San Francisco’s Game Developers Conference (March 19-23) this year resembled an anthill of supercharged gamers, many of them focused on rows of game stations. The prizes for best games were hotly contested, and presented to a sold-out, wildly cheering crowd.
The award for best mobile game was given to Gorogoa, by Buried Signal LLC, playable on PC or iOS. Publisher Annapurna Interactive released it a few months ago, with a price of $4.99 for iOS. It’s probably best played on an iPad, which lets you manipulate pictures on a four-panel grid to help a young boy on his adventures. It’s basically a puzzle-solving game, and it can be easy to get lost in it, as you can miss vital pieces such as a key doorway you need to zoom in on to really see. The art is both creative and stunning, which resulted in Gorogoa also winning the Innovation Award.
The Audience Award went to NieR:Automata, an action Role Playing Game (RPG) developed by PlatinumGames and published by Square Enix for MS Windows and the PlayStation 4. It follows the adventures of a sexy combat android, a companion, and a prototype fugitive. Its director, Yoko Aro, was surprised at the game’s worldwide success, with over 2.5 million units sold. He had targeted only audiences in Japan. He said, “In the end it was a hit, and we have no idea how it sold so well.”
Cuphead won the Best Debut Award. It was developed and published by Canadian indie StudioMDHR, for MS Windows and Xbox One. Its art style is strongly reminiscent of 1930s Disney animated movies, complete with “rubber hose limbs” (free-flowing arms and legs). It enables both RPG and “run and gun” gameplay. The game, which features the Cuphead character battling evil bosses in order to win back the soul he lost in the Devil’s Casino, sold over 2 million units in 2017.
And the Game of the Year top prize went to (drum roll…) Breath of the Wild, the latest iteration of Nintendo’s popular The Legend of Zelda franchise. This single-player adventure RPG for the Nintendo Switch lets you journey across expansive fields, forests, and mountains to follow Zelda’s trials as she climbs towers, hunts wild beasts, and collects food and elixirs. The tableaux are so expansive that different sets of outfits and gear are needed, to deal with a range of weather from icy cold to desert heat. There are lots of traps and puzzles, and in-game purchases and expansion packs. Breath of the Wild was a strong favorite: it also won the Best Audio and Best Design Awards.
For more info, visit www.gdconf.com