The Five Worst Gaming Articles of 2005 (The Final Battle)
Last Friday I brought our readers the first half of my list of the five worst gaming articles of 2005. Today I bring you the conclusion to that article, but before we discover who conquered the number one and the number two slots, I would like to make mention of some notable articles that did not quite make the list.
All of you should know by now that GamePro is a member of the flock of gaming media outlets that is entirely devoid of any sense of professionalism. Reading their reviews is akin to watching a WWF match where Hulk Hogan wrestles against some complete no-name. Hulk Hogan is not going to get pinned by the Great Pickle and Halo 2 is not going to get a three out of five rating. Their website is a mess of advertising and their writers care about as much about gaming as I care about knitting.
A perfect example of GamePro's complete lack of integrity can be found in Vicious Sid's preview of the Xbox360 game Saint's Row. Vicious Sid raves about how great Saint's Row is, but the real point of his article seems to be some sort of bizarre grudge he has with Grand Theft Auto.
It's official. In 2005, the year of Our Lord, the bloody reign of Grand Theft Auto is over. Sure, it's still walking, talking, and killing with mindless, murderous abandon. But it's as dead as a spent bullet.
I'm not going to defend Grand Theft Auto's honor here, but claiming that one of the best-selling game franchises of all time is dead because you got to see an alpha demo of an unreleased title for a newly-released console does not seem particularly smart to me. Don't get me started on how derivative Saint's Row sounds. Unfortunately, there is no accountability in the gaming media. Saint's Row could be the worst game ever, but Vicious Sid will be back to write a glowing preview of Saint's Row 2 because none of the readers and none of the publishers really give a shit. Do I need to remind you guys that Gamespot wrote a rave preview of Black & White 2?
But wait, I'm not quite done with Vicious yet. He closes out his anemic article with a brief Q&A with Saint's Row developer Jacques Hennequet. Let's see what sort of hard-hitting questions Vicious has for Jacques.
GamePro: Let's say I want to be a pimp. Do I have to go and find pimp-specific missions? […] GP: Earlier you mentioned that a player could complete the game by engaging in almost any activity you wanted. Roughly how many "professions" are there? Is there a central storyline?
Those are the only questions printed in the article. Do you think the public was clamoring to know about pimp-specific missions? The second question is a little better, but honestly it just seems like a setup to allow Jacques to brag about professions and answer the obvious. By the way, the answers Jacques gave are pretty much irrelevant so just fill in whatever response you would expect based on the question and you're probably correct.
Last Friday I spent a lot of time making fun of pretension in the gaming media. Sometimes this is simply writers taking themselves way too seriously and overestimating their own intelligence. Sometimes that pretension can take the form of a writer who gets way too deep into his or her material. Two great examples of this are the hilarious over-analysis of schlock killer game "Manhunt" by NTSC-uk and the towering IGN review of the extended DVD of the Fellowship of the Ring. I realize that second one is technically not a gaming article and is not from 2005, but it was published by a gaming site and is pretty much the longest review I have ever seen. If you have several hours and you're a masochist then check both of them out.
I think I have dragged my feet enough on today's top two spots. I am going to go ahead and say the name that many of you have already guessed: Tim Rogers.
Tim Rogers is the worst game reviewer working today. The man loves video games and video game culture. He seems to live video games. That sounds like a great quality for a reviewer and gaming journalist, but without the context of the real world he has become a living embodiment of everything that is wrong with gaming. When you live gaming everything you write on the subject becomes an introspective blog.
Tim obsessively name drops developers he has met, random Japanese words he learns and constantly strives to love the most obscure games possible. He spent an entire review fixated on the woman who sang a song on the soundtrack of the prequel to the game he was reviewing. He will ramble incoherently for upwards of twenty pages, jumping from topic to topic with little structure or point and lashing out at people who make fun of his ineptitude. He will philosophize and proselytize at an eighth-grade level and he will imbue even the simplest activity with intolerable quantities of forced quirkiness. For Christ's sake, he reviewed solicited GBA games using a system that involved riding a train around Japan.
Those and many other reasons are why Tim Rogers is the worst gaming journalist of 2005 and, to my knowledge, of all time. Picking out just two articles to use for this list proved to be nearly as difficult as filling the other three spots.
