I was talking with some people lately about the lack of decent reviews on the Web, and started thumbing through some old bookmarks to remind myself what sites were out there. Also, it’s hot in my apartment and I’m putting off getting any work done by doing something that requires very little thought. And since nothing requires less thought than a series of brainless, one-sentence rants, I hereby submit to you the first ever State of Gaming Reviews on the Internet report.


Game Revolution is currently my favorite review site, with a couple of caveats. The writers have clearly played way too many games in their lifetimes, and their jadedness sometimes leads them to be harder on a game than it necessarily deserves (there’s a silver lining to this: when they review a truly bad game, they really lay into it). Also, they don’t cover the GBA at all, which is a shame, because there are some really great games being released for that platform. Still, they’re one of the most honest sites around, and if a game meets their unreasonably high standards, you can be confident it’s at least worth a look.

Gamespot and IGN are the largest mainstream gaming sites, which means they have the broadest and most up-to-date coverage. Unfortunately, they are also plagued by hordes of ads (Flash, pop-up, clickthrough � pick your poison), and much of their content is locked off in paid-subscriber-only areas.

Gamespy’s writers are the meatiest of meatheads. Gamers.com is even meatier-headed, and their reviews are painfully short and uninformative. Their advantage is similar to that of Gamespot and IGN: well-fundedness and broad coverage.

Gaming Age is extremely average. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything unexpected in any of their reviews. But they’re popup- and lockout-free, so that’s a point in their favor.

Tokyopia is run by a bunch of English-speaking writers and developers living in Japan. The reviews they have are insightful, but there aren’t very many of them.

GameCritics requires (free) registration, so you’ll want to have your Hotmail spam-bucket address handy. Their mission statement (gag me with a spoon) states that they want to “Redefine the grammar of game criticism and mainstream perception of videogames,” whatever that means. I’m all for a deeper level of criticism and all that, but the problem with this site is that they’re not actually smart enough or well-educated enough to pull it off, so all their reviews come off sounding that paper you wrote in college where you didn’t actually do the reading and are just trying to fake the prof out by tossing in some completely unrelated “heavy” thoughts.

Insert Credit is mostly focused on niche 2D genres: fighters, shmups, GP32 games, etc. Their reviews tend to ramble, sometimes amusingly, sometimes gratingly, but they’ve got about twelve times more personality than most “graphics + sound + control = score” reviews, so they’re worth a read.

Toastyfrog was recently shut down by its sole proprietor, but I’m going to mention it anyway because the Megaman reviews are high-quality, and the Evangelion Thumbnail Theatre is much less painful than watching the actual series.

Games Are Fun is like the anti-GameCritics: they’re a bunch of high-school- and college-age fanboys, they write like it, and they revel in it. They somehow manage to have a pretty good newsfeed, though, often delivering freshly-translated rumors from Japanese and European sites.

The GIA was my favorite gaming site for a long time, and may be the best site ever for fans of console RPGs. Unfortunately, it shut down a year and a half ago. The link goes to a mirror, because some insane person felt so strongly about it that they decided to save the content for posterity and downloaded the site in its entirety. If there’s an old RPG that you’re thinking of playing, the review archives are definitely worth checking out.

Gameforms is at about the same level as Games Are Fun, but without the obsessive rumor-mill. At least they stopped claiming to be the “spiritual successor” to the GIA, whatever that was supposed to mean. They had one great idea a while ago: play through the obscenely-long Dragon Warrior VII and keep a running diary of your progress. Unfortunately, they didn’t even have the good graces to follow through on that concept, simply giving up halfway through when the writer got bored.

I’m not sure if Crunk Games is meant to be a public site, or if it’s just a “let’s post articles for our friends” site. It could be that there are thousands of people that I don’t know about, waiting breathlessly for reviews of imported vacation sims. But they have actual former GIA writers on their staff, which may make them more of a “spiritual successor” than Gameforms.

I’m sure there approximately eight baquillion sites I haven’t mentioned, mostly because I don’t know about them. I’m open to suggestions of non-sucky sites. And I take comfort in the fact that no matter how bad any of the above sites are, they’re still less painful than reading EGM.