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Bytten Ernie Awards 2007

Strangest Game Experience - ZSX3: Ninjastarmageddon! by Ska Software
In one sense, there is nothing strange about ZSX3. It's a highly polished and fast-paced space trading and combat game, featuring an open-ended quest/story and the ability to do your own thing in between missions. You can play in 3D or in "Classic" top down view, plundering derelict ships for cargo and bounty hunting as well as trading and delivering packages. In another sense, this is the most barking mad game I've seen since... well, since Ska Software's last game, probably.

It's the setting and characters more than anything else that create the insanity. There are zombies and ninjas, once at war, now with an uneasy peace enforced by pterodactyls. Enemies, as well as pirates and the zombie mafia, include the cyborgs, out to "enlighten" the universe through their assimilation jihad. But more than this, much more - instead of spaceships, you fight, trade and explore in a choice of motorcycles, cars and sailing ships. Trade goods include cheese, kittens and bananas.

ZSX3: Ninjastarmageddon! Pipeline

ZSX3 is a good all-rounder, with more great music and high class cartoon graphics coupling perfectly with tight playability and many hours of gameplay. I was still playing this for weeks after submitting my review, which is always a sign of a strong game. More please, Ska Software!

Retro Award - Pipeline by Superluminal
This Ernie is awarded to a game from the past, brought up to date with style and panache. It seemed fitting to award it to Pipeline, based on the classic Pipe Dream. Fit sections of pipework together in order to guide a flow of water from tap to drain, with points for the more elaborate your construction gets and lives lost for having the water escape. If the water passes through sprinklers, cross pieces, pennies, dollar bills, gems and more you can score big bonus points.

A wealth of sound comes in this game, including some rather creepy giggles, and the graphics are retro yet high quality. The bonuses and handicaps number well and are introduced steadily over the first levels. A solid and enjoyable production I was glad to be able to review.

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