Thursday 16 January 2014

2013 C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition Results

Huge apologies for the delay in getting these out - it seems that I was the unwilling victim of some sort of germ-warfare test over Christmas and New Year, with most of my time consumed by overdosing on Lemsips and Benylin cough mixture. This caused an epic backlog of RGCD orders that I have only just cleared, and it has taken me till now to finally compile the results of last year's competition!

As already explained over on the official page, the scores were calculated using mean averages with the highest achievable score being 90 points (if all judges had scored a game 15 points in all categories). I won't bore you with lists and tables of who scored each game what, instead I have listed the games below in order of placing with the final scores and judges' comments.

As is traditional, I'd like to say a massive 'thank you' to everyone involved - yet again, through your hard work and dedication, the modern day C64 game development scene has continued to improve and impress, surpassing expectations again and again. Well done to all involved, and here's looking forward to an even better 2014!

Monster Buster (
1st Place (75 Points)

"I'm always wary of Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move clones but seeing a version of this quality on an 8-Bit platform is really impressive. Presentationally I felt this was the best game of the entries and I really enjoyed playing it. Sometimes this genre encourages sub-par implementations but this is pretty much top-notch. Plus I like the apparent thematic continuity from their previous game Space Lords." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"Great conversion of Puzzle Bobble. Now I don't have to finish my own one. :) Seriously, this has great presentation, the gameplay is awesome and it's pretty much feature complete. The only thing missing is panic mode (i.e. the game speeding up as you get closer to failing) and a 2 player versus mode. But considering that it fits into a 16KB cartridge, that can easily be forgiven. The original is one of my all time favourites, and I've spent many months analyzing and implementing it myself. It's great to finally see a good version of this on the C64. Instant classic." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"This is the game that received the most of my time reviewing, I will be playing this title long after the competition ends. As a fan of the Puzzle Bobble series of games, this entry caught my attention immediately. While the aiming can be a little tricky, the game-play is solid and the music enjoyable. Should the author continue the project, finer control of the launch/aim mechanic would be appreciated. Also I would like to mention as a colour blind individual, the chunky and instantly recognizable sprites made game-play a joy and never did I have to take a guess or chance a shot. Addictive." (Anton MacArthur)

"Finally a superb Puzzle Bubble clone for the C64! Super-smooth graphics, great music and addictive gameplay, with lots of nice touches to be found everywhere. Paddle control in particular makes this a great version to play. Joystick is not bad either, but with paddles, the precision of movement is top notch! The artstyle is cute and colourful, with charming character design on the small monsters and it is nice to have a full screen presentation with in-game graphics in the border. Sometimes placement of the shot can be a bit hard to make out, but once I got the hang of things it became a non-issue. As with Space Lords two years ago, this is another solid hit from Let's hope they continue to make games for our beloved computer." (Flemming Dupont)

"I love the Puzzle Bobble games, but sadly the C64 has never really been graced with a game that could even come close - until now! Monster Buster I think has managed to nail it properly, being a superb clone of the classic Taito puzzler. The presentation is one of the best of the competition, with a superb title screen and set of instructions. I like the use of the borders to provide a water reflection too. There are options to mix up the music with sfx, or just have sfx by itself, and there are various game modes for you to choose from too - play through sequentially, random or forever. The music is also one of the highlights, and reminds me of some of the game tunes I used to grow up with in the early 90's. Along with Kobo64, a lot of time was sunk into playing this one!" (Frank Gasking)

"This game concept is all around on dozens of platforms, but I have never seen it on a 64 before! It is very well made with care taken for precise steering and detail. Solid and enjoyable!" (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

" return with what can only be descibed as a perfect 16KB game. Neither too ambitious or too simple in scope, gorgeously presented, hugely replayable and addictive, Monster Buster is exactly how Puzzle Bobble should have been done on the C64. The only way that it could be improved is by adding the targetting line and a two player vs mode, but with the game already using every byte of available space, any enhancements will have to wait for larger version. A modern C64 classic." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"Monster Buster is a lovely version of the 90s classic Puzzle Bobble. Great graphics, sound, music and overall polish. There are three game modes available, which enhance the game's longevity: Infinite, Puzzle and Random. My only criticism is that in general I found it a touch too easy - although the 'puzzle' mode does seem to be tougher so it does provide enough of a challenge. I completed 'infinite' mode on my first try! Hmm... Maybe a fluke!" (John Dennis)

"Clean title menu, smooth gameplay and graphics. Feels very polished, professional even. The concept is well known and very well trimmed/tuned for the needs and limits of the C64. Personally I found it a bit boring and almost too smooth. The auto-shoot without warning/timer caught me by surprise. Could be a full price title." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"A cracking little Bust-a-Move clone shoved into 16KB with both infinite and puzzle modes to boot. There hasn't really been this type of game on the C64, and this is definitely a welcome addition to the library. All it's missing perhaps is the dotted line to help beginners, and the two-player mode (although I don't know if that's beyond what the machine can handle). It plays a little differently but that's to be expected in regards to how it needed to be coded." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Micro Hexagon (Paul Koller & Mikkel Hastrup)
2nd Place (74.1 Points)

"I've never actually played the original but this is pretty damn impressive and really compulsive. No other feedback possible to give really. Another amazing demake and a total original for the C64. If a full 64KB version could have more of the features of the original then it might improve the lasting appeal but for a 16KB game this is pretty special." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"From the awesome brain of Terry Cavanagh (of VVVVVV fame) and Paul Kollers excellent conversion skills, we get Micro Hexagon. The name already implies that it's not Super Hexagon, and sadly it shows. It feels like this game is maybe a bit too much for the C64, or that it would've required more work. Some cut backs had to be made (less moving walls) and the game became simpler and easier in the process. You will find that you can survive Micro Hexagon much longer than the original. I don't wanna sound too harsh, this is still an awesome achievement, there's nothing like this on the Commodore 64. But it's just not as thrilling as the original. It just misses that kind of excitement you get as you just barely make it out of a shrinking tunnel, while the music pumps and you know that the next tight situation is just a fraction of a second away. There are also some other disappointments: the lack of levels to reach (line, triangle, etc.) and the music starting from the beginning every time. Great conversion of the music though! I guess I was expecting too much here. I'm trying to like it, but I just can't." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"Another incredible back-port of a modern game from Mr Koller. Yet again he captures the essence of the original concept and implements them within a 30 year old architecture with very little degradation. Whilst not an original piece, it does feature frantic game-play with an incredible soundtrack. As the undisputed king of conversions, in the future I would be very interested in seeing him tackle a concept of his own design. Mind blowing." (Anton MacArthur)

