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Forums > Contributor Zone > ROTW 2010-01-23

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Author: aschultz
Posted: January 25, 2010 (12:21 PM)
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This was a close RotW, as three good reviews by three good reviewers vied for the top spot. Each had its plusses and minuses, and either of #2 or #3, with some positive futzing, could've leapt to #1. I felt slightly on the spot potentially keeping Suskie's RotW streak alive, then I still did potentially breaking it, and I thought it best to sleep on it to remove that distraction. Still I flipped the order a few times.

THIRD PLACE: Spaceworlder Torneko

I like this review because although I disagree with the first line--I often like half-forgetting dungeon layouts, or even assuming I have to do something in a certain order. For me it's neat to find a quick way through a dungeon and enjoy the side bits a bit more. I also like the name-dropping in the second paragraph--nothing too fancy, yet combining some interesting titles and concepts, and why they work. I suppose I'd be curious just to check that each floor contains the same bosses, ultimately. And I'm curious about the plot--how many levels are there? Do you need to knock bosses off? What disappears for good if you return to the town? Is there one? How *tough* is it?

I'm not sure how best to put this sort of custodial information into a review without drying it too much, since roguelike reviews can get technical quickly, but my attention meter was close to 100% at the end, so you could've fit in. As for technical stuff, maybe parentheses are used a bit too much, and rhetorical tricks too: "No, really, it is" is one example, and "The real centerpiece" is a lazy transition that leads to some tangling in the explanation--an example might be good there, as I suspect certain item combos work better on certain monsters. The last paragraph also feels abrupt. But these complaints are minor.

Still, this is a good, succinct review about a game with a simple concept that provides a good idea of what the author finds fun and why the game works. Half makes me want to dust my PSX off and look around on eBay.

SECOND PLACE: Suskie Borderlands

While the author admitted this is a rough review in places, with some of the conversational bits falling a bit flat and the narrative voice wandering (I Guess and Trust Me clash mightily,) it covers what the creators expect, what the player should expect, and why this game works while others do/don't. The problem is that a lot of the review wanders around before getting to the point, so the ease of reading doesn't get us anywhere, and on rereading there was a lot less meat than I thought. The repetition doesn't really build to anything--it feels like someone trying to keep your attention.

For instance, "I guess" and "Trust me" are conversational things that clash mightily in a review. "Alex – that’s my roommate –" is the sort of un-Suskie-like thing that made me cringe. And sentences like "It’s a predictable game, but only in the sense that it’s not doing anything new." make sense later--nothing new in the mechanics--but this feels like a failed Oscar Wildeism. Stuff like 17 million weapons gets through nicely, though I don't think the story feels unique--I mean, you could argue a similar experience happens with an arcade game and a continue feature. Healing with time doesn't seem unique either, unless the closer you are, the more you heal?

A day of proofreading and this review, the most ambitious, would've jumped past the other two pretty easily.

FIRST PLACE: Genj Ghostbusters

This is a fun review that contrasts nicely with True's annoyance about a game he looked forward to but that wound up sucking for him. It sounds like it's good as a bargain title but not a full priced one. Ghostbusters seems to be a good game to write about because people understand the cultural phenomenon. This review doesn't make any big mistakes and the examples are pretty fun and straightforward without dipping into "the controls work like such." Some transitions near the end are awkward, but the review is enjoyable and informative, the best paced of the three, and gets away with a crack at Sigourney Weaver.

There's some cleanup work for the review. Passive voice pops up a lot ("Weapons should be chosen.") "Basically" and parentheses get overused. (Yes, I'm hypocritical. I'm just spraying examples, though.) Maybe an example of the new dialogue would be nice.

This is poking, though. In the end, this review is much like it claims the game to be--fun you can sit down and enjoy, with some small flaws, but it works overall. This has the higher signal-to-noise ratio, so it ekes out a win.

Credit to Suskie, though, for leaving the unfinished result out there. And for having a good streak going. There may be others in the future. I hope so.

Credit also to the three reviewers who all tried interesting stuff, even if it didn't quite work for me. Winning being less important than willingness to try new things, etc etc so forth.

My principal said, 'Emo, Emo, Emo.'
I said 'I'm the one in the middle, you lousy drunk!'
-- Emo Phillips

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Author: Suskie
Posted: January 25, 2010 (12:55 PM)
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While the author admitted this is a rough review in places

I did? My original draft had a lot of typos, and that's what I was talking about. I agree, though. Not one of my best by a mile. It played out better in my head, but the finished review kinda jumps all over the place. Interesting comment about my conversational tone, though, because other people have told me that's one of my strengths as a reviewer. I guess it all comes down to preference, which makes sense since it's more of a stylistic choice than anything else.

Thanks for the mention and congrats to Genj and Space for their placements.

You exist because we allow it. And you will end because we demand it.

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Author: aschultz
Posted: January 25, 2010 (01:11 PM)
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When I say "rough places" I don't mean typos. With the reviews I've read here, typos are usually not an issue--we're all at the next step up, at the very least. I mean the sort of conversational stuff that really doesn't feel fleshed out. I tend to be wary of conversational stuff, so it takes time for me to evaluate how potent it can be & hopefully not ultimately impose my own dogmas on my critiques.

I know you've pulled it off before, but I think the key things I look for are 1) no contradictions/cross-purposes, 2) no talking one's way into a contradiction and out of it and 3) no dressing stories up too much. This can be annoyingly subjective for the reviewer and the critiquer, but in some respect, every review is a gamble, or it should be to avoid dryness.

One heuristic I use to ID if conversational works is picturing myself listening to it on the phone--and would I hang up? Or overhearing coworkers talking about it--would I get up and walk away? Or seeing if people would stick around to listen if talking to them physically. This isn't perfect, and you may find something that works for you. You likely already have. But I want to give some idea of how I look at things.

My principal said, 'Emo, Emo, Emo.'
I said 'I'm the one in the middle, you lousy drunk!'
-- Emo Phillips

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Author: Genj
Posted: January 25, 2010 (01:23 PM)
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I'm pretty surprised that I prevented TOTAL SUSKIE DOMINATION with Ghostbusters of all things (especially since I just kinda wrote because of insomnia and the power being out).

Congrats to Suskie, spaceworlder and everyone else who wrote this week. Thanks for the commentary, Schultz.


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 25, 2010 (03:01 PM)
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Congratulations on joining the ROTW team, Aschultz. Good first ROTW, here.

Note to gamers: when someone shoots you in the face, they aren't "gay." They are "psychopathic."

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