Bytten Ernie Awards 2007
Most Original Idea Award - Laser Dolphin by Dingo Games
Surely there can be no title more succinct than this? Two words that tell you half of the game's idea all by themselves. You're controlling a dolphin. With a laser cannon. Swimming about alien planets in search of the Prime Minister, who's been kidnapped by aliens. Collect the five golden fish in each level for bonuses.
Apart from swimming about and blasting enemies with your laser cannon and a number of weapon pickups (missiles are fun!), there are other game modes, and it is especially these for which I award the Most Original Idea award. Swim through a series of hoops in strict time limits in Race mode, or try earning points doing aerobatics in Stunt mode. Backflips, jumps, smooth landings, hoops and more all add bonuses. And if all that isn't variety enough, there are around thirty unlockable "cheat" modes (these don't score points, but allow for some fun). Try playing with a permanent machine gun or lightsword, or with a bigger dolphin.
Best Graphics And Concept Art - DOFUS
I think it might have been Hayden who last in last years Ernies awarded a game for the "Best title" catagory. Indeed, DOFUS might take out the "Worst title" award if I were offering one this year, but its redeeming features more than make up for its unfortunate name.
I absolutely love the game world conceptualisation and visual beauty of DOFUS. Vibrant colour schemes and gorgeous cell-shaded graphics make towns, dungeons and wilderness areas come to life. Ankama Games have meticulously created a myriad of playable characters that are visually customisable. This affords all player avatars a unique look, and this further adds to the in-game immersion.
From the excellent concept art that overflows from the polished and professional website, to the unique architechure of the towns, to the ideas behind the characters (and the artistic implementation of those ideas), the game was fully deserved of the gold star that it was awarded, despite being of a genre that I am not particularly fond of.