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Action Game Of The Year

Along with puzzle games, the action genre is one of the most crowded in the world of independent gaming. It seems that everyone is creating a shooter or platformer these days, and a number of them are quite good. But only the best make it as nominees for our Game of the Year Awards. The 4 titles listed below are very distinct games that have less in common than you might think. Sure, they're all considered action titles, but it's not everyday you'll see a helicopter shooter, an alien run 'n' gun, a Mario style platformer, and an old school side scroller duking it out to be the top in their class, but that's the wonder of independent games isn't it?

Finalists - in alphabetical order

Airstrike 3D: Operation W.A.T. (Divo Games) - $19.95 - 8meg Demo

Airstrike 3D
Airstrike 3D is one of those rare games that features not only breathtaking graphics and sound, but also has the gameplay to match. The Jungle Strike style presentation will be familiar to anyone who owned a Genesis way back when, but even those who missed out will be able to appreciate its frantic shooter-style pace. The helicopter based combat can get a bit frustrating at times (especially when there are a dozen missiles coming your way), but the wide array of weapons and unique environments will keep you fighting the good fight. The two player co-op mode is one of the game's bullet points which helps it stand out from all the other shooters in the world, not to mention 20 levels of play, over 100 enemy units, and nearly a dozen playable 'copters. It's easy to see why Airstrike 3D has received positive reviews from all over; it's a solid all around action title that is well worth the price of admission.

Further Info:
     Game Tunnel Review
     Indie Gamer Review
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Alien Shooter (Sigma Team) - $19.95 - 5.7meg Demo

Alien Shooter
Ahh, the art of blowing things up. Who can't appreciate that? Alien Shooter from Sigma Team does many things well, but one thing in particular stands out: making stuff go boom. A wide array of weapons helps you navigate levels full of ferocious alien invaders like a hot knife through butter. The game's two modes of play, campaign and survival, offer very different gameplay styles that help the game remain fresh. Survival mode is like a pared down version of the ultra-violent shooter Crimsonland. Stand in a field, collect weapons, and kill an ever increasing number of enemies. Rinse and repeat. Fun for a while, but the real enjoyment in Alien Shooter comes from the campaign mode. Struggling through the games 10 distinct levels isn't easy, but it is entertaining thanks to the well crafted and interactive environments, enjoyable weapons, and a seemingly endless sea of baddies. Standing in the middle of a hallway as a dozen or so aliens barrel down on you is enough to bring images of the movie "Aliens" to mind; the game can be that compelling.

Further Info:
     Game Tunnel Review
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Superstar Chefs (Arcade Lab) - $19.95 - 2meg Demo

Superstar Chefs
Who doesn't love a good Mario Bros. clone? Cute little theme characters jumping here and there collecting various items and power ups, all the while avoiding an army of cute, yet deadly, enemies. Superstar Chefs takes an existing formula and runs with it to give you an experience that satisfies the casual gamer in us all. Whether you burn through a couple levels before work, or try and get through all 64 levels on a lazy Sunday afternoon, you're in for a good time if you approach it with the right attitude. Guide your chefs through one dangerous screen after another in an attempt to collect all the fruit (collect as many as you can in one grab to get some serious bonus points). Sure, there's no real story, and the enemies are as predictable as an episode of "Saved By The Bell", but it's fun to get through the levels and then play them again as fast as you can while upping your high score. While not as hardcore action oriented as some of the other nominated titles, it certainly deserves its place on our best of 2003 list.

Further Info:
     Game Tunnel Review
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DIY Game's 2003 Action Game Of The Year Award goes to:


Bud Redhead: The Time Chase (Space Ewe Software) - $19.95 - 7meg Demo

Best of 2003
At first glance Bud Redhead looks like any other side scrolling run-and-jump game, the kind that was all too common during the 16-bit console days. Sure, you'll fire up the demo and play for a spell, all the while thinking to yourself "Bah, I've played this before!" But then it happens: you've finished the first level, complete with its unspectacular, but still impressive, graphics and sound, only to find that you've barely scratched the surface. You explored every nook and cranny of the lush forest but have turned up less than half the booty to be found. While its sensitive controls can be a tad frustrating at first, the intricate levels will keep you going (even if the hokey story doesn't). Bud Redhead is how side scrollers should be done and with any luck we'll see more games like this in the future. In the meantime, we're making our way through 18 levels that span four unique worlds in order to save our girlfriend from a group of fiendish aliens. Although the game isn't as action oriented as Alien Shooter, or as approachable as Superstar Chefs, it stands up better than the competitors after hours of play and is well worth your hard earned money.

Further Info:
     Just RPG Review
     Indie Gamer Review


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