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Author: Leroux
Posted: January 17, 2011 (06:45 PM)
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# - Asherdeus - 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand

Felix -- This really beckons back to the days when Vegita used to write poetry reviews. The difference here is that 1) the gimmick is an appropriate rap review for a rapper in a rap-themed game and 2) the rhyming isn't goofy. What's so surprising about this gimmicky review, other than that it works, is that there's a lot of information told within the lyrics. That's pretty important, obviously, because reviews this gimmicky are usually more about the gimmick than the subject that they're trying to cover. So Asher, I feel like you really did something unique and worthwhile here, and I'm glad you took this angle because it really transcends what we're used to seeing in standard video game reviews. By that same token, because of the review's format and flow, it doesn't feel as fleshed out as an essay review. But even with that said, and for the game that it's covering, I felt that this piece of writing was more than adequate for the subject matter and pretty entertaining to boot. 75/100

Leroux -- I donít think weíve had a legitimate rap in this community since Nick Nasty sang the praises of the reviewing Horsemen, so kudos on that. But, to be forthright, I think we both know this isnít going to win a reviewing competition. Itís a cute gimmick. Iíll readily admit that, and itís both polished and conveys some information. Unfortunately, no one is going to make a decision to buy this game based upon a read, as it does a better job promoting its author than the actual game.

The rap is solid; itís tight but doesnít strike me as lyrically creative (neither does Fifty, so I blame your source material), and verse three starts to stretch whether it still actually rhymes. The last stanza of verse one, followed by the chorus, is the high point. I enjoyed the review and appreciate the risk in submitting this, because itíd be pretty easy for a lesser writer to fall on his face. You keep head over feet the whole time. But after recent reviews like Blood Stone and Forgotten Sands hit a note with me, I think you would have faired much better without the gimmick. 75/100

Masters -- I admire Mattís balls. I mean, for contributing something like this. These types of gimmicks are a risky proposition; you either pull it off or you don't. Matt did. The thing actually rhymes and has decent flow and some nods to actual 50 Cent rhymes (I particularly like the play on words with The Club), but more importantly, it doesn't sacrifice his message about the game (yes thereís an actual REVIEW here) to maintain its format. Not perfect, but it has surprising utility as gimmick reviews go. 77/100

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B - Suskie - Beat Hazard

Felix -- Beat Hazard turns out to be a very interesting review, and probably more worthwhile for this competition than Banjo Kazooie. What I really liked about your coverage here, Mike, is that you're able to seamlessly describe an ethereal series of scenes. You're giving aural indicators visualization. The hyperlink to Idiot Heart is also key because it backs up what you're describing in the writing. So not only can I form an image in my mind of what you're describing, but I can also listen to the song as the image forms. That was a pretty smart idea on your part. Outside of that, the review is very persuasive that Beat Hazard is the kind of game that provides virtually endless value because of its ability to provide something different for every song. That encourages the player to discover new music, thereby letting the player receive additional value outside of the game. Sounds pretty cool to me. 95/100

Leroux -- On the heels of a rap comes a review accompanied by music Ė this tournament is off to the most interesting start of any in recent memory. To be sure, Beat Hazard is made to sound like a very interesting concept game, partly because its interpretations of music are inherently interesting and partly because Mr. Suskie describes the game so cleanly and crisply. I have a hard time believing most interests wouldnít be piqued by whatís been written, and the accompanying example is illustrative of the backbone of the game.

Yet as this reviews dives into its specific examples Ė Sunset Rundown, LCD Soundsystem Ė it does alienate, or at least feels like it does because it opens more questions than answers. I wonder what an interpretation of a raucous Zeppelin track would look like or how a Danger Mouse mix would play; Iím wondering if some generalizations could be reached based on genres or if broader arching descriptions could be made. Maybe not. But the two songs highlighted both start with repetitive openings, so I end up picturing much the same thing for both. And as much as music is the main theme I would have enjoyed a little more boss/weaponry description, but I play more shumps than most and I suspect not everyone would be as interested. 89/100

Masters -- Suskie writes a near flawless review here. My only real gripe was his transition from fifth paragraph to the sixth-it genuinely threw me off, if only because the rest of his flow is so effortlessly smooth. Suskie does about as well as one could do with the subject matter; juicy review material is the difference between a win and a runner up position when writing is so evenly matched at the top. 94/100

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C - True - Condemned 2: Bloodshot

Felix -- When I read your intro, I was expecting you to the go the "this game has heart" route, but I what I found, after reading beyond that, was a pleasant surprise even though the game turned out to be "good" technically but not outstanding in any one category. To use material like that in a competition of this nature is risky because undoubtedly, as a judge, you'll see an entry for a game like Beat Hazard and it'll lead you to wonder why all other games couldn't be as inherently interesting. However, I think the writing here overcomes the material's inequities, especially when you're describing Condemned 2's initial excellence. I was into what you were describing because you made the game sound genuinely creepy. You were then persuasive when it came to giving your final verdict. I read the spoiler that you so wisely wrote in a different color font, and agreed that, yeah, that sounds pretty lame. So while Condemned 2, the game, may not stick with you, the review turned out to be rather effective as a warning to stay away, for all the right reasons. 84/100

Leroux -- As far as reviews that make me want to tryout a game, this is one of the best in recent memory, as some of the items touched upon Ė the mayorís head being sent up the ball return Ė are certain to grab interest. The problem is that this doesnít really jive with your thesis or what you seem to be going for. The end result is that by reviewís conclusion I end up disagreeing with you because your arguments in favor of this being a great game strike me as much stronger than anything else. If this is ďjust a gameĒ rather than a great game, you didnít quite put your finger on why well enough, or authoritatively enough, and the strong descriptions and accounts relayed render the point moot.