2. Tim's Epic Journey Through Animal Crossing (2002) on Insertcredit.com
Tim Rogers spent eight articles talking about Animal Crossing. Every single article is excruciating to read. I would like to start with an excerpt from the first article. I have bolded sections of text that are completely unnecessary to the article. While you are reading try to figure out which of these bolded sections should make you want to slap him in the mouth.If you're like me then all of the bolded sections and pretty much all of the text in between them made you start flexing your pimp hand. Let's see how he is doing by article number three.
I'm heating up a vegan burrito in the microwave when I hear the animal voice for the first time. It's a high voice, and it sounds almost like a whistle:
I jump around the corner, and look into the living room. There, in the middle of my big-screen TV, is a red Nintendo logo. When it fades, the Animal Crossing title screen comes up. Behind the logo is a train station surrounded by trees with falling pink leaves. An animal-like person with dog ears in an outfit with red and white horizontal stripes is carrying a black-and-white umbrella, and headed south, past a monkey in a porter's outfit. South of the train station, there are two houses. Outside one of the houses stands -- what's this? -- a gorilla. Outside the other house stands a rhino. No one told me they had gorillas and rhinos in this game!
And that music. It's a light kind of piano-jazz that reminds me of Earthbound so hard it almost knocks the wind out of me. Then the microwave beeps, and I run out to grab my burrito.Ah, still as horrible as ever! I should mention that Tim frequently includes chatlogs and IRC messages in his articles. That's nouveau journalism at its finest. Let's check in on Tim again near the end of article number seven.
I look back to my IRC. Someone's just entered the channel. I don't know who it is.
"Tim, are you still playing Animal Crossing?" they ask me.
Who is this person, and who told them I was playing Animal Crossing? I don't know. I don't answer."When I tell Clint I plan on buying neither an E-card reader nor a GBA link cable, he takes on a tone much like that one professor of mine who had to give me special brain tests because I was the smartest person ever that he had ever seen ever and he thought I was a calculator robot with IQ 5000……Earrrrrthbound.
When I tell Clint I plan on buying neither an E-card reader nor a GBA link cable, he takes on a tone much like that one professor of mine when I told him I wasn't going to take another IQ test.
Tim's in-the-trenches style of gaming journalism really only works for journalists who are, say, actually in trenches. We don't need to read the minute details of you reheating burritos and orgasming RGB semen across your 50 inch LCD because you heard Tom Nook babbling about buying your peaches. We don't need one paragraph of that, let alone eight articles. You lead a shallow and empty life that you try to fill with things you bought in Japan, just get over yourself and write the fucking review of the fucking videogame.
1. a review of sakura taisen v: episode zero, a videogame by sega/overworks/RED for the sony playstation2 console by tim rogers, aka 108 joestar, rockstar videogame journalist by Tim Rogers on Largeprimenumbers.com
Tim Rogers referring to himself as a "rockstar videogame journalist" is my favorite part of this impossible, unstructured and worthless 7,000 word abortion of a videogame review. Tim's spastic inability to write a coherent essay is only matched by his hilarious self-effacing faux egotism. Tim knows he isn't really a rockstar, but…wink! WINK WINK WINK! Tim is the kind of guy who would win a Magic: the Gathering tournament in high school and be really proud about it, but he knows everyone would think he's a total fag if he bragged about it, but he can't help himself so he brags about it ironically. "Yeah, you guys can forget about the big game this weekend, because I am going to be be…get this…building a new championship deck!"Here, Tim, let me help you pick up all these fucking names you are dropping all over the place. It's like a gossip column about retarded Japanese videogame theory. Tim's article includes two detailed reviews for entirely different games sandwiched into the middle of this review. These nested reviews are so incoherent that they amount to little more than babbling.
Can videogames be ironic? I don't know. Beat Takeshi's Takeshi no chousenjou, in 1989, was pretty ironic. It is ironic, mostly, because its final boss takes 20,000 hits to kill, and because it opens with a disclaimer that "The man who made this game hates videogames." That's irony in videogames -- hatred of the audience. A game, as I have covered elsewhere, requires the button-pressings of the player to continue. The reason people on videogame-website-related discussion forums feel so compelled to write long, long, long things about videogames is because they have to participate a whole lot more to see the ending of a videogame than they have to participate to see the end of a movie. The relationship between gamer and game is much unlike the relationship between needle and record-groove (that is to say, the needle loves the record groove and vice-versa, so says Tamio Okuda); the game has to love the player even when the player hates the game. If the game hates the player and the player tries to love the game, that is ironic. This says as much for the nature of videogames as it does for my ex-girlfriend.I would like to take a moment to apologize to the Japanese. The people from the United States and Canada that end up living in your country are almost all horrible and I am really sorry about that. Most Americans don't really love manga, Pocky and babbling for hours on end about obscure videogame minutiae.
