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Should Retro Games Use The 10-Point Scoring System?

It's a question that has been bothering me ever since the retro craze began some years back:

Should we use the same 10-point scoring system to review these retro throwback titles?

Look, one could argue that something like Tetris is a perfect game. Hence, it should theoretically get a 10. Well, maybe so. But there's really nothing to the game; if the basic mechanics work perfectly (which isn't hard to do, especially today), then that's it. There's nothing else to consider and therefore, no way to deduct points.

New games have a myriad of factors. They have voice acting, stories, and very often, a wide variety of gameplay elements in the same game. We've been branching out for decades; we no longer have strict stealth or strict action games. We have blends; everywhere you look, there's another title that utilizes multiple gameplay mechanics. There's just so much to consider in these games, which almost seems like a double-edge sword. If some of these elements are lacking, we can take points off.

But if the elements aren't there at all, does that mean the game is simply perfect without them? Or can we dock a game for not having such aspects? Hey, I just gave Axiom Verge a 9 because I think it deserves that 9. And of course, I believe intelligent gamers understand that that 9 isn't the same as the 9 I gave Deus Ex: Human Revolution or one of the Assassin's Creed titles. Still doesn't change the fact that a 9 is a 9, and it shows up that way on places like Metacritic.

What this means is that the uninitiated will directly compare something like Hotline Miami to The Last Of Us. They'd think two well-scoring games would be similar; it's only common sense when seeing only the scores. However, we all know such games can't be compared...and yet, by using the same scoring system, can you blame people for making this mistake? I think something needs to be done about this.

Tags: retro video games, retro games, retro game reviews

4/9/2015 9:56:30 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (17 posts)

Thursday, April 09, 2015 @ 11:21:59 PM

This is exactly the reason I can't look at reviews as something that looks at how many things wrong a game does to determine it's score. Where every game starts as a 10 and then reduces down as flaws are found.

In this sense I could take math problems and call them puzzles or games and claim them to be perfect because they have no flaw.
Yet, all the while it removes every human element that defines most video games as an emotional based entertainment.

I remember years ago when I couldn't get off of this trip and blasted GTA3 for having so many flaws in a mechanical and technical sense. The controls were sluggish, the aiming system was crap, the load times could be bad and the checkpoint system was just ruthless at times. Yet with all of this the game snagged GotY awards and took home high ratings. This event sparked a path that I eventually followed that made me know I was looking at the eval process entirely wrong.

EDIT: I forgot to mention how the mission difficulty was all over the place as well. Some were great. Others were duds.

Last edited by Temjin001 on 4/9/2015 11:27:39 PM

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 3:22:06 AM

Funny, that's what has always happened with me.
GTA IV and V have got 10/10 and I play them for a few hours and get stuck or bored at certain missions.

So review scores are relevant by genre, size & cost, and also personal preferences.

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 12:36:58 AM

Well I think most people are clever enough to distinguish the two and understand that a 9/10 for a small indie game is not saying it is the same as a 9/10 for a AAA game.

Similarly, a 9/10 for a sports game is different from a 9/10 for a sandbox or a rpg.

Always assumed it is "best of breed".

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 1:57:56 AM

But then you get a small indie game like Journey that very much compares to a 9/10 for a major game.

Best of "breed" or genre are definitely the way to do it IMO. Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption, and Inside LLewyn Davis are all VERY different movies but all have similar Rotten Tomato scores but that doesn't mean someone who likes one would like the other despite them being supposedly just as good.

Indie and retro games are a very difficult subject IMO.

I have felt this way for a long time Ben but not really sure what could be done because there is SO much variation not all indies are a like and same goes for retro games.

You could get a fun fast paced retro space shooter but then someone could come along with a huge 40hr 8bit RPG.

The first would be similar to the issue we have at hand but then for the second despite the outdated graphics could very much compare to modern RPGs if done well enough and even more so if placed on say the 3DS which still has a fairly low res screen where 8 or 16bit feels right at home.

Last edited by Shauneepeak on 4/10/2015 2:03:37 AM

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 3:28:53 AM

Journey. A 10 out of 10 in any genre or category.
Some games just defy any categorisation. Don't mind admitting I cried like a baby at the end of that one.

Suppose similar to how sites do their game of the year shows, they spilt awards into categories. There is then one game of the year across the genres or "breeds".

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 2:03:41 AM

I think it should be driven by the categorisation of a game.

A retro style game should still use the 10 point scale but should be measured against other retro games, not AAA.

It would be unfair to measure all games to the same standard as clearly most retro games would then only score a 1 or 2 for graphics for example.