I mentioned the same thing with your Enslaved review but Iím not a huge fan of relaying the opening sequences since its overdone anymore (this one moves briskly). A couple sentences run on for a bit; there were enough hiccups here and there to merit a mention in this feedback as well. Overall, I really liked this review, but I know I donít exactly have the impression you wanted me to have. 90/100

Masters -- True puts sentences together well--often in sophisticated fashion--but a lot of the time in this review, I'm not sure what he's driving at. (The opening sentence suffers from a simple punctuation gaffe which throws the reader right off from the get-go.) Anyway, the thesis seems to be, "if survival horror games scare me, I can ignore other shortcomings," but then he goes on to say "The problem is..." more than suggesting that the opposite is true in the case of this game. But the paragraph doesn't actually support that argument at all. Indeed, the paragraph has nothing to do with either being frightened or technical shortcomings/brilliance. I think this example points to a larger issue with organization which cripples True in getting his very strong opinions over.
72/100

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E - Ben - Elemix!

Felix -- This must have been a challenging game to review because it sounds dull. I get that impression through your analysis, especially in paragraphs 2-5. There, you use a lot of words describing game mechanics and how things work. I don't necessarily see the importance of going into such detail there because it's not telling me up front if it makes the game better or worse. The intro paragraph states that Elemix! excels due to its simple pick-up-and-play nature, but in the final paragraph, you describe the game as bog-standard, and that manner of description is used throughout the review when you're describing the mechanics. Therefore, the intro seemed to contradict the rest of the review. I came away from the game knowing that it's probably not worth my time. But I'm not sure if I arrived at that conclusion because your writing convinced me, or rather because the game seems dull through the approach that was employed in describing how the elemental mechanics and such work. 70/100

Leroux -- This will be one of my shorter commentaries simply because there isnít much to say. This is a very basic review as it goes about describing elemental triangles and hearts as health, and it is very plain in the manner such plain things are described. I suspect this is because there is nothing more noteworthy to move onto besides more instruction manual reminiscent explanations of what goes on in the game. Whatís missing from this review are specific recounts and reflections upon the experience Ė the closest we get are comparisons of summoned creatures to Pokemon Ė and I sense the language barrier was an issue in this regard. This is a solid, functional review. It is also exhibit ĎAí of poor game selection, as you donít care or have much to say about this game that couldnít be gleaned from an FAQ, and I likewise donít have much to say on the review. 70/100

Masters -- In stark contrast to True's effort, Ben's review while essentially 'no-frills', is very well organized, and as such, extremely readable. I don't quite think his opening thrust which suggested that the game's pick up and play approach was endearing, was borne out toward the end of the review -- which felt decidedly more negative (for example, the 'slog to finish' bit seemed to me to require explanation). Also, the final paragraph was a bit weak in comparison to those that led up to it (really it's just the "but yeah" and "some random excuse" final two sentences which employ a glibness that sullies the tone of the previous passages). 85/100

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F - DarkEternal - Flashback

Felix -- This review is too short. There are blanket statements used here like "No matter how good you are, or how tough he is, the power of numbers will eventually destroy you." That can be said about a lot of game heroes. And it takes up precious space for what could be a rather interesting game. I was hoping you'd tell us more about the jungles of Titan or the city that rests on its surface, as clearly it's fantasy and potentially intriguing subject matter. Instead, we get a basic run-down of the game -- which sounds like old Prince of Persia meets text adventures meets FMV -- but it's not really convincing. I don't see the allure to spending countless hours of frustration with a crusty old game. Obviously you did, and you probably could expand upon that argument so it would make sense to those not in the know. Effective use of limited space -- more precision, fewer generic statements -- could have made this a more persuasive review.

(DE, the point of a deadline is to abide by it. †I see you made some major edits here after the fact. †My feedback and score stand based off the review I read the day after the submission deadline ended) 65/100

Leroux -- On the first version: First, let me point out, that there is, an unnecessary number of commas, that stifle any flow, this review could have, got going for it. It clearly has been proofread very little. It clearly is rushed, as the mistakes become more and more numerous as it wears on. The introduction is pointless blabber haphazardly tied in that can only serve to alienate 1) the French and 2) everyone else that is sick of the uncreative French stereotype it takes no effort to dial up.

What happened here man? There are some ideas to massage, sure, but this review trips itself up so much no one could ever tell. You canít really convince someone of a point when your writing is stumbling about this much, and I think I tend to be on the more lenient end of the spectrum. Moreover, this game sounds more like a chore to fight through rather than anything fun, and Ďpiecing together flashbacksí has become such a tired gaming clichť it carries no interest in itself. You need to find a way to make this game appeal more. Flashback sounds lame, the exact opposite of what you were going for. I originally rated this review 50/100.

On your revisions:
You also heavily edited this review after the deadline, rendering some of the above comments no longer meaningful (thanks), and to an extent it doesnít seem fair to even consider this review for the competition. Itís certainly not fair to people that adhered to the deadline Ė you understand what a deadline means, right? I can overlook minor changes and tidying up, a word here or there, and grammar fixes because they donít have much weight on the final score, but this is downright cheating because I could foresee these edits being at least a twenty-point swing, probably more.

Play fair or donít bother. Iím not a fan of huge scoring slants by judges to influence the results, but Iím taking it upon myself to take this out of the running. I could not confirm whether my initial reaction to this review was correct when I went back for a second read because it was changed too drastically.
0/100

Masters -- This is a mostly well written review, plagued by some small but noticeable issues. Typos like "it's" for "its" are distracting, as is the second paragraph ending with no period. Stranger still is suggesting that multiple iterations of a game constitutes a flaw in the game itself. Criticisms aside, I rather enjoyed the review, which gave us a good glimpse of a retro classic. Sadly, I heard tell of cheating that went on behind the scenes by gumshoe Leroux and Iíve adjusted my score accordingly Ė I think that itís only fair. 78 (-10 for edits after the deadline) = 68/100

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G - Pickhut - Galley: World Cities

Felix -- Pickhut - This review is a jubilation of multiple satisfactions. 67/100

Leroux -- I highlighted Benís review as an example of a poor game choice for a competition because his game was bland; he looks damn good compared to this. The sarcasm is lame, the tangents are mostly annoying (Mr. Baseball was mildly amusing Ė the reviewís high point is merely an obscure film reference), and it shows off no range, ability or insight of you as a reviewer. You just look like a snarky jerk taking out an easy target Ė real tough to do, surely. Iíd rather you submitted a real review like Ghost in the Shell. I demand a second tournament out of you this year Ė youíre way better than this. 40/100

