STAFF CHOICE AWARDS 2009

Some of the staff's favorite games of 2009




I should start off by saying I don't necessarily agree with or support any of the existing methods of awards for RM games for a variety of reasons. When it comes to the idea of elevating those projects that are actually good above the endless sea of buggy, half-finished, or forever abandoned projects that flood the database, I am very much in favor of that, but I don't feel some silly, completely unregulated, pretend awards are the way to go about doing that. I would much rather projects be able to succeed entirely under their own merits because people would actually play and enjoy them, rather than celebrating the projects they thought about playing over the projects they didn't think about playing. Or the project with the best screenshots. Or the project their friend made. I dream of a world where these awards aren't necessary because the games that are actually good get recognized on their own.

But as staff I guess we are required by this event to play favorites and pick a few of the games which we, personally, particularly enjoyed. These are just a few of our favorite games of 2009.

-Solitayre

Solitayre's Picks

Starless Umbra
Developer: Dragonheartman
Platform: RPG Maker 2003
Genre: Traditional RPG




Something of a sleeper in the RM community, this game has been in production for the better part of a decade. And it shows. Here you won’t be finding tons of stunning visuals, the story is often incoherent and sometimes the dialogue is lacking, but don’t be fooled. This game is possibly the most raw, unadulterated fun I have ever had playing an RM game. There are over a dozen mini-games, including several fairly functional Action Battle Systems, and many of which have a strong enough premise that they could be an entire game in their own right. You’ll also find many well-designed dungeons and puzzles that are many steps above the average RM experience. There is even a fully functional side-scrolling level complete with a non-trivial boss fight at the end!

SHA-IIIIIIIIIING!



In short, this is far and away one of the finest games in this community and it is deserving of far more fanfare than it is getting. I highly recommend this title to anyone, there is much to be learned from it.

View my review of the game here.




Dhux’s Scar
Developer: Erilex
Platform: RPG Maker 2000
Genre: Traditional RPG



RMN’s breakout hit of 2009, the English translation of this RM2k project took the community by storm. And it’s easy to see why. Containing tons of high quality original artwork, innovative and clever battle mechanics, engaging and memorable characters, and a story you’re unlikely to ever forget, this title is an exemplary game in many, many ways.

You know the world is screwed when this guy is the hero.



I really can’t recommend this game enough. It’s one of the closest games to a masterpiece I’ve ever played. The only downside is the incredibly graphic violence and the dark and mature content of the game mean it isn’t for everybody.

View my review of the game here.


Cast Aside
Developer: Anamei Productions
Platform: RPG Maker XP
Genre: Tactical RPG/Puzzle



I am a fan of tactical RPGs. Unfortunately, there are very few to be found in RMN’s database. That is why when I found this game, it stood out to me for a couple of reasons. The gameplay, while seemingly complicated at first, is really quite addictive, and can lead to some truly frantic battles, the likes of which you will rarely encounter in other projects. But this is not the only draw of this project. The puzzle-based dungeons are incredibly well-designed, and the dialogue, while occasionally dragging on a bit too long, is quite excellent as well.

Rayne is having a really bad day…



In short, the excellent programming of the battle system and the detailed and thoughtful puzzles in the game make it stand apart from most other games to be found on RMN. I recommend anyone who enjoys Tactical RPGs to try this project.

Read my review of this project here.

Disclaimer: These selections are based solely and entirely on the opinions of Solitayre, who is dumb, and these selections are not intended to represent the “best games of RMN” or any such nonsense. These are just a few of my favorite games. I will not hear otherwise.

Silviera's Picks

Dhux's Scar
Developer: Erilex
Platform: RPG Maker 2000
Genre: Traditional RPG

Probably one of the most dark and violent games you'll see in RM2K, Dhux's Scar is filled with custom art to properly display its violent material. It throws a few twists into the default battle system that make the raw gameplay interesting and challenging without requiring much in the way of grinding. What really makes this game worth playing, however, is the bizarre and twisted storyline. Starring a rather unlikely main character (a merchant with no combat experience) and filled with religious symbolism and a few very unpredictable twists, it's a tale you won't forget anytime soon.

For more details check out my review.

