Reviews: Zero Punctuation
Read in a fast voice
It's TVTropes law that if you want to write reviews, sooner or later you have to come to the topic of Zero Punctuation, and I'm going to try and review it in the style of the show itself, so expect some colourful imagery, lots of swear words, and less substance than a Conservative Party Manifesto. Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw pioneered a revolutionary new method of reviewing video games by not reviewing them at all in lieu of talking about them in exactly the same way whether they were irredeemable, terrible, bad, average, or decent; with the enthusiasm of a man viewing a documentary on prostate cancer. If he truly likes a game, he'll only imply a few times that it's worse than at least three murders, and the nicest thing he could find to say about Red Dead Redemption was that it was a bug-riddled time sink, which I imagine is why he later named it the third best game of the year. Yahtzee can be found on The Escapist, a website you can be banned from for not treating the creator of the thread 'Did Anita Sarkeesian fake the moon landing?' with enough respect, and while he is kind enough to be literally the only thing keeping them afloat, putting him next to Jim Sterling was a mistake on the same level as donating to a Keiji Inafune Kickstarter project. Jim has the comedic chops to make sure you realise his giant ego is a joke, whereas Yahtzee sounds as if he genuinely despises every fibre of your fucking being for the crime of watching his videos. And sorry to grab the lowest-hanging fruit but what the fuck was all that about Super Smash Bros.? A button-masher? A game in which the most advanced attack involves pushing a button and moving a joystick at the same time? Do you find telephones to be 'button-mashers' because you can't be bothered to take the five fucking seconds necessary to learn how to use them? But let's move on, lest he make another 'Mailbag Showdown' where he hunts down the only people on the internet who make less-cohesive arguments than he does and pretends that they represent everyone who disagrees with him so he can go back to being the smartest man in the Aphasia Clinic. In conclusion, you may be surprised to hear that I actually quite recommend Zero Punctuation. Most of my criticisms apply to the entire ten year series, and somewhere over the course of a whole fucking decade, he managed to learn how to shed most of these flaws, and while nowadays you can't step outside without a singing telegram advertising the Patreon of 'I Hate Your Favourite Games', we do need someone to play this role in the industry; going after the bad, mediocre, bland, and the could-be-better with the same kind of vitriolic disgust normally reserved for paedophiles or Piers Morgan. Besides, it wouldn't be fitting for a Zero Punctuation review if I didn't complain non-stop until admitting just before the end that it's actually pretty good.
Making the case that he IS a reviewer
We see it said of Yahtzee all the time: "His videos are funny, as long as you don't take his reviews seriously". At least that is what some fans say. Others aren't so positive. I disagree with the view entirely. Humour is an important part of his reviews, but I don't think the emphasis on humour is to the detriment of the critiquing. I do regard Yahtzee's reviews as reliable consumer advice and not just a giggle. People have a lot of preconceptions about what a professional reviewer should be like. They should be "Objective", "open-minded" and "well-balanced". I can't see the point because I am not necessarily objective, open-minded or balanced when it comes to entertainment, and I assume most other consumers are similarly temperamental. So why should we demand reviewers to possess some arbitrary qualities which do not factor into our own judgements? Can these critics really be trusted to be balanced? Does it even help? Yahtzee does not try to be a conventional reviewer. He talks about games in the same way your mate probably would; in the vaguest possible terms, emphasising the elements that stood out, bitching/praising odd details, and going off on wild tangents. Friends do not regard stuff like a professional critic, but the thing is that when people are buying games, their choices tend to be more influenced by their mate's advice as opposed to the critic's. A lot of it is down to the fact that you know your friends. You know their tastes and prejudices, and that helps a lot when forming a decision. I think Yahtzee does us a favour by being so transparent about his prejudices and preferences. Like my mates, I am able to contrast my own preferences with his refreshingly pithy and informal comments. I often find that more useful then the words of some faceless IGN reviewer. Harry Knowles puts it best: "...my philosophy [is that a] film review doesn't begin and end with the opening and ending titles. There is more to it. What we do and who we are affects the review. Instead of hiding that, I share it. You should know who your reviewer is, what he was anticipating and what happened to him/her on that particular day."
