

Choosing to ignore points that will interest most readers in favor of only hitting on points that allow you to rail upon the game--however politely--is what turns something from a potential review into a definite rant. There's definitely a place for ranting about games and for making the very points you made about Ninja Gaiden. By themselves, however, those points do not count as a review. I believe that when someone clicks to read a review, what he should get is an actual review.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: bluberry
Posted: July 05, 2009 (06:33 PM)
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Oh no, it's a Goomba!


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Author: randxian
Posted: July 05, 2009 (06:37 PM)
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Whether or not the person reviewing it liked the game is almost irrelevant.

If that's the case, then why do we even bother giving the game a score on a scale of 1-10? I know you said "almost irrelevant" but I think you are downplaying the opinion aspect of reviews. I've yet to see a review that is completely, 100% objective. There is almost no way you can write a review without the author's voice seeping through in some way, shape, or form.

That would be a boring report. Who would want to read those?

And dammit bluberry, you're making me hungry!

Edit: The more I think about it, the more I think I get what you are trying to say here. Maybe there needs to be some balance between objective information and well formed opinions. Perhaps the review would work better if there was a little more depth about what makes the game tick.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: July 05, 2009 (06:39 PM)
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Heated language and superfluous exclamation marks are optional.

Wrong. Open up your dictionary and read the definition.

The purpose of a rant is to say "I like/don't like this" and maybe to provide some reasons, as you have done.

That sounds like the purpose of a review to me.

Whether or not the person reviewing it liked the game is almost irrelevant.

LOL

What the writer thinks about the game is the most relevant thing of all. Otherwise, what's the point of having a web site called "Honest Gamers" where hundreds of reviews written by hundreds of different writers are posted? How can any reviewer be "honest" if they hate a game but use "muted" language to suppress their desire to make that known, because an opinion is apparently not very relevant in criticism? What you're saying is a bane against honesty.

Choosing to ignore points that will interest most readers in favor of only hitting on points that allow you to rail upon the game--however politely--is what turns something from a potential review into a definite rant.

Oh, I could've told the the reader "If you love mindless action games where you mow down waves of one-note enemies, then 'Ninja Gaiden' is for you!" But that would be an insult to the reader, because I would be trying to imitate the dime-a-dozen positive reviews for this game. I assume whoever is reading my review is smart enough to look for a second opinion, which is why your web site exists. In my essay, I "overlook" positive points, because I don't believe there are many, if at all.

Now, back on topic...

That is one sweet soft-serve, Blu. But that picture reminds me why I tend to avoid them. Look at how the damn thing is melting and slowly trickling to the fingers that grip the cone. Those digits are gonna get sticky.


Spaceworlder was able to build this sig IN A CAVE…… WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!!


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: July 05, 2009 (07:23 PM)
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I guess I'll weigh in here. I agree with Honestgamer about the difference between a review and a rant. Personally, I don't mind clicking on something and seeing a rant -- which can be either negative or favorable, mind you -- as long as it's well-written and entertains me. But a rant is not a review, and as such, is prone to criticism (and deserves it) when posing as a review.

I'll grab a few quotes before launching into the meat of my post:
1) I've yet to see a review that is completely, 100% objective. There is almost no way you can write a review without the author's voice seeping through in some way, shape, or form.
2) What the writer thinks about the game is the most relevant thing of all.
3) How can any reviewer be "honest" if they hate a game but use "muted" language to suppress their desire to make that known, because an opinion is apparently not very relevant in criticism?

I highlighted the above because I agree with them and, going out on a limb, I bet Honestgamer does too.

The best reviews do not try to hide their emotions. If the writer has a passionate opinion, they should express it with passion. The writer's experience-based opinion of the game is what colors their commentary, and ultimately forms the basis of their recommendation. Hiding that opinion would be deceptive.

But the review's purpose is not to say "I love this game" or "I hate this game". Those opinions absolutely need to come through, but the question that should CONSTANTLY be on the writer's mind when sorting through his experiences with the game: "Is this a critical piece of the game's potential appeal/experience?" Not whether or not a statement supports the persuasive essay forming on paper. Even though a prospective player will appreciate a passionate opinion, that's not what they're really looking for. They're looking for information. Exploring ones' love or hatred for a game is fine as long as it leads to an informative picture. But the writer's love or hatred, in and of itself, is not really relevant to the review-seeking reader. (This does not contradict statement #2 above. What a writer thought of a game is hugely relevant when supported)

Your piece brings up the following points:
1) colliding with enemies sends you flying
2) everything, including animals, is out to get you
3) you can't climb walls
4) enemies charge blindly, or just walk left to right

However, huge swathes of Ninja Gaiden information are omitted. You explicitly say that you won't discuss the story or power-ups (and I'm adding music in here) because the game was bad enough that such things didn't matter to you... but those things matter to the game and they matter to the reader. It's impossible to 100% predict what aspects of a game people will want to hear about, so exclusions are sometimes accidental... but for a retro title like Ninja Gaiden, a game that has a fanbase more than willing to point out what they like about the game, those intentional exclusions clearly put this on the "rant" side of the fence.