"This is simply a stellar game! Excellent conversion of an already excellent indie game - what could possible go wrong? Well nothing it seems; a nearly flawless version, with even better control method (I much prefer joystick over touch) make this one even more playable than the original in my book. To see the game running on such old hardware is truely impressive, and the simple yet effective hypnotic zen-gameplay is well suited to be played on an 8-Bit. Tough as nails and a great highscore challenge, this is a modern classic in the C64 game library. If it could be improved, I would like to see a selection of different music, keyboard control, highscore table, and a difficulty option, but these are minor nags to an already superb game. Let's hope Terry Cavanagh's other smash hit VVVVVV will be completed on the C64 in the near future." (Flemming Dupont)

"When I first heard that Paul was attempting a conversion of Super Hexagon, I had a lot of faith based on his past efforts with Canabalt and Super Bread Box, and he hasn't disappointed at all. I have been completely blown away with the conversion, which just feels like I'm playing a demo part rather than an actual game. Although it has some tearing on the white lines and isn't anywhere near as complex/hard as the original, it has been reworked to great effect to get working on a C64 without actually taking that much away from the game itself. It is unlike any other game that you will play and it *will* blow you away! The music with it is brilliant, and trying to break the 2.00 mark is a test of your sanity and something which you will continuously play until you do break it. In comparison to some of the other games in the competition, you may not get as engrossed or be playing it as long - but it will be one that you remember and continue to dig out from time to time to beat your previous score." (Frank Gasking)

"The game concept is old and rather simple, but the presentation is just outstanding. The music keeps you going and the visuals are compelling. I'd say a perfect party game." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"Again, Paul Koller returns with a competition entry that redefines what you'd expect from a Commodore 64 game. With the C64 being so slow at handling vectors, a port of Terry Cavanagh's Hexagon wouldn't be an obvious choice for most developers, but by using a complex sprite multiplexer Paul has managed to somehow represent fast-moving five-sided shapes on screen at a full-breakneck 50Hz complete with a perfect SID rendition of Chipzel's GameBoy soundtrack. There are occasional glitches and tears in the zoomed out walls, but nonetheless what Paul has achieved here is nothing short of amazing. However, it has to be said that despite being initially fun, Micro Hexagon does lack the challenge and replayability of the original." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"This is a tremendously fun and frenetic how-long-can-you-survive game where you must dodge obstacles as you travel down a hexagonal tunnel. It's addictive and super-charged. The music and graphical effects are quite brilliant, even if the sprites are very basic, and really add to the stress of the challenge. It's perfect as far as it goes, but compared with some other games there is not much to it." (John Dennis)

"Impressive title. Some occasional gfx glitches that probably are hard to avoid considering the nature of the engine. Quite a surprise. A rather straight port but extremely well executed for the C64. A bit too funky for my taste but the most suitable tune motivates a bit
further to play the game. Something to show off but not to play a whole night through." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"Sometimes you feel like either the game is going to kill you or your eyes, or you are going to kill the game by shoving a fist through the screen. Maddeningly annoying, cruel, vicious and addictive all in one fell swoop. Probably because games rarely take more than two minutes to play out. Really well coded to get it working on the C64 with minimal loss, and the soundtrack is stomping to boot. It might be another flash game conversion, but Paul Koller keeps picking out the great ones." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Powerglove (Matthias Bock)
3rd Place (67.1 Points)

"Hand on heart this type of game does often leave me pretty cold. There's nothing wrong with it and Powerglove is well done and implemented, and the scale of it is pretty impressive, but it's not really my cup of tea. I also found the controls to not be very responsive. It's clever seeing the slight reaction when you land from a jump, but it has the effect of slowing down your movement, leaving you open to shots and generally making things more awkward. This may be an intentional thing but personally I didn't take to it." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"Superb technical achievement, but lacking in the game department. Maybe I'm missing something and the game picks up later, but initially there are lots of very similar looking rooms and not much to collect or do apart from shooting and dying. Also it's way too hard for me, but maybe this has to do with the way the controls work. I'm kinda disappointed, since I was expecting much more here. It feels more like a tech demo than a complete game. Really nice graphics though, just would need more variety and level design and game play. It obvious that that's not because of lack of skill, but just due to time constraints. I really hope there'll be an extended version of this, with more stuff." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"Upon playing this 'metroidvania' I was hugely impressed with the 'feel' of the game, the controls are natural and fluid, the ambiance perfectly tuned to the dark visuals. It looks minimal, but in the right way, sprites are used sparingly and effectively. I always enjoyed finding new creatures and learning their movements/projectile attacks. The game is a cruel master though as death is easily achieved, but never felt cheap or incorrectly balanced. I would have liked to have voted this entry higher due to its originality and presentation however on my play through I experienced some issues with sprites getting locked in the frame permanently. Bugs aside, its a great game that demands a full release once the gremlins have been worked out." (Anton MacArthur)

"I love the metroidvania styled look of the game with its excellent music and graphics, and it reminds me of some of the best platformers found on the NES. The sense of being underground and exploring an area for enemies and secrets is nice, but the current level design is still lacking – it gets a bit repetitive, at least as far as I was able to get into the game before dying. The game has the potential to become something special and really push the C64 hardware, maybe better than most of the other entries this year, but as it stand now it needs a bit more work to really shine." (Flemming Dupont)

