Rants and Journalists: Warning: Heavy Editing Job Afoot

When you have to sit down and review a game that was released over a decade ago, how do you approach it? Compare the changes? Review how the title plays by today’s standards? Perhaps even write a review about the game based on the time period it came out? Whatever the case, these various approaches require you to play the game.

The Sun’s latest addition to Gaming with Lee Price involved a pretty terrible review of Sonic Adventure 2. The review suffered from a mixture of misinformation, a lack of information, and comment censorship. The review itself was written by a freelance writer.

Showing little quality control during Lee Price’s absence, the review states, “You get what you expect with Sonic. Speed, rings, and corny voices.” Don’t see what’s wrong with that? Everyone knows what Sonic is like, right? Why should it matter? Well, it matters a lot once you realise that only one-third of the stages in the title are the standard Sonic the Hedgehog fair that players expect. The other two-thirds involve the slow-paced treasure hunting stages and third-person shooter stages. I’d say those were significant enough features of the game to warrant at least a mention. The writer suggests that the gameplay is as-expected of Sonic, yet the title is blatantly not what is expected. The paragraph is completely misleading.

The review score for the title suggests the title is average, or mediocre. Unfortunately, the review also expresses otherwise. From the writer’s opening paragraph, “THEY say never go back for a reason,” followed up with, “Not something to rush out and get, unless you’re feeling particularly nostalgic, or you  harbour a determination to play all of the Sonic games.” An average or mediocre game can’t be defined as something that only has value to the sentimental. Considering that’s the only real opinion on the gameplay, besides stating that it’s a typical Sonic game (which was misleading), the review gives Sonic Adventure 2 a far more negative attitude.

Think back to Sonic the Hedgehog from 2006. It’s generally regarded as a terrible game because of its poor quality and the large number of glitches. And yet, despite this, the game can still be defended to the end by fans of the Sonic franchise, which can be witnessed in the comments of the recently linked YouTube video.

My point is, a player’s sentimental value isn’t justification for the quality of the title, and Sonic Adventure 2 doesn’t deserve the average score it received in the author’s review — given the context. Contextually,the review essentially states that Sonic Adventure 2 is a relic that belongs in the past. Clearly, the article was written using the, “how the title plays by today’s standards,” approach. Given that the conclusion is that the game doesn’t work now, the review score fails to reflect the review. If the author had, perhaps, elaborated on his opinion then maybe the reader could see and understand the reasoning behind this score, but otherwise it just goes baseless.

Upon contacting Lee Price, the editor of Gaming with Lee Price, I discovered that this is actually an issue with how The Sun handles their less significant reviews. “[The review] was done by a freelancer. I think it should be considered that it was crunched down to fit space,” Price said to me over Twitter. “Sometimes things get lost in translation when they’re stripped back — it wasn’t like it was given a 1/5, though.”

In this case, a freelance author wrote for The Sun only to have his review chopped up into tiny pieces. Whilst that’s understandable given that it requires physical space, I can’t help but wonder if it could have been handled any better? The purpose of a review is usually to help the reader reach an informed opinion on the title, but the review talks less about the game and more about the history. I’d say that’s making the least efficient use of the space available.

As for our brief conversation, Price was very reasonable over Twitter and understood that this was something that needed to be addressed. He said, “[…] it’s something we’ll take on board from now on, the ‘shorts’ that appear in paper will be expanded for online, so to give fuller explanation etc.”

Also, the screenshot that the review displays is from a mini-game stage in Sonic Adventure and not from Sonic Adventure 2. Thanks to a now-deleted commenter on the offending article for pointing out this fact that I somehow missed. I guess that’s something else that The Sun, as a whole, would need to address though.

Edit: Fixed text-alignment for the paragraph starting, “Think back to […]”. Also toned down some comma splicing in the previous paragraph.

Second Edit: Corrected my mistake. The screenshot depicted a stage and not a mini-game. It was an easy mistake, considering the similarly styled sand-boarding stage is regarded as a mini-game within the title, but my mistake all the same. I’ve also changed the URL to be less misleading.

Third Edit: Added a border around the source image to make it more clear that it’s a separate article.

Videogame reviewer and student videogame developer, located in Scotland. Founder of the Gaming Advance blog.

Can be reached at the email address: CrashScreen@GamingAdvance.com.

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