Alongside that, we have Clean Asia!, which also turns up in the visual category, and has already won the autofire 2k7 award from SHMUP-DEV. It's one of the more elegant contemporary free shooters, and you can go get a copy from Cactus' website. Rounding off the category, we have Cinammon Beats, which is an enigmatic looking rhythm-puzzle game, which - from its available video - appears to be based around creating your own beats with a load of physics balls.

That it doesn't appear in the Design Innovation Award category says much about the quality again... though another traveller from the Excellence in Audio manages to do just do just that (which proves, if nothing else, that I was lying when I said "Rounding out the category" in the last paragraph). That would be Fret Nice, which has a full demo version you can download. Its innovation is really simple to describe - you take a platform game, and use a Guitar controller. You have to applaud.

Similarly conceptually inspired is Fez, who is a 2D platform game character who discovers the world is actually 3D. Watch the trailer for the full incredibly cute existential horror to unfold. Also in the design category is Battleships Forever - also available to play right now - which takes the aesthetics of classic shooter Warning Forever and applies it to a fleet-based space-RTS, with you controlling different fleets of weapon-totting ships. The cutest thing about the design is that you're able to design your own vessels, and then take them out to war to see how they do.

Battleships Forever: You've dunk my Battleship? Well done.

Apart from World of Goo, the other entry in the category is Snapshot Adventures: Secret of Bird Island. Expanding on the concept of Pokmon Snap, you have to take photos of every single bird you can find while simultaneously solving the odd disappearance of your elderly grandfather. No, really. See the demo for more.

As well as the aforementioned Fez, Hammerfall and Clean Asia!!, the Excellence in Visual Art cateogry features Synaesthete and The Path. The former is Digipen's baby, riffing off the Rez rhyhm/arcade shooter category, except instead of following on from Space Harrier it builds a retro fantasia-visual style on top of an isometric shooter. It's available for your pleasure online. The Path, meanwhile, is a beautiful and warped forest-set survival-horror game, based heavily on the timbre of the old-versions of Little Red Riding Hood. Which didn't exactly end well. The Path looks like it's about as Goth as my old record collection, but does it with style. Unlike my old dress sense.

Finally, in terms of the general categories (there are also the student and web-game awards) there's Technical Excellence. Sitting next to Audiosurf and World of Goo, there's Axiom: Overdrive, Gumboy Tournament and (er) Goo! It's a different Goo!, however - this one is a fluid-combat game, with you playing a Goo, trying to engulf and consume your foes - think Pac-man with eukaryotes. There's a public beta available. Gumboy Tournament is the sequel to Gumboy - Crazy Adventures (which won Gametunnel's game of the year award back in 2006), adding multiplayer to the mix. Axiom: Overdrive is a physics-based action/puzzle game, which seems to be expanding on the possibilities of cave-based games like Thrust, except with modern physics. And you have to approve of any developer who makes papercraft templates for you to download, cut out and assemble. I'd have given them a technical award just for that, frankly.

We'll know the winners on 20th February. We wish them all luck.

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About the author

Kieron Gillen

Kieron Gillen


Kieron is one of the founders of the lovely Rock, Paper, Shotgun and nowadays writes comics for Marvel starring characters that even his mum has heard of.

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