The organisation of the MSXdev’05 game development contest has asked me, Patriek Lesparre (aka GuyveR800), to judge all entries and appoint winners in two categories: Best Game and Most Original Game Concept.
For those who don’t know me, a few highlights of my MSX history, which started in 1986. In 1992, I founded TNI (aka The New Image) and launched TNI BBS, which was popular among many now well-known MSX people throughout the 1990′s. TNI released its first producton the MSX fair of Zandvoort 1992 and many products have followed since. TNI has always tried to push the envelope, doing new things and making the impossible possible. More about TNI on its website : http://www.tni.nl/
In 2002 the IRC channel #msxdev was founded by me and a few others as an on-topic alternative to #msx. You can find #msxdev on the Rizon IRC network, it has turned into a great place to get help on MSX programming, read the latest MSX scene news, but also for a fun chat with other MSX users.
Now on to the contest! I’ve played all games extensively and scored each game on five criteria: Visual, Audio, Gameplay, Originality and Polish. Bonus and penalty points were given where applicable. All scores are published below, but first: the announcement of the prize winners!
CATEGORY: BEST GAME
It gives me pride and joy to be able to appoint the winner of this magnificent prize. The five criteria were weighed and an overall impression was factored in. The nominees are all close together, but only one of them can be the absolute winner.
A Panasonic FS-A1ST MSX turboR computer.
Nominees for this prize
- Griel’s Quest for the Sangraal
- Universe: Unknown
- The Cure
- Parachuteless Joe
Maybe future MSXdev’XX contest rules will allow you to use your prize to create games that use its full potential. A turboR ROM game, that would be something! In any case, I hope you will be able to continue the level of quality seen in this release and perhaps even improve upon it.
CATEGORY: MOST ORIGINAL CONCEPT
Perhaps in celebration of the anniversary of my enduring banishment from their site, MRC decided I should give away a prize in their name.
Their poor judgement of character, unsanctioned publication of copyrighted works and publishing of lies, calumny and defamatory texts, all continuing to this day, make this task leave a particularly bad taste in my mouth.
A fascist bribe consisting of a maximum of four MSX T-shirts.
Nominees for this prize
- Namake’s Bridgedrome
- Cheating Wives
- Parachuteless Joe
- The Mansion
Regardless of this prize’s origins, I hope you will wear the MSX logo with pride and appreciate the irony of the fact that it stands for unification and harmony, while the sponsors of this prize seem hell-bent on establishing the opposite. May your efforts bring people closer!
The stars in the scoring system have the following meaning:
* = bad
** = average
*** = good
**** = great
***** = excellent
The Cure (XL2S Entertainment)
|Visual||*****||Excellent graphics, rich backgrounds, very impressive!|
|Audio||*****||Fitting music, plenty of variation, sound effects too. Top notch!|
|Gameplay||*****||Solid gameplay overall. Some relatively minor gameplay issues can’t keep the overall experience from being excellent.|
|Originality||***||Inspired on Vampire Killer, but has mostly original graphics, levels and tweaked game mechanics (bonus point).|
|Polish||****||A game this good deserves some more attention, eg. the ending is rather short and could use its own music. Perhaps things like that wouldn’t fit anymore.|
Universe : Unknown (Infinite)
|Visual||*****||The graphics are outstanding, well done.|
|Audio||*****||Excellent music! Normal shot sound effect may be a bit loud, but it doesn’t annoy.|
|Gameplay||***||Nice mix between Nemesis and Space Manbow weapon systems, but being unable to move while selecting weapons is a bad decision. The difficulty level is insane, aside from that deaths are often caused by unfair collision detection margins (Penalty point).|
|Originality||***||Obviously inspired by Nemesis and Space Manbow, but original graphics, levels and tweaked game mechanics (bonus point).|
|Polish||***||No pause function! The intro is very nice, too bad the ending wasn’t finished in time. Some bugs were observed. Joystick in port 2 only.|
