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Forums > Contributor Zone > TT 2010 results: the grand conclusion! (and worth the wait)

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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: August 27, 2010 (08:01 PM)
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At least, I hope it was worth the wait. My bad.

~~~ Team Battle: Wolfqueen v Leroux ~~~

Suskie?? versus Leroux??
Suskie: Bioshock 2
Leroux: River City Ransom

I like a lot about Leroux's review, but the introduction is not so hot. It's clear what's trying to be done, but I used some google-fu to work out the last reference in the first paragraph. It's about a contemporary issue. And it takes aim at bad writing. But the problem is, this review, while otherwise something quite worth reading in a year, will bafflingly address the less-than-universal issue of French policemen's height requirements. I found that short arm pitching shortens a career, and a short arm cast is no fun. Swamp animals with short arms will leave you with no arms. And so on.

However, mentioning Rock Em Sock Em Robots made me laugh--it establishes that not all retro is good--and if "my own feelings versus" seems a little tangled, the comparisons to other games are apt. "A must is to say" ... well, I think you mean RPG elements and campy dialogue don't make a GAME lovable. Dealing with cult appeal is quite good, as is the Travolta reference.

This review does very well indeed to recover from its earlier mistakes and shout out to other NES games people really should know if they just want to read about RCR. It knows its audeince well. After the initial bit, it's clinical without overtly insulting the game.

I noticed I'd given the thumbs up to Suskie's review before, and rereading did nothing to dislocate said thumb. My original comments about the piece still hold. I would argue "another incredibly minor change..." means one that seems minor, and if Irrational leveraged tweaks very well, praise to them. But I generally recognize when and why I'm quibbling. I think the whole getting to A-B-C ordeal is well explained and contrasts well with other reviews this round that say "it gets boring after a while." This review doesn't complain. I also don't know if I would've waited so long to talk about the pull of being a Big Daddy. But I can see that it works here.

Leroux's review is a confident, thoughtful and entertaining piece that rips a "cult favorite" while demonstrating why it doesn't have appeal. Suskie's review left me saying "Why don't other reviews deal with the annoyance of repetition this way?" So I think Suskie wins.



Suskie - Bioshock 2: On a personal note once the newness of exploration is gone I have no need to play a sequel. Having said that I find Bioshock is a fascinating world that holds many secrets. But I gather from this review that is not what this game intended to do. Rather they wanted to give the player the thrill of being a Big Daddy. Now that sounds like fun but we are told in the review that the implementation just did not work out very well. Suskie has a way of finding the nitty-gritty of a game and bringing that to the forefront unfortunately the writing often becomes a series of run-on sentences that could be re-done and that would enhance reading enjoyment. For example this sentence does not need to be written in this manner. “If I’m low on ammo in BioShock 2, I’m more likely to, say, freeze an enemy and smash him open with the butt of my rivet gun, whereas in the first one I’d likely whip out my wrench, whack away until I died, then get resurrected and finish the job.” While properly constructed the commas make for a difficult read because they pause us in places and in ways where a pauses are not really needed.

Leroux - River City Ransom: I have never played this brawler so I was a bit surprised to find out you could buy a Teddy Bear. While overall well written there are spots where interjections are placed but seem to be out of place where there are. Sandwiched between the bosses being zombies and the backdrops is the line about the sauna which seems out of place and its placement broke the flow of the review for me.

Suskie vs. Leroux: Suskie is the winner


Suskie, you reviewed Bioshock 2!

After reading your convincing first two paragraphs, I was intrigued enough to go back and look at your Bioshock review (because I, too, thought the first one was kind of ass. And when I say "I", what I really mean is "Bluberry", because I adopted his opinion as my own.) So I was a little surprised to see that you gave the first game an 8. I figure you've come around to see the truth, so that's a good thing, but surprising nonetheless. The Vitachamber bit is especially damning, and was one reason why Prey was ass, too. (+1 point)

Your third paragraph begins well, but your fourth begins shakily. It's due to a difference in connotation: "slight modification" and "minor change" match in a thesaurus, but don't mean the same thing in the real world. You're discussing slight modifications that are actually major changes. I'll try not to drop into language lecture mode (too much), but "slight" is most often used as a measure of size and "minor" is most often a measure of impact. "Small change" would work better. (-15 points)

Conceptually, both paragraphs were great. The sixth paragraph could have benefitted from a bit more specificity. I get the idea -- fetch quests ain't cool -- but is backtracking itself really so bad? You say the reasons are obnoxious, so I'd like to hear one of them. That would help me decide how I would feel about the game. (-5 points) And then I read the seventh paragraph and felt like an idiot for typing all of that. (+5 points)

Those fetch bits didn't sound particularly obnoxious to me, but that's not the point -- the point is that you described them in enough detail that I could make an informed decision. That's good reviewing, and you never failed to provide concrete examples to back your assertions. (+2 points)

For the rest of the review, I thought it was fun to read. You talked about being hungry for details and that made me want to eat a Twix. Those taste great.

