Thursday, October 25, 2012

About the ESRB....

When I got my Nintendo 64 it came with three games, two I won't mention here because they're irrelevant, but the third is, it was called Mace: The Dark Age and it was rated M For Mature, ages 17 and over.
Well because of the time period it was made in naturally I knew it couldn't be as realistic as it would have to be to earn its M rating, so I stuck it in and played it for a bit.
When I was done, I felt a little odd. The ratings board, which parents, stores, gamers and reviewers put so much stock in to keep certain content out of the hands of children had gotten something wrong, the game didn't deserve its M rating, it didn't even deserve a T rating, the pixels that made up the blood were the size of dimes, and the characters barely looked human in the combat arena (not counting the hell-knight, which doesn't look human at all) and the "heads on spikes" looked.... Like pictures that had been dropped in front of spikes and had red confetti thrown about. I cross-referenced the ESRB website to see if they had updated the rating for modern standards but they hadn't.
A few months later I got Rogue Squadron for my N64 because I had heard good things about it, I played it and found that I liked it. Again, the ESRB had gotten the rating wrong, it was rated T for ages 13 and up, but nowadays it'd probably be rated E or E10+, when I cross-referenced again with the ESRB site I found that they hadn't updated the rating for modern standards for it either.
Sometime after that I read about the "Hot coffee" patch for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and how the ESRB had upgraded it from an M rating to an AO18+ rating (which meant that almost all stores pulled it from the shelves), and then back to M when Rockstar removed the content from all future discs and made a patch that crashed the game if you tried to use the patch that was used to access the content and "Mini-game" I wondered how they had let that slip through, surely they must decompile the games to see if this exists right?
Fast forward two years, I had already played Goldeneye Reloaded on my Wii and wanted to see about an FPS I had read about in some old Nintendo Powers called Perfect Dark. At that time I had begun to not trust the ESRB ratings, but I checked out the website entry for it anyways, and found it was rated M. In Nintendo Power they said it had earned its M rating because it had swearing and blood in it. I convinced my parents that it wasn't that bad that the M rating was genuinely needed, and bought it. I played it for a bit and made a few comments on how unrealistic it was while I was playing it. Again, the blood was pixelated and the swearing was cleaner than you'd see on prime-time TV, nothing graphic, nothing that'd be censored on network television nowadays. At that point I figured out that in that time-period the ESRB must have either been on the take or completely and totally incompetent. Later on I played DooM, a game that has been given an M rating for nearly every release and re-release it's seen and I just....
It's even MORE unrealistic than Perfect Dark, it PALES in comparison in every way to modern FPS, which makes me wonder why they go by the original rating even with the datedness of it, DooM wouldn't scare a five year old, much less a teenager, so why don't they at least downgrade the rating to T?

It was at this point I found out that the ESRB doesn't play the games the rate, nor do they root around in the files to see what unused code and content is left from development that the devs were too lazy to delete, and therefore gets encoded into every copy of the game that is made from the master copy, they watch gameplay footage and cut-scenes from the game, and don't bother doing anything that might actually make for an accurate rating, more like one that hits in the general area. If they played it through, got people with experience to play them instead of a randomly assigned panel the five, and did a decompile to see what remnants are there from the development and maybe even play the beta/debug versions to see what was on there they might be able to get a more accurate rating on the games.

A while later I bought Devil May Cry 2 and by that time I was completely disregarding ratings on games. I played it a bit, saw the warning on the intro and found, that even though it warned of "Explicit scenes of blood and violence" that the blood was mostly blue (or purple, or pretty much nothing resembling red) and that that the blood and bodies vanished after the creatures were defeated. There was almost no level of realism to the game, for instance the guns have unlimited ammo, and Dante can leap off of buildings of any height and survive (which is more reminiscent of a Sonic game than anything ultra-real) and get hit square in the chest with almost anything and (as long the the vitality meter is fairly high) survive, and that he has gold orbs that can bring him back to life. They really don't have a good sense of the word "realism" do they?

At this point I consider ESRB ratings more of suggestions than rules, I don't know about the CERO, PEGI or other systems, but in my opinion the ESRB has absolutely no clue as to what they're doing, they over-rate some games and under-rate others (which is what led me to think they might have been on the take) but seeing as their process is so sloppy as to let things like the Hot-Coffee content through and to rate The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion T and then to re-rate it as M due to previously hidden content (with both sexual and overly bloody and violent content enabled by the aftermarket patch) Now, Bethesda didn't disclose the fact that the content was there but the ESRB didn't play the game to find out for themselves (nor did they re-re-rate the game as they did with GTA:SA when the anti-mod patch was released) which, although Bethesda should have come forth about the restricted content on the disc, does in no way excuse the ESRB for not putting more work into rating research, if they put more work into it, they might not get their accuracy questioned so much, and there would have been no fallout. Within that statement lies a question, should the ESRB put more work into rating the games they screen? In my opinion yeah, they need to at least put as much work into rating the games as the gamers put in playing. Some might bring up the Skyrim mods, or other user-generated content, but the ESRB has already said that it will only rate what is on the disc and in the expansions made by the company that made the game. Now, the ESRB isn't as dumb as it seems, they DID tighten their standards after both the Hot-Coffee and Oblivion incidents, but if they'd had a better system in the first place, they might have never lost face and I might still put stock in their ratings.
That's not to say you SHOULD disregard the ratings, like I said, they're usually right within one rating level, but that's not saying you should pay TOO close attention to what they rate games, especially ones older than ten years. Times and standards change, and so should the ratings, not just for games, but also for old movies and TV shows, the ratings should reflect modern standards, not the standards of the past. Most old movies would be rated G or PG but seeing as before a certain point they used an arbitrary system or no system at all the information to reflect against modern standards SHOULD exist. Perfect Dark and Goldeneye Reloaded should be rated the same by modern standards, and Rogue Squadron should be rated at maximum E10+. The ESRB may have its standards for rating new games, but they didn't bother updating the old ratings. DooM remains its old spritey self in every release it's had and that just seems lazy not to update the ratings. Seeing as open-source and community projects are coming to the fore-front it might be prudent to start a community ratings board based on the experience the players had with the game and what content the hacking and modding community found within the game.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

iPad mini

Not enough words in the world to describe how much fail this thing has in it.g vygvhjq

