Game Reviews from a Game Design and Development Point of View

Read any typical game review, and it’s quite likely that it will provide you with a quick summary of the plotline or storyline of the game, a comment on its playability and the actual gameplay (as well as how easy or difficult it may be), mention of any improvements over previous versions of the game, a quick take on the graphics and fluidity of the animation, and maybe a recommendation (or not) about whether you should go our and buy this game, NOW! And it will probably have a rating as well (5 stars, or 3 out of 10, for example).

These reviews serve a useful purpose, of course – they help provide consumers with a ‘third party’ recommendation about whether or not to purchase a particular game – but in the short form of 200 words or so, (which isn’t a lot of words!), there’s not a lot of space to provide a detailed critique of the game…

So it’s quite rewarding to find an ‘unreview’ that takes the time to “examine[s] the game design of [a] title and consider[s] some of the implications that these design choices had on the game’s audience”, as the post Super Mario Galaxy (from the Only a game blog) does.

The post assumes some knowledge of the game, so if you haven’t seen or played it, watch the following video review:

Read through the “review” (“Super Mario Galaxy“), paying attention to the following questions as you do so; feel free to search the Only a Game blog, or use the Digital Worlds custom search engine, to explore the questions a little more deeply.

  • What genre of game is Super Mario Galaxy? “Rushgames” and “virtual tourism” are also mentioned in the post in this context; what are the defining characteristics of “rushgames” and “virtual tourism”?
  • What is “kinaesthetic control” and how does it affect the gameplay?
  • What camera viewpoint is used in the game? What is a camera viewpoint anyway?
  • To what extent is two-player gaming supported in Super Mario Galaxy?
  • How is the notion of “lives” used in the game, and how does this compare to a normal use of character lives? What is the “normal” use of character lives in a game, anyway?

Another take on the “Super Mario Galaxy” development story can be found on the website, where there are a series of interviews with the Super Mario Galaxy development team.

  • According to the director of the game, what new move was created for Mario, and how is it initiated with the wiimote controller?
  • How was the music for the game recorded?
  • How does Shigeru Miyamoto, who was in charge of the design of Super Mario Galaxy, describe the gameplay of the Co-Star mode?

If you have a Nintendo Wii console and fancy trying out the game, you can find “Super Mario Galaxy” on (game guide); there are also several walkthroughs available – for example, check out this

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