Friday, September 9, 2011

Catherine Review!


While it is not normal practice to write about console exclusives on fragworld, the staff has encouraged me to do so. To be honest, I'm not sure why. I think, perhaps, I come off as a misanthrope who hates everything, or a simple curmudgeon on a good day. While Activision is terrible, Coldplay still sucks and mainstream TV not staring Hugh Laurie or on HBO is garbage, I like a lot of things. Catherine is one of them. But how to start talking about this game? It's a lot like a Monet painting. Looking too close, you see squishy wobbly even clumsy blotches of color, the beauty is seen from a distance. There are flaws to be found when thinking too much, but not so overbearing to despair the whole piece.

Catherine is made by Atlus, the team behind the Persona games and is remarkable for being their first foray into glorious high definition. And without a moment to spare, the cut scenes are from Studio 4°C, known best stateside for there theater quality work, Catherine being no exception. Atlus also premiers a new graphics engine and the results are fantastic. The cell shading is natural: never looking too much like a cartoon but also not forgoing it's aesthetic. A feat that is impressive to say the least.
Vincent is our protagonist, but I almost regret using the word immediately. He's a milquetoast man child who lives in a small studio apartment and works short hours at a vague position I can only assume is a dead end. He is however, somewhat lucky in love, having a girlfriend, named Katherine. She's a purple haired 30 something who is under family peer pressure to settle down and make a family with Vincent. While this is happening, Vincent meets Catherine (with a C!) who is the vivacious blond on the cover of the PS3 version and is the reason I'm known at the local Target, thanks Google! We meet her in the sketchy bar Vincent and his friends hang out in. Stories of unfaithful men dying in there sleep are rapidly spreading. It is here Catherine approaches a half lit Vincent who is seduced about as quickly as Gabe Newell downs a KFC bucket. Vincent wakes up next to the wrong Catherine (yes, the one NOT his girlfriend). To add to his troubles, Vincent suffers intense nightmares. These nightmares comprise the puzzles of the game and we're told if you die in the dream, you die for real. With the stakes set, the story beings! While engaging and always interesting, the story's middle section suffers bit for scant story to game play ratio, thankfully the big animated finishes prove worth the effort –and oh the effort!.

Catherine's puzzles are many times frustrating but the payoff and ecstasy when done is worth your time. The game is split into two main sections: the Japanese dating simulation like ('daing simulation' bringing our “word I regret to use' count up to two!) bar sections where you can talk with Vincent’s close friends and other bar flies. Next is the 'true game' portion. Vincent is dropped into a nightmare world of blocks, tasked with climbing the towering Gothic constructs. You can push and pull the blocks in various directions and must do so to advance to the top of the huge wall of blocks that comprise the stage. You will encounter enemies and monsters that chase and bother your ascent, which is already challenging enough as the blocks you just climb up are ever falling. Not lying, the game is hard. Memorization and quick thinking are the tools at your most immediate disposal. Some parts will require memorization more than skill, some parts are simply not fair. Not to say the game does a bad job of training or scaling, no, the game shows you all the patterns and moves you could ever hope to deploy and more. It only refuses to hold your hand or coddle you.

Catherine is a well packed game offering about a 10 hour campaign and a couple more challenge maps that even I won't touch. Many little goofs withstanding, only real flaws are a certain escort mission and some cheap bosses however, the rest is largely subjective and the enjoyment of this game is dependent on how engaged you are by the story. If the trailer grabs you, pick this game up. If your reaction is anything less than dumb awe, you probably should look into something less dialog-y and more action oriented.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Some words on current gaming events in relation to the PC.

PC gamers in recent time have been given the shaft. I've just upgraded my PC in hopes of playing some awesome games but I fear my catalog may soon run short. Lets run down largely abreviated list of bad news headlines that have been coming down the pipe.

Crytek making next major title multiplatform.
Deadspace 2 receiving no PC port as EA reconsiders PC market.
Assassins Creed 2 and future Ubisoft titles holding draconian DRM

...and Infinity Ward's chairmen have been given the boot. Wait...Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 was actually buggy as all get out, had no dedicated server support and to make matters worse they charge a $10 premium for the PC. Actually, fuck that. That may bee a good thing. I wouldn't mind seeing Infinity Ward's heads go back to basics, make another IP for PC that sells like crazy and has Bobby Kotick at there door begging them to come back.

Speaking of Kotick, he has went on record saying that Activision should charge MORE for games. I mean...because Activision releases such worthwhile things **ahem BAND HERO haha ahem cough and doesn't pay there employees for them.