This review was great, too.

Suskie Overall Score: -12 points

Leroux, you reviewed River City Ransom!

Trade-off. Conflict-free. Paragraph 4: that use of the verb "elevate" grammatically requires an object -- "rise above" works better. Props on adding the aigu accent to blasé. "One too may" should be "One too many". (-20 points, but +3 points for the accent = -17 points)

I like how you bold-fonted "River City Ransom" the first and last time you used the game title. (+1 point)

Your vivid descriptions worked well, and the short arm aspect always seemed cheesy to me too. (+4 points) But I really wish you had reviewed Klax instead. When you talked about eating sushi, it reminded me of a girl that I sometimes eat sushi with. She loved the TurboGrafx, and Klax was her favorite game. Kind of cute, too. But you didn't review Klax. You instead reviewed a game that hot-blooded males might actually care about. (-2 points)

This is a powerful review that goes against the grain but does so in a measured way -- it is a confident, technical look at a game that never receives such treatment. This is something unique and rarely seen for any "classic". With twenty years of hindsight, this is the kind of stuff I would hope to read at any retro-oriented site. For the love of God, please keep writing more like this. But you made some light-hearted comments about Christians, so I have to deduct 13 points, because religion is serious business.

Leroux Overall Score: -27 points

===> My pick: Leroux <===

Ultimate Victor: Suskie (2-1)


Genj?? versus Venter??
Genj: Shadow Hearts
Venter: Dragon Warrior

Genj's SH review felt like the better of the two for finals. I was surprised it came out shorter than one for a simpler game, e.g. his opponent Venter. I find both his and Jerec's initial approaches work, and the difference of opinion about the Judgement Ring was interesting. I'm not sure whom to favor, but I think I like Genj's explanation of sanity meters etc.

If there's one problem with this review, besides some proofreading nitpicks I may detail later, it's that I would maybe like to read how the game starts to tie things up, and if combat got in the way of it or artificially inflated the time taken with the game.

That said I think this review rolls along well and if the end is a bit jarring--even something like "Despite these flaws..." these mostly seem like details in a solid, enjoyable review.

There seems to have been some cross-ups for Venter's review and so maybe his best didn't get across. "Said problems..." ugh. "Before you say anything" -- manipulating the reader. "Consider the statistics" could be replaced by "He never gets strong enough to carry over eight items." I like the frustration in the repetition, and thinking back now I enjoyed the game a lot more with byte editing. Still I found myself summarizing a lot of the review and thinking "why didn't he do that?" -- maybe stating that it sucks to have to cast a return spell at L20. Perhaps a word or two about saving the game would establish if it were terrible. I also like how you drop the neologisms without judgement ("magidrake.")

The review winds up well, but getting there, you might want to cut it down--if it's worth reviewing something so far past. I suspect you'd have had an easy time of proofreading this review. Unfortunately, team logistics gummed things up. This review avoids juvenile dissing but seems to maunder a bit. With a game like Dragon Warrior, I can't blame it, but I'm here to judge and not empathize.



Genj - Shadow Hearts: I recall being very excited when this game came out. Finally an RPG that is not cutesy and mostly happy. We get a hero plagued by Malice and having to rid himself of the said malice by visiting the Graveyard. This was a very well done review. It touched on both the high points and low points of the game without being overzealous about either point. I found here too a good an explanation of the combat system as I have seen in any other review and that is no simple feat. This review was a very easy read and flowed very well.

Venter - Dragon Warrior: Ten spells, three shields and seven suits of armor hardly make for an exciting hero but the impact of the game was so strong it spawned a generation of games. The things we think of as nostalgic are brought out in this review and fully exposed for the atrocities they actually were. Although mostly sounding like one long complaint on the game it was an enjoyable read.

Genj vs. Venter: This was an extremely difficult choice. Both of these were fine reviews. Overall I felt Genj did a slightly better job. Genj is the winner.


Genj's review of Shadow Hearts begins at break-neck speed, and not in the right way... add some punctuation or break up those sentences, man! Fortunately, the content itself is well-chosen and makes the game sound pretty exciting.

Evil Zig: I want to watch Alice hentai.