Ignore the insults, listen to the flaws
I'm not really a hardcore gamer and the few games I really like tend to be ones that Yahtzee seems to really not like (fighting games like Soul Calibur and Super Smash Bros for instance) but I still really enjoy his videos. Sure, he's nitpicky and will point out everything slightly wrong with a game but I don't hold it against him because I'm secure enough in liking the things I enjoy that I can admit they have flaws and still like them and I don't need Yahtzee to agree with me. Also, tip for watching him, don't take any of his insults too seriously. I never get any real malice from him when he, for instance, insults Amrica or Americans. It mostly feels like exaggeration and joking. There's a difference between his insults and his pointing out of flaws, ignore the former (unless you are one of those wonderful people who can take it in stride and laugh at yourself), listen to the latter and decide if the flaws are likely to bother you (but otherwise form your own opinion).
I was referred to ZP by a friend who told me he was "cynical". I watched him. I gave him a fair chance. I found... well, let's just say I was disappointed. First off - he's not cynical and he's not funny, even with my black sense of humor. He's more like a terrible version of Ren and Stimpy, a combination of grossout humor and "edginess". He once said that he enjoyed Twilight Princess more than Ocarina of Time, then immediately rubbed it in the "fanboys'" face, as if having that particular opinion somehow entitled him to something special. The rest of his humor is built upon jokes about fetuses, feces, and sex. As for cynicism? The only cynicism he shows is his shameless exploitation of his audience, giving them vitriol in exchange for view count. He even says this in his Psychonauts review. The actual content of his reviews isn't much better. Even discounting the nigh-constant anti-America xenophobia (let's just... not even touch that), he reviews games based on what he wishes games were like, not on how they are. The second would make him more useful as a reviewer, but no - his brand identity is a guy who speaks quickly about things he hates, so that's what he does. Even his rare positive review has very little content, even taking into account the sheer amount of words per video. Yahtzee is a master of talking without saying anything. He also puts brand favoritism ahead of the actual quality of a game - he would rather die than give Nintendo any positive attention, for instance, and anything in a series almost definitely will get panned unless it's a masterpiece. This is why I think he's not cynical - instead of taking the gaming industry as it is - an industry - he rants about what he wants things to be like. As if he could change it. That - believing that he can change the world - is idealistic. (Also, for all the emphasis he gives on games being art and creators being artists, his belief that sequels should not exist definitely limits the options of creators. No continuations, no spiritual sequels, nothing.) In any case, maybe you like him - I'm not saying you can't - but don't go to him for a fair review, and definitely don't go to him for any substantial humor.
Zero Punctuation is comedy first, opinion second.
Now, before I start, I'll admit I'm no paragon of virtue, and when I was younger I got upset because he bashed one of my favorite games, just like anybody else who at first, saw a Zero Punctuation video and figured that Yahtzee was just a ranting dick with an ego complex. However, that's not completely true. You have to grow a bit to enjoy Yahtzee. First off, it's important to differentiate Yahtzee the character with Yahtzee the person. This is easier than other internet personalities like Jontron because his character has a face (the stick figure in the videos with the trilby) and a voice (the fast paced breakneck talking that serves as the audio for his "reviews" ). Don't let your interpretation of his opinions in videos soak into your perception of him as a person. Second, when you watch a Zero Punctuation video, watch it videos for the comedy, not entirely the gaming insight. If you're going into a Zero Punctuation video with the intent of getting an opinion of a game out of it, you're not going to enjoy it. Enjoy the fast paced no-break speech and the vivid imagery Yahtzee so eloquently uses to get his points across. And remember, even games he gave GOTY awards to, he bashed. That's pretty much the point. Third and finally, don't just ignore what Yahtzee has to say about a game, because he makes a LOT of good points. He explains and interprets a lot of flaws that other people may not see or want to see, and that's a good thing, because even the best games can have flaws. He is very educated about gaming in general, his opinion should be interpreted as constructive criticism, and you never know, you may come to agree with one of his opinions about a flaw in a game or series that you never realized even was a flaw before he mentioned it. To sum it up, enjoy Yahtzee as an internet character with a talent for talking fast and giving your weird images in your head, not as a person to take opinions as set in stone. BUT, don't completely ignore what he criticizes, as they're all valid criticisms, just with the narcissism ramped up to maximum overjerk. Also, don't let it get to you because he bashed a game you like. Nothing's sacred, nothing's perfect, life's cruel, and a little dose of cynicism can do you good. He reviews games angrily for a living, he'll be fine if you disagree with his opinion on a game every now and then.