"Powerglove is a very well executed Megaman-styled platformer - which looks, feels and plays just like a NES game. The sheer size of the game is very impressive - with many screens to explore. The enemies within the game have a life of their own and plenty of character. Although playing very well, there wasn't a huge amount of variation in the game play in this compo edition, and some of the rooms are repeated frequently, meaning you can lose track of where you are. I think certainly this is a game that really needs the additional space available to maybe include more weapons and more variance in the backgrounds - but it is an impressive entry which will take some time to complete. Presentation is nice and clean, and graphically impressive - with a main character and set of enemies which animate very well. This game shows just how the C64 *can* do console'esq platformers with style!" (Frank Gasking)

"Powerglove is a run 'n' gun with a unique style. The character halts for a second after each jump and the jumping can only be affected minimally while up in the air. This unique steering technique makes it a challenge to master, but also makes the game stand out as something different and fresh. The level design is cleverly managed so that it fits into 16KB including two graphic styles. The way the bigger screens scroll is also very fascinating, it catches me every time I get into a new room and the room adapts to the player height at first. Well done." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"Finally, people are starting to make proper platform games on the C64. Even with 'up for jump', Powerglove manages to perfectly capture the feel of a console style platformer in this multi-screen run 'n' gun adventure. Initially linear in design, but later opening up to play more like a metroidvania game, Lazycow has created a real 16KB masterpiece. It's challenging and in some cases unfair (blind jumps aplenty), but even so I find myself drawn back to it time and time again. There are a few minor sprite bugs present in the competition version (which have since been fixed), but aside from adding an up/down look function, it's hard to imagine how this neat little 16KB release could be improved. Awesome stuff." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"This is really excellent platform shoot-'em-up action. There are four levels of vertically and horizontally-scrolling rooms, and with two levels open at the start of the game there are a range of routes your character can take. You must find keys to the other levels and three power crystals to complete the game. There is evidence of some nice tight programming to maximise the game's size within restricted memory. It provides quite a stern challenge, too, so will keep you playing for a while - but it doesn't overly frustrate." (John Dennis)

"Very original and nice design and style. Really feels alien. My personal favorite despite some caveats, like slightly too high inertia (for my taste) and slow(ish) screen change. Maybe if it can't be made faster, add some 'indicator' that something happens? Also very nice enemy design which I find rare these days. Its also amazingly huge (in trade of speed I guess). So a full title in 16KB." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"Run and gun with a Megaman type theme. There have been many titles like this in the past, but not any that try to capture this particular niche of platformer. It works pretty well, although the inertia on running takes a little getting used to. More memory could really expand on the potential for the title beyond what is there. Annoyingly cruel to boot." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Kobo64 (Kajtár Zsolt)
4th Place (66 Points)

"At first I thought this game seemed overly simplistic but I found myself sticking at it level after level. I found it quite difficult to control the diagonal directions on a joypad but playing it via emulation on my laptop with a keyboard it was fine and much easier. On the whole I thought this was a really good little game and the options for password level select, big and small maps and so on are really welcome too." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"My personal favourite in this competition. It's instantly playable, with great pacing and throws a curve ball after stage 5. Apparently it's a remake of a Linux game that I've missed. What a treat. It throws tons of bullets at the player, but always feels fair. It only suffers slightly from not being a very smooth affair, but makes up for it with oodles of challenging and rewarding gameplay. It's quite fun to get to shoot these space stations, either slowly piece-by-piece or trying to go for the core directly, if it's exposed. The visuals and the sfx are not spectacular but fit the game very well. Some music would've been great though. This is one of the games I'll be coming back to when this competition is long forgotten." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"My only complaint for this game would be the difficulty curve, it goes from challenging to near impossible at level seven. The lack of music also doesn't do this entry any favours, however the rest of the experience is great with well defined sprites, scrolling, menu settings, codes and lots of satisfying moments of victory. The ability to resume your game from the last level you died in is very much a welcome and appreciated feature. Unforgiving." (Anton MacArthur)

"A faithful conversion of one of my favorite indie games, this Bosconian-type game feels right at home on the C64. The difficulty is spot on, with lots of enemy bullets flying around on later levels. The game puts up a real challenge, and kept me hooked. The variety of enemy attacks and general level layout keeps the game fresh, and the gameplay stays fair because of the excellent 8-way joystick control. Graphics are nice and effective, if nothing special, and it suit the game well. I actually prefer its 8-Bit look compared to the original 16-Bit look. Some kind of title and ingame music would have been nice, and maybe some power-ups like smart bombs, but other than that, the game is very enjoyable to play. Probably something I am going to come back to from time to time for a quick blast." (Flemming Dupont)

"A great multi-directional scroller with a clever map based system. This is sort of like Sinister mixed with Hunters Moon and is a brilliant conversion of the freeware PC classic. The combination of bullet hell and dismantling of large constructions makes for a game with a lasting appeal. Out of all the games, this is probably the one which sucked up most of my time - completely reducing the levels to rubble, whilst avoiding an onslaught of bullets and rockets is pretty addictive. Graphically sound and well presented overall - with the ability to choose levels and other options. Only slight criticism is the slight lack of sound, but when you look at all the other stuff crammed in - sound was probably at a push. One of the surprises for me of the competition with not a lot missing from the PC version!" (Frank Gasking)

"This is not your regular mindless shooter. Mastering the higher levels requires both skill and tactics. 50 levels in a 16KB game! Hundreds of bullets and enemies on one screen! Kobo64 is really impressive technically and the game itself plays very well. Would not have thought that this kind of game could work so well and fast on a C64." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"I totally love this game. The experience of infiltrating the enemy bases and taking out the core is always exhilarating. The ridiculous number of bullets spammed onto the screen make it feel unlike any other C64 game I've played, and as a result - even despite the crude character-scrolling and lack of music, Kobo64 has become one of my all time favourite C64 shmups. Amazing job on the conversion." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"This is a very good version of classic game XKobo. The levels are well designed and challenging, with good variety in terms of the weaponry that the space stations will deploy against you and the appearance of asteroids that you need to dodge. There's no music and the graphics are pretty functional but certainly up to the job. The in-game sound effects are decent, however. It's very addictive and the difficulty curve is well judged." (John Dennis)