There are some other quirks here too, such as "Atlas" when it should be "Atlus" and using the plural "PlayStation RPGs" in the conclusion (should be singular). Your description of clichés starts well enough, but then you started describing some weird-ass freaks who actually sounded pretty cool. I understand that the "motley party" concept is a cliché, but I still couldn't help but think that this all sounded refreshing. When you got to the village of cannibals, I was totally not thinking "cliché" any longer.

Evil Zig: I would eat Alice.

The first sentence of the third paragraph ("The game is a typical J-RPG with several twists...") initially felt stilted. I thought it was because you had already talked about clichés, but I was wrong. In looking at the review again, I think it felt stilted because you spend most words in that paragraph talking about how the game is different from other J-RPGs. I would suggest rewording that sentence to emphasize the difference, instead of the typicality. For example, "The game adds several twists -- some good and some bad -- to the typical J-RPG routine."

But enough of those kinds of things.

I liked how you provided a sense of the times near the end -- reminding people that even when new, more impressive games were just around the corner. Overall, this was a review with strong content that would be more effective with some work on the wording.


Venter went way back in time with a Dragon Warrior review from 2005. I liked the Halo reference ("Spartan" in paragraph two). More than that, I liked how this review got off to an easygoing and conversational start. It's very inviting and makes me want to pull up a chair.

Evil Zig: I really could have done without the parts about "strips of foreskin". If I wanted to know about your periwinkle mountains, I would ask.

Dragon Warrior really is horrible -- it was always horrible -- and I agree with so many of the things you've written. It's irritating that some people actually defend this game. It may have been influential, but if not for Dragon Warrior, some other -- most likely better -- game would have been influential instead. This is a game that never needed to exist.

Evil Zig: Fuck Dragon Warrior. Fuck Dragon Warrior up the ass.

This is a fun and easy read.

===> My pick: Venter <===

Ultimate Victor: Genj (2-1)


Wolfqueen?? versus Jerec??
Wolfqueen: Kingdom Hearts II
Jerec: Shadow Hearts

I actually forgot who wrote which review and was surprised to see it was Jerec who wrote Shadow Hearts. Here too I like the introduction but I'm afraid that there are a lot of mistakes Jerec wouldn't make now. It runs around in circles a bit, with one part re-stating "lack of polish" and mentioning bad visuals, except when there are good visuals, but there are lots of bad visual. And again, the word "boring" gets overused--use it once or, maybe, twice.

While I know Jerec's made big progress as a writer since then, it's too bad he didn't find inspiration to write something. Or maybe he did and it wasn't a review.

Wolfqueen's introduction really works for me, and the second paragraph also works well. On rereading, I figures Sora probably was Roxas, more or less, and I didn't need the review to ell us. This review has a lot of strong points that make me overlook the stylistic concerns elsewhere eg "I wouldn't do thngs like that." For instance, "make an appearance in a completely unique way" -> "remake themselves."

This game is a good choice for a finals review and it's executed well. It's tough to describe stuff like combat and shortcuts and how that lets you get back to the actual game, but I think it's done well and the whole Goofy/Sora/Donald thing reall fits into the plot. Not a lot is overwritten and on the other hand this review never feels stuffy.



Wolfqueen - Kingdom Hearts II: Disney does indeed have some magical worlds that lend themselves very nicely to a game. We are given some really nice vivid pictures of the different areas in the game and (although not really necessary) how they differ from the first game. We are given a lot of good information but I don’t think it would have hurt any to add one more paragraph on the battle systems’ changes/additions. There were some places that needed to be cleaned up a bit – like this sentence – “It’s use for summoning, but more importantly serves as a medium transform Sora into something ferocious”.

Jerec - Shadow Hearts: An interesting opening even though it is slightly out of order. (Roger Bacon puts Alice to sleep after he slams Yuri backward through a few train cars.) Our reviewer seemed to dislike the Judgement Wheel and, although not mentioned, the use of the wheel in some of the puzzles did get to be annoying at times. I felt the review opened very well but that was soon forgotten as the review slide more or less into complaining about the game’s battle system without telling us very much about anything else in the game.

Wolfqueen vs. Jerec: Wolfqueen is the winner.



An ode to Wolfqueen, set to the tune of Kingdom Hearts II

Oh Wolfqueen, your passion is like a drug to me
A surprising abundance of Disney-inspired energy
With descriptive stories of Kingdom Hearts both olde and newe
'Twas missing just a bit of "but is it good?", that's true

Improvements are cited in the grand finale,
Improvements described only two paragraphs before;
Difficult it was not to enjoy reading this piece,
Difficult it was to understand this RPG's rightful place.

The poem critic says: High on enjoyably descriptive writing, not so high on strongly supported opinions.