Mixed Thoughts On A Cynical Escapist
Honestly when it comes to Yahtzee, it's quite easy to gain a polarizing reputation. He comes off more as a comedian than a reviewer because of his unfairness in a lot of areas (Nintendo, anyone?) and yet, he ends up making me laugh every now and then. I won't lie when I say I feel rather mixed about his videos and to judge him based on all of said videos would be very difficult considering how many there are but based on what I've seen, I could then tell you: his ideals on what he thinks is "good" and "bad" are entirely subjective and ultimately, it's mostly his comedy that gets him views and not always his thoughts on whatever he's talking about. His comedy though, can be considered very amusing and yet, his thoughts can immediately either put people off or please his own fandom (who some took the PC Master Race, a phrase he made to mock PC elitists to heart) in which some would immediately follow his opinion like non-individuals. I believe he might be too cynical and not fair enough when looking into stuff he both likes and dislikes. I get the impression that overall he should consider the possibility to also not look skin-deep into unreleased games and possibly consider them for games he might possible like (or dislike either way) instead of judging it by it's cover. That would be appreciated. I find it difficult to take most of his thoughts seriously when he gives the impression that his opinion is factual (given when he says something is "good" or "shit") and everyone else he doesn't agree with is clearly not apparently given his video responses to comments (more a pet peeve than anything) though I have noticed he DOES actually like curtain things so that's nice, I guess. I would like to see changes that would hopefully make his show (Zero Punctuation) less polarizing and more enjoyable.
Is "Don't watch for the opinions" really true?
Many people agree that Yahtzee's mix of wordplay and crude humor is funny (I'm personally reminded a bit of Seanbaby). But there's this idea going around in the Youtube comments that his opinions are to be ignored and that he "doesn't like anything." or that he's "not a reviewer" Is this true? Yes and no. Let's look at the facts: Yes he does Accentuate the Negative in his videos. He said himself in his Arkham Asylum review that you don't come to him to hear how a game is good. So there's a good chance he will shit on some game you really like. But before you bitch about him not liking a game it's important to remember:
- He reviews a new game every week, meaning he puts up with a lot of shit AND that things that may seem fresh to casual gamers he's seen a million times
- He exaggerates for the sake of comedy
- BUT don't take that last bit to mean "he was just joking when he said my favorite game was shit" He may joke and use hyperbole but if he says he he thinks a game is crap that's probably his honest opinion.