"Nice ideas, menu and presentation. Also some nice features like the mini map. Feels a bit crude and unpolished sometimes. I like the concept though its not original." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"This reminds me of a cross between Bosconian and Hunter's Moon. A very simple premise, but the apparently randomly generated structures ensure there's enough variety and strategy to prolong the game's longevity. It doesn't vary much, but just gets harder in that old school game type of way, and is pretty harsh to begin with. Certainly one for the more hardcore gamesplayer." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

"For some reason I never knew that Jetpac didn't land on the C64, so while at first I thought this was an odd choice for a remake actually it's perfectly suited to show that the good ol' C64 could handle it and then some. Really well done and up there with Monster Buster for presentation and overall slickness." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"I'd never played Jetpac on the Spectrum before, so I didn't quite know what to expect. I imagined it would be more like Dropzone. However this is a much better fast-paced shoot-em-up with excellent presentation and perfect playability. A little jewel in every regard. For me this is such a nice surprise. It has lots of action on screen and always looks pristine. This should've been made on the C64 30 years ago, it's a shame we can only use it now to rub into the collective faces of Speccy fans everywhere. Anyway, great conversion, awesome graphics and great music/sfx. A very polished and stunning release, can't wait for the full version." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"Rocket Smash is the most 'complete game' in the competition in my opinion. As the C64 never saw an official version of Jetpac this version is certainly welcome. Whilst there have been other fine efforts at a port, this certainly is the most appealing. Visually it plays to the strengths of the system and sound work is solid. Should this game of seen a release back in the 80's it certainly would of been recognized as a classic. Has the quality of a retail release." (Anton MacArthur)

"With shoot'em ups being my favorite game genre, this Jetpac clone is most welcome. The end result is a slick and well made game that is super challenging and totally action packed. To me it plays just as good as the spectrum original. I love the graphics in this version - everything is well defined and animated, giving it a nice arcade style touch. This may be the 16KB cutdown version, but there is not anything missing in fun department as far as I am concerned. Superb!" (Flemming Dupont)

"I have waited years for a proper Jetpac conversion to be done with justice on the C64. We may now finally have the ultimate (no pun intended) conversion of the concept, with brilliant execution all round. This is Jetpac with a spin on its presentation, sort of like doing a de-make of the Xbox 360 update, rather than a remake of the Spectrum classic itself. It feels just as slick as the original Spectrum game, with obvious graphical improvements and attack waves respectful to the original game. It feels and plays as slick as the original, so finally we can ditch the jerky PD title which has been doing the rounds for years! The presentation is good, with a nice colourful logo, sets of game options and a hi-score table. Like with the original and Xbox 360 versions, I have spent a lot of time going through the levels - which is a testament to how good a clone it is. No, it isn't original - but it is a conversion that the C64 has been waiting for! Hearing that there is to be a more fully featured version with story scenes and other bits of game play elements added, I'm very excited!" (Frank Gasking)

"A Jetpac clone with excellent graphics. The different coloured shots look superb. However the gameplay is rather monotonous. It might have been more interesting with multiple screens and tasks per level." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"Yay for Jetpac! Rocket Smash may be far from the most complex game on offer here, but it certainly delivers the best Jetpac experience available on the Commodore 64 - quite a surprise for a debut game release from John and Saul. The presentation is fantastic, and the gameplay really shines. This 16KB preview has me excited for the forthcoming 64KB release!" (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"Spaceman, assemble your rocket and fill it with fuel, but don't get splatted by an alien, and whatever you do don't run out of oxygen. This is the premise of Rocket Smash, a single-screen shmup/collect-'em-up. It's a lot of fun, and your spaceman glides about smoothly letting rip with his powerful laser gun (it can rip through a number of enemies in one well-aimed shot). It's a very well balanced game, with three difficulty levels (although they're not massively different. There's really an excellent array of baddies, each of which behaves slightly differently toward you (displaying homing, random, direct, circuitous movement, etc.) Presentation is of a high standard, and it's well put together, only perhaps lacking the ambition of some other games in the competition." (John Dennis)

"Nice menu. Looks very original. Could have been a full price game in the late 80s or early 90s. Also very catchy tune. Gameplay is a bit limited and based on known predecessors. Fun to play." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"Another one of those classics games, like Bust-a-Move, that hasn't really happened on the C64. This time it's Jetpac. Looks good, plays good, maybe a little easy to begin with. Takes a bit of time before it starts showing its teeth and attempts to really gnaw on the player. With more memory, it could even attempt to be more like Lunar Jetman too. Another game that deserves to place well in the competition." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Vallation (Jason Kelk)
6th Place (55.7 Points)

"A bit like Powerglove this in that it's perfectly well done but not my cup of tea. The huge size is impressive though and graphically it's really well done - one of the top games in the entries for graphics and presentation. Plus it plays really well too - so not my cup of tea but brilliantly polished." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"This is not Cybernoid, unfortunately. It lacks the different weapon systems and the more interesting enemy patterns. Not sure why this was made. I'm sure some people will really enjoy this, for me it's just a boring shooter which desperately tries to be that cool game from 1988, but just barely manages the looks. Sorry for being harsh, but I was really expecting a bit more originality. Love the 9 sprites in a row on the title screen though... :)" (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"A great visual experience with wonderful music, sadly let down by the controls making navigating the maze much twitchier than it should be. Enemies seem to absorb a few too many shots in my opinion. With a few tweaks this will be an outstanding game as it has buckets of atmosphere and uses some great C64 style." (Anton MacArthur)

"Nice Cyberoid clone! Some very nice looking sprites and background in this game. I wish the ship had more powerful fire-power, and not just those weak bullets - they almost make firing redundant at times. Presentation and music is top notch, and overall this game is fun to play! I really hope sound effect will make it into the 64KB version." (Flemming Dupont)

