Q: What do I need to have in my reviews?
A: All reviews must rate, on a scale of 0-100%, each of the following categories: Gameplay, Graphics, Sound/Music, Story, Control (if the game is an action/RPG or if the control in the game is an issue), and Overall. You must also include a detailed description, with clear and coherent backing, as to why you rated each category the way you did.
Q: What should I include under each category?
A: The categories should include descriptions of the following:
Gameplay: The mechanics of the game. These include, but are not limited to, battle system (is it active time battle, real time strategy, turn battles, etc.?), equipment/item procedure (how you attain, equip, use, etc. weapons, armor, and items), experience system (how you gain levels, if applicable), magic system (how you use magic, if applicable), game engine, or system (Job system, Materia system, Junction system, etc.), and movement system (whether _ overhead view, first person, or other).
Graphics: How the game looks as you play it. Things to consider here are character design (sprites, polygons), background design (sprites, polygons, prerendered backgrounds, still screens, textures, etc.), character animation (how fluidly the characters move, with what degree of realism they move, etc.), overworld and dungeon design (polygons, sprites, prerendered backgrounds, still screens, textures, etc.), any Full Motion Video, Computer Graphics cut scenes, Anime-style cut-scenes/still scenes present, magic effects (how the spells look as they are being cast, if applicable), how the backgrounds and characters look and move in battle, and the design of any menus or interfaces, if of note.
Sound/Music: How the game sounds during play. Both sound effects and music MUST be taken into consideration when rating this category. Things to rate under sound would be how realistic the sound effects are (does rustling grass in the game sound like rustling grass in real life?), how much variation there is in sound effects (do they keep using the same ones over and over?), presence and quality of voice acting in the game (is there any voice acting, and if so, how good is it?).
For music, some ideas would be quality of the recording (do the tracks sound like a bad MIDI or does it sound like a real orchestra?), emotional quality of the compositions (do the tracks evoke an emotional response?), memorability of the tracks (do you find yourself humming the music for a few days after you play the game?), number of different tracks (are there lots of tracks, or are there just a few?), and effectiveness of the compositions within the context they appear (are the sad tracks played during sad parts? Are the exciting tracks played during battles?).
Story: The plot of the game. Topics to analyze would be quality of the dialogue (was it poorly translated, or does it make sense?), originality of the plot (are you saving the princess, or are you exploring some metaphysical conception of reality?), development of the characters (do the characters seem to "grow" or change emotionally during the course of the game? If so, do they do it convincingly?), linearity of the story (do you have the ability to chose what you want to do next and have it affect the story significantly? Or are you led around in a specific plot path?), and an explanation of the beginnings of the plot itself (no spoilers).
Control: Mostly applicable in Action/RPGs. How the characters respond to your pressing buttons on the controller. Aspects to describe here include how responsive the characters are to your commands (does it take a split second to move them or does it take a few seconds?), tightness of the control (when you jump across the chasm, do you fall off prematurely, or do you make a perfect 4.0 landing?), and any Force Feedback features that the game might employ, such as Dual Shock or Rumble Pack compatibility.
Overall: How all the previous categories work together to create a whole game. This includes difficulty of the game (is it a cake walk or is it a nightmare?), the feeling you get from the entire presentation (is the game great, but held back by bad music or graphics?), any recommendations you have about purchasing the game (should other people buy it? If so, who?), and other miscellaneous, but relevant, comments about the game as a whole. When giving an overall score, do not just average the other categories' scores. The overall category is meant to reflect the idea that a game is not just the sum of its parts.
Q: How should I rate the categories?
A: Rate them on a scale of 0-100% based on your opinion of them. The rating scale is as follows:
100% = Perfect. You should probably stay away from this rating since nothing is perfect.
99-90% = Great. This is the equivalent of an A grade. Reserved for those categories that you believe are so outstanding that they are nearly perfect in every regard.
89-80% = Above Average. This is the equivalent of a B grade. Given to those categories which are more than satisfactory, but not the best quality ever.
79-70% = Average. This is the equivalent of a C grade. Given to those categories that are merely average. This does not mean that the category is bad, rather, it means it is on par with the majority of RPGs out there, and doesn't do anything out of the ordinary to catch the eye, ear, imagination, etc.
69-60% = Below Average. This is the equivalent of a D grade. Categories that merit this rating are sub-par or below that of most other RPGs out there. It says that there is a flaw in the category which hampers it somewhat.
59-0% = Poor. This is the equivalent of an F grade. For a category to receive this grade, it must present itself in such a manner that it severely detracts from enjoyment of the game, or is a source of aggravation. Care should be taken when giving anything below a 60, for that is an indication that the category is shameful or reprehensible in some way. A more moderate rating would be a 69-60%
Q: How do I submit a review to RPGFan?
A: All reader-written reviews are to be posted on the message board entitled "Reader Reviews." In order to post a review, you must be registered for the board. Once posted, site editors will evaluate and, at times, comment on the review. We do this to help the writer improve the review, and any comments are meant as constructive criticism. Once the review has met our standards of quality, it will be accepted for posting, and will be noted as such in the thread. Other readers will be unable to post comment about your review, and will only be able to look at it. If you are unwilling to put your work up to public scrutiny, however, do not post.