Zero Punctuation: Don't assume that because he didn't like a game that you won't
So what do I think of ZP? In brief, I like it a lot. I find his humor generally witty and his reviews quite compelling. There are 2 things that I should probably state upfront though, he and I appear to have very similar tastes in games and if he enjoys a game its rare that I didn't enjoy it as well. THAT SAID his reviews are profoundly negative, and I quite frequently find that he will review a game negatively that I really enjoyed. Such as The World Ends with You, use your judgement if a game sounds like something you would like and other people are giving it good reviews, you should check it out. Honestly that should go without saying, and frankly is a disclaimer for all reviews. But what I find particularly valuable is that he criticizes, and harshly criticizes very popular games (and often very good games too). However the reason I think that this is helpful is that it lets me gauge whether or not a game has a deal breaker in it. Every so often I will come across a game that people seem to like, and has received rave reviews only to think 'this is it?' or '[blank] is a huge problem but no one mentioned it!' ZP tends to point those things out, so I find it useful to avoid games that have those sorts of pet-peeves in them, or at the very least be forewarned. In summation: ZP is a witty resource that you should consider if you are the type of gamer that can be turned off from a whole game due to what others often see as minor issues.
Don't Watch It For The Opinions
Let me get this out of the way: I don't watch Zero Punctuation to get Yahtzee's opinion. Why? Because he's not really an informative or trustworthy reviewer. He blows the tiniest flaws out of proportion, doesn't really elaborate on any of the game's features, refuses to review a game's multiplayer, even if it's a major part of the game(Yes, I know he doesn't like interacting with people and believes that games should stand on their singleplayer, but you can't properly review a game without even experiencing one of its features), and he has extremely strong biases that he doesn't even try to get past, his Nintendo and JRPG biases being the worst. He constantly bashes Nintendo fans, calling them nostalgia-blinded fanboys, and he always bashes the Wii, Wii U, 3DS, and just Nintendo in general whenever he gets the chance, and it's always irritating. All of these things, I repeat, ALL of these things, keep me from trusting his opinion. Yahtzee is a nitpicking, unfairly caustic critic. Good thing he's a funny man. His jokes are well-timed, don't wear out their welcome, and are extremely clever. Yahtzee is a master of wordplay, often including dozens of puns and even a BillingualBonus here and there. Don't get me wrong, he's not a comedic god, a lot of his jokes fall flat, mainly his America "jokes" which are just misinformed, unironic rants disguised as jokes. He calls Americans, stupid, fat, lazy, war-hungry people without a single goddamn hint of irony, and basically just generalizes all Americans in the most disgusting way. These "jokes" really just make me sick, even as someone who recognizes the many flaws of America. Aside from that, some of his gross-out jokes go past the point of being funny to just being gross. His aforementioned biases against Nintendo and JRPG's also form the backbone for a sizable number of his "jokes". IF you're an easily offended person, you will despise Zero Puctuation. I wouldn't reccomend watching it if you wanted a fair, informative review. But if you just want a giggle, then ZP delievers in spades. 6/10
Keeping the industry honest
Gaming needs the Yahtzee Crowshaws of the world. Unlike some angry reviewers, who get their kicks from bashing sacred cows, I'm not sensing any malice from the man. He even trolls his own fanboyism, i.e. Batman (a rich businessman who systematically breaks the kneecaps of the city's disenfranchised youth). The douchebag language is meant as a gimmick, a caricature of how people perceive him. He insults his own customers in the Mana Bar promo video, why would he go easier on his viewers? Are they really that thin skinned? The truth hurts, that's why it's the truth. Well, in full disclosure, I've always identified a bit with Mr. Croshaw. I too find fault with everything, not because I don't enjoy them, but because there's always room for improvement. And critical people are viewed as dour and negative, when really, we're the idealists. We're the Platos, the Oscar Wildes of the world. (Please don't imprison us for Failure To Be Sufficiently Cheery.) The tendency to keep your head down and go along with authority (or Sony publicists) is ingrained in our psyche, and it's something to resist. If nothing else, this Australian Nostradamus has predicted that AAA gaming will become closer to computer gaming, and thus less and less accessible, and more and more bloated and homogenized - possibly leading to another crash. So far reality has borne out this prediction. Ignore him at your peril.
