July 29, 2008
The Future plc portfolio is comprised of over 100 magazines and 70 websites such as PC Gamer, Nintendo Power and Official X-box Magazine. Games Radar culls their reviews from their various sister sites and magazines. Their editorials and articles appear to be unique to the site.
During the week of July 21st – 25th, Games Radar featured a ‘Mediocre’ week for - among other gaming interests - box art, lame clichés and crap games. The following excerpt from the Crap Games article should be of interest to readers of Just Adventure.
CRAP games that scraped a seven out of ten
Reviewers thought these titles were okay. They were WRONG
Contributions by: Tyler Nagata and Shane Patterson
Let’s be honest. You don’t need a certified games “journalist” to explain why Grand Theft Auto IV is awesome or that the Dirty Dancing videogame is shit. You’re intelligent. You know what kinds of games you love and which ones you despise.
But once in a while, there’s that rare occasion where you’ve got a few extra dollars burning a hole in your pocket and have enough leftover to splurge on a game that you’re on the fence about. And when it comes to these situations, it’s frustrating when the professional critics seem to be sitting on the same fence as you.
The average score on an aggregator site like Metacritic may seem like it’s giving you an accurate idea of how good or bad a game is. But dig a little deeper and you’ll often find that one overly enthusiastic review is responsible for letting an obviously awful title scrape by with a so-so seven out of ten score. All it takes is one or two rogue reviews with hyperbolic clichés and an inflated score to make these crap titles seem like fairly decent buys. In celebration of our seven out of ten week, we’ve listed what we feel are the worst offenders that managed to scrape by with an undeserved seven.
Nancy Drew: The White Wolf of Icicle Creek
Metacritic Score: 7.3/10
Who’s to Blame: Just Adventure for giving a game marketed toward young girls a passing grade
Why do game reviewers continue to let themselves off the hook by tossing softball scores to niche titles that never graduated past the 1990s? Maybe they’re lazy and lack a pair. Maybe they’re worried that they’ve become jaded reviewers who only care about popular games like StarCraft II or Diablo III.
Or maybe they’re just like this guy and are overrepresented on aggregator sites like Metacritic. Just Adventure writer Ray Ivey gave Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel a flawless score and is “looking forward to the next troublesome situation Nancy gets herself into.” We can’t say that we agree with him or the reviewer who gave The White Wolf of Icicle Creek a similarly high grade.
Above: Niche games like these enjoy inflated scores from niche game review sites like Just Adventure. It’s a symbiotic relationship that’s full of male critics and curious little girls
Like most ‘respected’ game journalists, you made sure to not post your email address, so it is necessary to post a public response to your article. If you feel the need to respond, then sharpen your Crayolas and email me at
Like your attention spans, this will be brief.
I seriously question that either of you have played the Nancy Drew games referenced in your article. I also doubt – and if you can prove me wrong I will issue a public apology – that either of you have ever played any Nancy Drew game from start-to-finish unless it was with the aid of a publisher-supplied walkthrough which leads me to question the credibility of anything either of you writes.
Unfortunately, you both seem to be part of the breed of game ‘journalists’ who constantly blacken the image of the industry with your ‘I –don’t-have-to-play-it-to-know-it-is-crap’ attitude.
As a niche site for the adventure genre, Just Adventure writes reviews for people who enjoy such games. We realize that not every game is a masterpiece, but we also know our audience. Not many of us – though some probably do – give a whit about cutting-edge graphics or the newest technology applied to an adventure game. No apologies offered.
So while you’re happily circle jerking each other over the latest and coolest way to pimp your ride or ride your pimp in Grand Theft Auto IV, we’re busy finding 1,001 ways to solve a puzzle with a crowbar or new ways to push a key under a door and just as happy as you are with your discoveries.
My main point – and I will type slowly so that both of you can understand – is that there is one very simple reason why the average scores on sites like Metacritic are accurate: for every ‘niche’ site like Just Adventure which is accused of inflating scores, there is an opposite ‘hardcore’ site like Games Radar that hands out uncommonly low scores to adventure games because the reviewer (choose one):
Need some proof? How about this quote from Tyler Nygate's review of Secret Files Tunguska - "you'll find yourself skipping through the game's lengthy and frequent dialogues as fast as your right-clicking finger will allow in this good looking, yet derivative adventure title."
Even more to the point is Paul Byrnes conclusion in his Games Radar Secrets of Atlantis review: “You'll hate: Stupid, pointless puzzles, Stupid, pointless dialogue, Cookie-cutter story.
(As a clarification in order to avoid the same misunderstanding that occurred with PC Gamer a few years back, we’re not claiming that these games are classics, immune to criticism, only that most reviewers are dumbasses with no knowledge of what constitutes an adventure game).
And, if there is one subject where the ‘journalists’ who contribute to Games Radar are experts, it is adventure games. A search for reviews on all platforms for adventure games, revealed the following under All Adventure Reviews: DK Jungle Climber, Bomberman Land Touch, SD Gundam Scad Hammers and, of course, that most classic of adventures Metroid Prime 3 Corruption – and we’re just scratching the surface of their ‘adventure’ expertise.
I hasten to add at this point the mission statement of Future plc: ‘At this time of overwhelming choice, people want trusted editorial services more than ever before. And this is what Future does best.’ If based on the above misinformation that is what they do best, then I shudder to think what factual misinformation their worst efforts must yield.
Your final remark rankles most though as it oversteps the boundaries of decency: ‘Niche games like these enjoy inflated scores from niche game review sites like Just Adventure. It’s a symbiotic relationship that’s full of male critics and curious little girls.’
I don’t like what you are insinuating here. Nor did a few of the publishers I spoke to appreciate what you are insinuating and I hope their memories are fresh when it comes time to spend their marketing dollars on their next product. This statement needs to be either written a little more clearly or retracted completely. Not to mention that Just Adventure has a history of having more women (and minorities) writing reviews and working behind the scenes than any of the male-dominated, lily-white, twenty-something staffs of almost every video game magazine and website. One would hope that Future plc management will take the proper steps to ensure against such future irresponsible and factually incorrect articles.
PS – In case you are wondering what the best-selling pc game in North America was for the third week of July 2008 – according to the retail sales figures compiled by NPD – well, it wasn’t Devil May Cry 4, which received a score of 8 (awesome!) from Games Radar, nor was it Mass Effect which received a score of 9 (awesome!) from Games Radar. Nope, it was little ol’ Nancy Drew: The Phantom of Venice. Now isn’t that a crock of seven-out-of-ten!
PPS – Does Games Radar give every game that features weapons or fighting a score of awesome? If so, it must really skew those Metacritic scores!
*The original State of Adventure Gaming was a series of monthly columns intended to point out the absurdities in both the adventure and the gaming community. The NEW State of Adventure Gaming will be a series of articles/editorials focusing on one subject and published on a sporadic basis.