Masters -- While I didn't love Pickhut's overly long and not particularly engaging opening story of how he happened upon this game, I do mostly enjoy his very sarcastic and irreverent tone. I had some real laugh out loud moments and reviews seldom manage that. That being said, heís reviewing a picture gallery, so he loses points with me for a serious lack of ambition. 75/100

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H - Genj - Hourai Gakuen no Bouken

Felix -- What the f- Oh, right. In spite of your proclamations, this game sounds pretty neat in spite of its shortcomings. I particularly enjoyed your descriptions for the game's oddities. These types of games just write themselves the way I see it. On the one hand we have some vivid descriptions that make the game sound worth checking out, and then we have reasoning to let this one stay off the download queue. There's not much else for me to see, other than I found the review to be effective. 80/100

Leroux -- After having to show some unwanted teeth on the last two reviews judged, Genj makes this job almost too easy with a very competent, informative and interesting read on an obscure Super Nintendo RPG. Thereís nothing fancy here: just a lot of straightforward analysis of where this game works and where it doesnít. For all the good information, I do wonder about the setting of much of this game after the opening Ė does it all take place in the school, what are the environments of the dungeons, etc? What sort of enemies are this crew fighting against, both bosses and random encounters? Thereís just some loose ends I canít quite tie together Ė I suspect people that play more RPGs, or even have played Earthbound, will probably be able to visualize better. What happens to the criminals dressed as penguins? I must know! But they arenít mentioned again, and in fact a lot of the zaniness is mentioned in passing rather than explored. Iíd rather see more description on that theme. 85/100

MastersThis isnít one of Genjís best efforts. And itís not that the writing is poor; on the contrary, it boasts solid writing, decent organization and it reads like a 6/10 should. The problem is, it reads like too many middle of the road reviews Ė a bit noncommittal and disinterested. This probably isnít all Genjís fault, as the choice of game makes for a review that is lacking in energy. Itís awfully hard to score well in a contest with a review thatís not either PRAISE or BASH. 75/100

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I - Zippdementia - Ico

Felix -- It's easy to wax philosophical about a game like ICO, and I like how you avoid doing that. This review has one really, really good point, and that's that many games are too cinematic, and it hurts the quality of their stories, whereas ICO was subtle and all the better for it. You list considerable reasons why ICO is better for not employing things like meaningless backstory, poorly written dialogue, or a colonel calling you up on the ICO-berry and telling you to press X. If there's one area, I think that goes counter to your argument, though, it's where you state that ICO knows that it is a game. I disagree with that to the point that I'd like to note that the only reason why the original Mario lacked explanation was due to technological limitations. An expanded cast that represents the Mario universe, not to mention the explanations and backstory behind those characters and their actions leads me to believe that Mario realizes its a game just as much as Metal Gear Solid or Tetris. For ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, clearly they're games, but they're games that transcend storytelling in such a way that they're unlike any other games I've ever played. But enough about that. I will not dock you for disagreeing on which games define themselves as games more, as I liked the review and the spin that you gave it. 86/100

Leroux -- It is going to take a lot from an Ico review to wow me simply because its praises have been sung for the past decade, both here and elsewhere. This one almost does. Sometimes it hits just the right note Ė the mentioning that the negative spaces define the experience. But sometimes it starts to border on preachy, using Ico more as a device to smack down modern gaming staples (many of which I hate, too) rather than merely praise the game for what it does so well. What this review does very well is demonstrate how the minimal story carries the plot and makes the soapbox stance more games should be trying this. I agree. But at its core I see a lot of the same points Auto Rock made in his wonderful review for this game years ago (so I canít rate it as highly as I rated that one), and the game play descriptions are especially light Ė a few lines at the end of the one paragraph Ė and Iíd like to see more elaboration there to better balance the editorial take the review has. 92/100

Masters -- Zippís writing is clean and error-free, and the thing heís emphasizing comes through loud and clear. The pacing is ideal, and I enjoyed his use of the game in question to provide commentary on the state of games today. I felt the review felt sparse however, despite being of a good lengthóand thatís because itís lacking in concrete examples of the beauty of the gameplayóthe show instead of the tell (of which there is more than enough). But the telling here is as good as it gets. 88/100

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J - Turducken - Jake Hunter: Detective Chronicles

Felix -- We have questionable word choice such as "youĀfre clearly playing yourself" and striking observations about Jake Hunter's parental lineage. The snarky tone gives the review some life, but the game just seems like a really bland piece of material to use in a competition of this caliber. I really thought the raw emotion you employed was largely negated by not having much to talk about with the game itself. 63/100

Leroux -- It is easy to forget how well a straightforward negative bash review can fare in a competition Ė this one is excellent, as turduckenís exasperation with flavorless detective Jake Hunter is tangible throughout. It pokes plenty of fun, pointing to many ridiculous examples of where this adventure fails or just seems off base. It is wry. It is a very entertaining and enjoyable read, whether you have interest in the game or not. There seems almost no chance anyone walking away would be interested in this game after reading about so many of its goofs and failings.