His actions have lead me to buy Battlefield Bad Company 2. I traded in my copy of Call of Duty 4 Modern Warfare for it and I am pleased as punch that while I paid a cool $39.99 for aforementioned game—41.83 if you consider the water bill for a cold shower as a related expense—I have the smug satisfaction of contributing to the second hand market Activision loves so very much while directly funding a competitor. Feels good man!

Either way, I suggest doing the same. However, console gamers as a whole are lemmings who trade and buy games frequently as farts. The problem is that console gamers don't vote with there wallets. They do, but they don't vote for favorable change. When the RED RING OF DOOM was discovered did everyone go sell there X-box 360s and buy a Playstation 3's? Which might encourage Microsoft to actually fix the problem still with us today?

No...people still buy the 360, people still buy Call of Duty 4: Modern KNIFE and wonder why gaming is starting the slow descent into casual mainstream madness.

The end result of this behavior pattern is parallel to music's descent. I worry that if we don't keep standards high for games like we do now, we will soon find ourselves in a world much similar to today's music scene where over produced hyped cardboard passes for good.

Well in good news: Valve is still around, still making great games and god bless them for it! Good games for PC anyway, there 360 and PS3 ports of the Orange Box is a joke. Which..is as it should be. Thus: The Valve Effect.

The Valve Effect (adj.):Phenomenon where a great video game which originally was a PC exclusive is ported to consoles to the effect of diminishing its values due to complex console engines, loss of graphical detail, or otherwise unruly control schemes.

What I think the PC needs to keep up in the game is another Half Life 2. Half Life 3 is around the corner so lets hope it proves as effective as 2 was for getting people psyched about PC gaming again.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Cliffy B and some words on the industrys bad attitude towards PC Gamers.

Okay this is probably kind of late but I've just recently been informed by Cliffy B that as a PC gamer who uses the second hand market I am a pirate stealing money from his pocket and food from his babes mouth.

“Here’s the problem right now; the person who is savvy enough to want to have a good PC to upgrade their video card, is a person who is savvy enough to know bit torrent to know all the elements so they can pirate software.”

Thanks. Because I know how to build and change simple hardware on my machine, I'm obviously also trying to steal games. There is no chance that I would actually buy your game legitimately. Of course not! It's not like I spent money on building a PC fast enough to play Gears or Crysis so I could steal those games which are a fraction of the cost!

Or perhaps spent that money I saved stealing PC games on one of the consoles because more and more this is the attitude of game creators: PC gamers are pirates who can't be trusted and will not buy your game accept for the one guy who does and shares it with the rest of us on our pirate ship.

In short, Cliffy B: FUCK YOU!

And no, I will not buy a 360 to play Gears or War 2. Because I'm a PC game stealing wizard who hasn't found a game worth having a 360 for that isn't on PC—late and perhaps DRM'd to hell but still.

Wanna know why the PC version of Gears or War didn't sell?
You release Gears of War for PC a whole year after the fact and expect sales to be great? Of course not. Which leads me to my next point.

Release your PC port the same day as you release the fucking console version. Get this, I would have bought Gears of War AND Batman Arkham Asylum the very day it dropped and probably many more that escape memory if it they had dropped the same day. But...they didn't and I miss out the general excitement of everyone playing, thus: I have no motivation to spend $50 dollars on a game no one else is still playing. I can wait till I find it at Big Lots or at Target marked down for like $9.48.

Or worse! USED!

Cliffy B has also made disparaging remarks on the second hand market. I guess you just need everyone to buy your game new first day to be happy at all. Guess what asshole? Your games will not always be WORTH spending the $59.99 price tag on. Most PC gamers are on a budget, we have car payments, we have a mortgage, we have kids and they are much much higher priority than pleasing your wallet. So yeah, if I can't find your game later on new at a price I like, yes, I will go on goozex.com and yes I will go to Gamestop and find it for a 10 spot. Perfectly legit.

Now let me take a moment to say I do not endorse piracy. I do not encourage people to steal or pirate games. I am an honest PC gamer who is miffed at how little love the industry is giving us. I am going to explain the general complaints we PC gamers have against the industry and why I can understand people pirating games. See it works in short like this: when you accuse a kid of doing drugs, constantly checking and nosing threw their stuff to find it and make a big stink about it and put oh so many protections around him so he doesn't do drugs, what do you expect that kid to do?