An ode to Jerec, set to the tune of Shadow Hearts:

Oh Jerec, I've read this one before
I liked it well, that much is true,
But my jaw will no longer hit the floor
Why couldn't you type on Dreamcast like Blu?

Begone, foul thoughts -- like demons in the night!
This tells a story, a tale that sounds most delightfully odd
While judging everything else with a harsh taskmaster's rod;
As another once said -- Awesome opening paragraphs and a fast-paced ride through the fundamentals make this an excellent review -- that's right!

The poem critic says: While somewhat stale to this seasoned reader's mind, the review's strength remains apparent.

===> My pick: Jerec <===

Ultimate Victor: Wolfqueen (2-1)

Wolfqueen's team wins! Congratulations!


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Author: jerec
Posted: August 27, 2010 (10:46 PM)
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Our team won! Woo!

Well, if I pretend Zigfried is the only judge. Thanks Zig!

I'm almost tempted to post the half dozen abandoned reviews I tried writing for the final. In what little time I had.

I can avoid death by not having a life.

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Author: bluberry
Posted: August 27, 2010 (10:59 PM)
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Well, if I pretend Zigfried is the only judge. Thanks Zig!


Oh no, it's a Goomba!

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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: August 28, 2010 (08:01 AM)
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hahahaha, Zig, those poem things were awesome.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback and all the time and effort everyone put into this. The level of competition Team Leroux put forth made this match was very close; I would have been perfectly happy if they had won instead.

I also want to thank my own team members for putting in the effort they did, especially genj, who wrote something new every week during this contest. That's a remarkable thing to actually do in my opinion, and not something I could replicate (though not for my lack of trying). I'm glad that all that drama earlier didn't ruin the experience overall (or, at least I hope it didn't). Really, the way I see it, I think this whole contest turned out well all things considering. I'm deeply grateful to Leroux for putting it together and keeping it that way despite everything that had happened.

[Eating EmP's brain] probably isn't a good idea. I mean... He's British, which means his brain's wired for PAL and your eyes are NTSC. - Will

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Author: Leroux
Posted: August 28, 2010 (08:29 AM)
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Genj and Wolfqueen earned this victory and I almost feel in their debt for their terrific turnout, week in and week out, which was a huge reason this tournament was a success. A hearty congratulations on the title and a terrific rebound from a tough start.

It'd be hard to argue that third guy isn't terribly talented and deserving as well. NickEvil lost interest most of a season, won the damn thing, and was forgiven and praised. Suskie deserves the same.

I want to go out of my way to thank Zigfried for his comments this round -- they are especially motivating... and I think we didn't see enough of that from our judges in general this year, inspiring and helping instead of just finding fault (a tough line to walk, I know). I'm currently without full time Internet right now, so it might be some time between reviews. But I have some more old school takes up my sleeve, and plenty of 90s brawlers go uncovered, and I'd like to cover some newer releases -- the new Splatterhouse, for instance -- before the year is out too. We'll see if that happens.

Congrats on a great year all around and three cheers for the winners.

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Author: Genj
Posted: August 28, 2010 (10:31 AM)
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I really didn't expect my team to win TT. I'm not really sure how this happened. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the contest. I hope everyone had fun. Thanks to the judges for all that work and time commitment they made. I can't imagine doing that was exactly thrilling. Thanks, Leroux, for handling the administrative end.


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Author: Suskie
Posted: August 28, 2010 (01:03 PM)
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Adding to what Leroux said: I don't want to sound like I didn't appreciate the judges' efforts (I certainly did, and I'm sure everyone else did as well), but I feel Schultz has a vastly different perspective on reviews than most of us do, while CD's general newness to this whole ordeal combined with judging in such a monstrous event made it difficult for him to formulate and communicate his views, which is why people were so often asking for clarification. The competitive element makes TT for me (since I write a lot of reviews anyway), so that's why I lost interest. And hopefully the fact that I won means people can finally stop telling me I'm just being a sore loser.

Anyway, that's all I'm going to say about that, since I don't want to put a damper on this victory (and, like I said, I appreciated the judges' efforts nonetheless). Thanks to Leroux's team for a good final match, thanks for the win, and a big congrats to my two teammates, who easily deserve this far more than I do.

And once again, kudos to everyone for the spectacular amount of excellent content produced through this tournament. Please don't stop now!

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

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Author: CoarseDragon
Posted: August 30, 2010 (12:59 PM)
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while CD's general newness to this whole ordeal combined with judging in such a monstrous event made it difficult for him to formulate and communicate his views

Somewhat true and while the other judges may have looked at individual pieces of a review I looked more toward the overall impression. Look at the sky in a painting. Is the sky blue? Which color blue does not matter as long as it looks like the sky or an impression of the sky. There were some places in the different reviews that simply broke the flow and I tried to point those out but at the same time each of you has a certain style and I don't think it is my place to tell you how to change your style necessarily, but rather to point out what I thought worked and did not work for me.