"I have never really been a fan of the Cybernoid games, though did get into Equinox a bit back in the day. Vallation is a blend of the two games with some brilliant and well polished graphics (the main character explosion is very good). It's certainly easier to play, so as a result I have been able to get into the game without getting too frustrated (even with the last minute jumping out the way of those rockets!) and with enough fair challenge involved. There are plenty of screens to explore, each with their own challenges, and there is an urge to keep progressing to the end. As you progress, new features are gradually introduced to build up some variety. The music is well implemented by Sean and compliments the game nicely. It isn't the most original game in the world for sure, but it is one which has come out extremely well and is a great addition to the competition line up. The only frustration for me was that some of the enemies seem to take a bit too long to destroy, but not enough to stop me playing!" (Frank Gasking)

"Nice graphics and sound, cool explosion animation, but no originality." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"I love that Jason creates the games that HE wants to play, and doesn't worry too much about anyone else. Seriously, I think that is really great - I wish more people had the confidence to do this. Vallation is clearly a tribute to Cybernoid, but designed with a more 'arcade' feel, and this 16KB version is supposedly a three level preview of a bigger game. It's a short yet sweet experience that feels lovingly crafted, and although I'd like to see more exploration options and interactivity, Vallation still pulls me back to play through its brief linear adventure again and again. One of my personal favourites from the competition." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"Whilst I'm not a massive shoot-'em-up fan as a general rule, I do like the sort that requires a little guile as well as brute force - like Vallation. It's a flip-screen shooter where each level twists and turns its way through 20 or so screens of baddies to shoot or avoid and rockets and laser emplacements to dodge. The graphics are of high quality but the game relies on its title tune throughout rather than sound effects. It's a good challenge, and fun to play, but an extra life or two would be appreciated by this player!" (John Dennis)

"Nice title. It looks nice throughout the game (as far as I got). Lacks a bit of uniqueness and features some odd physics. Could do with some polishing and surprises in my opinion." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"Cybernoid without the weapon select. Still as blooming hard though, and you really need a proper joystick to get through this without dying repeatedly. Some great graphics and music for 16KB, and it's one of those slow burners that you can go back to and see if you can get any further than before. I think I might keep trying at this one." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Magic Duel (Jörn Ruchmann)
7th Place (54.7 Points)

"A lack of friends severly curtailed my ability to test this game out, but I always try to give bonus points for multiplayer and the graphics and presentation are top notch. I like the variety of arenas to fight in (and the nice touches within some of them, such as the darkness or moving fog) and the ability to choose the number of rounds is good - though it suggests extra variables that could make future versions even more customisable. One thing I would say is that given you have five lives each I wonder if 90 seconds is too short for each round, but again it's something that could be a variable setting and it's not something I could test out properly on my own." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"This game looks like a lot of fun for two players. I only had a quick chance to try it out like that and I can see that it can be very interesting and exciting. It's basically a deathmatch style game, in a 2D environment, with nice variety in maps and some fun additions: mirrors deflecting shots, "fog of war" to hide in, dark maps, etc. Great ideas all around and good design, although collision detection feels odd at some times. Would've preferred music during the game, but the tune in the title screen sets a good mood. Graphics are adequate, but nothing that'll impress you. Give this one a go if you have a friend over." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"The lack of in game music makes the experience a little empty, but providing you have a worthy opponent you may not notice. Visuals are nice on the menus but a touch basic in the arenas. If some time is spent implementing in game music and jazzing up the sprites a little it will be a great little two player combat game. The variety in the arenas will have you thinking on your toes." (Anton MacArthur)

"Well made two-player versus game with lovely title and in-game graphics that set the mood perfectly. The level design is a bit hit and miss; some levels are fun to play, while others not so much. Maybe more open space areas with smaller player sprites would help make the game more hectic and fun, and also directional shooting would probably make the controls feel more responsive and intuitive. The power-ups are most welcome, and a future version of the game could do with an even wider variety of these to spice things up. The game's title music is my favorite tune among all the submitted entries this year." (Flemming Dupont)

"A great idea and well executed. This is a very neat mix of Combat, Druid and Gauntlet (well, the themes of those two at least!) with two wizards fighting it out against each other across a set of single screen arenas, picking up power ups to speed up magic and avoiding evil bats. However, although I managed to get to play the game with my daughter - the lack of a AI player is a bit of a let down. It will be a difficult one for some people to get the chance to play properly as a result, which is a huge shame - as it's a good fun game if you do have someone to play against. Presentation is not as strong as the others, but gameplay wise you can't go wrong - if you have a second player that is!" (Frank Gasking)

"At first I thought this was just another two player shootout. Well, it is. But it plays different. There is magic involved and the graphics are just wonderful." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"Well, this one was a surprise. Magic Duel is essentially a simple single-screen two-player combat game, but thanks to some clever randomly-selected arena designs (complete with their own hazards and features) it feels really fresh. A CPU player, in game music and improved graphics would have taken it to the next level, but as it stands it's still a great little debut game release." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"The last game I remember that involved two old man battling to the death was Feud on the ZX Spectrum. Weirdly, that involved striking your opponent down with magic as well. Magic Duel, in contrast, requires a friend to play against, and the characters only appear to know one spell: Zzap! (Commodore fans...) You duel it out over a variety of one-screen arenas which cycle around at random and all have their quirks and challenges (e.g. one is dark, some are infested with bats, one has a river running through it, one is full of reflective mirrors, etc.) It's fun to play and the presentation and music is great. There are potions to collect to build up your magic power. This enhances the game as the player has to balance out whether to attack immediately or gamble on searching for potions and becoming stronger than his opponent. Shame there's no one player mode, but hey, it is better to play against a friend (or one's long-suffering other half...) anyway!" (John Dennis)

"Comes with own title-gfx and appears to be well polished. The concept itself is rather simple and not too original but executed with love (it seems). Plays a bit slow for my personal taste." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"Including an AI might have worked here. Perhaps. Again, another one hard to judge. It's pretty simple to pick up, but there is plenty of depth and complexity to prevent it getting boring too quickly. Graphics are a little twee, but colourful and well presented, and the controls responsive, albeit a little peculiar that diagonals are not allowed. I suppose this does make it a little easier to hit each other, on consideration, otherwise battles might go on for ages." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Cosmic Ark (Max Hall)
8th Place (47.5 Points)

