I thought I'd write a user blog about reviews...
Apparently, I thought wrong. First up, some housekeeping. Today, we'll have our first holiday buyer's guide. The guides will go up over a few days, and each one was written by a different staff member with a different approach. In a few days, depending on our schedule, I'll have my review for Otomedius Excellent, a shoot-em-up game. Of course, I have to mention that PixlTalk looks like it'll be back on track again. There have been issues keeping it going at a steady pace, so hopefully those who feel like they missed out over the past few weeks will consider trying out PB & Jason, which you hopefully know by now is my stand-alone podcast. But enough about the “What's coming soon.” I'm writing to talk about reviews. The review problem. Conundrum, or whatever it is. Sit back. It'll take a while. This first blog really has nothing to do with it. Really. Instead, this blog and the next will talk about my history with gaming media and reviews. Deal with it.
Over the past few weeks, I've been putting some heavy thought into where reviews fit for video games. I grew up reading Nintendo power with a spare EGM and GamePro here or there. I didn't really know what a review was, at least not back in the day. I literally “read” Nintendo Power magazines before I actually knew how to read. To me, they were information digests. I'd get to find the map of a game, or I'd get to see a sneak peek of some later bosses. I'd be able to use “Pak Watch” to learn scheduled release dates of video games. Whatever I wanted to know I couldn't determine from the pictures, I would ask my parents about, and they'd let me know. I feel this is pretty important in my history of gaming, though. As a very young kid, I didn't play games based directly on the opinions of others. Instead, I looked at what I could see from magazines and such, and decided what to play based on what looked fun.
Of course, some point down the road, I learned how to read. Truth be told, my early gaming years tend to blend together my non-reading days with my reading ones. Still, early on, I found I'd look and flip through a Nintendo Power one time real quick for anything especially appealing before I'd read anything. I wanted to spot something of special interest. A new Mario game, a Mega Man X title, maybe see if any game appeared in the “Classified Information” section that I was playing, things like that. Again, I really didn't care much for opinions here. My second-favorite section was Pak Watch, even when I could read. Why? C'mon. This is before the internet. I'd find out about an upcoming game, see early screenshots, and all that sort of stuff way ahead of time. Still, reviews really meant nothing to me.
In fact, I can't remember much of a time where I did look at any reviews. Probably, the earliest point I recall seeing scores or numbers surrounding a game would have come from another magazine, a magazine of which I had no subscription. Where? A Publix Supermarket. Every once in a while, when I went to the grocery store with my mother, during checkout, I'd be allowed to look at the magazine rack in the store, which contained a few different gaming magazines. Of course I'd flip through for interesting things first, but if lines were particularly long or there was few I found explicitly appealing in the magazine, I'd be able to reach where games were talked about. See, unlike Nintendo Power, a magazine I read for tips, tricks, maps, and strategies, these other gaming magazines were more opinion-b