Honestgamer made the distinction between rant and review by saying a rant is a one-sided argument, implying that a review is not. I'd actually amend that statement a bit. A rant is a one-sided argument on purpose. A review can be one-sided, but it's accidental. Or secondary to the purpose, if you prefer to think of it that way. In a review, when the writer has given his opinion of everything pertinent to the gaming experience, it may end up being one-sided... but proving the game "bad" wasn't the goal. The goal was to provide a complete synopsis of the experience.

There is no way to describe everything about a game inside a review, nor would I want to read something that tries. A (good) rant only includes information pertinent to the writer's opinion. A (good) review only includes information pertinent to the game.

Another way to look at it: a rant is about entertainment, a review is about information. Both have value, but the latter is far more useful to people trying to decide whether or not to play/buy/download a game.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: honestgamer (Mod)
Posted: July 05, 2009 (07:56 PM)
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You're right about the point I'm making, Rand.

Spaceworlder made it obvious a long time ago that he feels the way to make a compelling argument is to ignore points from the opposing viewpoint, or to dismiss them without justification as irrelevant. The logic he applies--which is echoed in his post in this thread--is that bringing up those points weakens his argument.

While that's true to a point, an even better way to weaken an argument is to do precisely what he seems to feel is the solution! Ignoring or minimalizing your opposing viewpoint's arguments is the written equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and humming really loudly when someone says something you don't like in a debate. Anyone who heard the argument sees that as a concession on your part, yet invariably the person who resorted to such juvenile tactics walks away thinking he won. After all, he didn't hear any differently!

Reviews aren't debates or essays, but they're a lot closer to that than they are a statement that "This is my opinion so like it or lump it." The goal each time someone pens a video game review is to provide a fair look at the game that leaves the reader with an idea of how it plays, what the reviewer thought worked and didn't work and most importantly, a general idea of how likely the reader is to enjoy the game. If someone doesn't want to do that, then he's not really writing a review.

Every few months, someone makes the absurd suggestion that because the site is called 'HonestGamers,' the standard rules of reviewing don't apply and the writer only needs to state his opinions. I hope that those people will keep in mind that if I planned for people to write reviews where they don't hold themselves accountable for their opinions and don't work to justify the points they make, HonestGamers is one of the last names I would have chosen.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." - John F. Kennedy on reality

"What if everything you see is more than what you see--the person next to you is a warrior and the space that appears empty is a secret door to another world? What if something appears that shouldn't? You either dismiss it, or you accept that there is much more to the world than you think. Perhaps it really is a doorway, and if you choose to go inside, you'll find many unexpected things." - Shigeru Miyamoto


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Author: randxian
Posted: July 05, 2009 (09:43 PM)
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. A rant is a one-sided argument on purpose. A review can be one-sided, but it's accidental. Or secondary to the purpose, if you prefer to think of it that way. In a review, when the writer has given his opinion of everything pertinent to the gaming experience, it may end up being one-sided... but proving the game "bad" wasn't the goal. The goal was to provide a complete synopsis of the experience.

Well put.

I also like the analogy of sticking your fingers in your ears so you don't have to hear the other side.

Okay, now I'm getting it.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: July 05, 2009 (10:37 PM)
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However, huge swathes of Ninja Gaiden information are omitted. You explicitly say that you won't discuss the story or power-ups (and I'm adding music in here) because the game was bad enough that such things didn't matter to you... but those things matter to the game and they matter to the reader.

On the subject of story, "Ninja Gaiden" is a video game, not a book or a movie. The "plot", if you wish to call it that, is designed around the game, not vice versa. Therefore, the story is not critical to encapsulating the experience of the game. I don't care if "Ninja Gaiden's" story is of Shakespearian caliber--which it isn't by the way--it means nothing if the game itself is garbage--which it is by the way.

As for the power-ups, they are a secondary mechanic to the game's core "running and slashing" routine. An omission from my review, but not a huge one by any means. The pertinent information can be found in a manual or FAQ anyways.