Your Milage Will REALLY Vary
Zero Punctuation (and by extension, Yahtzee himself) is tough to really form an opinion on. On good days, he's actually pretty funny and hell, you may find yourself agreeing with him from time to time. I know I have. However, if he reviews a game you really like... Don't expect him to go easy. At his worst, he may just throw "This game is poo-poo!" rants at you and the humour can become outright disgusting at points. To say that one should take his reviews with a pinch of salt is an Understatement. The jokes he makes in his reviews will do anything from draw a laugh, cause a Face Palm and just instil rage in someone. In short, you should be fine if you don't take his reviews too seriously and possibly stay away from videos by him on games you like. Just don't expect "professionalism" from him.
Fails at being funny, fails at being informative.
Zero Punctuation is nothing more then the same tired trolling that you see on message boards spewed by 12 year olds about a video game they dislike. Spoken by a man that is living proof that just because you can make something, doesn't mean you're fit to criticize it. It exaggerates tiny details to the point where they become absurd, and not the funny kind of absurd either. These points are so trifling and minor that many people don't even notice them. Of course, that's just when he actually makes a point. No matter how minor. The other part the "reviews" is simple mindless railing about whatever he happens to dislike. If you see a game in a genre Yatzhee dislikes being reviewed, expect mistakes, Completely Missing The Point, and plain old lies. I can get what Zero Punctuation spews out by going to some cesspool message board and looking at trolls, so why should I watch something that's actually giving a man money for such slop? He's good at writing, as the Chzo Mythos and Mogworld demonstrate, so it's almost sad to see talent wasted with such puerile nonsense.
Pretty damn Good
This is by far one of the most sarcastic shows on the Internet. Yahtzee can give an honest opinion where other reviewers won't. The thing that sets his videoed apart are the graphics. They barely relate to the subject in some cases and are highly imaginative. The only problem is, for American viewers, he uses an awful lot of British slang.
Your Mileage WILL Vary
Yahtzee is...difficult to describe. On one hand he is creative, funny, and fast pasted, but on the other hand he's narrow minded, arrogant, foul mouthed, and pretty much hates every single game that doesn't fall into the VERY limited category of genre and quality that he likes. Take my advice and approach his show with caution, even though it is without a doubt as funny as they come and as a Halo fan I have found myself laughing my ass off at his jabs at Halo...at first. The thing is (for me at least) you can only listen to your favorite games getting bashed so many times before it gets annoying, funny as it is. Now I still laugh at his reviews but not as hard as I used to and there is a putrid taste in my mouth as I do so, maybe because he called the Halo fanbase a bunch of meta-cunts, joke or not. While I agree that there are jerks in the fanbase (There are some in every fanbase) he was generalizing rather horribly. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, Yahtzee seems to hate everything and not just in his reviews for the sake of comedy, he genuinely hates everything, I'm pretty sure I can count all of the games that he has admitted to liking on my fingers. After awhile I can't help but feel that his arguments can be really lousy, such as saying a game is bad because it revolves around cover based shooting. The thing about games is that they appeal to a certain crowd, and Yahtzee isn't in the crowd for anything mainstream. This wouldn't bug me so much if it he didn't state it like it was a fact instead of just his opinion, because in reality that's what critics do, they give you their opinion on the game. But like I said the reviews in themselves are downright hilarious but God knows I'm never actually going to take this guy's opinion on if I should buy a game or not. If you want to test the waters I would recommend watching a review on a game you've never played before as your first one and then imagine a review just like that on all games. If you don't mind watching games you like being torn to shreds, then you will probably love this show, if you don't, I recommend you steer clear. Some of you may say that I'm being harsh on Yahtzee but he himself has said that the worst thing you can do to an artist is say that their art is perfect when it isn't and God knows he isn't holding back, so neither am I.
What happens when caustic criticism, a total lack of objectivity, and misrepresenting facts combine.
