Reviewing Smash Brothers X -- what's in a label?

By Alex Kierkegaard / February 8, 2008

Dairantou Smash Brothers X is the Japanese title of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, just in case anyone doesn't know. This game is very significant for me, and I will try to partly explain here the reason why (partly -- not fully, you see. I am saving something for later.)

You see the US version is scheduled to be released on March 9, whereas the Japanese one has been out since January 31, and I am expecting to receive it in the mail any day now. So the dilemma I am facing is this: play the crap out of the game for a couple of days and write a review, which will then have almost a whole month to get linked everywhere and give me a couple extra million hits; OR, forget about the review, play the game in the background just for fun between other games, and simply wait three-four months until the guys at SRK have fully dissected it, then PM the dude who seems to know the most about it and ask him to review it for me.

What makes this decision frustrating is that my review of the game after a couple of days of playing it will probably end up being better than all the other reviews that will start getting published around its US release. I mean it's not like THE OTHER guys will actually play it for longer than a couple of days anyway; and besides I am smarter than them, know more about fighting games than they do, and can write better. So if I did a "quick and dirty" review I would be betraying my own mission statement, in a way, but I would still be delivering something better than anyone else.

What's even MORE frustrating is that if people (and search engines) weren't so stupid, I could have had my cake and eaten it too. What I mean is that if people weren't so fixated with the word 'review', I could have written and published my superficial review in a couple of days, got my extra couple million hits, and then three-four months later I could also have published the in-depth one. However, if I wanted to do that while staying true to my ideals I would have had to label my own review as "impressions", because that's what it really would be. And here's where people's stupidity comes in: the blogroids and forumroids link and discuss the fuck out of everything labeled as a "review", whereas they pay little attention to anything labeled as "impressions". What's more, anything with the word 'review' in the title/URL would get ranked much, much higher in a Google search for "Super Smash Bros. Brawl review" than anything labeled as impressions. The fact that my impressions will contain more actual criticism than the others' reviews has little bearing with either forumroids or search engines: what matters is the label.

So what do I do, dear readers? A review, or simply my first impressions? Two million extra hits, or a clear conscience? (Note that in both cases the published text will be exactly the same.)