Myths and Legends

Myths and Legends
How to Devour the Flesh of Your Ancestors

Colin Rowsell | 25 Mar 2008 12:57
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It didn't have to be product reviews and teenage screaming anymore. Weirdly enough, you can write about some things without discussing them directly at all.

I say game reviews should be the next king on the death tree.

Zzap 'em again

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To an 8-year-old boy stuck in New Zealand, the British gaming mag Zzap!64 was heroin, pornography, fast cars and chocolate all rolled into one.

This was 1987. I didn't actually have a Commodore 64, an Amiga or anything capable of playing games beyond Zork. But every month, I'd save up money from washing dishes and gathering firewood; I'd beg, borrow, lie and whine; and I'd get this weird bit of pulpy goodness straight from Ludlow, England. There was Julian Rignall with the awful rat's tail haircut, savage Katie Hamza, weird Scouse Maff, tiny Paul Glancey, elephantine Gordon Houghton and, like all good British magazines, a letters editor with a paper bag over his head. They'd conjure up worlds of imagination that were just out of reach, spin mad stories about what, when you came down to it, were 8-bit pixellated blobs on a screen.

I loved it. This was my prepubescent Teen Beat. This is what happens when kids get hold of commercial fantasies and aren't fed enough Ritalin.

Nowadays, of course, the internet's here, New Zealand has running water and phone lines, and cynicism's been invented. Game reviews, even good ones, seem just a little bit pointless. Another 1,500 words about the graphics, sound, characters, backstory and multiplayer? More weird logarithmic scales where 8.954/10 is a good score but 8.872 is awful, given that nothing in the history of the universe ever seems to get below a 7? Save me.

Is this the kind of game I enjoy? Is it a good game of that type? Should I buy, rent, borrow or ignore it?

For answers I head to the forums. Gamers With Jobs, NZGamer.com, even MMA.tv. I'm 100 percent satisfied with the "ask real people" reviewing system, and thank you, by the way, for pointing me to Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. Wouldn't have spotted it myself.

Something like Zero Punctuation, of course, drives a fusion-powered battering ram through the whole equation. And more power to the mad bugger - for starters, I have enormous admiration for anyone who can exist at all in Brisbane without heavy medication. I do wonder, though, what it feels like to be Ben Croshaw; here's a guy who clearly has at least 40 different kinds of serious talent, yet every time he does something strange, like (God help us!) praise a game, they jump on him like wolves.

Better at least than being a videogame site trapped like a bilge rat between its readers, reviewers, advertisers, and Kane and Lynch.

Byline of the dead
The Gamespot/Kane and Lynch mess was a taste, a tiny drop, of how tired, shambling, swollen and cynical journalism can be. At its all-too-frequent worst, it's nothing more than a zombie exploitation flick; barely covered tits and advertising on the left, brutal devouring of victims on the right. Nothing wrong with zombies, oh no, or nudity and cannibalism for that matter, but when they're lurching towards you clutching tape recorders and contracts, shouting questions, and slipping horribly on a river of blood-stained money ...

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