This post isn't meant to be a bashing of the gaming media and the idea of scoring games. A ten point scale or a thumb rating makes sense. But, I think it really goes beyond that when you look at what games are getting the incredible reviews. It's a rare occasion where there is a game that is made for a broad reach and market that gets 9/10 or higher.

Yes, some of this has to do with the fact that as much as it may or may not innovate, it's hard to get excited for a game franchise that comes out every 12 months or sometimes sooner (yikes). But, a lot of this does have to satisfy a lot of gamers, and it should be reviewed based on trying to satisfy its audience of all of planet earth. Even the greats like Mass Effect suffer from this to an extent and may even concede to creating different game modes for different audiences which opens a huge can of worms as to which version of the game do you review (FPS?, RPG?, Mixed?). The best reviewed games seem to take what they do, know their audience, and cater to them very well.

I'm sorry, but here comes the time to bash Nintendo, simply because they keep boasting about their review scores as being high enough to make people buy their console for one or two 9+ game. Take New Mario Brothers U. or the newly released Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze or the ever popular and controversial. All three games got high 8s and 9s across the major reviewers and media outlets. But, there's something that is present in almost all of the reviews of these games.

There is a bias in saying that these games are exactly what you would expect from them. Mario U. takes the same 2D Mario formula, adds some graphics, reprises some mechanics (the squirrel suit isn't new, it's the super leaf that's been around since Super Mario 3). It's beautiful, well done, adds a few new twists, and is properly challenging. But, it's not going to bring in a huge market of people that didn't like side scrolling platformers. And it most definitely won't change the confusion of people who thought that 3D graphics meant that this was a new 3D Mario Game (in the vain of Mario 64 or Mario Galaxy). An 8.5 from Polygon and a "Play This Game" from Kotaku won't change this! Don't get me wrong, it's great fun and packaged with a Wii U, it's a nice game.

I'm afraid to say the same thing is true with the new Donkey Kong Country game. If you aren't even on the fence, the stunning graphics and inclusion of Cranky Kong won't make you say "I MUST HAVE IT, GAME TRAILERS RATED IT 9.2!"

This isn't limited to long running franchises or Nintendo either. For me, the Tell Tale games have this affect as well. I see the great scores, I talk to people who just have an immense amounts of fun playing them. But, the game play style of a point and click mixed with some action elements just doesn't appeal to me. No high score will change that.

In fact, I would go as far to say, that unless a game's dynamics, story, etc change the genre enough to demand people take notice, reviewers should explicitly say that this game appeals to ___. I totally agree that a game like Donkey Kong is deserving of its high scores, we shouldn't change that. But, its interesting to find that the same media outlets that are giving glowing reviews also say in other areas that even though it's a spectacular example of its genre, it just doesn't do enough to pull in that many gamers from outside of its genre.

On the other side of the coin, there are games that transcend their barriers. The kind of game that says "I know you don't like RPGs but look what I can do". The first thing that comes to my mind is Guacamelee. Usually, I am not in the mood to spend more than two seconds on a side scrolling Beat 'Em Ups unless I'm at an arcade machine. I got Guacamelee on a Steam sale and was hooked. They took the genre and added enough fun (story line, pop culture references, game mechanics) to where I played for days (a rite reserved usually to lengthy RPGs and open world adventure titles).

A similar phenomenon happened to me with Papers Please and Fez as well. It's these types of games that a great score really can get more than just the people on the fence. I'm not saying that I would have purchased these games at full price (although now having played them I would). But, some type of innovation, a certain undeniable uniqueness warranted a try (more likely a trial) of these games.