I expect this to raise a couple eyebrows because this is not the most stylish or ambitious review in this competition, but aside from some syntax fixes I canít think of much more this review could do, and it earns some bonus points for covering a point-and-click adventure without heavily relying (re: spoiling) on any plot. Not that one would be interested anyway. 94/100

Masters -- I liked Turduckenís review. It was not wanting for flow, and started with a colourful intro built around a careful selection that served the dual purpose of giving the review instant personality while giving us a glance of the hackneyed, boring writing we can expect from the game. The only fault in the review lies with the choice of gameóthere really wasnít that much more you could have done with this. Thatís no problem were this not a tournament... but it is. 84/100

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K - Overdrive - Kirby's Adventure

Felix -- This review really resonated with me because you go above the limp "ah, this game was easy, so it lost its appeal" argument and argue in favor of the game's simplicity as a realm of magical wonderment, or something to that effect. Some games should be easy, and this is one of them. The review is very convincing in that regard, and it made me want to go and play Kirby's Adventure, which I used to have a ROM for, but am now willing to regain (because paying for old games is for suckers). Anyway, I enjoyed the review and found its message to be effective. As is typical for you, this was a hardworkinĀf blue collar review. IĀfd give it a PBR. 88/100

Leroux -- This is a solid review for Kirbyís Adventure, although like Zippís Ico I sense there are a lot of reviews out there with this same exact theme Ė Kirby is cute and easy but has an innocent whimsy that makes it worth playing. I wish there were a few more examples of this explored Ė Wispy Woods is a good one. Iím not sure an eight-bit version of Mode-7 sounds too enticing; aside from Super Mario Kart, the SNES games that rely on it havenít held up very well, and you donít describe the ďeffectĒ either Ė are we talking Falling Higgins? This is a solid reflection on Kirby that makes me want to give it a second go again Ė Iíve never been much a fan Ė but at the same time probably spends too much time providing a defense to criticisms Ė why it being easy is okay, why going back for switches is okay Ė rather than selling me on the game. 87/100

Masters -- I loved ODís nostalgia-dripping journey into Kirbyís dreamland. Itís got a great intro which relies on anecdotal content without irritating or alienating the reader, and gets down to brass tacks just in time. The ďfor exampleĒ paragraph is a perfect blueprint on how to present a snapshot of how a game plays to give readers a window into the world the game furnishes. The only niggle I have is the rocky transition between paragraphs 5 and 6. Other than that, the review is gold. 90/100

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N - Jerec - New Play Control! Pikmin

Felix -- The narrative style doesn't suit the review as well as it did in your excellent Animal Crossing review. Here it feels choppy and unfocused. You're providing tidbits of information, but I feel that you're struggling to really drive forth your ultimate point that Pikmin Wii is how the game was meant to be played. Once we get past that narrative mumbo jumbo, and you start opining as yourself and not vicariously through Olimar, that turned out to be the highlight of the review for me. I think going with an approach like that would have been more effective and probably smoother. 60/100

Leroux -- This was an up and down review to judge Ė it starts well, although clearly using the patented Jerec method of describing the playerís experience through the eyes of the character he controls. The example of leading a group of drunken friends strikes a chord Ė nice work. And then the review starts to drift into some ridiculousness: ďPikmin is a game that can show you your true selfĒ, followed by acknowledgement the first part of your review described your experience, which was very obvious anyway. I donít think any game has the nuance to show someoneís true self, and the fact games come with no real-life consequences distorts it as a means to judge people. Without exploration, it sounds like meaningless hyperbolic praise. The last paragraphs, which I think should carry a lot more weight (a complaint on its restrictive time allotted, a praise of handling the Pikmin units, and finally discussion of the new play controls that would seem the most important factor in this re-release) feel a bit tacked on. It doesnít go into the depth I was hoping for, or run with the good theme it had going in the beginning. But its high points are very good. 82/100

Masters -- I really liked how Jerec began his review. Writing from the point of view of a frustrated and focused Captain Olimar was a genius touch. But in the latter half of the review, Jerec makes his big reveal, which is fine to do, but itís done a bit clumsily and as such, a lot of the momentum gained early on is lost. Much of the music in the prose of the first four or so paragraphs is also lost in the stop-and-start, seemingly stream of consciousness staccato delivery that closes out the review. Thereís also the matter of a very blatant contradiction: earlier Jerec was frustrated by the idiot Pikmins slowing him down, but later he says he doesnít get frustrated and stays even keel. I think with some more care put into bringing this one home, it might have challenged for the crown. 82/100

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P - Dragoon of Infinity - Persona 4

Felix -- This is a nice little look at a deep game that I've heard many great things about but never really bothered to really look into. I would have liked some additional space devoted to talking about the relationships of the classmates you encounter. It sounds peculiar and very interesting. The battle system sounds intriguing because you emphasize that it's not about numbers but about strategy instead. A little added length to this piece would have made it better, but what is here is solid, barring a few typos I noticed. 77/100

Leroux -- After a shaky opening, this review does manage to hit some good notes. Unfortunately, with a critical eye Iíve got to say a lot of my enjoyment of this review comes more from the material and less so than the analysis of it, which all strikes me as rather ordinary for an RPG review despite this not quite being an ordinary RPG. Points like ďall the characters have backstoryĒ and ďdungeons are kind of blandĒ Ė Iíd like to see more creativity in points like these, maybe fledging out the examples more. It relies on the fact I want to play an RPG rather than trying to sell me on playing one and this one. This sounds like a cool game I might like, but the eighty hours strikes me as daunting, and nothing is described lively enough I think it would be eighty hours well spent. In a weaker field I suspect this would look like a better review, yet the competition this time out has been very strong, and there are a lot of reviews that manage to be more convincing and more direct with their points. Youíre a good and consistent writer; I think if you broke from the consistent approach Ė though it may be hit or miss at first Ė youíd eventually be taking home higher scores. 76/100

Masters -- DoIís intro isnít... quite right, and so I was thrown off from the beginning. However, after a money second paragraph, the review was turned right around and was a quick, easy, informative read with personality from that point forward. I donít necessarily mind bland-ish openers so much as to dock reviews, but head-scratchers are a different story. Still, good work. 80/100

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Q - Coarse Dragon - Questron

