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Review Crew
Did Critics Love Review Crew's 100th Episode in 2014?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 26, 2014   |   Episode 100 (Show Archive)  

When a television show celebrates its 100th episode, it's usually marked with a big celebrity cameo or super-sized episode. Unfortunately, the Review Crew budget isn't big enough for Paris Hilton to show up and a super-sized episode sounds like a nightmare to write. So instead of pulling out all the stops, we've decided to celebrate the Review Crew's 100th episode by answering questions and crunching numbers. So drop everything you're doing and get the entire family to gather around the screen, because we're about to talk about math and averages.

For those new to the party, Review Crew is the show where we see what critics said about some of the biggest 8-, 16- and 32-bit games back when they were first released. By using a deep library of classic video game magazines from the 1980s and 90s, we are able to crunch the numbers and offer an accurate consensus of what critics said back in the day.

Think the critics loved Dr. Mario when it first came out? Then you should read the original reviews!

While it's fun to read what magazines like GamePro, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Mean Machines and Die Hard Game Fan said twenty years ago, it's also fascinating to see how opinions have changed over the last two decades. I suspect most 21st century gamers would be surprised that Dr. Mario was deemed a big disappointment in 1990 and most critics HATED Altered Beast. You never know where these old school critics will come down on a particular game, and that's the fun of Review Crew.

In the show's 100 episodes, we've actually looked at 105 different games. Some of these include duplicate games, such as individual reviews for the Genesis and Super NES versions of Mortal Kombat. Sometimes there will be two games with the exact same name, as was the case with Disney's Aladdin. No matter how it happened, we ended up with 105 reviews in the first 100 episodes. The average score was 79%.

On the subject of numbers, we decided to go an extra step and break down the averages by system. Of the 105 games reviewed, the Genesis and Super NES starred in the most amount of episodes, with 39 and 35 respectively. Fanboys looking for a decisive victory will have to wait, because both systems are tied at 82%. The top ranked systems were the TurboGrafx-16 (85%) and Atari Jaguar (84%), but these high averages are likely due to only reviewing two or three games. The same is true for the worst reviewed system, Sega's 32X.

When we sort the scores based on year, 1993 is the clear winner with an 84% average. 1992 and 1994 are close behind, with 83% and 80% respectively. 1989's 70% and 1995's 71% are at the bottom, though both years only had a handful of reviews. Speaking of which, it's clear that 1991, 1993 and 1994 received the bulk of the attention in the first 100 episodes. Perhaps we'll need to spend more time in 1990 and 1992 in the next 100.

When it comes to the individual games, Final Fantasy III and Gunstar Heroes were at the top of the list with 94%. The Simpsons: Bart vs. the World was the worst, with a terrible 48%. Below is a list of every game we reviewed in the first 100 episodes, color-coded and sorted based on score.

Final Fantasy III (94%)
Gunstar Heroes (94%)
Disney's Aladdin (93%)
Flashback (93%)
Sonic the
Hedgehog 2 (93%)

Street Fighter II (93%)
Donkey Kong
Country (93%)

Super Mario
World (92%)

Battletoads (92%)
Dr. Robotnik (92%)
Strider (91%)
Ys Book I & II (91%)
ActRaiser (91%)
Castle of Illusion (91%)
World of Illusion (91%)
Streets of Rage (91%)
Ecco the Dolphin (90%)
Sonic the
Hedgehog (90%)

Mortal Kombat II (90%)
Streets of Rage 2 (90%)
John Madden (90%)
Mega Man X (90%)
Ninja Spirit (89%)
SF2: Special (89%)
Shinobi III (89%)
F-Zero (89%)
Tempest 2000 (89%)
Mario Kart (89%)
Mario All-Stars (88%)
Out of this World (88%)
Bloodlines (87%)

Flashback (87%)
Sonic CD (87%)
Mortal Kombat (87%)
Out of this World (87%)
Castlevania IV (86%)
Turtles in Time (86%)
Rolling Thunder 2 (86%)
Final Fantasy II (85%)
Rock 'N Roll
Racing (85%)

Mega Man 2 (85%)
Pilotwings (84%)
ActRaiser 2 (84%)
Golden Axe (84%)
Mega Man GB (84%)
Tetris (83%)
SimCity (83%)
Batman NES (83%)
Shadowrun SNES (82%)
Bubsy the Bobcat (82%)
Super SFII (82%)
Super Mario
Land (82%)

Phantasy Star III (82%)
Bart's Nightmare (82%)
Breath of Fire (81%)
Super SFII (81%)
EarthBound (81%)
Phantasy Star II (81%)
Sewer Shark (81%)
TMNT Hyperstone
Heist (81%)