Parachuteless Joe (Paxanga Soft)
|Visual||***||Nice, fitting the game perfectly.|
|Audio||****||The audio is good too, again very fitting. Bonus point for the explosion sample.|
|Gameplay||***||Fast and funny, what more could you want?|
|Originality||*****||This game is crazy!|
|Polish||****||The atmosphere is great, everything fits together. 2 Player mode is a plus, so is the high-score table. Penalty point for dangerous writes to PSG R#7 *.|
Griel’s Quest for the Sangraal (Karoshi Corporation)
|Visual||****||Great graphics, very close to the MSX2 original.|
|Audio||***||Nice yet repetitive tune in-game. Bonus point for use of digital samples.|
|Gameplay||****||Great gameplay, one of my favourite puzzle games.|
|Originality||**||Straight port from MSX2. Bonus point for adding intro and ending story.|
|Polish||*****||Nice wipes and fades, in-game manual, password system, excellent!|
Saimazoom (Karoshi Corporation)
|Visual||****||Great graphics, improved from the original designs.|
|Audio||***||Good music, but the sound effects are rather simple.|
|Gameplay||****||Great gameplay, seems to be different every time!|
|Originality||****||A port from the Spectrum game. Bonus points for the redesigned graphics, added music and for bringing this pre-prequel to Abu Simbel Profanation to MSX.|
Namake’s Bridgedrome (Buresto Faiya)
|Visual||***||Good graphics, but not fantastic.|
|Audio||***||Nice tune, not an original composition, but a nice cover nevertheless.|
|Gameplay||****||Really fun puzzle game! The undo-function is a great feature.|
|Originality||****||The concept comes from a WWW game, but is new to MSX. Bonus points for improving the gameplay and using original levels.|
|Polish||***||In-game manual, password system, secrets. Nice! However, penalty point for dangerous writes to PSG R#7 *.|
Caverns of Titan (JLTURSAN)
|Visual||****||The graphics and animation are great!|
|Audio||****||The music is good, not the typical PSG sounds (bonus point).|
|Gameplay||***||Difficulty is high, you have to pay attention all the time, keep lots of factors in mind and time your moves perfectly. In some levels you have to move immediately or you will die, in other levels you will die if you move immediately. Often you get only one chance to reach a certain point in a level.|
|Originality||***||Interesting platform game.|
|Polish||**||KANA led turns on when exiting a level. There are some secrets too supposedly. Penalty point for dangerous writes to PSG R#7 *.|
Cheating Wives (Crappysoft)
|Audio||**||Simple, but effective.|
|Gameplay||**||The cursor is not very responsive (could’ve been better even for a BASIC game) and the housewives often don’t look in the right direction.|
|Originality||*****||Hilarious! This game could’ve been made boring with cards or whatever, but making it about cheating wives is a great idea! Bonus point for the colorful language.|
|Polish||***||The High Score table with name entry is nice, although the joystick button doesn’t work there.|
Crazy Buggy (Crappysoft)
|Visual||***||The graphics are good, very retro.|
|Audio||***||Simple music and sound effects, but very fitting.|
|Gameplay||**||The keyword here is RANDOM. Depending on the random location of the cars a level can become easy or impossible. Also the bombs are hard to see sometimes.|
|Originality||***||A game of timing and skill, resembling games like Choro-Q and City Connection.|
|Polish||**||Joystick doesn’t work reliably due to a bug (penalty point).|
Space Crussader (Germán Gómez Herrera)
|Audio||**||Some sound effects and Star Trek music.|
|Gameplay||***||Not my favourite type of game, but it seems interesting for fans of the genre.|
|Originality||***||Star Trek meets Elite?|
|Polish||**||Penalty point for dangerous writes to PSG R#7 *.|
Cosmic Battle – Alpha (Vendetta)
Does not participate in the contest, but is judged in its current state nevertheless.
|Visual||****||Looks very good, nice background animations too.|
|Audio||*||Just beeps in this alpha version.|
|Gameplay||**||Unfinished, but shows promise. Bonus point for 2
player simultaneous mode.
|Originality||***||Another shoot’em up, similar to Laydock.|
|Polish||**||Bad, because unfinished. Bonus point for music and
sound effect settings.