Felix -- Despite your declarations of hating having to write and getting stuck with "Q," this review turned out better than I expected. I think you definitely covered a lot of ground for this ancient trinket they call Questron, and the inclusion of screenshots was key because they really helped to support what you were describing within the text. With that said . . . I strongly recommend that you learn the HTML tags for justifying text and adding borders and spacing around your images to help relieve some of the clutter that arose from having weird spacing due to the text hugging and wrapping around the images, not to mention many of your pics don't clearly end because the background of the image matches the background of the review template, so the picture lacks a clear border. I also suggest that you employ the comma where it is necessary. I had to re-read multiple sentences because there wasn't the appropriate punctuation in place to let me know that your thought was changing. Additionally, be cognizant that while these types of games may not be at the forefront of what young whippersnappers such myself are familiar with, I assure you I know that a bank holds money, that killing enemies will benefit your score, and it is no surprise that a peon could one day become the savior of the land in peril. That's pretty standard fare as far as RPGs go. And while I wasn't sure if that paragraph where you use the word food four times in three sentences was intentional for comic relief or something, I just found it to be a poor choice of wording. There's some good information here, but the review needs to be refined. I sense that you're striving to tell the reader as much as possible, but is it all important? And by going into so much minutiae, are you perhaps overlooking the bigger reason behind why you wanted to write about the game in the first place? How do all of these little ideas feed into the bigger idea that creates the game as a whole? 50/100

Leroux -- Iím a little disappointed none of my earlier feedback was employed and this review still stands as it originally did a few weeks ago. The point I was trying to allude to was that while this review covers everything about the game, and does so illustratively, it is weak on actual analysis, whether the concepts Questron has are actually good or not. This is an overview, not a review, and the difference is a matter of opinion Ė a matter of you not demonstrating much of one concerning this game. Understandably an old timey Commodore 64 game doesnít allow for a ton of room, and Iím cutting some slack in my scoring for that fact; I donít want you to feel you need to be overly-hyperbolic or misrepresent to get noticed. But I wish a little more of the story was covered. I wish I had a better idea of what parts of the game you found enjoyable or didnít, what more this game could have done to be better and which aspects contributed more to the overall score than others. This is a good outline. And it could very well be the starting point of a great review (check out some of Retroís old catalog around here Ė I think youíd like reading him). 60/100

Masters -- This review reads like a FAQ. Iím not sure what to say beyond that. CD is a capable writer, but there wasnít even an attempt made to sell me on this game, which is what I believe a review should be doing. Also, there doesnít seem to be an attempt made to speak to the average gameróonly the target market specifically, right from the onset. From there, I wasnít sure if the fourth paragraph was a joke or not. As the review progressed, it became steadily more FAQ-like until eventually, I forgot that I should be looking for an opinion. 40/100

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R - EmP - Red Dead Redemption

Felix -- I'm glad you decided to review this unimportant game that is liked by dumb people. It was a game I thoroughly enjoyed when I played it, and you really capture the variety of tasks that exist so abundantly within its intricate design. The writing here is really good - the only sentence that seems too heavy is the second one in the review where you go on about shooting crap. I'm curious to know and kind of wish you would have maybe touched upon Marston's final hours and the revenge exacted by his son. I thought that was a really cool way for the game to achieve its climax. But even without mentioning that, and I understand it would constitute a mighty spoiler, I must say that I still enjoyed this review more than just about any other piece in this year's Alphas. 91/100

Leroux -- I donít think I can be a fair judge concerning this review Ė it reminds me too much of a review Iíve written for Super Mario Bros. 3. I immediately know the feeling of a world so rich in diversions and secrets and fun that you donít want to leave. I understand the stop and smell the roses feeling, of wanting to see everything, of leaving no stone unturned or, in this case, person unshot at. Itís light on analysis of what this game doesÖ but I know why, because Iíve been so overwhelmed by everything a game does and does so well to delve into its idiosyncrasies and instead canít help but provide reason after reason after reason it is worth checking out. Good work putting me in this ethical conundrum.

Good work writing the best review I read in this competition too Ė passionate and well-written reviews like this are what our little site here is about. You can get an overview of the shooting mechanics of RDR anywhere, the comparisons to GTA, the obligatory high score. But you canít get a review that sells this game as well with sheer enthusiasm and writing, rendering the final score needless Ė youíre playing this game, or wanting to, after reading this review. 97/100


Masters -- This is one of Emp's best reviews, which is saying a lot, because he's a great reviewer and has a lot of reviews. It's immediately atmospheric, it's for a big title -- but mostly it's awesome for the circular themes within themes he shows off so easily: that Marston likes to shoot people, and has a serious mission to get to, but that you won't necessarily let him get to it right away because there's so much else to be doing. The review notably manages to avoid being fraught with the usual brand of Emp typos and niggles, so either he's paying Wolfqueen well or he actually thought to proofread a review. Brilliant stuff. 97/100

---

S - Wolfqueen - Star Wars: Battlefront 2

Felix -- It's tough reviewing these Star Wars games because everyone knows the material, but there are varying degrees to how much people know about the specific sub-franchises that make up the Star Wars mobile. There is a lot of good information here -- almost too much. The review has many complex sentences. Some of the phrases found within those complex sentences add fluff to the review and could be cut out without sacrificing your message one bit. It's too factual in some parts. It goes from being Promethean with its description of your retelling of the in-game experience to encyclopedic when you're listing all the little mechanics and nuances that constitute the coding of Battlefront 2. Highlight the important stuff, but don't sweat the subtleties. 73/100

Leroux -- This strikes me as a competent enough review without any shining moments, rich in examples but examples that donít strike me as anything at all out of the ordinary. The last second kill as a larger enemy is coming down on you, being blown to smithereens by ill-thought grenade throws, providing cover fire for a man ahead Ė donít most first person shooters have these moments? It seems an inordinate amount of time is spent on the standard first-person shooter formula without capturing the atmosphere of the Star Wars franchise Ė Hoth and Coruscant are mentioned in passing, but Iím not a Star Wars nerd and Iíd rather descriptions that bring them and this universe to life. What I get is more talk about changing classes Ė integrated very well, subtly informative, but nothing that actually makes me want to play this game. Late in the review it switches to talks of space battles and the fact you can play as the good side Ė maybe these should have been mentioned earlier to provide better scope of the whole game? This is not a bad review, but Iím not sure why it is making some of its points. 80/100

Masters -- WQís review is well written as always. Itís quite descriptive, so youíll have a good idea of what the game is all about. What it could do with more of, is opinion. The journalistic style employed makes it hard for the reader to discern if the reviewer is having fun doing the things she describes; she seems to simply report on the ingredients which exist for the playing. Obviously, in concluding the review, WQ eventually shares her thoughts on how the game stacks up, but given the length of the review, it doesnít seem enough. 74/100

---

V - Sportsman - VVVVVV

Felix -- VVVVVV failed to persuade me of the joys of dying 900 times in two hours. The typo in the opening sentence and GameFAQs-like claim that the game's soundtrack must be heard to be believed didn't help either. The writing could have been cleaner and tighter. 55/100

Leroux -- Iím not going to waste words trying to describe the problems of this review so Iíll just say this: you absolutely must read this for yourself. No words can truly capture how confusing this is. It is something truly remarkable.