Visions and Voices
Developer: Craze and Karsuman
Platform: RPG Maker VX
Genre: Traditional RPG

If you're looking for a game light on exposition and heavy on action, Visions and Voices is a good pick. After a brief intro the game thrusts you into a central hub from which you can access the game's many dungeons in any order you like. Despite the fact that a narrative is nearly non existent, most of the characters are extremely interesting and well written. What makes this game worth playing is the wide variety of unique skills each character possess (both inside and outside of battle), which manages to keep combat and exploration entertaining through to the end.

For the full story check my review.

Halibabica's Picks

Hero's Realm
Developer: kentona
Platform: RPG Maker 2003
Genre: Traditional RPG

A game that needs no introduction; Hero's Realm is one of the best and longest games I've played in a while. It ropes you in with its old-school ambience and sends you on a classic quest to the ends of the earth like the RPGs of yore. It takes the tried and true mechanics of old games like Dragon Warrior and the original Final Fantasies and proves you don't need an epic, in-depth story to make a good RPG. Nor do you need flashy graphics, complex dialogue, or spiffy lighting effects. It may seem barebones, but it's a throwback to a time when video games were much simpler, and it's tons of fun to top it off. If you haven't played it by now, then you should really see what it's all about!

You can read my review of it here. .

Visions & Voices
Developer: Krazuman (that's what they go by, right?)
Platform: RPG Maker VX
Genre: Traditional RPG

Say what you want about Craze's ego and Karsuman's artistic preferences, but these two make a damn good team. Visions & Voices is listed as a normal RPG, but it has many unique characteristics that distinguish it from others. It features a complex battle system with atypical (and kinda confusing) stats. It throws out many RPG conventions like the use of a world map, abusable inns, and even the need to level up. Although set in a hub area, each passing day brings changes all throughout it, giving you new incentive to explore it each time. Secret areas are constantly opening up, and there are an abundance of dungeons to explore. Most bosses are optional, and any obstacle can be overcome with the use of good tactics. This game challenges you in ways other RPGs won't, and that alone makes it worth a look.

You can read my review of it here.

Karsuman's Picks

Master of the Wind
Developer: Volrath & Artbane
Platform: RPG Maker XP
Genre: Traditional RPG

This project is one of the oldest English RMXP games still trucking forward, and is noted for its memorable characters, dungeon design and episodic narrative. Nearing its conclusion, this fantasy superhero RPG has gone through quite a few ups and downs over the (several) years it has been in production, but it still serves as a fine example of a large-scale cooperative effort - something that many in the maker community hold in mythic regard. Also, one of your party members is a skeleton that dual-wields and produces witty catchphrases. How cool is that?

Speak No Evil
Developer: Chaos
Platform: RM2k3
Genre: RPG - not very traditional though

In classic form for an SMT/Persona-styled game, the world ends near the start and you play as a bunch of teenagers and young adults as they try to make their way in a world filled with demons and magic powers. Gameplay-centric, the game makes some decidedly unusual game design decisions, succeeding at some and failing at others. The graphics are garish, the story pretty much makes no sense, the level design is often infuriating and bugs abound, but few games can make claims that SnE can - that is, it is a lengthy, complete project with 100% custom resources done within a very brief and downright strict development cycle.

Alter A.I.L.A Genesis
Developer: Neok
Platform: RM2k3
Genre: Futuristic RPG

Notable for its clever sidescroller-esque point of view, quirky dystopic setting and unusual gameplay mechanics, AAG is like a breath of fresh air when placed next to pretty much any other RM* game. A jack of all trades, AAG puts up an admirable effort on all fronts despite the limitations of its platform, featuring a solid, cohesive presentation with a fair bit of custom art, and being one of the very few RM2k3 games with downright fun battle mechanics. Its weakest links are perhaps its story and characters, which while fun, occasionally fall into the realm of the contrived and cheesy. Despite that, though, it is one of the best RM2k3 games I have played in a long time.

Kentona's Picks

Paradise Blue
Developer: Ocean
Platform: RPG Maker 2003
Genre: Traditional RPG


I may be a bit biased in choosing this screenshot...



Paradise Blue from Ocean is a neo-retro RPG with traditional gameplay elements and excellent custom 8-bit style graphics. Always on the RM community's radar since its inception, the full game had been released to much deserved fanfare. No matter where it is posted, it is generating great interest and high praise. Paradise Blue spices the traditional RPG just enough to be both a nostalgia trigger and a new experience. The interesting concept of having strong characterization AND a custom party is worth checking out.


Monopolo
Developer: Brent Murray (a.k.a. S4D a.k.a. silver4donuts a.k.a. Crazy Murray From Surrey)
Platform: RPG Maker 2003
Genre: Boardgame


Are you ready for the Monopolo Revolution?



