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Seriously, it's bad and you shouldn't read it. -Dustin

Game Review - The Pinball Arcade (Xbox 360)

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Reviews of video games do a poor job at highlighting actual, objective flaws of a game. In an attempt to solve this problem, I’ve created a rating system that highlights objective flaws over subjective opinion.

This review is basically an excuse to try this new review style. I’ll include all relevant grading scale info at the end of the article along with my personal opinion about the system’s flaws.

Objective Score


A few tables have major known issues. For example, you can permanently lose a ball on Ripley’s Believe It Or Not during multi-ball, and this bug forces you to quit your current game. I highly recommend not playing a table when it is first released, as you can easily earn achievements that refuse to sync with your online account, forcing you to restore your profile if you want the achievement to count.

Every machine in The Pinball Arcade has an issue of some kind. Gorgar has a weird bug where gameplay audio completely shuts-off. FunHouse has a bug where music tracks can overlap. Cirqus Voltaire has a bug where it tries to launch two balls instead of 1 at the start of the game. So on and so on. Someone on the Internet can tell you all about them!

Subjective Writeup

I love The Pinball Arcade. It may be buggy, but it’s my all-time favorite pinball game because it has many of the best real-life pinball machines available at a reasonable price. It’s seriously good fun even if you don’t love pinball, and I’m sure that Farsight Studios will fix the major bugs at some point. Right? RIGHT?

About the Objective Grading Scale

Each game reviewed is assigned an objective score. The highest score is 5/5, and the lowest is 1/5. The objective score, as the name implies, is not based on the reviewer’s personal preferences or crazy ideas about what a particular game should be. Instead, it is based on the number & severity of bugs and (in very rare cases) design decisions that have a significant negative impact on enjoyment of the game for many people. The whole design decisions thing could be a little subjective…

What ratings mean

5/5 - This game has only a few minor bugs.

4/5 - This game has many minor bugs, but nothing that completely breaks the game. OR The game only has a few minor bugs, but has some serious design problems that impact gameplay.

3/5 - This game has a few serious, game-breaking bugs. These include lock-ups, massive slowdown, input lag, and save corruption issues.

2/5 - This game has many serious, game-breaking bugs. If a game tends to crash every 10 minutes, it gets this score.

1/5 - This game has so many game-breaking bugs that no one should play it. Games that fail to load on a test system/console get this score.

Example games

5/5 - Most modern games fall under this category. Examples include Bastion and Portal 2.

4/5 - Some modern games and many older games fall under this category. ‘Slightly buggy’ examples include many open world games like the Saints Row series. Games under the ‘serious game design problems’ category are rare but include Team Fortress 2 (which has a history of class balance problems but few serious bugs). Outdated game design is not enough to bring a game down to a 4/5 rating.

3/5 - Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, and Dungeons of Dredmor are buggy enough to earn this rating. Sadly, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City also falls in this rating to its save corruption bug.

The 2/5 and 1/5 ratings are provided just in case. Few games worth reviewing actually go there.

Possible Problems with This Review Method

Fantastic games can get a 3/5. This review illustrates one example: The Pinball Arcade. Personally, I can overlook its many flaws, and it is my favorite game of 2012. But it gets a 3/5 on this review scale.

Terrible games can get high scores. I have not played Duke Nukem Forever, but I’ve seen plenty of gameplay footage. What I saw of DNF was so repulsive that I cancelled my pre-order and swore never to trust anything that comes out of Randy Pitchford’s mouth ever again.

People will be confused by the meaning behind a game’s score. The Internet doesn’t seem collectively mentally prepared for objective reviews. The Internet isn’t ready for anything except for fart jokes.


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