GAME BYTES Reviewer's Information Pack, version 2.3

This file contains guidelines for reviews for Game Bytes, divided into three sections: Format, Style and Content. (The format rules apply in general to non-review articles (tips, etc.) as well.) Before you send off your review, please check that it follows these guidelines.

The Editor of Game Bytes is Ross Erickson, email addresses: - Internet
71441,1537 - Compuserve
RossGBytes - America On-line
Ross Erickson - EXEC PC, Nitelog Imaging, Software Creations (BBS Network)

Contact him if you'd like to do an article. Once it's done send the files to Ross and Daniel Starr (if on Internet) at and

Thanks for supporting Game Bytes!

To begin with, I only have 3 basic overall rules you must follow:

1) Be honest - In deference to the reader
2) Be fair - In deference to the developer/publisher
3) Be thorough and comprehensive - In deference to both

GAME BYTES Review Guidelines: Format

Follow religiously!!

  1. No profanity! (Some services won't post the entire magazine if they find one profanity!)
  2. If it's a PC game, send screen shots! (You can use PCXDUMP to get screen shots, available by ftp to, /pub/msdos/graphics/ (version 9.0 is available too, but 8.1 is more robus. Email if you need help. If the game itself is incompatible with PCXDUMP, let us know.) (Not needed for cartridge games.)
  3. Put a header at the top using the review header templates at the end of this article. (Use the PC game or cartridge game header as appropriate.)
  4. Set your editor's margins to 0 and 75. (That way it fits our screen.) THIS IS A MUST!!!
  5. Use spaces, not tabs (they play havoc with our format). THIS IS ALSO A MUST!
  6. Don't indent paragraphs.
  7. Include a copyright notice at the bottom, of the form "This [review/article/whatever] is Copyright (C) 1993 by [your name here] for Game Bytes Magazine. All rights reserved."
  8. Put the first mention of the title of _any_ game in the review body in ALL CAPS.
  9. Use a spell-checker, check your punctuation, and have it proof-read by both a friend and yourself before you submit it, please! Then read it again, out loud. You'll be surprised how you sound the first time.
  10. Don't insert any backslash (\) characters in your file. The magazine will not compile with these characters embedded in an article.
  11. Make a list of all the topics about the game you need to explain:

GAME BYTES Review Guidelines: Style

Actually, the best stylistic advice is to go back through back issues of Game Bytes, and study the approach of reviews that you yourself found helpful and enjoyable. But keep the points below in mind, and when the review's done, check to make sure it fits them.

  1. Give both description and specific opinions for each game element. Readers want to know both what the game is and what elements you think are good or bad.
  2. Make comparisons with other games. It's the most efficient way to showcase what's different, and to get out of the way what's standard about the game design. (Not everyone will have played those other games, though, so make sure the review can still work for readers who aren't familiar with them.)
  3. Give specific examples of what you talk about. Your readers haven't played the game, so you really need to demonstrate what you mean by "great graphics" or "detailed statistics" or "you colonize planets".
  4. Avoid lists. A clear statement plus one or two examples are usually enough; more becomes tiresome and bogs down the review.
  5. Point out the exceptional or unusual things about the game.
  6. Decide what things make the game more or less fun, and discuss them!
  7. Don't waste time on the unimportant. If the manual/sound/whatever didn't make a big difference in your enjoyment of the game, then it only needs a sentence or two tacked onto an appropriate paragraph.
  8. Be personal. Let readers know how you yourself felt about the game, what you enjoyed or didn't enjoy, heck, whether you had fun!
  9. Leave the emotional extremes at the door. Whether you hated or loved the game, don't rant and rave -- it's unpleasant reading and ruins your credibility. Objectively describe what's so bad or good about the game and why -- readers do want your judgement, but calmly.
  10. Don't give ratings. Without a standard GB system, readers can't compare them, so they're just confusing.
  11. Write a review that reads smoothly as a single piece. Don't use so many sections that it becomes a bunch of isolated paragraphs; don't write 2+ screens in a single paragraph so as to bog the reader down.
  12. Give the review the information it needs without crushing detail. The typical PC game review is about 100-150 lines, the typical cartridge review about 50-100 lines. If you find yourself significantly outside those ranges, the game may or may not warrant it -- ask yourself whether you're providing too much (or too little) information.