I think my review paints a pretty good picture of the game. You run around and kill mindless enemies, you climb up walls like a ping-pong ball, and you fight a lumbering oaf at the end of each level. Does it matter if there's catchy music? Suppose you're being disemboweled. Is it a benefit to you if your killer plays some Richard Wagner on a boombox? If you live to tell someone else, do you say "Boy, having my intestines ripped out was hell, but at least the music was nice."

A rant is a one-sided argument on purpose.

Ignoring the dubious "on purpose" part of this statement, how can anyone be expected to make a "two-sided" argument? In a review, the writer is the only "side" saying anything. Therefore, any work of criticism is going to be "one-sided". I can't argue for anyone who isn't me.

But proving the game "bad" wasn't the goal.

This talk of "proving" is nonsense. My intention in writing this review was not to "prove" anything. My intent was to put my thoughts on the experience into words, which I'd then submit to be posted alongside other people's thoughts on this site for HG visitors to peruse. These "thoughts" are called reviews, and sometimes they read an awful lot like rants, especially when they're written for bad games. I'm sorry if you feel the need to segregate the two.

It's impossible to 100% predict what aspects of a game people will want to hear about, so exclusions are sometimes accidental... but for a retro title like Ninja Gaiden, a game that has a fanbase more than willing to point out what they like about the game, those intentional exclusions clearly put this on the "rant" side of the fence.

Funny, the "Zelda III" board on GameFAQs is starting to come to mind.

[Jason's usual asinine ideological warfare over video games.]

There's not point in responding to this. The winning move--dare I say it?--is not to play.


Spaceworlder was able to build this sig IN A CAVE…… WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!!


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: July 05, 2009 (11:32 PM)
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Ignoring the dubious "on purpose" part of this statement, how can anyone be expected to make a "two-sided" argument?

By one-sided, I mean uniformly negative or uniformly positive. Sorry if that wasn't clear. Intentionally excluding important elements to present a uniformly positive or negative review is what I dub "on purpose". The most persuasive essays present both sides. Otherwise, it's way too easy to poke holes into the argument. The best reviews (which aren't necessarily persuasive essays) provide enough information for readers to make their own decision regardless of the writer's opinion.

Your piece isn't convincing people who already agreed with you, and it doesn't provide a full set of information for people who haven't played the game. Regardless of your intent, it could have been stronger. That's all.

but for a retro title like Ninja Gaiden, a game that has a fanbase more than willing to point out what they like about the game, those intentional exclusions clearly put this on the "rant" side of the fence.

Funny, the "Zelda III" board on GameFAQs is starting to come to mind.


I'm not sure why you say that. The GameFAQs board was very different from the discussion occurring in this topic. Sinner's review of Zelda: LTTP addressed the things Zelda fans praise. He just hated all of them. And the fans hated him for having a different opinion. That's not what happened here.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: July 06, 2009 (12:19 AM)
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I'm sorry, are we talking about reviewing or law? I don't see why I need to "convince" anyone or be "persuasive". It's simple: I play the game, I write about it, someone reads it for advice, and they either take it or don't. If they think I'm full of shit, they can look for a second opinion.

I'm not sure why you say that. The GameFAQs board was very different from the discussion occurring in this topic. Sinner's review of Zelda: LTTP addressed the things Zelda fans praise. He just hated all of them. And the fans hated him for having a different opinion. That's not what happened here.

The first thing I see:

"I thought a review was supposed to actually be about the game, not 700 words that do nothing but bash it relentlessly."

Jesus, that pretty much encapsulates Venter's position throughout this topic.


Spaceworlder was able to build this sig IN A CAVE…… WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!!


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Author: randxian
Posted: July 06, 2009 (03:06 AM)
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On the subject of story, "Ninja Gaiden" is a video game, not a book or a movie. The "plot", if you wish to call it that, is designed around the game, not vice versa. Therefore, the story is not critical to encapsulating the experience of the game. I don't care if "Ninja Gaiden's" story is of Shakespearian caliber--which it isn't by the way--it means nothing if the game itself is garbage--which it is by the way.

Okay, the whole "but it's a video game" is nothing but a cheap cop out here. Ninja Gaiden is famous for being one of the first, if not the first, game to feature cinematic cut scenes. To just casually swat away the importance of the plot here because it's "just a video game" is absolutely absurd. Yes, video games are interactive as opposed to books or movies, but to state story isn't important is just sticking your head in the sand. It doesn't matter if you like it or not, most gamers consider plot and character development an integral part of gaming.

Like the others are saying, you are blatantly deciding which elements are important for the fans instead of giving sufficient information, even when the parts you are leaving out are video game landmarks.