I'm not going to comment on whether or not Zero Punctuation is funny or entertaining. That's not the problem I have with it, even if I think the jokes have gotten worse. I can't account for taste, so I can't comment on that. What I can comment on is Zero Punctuation as a review, and it fails horribly. Some may argue that he isn't meant to be taken seriously, but the sheer number of people who do take him seriously requires he takes his position seriously as well. People take his reviews for fact, or at least heavily consider them, and he does nothing to dissuade them, from somewhat minor things such as not mentioning you can change the controls of a game he hated the controls on, to outright lying in his review of Monster Hunter, where he portrays the first fifteen minutes of the game as the entire game. Looking at that review, if you paid attention, you could have noticed he never talked about actually hunting the monsters, nor did he mention that he quit the game, but he did helpfully use the last minute of the game to bash the wii, and the first minute to bash Japanese games. That's another one of the problems with Yahtzee; even if he isn't being disingenuous with his reviews, and manages to get his facts straight (A depressingly rare occurance), he has a blatent hatred of certain genres (jRPGs), series (Sonic) and systems (Wii). To go through all of those examples, Monster Hunter began with the first minute talking about utterly irrelevant Japanese games and how they all were either terrible or porn, and his review of FFXIII blatently stated he hated it (At least he was honest this time), his review of Sonic Unleashed spent half the time saying the series shouldn't exist and most of the rest complaining about the word werehog, and every game for the Wii he reviews, he states it is a horrible console for at least a minute, and, in some cases (Madworld) more time than the actual review. Overall, Yahtzee isn't just a bad reviewer; he's not even a reviewer at all. He's a humorist who, possibly due to his fame, possibly due to his fans gushing over him, believes he is a reviewer. That produces some genuinely frightening reactions, where ZP fans who have not played a game treat the opinion of somebody who has not played most of the game and rants about how all games in that genre are terrible as fact. That is the problem I have with ZP.
Hilarious is the only word i can think of
While sometimes i disagree with Yahtzee's statements, that does not stop me from watching Zero Punctuation. The jokes, and the frames that follow are extremely enjoyable. And at the same time, my sadistic side watches a review of a game i hate just to see it get bashed into oblivion. The times when he gets something completely wrong make me giggle a little bit, because they make me feel smart. It's a very enjoyable series, but you have to be in the right mood to watch it. What do i mean, well you'll see. While i love ZP, i understand the massive hatedom it has acquired over the years. Crosshaw is a guy that is extremely picky towards games, and outright bashes the kind of stuff that does not appeal to him. You know what i'm talking about, JRP Gs, cover based shooting, regenerating health, and of course, quick time events. And he is extremely biased towards old favorites of his, like Thief, Half Life, etc. Also, if you notice, he has an extreme bias towards Val VE. He hates multiplayer, but at the same time, he mentions that he played Team Fortress 2 a lot. And some of the jokes are often extremely rude, and overused. The queen example is his running gag, the triple cunted hooker. It's bad enough to think about it, but he mentions it all the time. Also, there is always a joke about sex, or being gay in his videos, and it gets old fast. Here's a fun drinking game for you, take a shot everytime Yahtzee mentions anyting involving intercourse. Trust me, you'll get drunk fast. But even though, i still enjoy his reviews, and if you want a laugh, and you don't mind some triple cunted hooker action, or the bashing of your favorite game, then Zero Punctuation is the Web series for you.
Definately flawed, but entertaining
Right. Let's face it - Yahtzee can be biased, hypocritical, and confusing. But, at the same time, he's entertaining. His style is funny, innovative and watchable. His "fuck everything" approach is a breath of fresh air. Not to mention much of his criticism still rings true. So, in the end, Your Mileage probably will vary.