Are you pissed off yet because I didnít tell you anything of substance? I am too, because the above is how you choose to describe the music. For a game you claim to have an awesome soundtrack, you took by far the laziest way out possible, not even attempting to describe it while heaping on bountiful and unconvincing praise that tells me nothing at all. Youíre a tease. How is it wasting words to describe one of the best soundtracks youíve ever heard? Answer that, please. Maybe itís a good thing you didnít Ė the descriptions of what you do in this game are hazy at best due to unclear language, and I canít much picture it (and I donít see how this game could be any longer than ten minutes from what I do picture).

I understand describing this game is probably more difficult than most, but this doesnít get the job done. It begins by saying VVVVVV is not an unusual game in any ways, but then makes the game sound very unusual, and you even say it offers a Ďunique challengeí and Ďunique momentsí later on. Unique is not usual. I donít understand how the gravity worksÖ can you also change it in midair? Otherwise, how does the tower segment work? The spikes were moving upwards from the floor AND the ceiling? So through the ceiling? If the overworld is like SotN, how is it a two-hour game? How is it even possible to die that many times in such a short span; estimating your Ďroughly two hoursí as two and a half, you died on average every ten seconds. I need tighter language and more polished, thoughtful descriptions and examples, maybe a few chained together, to even fathom that. Can you name me the great Commodore 64 soundtracks or is that you just bullshitting? My head is spinning. Zigís been analyzing a couple of these indy games over at Unlimited Zig very well Ė check those out for ideas. Mostly, donít be afraid to spend more time explaining the concepts, however simple they might outwardly seem. And give writing about the best parts of the game a damn chance. 50/100

Masters -- Sportsman has written an unremarkable but very readable piece with contagious enthusiasm. There are some repetitive word choices, and some flimsy hyperbole on offer, but itís hard to deny that Sportsmanís review, while not perfect, does make you want to check out the game heís raving about. 80/100

---

W - JoeTheDestroyer (-3, late sign up) - Wizards & Warriors

Felix -- I like this review because you take a game, which you've clearly sank time into, and dissect it in such a way that I feel I've been along for the highlights of the ride. Your final score may come away as a 3/10, but this seems more like a labor of suppressed love since you provide a level of analysis that most reviewers would be unlikely to provide for a crusty old trinket like Wiz & War. That makes your claim at the beginning about how you used to love the game feel all the more genuine. I also must say that, while I found your argument to be convincing, W&W still managed to be a rare review where I would want to play a game in spite of the final recommendation, if only because it sounds kind a of neat (powder blue bats and pretty pink spiders, a phallic sword, evil rocks and walls) game to experience for a crazed lunatic such as myself. 82/100

Leroux -- This is a competent dismantling of Wizards and Warriors; it explains everything, explains where the game doesnít work, and makes a persuasive case. It seems to me to be a bit meandering Ė the flow from idea to idea in the review gives the appearance they were written about as they came to mind. You get a fairly important detail, the fact the game is always swarming you with enemies, much later on and after the palette colors of these enemies were already discussed. But there is also some structuring Ė moving from the doorman, to the fantasy atmosphere, back to the doorman works as a transition.

It reads a bit long because the writing doesnít offer a lot of variety or add much color Ė it is a very workmanlike approach, very even-keel. It gets a little choppy at points Ė the paragraph that begins ďThen again, the entire gameÖĒ Ė and it falls into some habits, describing an aspect followed by a sentence clarifying: this renders, this might work, this holds true, this extends, this is not just, this means, this also means. Some more complex sentences to convey the points would help, trying to be more succinct while not having such basic movement from point to point. But itís hard to argue this review doesnít get the job done. 83/100

Masters -- Joeís a great new (?) reviewer who provides another work here. His reviews are always fairly well organized, with a distinct voice and strong opinions. He has an easy time engaging us with an easy to bash game; the only weakness here is that he probably goes on too long given that the game has so few redeeming qualities. Near the end of the review you might find yourself thinking ďstill bashing? We get the idea... whyíd you keep on playing anyway?Ē Aside from this, Joe scores again. 82/100

---

X - Janus (-3, traded L for X) - X-Men: The Arcade Game

Felix -- The passion you have for brawlers is palpable. I'm not a big fan of the genre, but I got pumped reading this review. We won't even go into the G-Roni stuff, but that had me pumped too. You're fighting the good fight. I enjoyed reading this and learned something about a genre I'm not too familiar with, too. 93/100

Leroux -- In paragraph three, villains would work, but using ďsuper villainsĒ is pushing it for the typical dozens you confront. Paragraph four is an excellent nuanced answer to the complaint that all characters behave the same, which is flat wrong, and the high point of the review for me. Paragraphs five and six read too much like a rebuttal, and I think merely emphasizing the drop in and out format and action-packed nature of online play would be more convincing than telling us what you intended to write about (and indeed, are writing about) and trying to dig yourself out of the hole. Iím not sure this is the most effective approach albeit a more direct rebuke. The tone feels too defensive. I think the finale over simplifies the case for beat Ďem ups; the best beat Ďem ups are subtly not repetitive with their mixing and matching of weaponry, environmental hazards and enemies. One day I will write a treatise on this. But anyway. 86/100