Magical Stones (Dioniso)
|Visual||***||Good graphics, interesting style. A bit dull in-game though, the logo and title screen seem to have gotten more attention.|
|Audio||**||After the impressive title music (bonus point), no in-game music is a big disappointment.|
|Gameplay||**||Gameplay is good, but a penalty point is given for being repetitious and too easy.|
|Originality||***||Puyo Puyo variant adding little to the genre.|
|Polish||**||Smooth movement of the stones and menus is nice, but the simple “you won” message doesn’t satisfy. Strange color alteration on set stones. Penalty point for dangerous writes to PSG R#7 *.|
The Mansion (Germán Gómez Herrera)
|Visual||***||Graphics are nice, tho often a bit unrecognisable.|
|Audio||*||Just a simple tune.|
|Gameplay||**||Possible exits disappear after using another icon. Having to guess the code for one of those rooms every time you enter it is really annoying.|
|Originality||****||Graphics adventure games like this are too few on MSX, nice to see one again.|
|Polish||**||This game could’ve been a lot better.|
|Visual||**||It’s a text adventure, but at least there are some graphics here and there.|
|Audio||*||Non-existent as far as I could tell.|
|Gameplay||***||Impossible for me to finish as it’s in spanish, it looks solid though.|
|Originality||***||AAn original text adventure.|
|Polish||**||Would’ve been nice to have an english version.|
|Visual||**||There’s mostly text, but the graphics that are there are nice.|
|Audio||**||Mostly beeps with some tunes here and there.|
|Gameplay||***||Definitely a fun god game. The selectable difficulty level will entertain anyone.|
|Originality||*||It appears to be a straight port.|
|Polish||***||Multi-player with personalised names is nice.|
Blusy Shop (MSXNAKE)
|Visual||**||Nice smooth moves, but the colors are badly chosen.|
|Audio||*||Very simple sound effects.|
|Gameplay||**||It looks like Flipull, but it isn’t.|
|Originality||***||Original gameplay inspired by Flipull.|
|Polish||**||Joystick button works in-game, but not in the title screen and stage select.|
Bomb Man (AGsoftware)
|Visual||**||Simple graphics, but fitting to the game.|
|Audio||*||Just some sound effects.|
|Gameplay||**||It’s a simple game, but fun for a while.|
|Originality||**||Fetch bombs in a maze before they go off.|
|Polish||*||It has a title screen. Penalty point for dangerous writes to PSG R#7 *.|
Lode Run (AGsoftware)
|Audio||*||Some sound effects.|
|Gameplay||**||A bit sluggish. The enemy can’t take intersections and can’t hit you while you walk.|
|Originality||*||A version of Loderunner.|
|Polish||**||There’s a titlescreen.|
|Visual||*||Very simple, screen rebuilt every round for no apparant reason.|
|Audio||*||Simple sound effects.|
|Gameplay||*||All keys are buffered, keypresses from an earlier round can control the next.|
|Originality||**||A gambling game I haven’t seen before. There doesn’t seem to be much to it, however.|
|Polish||*||No titlescreen, no joystick support.|
Pair Logic (AGsoftware)
This game was disqualified due to plagiarism.
|Audio||*||Just some sound effects.|
|Gameplay||**||It’s a Memory clone. The cursor is not very responsive.|
|Originality||**||Memory against the clock. The addition of a wildcard is interesting.|
|Polish||**||It has a title screen.|
Snoopy Town (AGsoftware)
Disqualified for plagiarism. Original © 1988 MAURO MARINELLI.
|Visual||*||Very very simple with visible build-up.|
|Audio||*||Just some sound effects.|
|Gameplay||*||Even if you shoot in the opposite direction, you will still hit the planes.|
|Originality||**||A simple shooting game, at least the graphics seem original.|
|Polish||*||No title screen and no joystick support.|
* Depending on your MSX model, writing illegal values to PSG register 7 (specifically bits 6 and 7) can cause a short-circuit in your MSX. This can cause anything from non-working joystick to a broken MSX.
It has been a most productive contest this year! There were so many entries that it was not possible to properly judge them within the preset time. Congratulations to all contestants, the quality level of this year’s contest was very high. Special congratulations are in order for a few contestants who wrote their first game in assembly. Keep up the good work, everyone!
Some of the games were clearly written by talented people and are impressive in many areas, but issues in gameplay balancing and other such details prevent them from reaching professional quality levels. Coming so close is truly remarkable for such relatively small teams that made these games in their spare time.
However, not all was positive and happy. It appears the popular PT3 player is hazardous to our MSX system. Is this the Spectrums revenge or just careless programming? Hopefully this bug will be corrected ASAP and all programs that use it updated. The same counts for some other programs that made the same mistake.
If all contestants will continue to improve themselves and continue to be productive, great times are before us. Happy New Year and keep on MSX’ing!
Thanks to BiFi and Eduardo Robsy for additional compatibility testing.