I’m generally of the opinion that people who review games should be good at playing video games. I rarely watch gameplay footage from big outlets anymore because it seems like the majority of people in games media are mediocre to bad at playing games, and that’s really frustrating to watch. I guess I’ll go through the OP and respond point-by-point.
So as long as the game is good for the duration of what the reviewer played, who cares if the game falls off a cliff immediately after? Makes no sense. Plenty of games start off decent enough and degrade in quality towards the end. It should be a requirement that reviewers at least reach the end credits.
One of the most common refrains of the people who think journalists should have more natural gaming talent is “they play so many games”. Well, wouldn’t you also believe that someone who plays so many games is able to figure out what a game is doing and what it does for them without completing it or aceing its challenges?
No. Someone who plays so many games is likely to be able to make a quick judgement about their own personal interest in a game, but that’s very different from a review. If you struggle to perform the basic actions that the game is asking of you, then you can’t even begin to think about higher concepts like depth, or how different mechanics and systems may be able to interplay in interesting ways. You would only have a surface-level understanding of the game at best.
The facts are that not everyone is good at every kind of game, and EVERYONE has moments in a game where the goal is simple but you just can’t seem to figure out what to do.
It’s also a fact that not everyone is good at cooking, but when I go to a restaurant I expect the chef to know what she’s doing. If games aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other professions for you besides being a game journalist. And with so few spots available in the industry, I would rather those roles go to someone more fit for the job.
Just as a general premise, reviewers should be well-versed in the thing that they are reviewing. Film reviewers should understand story structure, lighting, camera angles and movement, set design, etc, and be familiar with the history and many genres of filmmaking. Book reviewers should be familiar with many kinds of prose, and be comfortable with interpreting metaphors. Food reviewers should have a wide-palette of taste and be able to describe what they taste with detailed language.
Reviewers shouldn’t represent the average consumer, they should be experts.
EDIT: Side note, it’s really starting to irk me that this thread is referring to Cuphead as a “Mega Man style game” when it’s clearly borrowing it’s game design from Gunstar Heroes.