Shack Chat: What makes a video game a 10/10 to you?

It’s a question almost every gamer has asked themselves at one point or another in their lifetime and there’s honestly no right answer. Even here at Shacknews everyone has their own opinion on what makes a game a 10 out of 10, or if such a thing can even […]

What makes a game a masterpiece? What makes it a 10/10? This is a question that we argue about a lot here at Shacknews as we have never given a perfect review score to a game since instituting scores in 2013. I always end up having to use examples of games. Super Mario World is video game perfection, in my opinion. Tetris for Game Boy? Perfect. 10/10. Star Fox 64? Yep, that is a 10/10. So this topic is clearly going to result in a lot of subjective answers, and that is fine. From a reviews perspective at Shacknews, I can say that Doom 2016 and Breath of the Wild were two games that came very close to scoring a 10/10 on our very discerning scale during my time as CEO.

I tend to not put too much weight into review scores, myself. I prefer to read the review and look for hints to whether a particular game might be up my alley. In a world of embargoes and Metacritic, websites have to apply scores to games, but I really don’t think the number matters in the end. Maybe someday there will be a game that owns so hard that Shacknews has to give it a 10/10. That game will certainly be a masterpiece.

Think something like Half-Life, the original Doom, Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Metroid, Super Mario RPG, Tetris, Final Fantasy VII, Street Fighter II, Halo: Combat Evolved, Journey, Portal, and (yeah, here’s something nobody’s going to want to hear) Fortnite. They’re games that are not only great, but change the way people look at games, what they’re capable of expressing, and the way we’re able to experience them. Those don’t come along often anymore. Yes, it’s possible to find a game that pushes the known barriers of gaming to the edge, but it’s extremely rare that a game comes along that actually shapes the way in which we think of gaming itself.

It’s also important to remember, particularly in the case of some of the aforementioned examples, that a 10 is not something one comes away with after a few weeks of review. In the case of the true greats, a 10 is something that stands the test of time. That’s not something that can be determined by a standard review cycle.

As the reviews editor I have taken a very hard stance against the concept of there actually being any 10/10 games out there in the current market and I’ve stated to the Shacknews crew on several occasions that the likelihood of us publishing one while I’m here is slim to nil. That’s not to say I don’t think there have been any 10’s, I just haven’t seen any in the time that I’ve been a games journalist and critic. I’m willing to admit that some of this point of view may be a result of cutting my teeth at GameRevolution, a site that had been around for about the same amount of time as Shacknews and had never given out a perfect score to any game while I was there, just like Shack. It’s probably one of the reasons I fit in so well here….

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