How to Argue on The Internet Aka Eric Bailey's Response to Piston1894

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The story: Once upon a time, I posted a review of the 8-bit Superman video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Much later, I received an odd comment from “Piston1894” without any way of responding directly. So, I elected to write a response and post it publicly instead, as ludicrous as it may seem, purely for enjoyment.

The following quote is the entirety of Piston1894’s comment. It is worth noting for context that my review of the game was markedly negative, and that certain expletives  of Piston1894’s comment have been edited with “*” but were definitely explicit in the original:

“What you fail to realise is that a game that captured the spirit of Superman would be boring as f*cking hell. Here’s what a real Superman game would be like: you’d fly around beating up everyone and not taking any damage, then Lex Luthor would show up with a sh*tload of Green Kryptonite and you’d be completely f*cked. The End. Does that sound like a fun game? No, it doesn’t. Superman on the NES, on the other hand, is damn fun. It’s a highly competent platformer that manages to do justice to one of the few interesting Superman storylines.

So in short, f*ck you, and f*ck your review!”

If you would like, you can actually read the review and his comment in original form here:

What follows is my response.


Dear Piston1894,

Seeing as you are so cowardly that you cannot even provide a link to your e-mail address with your comment, I doubt that you will ever read my response. However, considering that you were so upset by a video game review on the internet that you chose to resort to childish swearing, perhaps you do indeed consider this page to be so supremely important and will return. It is with that hope in mind that I bother forming this response. I believe that I am correct, that you are incorrect, and intend to provide a persuasive argument herein.

To begin with: If you Google the simple term “Superman NES,” you will find that on the first page of your search results listed, you can see some rather apt descriptions of the game in the preview blurbs of the pages the links represent. For example, I am looking at the search results at the time of writing this (on January 20, 2011) and finding the phrases “crappy game,” “this was the worst NES game ever,” “terrible,” and one that implies the graphics are inferior to most titles. Although some of the blurbs simply list the objective traits of the game (“platformer”), not one of them implies any positive judgment whatsoever.

Perhaps, you might argue, this is because reviews and other pages that use negative language are more sensational, attract more views, and thus end up higher on Google search results. I would then argue in return that this would fail to explain why other NES video games commonly viewed as “good” would not result in similar negative-skewed search results. Surely for every game, even the classics, there are terrible-rating reviews on the internet – in fact, I know there are, as I have written some of them. Yet, despite the attempts of some to naysay the classics, if you Google for some of the traditionally accepted “great games” such as Mega Man, Contra, Tecmo Bowl, and many others, not to mention the outright legendary first-party cartridges like Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda, you will find that the search results still come up positive with nary a negative review in sight.

In fact, you may be stunned to learn this, but even if you Google for such traditionally-accepted-as mediocre or even poor titles like Bible Buffet, Hydlide, Master Chu and the Drunkard Chu, X-Men, and others, I still do not see as much vitriol as has been poured out against this iteration of Superman. The comparison is uncanny, as some writers even have positive affirmations of those notoriously bad games that show up in the text reviews of the search results, which not even Superman on the NES can claim.

Which can only lead to one of two conclusions: Either Google search results are an exceptionally poor indicator of a product’s quality, or you are such a singularly influential expert on Superman (specifically 8-bit video games based on the character) that your opinion on the matter renders everyone else’s, including mine, as insignificant.

Let us first examine the former idea, that Google search results are a poor indicator of the validity of any posit. Firstly, it would be rather strange for Google search results not to be used as a relevant measure, since not only is internet search among the most highly sought-after, popular, and hotly contested services in the world economy (along with, and of the same stature as, social networking such as Facebook, video sharing like YouTube, mobile device operating systems, etc.), but literally millions and millions of people use the service every day. It is such a well-accepted standard that an entire sub-industry, that of search engine optimization, exists primarily and almost solely due to the significance of Google search results. If you were to truly believe that Google search results were not a relevant indication, then frankly, not only would the absurdity of that opinion outweigh the absurdity of your view of the Superman video game for the NES, but it would render such other views as moot since you would have instantly ruined any thin remains of credibility you began with.

Secondly, to be just as frank, if you truly need any other objective indication (that is, outside of your testimony, my testimony, and the Google search results) of the quality of the Superman NES video game, please feel free to suggest an additional benchmark to use. Honestly, Google search result blurbs was the only one I used because I do not feel that I need any further evidence in that matter; having said that, I am fully confident that if any further indicator is required, it would function perfectly well in favor of my view rather than yours. By all means, show me a measure that indicates Superman on the NES as being a video game of above-average quality. It is an impossible, futile endeavor.

