Bytten Ernie Awards 2007
Best Game Award - Fizzball by Grubby Games
After their gold star winner "Professor Fizzwizzle" last year, it was difficult to imagine how Grubby Games could improve on it. Yet improve they have - Fizzball is, for me, the highlight of the Bytten year. A very different style of game, it takes the basic premise of Arkanoid and then adds that Fizzwizzle magic. Grow your fizzball, rescue the animals and stop... ah, that would be telling! Smashing blocks is fun but not essential - rescuing the animals is the primary aim.
The main reason this game is so good is the little touches. The cheerful music, the weather effects, the reactions of the animals when they get bumped, the animal sanctuary, the trophies... there's a mode for little kids that lets them play without losing lives. You can even see the animals spinning around in the fizzball!
Every element of this game has been polished and thought through to such great depth that those few gripes I had are very, very minor. This is a game I still have installed on my desktop and, as the animal sanctuary still needs money to feed the animals even when you aren't playing, I haven't the heart to leave them unfed. I have no idea where Grubby Games can go from here but I look forward to finding out.
Most Ambitious Game - The Dark Legions by Mascot Entertainment
The Most Ambitious Game award is for those games that show particular promise despite limited experience. The Dark Legions is one of those games - a 3D real-time strategy with strong environment interaction and a lot of variety in unit types and upgrades. I've not seen many indie games to this level of graphical detail and it caught my attention straight away.
It's not just the quantity of the graphics but the little things in the game. Units leave footprints in snow, leave blood stains (corpses disappear over time, and the speed of this can be adjusted), can harvest wood from individual trees and operate with a rather good level of autonomy. The biggest downside to The Dark Legions is the cacophony that ensues when you have a screen full of industrious workers - there's sound for everything!
The Dark Legions still has room to grow and improve, but the effort put into it really shows. I hope receiving an Ernie encourages Mascot Entertainment to develop even further.