Besides, is there some law that states good stories should be left to books or movies? Who says video gaming can't be a good medium to tell a good story as well?

By the way, the people laying down these "laws" and whatnot are simply trying to help you improve as a reviewer. It seems to me you are getting a little bit defensive and refuse to acknowledge anyone else's side. If you can't take constructive criticism, then you have no business being a reviewer.

Again, I like the fact you are willing to challenge such a popular game. It is admirable you are taking a different stance than the norm. I think what everyone is concerned about is how you just casually brush off aspects, such as story, that you feel aren't important. Plus you stated yourself you forgot to mention the respawning, which would have complimented the rest of your initial arguments well. We just want a more fleshed out review, that's all. You can score it 1/10 for all anyone cares as long as you cover all the bases.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: pickhut
Posted: July 06, 2009 (03:29 AM)
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I finally got around to reading the rest of the review (I only read the opening paragraph earlier), and, I don't see what difference it would make to bring up the plot or music. The entire point of the review was that, in his eyes, the gameplay is broken. So I really don't see how it would make any sense to bring up the plot or music. After talking about the bad gameplay, people will suddenly want to play the game anyway because of those two other aspects? I doubt it.


I head spaceshit noises


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Author: randxian
Posted: July 06, 2009 (03:35 AM)
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That's not the point. No, people aren't going to play the game just for the plot, but the cutscenes are a huge part of the game. Particularly when this is the first game to include such a feature.

According to your logic, I should post a Zelda: Majora's Mask review and just talk about what a pain in the ass the water temple is. Since that part is so annoying and may cause some people to quit the game in frustration, I shouldn't even bother talking about anything else, right? The hell with the character interaction, side-quests, and the other dungeons. Those aren't important because one dungeon really sucks.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: pickhut
Posted: July 06, 2009 (03:42 AM)
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That was an awful example.

He was complaining about the core of the game, everything that was going on inside it. You just picked one piece of gameplay from that Zelda game.


I head spaceshit noises


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Author: sashanan
Posted: July 06, 2009 (05:25 AM)
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Spoken as somebody who has never played or seen most Zelda games, MM included: if said water temple were hypothetically so incredibly broken that a vast number of gamers would in fact quit in frustration at how bad it is, then I *would* expect to see my share of reviews focusing on that level and how it ruins the experience even if it means a lesser focus on other aspects that would have been more important if the game had *not* been broken in that sense. The vibe I get from this review is that the problems spaceworlder mentions - problems that I myself experienced with this game also - are so overbearing and of such crushing weight that other points that might have deserved more of a mention ultimately took a backseat.

Probably that does make the piece more of a rant than a traditional review, but if spaceworlder's opinion is that it deserved one based on the grounds mentioned in the piece, I can certainly accept that.


''Yes, yes...but apart from all that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?''


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: July 06, 2009 (05:33 AM)
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"I thought a review was supposed to actually be about the game, not 700 words that do nothing but bash it relentlessly."

Jesus, that pretty much encapsulates Venter's position throughout this topic.


Spaceworlder, that is not his stance, which is why I made my original long post that led to you and I going back and forth (because up until then, we weren't arguing). You misunderstood Honestgamer's post to mean reviews had to be in "muted" language. That's not what he said. It's not about muting the opinion, it's about strength of support in reviewing, which goes back to Drella's original post. My (long) clarification of Honestgamer's post -- while inserting my own opinion -- apparently offended you, since you've brought up the Zelda 3 board. Whatever I said that upset you, it wasn't intentional; I'm sorry.

I don't see why I need to "convince" anyone or be "persuasive".

Spaceworlder, I didn't say you needed to convince or persuade anyone. I listed that as one possible intention of writing. Another possible intention is simply to provide information for people to make up their own minds, and I said that all along.

I default back to:
"Your piece isn't convincing people who already agreed with you, and it doesn't provide a full set of information for people who haven't played the game. Regardless of your intent, it could have been stronger. That's all."

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: July 06, 2009 (06:04 AM)
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Pickhut, in theory I agree with you (and with Spaceworlder). If the gameplay is so broken to make the game that wretched, then would the plot or music make a difference?

In many cases, no, it wouldn't. The reason I brought it up here is because (1) the game is already well-known for those things and (2) the criticisms weren't strong/supported enough to make me forget that it's well-known for those things. The criticisms could be applied to many games (except for the one-handed climbing part; most NES games lack climbing altogether).