The second possible conclusion, though, is more intriguing, yet somehow seems more plausible based on your account; after all, your commentary on the Superman character seems to indicate that you, indeed, do believe that you are among the world’s foremost experts. You say that, and this is an exact quote, “a game that captured the spirit of Superman would be boring,” and then added an expletive for emphasis.

If you are such an expert on the character of Superman, and the “spirit” of Superman, as to be able to confidently, accurately, and authoritatively comment on the viability of such adaptations, then please, sir, expert, let me ask you this: Considering your implication that that a video game that captured the spirit of Superman would be boring, what would you then conclude about the potential aptitude of other mediums that would attempt to capture the “spirit” of the Superman character? Would you argue that a Superman movie would be boring? How about a novelization? How about a live-action television series? Or an animated Justice League program? Best yet, how about a comic book series? Do you believe that a graphic novel that attempted to convey the spirit of Superman would be unexciting and uninteresting?

This is a remarkably intriguing idea that you seem to subscribe to, because it means that either every single iteration throughout differing mediums of the Superman character and story was successful explicitly because they avoided trying to convey his “true spirit” (which seems utterly astounding that so many films, comic book runs, and other stories have been launched that were successful but only because they intently never tried to convey the “spirit” of the Superman character, which would be boring, you have assured me), which would basically mean that we have yet to see Superman’s “true spirit” since many of those stories have obviously been successful for the character to be among the world’s most foremost recognized and popularly followed (are you Superman’s creator, to be able to make so outlandishly audacious of a claim?) icons; or, alternately, that instead, the “true spirit” of Superman is that Superman is boring and every single Superman story has avoided the real “spirit” of the character because of that fact.

Do you understand me? Are you able to follow this line of thinking, which originated from your own position? While I doubt that you possess either the intelligence or attention span to have read until this point, I still persist out of the aforementioned hope of how utterly important this is to you; if that is the case, then do not worry, for my conclusion draws near.

Piston1894, based on your own comment in response to my review, we can only end up at one of two conclusions. These are the only possibilities. That:

1) You are wrong. The Superman video game on the Nintendo Entertainment System is of below-average merit by any measure either quantitative or qualitative. Even considering my own frequent admission that my reviews are subjective and such judgments rendered may vary from accepted opinion, this would not be one of those occasions: This title is not a great game and my rating was perfectly, wonderfully accurate and appropriate. The game is flawed, not executed well, not designed strongly, nor did it have a stellar development team behind it.


2) Superman is, indeed, a boring character. Rather than the game being profoundly flawed, it is the character that is flawed. All previous attempts at conveying Superman, despite their decades-long world-renowned success both in profit and popularity, have avoided the “true spirit” of the character, which you are the world’s only authority on. In short: Superman sucks.

Take your pick, Piston1894. Being a Batman fan, I could not possibly care less which one you choose.

I would, though, like to provide one more thought: You seem to believe that the Superman character is boring, that the Superman NES video game is fantastic, that you are the only person on the planet who understands Superman’s “true spirit,” and that it is not possible to imagine a good video game that manages to capture the essence of Superman.

The truth is that it is certainly possible, even if apparently elusive, but it takes a more capable mind than yours; that is, one that can spell the world “realize” correctly, be able to form a coherent argument without resorting to swearing, and realize (see how I spelled it?) that you cannot judge a game with any sort of confidence or authority until you have played enough others by which to make a scaled comparison, or at least host some sort of intellectual faculty by which you are able to objectively, intelligibly, and accurately measure its merits.

 Your only remaining possible argument to make (albeit ad hominem) is that, no matter how stunningly pathetic you are, it is even more pathetic of me to bother responding in such a manner. To that, I say: The difference is that I get to use my response as amusement for my friends and readers, whereas your words will only serve as testament to how vapid and mindless you are.

Since you have shown the inability to go even a single paragraph in your argument before resorting to childish, unconvincing swearing and hyperbole, I can likely thus conclude that you are an emotionally immature, priority-warped, misguided, ignorant, inexperienced fool of a human being. I smile warmly at that thought, and take great pleasure in the knowledge that I am more intelligent, more successful, more content, and probably better-looking than you. Please, please, please consider actually leaving some contact information next time you want to provide your ridiculous commentary. I would love to decimate your opinions in a more personal fashion.

   — Eric “Nintendo Legend” Bailey of


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