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Games are judged on a Rating Scale from zero to four stars.  Generally speaking, these are based on four criteria:
  • Pacing.  Does the game feel like you're constantly accomplishing something, or just padding itself with filler?
  • Storytelling.  Does the game tell a good story as you progress, with memorable characters and strong emotional beats?
  • Variety.  Does the gameplay change up in interesting ways throughout, or does it all start to feel like you're doing the same thing over and over again with no mental component required?
  • Polish.  In general, how well the game is made; both for its time and the platform it was made for, and how well an older game holds up today.
In general, what each score implies:
  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - A genre-defining game and a must-play for any serious RPG fan.
  • ⭐⭐⭐✩ - Exceptional; a standout game that's well worth playing.
  • ⭐⭐⭐ - A high-quality game in most every respect, and one I recommend.
  • ⭐⭐✩ - Above-average; a good but not great game. Provisionally recommended.
  • ⭐⭐ - An game that equates out to being average or middle-of-the-road.  May have some strong or unique elements that make it worth a look, but these are generally balanced out with prominent faults (lack of a decent story, just-passable gameplay, a dragging pace etc.) 
  • ⭐✩ - Mediocre; while the game has some redeeming qualities, it's overall just underwhelming and forgettable.
  • ⭐ - A Subpar game; not quite enough to rank as "awful" but unworthy of your time regardless.
  • ✩ - Awful; this is definitely one to skip.
  • ⌧ - The Worst of the Worst.  Avoid at all cost.
Other labels
  • 🌈 - Contains LGBTQ+ friendly characters and themes.
  • 🎣 - Contains fishing. 
  • 🎵 - Great soundtrack.
  • 👑 - A personal favorite.
  • 💎 - Hidden gem; a game I personally think is underrated/overlooked.
  • 🐅 - Paper Tiger; a game I found to be underwhelming despite a massive amount of hype surrounding it.
  • 💰 - A game that's become quite expensive on the secondary market; prepare to shell out a lot if you're collecting.
  • 🗾 - Japan-exclusive; a game that never made it out of its home country.  Fan translations may exist.