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 5:43:10 AM

Do away with the rating system altogether. People will then be forced to read a review instead of focusing on a glance at a number. And you won't look silly shortchanging an obviously elite title a '9/10' by a measly few (fractions of a ...) points.

Seriously though, the whole point systems whether it's a five star system, or a mark out of ten (which isn't even just out of ten when you take into account decimals i.e. an 8.3 instead of rounding off) etc... , or lettering system, doesn't provide an accurate analyse of a game when there's no standardisation in the industry as a whole.

Too many great games get ignored when a score goes below an 8/10 or a 3/5. Reviews should just give an account of the game and let that be the deciding factor. What I might knock points off a game for might vary from what someone else finds completely satisfactory, or at least minor when the game is viewed as a complete package.

Also, reviewers have to be a bit more critical, I get that. They have to tell the community when something isn't completely working in a game and their scores may reflect that, though I do find it inconsistent depending on the reviewer and the game and knowing that reviewers taste for said genre. The end user i.e. the person dropping their hard earned cash on a title, can be more forgiving as they don't have that responsibility. So as much as I disagree with Ben on most of his reviews and as vocal as I am sometimes, I at least get that distinction in how we view our experiences with a game and how different that experience can be.

I also think that games with longevity should be revisited again once all creases have been ironed out ( I do miss the days when we didn't need patches to fix games post release, but it's something we have to live with unfortunately now ). A game like Destiny as an example is not the same game that first released. The community has evolved since then, new features have been added, some adjustments to gameplay have been tweeked or buffed, stability may have been improved etc...

By doing away with the points system, there's no need to worry about retracting a score or having to write an editorial such as the Assassins Creed Unity retraction. In fact that's a good example as to a game that was scored before enough time was spent with it and all the bugginess and frustration crept into the overall joy of the experience. And even at that, I hear most of the bugs have been addressed so maybe now the game is worth the original score. I have to admit I haven't played AC: Unity, I'm using it purely as an example.

Last edited by frostface on 4/10/2015 5:55:02 AM

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 6:32:51 AM

I think they obviously should. Just like any kind of game it must be judged on its own terms.

To continue the Tetris example: If someone released Tetris today without adding *anything* to it, 100% clone, I'd rate it at the rock bottom simply cause it's just a clone that should be (and is) freely available today.

If someone today release Tetris it have to be a pretty damn impressive creation for it to even have a chance at reaching the higher cores, imo.

But the exact same could be said about mobile games: Should it use the 10 point scale? But of course. Same applies there: They must be judged on their own terms.

Last edited by Beamboom on 4/10/2015 6:33:41 AM

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 3:38:40 PM

I'm proud to say I coded Tetris all by lonesome last school quarter using c#
I even put in the hold and next tetrimino feature.

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 6:37:19 AM

Gene Siskel used to score films based on how well they did what they set out to do, so why not apply that principle to games.

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mk ultra
Saturday, April 11, 2015 @ 4:01:33 PM

I think that's a good way to look at it.

I think it's okay to use the same scale. Using recent examples, I would give both Axiom Verge and Bloodborne scores in the 9s. They are both great games that know exactly who they are what they want to accomplish. While their quality can be compared, and they deserve similar scores, everything else about them is apples to oranges.

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 8:14:57 AM

I agree with frostface statement about doing away with the review system. Though if retro games should be reviewed i think it should be done on on a five star rating system.

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 9:24:51 AM

Assigning numerical values to games as a measure of quality is asinine in general.

Then again, if we did away with them, we wouldn't have been able to talk about The Order's metascore for the past six weeks, continuing on into eternity (thumbs crossed!).

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 10:00:40 AM

Ironically, if we did have separate review sales for indie titles and big budget titles, reviewers may have scored the Order LOWER!

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 10:56:21 AM

I really can't wait for us to discuss it some more.

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Friday, April 10, 2015 @ 4:42:25 PM

The way I look at it is either the game is good, or it isn't good, it shouldn't matter if it's a AAA-title, $0 indie game or anything in between so I don't see the problem scoring them on the same scale.

Like someone else said, it's already implied that it's scored (or should be anyway, a lot of critics clearly don't) based on the genre. Same thing could be said for music & movies, just because it's highly rated within it's genre doesn't mean everyone will like it!

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Saturday, April 11, 2015 @ 1:23:49 AM

its certainly a good question to pose and would be an interesting debate that should only be done in a face to face environment but i'm not sure i mean my first instinct would be to say no but what to do after that maybe do reviews by genre or just let it be a review with a commentary and no score i suppose thats what the guys at what was rev3games suggested and started doing before that closed down and you make ur own evaluation based on what they say and compared to what you like and such and make a desision based that rather than a score. think that people are wandering wether the scoring system is outdated and old fashioned

happy gaming

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