In the latest issue of SW The Magizine, Gamespot Tom McShea explains a little bit more as to why he gave the game the score it has and what changes he would like to come with Zelda. Read on for the full interview.

SW The Magazine Interview:

Do not think I’m exaggerating when I say that you have become Gamespot’s most popular reviewer. You even have your own meme on the Gamespot forums. Before, Kevin VanOrd was the one causing riots, but now you are the king. How does that make you feel?

McShea: I’m not sure I would use the word “popular” to describe my place in the System’s War forum. I’d say that my reviews are divisive, and that causes a strong reaction from both sides. I tend to be harsh in my criticism, and have no problem saying a mega-hyped game is merely “Good”; this is a strong contrast to how reviews are often handled in this industry. Honestly, it makes me a little uncomfortable that I’ve become a bit of a meme, but I only know how to express myself one way. I’m brutally honest and don’t sugar coat the problems I see, so if you’re eagerly anticipating a new release, that could put you in a sour mood.

Your opinion of Skyward Sword’s controls were very different than those of other reviewers. Why is that? What is your opinion of motion control in general?

As anyone who has followed me should know, controls are the single most important element of a game to me. If they aren’t responsive all the time, I get frustrated, because it’s a problem that could have been averted had the developers been more conscious of the experience they were creating. In the case of Skyward Sword, the controls function as they should most of the time, but that’s not enough. When I swing and it doesn’t register, or I point toward the screen but Link looks at the ground, I get angry. Nintendo usually sets the standard for controls, so I’m shocked they would release a game in this state.

As for motion controls in general, I like them, but it seems as though many developers struggle with how to implement them. Games like No More Heroes and Super Mario Galaxy are made better, because flicking your wrist complements a more traditional scheme. By letting some actions be controlled with motion while others use the stick or buttons, it makes things feel more natural than when motion controls are forced into places they don’t belong. I think the future for motion controls looks good and developers will understand this balance better the more time they spend with the technology.

You made an error in your review regarding the game’s controls (which has since been amended by the time of this writing). Do you think that an error like that might unintentionally affect your opinion (and therefore the review) of the game?

Not at all. In my original text, I said that aiming was handled by the infared sensor, when it’s actually controlled by the gyroscopes. Ultimately, you point at the screen no matter which method the controller is using, so, for the player, the result is the same. My problem with the aiming is that you have to recenter your view often, and that’s true no matter what the underlying technology is.

What would you like to see Zelda change in it’s formula?

More freedom. The strange thing is, The Legend of Zelda (the first game in the series) had this freedom, and the series just went away from it through the years. Part of the problem is that you’re confined in a linear path, shuffled from one dungeon to the next, with only cursory exploration. Recent Zelda games are adventures that have you on a leash the whole time. I wish they would remove the leash. Let me enter dungeons out of order. Give me multiple ways to access off-the-path routes, so if I don’t have the hookshot yet, I can still use my bombs to open up a road. Make me feel as if I’m forging my own path rather than just doing exactly what the developer wants, when they want it.
Skyward Sword is predictable and lacks a sense of adventure because everything is so structured and confined. Your experience is going to be nearly identical to mine. Everyone will take the same path, see the same enemies, solve puzzles the same way, and so on and so forth. I’d love to see Nintendo use The Legend of Zelda as a blueprint for their next game rather than Ocarina for the umpteenth time.
Have you ever peeked down on the forums to see the reaction of readers over a review score, even if you didn’t write the review?

Oh yeah, I love seeing how the community reacts to our content. And I’m always relived when they’re angry at someone other than me.

Do you feel your part as a reviewer should be an immense influence on people deciding which games to buy, or should they just simply be an informative opinion?

My role is to give an informed opinion. I try to paint an accurate picture of my experience, and you can judge for yourself if that sounds like something you would enjoy. I’d like to think that people who read my review of Skyward Sword will know exactly what to expect when they play the game themselves. Their opinion may be different from mine, but I don’t think they’re going to be surprised with what’s on the disc.
Is there something you would like to say to those users who would have your head on a pike over your review scores?

Play the game before you claim I was somehow unfair. And also understand that people have different opinions from your own. My job is not tell you what you want to hear or make sure my score is the same as the Metacritic average. Also, remember that we do have a 1-10 scale. I consider an 8 to be an excellent score (I gave my last three Game of the Years 8.5), so realize that amazing games can get a sub-9 score.