"Never played the original but this looks like a very solid conversion. No other feedback to give really - solid all-round and it's always good to see games on the C64 that never existed previously." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"Initially this looked like a great Atari 2600 conversion. The original game is a classic, and I thought it would translate perfectly to the C64, with some great artwork to augment the simplistic VCS graphics. However it turns out that the game is slightly modified from the original, which makes it somewhat harder and less predictable. Still unsure whether this is a good or a bad thing, as it's been many years (or rather decades) since I've played it. But if you consider the game without comparing it to its commercial ancestor, it holds up fairly well. Of course the gameplay is somewhat stale late 70s arcade stuff, but the difficulty ramps up nicely and it soon becomes a real challenge. This is a game that requires skill and lots of practice. I'm just not sure if people these days are ready to invest the time to master it." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"Cosmic Ark is certainly brimming with pangs of nostalgia. It's a love letter to the space/star games of the early days of arcade. I found this entry enjoyable and challenging. Visually it's a little stark and certainly looks like an Atari game - should the author continue development, I would suggest an investment in this area, as nice as the homage is - the C64 is capable of so much more. Nostalgic." (Anton MacArthur)

"Having never played the Atari original, I did not know what to expect, but right from the great presentation with a beautiful title screen, highscore table and music (which reminded me of some of the best Ocean/Imagine loading tunes from back in the day) I was in for a treat! The game is very hard on the later levels, but this is probably the way the old Atari version played as well, so it fits the arcade style gameplay. Sound effects are very good, and I enjoy the whole cosmic setting provided by the starfield background and asteroids attack. Great fun for a quick blast!" (Flemming Dupont)

"A stunning conversion of the Atari 2600 classic! This conversion is very faithful and has a good blend of VCS-like visuals (which I think Max has done extremely well to capture that feel), but with the right blend of C64 style and sounds to really make this game shine. The concept itself is pretty straight forward, but it is a solid conversion of a fun and unique concept to the C64 with plenty of polish. It is clear that a lot of blood and sweat has gone into this conversion as a whole, especially when you see the stunning title screen presentation which looks just like the original box artwork and is just brilliantly done. Because the original was a fairly simple concept, it won't keep you playing as long as some of the other titles in the competition - but when you do play it, you will enjoy it and is certainly one of the highlights." (Frank Gasking)

"The game itself is a little hard to get into and very repetitive, but it is an extremely well made port of the original. The title screen looks absolutely fantastic." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"Cosmic Ark is as old-school as you can get, and it's pretty much a perfect port of the Atari 2600 game of the same name. If there was a prize awarded for 'best classic game conversion', Max Hall would have won it. The design is simple, as is the presentation, but the title music and sound effects are just superb. Unfortunately, a couple of randomly occuring game-breaking bugs meant that I scored this lower than I'd initially intended - I seem to frequently encounter an issue where the meteor shower sequence never ends and I eventually lose all my lives. I even witnessed this never-ending onslaught of rocks once whilst on a planet's surface, which was kind of fun :)" (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"I am not familiar with the original Atari 2600 game, but all the same I felt I was being transported back to the early 80s when I played this. (In a good way!) It feels like a faithful conversion, and the music, graphics and sound effects are done in a very sympathetic manner. The music and effects create a great atmosphere. The game itself becomes extremely difficult after about six or seven levels, unfortunately. Unless you have unnaturally fast reflexes the meteor showers will just get too difficult so even the generous allocation of fourteen lives is not enough." (John Dennis)

"Visually rather a 100% clone than a port. Very well executed. Quite some effort put already in the nice title pic. Quite polished and almost a one man project. Brings nothing new over the beloved original but its still fun and was severely missing on the C64." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"A faithful recreation of the Atari 2600 original, which like many games, starts slow and gradually builds in speed and intensity. It also means the gameplay doesn't vary much, but it is refined to a degree where it doesn't really matter. There's the odd graphical and gameplay bug, such as the meteors curving completely out of laser range, but they don't occur frequently enough to be a problem." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Invert (Richard Bayliss)
9th Place (46.3 Points)

"The game is well put together although I'm not a huge fan of the 'tile switch' genre per se. The additional features are good - and necessary given the basic and well-rehearsed nature of the game style - though I do feel sometimes like it's impossible to dodge or shield yourself from the bombs. There's been times where I've been hit by a bomb as I walk onto my first tile. I imagine that's all part of the method of beating the levels and I just suck at it - it's not like it can really be changed given it's such a central part of the gameplay." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"Didn't I play this in the 90s? At some point there was an abundance of these puzzle games, especially during the reign of Magic Disk and Game On in Germany. Invert feels a lot like those games. It's perfectly playable and there's some appeal, but other than that it's a bit simple and feels like some old project that was finished up now. I would've wished for more types of enemies and more unexpected things to happen. It got boring after a while. Good music though!" (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"A unique puzzle game that I found very challenging. Every level mixes it up a bit and it's fun discovering what's coming next. Initially the gameplay confused me, but after you get a few tricks under your sleeve you'll be pressing on in no time. The visuals are simple and the music is very good, it has a Megadrive/Genesis vibe to the soundtrack with some lovely metallic sounding low ends. I will certainly be playing this again. Comfortably challenging." (Anton MacArthur)

"Excellent title screen presentation. The sprites all look great, and the colourful setting really brings the playing area to life. I did not overly enjoy playing that actual game that much - the puzzle element soon became frustrating to me, because of the timer limit and the playfield reset each time I died. I wish I was able to shoot the monsters Crossfire-style, but no such luck. Maybe something to consider in a future update?" (Flemming Dupont)

"Although not a completely original concept (being heavily based on Sensitive), the execution of this title has been dealt with very well indeed. The game is a unique twist on the Sensitive concept and is a fun and addictive puzzler created by Richard - one of his best titles so far. Presentation is great, with nice colourful logo, instructions and high score crammed in - graphics in game are good and functional. Music is good too - the in-game tune reminding me a lot of Skate Rock at the start! The game has plenty of variety with some well thought out levels, and plenty of them with around 33 in total. Only slight criticism is that the colour scheme is pretty much the same throughout, and at first it might confuse you that you are making tiles rather than removing them! It is certainly a huge improvement on last year's entry, and looking forward to the expanded version with level editor." (Frank Gasking)