The correct human answer is: Get pissed he is constantly accused of doing drugs so go out and do them anyway out of spite!

Thats the way PC gamers feel now. We have been neglected and bullied by horrible DRM and by late late release dates. Now in Gears of War's defense, they did add a few gidgets into the PC version. But that still doesn't make all amends. Batman and Street Fighter IV both were games I wanted to play first day with friends. Both games I haven't bought because of how awful a wait was imposed and if I'm gonna wait, I'm going to wait until it drops to a reasonable price.

Now, the main reasons:

Incredibility bad DRM

Bioshock released a demo that wasn't even workable on PC and gamers who bought the thing on the first day were surprised to find that the DRM servers were crashing and EA was no where to be found for support. Thus, PC gamers who bought the game first day were actually BETTER OFF downloading a cracked version that didn't require such things. Now, I completely understand why that particular DRM measure was in place, but the customer service and the speed at which they addressed the issue was subpar at best. It was as if they were punishing it's PC gamer base for being honest and for not buying it on console.

That's not getting into the evil of activation limits. Activation limits punish the legitimate user while adding no real security to the disc. If someone is going to pirate a game, they are going to find a way around such an activation limit. All it does is fustrate the player and prevent them from passing the game on to a friend when they are done. Which, CliffyB, second hand gaming is a good thing! Especially with sequels dropping with some frequency, it's not a bad thing to let someone play Gears or War 1 used, love it, then when Gears 2 drops they buy it FULL PRICE because of the awesome experience. If someone hadn't of loaned the guy that game he wouldn't have bought you would have lost a sale and a fan. Good job, hero.

Hell, get this: I found Bioshock for $14 bucks. I know Target was probably taking a hit on it but guess what? I'm in freaking love with that game and if Bioshock 2 drops for PC first day, guess who is buying it on good faith EA learned some manners after the Bioshock 1 fiasco? For full retail!

CliffyB, you are out of touch with the PC gamers that made you and you're an asshole which is why if I ever play Gears 2, it will be used. Mostly out of spite for you're harsh generalized and if I may say, stupid comments on the PC gaming community.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sonic Unleashed (PS2)

I'm not going to reward this game with a proper rundown, rather I'm going to recite to you a related experience involving 20 minutes of agony and fustration spent with this game.

By a whim, I put Sonic Unleashed in my Gamefly Q, unaware the terror of which I had bedeviled myself. This morning it came to me and after work I felt a much needed break from the usual fare of Bioshock and Rock Band 2 Sessions were in order.

I popped the game in and was greeted to a drool screen slightly foreboding for a Sonic game. The scorched earth set ablaze by what seemed to be a thunderbolt is striking imagery. Sadly, imagery is what Sonic games deal in, rather content to put gameplay on a back burner to tell there instupid tale.

After an arduous amount of prompts, I seem to have found my game. A cutscene plays out with a clarity and beauty I've not seen on a PS2 title since God of War. A flattering comparison however much a disservice is does to the excellent God of War franchise being uttered in the same sentence as a game from Sega.

However well done this cutscene may be, is rife with inexcusably dumb dialog and a classic Sonic trope: plot induced amnesia! Trying to make a hit character? Force him into every aspect of gameplay by way of amnesia! For five minutes I furiously checked my controller to see if it was properly hooked up and that no button or combination thereof could render me into some actual gameplay.

After checking threw my stuffs and filling my taxes, the game felt need to give me control of events so some truth to its game-hood would be applied. Now finally, some action! Whats this? My mission is to get to the end of the street? Okay....I'm growing impatient on top of being concerned at how little challenge I'm presented. 3-2-1- GO....STOP! The little pink creature--known to me as The Little Pink Shit for reasons discernible later-- we were introduced to in the cut scene who apparently doesn't even know his own name now fells need to tell ME how to PLAY THE GAME!

I didn't request a tutorial! Well hopefully this will be quick I guess it's kind of useful I havent played a Sonic game since the abysmal Sonic Heroes (also rented, thank god!). So this tutorial which constantly interrupts any sort of flow and experimentation with prompts doled liberally by Little Pink Shit moves at a glacial pace. Still worse is after each task (most taking less than 3 seconds) it rewards me with a trinket of some sort and saves the game, together taking up about 3 fold the time it took to complete the task. Repeat these tasks about 5 times and what in actuality was perhaps 10 minutes now fells like 30.