Also, 7.5 means Very Good. It means that I liked the game and you most likely will, too.

Do your reviews give you the same amount of lulz that they give us?

I don’t think my reviews are particularly funny, no.

Can you change the score?




Rate System Wars The Magazine and it’s contributors in a score out of 10. (Hint: The hype is AA)



Obviously nothing to be taken serious, as the interview is with forum users and is meant to be taken in a humor way.


  1. Thanks McShea for not kissing Nintendo’s ass like everyone else and keeping it real. Thank you for having a spine and testicles unlike other gaming publications and reviewers. I look forward to reading more of your reviews.

  2. Who really cares what this guy rated the game? All you need to do is look up his other reviews (only 2) and see that he also gave The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom a 7.5. Using this as a frame of reference, you can see that the Zelda score is nothing more than his attempt to make some noise as a reviewer and get noticed.

  3. I still struggle to believe that Gamespot rated Skyward Sword the same score as other certain Wii games, like the oh-so-classic MySims Racing, Star Wars: Force Unleashed 2, Deadly Creatures, Madagascar 2, G-Force (yes, the one with the hampsters), Thrillville: Off the Rails, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, and a LESSER score than Sonic & the Secret Rings. Really… they’re telling me that Sonic & the Secret Rings, a game Sega outright said they were embarrassed about and discontinued, is a BETTER game than Skyward Sword?

  4. Do you think Tom’s realized yet that you don’t waggle, you swing the Wiimote like a sword, and that you don’t point at the screen for the bow, you hold it upright? You know – like the game actually TELLS YOU?

    No wonder he had such trouble with the controllers – he was using them wrong! Try turning a 360 controller upside down and see how well you do with THAT.

    • Hey — don’t wish death upon him, even though he’s an arrogant fool of a reviewer. We already know that he wasn’t playing correctly, so his opinion is invalid. I’ll feel badly for people who don’t get the game because they took his review seriously, but that isn’t reason enough to wish him a painful death.

  5. I usually never comment at game reviews, but i have to make an acception here … I have logged 14 hrs into Skyward Sword now and can with confidence say this guys review are the biggest FAIL i have ever read. The game is amazing in every regards (best Zelda game ever no doubt) and the controls are almost perfect and the most complex and advanced in any game to date (the extensive use of 1:1 controls is very hard to execute in a game like this). But the end result is one of the most directly engrossing game experiences of my 30+ yrs gaminglife (and i was sceptical to Skyward sword in advance).

  6. “Give me multiple ways to access off-the-path routes, so if I don’t have the hookshot yet, I can still use my bombs to open up a road.”

    That would make the hookshot less rewarding then. Since the hookshot is the only way to get to certain areas, it feels rewarding when you finally get your hands on it. Your first reaction is “Yes! Now I can access that area that I couldn’t before”. If you used bombs to access the area, then once you got the hookshot, it’s like “Oh, who gives a sh*t?”

    Tom wants the game to be different, to not be Zelda. Instead of criticising SS for not being a different game, he should be petitioning to Nintendo to make that game that he wants. It’s no different to criticising SS for not having a hit-point battle system Final Fantasy, or complaining that you can’t steal cars in COD like you can in GTA, or complaining that you can’t build your own castle in Skyrim like you can in Minecraft.

    This is a Zelda game, it’s not meant to be like Final Fantasy, COD, GTA or Skyrim.

  7. Controls aside, Tom simply wanted to make a statement (with this review) about he thinks. He wanted to tell the world “Haha! Look at how I can think! Look at how different my perception of games is compared to other reviewers. I’m not like the others, I have vision, creativity, and balls!”

    If he was instructed by Gamespot to review the game *as a Zelda game* no doubt we would’ve seen a much better review. Instead, he reviewed it like a game that he wants to see in the market. So what? I want to see a photorealistic, open world game that’s exactly like real life. I want to experience emotions in the game exactly like I experience my own emotions, and audio that exactly mimicks how I hear. I want it to be so real that I forget about real life and feel like I’m in the Matrix – any game that doesn’t live up to this has a predictable formula, problematic overworlds, and way too much paddding.

    Aside from the controls, all of Tom’s criticisms can be applied to SMG2, but we saw a 10 from that. Why is that?

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