There’s a few things in the works that you’ll find might change things around here, but for the time being this is what we do and why. I thought there were a few issues that deserved further explanation. This is also the new home for the basic review breakdown.
The concept is simple: what is this game worth?
We’re not going to give you some subjective, arbitrary metric to determine a game’s quality: we’re going to offer a different subjective, arbitrary metric. Namely, American dollars. There’s no fancy calculation to it, we have a small team that we trust to be as fair to each title as possible. If it helps though, think of it as a fun/hours scale, based off of what our reviewers derive from a game and what we believe the average consumer will get out of it.
We believe in supporting the industry, and if you love a particular developer or stand firmly behind a game’s concept, these quantities are not dogma. A low dollar amount isn’t necessarily an indictment of a bad game, merely a fair assessment of what we believe it’s worth for what you get.
On the flip side of that, you might occasionally see us break the game’s price. For instance, Sequence earned a $15 rating, but only sells for $3. This is a rare occurrence, but independent games typically sell for ludicrously cheap already and offer value well outside of their price tag. We try not to get too crazy with it (you’ll never see a $500 game on here), but if you see something over the game’s selling price, you can bet it’s worth playing.
Here’s what you can expect to come across on an average review:
- Value: Naturally, the value of games change over time and is different across platforms. This is taken into account for the time and medium it was released on.
- Highlights: These will differ by reviewer and game, but truly outstanding qualities about a game will be noted next to the dollar amount. Not every game has jaw-dropping graphics or life-affirming sound quality, but the ones that do get a little numerical representation. These can be good or bad, but they stand out enough to be recognized.
- The Good / The Bad: A quick summary of…what it says. For the tl;dr crowd.
- The Review: The meat and potatoes. An exuberant exaltation of divine quality or a scathing scolding of a sorry sack of disappointment.
Review Codes (Indies/XBLIG/XBLA)
If you really support the market, why do you accept review codes?
This was a big one and I wanted to just hit it right away because there’s several factors here. Honestly, we don’t really get that many to begin with. In some odd cases, awesome devs like Team Stendec will catch a Rundown preview and offer their children up for us to sacrifice on the wheel of pain. We don’t pull punches for anything. Truth is, several times I’ve been offered codes and have already purchased the game, so I’ll gift it to someone else (with the dev’s knowledge) or pass it on to Jason/Hurley.
Unfortunately, the fact is that all of us do this part time and we simply can’t afford to buy every title that comes out. In order to cover as much as we can while still maintaining our integrity, we do accept codes from XBLIG developers but do not actively solicit them except for special occasions (ie: testing multiplayer) When possible, we would prefer to use them for contests/giveaways in order to give back to the community. If you’re interested in this sort of thing in particular, let us know.
I can’t stress enough how much I believe in supporting the independent market. I want to scream at everyone who pays $15 for regurgitated map packs or picks up stupid avatar shit without a thought but hems and haws at paying $1 for a polished XBLIG title or even one they’ll readily admit liking the demo. This is less of an issue on PC, but on the X-Box 360 (where the majority of our reviews come from), this is an incredibly prevalent mentality. I sincerely hope that with this site and in our ongoing efforts with awesome partners like Armless Octopus, Two Fedoras and the Indie Gamer Chick, we can really make a difference in the quality of coverage for the scene itself as well as raise awareness among the average gamer to the bevy of options available to them.
Review Copies (Retail)
This is a reality of the “gaming press” which, let’s face it: we’re a part of. If there’s one thing all of us hate though, it’s worthless reviews. If you can’t trust us to play a game and give you our straightforward thoughts on the experience, there’s no reason for us to do this at all. Well, other than free games I guess. That’s pretty cool. In all seriousness, I’d rather sour a relationship with a developer or publisher than deliver anything less than an unbiased review of a game. That doesn’t mean we’re going to completely ignore things like NDAs or disrespect release dates (reviewers with early copies are typically asked to hold off to within a certain time of the launch), but neither of those affect content…and believe me, if we can break something first, we will.
To whatever extent we receive review or preview copies of games, you can bet this will be noted.
Stolen unabashedly from the Indie Gamer Chick, with a few changes to keep things interesting - The premise is simple: if you think your game is good enough to earn a spot on our top ten list, we’ll review it with priority status. Period. We will not say no.
This is not limited by system, so if you have something you want us to play, we will do it if it is possible. Just because you have a hacked Colecovision ROM that you’ve exported into playable form doesn’t mean I have the means to screw with it. I’m taking a chance on the open nature of this, don’t make me revoke it. See Rule #3.
As has been mentioned before though: we hold nothing back and take no responsibility for hurt feelings, rent clothing, gnashed teeth or injured house-pets. We’ll play it fair, but you’ll want to make sure you’re ready to rock when you step into the arena. If you’ve released an early build, expecting to add more later but figured it was “good enough” for now, nuh-uh: you might want to wait. I won’t stop you, but we also don’t have her 6-month policy, so there’s time to make sure you’ll come out swinging. You can challenge us to review a title all the way back to the dawn of gaming.
The rules are easy:
- Developers get one challenge per month.
- 2 Rounds is KO, in other words: if you’ve challenged twice and both titles were lame, we can refuse further attempts.
- Don’t be stupid. No Apps. Those should be separate rules, but one really just follows the other.
Hungry for blood and glory? Drop us a line with the subject “Developer Challenge.”
Extra Life Reviews
We recognize that sometimes things just don’t go right the first time: glitches, unforeseen problems, all sorts of stuff. Most developers want to put out a good game and we get that. So, you’ve made it through the initial review process and you didn’t like how things went. Maybe you knew there were issues, maybe we were too hard on it/didn’t get it, whatever you like. Before you fall to the ground weeping or furiously make unkind claims about our mothers, consider that you have an Extra Life with us, which is essentially a second chance at a review. We will not refuse any Extra Lives. However, you get one token and there are no continues afterwards, so be sure before you spend it.
Depending on your situation, you have an option: either select Another Voice or Time Shift.
Choose wisely, young Indy_
- Another Voice: This allows you to immediately jump back in and we’ll have another reviewer check it out, either from our staff or a special guest perspective. Best used if you feel the original reviewer wasn’t an ideal match to review the game.
- Time Shift: If you’ve made significant fixes/changes to a title or added extra content to such a degree that it deserves a new review, we can accommodate. Best used if you’ve improved or changed the core experience. Do not request a Time Shift review if you’re simply adding “DLC” (ie: an extra mission or level) to a title unless it truly makes a difference, just drop us an email and we’ll get something written up for that.
Believe it or not, this applies to all developers, from the smallest to the Triple-A moneymakers. If you’re sitting in the continue screen (or want to know if you should), send us an email with the subject “Extra Life.”