"This kind of game has been done multiple times on the C64 already. However, Invert plays rather well. It has good controls and the monsters on the side give it a tiny extra push." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"Playing Invert immediately brought back memories of Sensitive, an older public domain game I recalled playing to death years back. However, despite the addition of a shield mechanic and enemies on the borders that fire at you, I found that the level designs involved too much tile 'back-flipping' - to the point where they become a little annoying. The overall game design is sound, and with a little more attention to the graphics and tile layout this could be a really solid release. In all, it's a better effort than last year's Amazon Tales, but it fails to surpass Woolly Jumper (which I still feel is one of Richard's better games). Here's hoping for a later DX release! ;) " (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"I like the game concept here and the graphics, sound and game design are well polished. The music is particularly well done. However, I found the game mechanic of flipping all the inverted tiles rather clumsy. Finishing each level seemed to involve a lot of pacing back and forth to flip and re-flip tiles; I would prefer a cleaner solution to some of the puzzles. That said, there are over 30 levels so the game will provide lasting entertainment and a serious challenge. The inclusion of the Chatters, who fire bombs at you from the edge of the arena, certainly keeps you on your toes as well." (John Dennis)

"Nice title. A rather simple but fun concept. I found myself playing it longer than I would have guessed from the genre. Catchy music with nice title presentation. Plays quick!" (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"A reasonably standard flip-the-tiles type game, made entertaining by Richard's usual engaging presentation and graphics. Occasionally a little unfair (no time to avoid or shield bombs), but you can play to that by anticipating when you might be too close to the edge. It won't rock the scene, but it kept me playing sufficiently long enough." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Bellringer III (Geir Straume & Sean Connolly)
10th Place (42.3 Points)

"At first I felt this was a relatively generic platformer so was pleasantly surprised when the bellringing puzzle appeared at the end of the level. I'd actually like to see this idea expanded to form a more central basis of the game. Imagine two levels with one player running across the top ringing bells while the player on the lower level has to sprint across the changing platforms. Or something where the bells played a more integral role throughout each level. So if I had any feedback - expand the bells, man!" (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"At first glance Bellringer looks like a rather simplistic, slow jump 'n' run affair with a limited set of enemies. There's little excitement initially. However the game slowly adds new enemies and surprises with a little bell ringing puzzle game at the end. Technically it looks like something right out of the 1980s, today you would probably expect a bit more refinement in animations and graphics variety. Overall a fun little game, but not something you're gonna spend a whole lot of time with." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"An enjoyable mix of platform/maze elements with a tricky puzzle to solve at the end of each stage. While the navigation of the level was well implemented, it was not very challenging for the most part. The real challenges come when solving the bell ringing puzzles and it was these I found the most enjoyable. I would have liked to have seen the bell ringing play a larger role, possibly with musical patterns to remember or figure out. A solid entry." (Anton MacArthur)

"As a mix of puzzle and platform jumping, this game has a certain old school flavour that makes me think of C64 classics like Hunchback and Cavelon. The graphics are a bit on the bland side, with nothing that really stands out. I also found the pacing to be a bit frustrating when it came the the puzzle side of things - to me it just slowed down the flow of the game, and I lost interest in trying to get much further into it because of this. The title music is really good, and if more work went into the level design with better balancing between the platform and the puzzle elements, this might turn into a fun game." (Flemming Dupont)

"I enjoy the likes of Hunchback on the C64, and Bellringer III is a solid tribute to the series with the man with the hump. Although nothing spectacular in terms of its look and feel, it plays nicely and has the feeling of a classic 1985/86 C64 game. The game enemies have a life of their own, and react when you appear - keeping you on your toes overall. The bell puzzle at the end is a nice touch to give a break from the platforming action, though can be a bit frustrating at times. It is a good honest and solid game which you will get a lot of enjoyment out of playing. A great playful tune and sound effects by Sean Connolly also add to proceedings. Presentation is functional, but takes nothing away from the game." (Frank Gasking)

"A solid game with its own feeling and style. Bellringer was enjoyable in its first version and kept improving. I especially love the nice animation of the water being thrown out of the window. The bell ringing is frustrating to me, I like the rest and I'd love it if there were more different kinds of enemies." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"Bellringer III is a real improvement over the previous games in the series. I loved the authentic 1980's vibe in this one - it has a classic console feel to it and the attention to detail (especially with regard to the animation) is fantastic. It's great to see arrows and fireballs fired in an arc rather than a typical straight line, and the multiple routes you can take through each stage help to prevent the game feeling too sterile on repeat plays. I personally found the bell-ringing puzzles were a little hard to figure out, and often resorted to random combinations. However, I cannot deny enjoying a well deserved 'hoorah!' moment when I finally succeed in opening the path to the next level. Great effort guys! " (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"Perhaps it's just me, but I found the 'bellringing' puzzle at the end of each level extremely tough, to the extent that my progress relied on pure guesswork. Maybe I'm just not getting it, but it spoilt my enjoyment of the game. The gameplay is otherwise slightly on the easy side, although the limit on magic power does add a welcome element strategic play as it is often sensible to dodge enemies rather than destroy them, to save magic. I did like the game overall: it plays well, there are a variety of enemies and hazards, and the overall presentation is of high quality." (John Dennis)

"Bellringer III has smooth scrolling and cute, simple though a bit repetitive graphics. It delivers as expected though it seems to hardly differ from earlier games." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"An old school style platformer that takes a couple of levels to get going. That's when the strategy of avoiding and collecting kicks in when you don't have enough magic to shoot all the enemies. Maybe having passwords for levels might have helped to avoid replaying the early, pretty unchallenging levels. Conversely though, the bell puzzle at the end can be very hard to figure out, and may take as much time to solve as getting through the level." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Devil Ronin (Georg Rottensteiner)
11th Place (40.6 Points)

