- It's [EDIT: the day after!] New Year's Day, so why not try something new, eh? Sometimes we chat with friends of GameSetWatch on various IM services, and get ideas for columns or opinion articles. And when this latest one came up, we realized - why not just clean up and rebroadcast the conversation as a GameSetChat, if it's cogent enough?

In this case, it was Joel Reed Parker of Game Of The Blog we were talking to, and the particular subject was the Nintendo Wii and how game reviewers are treating the casual-focused games on the system. Some of this chat is well-trodden, but I think it does make some relevant points on how game reviews work - or don't - in the new Wii order:

Joel Reed Parker: Man, Wii third-party software really is bad... a friend got a Wii and was asking me for advice about party games and good games and such. According to the aggregate scores sites, not much.

Simon Carless: But I will say that conventional reviewers do a poor job of differentiating fun casual games from bad casual games - or just bad games, in my opinion.

JRP: I agree wholeheartedly. Same goes for kids' games also.

SC: Like Mario Party 8 has a 62 average on Metacritic's Wii chart, and so does... Heatseeker? Blimey. OK, we definitely need write something about this.

JRP: I didn't even seen the Rayman Raving Rabbids games as high as I thought they would be. It's all the predictable stuff - Mario, Metroid, Zelda.

SC: There's definitely a problem here - Elebits, Korinrinpa, and Dewy's Adventure are all worth checking out, and are lost in terms of scoring with markedly inferior games - even/especially from a 'mainstream' gamer perspective.

JRP: I literally have to tell my friend to be careful what she bought, as the Wii game quality control is almost non existent. I felt really bad for her. Another friend bought a Wii bundle (on Christmas Eve) just to be able to get a Wii, but actually took it back unopened because the games were so terrible.

SC: So there are two problems here - there's the fact that some Wii games that are casually aimed and look a bit like they might be good are actually completely terrible.

And there's the problem that if you go look at reviews/average reviews, anywhere past the Top 15 games on Metacritic seems to do a bad job of differentiating what the average Wii player would like. Looking at it some more, probably the best example is Wii Play, with an average score of 58. That's worse than Fishing Master or Spider-Man: Friend or Foe.

JRP:: I really thought that GameRankings would help the first friend decide what games were good - but I also know that she wanted light and fluffy gameplay, not 30 hour action adventure quests. I was baffled to see that the games i had heard good personal reviews of weren't even in the Top 20.

SC: Ah, here's another great example - my mother just got a Wii for Xmas back in England, because she liked playing Wii Sports when she visited his summer, and she loves the Bust A Move/Puzzle Bobble series. But here we have Bust-A-Move Bash! down with an average score of 53. That's ridiculous, given how fun the game is on a basic level.

Are jaded reviewers reacting to the pricing, or just having played about 15 versions of it before? This may be the moment in the history of games where the reviewers start diverging from the mainstream in a major fashion. It happened in movies a good few decades ago, so I guess we can't be too surprised.

JRP: The 'multiple versions' issue is probably the exact reason Mario Party 8 scored so low with the hardcore reviewers - yet another Mario party game they have to play though.

Talking of the casual element, I have a disturbing love for simple 3D platformers, and usually can't trust major review sites for a decent score/review. It would seem that only Dave Halverson and I can truly appreciate the artistry that went into Stuart Little 3 or Brave: Search for the Spirit Dancer.

SC: Well that, my friend, is something you and your priest will have to explore in more detail. But nonetheless, a good point has been made - who can I trust to tell me whether my mother would like specific Wii games, other than me? And what if I don't know anything about Wii games? This is a major problem.

Perhaps What They Play is along the right lines, but it doesn't actually differentiate along quality grounds. So what's the solution here? Let the Average Joe make his own mistakes after judging by the box covers? What a palava!

JRP: Yeah, there needs to be a middle ground between GameSpot and GamerDad. Maybe we all need to go back to Epinions or something?

SC: Not a terrible idea! Just like Yelp is handy for hands-on reviews of local businesses from Average Joes.