Review methodology

I posted a review of Paper Mario: Sticker Star today. I was surprised to find that the part of the game I expected to be terrible — the use of stickers as a limited, expendable resource that are required to enable even the most fundamental battle skills — turned out to be the best part of the game. Wacky.

I was also surprised to find that my score for the game came in quite a bit higher, even though it seems my opinion is directly in line with just about everyone else who graded the game. We all found ourselves tripped up on the same flaw (maddeningly vague quest objectives that require occasional blind searches through many areas), but I guess a lot of people weren’t cool with it. I was annoyed at times, too, but I also try to keep in mind that the circumstances under which the press reviews a game (hurriedly, in advance, with no public resources to help us through tough spots) aren’t the same as the way the overwhelming majority of people experience it.

I kept thinking back to the Zelda articles I’ve been writing and how I love that game because I played it with time to kill and friends to confer with. And I looked at Paper Mario’s more frustrating moments and asked myself, “If I weren’t playing this under review circumstances, would I be so annoyed?” And the answer was “Um, probably not?”

My inner monologue could stand to be a little more assertive, I guess.

Anyway, good game. Check it out, but don’t be afraid to put your head together with your friends at recess, OK?

7 thoughts on “Review methodology

  1. I haven’t played the game yet, so I have no idea if your review is “right” or “wrong,” but I appreciate the thought you put into it! I read the other reviews that harshed on the backtracking and obtuseness and thought, “Huh, I’ll have to remember to let myself GameFAQ if I get stuck.” Then I read your review and thought, “Whoa, this battle system sounds deep.” Overall, your approach feels better to me. I’m not going to be playing it on a deadline, so having to explore random nooks doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

    Then again, I haven’t played the game yet, so maybe I’ll really disagree and blame you for “wasting” my $40! No pressure! :-)

  2. This bugs me too. I review movies and sometimes you can’t run home and scribble down the most eloquent dissertation a few days before it comes out, especially if it is difficult, slow, or dense. Honestly, I can’t even imagine doing this with games considering the amount of time they require.

    I think the year-end lists help look back on things with a different perspective (well, everything released pre-December), and in that sense it might be beneficial to have maybe a recap or something at the end of every month where you can look at games, movies or whatever in a more relaxed manner.

  3. I’m really happy to hear this about the game. I’ve been on the fence about the sticker aspect, but it sounds like they really nailed the balance.

    Great review, by the way!

  4. That was a particularly great, in-depth review.

    Question: how often do you read others’ reviews and compare them to your own? Just as a matter of getting a general feel for their opinions, not necessarily for journalistic purposes.

  5. I HATE when games force you to bump around the environment haphazardly in order to get to the fun part. I also hate when they hold your hand too much.

    That said, I have a slightly higher tolerance for RPGs. If I get stuck, it’s no biggie to run to GameFAQs for a minute. It’s more frustrating in action games when everything is high octane and the music is pumping and your running in circles trying to find an invisible trigger (RE6!).

    Anyway, love Paper Mario, and this review reminded me it’s coming and it’s good. Awesome.

  6. Somewhere there’s got to be a tally of how many times “nude code” was searched, back in the day.

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