The MEGA STATISTICAL REVIEW SYSTEM is based on a 100 point scale. There are five categories on which the subject is judged upon. These categories are:
Mechanic: How the game works mechanically. This could also be named “gameplay.” The best way that I can describe this is with an example. Compare Sega’s NFL ’97 to Madden 1997. Madden works better because of the mechanics, how the game plays. Getting plays to happen is simple and understandable in Madden, while passing is a fucking geometry experiment in NFL ’97. Compare Croc to Super Mario 64. In Croc, the combat system is lackluster and physics are a bit off. In Mario 64, everything works almost perfectly. Stuff like that
Presentation: How the game is presented to the player. This could be as simple as an awful menu system or more complex, like a confusing camera, a boring and mandatory tutorial, or something of the like.
Control: How the game controls. It’s as simple as that. Some games will pass this section with flying colors, and others will fail with a distinct lack of flying colors.
Design: How the inner workings of the game are designed. This means level design, character design, difficulty, and others that could fall into this category.
Atmosphere: Story, audio, and visuals primarily.
The scale starts at fifty points. Each category can gain or lose up to ten points. The lowest that a category may receive is a -10, highest is +10. A completely neutral category is scored at 0.
Along with these five categories, I will assign “extra credit.” These extra credits can have whatever point value I assign to them. If a game really blows me away in some aspect, or if it exceeds in an aspect that is not measurable within the five categories (Very rarely should this particular instance occur), it will receive some extra credit. Extra credit may also be taken away if it blows me away in the opposite sense.
Does that make sense? No? Hopefully I can explain this to you with my review of MYST for the 3DS, a bargain port of a PC adventure classic. Upon original release, MYST was praised for photo-realistic graphics and being very immersive. Adding a 3D element to a game known primarily for being immersive is a smart idea. How was it pulled off?
CURRENT POINT TOTAL: 50 Points, as nothing has been added or subtracted yet.
Mechanic: In MYST, the main character (which is you) wakes up on a deserted island called MYST. You must solve a number of complex puzzles to figure out the mystery of the island, provide justice to the few who are trapped there, and, most importantly, find your way off. The whole game is based upon solving these puzzles. In order to get to the levels of the game, called “Ages,” one must first solve puzzles linking parts of the island to where the portals to these “Ages” are contained. This may sound confusing, but that’s because it is! A few of the starting puzzles make sense (The mechanical and channelwood ages) but the rest require the player to use absurd logic (or excellent hearing in one case) in order to piece together the clues to get to the actual levels of the game. Puzzles will be covered more in the “design” category. The mechanics of MYST work well enough, however, and this gets a positive six, for a score of very good.
CURRENT POINT TOTAL: 56 points
Presentation: In this 3DS adaptation of MYST, the presentation has changed somewhat from the original releases. Very little text ends up being used, outside of the books in the library and the few loose pages found throughout the game. The menu and saving systems are intuitive enough, and shouldn’t confuse anyone. One positive addition comes in the form of new abilities to help the player throughout the game. When I originally played this, I had to take notes so that I could remember puzzle clues. Most of these came in the form of crude drawings, and they weren’t terribly accurate, especially when it came to audio based puzzles. This version allows the player to take notes in the game itself, via an onscreen typewriter, though I’ve come to realize that it’s a little difficult to use. Instead of having to draw out notes, the player may now take screenshots of what needs to be remembered. This helps out in the parts where clues from library books need to be used to solve puzzles, and in one certain puzzle involving a harpsichord. These would be immensely helpful if they worked well. They don’t. Only one picture can be saved at a time, and the typewriter can only save three lines at a time. In my first play through the mechanical age (arguably the simplest one), I had to stretch my resources out. If this port included a bank of pictures, or even just a notepad that one could scribble on using the touch screen, it would be incredibly helpful. Honestly, even with these additions, a pen and notepad is still a better alternative. The maps of the island and all of the ages are accessible as well. The additions are minor, but they are at least somewhat helpful. For effort, I suppose it receives a positive 2 for a score of slightly above average.
CURRENT POINT TOTAL: 58 points
Control: This is a point-and-click style of game. The DS is a great platform for these types of games, because of the touch screen on the bottom. That concept is fairly simple, and any decent designer should hopefully understand this. What I’m about to tell you will shock you.
MYST for 3DS does not utilize the touch screen in actual gameplay.
The touch screen’s only uses are for saving, taking screenshots, and utilizing the typewriter mentioned in the previous section. This is one of the only point-and-click games available at the moment on 3DS, and it picks the circle pad over the incredibly more accurate touch screen. That baffles me. Yes, in order to play this game, the player utilizes the circle pad and the A button. This leads to incredible inaccuracy. On top of that, there’s a problem with collision detection in some cases! I don’t know how a company can fuck up the control on a point-and-click game, but Maximum Games did it. Congratulations. Are you happy with yourselves?
This gets a score of negative 8 for a score of awful.
CURRENT POINT TOTAL: 50 points
Design: Some of the puzzles in the actual ages are pretty good. Some are nonsensical in nature, however, and those tend to stick out more. Do not play this game in public, as many of the puzzles are audio based. These puzzles are generally challenging and rewarding, and it feels great when you solve one for the most part. Keep a guide handy just in case, as some of them are really unfairly difficult. There’s little to say on something positive like this, but they’re pretty good. Therefore, this earns a score of positive 4, for pretty good.
CURRENT POINT TOTAL: 54 points
Atmosphere: MYST was praised at release for having great atmospheric qualities. The photorealistic graphics, lifelike sounds, and ominous music led MYST to be considered a work of art by many. In 2000, it was recreated in the form of RealMYST, which was rendered in real time, unlike in the original, in which all screens were pre-rendered. This version is a little strange, as it takes the images from RealMYST and pre-renders them like in the original. It plays like the original game, but with upscaled graphics. However, these graphics are heavily compressed. The whole game looks like it’s played through tiny jpeg images blown up to unnatural sizes. The sound is still pretty good, however. The story has not been changed in any way, and it remains one of my favorite video game stories of all time. MYST uses no direct human interaction until the very end, all communication done via scattered letters and messages left behind, books, and portals in books. The final aspect is the 3D integration. An immersive experience such as this would be enhanced
greatly with the use of 3D. But this port uses absolutely no 3D integration.
This may as well be a DS game. In fact, there is already a DS game. You can find this DS game for around ten dollars fewer on Amazon, and the promotional images seem to show that it uses the touch screen for navigation! Nobody else seems to like that port either, but if you really want to play MYST on your 3DS, you’ll get an arguably better experience with the DS version. You can also find this for 5 dollars on the iPhone along with the sequel, and at the very least, you won’t have to deal with the crushing disappointment that comes from realizing that there is no 3D integration.
The game’s original atmosphere is great, but the failed porting and lost potential makes this incredibly terrible. It gets a negative 8.
CURRENT POINT TOTAL: 46 points
Missed Potential: -10 points. This could have been great. Instead, the laziness on the developer’s part in porting this game makes it feel even worse.
FINAL POINT TOTAL: 36 points out of 100Do not purchase this.