Sunday, 4 April 2010

Newgrounds Best Games of 2009: Part 1

Newgrounds 2010 Tank Awards Review: The Games
Part 1

Okay so an slightly unorthodox review today, making up for a few days off (as I visit home for the Easter weekend). So it's this time again!, the best portal for flash animations, games and one of the best communities it's been my pleasure to follow for many years. And now, four months into 2010, the nominees for the "Tank Awards" have been announced and I must say, I'm kind of ashamed at myself for not knowing many of the games in the list. My time at university has seen a definite decrease in my visits to the site, so now I hope to redeem myself by playing each and every nominee in this prestigious list.

I'll be recording my thoughts, the time I play it for and my overall score for the game. As I do this, I'm going to do a short write-up upon completion of each game as I go, so each "review" is fresh. So here we go... I have to say... I'm nervous. I have no idea how long this will take, only how long it could be... Wish me luck! Here's the list of the 21 nominees:
P.S. My vote for the best animation award is for "Saturday Morning Watchmen". Classic.
P.S.S. I just realised, I'm going to get an ass-load of NG achievements for this... Nice! Silver lining! :D

Another Small Favor
by Zeebarf and Riftmaster
Play time: 42 minutes

Using the classic point-and-click formula, "Another Small Favor" is the sequel to politically-driven comedy "A Small Favor". Neither of which spell "favour" correctly. I'm pretty sure only Brits read this. Anyway, Another Small Favour stays pretty true to the many Grade A titles that inspired it. Several times during the playthrough I was reminded of puzzles from Full Throttle, and the humour of Day of the Tentacle (or Manic Mansion, if you prefer). The key aspect I wish was taken however, is the ability to die. Games like Simon the Sorcerer and Another World always had an air of fear about them, as a world full of unexpected characters and animals always lead to unexpected events, thus fear. This always helped flesh out the world, immersing you further and just improving the experience nearly two-fold. Without this, Another Small Favour seems to just feel like a series of tasks to fulfil. Creative tasks, but just a check list still.

As I write this extensive paragraph, I realise I have another 20 games to go... Jesus. Music is awful, and on a tiny, tiny loop. The game itself is tight, but lacking. Environment art is great, but character art is ugly, except the snail farmer, he's great... as are his hairy green snails.
Score: 6/10

Back to the Cubeture 1
by EdibleCastle and BasV
Play time: 33 minutes

Based on the fantastic Cuboy animated series, and written & animated by the phenominal Edible Castle (Will Arbuckle), "Back to the Cubeture 1" is the first in a series of hilarious adventure games. Again, Back to the Cubeture is also a point and click, however this one includes mini-games! Hoorah! It's main draw is the pure, undiluted charisma of the whole thing. The art design is as fun as it is square, and with the usual "Edible Castle" style of recording all the sound effects with vocals you better have your sound up and your ears primed, or you'll miss a squeek or a grunt or a hum.

A solid little preview for the future series; the comedy is consistent, the voice work is tip-top, it's a great beginning! My only gripe would be that it's a little tough. The Horse Race minigame was a pain in the ass, to say the least.
Score: 8/10

by AdamAtomic
Play time: 11 minutes

To be honest, I was more grateful for this game than I was impressed. Grateful at how short the damn thing is, as I just spent a ridiculous amount of time playing two bloody point-and-click adventures. Not much to say about Canabalt, it was made in 5 days, and it shows. It's a very simple game, minimalist graphics etc. Run and jump. Run and jump. Run is automatic. Jump is a simple concept. Run. Jump. It seems odd that this game is included in this list of the best games of the year on Newgrounds. The talent is evident, first seen in the white birds that take flight upon your escape on the rooftops. The second is at the acknowledgement of the background area, which is incredibly atmospheric considering the colour choices. Talented artist, however I don't believe Canabalt to be anything of a contender, and honestly, not worthy of inclusion.

Still happy it's fucking short though. I'm getting tired. ...19 left...
Score: 3/10

Ching Chong Beautiful
by The-Swain
Play time: 1 hour

One of the more impressive entries at last years April Fools Day joke when Newgrounds went China Approved, "Ching Chong Beautiful" is only casually racist. It satirises gameshows like Takeshi's Castle and Ninja Warrior (both popular on Western Television), whilst simultaneously being a very well programmed flash game in it's own right. Headed by three of the main faces of Newgrounds itself; Swain, JohnnyUtah and Stamper, they each bring their usual high level of talent and knowledge as Ching Chong Beautiful is both a masterclass in flash game storytelling, and movement animation and programming.

The game is a platformer, in which you control a character through a huge series of difficult obstacle courses to reach the goal at the end, eventually leading to your kidnapped brother at the end of the game (I assume, I never actually got to the end). The movement is the high point of this game, the animation responds directly with your feedback, and every part of the body feels organic as you smack your face on low awnings or trip up from badly-aimed jumps. The game is infuriatingly hard, but as with these guys' other work, is just amazing. However. However. These guys are part of the company, so even if this turns out to, technically, be the best game in the list, I will not give this my vote. It doesn't seem right, kind of like giving your own country your 12 points in the Eurovision Song Contest. P.S. I miss Terry Wogan.
Score: 9/10

That's part 1, expect the next few parts over the next few days. ^^

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