Sorry, the random letters are from me headdesking on my keyboard.dfrghc
Seriously, the original iPad was just a massive iPhone/iTouch, why make an in-between model?
y vg ftgvb  bb b
The only thing it has going for it is the price, $329 for the base WiFi model (Cheaper than the iPad2 or iPad3) but it's still more than the Nexus 7 model with the same amount of storage ($249), or the base Nexus 7 model($199) and the Nexus 7 runs an open-source OS and can have all kinds of cool homebrew on it easily, whereas Apple will release updates DETERMINED to circumvent homebrew.

I think you should go with the Nexus 7, I'll be looking into a tablet soon and the Nexus 7 is on my list.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nintendo vs SEGA anime

Well, they turned World War II into an anthropomorphic anime series, why not the console wars?

 It's called Aoi Sekai no ChÅ«shin de, or "In the center of the world blue" as translated by Google. It looks interesting and if I can find a place it's streaming I will watch it, but for now all you can say is it takes the console wars and the mascots of SEGA and Nintendo and turns them into....

Aw hell, unless you've been under a rock for the past decade and a half you know what's been going on.

Images from:


Yeah, I'm leading with that image. is reporting that EBGames is selling an SNES themed Wii U Pro controller around the 20th anniversary of the SNES, and launches on the same day in Australia as the Wii U.

Why didn't Nintendo make this to official controller instead of just a bland black or white one? It's a good thing I'm into modding and imports otherwise I'd probably never get my hands on one of these. I'm leaning towards making my own via paint and cosmetic changes to a third-party Pro controller, because I like to earn my cool.

You want one of these? Here's the link:

2012 Q&A

Well, after five days, a power-outage, and about three network errors I've finally gotten the video up AROUND the time I made my first post, I've got an interview coming up so keep your eyes peeled!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Various Reviews turns one year old!

Well, I just realized this, I started Various Reviews one year ago on the 19th. Yup, one year and 4,445 pageviews ago I was a fourteen year old kid with no idea what I was doing. Now I'm fifteen (still quite young) and I at least have a decent understanding of what to do and how to do it.

Well, on October 19th 2011 I founded so on that date I will do something special, a treat for having gotten me this far.

What is it? Well it's partially gonna be a surprise, partially going to be a Q&A, so submit your questions to:, I'll be awaiting your questions!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Skyfall theme

Well, the theme song for the new James Bond movie has bee released, following in the tradition of most (if not all) of the previous Bond films, it is named after the movie. Ladies and gentleman, feast your ears on Adele's Skyfall:

Sheer amazing, it's better than Goldeneye and Live and Let Die put together. As if I didn't want to see Skyfall enough, this is adding to my list of reasons to go see it!


I just watched Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, so no the last two movies didn't have the themes named after them (in my defense, Casino Royale was my first full Bond movie)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Sonic Adventure 2 HD and NiGHTS Into Dreams HD are being released today on the PlayStation Network. Gee, thanks for the vagueness in the release date SEGA I thought I had a little more time to get a GC copy of SA2, oh well. Anyone who buys Sonic Adventure 2 HD for the PSN gets a free SA2 theme, and anyone who buys the PSN version of NiGHTS gets a free NiGHTS theme, nice addons, I'll be needing a PS3 soon so I can review these games and Sonic Generations. SA2 HD and NiGHTS Into Dreams HD are being released tomorrow in the UK on PSN, and will be available worldwide on PSN and Xbox LIVE Arcade by the fourth of October.

In other news, Nintendo is releasing DLC for New Super Mario Bros 2. Yup, the 3D remake of NSMB DS is getting DLC packs, released on the fourth as well. Quote from the press release:

“Nintendo fans have really enjoyed the fun and competition of Coin Rush Mode, recently surpassing more than 100 billion total coins collected worldwide,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “These new packs offer completely new levels that fit into the New Super Mario Bros. 2 world, but offer new challenges that will keep players coming back for more.”
The packs being released on Oct. 4 include:
Gold Rush Pack: Fun new courses that give novice players the best chance to collect lots of gold, and veterans the chance to set even higher Coin Rush records.
Coin Challenge Pack A: The New Super Mario Bros. 2 website will track the rankings based on the scores for this pack, enabling players to measure their scores against other tallies from around the world in these more open courses.
Nerve-Wrack Pack: Intense new courses designed for veteran players looking for new challenges.
These packs can be purchased with the following procedures: Players who are connected to a wireless Internet  connection must first activate SpotPass in the game and receive a notification from New Super Mario Bros. 2.* After receiving the notification, the next time the player enters Coin Rush Mode**, a Shop icon will appear in the game. Players who have accessed the shop can then read information about the packs, including descriptions, difficulty ratings and the required storage space. As long as players have enough funds in their Nintendo eShop balance, they can then tap and purchase the packs they want all within the game."

Well, I'm no fan of DLC unless it's legit, and this seems to be legit, unlike CERTAIN companies models,
*glares at EA*

So, will I be buying these DLC packs for NSMB2? Probably not, I'm probably not gonna buy the game either.Will I be buying SA2HD and NiGHTS HD? Maybe, depends on whether or not I get a PS3 in the near future.

Sorry about the white text.

Materiel referenced:

Monday, October 1, 2012