Now, after a small conversation with the Little Pink Shit, I'm surprised to find myself in an actual level! The graphics and gameplay both smooth and provide simple fun. For about 2 minutes of gameplay, I've had not heard from The Little Pink Shit and am liking where this is going. Perhaps I've finally gotten into the game?

No, for sadly after this 2 minutes, I am rewarded yet ANOTHER cut scene. Yes, unable to skip I'm treated to a small plotline which could have been executed easier in a fraction of the time in numerous less cumbersome methods. I'm quickly losing patience.

Then, the point was to tell me I need to find someone this Little Pink Shit knows. Now, I can't do this by going threw a cool level or doing something interesting. I have to pilot threw towns and find them ala menu screens and RPGisms.

I find someone who doesn't know my enemy the Pink Lil Shit but has another mission. Okay, I'm given into what looks like gameplay again. My patience now paper thin, I resolve one more peep from The Little Pink Shit will result in me turning of the game. The level starts, 3-2-1, GO--STOP! THE LITTLE PINK FUCKING SHIT HAS MORE TO TELL ME!!!!!!!!!

And that folks, was the worst 20 minutes I ever spent on a game.

To Sega:

Mario Won. Quit making games.

With regards, TLBC.

Now, I'm sending this game back tomorrow. I'll go back to Bioshock or find a freshly painted wall to watch dry with both being a far better waste of my time than this awful thing masquerading as a game.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Metallica, Death Magnetic

(2 eyebrows out of 5) 

Pros: Some solid solo's, a step in the right direction, a kiss and a promise
Cons: Generic, Badly mixed, lacking ambition and originality. 

Metallica, my how your star has fallen.

Perhaps crashed, plummeted or defecated unto earth would be more correct.

Some point down the line, Metallica has gone from leading the current underground metal trends to merely aping the current mainstream 'nu metal' trends. Once, the small burger joint on the street living on reputation and word of mouth, Metallica is now the multinational conglomerate franchise desperate the please all there fans, and as a result, serving none.

The biggest problem facing this album isn't the craftsmanship, Lars Ulrich aside, all the members are accomplished musicians (I've heard Robert Trujillo's work outside of Metallica, I can't hear him on this album or on St. Anger) who've put together a solid metal album. Some heavy power chords, dynamic hooks and a few good solos. However, Metallica isn't your average metal band and we've come to expect more from them since the days of Ride the Lightning. The problem is like I said above: the attempt to serve everyone have castrated the once mighty Metallica. More over, the attempts of the founding members to serve themselves and there wallets.


To explain: the biggest problem with Death Magnetic is the execution. Rick Ruben is usually behind a lot of good albums, however, it's been made clear that he can only maximize potential (ex: The Limp Bizkit album he produced was still a Limp Bizkit album, thus, lame). Here, he doesn't even do that. Left in charge of the albums mix while Metallica assaulted the nation touring, this album is lacking any kinda musical cohesion. Under--I'm guessing--Ulrich's orders, the drums are turned up in the mix way to much. Normally this isn't a problem for me--I love my drums loud and heavy. However, numerous dull thuds make there way into what would be good solo's, ruining them. Rob Trujillo's bass is heard in only one track, mostly he's there to add to Lars mediocre beats. James Hetfield is losing his voice and can no longer muster the powerful chants he once could. However, he manages to keep his voice passable and he sings lyrics with more earnest than they deserve (Death angel's kiss / Bring final bliss, really?) The best song on this album is the one where he don't sing (Suicide & Redemption). The beginning is marred by weird feedback clicks. I can't tell if this is a result of the compression used on whole mix to make the album louder or the actual guitar. Which leads to my last problem with the mix: The Loudness War. I don't understand why CD's have to be louder than each other volume wise. Furthermore, why isn't Metallica competing for loudest attitude wise. I can turn my volume knob up by myself, thank you. What I don't have a knob for is heavy loud fast guitar, a business Metallica haven't been in for some time.


Every album they release they promise to create another Master of Puppets or Ride the Lightning. However, since the aforementioned albums, they have failed to create anything inspiring interesting or unique. However I will say I was happy to see a return to solo's and that this album is a step in the right direction. This is an okay album. The problem is that as far as metal goes, this CD isnt anything great. Testament have been making heavier faster louder and more passionate albums for about 10 years now.

Should Metallica wish to throw it's hat back into the underground metal scene, fire Bob Rock. Fire Rick Ruben. Quit compressing your albums and just play your fucking guitar. Mean it when you say you're trying to get back to the old school sound. When you mean it, get Steve Albini behind it. He's responsible for some of the loudest albums out, and he doesn't do it by compressing his guitars into mush.

