Best Sound of the Year (Posted Dec 24, 2004)

2004 Best Sound in an Indie Game of the Year Award

The 2004 award for Best Sound in an Indie game was a difficult award to determine.  Sound awards, much like graphic awards are really in the eye of the beholder (or in this case in the ear of the beholder).  What one person may see as spectacular, others may not feel is up to par.  With that in mind, selecting a winner for this award means putting ourselves under scrutiny.  However, the five finalists for this award were all solid games in addition to being extremely strong in their sound, so without further ado, we happily present the finalists and winners for the 2004 award for best sound in an indie game.

5th Place - KaiJin

Developer: Phelios Players: 1
Release: March 2004 Download Now!
System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, 128 MB RAM, openGL acceleration, 16MB VRAM

KaiJin is a throw-back overhead shooter that will definitely appeal to those who yearn for the glory of overhead shooters from the past.  The game reminded me in many ways of the classic Dragon Spirit, which is another game you should definitely check out if for some reason you are lacking in that area of your video game history.

Where KaiJin really excels, much like Dragon Spirit is in creating a very strong unique feel through the use of stylized graphics and very strong music.  The theme in KaiJin is oriental, and the music is a wonderful array of oriental sounding tracks that are more than worth of a juke-box feature like was available in the console editions of Dragon Spirit.  The sound is more than enough reason to play this game, and you'll find that the graphics, while not quite on par with the sound, offer a very strong Japanese feel to them that helps this game to transport you to another world.

Our Review:
"I found the music in the game to be truly tremendous and HIGHLY recommend sitting through the 16MB download so that you can hear the music."

4th Place - Astrobatics

Developer: Kraisoft Players: 1
Release: November 2003
System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz CPU, 64 Mb RAM, 8 Mb video RAM, DirextX 8.0

One of a couple games in the sound category that just barely missed our deadline to be in the 2003 Game of the Year awards, Astrobatics tries to build on shooters of the past by trying to do well what has already been done instead of trying to recreate the wheel.  Like most shooters, the bullets fly all over the screen, and require a very steady hand in order for you to maneuver around them. There were many times that I expected to see my ship bend as I tried to get it around a series of enemy shells headed for me.

The sound-tracks on this game are fantastic. As is the case with any game, some are better done than others, but I was amazed at how many sound-tracks are included and the quality of each. They all have a darker feeling of despair to them than some games. You will feel as though you are in a fight of impossible odds just by listening to the music. 

Side-scrolling shooters seem to have a penchant for great music.  In my mind Astrobatics beat out a tough crowd, that included such immediate classics as Jets'n'Guns to be the shooter with the best music this year, even though it came up a little short in having the best music this year.

Our Review:
"Kraisoft has become known for games that showcase some of the best that Independent games has to offer, and this is another case of a fantastic game that you'll only find online."

3rd Place - Global Defense Network

Developer: Evertt Players: 1
Release: July 2004
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 8.1+, 700Mhz

Honestly we debated back and forth on whether or not to include Global Defense Network in the graphics and the sound categories.  This is a very well done game, that as I mentioned in my action appraisal "GDN will probably end up on my most un-appreciated games of the year list."  My main feeling for that statement is that I know that not nearly enough people have played the full version of this game. 

We ultimately decided to include GDN in the sound category and not the graphics category as the real star of Global Defense Network is the music, which although being ďtechnoĒ is far from the generic beats typical of most shooters. The soundtracks are highly atmospheric and emotive, professionally composed pieces that complement the gameplay beautifully. Normally, I canít stand techno and end up turning the music off when Iím playing a game but anyone who does that with Global Defense Network is doing themselves a disservice. The music is the main component that drives the game, and it gets this game a 3rd place finish this year in a tight field of competitors.

Our Review:
"Global Defense Network is one of the more original games to grace my hard drive lately."

2nd - Anito: Defend a Land Enraged

Developer: Anino Players: 1
Release: November 2003  
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 600 MHz Processor, 128 MB Ram, 16 MB Video Card, DirectX 9.0

Anito: Defend a Land Enraged was actually released in late November of 2003.  However, being that this is the Indie world, a game being released that late in the year doesn't allow us a chance to play and gauge it very well, so we tend to keep our deadline to make the end of the year awards around the first week of November.  In the case of Anito, that was certainly a good choice as there was no demo at the games release and we didn't get our copy for review until January, which certainly means we wouldn't have given the game the proper appraisal.

Anito is quite clearly one of the better Indie games that was released over the last year.  Despite what you may think after seeing some screenshots and artwork from the game, the graphics are really not the strongest point of the game.  They are good, don't get me wrong, but the intricate storyline, worthy of the best fantasy novels is so wonderfully inviting you'll find yourself playing just so you can get to the next city and find out more of what is happening instead of trying to get through the city and onto the next battle.

What really completes the package is the music, which draws you into the world of Anito and will keep you there even when you aren't playing the game.  For the weeks I was playing this game, and for many weeks after I would find myself absent mindedly humming the tunes from the game, falling blissfully back into the world that the music so well describes. 

Our Review:
"For the number of hours that you will play this game, the depth of the game play and the overwhelmingly involved story, it is amazing that the game is only $20."

2004 Best Sound in an Indie Game of the Year Award - I of the Enemy

Developer: Enemy Technology Players: 1-8 (LAN)
Release: November 2004  
System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, 400MHz Pentium II , 128 MB of RAM, DirectX 8+

I of the Enemy is a Real Time Strategy game that presents many different mission types, such as delaying convoys and other specific objectives.  Playing with your units, who gain experience and ability over time, must be done in a tight team or you'll soon find yourself slaughtered by enemy forces.  In addition LAN play is available allowing 8 players to play together and against each other in fantastic futuristic Sci-Fi battles.

Really though, the first thing you'll notice when you play Enemy Technology's "I of the Enemy" or even got to their website is the absolutely amazing quality of the audio.  The voice work in the game and music are wonderfully done.  The first time I put this game in, I heard from the other side of the room: "is that one of your indie games?"  The person, who has watched hundreds of indie games come through my computer in the last few years, was visibly shocked by what they were hearing, and with good reason.  The sound in I of the Enemy is crystal clear and very professionally done. 

This comes out probably most forcefully with the main character of the game, Verkkal, who is voiced by Ian McNeice, famed for his role as Baron Harkonnen in Dune.  With very strong voice acting on the game that rivals anything that you'll find in mainstream gaming, and often beats it, I of the Enemy was a strong contender for the Sound award.  After you add the wonderful soundtracks to the mix, IOE moved just over the top of the nearly equally amazing Anito. 

Our Review:
None available at this time (Check back in the near future)





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