In addition, you must make sure that the review is proofread with few if any grammar/spelling errors. Reviews with significant errors will usually be noted by an editor in the thread. Also, please make sure that if you typed your review in Microsoft Word or any other program that uses automatic or "smart" formatting for punctuation that all smart punctuation is removed prior to submitting the review.
Q: What do I need to put in my review in order for it to be submitted?
A: You need to have a percentage rating of each category we rate (Control is optional for non-Action/RPGs), and place them at the top of the document in an easily readable fashion. You must also include your e-mail address, title of the game you are reviewing, and your name or handle (whichever name you wish to appear on the review). Example as follows:
Q: What won't be accepted?
A: The following will not be accepted:
Non-Spell or Grammar Checked Work: If it is evident that you did not spell or grammar check the text of your review, it will be rejected and you will have to resubmit it with your corrections in order for it to be reconsidered.
Missing Information: Reviews that fail to describe, accurately, your ratings for all of the categories applicable will not be accepted. Also, reviews which are missing pertinent scores, your handle, or your e-mail address will not be accepted.
Profanity: Make sure that you stay away from excessive (meaning any) profanity in your review. Words such as damn will be tolerated, but only to a point.
Spoilers: Do not give away any plot twist, ending, or surprise/cheat/secret in the game in your review.
Flames: Do not berate another reviewer, review, company, or site, in any way in which it could be considered libelous or hurtful.
Excessive Punctuation: Keep exclamation points, question marks, and smileys to a bare minimum in your review.
Graphics: Unless asked, do not include graphics files, such as .jpgs, .gifs, or .bmps in the text of your review.
Non-English Reviews: We do not accept reviews in other languages. If your review is written in anything except unbroken English it will not be accepted.
Poor Quality Reviews: This means any reviews that are unclear, overly biased, too short, too long, or simply not written in an intelligible style will not be accepted.
*Note: Reviews for games we have many reader reviews for will be subject to heightened standards of depth and must show a new, different opinion of the game than those of previous reviews. Failure to meet these standards in this situation will result in a rejection of your submission.
Q: What will be the legal status of the review once I submit it to RPGFan?
A: The review will, at all times, be the property of the author. By submitting a review to RPGFan, you are giving us permission to edit and format your review as necessary to comply with the standards of the site. If at any time you wish to have your review taken down or wish to alter your review, submit your request to the Reviews Editor, and your request will be handled promptly.
Q: How long will I have to wait to know if my review has been accepted?
A: Replies vary in length of time between submission and response based on the schedule of RPGFan's Reviews Editor. Average waiting time ranges from 3 days to 1 week.
Q: What is the difference between an editor review and a reader review?
A: A reader review is a review of a game written by someone not working at the site when the review was submitted. An editor review is a review written by one of the editors on staff at the time. A reader review can become an editor review when someone who, though not an editor at the time the review was submitted, has becomes an editor.
Q: Do the opinions expressed in editor reviews reflect the opinions of RPGFan?
A: No, they do not. No review on the site reflects the opinion of RPGFan, in part or in whole, whether editor or reader, and thus the opinions expressed by the editor should not be considered the opinion of RPGFan.
Q: What do the ratings mean?
A: The ratings and their meanings are as follows:
100% = Perfect. The reviewer believes this category is without fault in any way.
99-90% = Great. This is the equivalent of an A grade, meaning categories in this range are considered by the reviewer to be so outstanding that they are nearly perfect in every regard.
89-80% = Above Average. This is the equivalent of a B grade. Given to those categories which the reviewer believes are more than satisfactory, but not the best quality ever.
79-70% = Average. This is the equivalent of a C grade. Given to those categories that the reviewer believes are merely average. This does not mean that the reviewer thinks the category is bad, rather, that it is on par with the majority of RPGs out there, and doesn't do anything out of the ordinary to catch the eye, ear, imagination, etc.
69-60% = Below Average. This is the equivalent of a D grade. Categories that merit this rating are believed by the reviewer to be sub-par or below that of most other RPGs out there. It says that the reviewer believes there is a flaw in the category that hampers it somewhat.
59-0% = Poor. This is the equivalent of an F grade. For a category to receive this grade, the reviewer must believe that it presents itself in such a manner that it severely detracts from enjoyment of the game, or is a source of extreme aggravation.
Q: What exactly does the overall score mean? Is it a combination of all the other categories' scores?
A: The overall score is a rating of how the reviewer feels all the categories we rate come together to form a whole game. It is NOT the average of all the categories' scores, but rather is a totally independent score which reflects how the reviewer felt the whole game ranks on a scale of 0-100%. It is meant to show that a game is not just the sum of its parts.
Q: What do the captions next to the screen shots mean?
A: They are merely text to accompany the screen shot and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the reviewer, the Reviews Editor, or RPGFan itself.
Q: Where should I address questions not covered in this FAQ?
A: Send a Private Message (PM) to SenseiPhoenix.