Without margins by which to compare Death Magnetic would probably be a solid metal album but when better bands are making better product and Metallica is content to be heavier, long winded Nickleback...it makes me pine for the old days when Metallica couldn't afford to be so over produced.  

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Watchmen Movie

(4 out of 5 eyebrows)

For years in limbo, this year we were finally treated to the movie adaptation of the much celebrated Watchmen, a graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Thankfully the movie--barring a bevy of minor complaints--foremost accomplishes it goal of adapting the unadaptable novel, against Moore's better judgment. While I don't believe Moore was completely incorrect, I do believe the movie exceeded both his and many fans expectations. And really folks. Did you see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? The man has right to complain!

The movie opens with The Comedian / Edward Blake (Jeffery Dean Morgan) is made street pizza, setting events into motion involving the pasts of not only himself but many of his costumed comrades, some of which are dubbed “The Minute Men.” The opening montage deals with most of there fates in a brilliant fashion. The movie deviates from the source few times with rather hit or miss results but here, it's a sure hit. Animating many scenes only mentioned in the book and serving to save my ass from the already demanding 2 hours 47 minutes. However, I was entertained threw out, so this Is a complement not a complaint. This coming from the guy who took a nap during the later part of Peter Jackson's King Kong.

Served with the task of figuring out why the sidewalk has a Blake shaped dent is the new generation of heroes, all of which aren't so new anymore being they were outlawed in 1970's during Nixon's third term—I'm not making this up. Rorschach (impeccability performed by Jackie Earl Haley) never quit , he first catches wind of Blake's death, discovers he is in fact the brute known as Comedian. Thinking someone is getting rid of costumed heroes, Rorschach speaks with former hero Dan Dreiberg

/ Nite Owl (plagued with perpetual hemorrhoids by Patrick Wilson), who no longer practices the fine art of going out with your underwear inside out at 3AM and doing something stupid. He is instead content to gain weight and attempt fornication with yet another former hero Silk Specter II (Malin Akerman) who plays Laurie Jupiter. She wasn't in the comic but Laurie Juspeczyk was. I'm gonna call whoever Malin Akerman's playing “Laurie Lite” being Jupiter is much much less bitchy than her comic book doppelganger. She serves as the biggest miss when it comes to adaptation and casting. She is merely a hot body fulfilling a fan boys dream with none of the characterizations the comic book imbued her with. While Laurie Lite's newfound kindness makes Dan's life easy, it makes for a boring movie. Dr. Manhattan (played with high effective neurotic bordem by a digitally blue and naked Billy Crudup.) used to put up with her, but is now too busy being the only super powered being in the movie. Capable of near anything, warping time, matter, giving cancer, Dr. Manhattan would rather make reservations at a nude beach than save the world. The plot thickens as he no long wishes to serve as the centerpiece of America's security and casual leaves for Mars.

While Armageddon looms, the movie busies itself exploring these very human characters rather than action. Least the book did. Many action scenes were left in while dialog and characterization is cut and streamlined. This lends the strange effect of being needlessly vulgar, when the book generally had good reason for it's extremes. Dr. Manhattan's nudity being the prime example. This, I can't really blame on anyone besides the movie business as a conceptual whole. If all the detail and plots from the book were left in, the movie would bristle over at about 4 hours on a good day, resulting in both fans being content and casual viewers being bored, leading to box office and critical hemorrhaging.

Without going into spoilers, I believe fans will find some of the changes jarring but understandable. The casual movie goer may find themselves confused and dumbfounded but none the less intrigued in the dense tale they've just been hit with. None the less, director Zac Snyder has said his goal is to introduce more people to the graphic novel and please current fans. I believe he has succeeded in both respects. My suggestion agrees, please watch the movie first, then read the book.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Welcome: An Explination of the ratings.

Greetings, The Low Brow Critic here.

This blog is for me and any other aspiring critics to land there opinions on general media: video games, music, comics, television and film. 

The rating system isn't dissimilar to most generally accepted standards but for different media, ratings may mean different things and what my rating is based of may change

Film and Television:

Score on a scale of 1 to 5 Eyebrows.