An Important Part of a Balanced Diet
One of the things that was for a time lost, but is slowly returning is the idea that objectivity is a vain goal. Once a long time ago people understood that all regardless of their credibility media came with a slant and they calibrated their sensibilities to compensate. Knowing your reviewer, or to broaden the scope further; knowing your source, is an essential part of being a thinking consumer. Zero Punctuation is a review show. It is a biased, caustic review that vastly overemphasizes things that you or I might never even notice, much less care about, but it is still a review. It is not a review that can be taken alone but what it does is offer a different opinion, a different perspective. I can read ten IGN, Gamespot, Gamespy, Game____, or whatever else reviews and I can honestly say that if you swapped the bylines I wouldn't be able to tell. ZP is impossible to mistake for anything but ZP. The humor is a welcome sweetener to make the actual reviewing enjoyable but there is a worth while and nutritious core to the show. It is a core that you need to take well salted, but that should be true about anything. Long story short if you are lazy and cannot be bothered to do more than take people at their word ZP is good only for a chuckle. If you have the savy and discerning mind that can extract truth from a constellation of differing perspectives then ZP is a vital stop in your quest for an accurate review. Why? Simply because it isn't like the others. It may be wrong, it may be petty, it may be biased against something you like, but if you know the reviewer, which you should because he wears his allegiances on his sleeve, then there is a great deal that can be learned.
He needs to remember who he is
Ben Croshaw is a funny man, his reviews are full of biting wit and clever puns that elevate him above the average angry dick. This review isn't about Yahtzee the comedian, its about Yahtzee the critic, and frankly, he's terrible. Good critics need two things, a discerning eye that can break a work into what it is, and enough objectivity to separate what you like and what is good. In the beginning his hatred was a joke, and his reviews were critical humor, that has changed, Yahtzee wants to be a "serious" critic now and he makes humorous criticism. I'm fine with that, but if he wants to be taken seriously, he should become a good critic, look at the good things in what he reviews, there can be humor in that too. His style is criticism for the sake of criticism. In one review he despises sandboxes, in another, no options. He derides plot heavy games, and is bored by action ones. New game play elements? Untested crap. Old game play elements? Be original. If there's elaborate character design, its cluttered. If the design is simple, its boring. Mortons Fork is a fundamental law in his critical style, and for a while, I thought it was a joke, but he acts seriously sometimes, he compliments good games, and tries to be a guiding voice for his audiences gaming needs. Yahtzee is changing, and I don't think this change is working, he's on a crossroads, and I hope he makes the smart choice and moves back into comedy, or at least brushes up on his critical style.
Zero Punctuation: helpful acid.
Sometimes people ask "Why can't we have constructive satire?" Zero Punctuation is satire aimed at modern video games. The purpose of satire is to attack and destroy, but despite appearances it is not necessarily nihilistic: satire is the acid you pour over something you love in the hope of burning away the bad bits. Zero Punctuation is most effective and amusing when Yahtzee locks onto something we've all known is horrible at some level, but no-one has yet crystallised this knowledge. His coarse graphics and caustic gags are great at cutting through the surface gloss of modern games and getting to grips with the laughably idiotic. Hopefully game designers watch Zero Punctuation and take positive lessons from it. Yahtzee might squarely place himself as bitter and misanthropic, but no-one gets that worked up unless they love the genre. As other reviewers have noted in different ways, being a satirist is a poor fit with being a critic. This is the essential weakness of Zero Punctuation and of satire itself. It wouldn't be Zero Punctuation if you had any chance of telling a good game from a bad one, as seen though Yahtzee's eyes.
If you like it, you'll like it.
Zero Punctuation is one of those things that you either have the taste for or you don't. Its detractors claim is is nothing but rapid fire, aggressively negative, psudo-animated, gimmick fueled opinions on often perfectly functional games. Its fans reply simply with "And?" I myself enjoy the series, and I am not a gamer. I own no consoles, but do play the occasional PC game. But I enjoy the cynical and jaded style that seems so British. What is more, I can't remember the last time I saw a bad review of something. Even games that I have played that have been, quite frankly BILGE have received reviews that ended "not perfect but worth a look, 7.5/10." 7.5/10 is not a low score. 4/10 is a low score, 7.5/10 is a high score. If you take ZP and put it next to a magazine review you run a decent chance of making an informed decision.