Shadowrun (80%)
Disney's Aladdin (80%)
Mortal Kombat (80%)
Mortal Kombat II (80%)
Final Fight (80%)
Batman Genesis (80%)
DuckTales (79%)
Alien vs. Predator (79%)
Phantasy Star IV (79%)
Pit-Fighter (79%)
Snatcher (79%)
DuckTales 2 (79%)
Joe & Mac (78%)
Road Avenger (78%)
ToeJam & Earl (77%)
Bart vs. the
Space Mutants (77%)

Sonic Spinball (76%)
Mutant League
Football (76%)

Batman 2 NES (75%)
Legendary Axe II (75%)
Mario Paint (74%)
FF: Mystic Quest (73%)
Champions (72%)

Champions CD (72%)

Shaq Fu (71%)
Final Fight 2 (71%)
Streets of Rage 3 (71%)
Shaq Fu (69%)
TMNT NES (67%)
Knuckles' Chaotix (67%)
Dr. Mario (66%)
Night Trap (65%)
Joe Montana (64%)
A Boy & His Blob (63%)
Panic! (60%)
Mega Man Soccer (60%)
Altered Beast (59%)
Hard Drivin' (59%)
Final Fight 3 (56%)
Shadowgate (56%)
Godzilla (54%)
Fantasia (53%)
Bad Dudes (49%)
Bart vs. the World (48%)

Below are just a few of the questions we've received regarding Review Crew. While many of the questions we get are answered in the Review Crew FAQ, here are a few that deserve a bit more of an explanation.

Q: When did you come up with the idea for Review Crew?
Although we started the series just over a year ago, it's an idea that has been floating around for several years now. Originally, we wanted it to be its own site, similar to MetaCritic or GameRankings. After several false starts, we decided to scrap those plans and focus on something a little more manageable. The result was a series of YouTube videos that eventually turned into the series of articles you're reading today.

Q: There used to be videos, what happened?
Review Crew started out as one of several video concepts, which also included The Black Sheep, Great Moments in Bad Acting and fake Lifetime Movie Network trailers. Between pulling reviews, transcribing the reviews, writing the script, recording the audio and editing the video, the whole process was more trouble tha it was worth. After finding minor success with Aladdin: Super NES vs. Genesis (thanks in large part to Polygon editor Phil Kollar using it as research for a PAX panel), we gave up on posting Review Crew videos.

Six months after retiring the video series, we noticed that people were requesting new episodes. Knowing assembling the video would be too much work, we settled on a much more manageable template that simply published a synopsis of each magazine's review and added a short commentary at the end. The new design was a hit, and we quickly ramped up production to allow for a Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q: Has there been any pushback from magazines or their critics?
While most journalists have enjoyed reading classic reviews from both the United States and Europe, we have had one negative experience based entirely on a misunderstanding. Thankfully it was quickly resolved and we have been in the good graces of all major publications (both new and old). We hope this will hold for at least another 100 episodes.

Q: What are some of the most memorable reviews?
The most memorable reviews are always the ones that take you by surprise. Often it's because of how shortsighted the critic was at the time, leading to a few embarrassing moments. Below are a few of my favorite reviews, which are for Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario All-Stars, SimCity and EarthBound.

DIE HARD GAME FAN (September 1993)
69% out of 100%

"What a thrill, all of my bad memories of 8 bit in living color ... boing, boing, happy, happy. I'm sorry, but the old Mario games just haven't stood the test of time. The music and sound FX are great, but the control is too lose [sic] and it's all just too cuddly. I believe it's time to retire Mario for a more nineties character." -Skid

6 out of 10

"Sim City is sure to keep older game players and those who are into advanced puzzles like the Rubik's Cube entertained for hours. Personally, I'd just as soon have salt rubbed in my eyes. This game is slow and tedious and you can't even nuke the city when you get bored! Jeez!" -Sushi X

GAMEPRO (July 1995)
3.5 out of 5

"EarthBound can be amusing if you know where to look for the funny parts. Otherwise, the humor is too mature for little kids, and the gameplay is too immature for older gamers. This one is bound to fall to Earth sometime soon." -Sir Scary Larry
Q: When will you review my favorite game?
We are always looking for recommendations, so feel free to tweet your suggestions any time of the day or night. There are a lot of popular games we would love to cover, but can't due to a lack of reviews. Super Mario Bros. is constantly being recommended, but there are only two reviews from classic game magazines. If we can't review your favorite game, we'll usually let you know why, so keep those suggestions coming.

Q: Where do we go from here?
That's a good question. For now, we're taking the weekend off and going to bathe in our victory. Come Monday, it's right back to the regular grind. Next week kicks off a full month of Halloween-themed horror games. The Review Crew will tackle 15 of the creepiest, crawliest, scariest games released on 8- and 16-bit systems. It all starts on Monday when we review Corpse Killer by Digital Pictures.



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