- Zero Punctuation
Zero Punctuation is a weekly video-review column by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw produced for The Escapist. The series initially started after Croshaw produced two reviews for "" and "The Darkness" and uploaded them on
YouTube. Something Awfulowner Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka offered Croshaw the opportunity to produce Zero Punctuation for his website for next to no money, which Croshaw turned down. After this The Escapist contacted him and offered him a contract. [http://au.gamespot.com/pages/news/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=26300119 PressSpotting: Ramblin' with Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw] ] Reviews are released every Wednesday, and every week's review is previewed on G4's " X-Play" the Tuesday before.
The reviews became vastly popular, leading to a four hundred percent increase in the Escapist's traffic. Some have compared it to Penny Arcade in terms of influence and popularity. [citeweb|url=http://newteevee.com/2008/01/24/zero-punctuation-equals-millions-of-views|title=Zero Punctuation Equals Millions of Views|accessdate = 2008-02-07|work = NewTeeVee]
In these videos, Croshaw usually reviews a recent game or games, using his rapid-fire speech delivery (which gave the name for the column, although he states the fast talking was “by accident”), analogously followed by a minimalistic cartoon mirroring what has been said. The videos are typically around 4 minutes of length, and formerly featured two commercial songs at the start and at the end, usually lyrically relating to the game context (although sometimes only tangentially), which have since been replaced by a single, standard opening sequence consisting of clips from past Zero Punctuations and guitar music. The end credits often feature humorous notes about how Croshaw's reviews can anger the viewer and also contain some of the characters from the review engaging in slapstick (chasing each other, being eaten, blown up, etc.). A recurring character in the videos is a small imp-like character (who also appears in one of the Zero Punctuation logos), usually playing various supporting roles as either the antagonist or the sidekick. The imp is in fact a stylized version of a “darkling” from the first game Yahtzee reviewed, called “The Darkness”, in which Yahtzee referred to it as an “Evil Imp”.
Croshaw, more often than not, provides highly critical reviews of games, usually focusing on a game's obvious faults. His reviews are frequently hostile to high-profile releases such as "
Halo 3", " Super Smash Bros. Brawl", " Soulcalibur IV" and " Metal Gear Solid 4", and he occasionally states that he expects provoked e-mails from the series' more devoted fans (at one point devoting an entire episode to responding to the irate "fanboy" mail from SSBB). He also tends to shun certain genres of games or overused and recurring "gimmicks" in gaming, such as JRPGs, fighting games, MMORPGs (pronouncing it "Mumorpugah" and spelling it "MUMORPUGER"), Nintendocontinually remaking its old franchises, ("Mario's ground has been trodden, bulldozed and purged with fire and salt") and his "old arch-nemesis", Quick Time Events. (which he calls "God of War-style Simon Says button-mashing sequences", at one point devoting a short live action video in the middle of a review to address the developers directly. He notes that it is actually Shenmuethat introduced Quick Time Events to gaming, but God of War is the more popular and well-known franchise)
The reviews are not universally negative though, as he praised games such as "Painkiller", "No More Heroes", "
Call of Duty 4", " Psychonauts" and " The Orange Box" (At one point he said he "couldn't think of any criticism" for "Portal", as well as using the game several times as an example of a "perfect" game). citeweb|url=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation/2541-Zero-Punctuation-The-Orange-Box|title=Zero Punctuation Orange Box review|accessdate = 2007-12-25] Even in negative reviews such as the one for "Haze" or "Alone in the Dark", he noted a few positive aspects, stating the latter had "the potential for true greatness". In fact, Croshaw started his review of " BioShock" by acknowledging that "despite all the bad things I'm about to say, it's still probably one of the best games of the year", but spent the rest of the review harshly criticizing it - he explained this by saying "no one likes it when I'm being nice to a game" (referring to his positive review of " Psychonauts")citeweb|url=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/editorials/zeropunctuation/1368-Zero-Punctuation-Psychonauts|title=Zero Punctuation Psychonauts review|accessdate = 2008-04-01] , while previously noting that "I know it's not very funny to love a game" for Portal.In addition to having current personal favorites, Croshaw has expressed hope in upcoming games, provided developers "get it right" (Notably, during the end credit sequence to his " E3" 2008 reviewciteweb|url=http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/157-The-E3-Trailer-Park|title=Zero Punctuation E3 2008 review|accessdate = 2008-7-31] , he expresses interest in the potential displayed by the game " Mirror's Edge").
As a hint towards what he thinks as the ultimate game, Croshaw at one point stated that "The console wars are all ultimately futile, as the best game ever, "
Fantasy World Dizzy" for the Commodore 64, has already been made." Croshaw also did a special feature on the Dizzy series in Australian Hyper Magazine February 2006. Croshaw himself stated at an ACMI Game On panel on July 10th, 2008 that he was half-serious but noted that nostalgia may have been a factor. In the retrospective of the " Prince of Persia" series, he lists his Top 5 favorite games as "Portal", " Silent Hill 2", "", "Spider-Man 2" and " Fantasy World Dizzy" respectively (however in the next review, he said "don't tell me any of you took last week's top 5 seriously"). During many occasions, Croshaw has asserted that he considers video game design as an art form, and often points out that he focuses on the gameplay and the storyline itself instead of the visual assets. (A notable exception being " Crysis", where he momentarily praised the graphics, but also noted that the game engine is unexploited, the vehicle sections are unplayable and an extemely powerful computer is needed to run the game at maximum quality.)
Croshaw cites the work of British television critic and PC Zone journalist
Charlie Brookeras the "main inspiration" for his own reviewing style, as well as the writing tone of Douglas Adams. [ [http://www.geek.com/interview-zero-punctuations-yahtzee/ Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee Interview: Ben Croshaw & The Escapist ] ]
There have been a few exceptions to the review centering around a video game:
* One episode featured a rundown on the seventh generation of gaming consoles.
* One episode was a selection of short toons created for the GDC.
* One episode featured a "showdown" of various emails Croshaw received after the less-than-flattering review of "
Super Smash Bros. Brawl".
* One episode was a review of
webcomics, taking several stabs at " Ctrl+Alt+Del" (a webcomic he claims to have a personal hatred of, having previously called it "the Rubbish King, sitting proudly on a throne of rotting meat" and stating outright "I fucking hate Ctrl+Alt+Del" [ [http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/archive/20050118-0219.htm Fully Ramblomatic.com - the website for REAL MEN ] ] , later noting that "I look at CAD and I see a lot of misdirected potential" [ [http://www.fullyramblomatic.com/archive/20080103-0710.htm Fully Ramblomatic.com - the website for REAL MEN ] ] ).
* One episode consisted of reviews of trailers of games shown at E3 2008, commenting that almost every upcoming game was a sequel.
Some episodes featured hidden shorts at the end:
* The episode about "The Witcher" had a short profanity-laden conversation made with "Painkiller"
* The episode about "
Sim City Societies" had a short created with Garry's Modusing maps and character models from " Team Fortress 2".
* The episode featured a "review" of
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, where a seemingly bored Yahtzee proceeds to mutely make face and hand gestures, ending the review with flipping the viewer off. At the conclusion of the following week's review, Alone in the Dark, Yahtzee provides captions for the gestures.
List of episodes
* [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation Zero Punctuation at The Escapist] escapistmagazine.com
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