The intent all along was to provide feedback that could be kept in mind for the future. As with all feedback, anyone is free to ignore or listen as they please.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: joseph_valencia
Posted: July 06, 2009 (06:22 AM)
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Okay, the whole "but it's a video game" is nothing but a cheap cop out here. Ninja Gaiden is famous for being one of the first, if not the first, game to feature cinematic cut scenes. To just casually swat away the importance of the plot here because it's "just a video game" is absolutely absurd. Yes, video games are interactive as opposed to books or movies, but to state story isn't important is just sticking your head in the sand. It doesn't matter if you like it or not, most gamers consider plot and character development an integral part of gaming.

The plot means nothing to the game, except to connect each level in the loosest of ways. It has no effect on the gameplay, and it certainly doesn't enhance it. There are no characters to develop, because the dialogue doesn't create any. Rather than waste my and my reader's time talking about such an inconsequential aspect of the game, I chose to focus on the element they will spend the majority of their time with, namely the actual game itself.

I don't know if gamers really care about "plot" or "character development". In today's games, maybe, if only because a great deal of cut scenes forecast the action they're about to play. But in a game like "Ninja Gaiden", where the cinemas have little to do with what happens in each level, I think a lot of gamers would skip these sequences. I personally do that, even in action games that I like, and I've seen other people do it.

Besides, is there some law that states good stories should be left to books or movies? Who says video gaming can't be a good medium to tell a good story as well?

I think it was John Carmack who said that playing games for the story is like watching porn for the story. He's pretty much right, even in genres where written dialogue is crucial, such as RPGs and adventure games. In these games, the content of the story itself is not as important as how it immerses you in the game's world.

In any case, "Ninja Gaiden's" plot is so irrelevant to enjoying the game that it doesn't matter if I mention it or not in my review. If you skipped every cutscene and just played the game, the effect would be the same.

By the way, the people laying down these "laws" and whatnot are simply trying to help you improve as a reviewer. It seems to me you are getting a little bit defensive and refuse to acknowledge anyone else's side. If you can't take constructive criticism, then you have no business being a reviewer.

If people want to call my review shit, fine. What I'm not buying is the notion that I need to shoe-horn canned sentences and paragraphs about power-ups and "plot". Aside from re-spawns (which are more bothersome and worth mentioning in the second game) I feel my review, in spite of whatever shortcomings it may have as writing, gives a pretty thorough picture of what someone will experience when playing "Ninja Gaiden". If someone played the game and disliked it, I think they would be inclined to zero in on the same things I did. The last thing on their mind would probably be the "landmark" achievement of mixing pictures with words, or the power-ups that constantly kept slipping in and out of their fingers, or the generic "music".

EDIT:

The criticisms could be applied to many games (except for the one-handed climbing part; most NES games lack climbing altogether).

That's kind of the point. "Ninja Gaiden" is a bad Nintendo game that suffers from all the things bad Nintendo games suffer from. Peel away the prestige and the flash, and that's what it is. So little of the game has aesthetic coherence anyway, if at all. If there was a vision, I would have mentioned it.


Spaceworlder was able to build this sig IN A CAVE…… WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS!!


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Author: randxian
Posted: July 06, 2009 (05:24 PM)
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That was an awful example.

He was complaining about the core of the game, everything that was going on inside it. You just picked one piece of gameplay from that Zelda game.


Maybe it is a bad example, but the core idea is still intact. You and spaceworlder seem to be implying, correct me if I'm wrong, that if the game is so lousy that you think people won't enjoy it, then you can safely ignore everything else except what's particularly annoying.

I would tend to agree that would fall under the category of rant, since you are blatantly making decisions for the readers, instead of giving as much information on the game as possible, and letting them make decisions.

Now yes, reviews will have opinions and will be slanted, but to blatantly ignore something just because something else is more grating is absurd.

If that's the case, I suppose from now on with every review we write that's scored 4 or less, we should simply discuss what pissed us off about the games and be done with it. Since those games are so bad, then obviously ignoring good sized chunks is no big deal, right?

Edit: Okay, obviously we are just going back and forth and neither side is willing to concede ground, so I think I'm going to drop everything. I'm sorry my Majora's Mask example didn't really illustrate the point I was trying to make; I posted that half asleep.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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Author: pickhut
Posted: July 06, 2009 (05:34 PM)
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Exactly. You said it yourself: the games are so bad, that talking about any remaining redeeming qualities would be pointless. If the games weren't that bad, then the reviewer would obviously mention some of the good stuff more, if any.


I head spaceshit noises


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Author: randxian
Posted: July 06, 2009 (05:55 PM)
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You do realize I was being sarcastic with that, right? I don't agree with your and spaceworlder's train of thought, but oh well. I suppose we'll just have some more diversity as far as how reviews are written.


I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?


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