Masters -- Janusís review kicks off with palpable energy which is good, but it reads quite obviously as a rebuttal to SOMETHING, which I didnít like in the context of this review contest. (Iíd be remiss not to point this out: ďThis is a genre that modern video game journalists insist on patronising with PHRASES...Ē Ė but what follow, are more accurately Ďtermsí.) Anyway, the review has some golden moments (disparaging todayís epics, specifically the late Ďquick time eventí passage) and reads as a slick rejoinder to old school game criticisms in general. When it gets too particular, it feels combative and forced. In the end, I enjoyed it on the whole. 85/100

---
RESULTS:
285 EmP (91/97/97)
278 Suskie (95/89/94)
266 Zippdementia (86/92/88)
265 Overdrive (88/87/90)
255 Janus (93/86/85; -9 (3 apiece) for traded letter)
246 True (84/90/72)
241 turducken (63/94/84)
240 Genj (80/85/75)
238 JoeTheDestroyer (82/83/82; - 9 (3 apiece) for late sign up)
233 DoI (77/76/80)
227 Asherdeus (75/75/77)
227 Wolfqueen (73/80/74)
225 Ben (70/70/85)
224 Jerec (60/82/82)
185 Sportsman (55/50/80)
182 pickhut (67/40/75)
150 CoarseDragon (50/60/40)
133 DarkEternal (65/0/68)


When the hammer falls...


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Author: Felix_Arabia
Posted: January 17, 2011 (07:06 PM)
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Congrats to EmP for the prestigious win and everyone else who played along. I enjoyed reading and commenting on all of these reviews.


I don't have to boost my review resume because I have a real resume.


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Author: zigfried (Mod)
Posted: January 17, 2011 (07:07 PM)
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Just wanted to thank the judges and the participants for making this thing a success... yet again! It's always fun to see what people pull out for their letters each year, and I was especially amused by how Asherdeus handled the dreaded #.

//Zig


Unlimited Zig Works!


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Author: Genj
Posted: January 17, 2011 (06:58 PM)
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Man, I am sick of EmP STEALING my rings. Next competition I'm gunning to take his cockney ass down.

Good commentary from the judges. Thanks for doing all that thankless work. Hopefully I will remember to take all your advice in between saving lives. Congrats to everyone who participated in the Alphas (especially True).


_


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Author: pickhut
Posted: January 17, 2011 (07:09 PM)
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I actually liked that review better because I felt I put more effort into in than the Ghost in the Shell one, which I saw to be a pretty standard review. I guess I have odd senses :|. Thanks for the comments, regardless.

Oh well. Congrats to EmP on his victory, and good job to everyone that participated with reviews.


I head spaceshit noises


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Author: jerec
Posted: January 17, 2011 (07:32 PM)
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Bottom 5, ouch. It was a tough review to write, basically because I had this narrative idea in mind, but also needed to cover the other stuff which I couldn't do so well from Olimar's perspective (I did try, it was horrible). Thank you for the honest feedback, which is quite helpful.

And wow there are some excellent reviews in this competition.


I can avoid death by not having a life.


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Author: True
Posted: January 17, 2011 (08:16 PM)
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I think I was third in this thing last year, but considering all the great reviews this year I'm happy with 6th.

I did want to thank the judges, especially Leroux who took the time and effort to set this whole thing up. This is always one of the most entertaining tournaments and I appreciate all the hard work everyone put in. Though, I did have one comment for you, Leroux: Play fair or donít bother. Iím not a fan of huge scoring slants by judges to influence the results

Er...um. I sure hope you don't think less of me for my recent "Emp screw job." It was an accident...heh.

Though, while I'm quoting people...Genj: Congrats to everyone who participated in the Alphas (especially True).

What's that supposed to mean, huh?!


If I Offended You, You Needed It.


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Author: zippdementia
Posted: January 17, 2011 (08:35 PM)
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Well, Rob, I beat you by a point. And that makes it all the sweeter.

Hey, thanks to the judges for taking the time to write some very informative feedback. I thought there were about six contenders for top placement in this tournament, so it was very affirming to make third. I think there are some things in this artform I will never excel at in the natural way of some of the other writers (for instance, the casual sit-on-my-knee grandpa EmP tells a story; or the always-fresh Suskie approach) but it's good to know that I can keep people's interest through a review and influence their opinions on a game.


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


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Author: Suskie
Posted: January 17, 2011 (09:53 PM)
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Second place! I totally called this one. (And will next year, and the year after that...)

Thanks a lot to the judges for their feedback; always appreciated. Congrats to EmP for winning and thanks to all for making the Alphas a success, as it always is.


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


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Author: JoeTheDestroyer
Posted: January 17, 2011 (10:25 PM)
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Thank you folks for the feedback! I am very pleased with my place and had fun comnpeting. Congrats EmP! That RDR review was killer!


The only thing my milkshake brings to the yard is a subpoena.


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Author: Halon
Posted: January 17, 2011 (10:41 PM)
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Congrats to EmP and thanks to the judges for their hard work! I expected my score considering I had no motivation to write that review and didn't have a backup plan.


IF YOU WANT MORE BEATS FOR YOUR BUCK THERE'S NO LUCK.


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Author: wolfqueen001
Posted: January 17, 2011 (11:10 PM)
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Eh. That's pretty much what I expected for myself after finishing this review. Not too thrilled with it, but I really can't complain, either, since I really did the best I could with it. The game was hard to write about, and it really wasn't the one I wanted to write about in the first place for this contest, but when I went home, I found out that the game I wanted to do still hadn't come back yet after having lent it out.

Anyway, I'm not going to say much about my reviewing style other than to muse about the difficulties of balancing description, analysis and opinion, which I seem to have trouble a lot with, even with my good reviews. I also have to wonder, isn't analysis mostly just stating fact and then interpreting it, but not necessarily giving your own opinion on a game? This s something I had to think about after reading the feedback for my review and then the feedback for some other reviews. It's just a something I'm curious about now, since the difference does seem kind of subtle. I do know you can say a lot more with analysis than just giving the simple mechanics of a game, such as how effective those mechanics are, for example, but does it really give your thoughts on how fun the game is? Perhaps it does, in a more indirect way.

