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Review Crew FAQ: What Is Review Crew and Why Should You Care?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 22, 2014   |   Episode 113 (Show Archive)  

   

With a name like Review Crew, you might think our newest show is just another excuse to review old games. But don't let the name fool you, because Review Crew is actually an excuse to go back in time and find out what some of the biggest (and most defunct) magazines thought of classic games when they first came out. And because we know you have some questions, we wanted to create this Review Crew FAQ that properly introduces everything you need to know about this unique show. Buckle up, because this is everything you have ever wanted to know about Review Crew.

QUESTIONS: What Is Review Crew and Why Should I Care? | How Does it Work? | Why Should We Trust Defunct Games? | How Do You Account for the Different Review Grades/Scales? | Why Are There No Reviews From Early Nintendo Power and GamePro Issues? | Why Do Some Magazines Get Counted More Than Once? | Why Do You Only Credit Certain Critics? | Why Are All the Reviews Between 1988 and 1998? | Why Do Some Magazine Covers Look Bad? | Can the Averages Change? | Can I Recommend a Game? | Do You Have a Horribly Outdated, Yet Still Funny Video on the Subject?
What Is Review Crew and Why Should I Care?
Love them or hate them, sites like MetaCritic and Game Rankings are a valuable asset for many consumers. Sadly, these review aggregators are limited to modern games. These sites are great at telling you what online bloggers thought of the newest Call of Duty, but they aren't equipped to look at Aero the Acro-Bat on the Sega Genesis.

This is where Review Crew comes in. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Defunct Games is ready to go back in time and see what Electronic Gaming Monthly, Die Hard Game Fan, Game Informer, GamePro, Super Play, Nintendo Power and countless other classic video game magazines thought of 8-, 16- and even 32-bit releases.

Believe it or not, a lot of opinions can change over two decades' times. Think everybody loved Dr. Mario when it first came out? Think again, because Electronic Gaming Monthly and other magazines gave it middling reviews. On the other hand, the largely reviled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game on the 8-bit NES received good marks at the time. You never know what these critics are going to say, and that's a big reason why you should tune into Review Crew.
How Does it Work?
A game must meet a few requirements before we will produce a new episode of Review Crew. A big deciding factor is the number of reviews. In order to post an episode, a game needs to have a minimum of seven different reviews. (Note: Multiple reviews can come from the same publication, just as long as each review is written by a different critic.)

It's important to remember that WE DO NOT PUBLISH EVERY REVIEW. Review Crew is not intended to be a comprehensive database of every review ever written. Our intent is to showcase the general consensus and most interesting reviews. Often we will only post two of EGM's four reviews. Even if they are not posted on the site, the two remaining reviews are still accounted for in the average.

Once all the requirements have been met, we copy the review for the world to see. Some magazines have incredibly short reviews that easily fit next to the cover artwork. However, this is not always the case. When a review is several pages, we tend to print the closing paragraph, which normally recaps the critic's opinion. Aside from cutting for length, Defunct Games does not edit any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use.

After the reviews are in place and the magazines covers have been scanned, we average all the review scores together and come up with a final score. If that's not enough, we also take a few minutes to put the reviews in context and summarize what the critics had to say. It's that simple.
Why Should We Trust Defunct Games?
Defunct Games has a review archive that is unparalleled. Over the last few years, we have archived tens of thousands of reviews from dozens of old school print magazines. And not just major publications like Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro, but also oft-ignored smaller magazines, including Sega Visions, Turbo Play and Insight.

The archive also includes a large variety of popular game magazines from the United Kingdoms. Although Defunct Games may be based in the United States, we want to make sure all voices are heard. We regularly feature reviews from Mean Machines Sega, Super Play, Computers & Videogames, N-Force, Megatek and other UK-based publications. And best of all, no matter where the magazine is from, we always provide the cover art for context.
How Do You Account for the Different Review Grades/Scales?
The problem with MetaCritic and other review aggregator websites is that every outlet scores their games a little differently. This was also the case in the early 1990s. Electronic Gaming Monthly, Mega Play and Super NES Buyer's Guide all used a similar 10 point scale, while GamePro and Next Generation opted for a 5 star rating. And then there's Die Hard Game Fan, Super Play and CVG, who all decided to stick with percentages, allowing for a perfect 100%.

In order to keep everything fair, we have to change a few of the scores. For example, EGM reviews are multiplied by 10, which means that if Sushi-X gives a game an 8 out of 10, we're counting it as 80 out of 100. GamePro requires a little more math, but it's not very difficult. If Slasher Quan gives a game a 3.5, we double the score and multiply it by 10, resulting in 70.