1 Monobrow: This movie didn't do anything for me. Plan 9 from Outer Suck. 
2 Eyebrows: This movie did SOMETHING right. Notice the lack of plural. Not watchable.
3 Eyebrows: Watchable, it accomplished it's goal and did a few things right but mostly generic.
4 Eyebrows: This movie accomplished it's goal and did it with style! Good acting and production
5 Eyebrows: HOLY SHIT! WATCH OPENING NIGHT AND THANK THE HEAVENS FOR BESTOWING US WITH SUCH A RARE MASTERPEICE!

Rating is based on 3 criterion

1)Did it accomplish it's goal? 
If its comedy, did it entertain? If it's a thriller did it keep me in suspense? If it's a horror did it keep me on the edge of my seat and my girl in my arms? This goal is important as the next two combined so if a movie accomplishes it's goal it can possibly get a 3. 

2)Was it well produced? 
Did the special effects work? Did the script work? Did everything that went into making this film work to accomplish it's goal effectively? 

3) Was it well acted? 
While this should fall under the category of production, a good actor can make a movie worth watching or make up for some of the later being sub par. Hence, they are given there own specific point.


Music: 

1 Monobrow: Disembowel all knowledge. This album is bogus, not even worth stealing
2 Eyebrows: Steal the one single song that doesn't suck.
3 Eyebrows: Steal this album. It's okay.
4 Eyebrows: Buy this album! The whole album is really good!
5 Eyebrows: Buy this album of iTunes first minute it drops, so you can listen to it on the way to go buying a hard copy! It's just that good!

The Rating for music is based on 3 Criterion.

1) Is it well crafted? 
A good album is well crafted and played by talented musicians. Now, this is objective. I'm not a musician so I'm easy to fool. If I can tell you don't know how to play, EVERYONE can tell you don't know how to play. Now, some people don't know how to play well...that is a different animal and taken on a case by case basis.

2) Does it convey something real?
I know this category is kinda vague but I'm a big fan of honesty. I want to fell something in my music, something earnest. This is a vague thing but my ears can hear dishonesty and it turns me off from whatever your saying.

3)It is well mixed?
A badly mixed album can ruin solid individual tracks. There is a current trend in music where each new album tries to use compression techniques to make the album 'louder' than the last, and it results in hardly being able to hear the music. Errors like this that negatively affect the product will result in me being mad and well...good luck getting your album over a 3.

Video Games:

1 Monobrow: Unplayable. Any offers for you to come over and play this, decline them.
2 Eyebrows: Unplayable, but damn it looks good doing it.
3 Eyebrows: Playable, but you've probably played this before under some other title.
4 Eyebrows: Fun to play, this game is also pretty and well executed to boot!
5 Eyebrows: FUN TO PLAY, UNIQUE, GO MOD YOUR BOX SO YOU CAN STEAL THIS GAME AND PLAY IT WHILE YOU DRIVE DOWN TO THE GAME STORE TO GET IT!

The rating for video games is based on this criterion:

1)Is it fun to play?
This counts for most of the score, because the point of the game is to play it and if it isn't fun to play then likely I will give a negative score. Games like this usually have the problem of spending too much time prettying up the graphics and not enough time making the game fun.

2)Graphics?
Most games required you to stare at the TV for upwards of 10 hours. If that time requires me to look at ugly graphics and iffy animation, I will probably not be a happy camper unless your game is incredibly fun. Guitar Hero and Katamary Damacy come to mind as games with simple –sometimes even ugly-- graphics but make up for it with style and immense playability.

3) Music and Sound
The sound Mario makes when he jumps hasn't changed. Why? It's not broken. I use this as an example because good sound goes a long way. Music too, the themes of Final Fantasy have almost made it into mainstream culture and the familiar victory sound can be heard still today at most nerd cons.

Comic Books/Cartoons:

The rating system goes as follows

1 Monobrow: Rob Leifield and Joseph Loeb. Need I say more?
2 Eyebrows: Somethings mega lacking, the writing is cliché or the artwork doesnt cut muster.
3 Eyebrows: Readable, It's okay but mostly comprised of generic plots and artwork.
4 Eyebrows: Good read, great artwork, this is a damned good book!
5 Eyebrows: A rare classic, a great unique dense book that gives the name “graphic novel” justice.

There are two simple criterion for this:

It is well written?
A well written comic is the basis for the artwork. Without good writing, the artwork will be meaningless and simple a collection of pretty pictures.

Is it well drawn?
A well drawn comic is the basis for the writing. Without good artwork, the writing will fall dull. What could be an amazingly dense and creative work stifled by poor art.

Because comics and cartoons are a highly visual medium the artwork counts every bit as much as the writing. One cannot exist effectively without the other.