Extra Punctuation is better.
Why is Extra Punctuation better? Because Zero Punctuation is hamstrung by several things.
- The fact that ZP is a video series, and especially that it's one that originated on Youtube with its eleven-minute length limit. It's a lot harder to go into depth with something when your videos are expected to be roughly five minutes long.
- The fact that ZP is a comedy series. Not saying that comedy can't be informative and insightful, but the requirement to make jokes reduces the number of informative things he can say. Because there are things that need to be said that just aren't funny.
- Similarly, people expect ZP to be as negative as possible, and Yahtzee himself has said that saying good things about a game isn't funny. Basically, Extra Punctuation actually gets to be honest.
- People basically rant constantly at Yahtzee to review something despite him not really wanting to. I think it makes him vindictive. See: Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Final Fantasy 13.
Take a third option.
He's your friend. (Well, not actually your friend. Croshaw hates people who try to befriend him up front.) Are you going to go to him to see what he thinks of a game? Yes. Are you going to expect him to be totally neutral about it? No. You know this friend of yours hates (insert genre here), dislikes certain aspects of games, probably hasn't played through most of the game, or is making assumptions, and, since you do have other friends (do you?), you're not just going to rely on him. And, by admission, he's probably blatantly wrong about something in the game. And you certainly expect that, because he's not (for the purpose of this analogy) a professional critic. Like any friend in real life, you're going to take what he says with a grain of salt. Maybe two grains. And then laugh when he starts cracking jokes.
Croshaw is a brilliant humorist
I will honestly state that I don't play current gen console games. No, I'm not some idealistic connoisseur type who believes 16 bit games are more pure. I'm just too cheap to get an XBOX 360, PS 3, or (lord help me) a Wii. I watch Yahtzee's reviews because they are hilarious. The jokes don't seem to be quite as good as they once were, and I can see a little bit of sameness fatigue setting in, but when he gets a quality target to bash it's still as good as ever. I'm a sucker for witty commentary and his fast paced and profane Take Thats to Screwed Up In Production and Genre Ripoff games, as well as genres he Doesn't Like are funny and worth watching.
Has he jumped?
I once wrote that I jokingly say he jumped the shark when his voice changed, but now has he really? I've begun to think that something I'm not sure what has changed in his style and now its less funny, oh its still interesting to watch and there's moments of true brilliance and charm here and there and I eagerly refresh the page every Wednesday thousands of times to make the internet moles run faster anyways where was I? Yahtzee, right. I think he needs an editor or some sort of creative assistance at this point I think hes exhausted his own abilities to keep the same level of "Laughs per minute" as high as it was during say his review of Crysis or the Witcher. He has things to SAY but I don't think hes at the point where the things he chooses to record are necessarily the funniest he COULD have said. I am not an expert at whatever subjective study of humorology that would be relevant to this review and can be discounted at your leisure but I do have an opinion that's been kicked around my head a few times and will try to put it into words. Anyways, his humor in the beginning seemed to be more along the lines of him liking to play games but upset with the BS developers shove down his throat and meanders around between trying to make a point and talking about the game deconstructing both, either, or something. This works this was funny especially some of his more hilarious tangents but it seems he went from someone who didn't take what himself says only half seriously to thinking or at least implying to me that everything he says is WORD OF GOD and anything less isn't worth his or my the viewers time and I think this shift occurred somewhere around his Webcomics review which was a whole show dedicated as a thinly veiled Take That at Ctrl+Alt+Del, yes everyone can have their opinions but hes already given arguable constructive criticism to outright bashing on his own website did he HAVE to dedicate an entire episode on something 90% of the Internet already agrees with him? Basically it seems like there has been a gradual tonal shift from something "fun" to something "serious" and heavily prone to constant "anyone with an internet connection should already know" Take That's. In short he went from Working the Gameplay and Story Gnomes to Death to working the Graphics and Gameplay Gnomes to death.