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Special Awards (Posted Dec 30, 2004) Printer Friendly Page

2004 Special Awards

The special awards allows us to do a few of things. The first is to award a few awards (how about 10?) for things that probably wouldn't be noticed otherwise. The second is to award a best of in some categories where we didn't feel we had enough solid competitors to do a full best five games of the category breakdown. Beyond those two goals it also gives us a chance to vent a little and of course chat about our favorite topic, Indie gaming.

Most Over-Hyped Release

There were a few games that we put up for this award. The first top candidate was for Dark Horizons: Lore. DH:L is considered by many to be the first real release of publisher GarageGames, the group behind the Torque engine and the original Tribes (the game itself is made by Max Gaming Technologies). The only problem with awarding this award to that game is that it hasn't been released. When it first came out there were quite a few bugs to clean up, and so GarageGames has put the game into what they call the "early adopters" stage. What this means is that they are selling the game, but it hasn't been released yet (cough public beta).

In the mean time there has been a lot of headway made and the game has become much better since the first stage of its release earlier this year. All this leads us to believe that the idea of doing an early adopters release is something that shows the strength of indie developers of supporting their product though the process certainly isn't the best way to find and fix bugs in a game. When the game is finally released it may be that the game will actually live up to its hype at launch...though the question will remain "When was it released?" Since it wasn't officially released this year, we had to move our focus to another near professional indie developer, Reflexive and their breakout title Ricochet Lost Worlds.

Ricochet Lost Worlds is without a doubt one of the best looking breakout titles to come out in a little while, with a couple of interesting features and some slick level design. In fact it was good enough to end up 4th overall in our Arkanoid category awards this year. So why is it the most over-hyped release of the year? Well because frankly it received all kinds of lip-service from people who were convinced that it was the best breakout/Arkanoid game ever released. The interesting thing is that it isn't even close and those who state as such clearly don't play many games of this game type. The sales numbers certainly do show the following the game has had though, and it only proves further that people tend towards style over substance. RLW is a good game, but it finished 4th in the breakout category for the year, and it honestly doesn't deserve better.

Deja-Vu all Over Again Award

Juno Nemesis 2002

Juno Nemesis Remix

In the indie realm we see quite a few games that find their way to shelves multiple times. That isn't a bad thing in my eyes, as an ok game will often come back as a much better game. Take for example the game Orbz. This award winner from last year was first released as a multiplayer only game. Problem was that just weren't enough people playing online for you to be able to play the game (unless you wanted to scout around the arena by yourself for hours on end). The developers responded an gave us Orbz 2, which really wasn't a sequel, but a repackaged game that added a whole bunch of single-player levels. The game flat-out rocked and ended up among our Top 10 Games of 2003.

So fast forward to 2004, 3 games really caught our eyes as taking an old game and improving it, Starlines Inc was repackaged as Starship Tycoon, Dark Archon became Dark Archon -Invasion-, and Juno Nemesis became Juno Nemesis Remix. Of the three we came down to a toss-up between the last three on the list as far as which one was really the winner.

Juno Nemesis was a great game when it was first released in 2002. The graphics were sharp and the game was a fantastic evolution of the old Gyruss concept. The only problem was that the game was far too difficult. In addition to having to take out the inner circle, you also had to take out an outer circle. Moving back and forth between the two required swapping by using a button on your joystick. The problem came in because it was too difficult to keep track of both circles, and you quickly ended up dead.

Dark Archon 2003

Dark Archon -Invasion-

Flash forward to the end of 2003, just after our cutoff for the 2003 awards. Juno Nemesis Remix was released and it is a breath of fresh air for the game. Not only were the confusing inner and outer