For those who want to know the story -- read the manga. It covers the same story as the game, and it's better, even if the art is, well . . . kind of oddly cutesy, given the subject matter. If you haven't played the game yet, and are thinking slightly seriously about doing so, read this, and then reconsider:
So you're in the wilderness, with all of four hit points left. Hyakkimaru is near-dead-drained. You enter an area before a cave, Dororo says, hey Hyakkimaru, I'll go in here and check it out. The game then switches control over to Dororo. Dororo is weak and fast. His/her levels are always kind of short, and sometimes with really frustrating camera angles.
Tim Rogers talks around his review of Sakura Taisen v: Episode Zero. He makes obvious that he hates the game but he doesn't really inform the reader until the last several paragraphs. To make matters worse, Sakura Taisen v: Episode Zero sounds like one of the best games of all time.Sakura Taisen sounds like a surrealist work of staggering genius! Tim disagrees.
Well, in the end, it is revealed that Juanita is "The only citizen to survive the Battle of Gettysburg." This is spoken in 1927. The Battle of Gettysburg was in 1865. Juanita is ten years old. She is, of course, for some reason, immortal. The people of Gettysburg herald her return as a great omen -- "She can save us, now, from the evil!" The bad guys, revealed to be Confederate soldiers still nursing a grudge, then open a pathway to the Garden of Eden, where the scarfaced lead villain plans to make Juanita Eve to his Adam.In Franz Kafka's "Amerika" the Statue of Liberty holds a sword and the protagonist gets a job at a hotel with sixty elevators. Kafka had only a vague idea of the United States that he had gleaned from books and newspapers. I bet Tim Rogers totally loves whoever the Japanese manga artist version of Kafka is, so I don't think it's really fair for him to base most of the negativity in his horrific derailment of a review on the fact that the developers did not offer historical accuracy. It's a fucking game about giant robots getting kicked by horses. When a Triple Crown winner knocks the laser beams off a killdroid you can start hating on this game for taking some liberties with reality.
I am not a patriotic American. I don't live in the country, and I haven't, for a long stretch of my life. Yet I know at least a little bit about the nation's history. I know what Gettysburg was. If these Japanese game designers want to make a game a hit in America, the least they can do is open a damn book.
There you have it, 2005's worst gaming articles! As a bit of a postscript to this article I would like to take a moment to mention Tim Rogers' short article about getting fired from Planetgamecube.com. Yeah, that Planetgamecube.com. The one that took the number five spot back on Friday. They would have had number one if only they hadn't fired Tim Rogers.
This article may be only tenuously related to videogames, but it is one of the all-time great tragicomic moments of gaming up there with the time Derek Smart attacked a Coke machine at Take 2.
He looked down. I spied the top of his crew-cut head. He was dressed in a PlanetGameCube.com T-shirt and khaki pants. To his shoes, he mumbled, "Itwasniceworkingwithyou." The two large gentlemen he'd brought with him stared over my right and left shoulders. Maybe they were looking at my friends -- insert credit's own Doug Jones and Eric-Jon Waugh. With a heel-turn that didn't even almost suggest a movie-villain's flicking of a cape, the three were gone. Like villains in a children's movie, my companions and I were laughing out our noses in half a second.
Five minutes later, the three of us stepped up to the Ziff-Davis booth to accept shopping bags full of glossy, thick American videogames magazines. I lugged them around all day. At the end of day one of E3 2003, the ZD booth still had plenty of magazines. I felt kind of stupid for not waiting until the end of the day to pick up the magazines.
And I feel kind of smart now, with that shopping bag of magazines on my coffee table. It's two weeks after E3, and my website (yes, this one right here) has just been dubbed "Website of the month" by Edge magazine. I wrote half a novel in the last two days. At present, I've got a glass of cranberry juice -- the doctor's recommendation -- and a bowl of M&Ms, and I'm seconds away from launching into writing the best piece of gaming-related journalism ever written: by tim rogers.
See you, Space Cowboy.