As 2013 draws to a close, it's time to for a moment of quiet reflection about the videogames I've covered this year, blinking back the bitter tears as I wonder why I've dedicated so much of my time to writing about games like that Inspector Gadget one for the Commodore 64. No, I'm kidding, I love doing this and after all how else am I going to spend my time? Learning French? Practising the oboe? Improving the lives of my fellow man? Forget that, here's to another year of writing about old videogames no-one cares about, but before we leave 2013 behind for good here's a quick recap of this years articles, featuring awards in categories I have have pulled out of my backside or recycled from last year's review. Enjoy!
Most Blatant Copyright Infringement
Not only did arcade pop-em-up Monsters World copy its gameplay directly from Super Pang, it also took a bunch of its background graphics from the VHS covers of 80's horror movies. That's two bouts of plagarism in one!
An honourable mention goes to the bootleg NES version of Tekken 2, but in that case the developers at least had to put some effort in instead of just taking the gameplay from another game.
Most Baffling Use of a Licensed Character
This one's a shoo-in for Domark's home computer game based on classic slasher franchise Friday the 13th. Friday the 13th's star, Jason Voorhees, is an merciless undead killer of teenagers who loves his machete nearly as much as he loves his mother and whose relentless rampages of murder cannot be stopped for long. In the movies, I mean. In the game he's an anonymous shapeshifter in a crop-top who you can defeat by bashing with a line of plain white pixels.
I like the skull from, erm, Skull, because he's a giant floating skull with gems for eyes. Eyes that you can rip out of their sockets for points. He's menacing and a good source of income.
A very close runner-up is power-loader-wearing, chicken-beaked punk Doyle from Violent Storm. I want to be his friend and hear all about his adventures. I suspect his adventures will not be family friendly.
Hardest Videogame Concept to Sell
Baby Boomer is about pointing towards gun at a baby. It's little wonder that it was an unlicensed game.
Most Pleasant Surprise
Any one-on-one fighting game from the pre-Street Fighter II era has the potential to be an infuriating experience, but Taito's Great Swordsman turned out to be more of a fencing simulator, with accurate collision detection, tense gameplay and a vein of goofy humour that made it much more fun to play than I was expecting.
Most Oddly Unsettling Game
The Commodore 64 archery title Forbidden Forest set me on edge for reasons I can't adequately explain. Well, apart from the screaming noise it sometimes makes, that's definitely creepy. Besides that, the weird creatures and blocky but effective graphics gave the whole enterprise the feeling of something that was quite right.
A special mention goes to Alice in Videoland, an almost indecipherable mess of flickering colours and ill-explained gameplay that feels like the fever dream of an overworked Teletext staff member.
Most Shocking Moment
Disembowelling mutant babies with a chainsaw in Splatterhouse 2. I'm still amazed that was allowed in a home console game from the Nineties.
Least Shocking Moment
The revelation that the Weyland-Yutani company was behind the events of Alien vs. Predator. I think by this point their corporate motto is simply "We're Dicks, For Profit".
Worst Game on VGJunk This Year
The games I've written about this year have skewed heavily towards the "bad" end of the spectrum, so this was a fiercely contested category, mostly amongst the Commodore 64 games of 2013. Barely-playable psycho rabbit beat-em-up Ninja Rabbits comes close, as do arthritic "action" title The Running Man and flimsy cartoon tie-in Inspector Gadget & The Circus of Fear, but in the end the game that made me regret playing it the most was the SNES version of Wayne's World. It's a confusing, frustrating mess of a platformer with ugly graphics, mangled jokes and a version of "Bohemian Rhapsody" so unfathomably awful you'll immediately regret than humans ever evolved ears if you have the misfortune of hearing it. All in all, a hearty "screw you" to Wayne and Garth's distinctly un-excellent SNES adventure. I'm thinking about playing the NES version. I am also currently seeking help for my obvious psychological issues.
Best Game on VGJunk This Year
Pickings were slim for genuinely outstanding games, as I seem to have decided that 2013 was a year for self-punishment, but there are a few in the mix. Splatterhouse 2 is still a great experience despite its flaws, Racing Hero is classic Sega arcade action only slightly let down by a mild feeling of blandness and Konami's Violent Storm is a fantastic mix of beat-em-up gameplay and complete insanity - but one game stands head and shoulders above the rest, and that's Capcom's Alien vs. Predator. Quite possibly the pinnacle of the brawler genre, it's got wonderfully fluid gameplay, memorable set-pieces, fantastic pixel art, the whole nine yards, and I have no hesitation is saying that if you're going to play one game from those I worked through in 2013, AvP should be the one.
My Personal Favourite Article of the Year
Fake NES games are always fun, the article about "mature" gaming reboots was a hoot to write and the Super Soccer article is dear to my heart, but I think my favourite overall is the one about Commodore 64 nursery rhyme collection Hey Diddle Diddle, thanks to it being so incredibly bizarre and featuring a goose who kills a man because he doesn't say his prayers.
Well, that's all for 2013. I shall return in the distant future time of 2014 with more articles, more bad jokes and more complaining about the controls in home computer games from the Eighties. Thanks to all of you who read the site, and who share and comment and very occasionally send me money - I really appreciate all of it, and if you're enjoying these articles then I guess I'm doing something right. Thank you again, and I'll see you next year.