This is, for the most part, all we have to do to the numbers. Thankfully we don't have to factor in letter grades or a four star rating system, both of which would require us to alter the score in a subjective way. In that sense we lucked out. If you have more questions regarding the different review scales and guidelines, reach out on on Twitter at @DefunctGames.
Why Are There No Reviews From Early Nintendo Power and GamePro Issues?
The problem with the late 1980s is that few magazines were willing to give real reviews. Early GamePro and Game Players write-ups read more like previews than real reviews, and only Electronic Gaming Monthly was willing to hand out proper review scores. As a result, my database chooses to ignore the earliest issues of some magazines.

But fear not, because most magazines got the hint and quickly changed to review scores. Nintendo Power adopted a 10 point system in issue 5. It took a little more time for GamePro, who didn't make the switch until October 1990, a year and a half after the magazine's launch. Keep this in mind as we review 8- and 16-bit games released between 1988 and 1991.
Why Do Some Magazines Get Counted More Than Once?
You may have noticed that magazines like Electronic Gaming Monthly and Die Hard Game Fan often get more than one review, while GamePro is normally only counted once. No, it's not a conspiracy; we don't like EGM more than GamePro. It's like this because both Game Fan and EGM chose to print multiple reviews from different critics. There are times when these two magazines account for as many as eight different critics with eight different scores.

It's important to remember that WE DO NOT PUBLISH EVERY REVIEW. Review Crew is not intended to be a comprehensive database of every review ever written. Our intent is to showcase the general consensus and most interesting reviews. Often we will only post two of EGM's four reviews. Even if they are not posted on the site, the two remaining reviews are still accounted for in the average.
Why Do You Only Credit Certain Critics?
Although we always mention the magazine and show the specific cover, you're right that only certain critics get their names published. No, we're not trying to conceal the identities of critics we don't like. The boring truth is that not every magazine credits the writer. While it's always easy to name critics that write for Electronic Gaming Monthly and Die Hard Game Fan, the same cannot be said for Next Generation and Nintendo Power. On the other hand, GamePro keeps the writer's identity secret by opting for stupid pseudonyms like Scary Larry and Lawrence of Arcadia. To keep it simple, we only credit writers when there's a writer to credit.
Why Are All the Reviews Between 1988 and 1998?
For now, Review Crew is only interested in print reviews published between 1988 and 1998. It's nothing personal, but that's around the time when sites like MetaCritic and Game Rankings started their archives. Our job is to fill in the gaps before the proliferation of online review sites. We're very focused on a specific era of magazines and reviews, and we hope you also find this part of gaming history to be interesting.
Why Do Some Magazine Covers Look Bad?
As you're probably aware, magazines are made out of paper, and paper is easily bent, torn, smudged and wrinkled. In other words, paper doesn't always age gracefully. This is especially true when it comes to magazines that are 20+ years old. We're lucky most of these mags are still in one piece, let alone perfectly preserved.

Thankfully, MOST of the covers still look good. There may be a few dings and creases here and there, but we don't think it will get in the way of you enjoying the often bad artwork from two decades ago.
Can the Averages Change?
Even though our archive is filled with tens of thousands of reviews, it is still not complete. There are several smaller publications that have not been properly archived, as well as a few major magazines that are missing issues. Thanks to the internet and friendly donors, we are always updating the archive with new reviews and magazines.

Normally this doesn't impact the Review Crew Average, but there's always the possibility that it might. After adding new reviews, we go back and make sure each episode is still up to date. There have been times when we've added additional reviews, adjusting the score one way or another.

Unfortunately, we don't have a mechanism for alerting people to these updates. We may mention them on the @DefunctGames Twitter feed, but there's no easy way to advertise the changes on the Defunct Games site. We will continue to work out the kinks and make it easier to see what's new at Review Crew.
Can I Recommend a Game?
We want to hear from you! Is there a game you want to see given the Review Crew treatment? If so, then get a hold of us immediately and we'll try and work it into a future episode. Just keep in mind, not every game has enough different reviews to meet our requirements. But don't let that get in your way of recommending games.

Actually, that goes for the entire website. If there are particular games and systems you want to see covered on Defunct Games, then you need to drop us a line and let us know your thoughts. Sometimes it might feel like we're ignoring your favorite game, but with so many titles to choose from, it's easy to let one slip between the cracks. Do everything in your power to reach out and let us know what you think.
Do You Have a Horribly Outdated, Yet Still Funny Video on the Subject?
Actually, we do. Back when this show was primarily on YouTube, we created a funny little video that tried to introduce the world to the concept of Review Crew. It does a horrible job of explaining the show and the information is woefully out of date, but it's still fun to watch. See for yourself ...

Did we not answer your specific question? Are you still confused about Review Crew? Then maybe you should reach out and let me know on Twitter at @DefunctGames. And assuming that your question is worthwhile, we may add it to this list of frequently asked questions. Also, let us know what you think and if there are games you would like to see covered on Review Crew (or Defunct Games in general). Thanks for your continued support and we can't wait to show you what we have in store for the site.
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