In any case, I said I wouldn't ramble but I did anyway. I have a few things to think about, but really I've found lately that I can't... make myself write a review a certain way. It just sort of comes out however it wants, and I often have trouble bucking it up where it needs it after its written... That is, unless I wind up scrapping huge chunks of it or the whole thing entirely and then rewriting it. ...which I've found myself doing a lot anyway. My better reviews often have done this. I couldn't do it much this time, though.

But yeah. Enough. Congrats to EmP for winning... again, and congrats to everyone else who participated. Maybe next year... or not. I never do well in this thing.

Anyway, thanks judges, as always, for the feedback. It's always appreciated. Thanks especially to Leroux for being the only judge to score me an 80 compiling the whole thing and organizing it in the first place.


What espiga does in his free time
[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: Ben
Posted: January 18, 2011 (12:04 AM)
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Thanks for the critiques, guys. Very much appreciated. I was aiming for a mid-table finish, but fell short of that goal. Still, a considerable improvement over last year's 'entry'. The standard seems to be pretty high; getting an average of 75 only placed me in the bottom third. So well done everyone on that.

I agree with all the points made. When I finished the review, the main thing I was dissatisfied about was the way I wrote the first and last paragraphs. I had a feeling you'd focus a bit of time on that. Looking back, obviously my style of writing is fairly bland compared to most others who have a knack of making their writing fresh and a joy to read, but despite putting all the information I wanted to in there, I did myself no favours by rarely pointing out in-game scenarios and just generally not painting the picture very often.

The game choice was a bit weak especially compared to what others went for, but I struggled in general to find an 'E' game that I could actually play from start to finish. Elemix! was short and straightforward. I don't really regret the choice, because anything more interesting or complex that I tried to force myself to play, I wouldn't have completed within the time. I have a shocking record of being a no-show, so the fact that I wrote a piece is in some small way pleasing for me. Anyway, much thanks again, and congrats to everyone who submitted something.


...


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Author: darketernal
Posted: January 18, 2011 (05:42 AM)
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I edited it because I was sick as hell when I wrote it,and wasn't satisfied when I got the chaos in my head a bit under control, but alright, I guess I understand.

Thank you.


Idemo do dna....tugo ti i ja.


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Author: EmP (Mod)
Posted: January 18, 2011 (10:14 AM)
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I feel an uncharacteristic need to stick up for DE quickly before the odd urge passes. He was pretty screwed when deadline came, but desperate to show up rather than just be another of those guys making promises and being smoke. I proofed it for errors at the time, but he always wanted to go back and finish it in his voice, so forbade me from doing much more than fixes. Judges weren't to know that, but he deserves better than to be treated like a cheat for making more of an effort than probably any of us.

There's my single charitable act for 2011 out of the way, so all that's left is to offer genuine thanks to both those who wrote for this and the judge panel for wading through it. I honestly didn't expect to win this; it was a very strong field. Thanks. Really.

RDR is never not leaving the focus window ever. You've only yourself to blame.


For us. For them. For you.


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Author: Genj
Posted: January 18, 2011 (11:18 AM)
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What's that supposed to mean, huh?!

It means of all the participants in this here contest where one must write sufficient criticism for a video game of an assigned letter, I give markedly additional congratulations to you specifically, little buckaroo.


_


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Author: aschultz
Posted: January 18, 2011 (11:33 AM)
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This was fun to read through even if I wasn't able/motivated enough to submit anything. Good to see all the interesting writing on the game end and the judging end.


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: Leroux
Posted: January 18, 2011 (03:22 PM)
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Unless DarkEternal was sick the entire month of December I'm not budging. Letters were assigned December 5th; no one forces anyone to wait until January to start. Deadlines are to be observed and are only casually enforced -- a couple edits, an hour late posting, no harm no foul because it's friendly competition.

But if we gave two extra days -- this review changed between Monday night when I wrote initial reactions and Tuesday when I went to confirm them -- who's to say Zigfried wouldn't have been able to submit as well? Or Will? Or Sho? Maybe they were sick or had other circumstances. What resulted could have been an entirely different tournament. But we don't have a time machine to give them the same chance. That's the point -- create equal circumstances for everyone. That's why we give a whole month.

There's also no shame in bowing out, submitting the review a few days later, and asking for feedback: it creates the same quality for the site in the end and makes you look just as committed. There's no shame in petitioning for an extension. Since Marc was in China, I suspect it wouldn't have been a big deal for anyone involved. Instead, it was edited obviously and unannounced. DE's a swell guy in my book, but that is a foul in tournaments because of the can of worms it can open.


When the hammer falls...


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Author: darketernal
Posted: January 18, 2011 (05:59 PM)
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It's okay, I'm fully aware you're an ass, so really, I already commented, shut down the story, no need to drag it out further, thank you.


Idemo do dna....tugo ti i ja.


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Author: True
Posted: January 18, 2011 (06:16 PM)
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Oh here we go...

In an effort to distract:

It means of all the participants in this here contest where one must write sufficient criticism for a video game of an assigned letter, I give markedly additional congratulations to you specifically, little buckaroo.

I'm flattered, but why? Ash did a much better job with the worst possible "letter" choice, and Emp won. Was it the Death Match thing?


If I Offended You, You Needed It.


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Author: Leroux
Posted: January 18, 2011 (06:33 PM)
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Nah. DE's still a good guy.


When the hammer falls...


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Author: Genj
Posted: January 18, 2011 (06:44 PM)
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True,

I don't know if you've noticed this, man, but I'm kind of an eccentric.


_


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Author: Felix_Arabia
Posted: January 18, 2011 (06:46 PM)
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Production.


I don't have to boost my review resume because I have a real resume.


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Author: True
Posted: January 18, 2011 (06:49 PM)
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True,

I don't know if you've noticed this, man, but I'm kind of an eccentric.


No. Never. Really? I must have glossed over that this entire time. Since we're on the subject, I don't know if you've noticed this, but I'm dramatic. Overly so.


If I Offended You, You Needed It.


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Author: Genj
Posted: January 18, 2011 (07:31 PM)
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I've noticed, Greg, but I think you're a pretty cool guy regardless.


_


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