GAME BYTES Review Guidelines: Content

Every review should cover all these elements. This also works reasonably well as an outline, although you're free to use whatever order works best for you. Either way, check to make sure you've covered these subjects when you finish your review.

[Do realize that in a typical review the first three and last three items below (the introductory and concluding topics) will be much shorter than the middle four sections (the "meat" of the review).]
  1. Background on the game/genre/author -- if it's a sequel, tell us about the predecessor; if it has obvious competitors, what are those like?
  2. Overview -- what is the game about? What, in general, do you do?
  3. Summary -- what are the game's strengths and weaknesses (that you're about to explain)? Let the reader know where you're headed.
  4. Output -- quality and style of graphics, sound, animation, etc. Does the game have a distinctive 'look'? Is it pretty and/or realistic?
  5. Interface -- ease/precision/detail of controlling your actions. Does the game let you do what you want to? How easy is it to figure out?
  6. Activities -- what specifically do you do in the game? Give specific examples of game play. What's enjoyable (or not) or unusual?
  7. Evaluation -- how much fun is playing the game? Does it get repetitive, or does it have 'replay value'? How's the ending (if any)?
  8. Miscellaneous features -- how good or bad (or missing) are the manual, installation, film replay, modem play or other features not central to the game?
  9. Fulfilled potential -- does it live up to your expectations? What features are missing that really should be there? What additions would have been nice, though not necessary?
  10. Conclusion -- what's your overall opinion of the game? How does it compare to similar games? Who do you think would enjoy it?

GAME BYTES Computer Game Review Header Template

 --------------------------------CUT HERE------------------------------
GAME TITLE (all CAPS) from publisher/developer
Reviewed by

          Computer        Graphics        Memory          Disk Space


Reviewed version      on:
     Reviewer recommends:

 --------------------------------CUT HERE------------------------------

GAME BYTES Cartridge Header Template

 --------------------------------CUT HERE------------------------------

Reviewed by

Platform: (Super Nintendo / Sega Genesis / Sega CD)
    Size: (if cartridge, # of Mbits)
Supports: (if any -- e.g., Nintendo mouse, Menacer, etc...)

 --------------------------------CUT HERE------------------------------

* Sample Computer Game Header *

Reviewed by Daniel J. Starr

          Computer        Graphics        Memory          Disk Space
Minimum   386             VGA             2 MB            25 MB
Max/Rec.  386SX/20+

Control:  Keyboard, Mouse (recommended)
  Sound:  Adlib, Sound Blaster, SB Pro, Roland LAPC-1/MT-32
  Notes:  Supports simultaneous SB or SB Pro and Roland.  Cannot be
          run with expanded memory manager (EMM386.EXE or equivalent).

Reviewed version 1.02 on: 486/66, 8MB RAM, SB Pro and Roland sound cards.
     Reviewer recommends: 2MB disk cache, SB-compatible sound card.

* End Sample Header*

[Notes for PC game headers]

Use the box, manual, README file, program menu, or other documentation to fill out the header. If your experience disagrees with what they say, note that in the review, not the header.

The 'minimum' row refers to the slowest computer type, lowest resolution, smallest amount of memory and least amount of disk space physically required to run the game, according to the publisher. The 'max/rec.' row refers to the computer type/speed recommended by the publisher for quality performance, and to the highest resolution, largest amount of memory, and largest amount of disk space the game can usefully employ. If the game doesn't use variable graphics/memory/disk space, just put a single figure in the 'Minimum' row (see example).

For memory, it's the total memory (640k,2MB,etc.) that should be listed; the particular amount of low memory required ("535-587,000 bytes") can be listed in the Notes or the review body if you think it needs to be mentioned. For disk space, if the manufacturer doesn't list a figure, you should count it up and enter it in the 'minimum' row yourself. For graphics, enter super-VGA graphics modes as resolution x colors, e.g. "800x600x16" or "640x480x256".

Put any documented nonstandard hardware features or requirements (e.g. cannot be run with a memory manager present, runs only under Windows, runs off a CD-ROM) in "Notes". (See example.)

List your computer type and speed in the 'reviewed on' entry, and any particular peripherals you have that the program used. If the program uses a variable amount of memory, or offers a choice of graphics modes, list the memory and/or graphics mode of your computer as well.

And most of all, thanks for supporting Game Bytes! We look forward to working with you as a reviewer.

Ross Erickson, Editor/Publisher
Daniel Starr, Assistant Editor
Game Bytes Magazine