Monopolo is an RPG Maker recreation of the popular boardgame Monopoly. While S4D is like a lightning rod for drama and controversy, the eye of the dramastorm turned out to be a pretty decent game after all! Excellent style and production values breathes new life into an otherwise dull boardgame. Rumor has it that S4D is working on an upgrade...

You can read my review of it here.

Disclaimer: Though kentona has provided his picks, he doesn't play games very often! Take these picks with a grain of salt :)

Posts

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Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18062
There is nothing to disagree about. These are some games we as individuals, who have our own likes and dislikes, enjoyed specifically. It does not hold any greater or deeper significance whatsoever.
Sated
puking up frothing vitriolic sarcastic spittle
4064
comment=24586
There is nothing to disagree about. These are some games we as individuals, who have our own likes and dislikes, enjoyed specifically. It does not hold any greater or deeper significance whatsoever.

Ahaha. Of course there are thing to disagree about as this is the internet and there always are. Then again, you haven't made the mistake of calling this the "Educated Choice" awards so some drama should be averted.

As for the games themselves, I have never actually played any of them so I can't offer an opinion. I will say, though, that you should've completed the list before publishing it.
Solitayre
Circumstance penalty for being the bard.
18062
We would have, but certain people (not naming any names) dragged their feet...
Reminds me of RRR's '''awards''. X,-D
kentona
only 90s kids will like this admin
20477
Are people still up in arms over that hilariously tongue-in-cheek name from yesteryear? That amuses me.

Last year's format was my fault - they should never have left someone who rarely plays games organize a list of games for an award. Lessons learned and all that.

As to this list, I think it's fine - it's a list of the personal faves of our staff members. Hard to argue that!
Sated
puking up frothing vitriolic sarcastic spittle
4064
I'm not "up in arms" about it, but you have to admit that it was always going to be controversial (regardless of the intent).

This is a much better format. I will have to play some of these games when I am done with the games on my review list and with FFXIII and with Football Manager (which you are never technically done with!). They'll be waiting a while.
I'm a fan of this list.
DE
*click to edit*
1313
I agree with most of the list, with the sole exception of Dhux's Scar. I found the game extremely juvenile and the humor felt very forced.
kentona
only 90s kids will like this admin
20477
These things end up much better when they are lead by someone who plays games.
comment=24674
Starless Umbra. <3
There should be a list like this all the time. Like how when you go to a record store, and they'll have a shelf of the staff's current favorites? Something like that would be sweet here, all the time, not just once a year.
narcodis: It's called the "game of the month."
downright strict development cycle

Yeah fuck you :(

"Hey chaos, try and finish your game by my birthday!"

asjdgasdfgasfdjgsfdasdhdfhdghaxssddsgafhadfsdfasdfas
Hey you did it, right? =) (Kinda)
comment=24586
There is nothing to disagree about. These are some games we as individuals, who have our own likes and dislikes, enjoyed specifically. It does not hold any greater or deeper significance whatsoever.


*pause clamoring for AAG* ...Aaahaaah...
comment=24623
I agree with most of the list, with the sole exception of Dhux's Scar. I found the game extremely juvenile and the humor felt very forced.

Wow. I'm pretty sure you haven't played it to the end.

This is a fine article, but I'm not sure I like its name. Should these users receive achievements, then?
Thanks for the vote of confidence Karsuman.

Also, FG:
comment=24601
As for the games themselves, I have never actually played any of them so I can't offer an opinion.

This comment amuses me greatly, given our past differences. We're actually putting some tweaks on the older arcs at the moment, and many of the ideas for improvements came from reviews we've gotten on this site (yes, even yours, FG), so thank you all for that.

Edit: I can edit! At last! Well played, sirs!
Sated
puking up frothing vitriolic sarcastic spittle
4064
This comment amuses me greatly, given our past differences.

I suppose I should clarify...

Until the article was updated, I hadn't played any of the games on it. At the time, the list only included the first two staff member's picks.

Now it has been updated I have played 4 of them (Hero's Realm, Speak No Evil, Alter A.I.L.A. Genesis and Master of the Wind). I'd say all four deserve to be there because I enjoyed all of them, with the exception of Master of the Wind: However, although I didn't personally enjoy my experience of it, I am willing to accept that there are a lot of people who have and so accept it probably deserves to be on here.
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