In essence did the review give me the information I needed in an easy to read manner without bashing too much or over praising more than necessary.

Congratulations to the winners and non-winners alike.

Age is a condition not a state of mind.

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Author: zippdementia
Posted: August 30, 2010 (02:47 PM)
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Hey, congrats to everyone who made it all the way through the gauntlet!

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

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Author: aschultz
Posted: September 07, 2010 (11:49 AM)
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I'm frustrated that I am not sure what I want from a review, either...I have to admit it's one thing that gets in the way of my writing a review, or judging one. I don't know if I've read as many reviews as other people here, but I have a tough time balancing Wanting New Stuff and Rewarding Old Stuff. I want to be consistent...but I don't want to be pinned down enough that people can formulate reviews, and unfortunately trying to balance that too consciously leaves me playing "Don't think of a bear." I want to offer something new, or something I hadn't thought of, because that's the most valuable feedback I can get--but I don't want to be from left field, or right field, or whichever.

Thanks everyone for your patience while I know I sent out results slower than I'd want. It's frustrating for me because while writing reviews--and reading reviews--has been --there--, it has recently felt like a dead end.

What's frustrating is that the people do write well, and it's good to see them able to "bring it." More writing from them is a good thing, and it motivates me, even if I can't/don't say so.

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: jerec
Posted: September 07, 2010 (01:27 PM)
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The vibe I get from your critiques is that you're listing things you would do to edit the review if it were yours. Sometimes this is good advice, sometimes it takes the review in a different direction that the author didn't intend for it. And these sorts of critiques are very helpful in the feedback topics, but in this tournament, it seemed like a game of picking which review you'd have less to nitpick on.

I remember commenting after week 1 of the tourney that Zig would go for style, you'd go for the technical part of writing, and CD would flip a coin. :P

Made it very hard to find reviews that would please all three judges, and over the tourney, there were very few 3-0 matches.

I can avoid death by not having a life.

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Author: CoarseDragon
Posted: September 07, 2010 (01:40 PM)
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Actually there were more 3-0 matches than I though there would be.

and CD would flip a coin I never did flip a coin, I'm so broke I couldn't afford a coin to flip. Really though I took the contest very seriously and gave it my best effort with my limited experience at judging reviews of the calibur we had in TT.

Age is a condition not a state of mind.

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Author: aschultz
Posted: September 07, 2010 (02:00 PM)
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That's a good point, Jerec--though I think CoarseDragon did considerably more than flip a coin. However, there's something to be said for "staying in your lanes." It's where I feel most comfortable with critiquing, and if we take the Team Tourney as a way to try new stuff and see what works, then it helps to have different perspectives and judges. Of course, difference for the sake of difference sucks & I avoid that. But it seemed like I had a niche for technical suggestions.

I think it's important to see which questions a review answers and leaves unanswered. I like being able to say, yes, this review is good, and it makes me wonder about other stuff. Not to sound all Eastern Mysticism, but there always seem to be questions to ask. How much fun I have asking them--or, more rarely, feel like something cool has been answered--generally denotes how good the stuff-I-wrote was.

Also, isn't it a bad thing to have a straightforward way to make reviews that would please all the judges? I mean, that's sort of like a win-all cheat in a game--it could kind of ruin things. It also defeats the point of creativity, or deciding what's most important to you. If the judges have that determined in advance, then you're not really writing for yourself but for them, and it's more model airplane building than review writing. And if there's a golden road to gaining their favor, people will lean more to that than to trying something new.

I also have to say that although initially it can be tough to hear "what about X" or "Y doesn't work" it's a great feeling to fit even 1/10 of X's and Y's into a review to make it better. YMMV.

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: jerec
Posted: September 07, 2010 (02:09 PM)
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Well, that comment was after the first week. He got into the flow of things after that. :P

I can avoid death by not having a life.

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Author: CoarseDragon
Posted: September 07, 2010 (05:12 PM)
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Yes, jerec week 2. (I saved everything.) I'll note the one part for you.

Before we get to a winner I have to say this was a most difficult choice. Both reviews in my opinion were very well done and each gave a good amount of information and reasons for their final score. If I could give each a half win I would but I guess there needs to be a winner *flips coin* (Really I did not flip a coin.) I give this win to Venter because I felt that review tells us why the game did not measure up a bit better than Genj telling why the game did measure up.

Age is a condition not a state of mind.

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