Retro Respawn – What Makes a 100?

As those of you who have read my “RR” articles in the past will know, I’ll usually try to leave some plugs down at the end for other articles on the site. In last week’s column I added a link to Alec Hawley’s excellent review of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

Alec really enjoyed the game, to the point that he gave it an amazing 100 out of 100, and even went so far as to call it one of his favourite games of all time. Despite some naysayers here and there, the buzz surrounding Nathan Drake’s latest exploits has been exceedingly positive. I can easily believe this as I’m currently working my way through the Nathan Drake Collection and am really enjoying both the gameplay and storytelling.

However, most other reviews I’ve seen, even the gushingly positive ones, have maxed out their score in the 90-95 bracket. This is not to say that Alec is somehow wrong for gushing just that little bit more. At the end of the day, he’s only gone 5 extra % higher in the grand scheme of things, and the question could also be asked as to what the difference ultimately is between a 95 and a 100 score?

It seems almost a pointless distinction in some ways. Do those 5 extra points tell a story between two very different games? Does Alec saying he loves the game and giving it a 100 differ that much from another reviewer saying they also love the game but settling “merely” on 95? Because let’s face it, any time a critic gives a game/movie/book/play a 95 out of 100, you can be reasonably assured that not only did they like it a lot, but also that in their mind it was an excellent piece of art.


So, Alec giving Thief’s End a 100 didn’t alarm or offend me in anyway, but it did leave me to mull over whether I’d ever played an illusive 100% game. I think this comes down more to what you consider a 100% score to mean. There will be some who see a 100% game and will think that means it’s perfect and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. But surely every game is in some way imperfect at the end of the day? I certainly don’t think I’ve ever played a game where I loved absolutely everything about it and couldn’t find some flaw if I looked hard enough.

My two favourite games of all-time are Donkey Kong Country 2 and ISS Pro 98’, and even I’d tell you that neither of them are completely flawless. That doesn’t change the fact that I love both of them for very different reasons and would still happily play either of them today. But despite my love for both of these games, I still wouldn’t go the Full Monty on either of them and would instead settle at a respectable 95 instead.

Why is this? Why can I not bring myself to give them a 100? If I’ve already stated that perfection isn’t ultimately the deal breaker as to what is a 100 and isn’t, why can’t I give these amazing, yet imperfect, games a 100? What is it that stops me?

I guess it comes down to the ultimate critical cop out that they just don’t “feel” like 100s, so it wouldn’t feel right to give them that score. Is this me being overly harsh or is it more me having an idealised vision in my head as to what a 100 game is and being unable, for whatever reason, to reconcile that ideal in my two favourite games?

iss pro 98 dk2

Put it this way, I’ve seen a number of wrestling matches that I’d happily plonk a perfect score onto, but yet when it comes to video games, I think I could only legitimately do it once. That being said, it’s been a while since I gave a modern wrestling match the Full Monty. Again, there are a lot of 90s and 95s, but no 100s. Shinsuke Nakamura and Sami Zayn had an absolutely cracking match at NXT Takeover :Dallas, and probably have Match of the Year for 2016 already in the bag, but I still wouldn’t go 100% on it, settling instead on 95.

Am I just getting older and harder to please? Well, I’d say yes and no to that. I’d say no because 95 is a brilliant score and anything that gets a 95 out of 100 can be considered truly excellent. So, I don’t think I’m being stingy. However, at the same time you could say that I have an imaginary wall that’s blocking me from giving things 100s, unless it truly “feels right” to do so.

As it currently stands right now, there is only one video game that I’d give a 100 to, and that’s the original Super Mario Brothers for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Why would this game, of all the ones I could choose, be the only one to get a perfect score? What does it do that gives it that distinction for me? Well, there’s quite a bit that goes into it. Firstly, it’s one of the first games I ever played, which gives it a very fond place in my heart. It’s still imminently playable, despite now being nearly 31 years old, and still remains one of the most accessible video games in history while also still having enough of a difficulty curve that experienced video game enthusiasts can still enjoy it.


The graphics, despite being blocky and rough around the edges, seemingly have an everlasting charm that still stand the test of time. The music is instantly recognisable and catchy. It is a game with the definition of mass appeal with people of all ages and skill levels being able to find something that they’ll enjoy.

It also has historical significance, as it both revolutionised and rescued console gaming in the mid to late 80s. The industry was on its arse until this game turned everything on its head. It quite simply has everything going for it. Gameplay, graphics, music, charm, and historical clout all come together to make this game not only a classic but, in my opinion, a straight up easy 100 out of 100.

Who knows, maybe I’ll look back in a few years and decide other games deserve to be upgraded to 100? But as of right now, there’s only one game for me that carries such distinction.

How about you share your favourite 100% games in the comments? Or better yet, share the 90s and 95s with an explanation as to why you think they just miss out.

I’ll be back next week with more Retro Ramblings.

Thanks for reading

Come On You Blues!!!

Time for some plugs. Take a goosey gander at the following if you get a chance, you won’t regret it!

You can read Ian’s superlative review of Overwatch by clicking right HERE

And you can read Dom’s stimulating article on Resi 2 by clicking right HERE

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