"I was really impressed with this game and it's one of the ones I spent most time on. It actually reminds me of 'A Ride Into The Mountains' on Android/OUYA in some respects. It's possible to play-through without getting much variation on the styles of levels, so perhaps some way of seeing each stage on the map, including being able to move your cursor over each available stage before choosing (including back over previously visited ones, not being able to do that felt irritating for some reason), would make it easier to choose a better variety of levels. Instructions outlining the different types of stage and monsters would be good too. All that said, I love the ambition of the game, it plays well and I love it when you see demakes of retro-inspired games on the classic systems. Plus the tune is bangin'." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"There's not much good I can say about Devil Ronin. I guess the concept of various randomly chosen screens with arcade-like challenges is interesting. It's tricky and fun for a while and the music is fittingly asian in style. However the game feels unfinished and a lack of polish is evident. The jump 'n' run screens especially feel like they need some love, jumping across gaps is way too hard and control of your Samurai feels awkward. Also the game crashed on me once, corrupting its sprite graphics. I'd pass on this one, even though it reminds me a bit of Aztec Challenge, a game I dearly love." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"This game packs a lot into 16KB. Whereas a lot of entries tend to be singular concepts, Devil Ronin tries to tell a story by utilising an over world map, shooting and combat segments. Combat is a simple affair, but the shooting at times is certainly challenging - requiring great deal more aiming and evasion as the game goes on. I found the music slightly too repetitive but considering how much is crammed into this its forgiveable and the fact it was implemented in the 11th hour is to be commended. Short but impressive." (Anton MacArthur)

"I like the Asian setting and the map makes me want to explore. I did not enjoy playing the shmups stages, which to me seem poorly executed, with bad hit detection, weak enemy AI and bland graphics on both background and sprites. Platform stages worked better for me, but still not good enough for me to keep playing the game. With some more work put into both the art and the gameplay, it could turn into a good arcade adventure." (Flemming Dupont)

"Devil Ronin is based on a PC game which in itself is a tribute to C64 styled games. Georg has carried out a great job converting the game and its look and feel perfectly. Sadly though I just didn't get into the game itself overall (never playing the original until now), which is not Georg's fault, because as a conversion it is great. The main issue for me was that the elements of the game were a bit too simple, and repeated a lot. The most fun part was the platforming sections (even though the jump mechanism was a little frustrating), which I wished there were more of with different elements. However, it has a good classic C64 vibe to it, the music (brought in during the final weeks) compliments the game very nicely - and the presentation is very neat, with up scrolling story segments and a world map all crammed in. Sadly not as strong for me as the others in the competition, but is still worth checking out - especially if you are a fan of the original PC game." (Frank Gasking)

"Great idea to spread the levels onto a map. The variations of the game scenes and the lovely graphics and sound all in 16KB make it a nice release, although the gameplay itself is not so fascinating." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"There's a lot to love about Devil Ronin, but I can't help but feel that Georg was perhaps a little over ambitious here for 16KB. Without in-game instructions it is not immediately obvious to first time players unfamiliar with the original what they should be doing, and the game would have benefitted from more space for graphics and sound. However, what he has managed is both fun and very replayable. A few tweaks and improvements to the platforming and shmump seqences would make a lot of difference to the overall feel, and like last year's Wonderland, I'd like to see the game reach its full potential via a 64KB release." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"I was really surprised by the scope and variety this game has to offer, which is further enhanced by the random element that ensures the levels are different each time you play. This includes occasional bonus story sections that award an extra life or extra energy. The castle sections are easy but fun to play; the horseriding sections are variable in difficulty, but overall I think it is about right. I love the game design and the feudal Japan setting. The only annoyance is the music gets a bit repetitive, especially as the game takes quite a while to play due to its size." (John Dennis)

"A bit unlucky choice of font and it is not immediately clear what to do and how to play, unfortunately. Could be really nice with some polishing I think." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"I suspect the idea for this came from the same book of Japanese mythology dealing with attacking giant enemy crabs for massive damage. The animation on the horse is pretty good, but there isn't a lot else going on well in the game, and a few parts seem somewhat unfair. Also the fact I was able to complete it in one sitting doesn't bode well for its lastability." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Linus Vs Simon (Simon Quernhorst)
12th Place (33.6 Points)

"Playing against myself, Linus Vs Simon feels like a solid implementation of 'lines', which by its nature is going to be basic. Only feedback I would give is that given the nature of the game it feels like an option to play off a single joystick or set of keyboard controls would be useful - it's not like you need two joysticks to play a game like this." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"Yes, I've played this on paper too. Therefore I know that it's challenging and fun, if your opponent has some skill. C64 conversion works great, but offers little extra frills on top of that. Nice music. Not much more to add." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"A well made take on a simple pen and paper game. Music is great, timers make preccedings tense but the lack of one player mode makes the game only as challenging as the person your sat next to." (Anton MacArthur)

"Fun two-player game, that works well as a computer game. This is the type of game that can be played many times over with friends and family. The title music is very good, and the game is easy to get into, thanks to its simple control and visuals. As a challenge, the game is as hard or as easy as you and your opponient make it, but compared to simple Tic-tac-toe, this will probably retain a long-lasting appeal even after a few playthroughs. I like it." (Flemming Dupont)

"A game written by a dad for his son, giving a nice sentimental theme to the next entry on the list. Once you get past the two player limitation, the game itself is simple and fun enough - but the execution of the game is pretty basic in comparison to the others. There are odd elements too, such as simply trying to start the game by both having to press left on the joystick. Like with Magic Duel, this suffers due to a lack of an AI player, but also in comparison to the other competition entries - it doesn't quite hold up sadly. Sonically the tune by Drax for the game is superb and is one of the highlights of the game." (Frank Gasking)

"It is fun to see a father make a game for his kid! The gameplay is nice but not very complex." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"There's not a huge amount to say about this one so I'll keep this brief. The paper-based game design is simple to comprehend, and Linus Vs Simon is undeniably fun to play (with two equally skilled players). The scrolling instructions on the title screen are a nice touch, the graphics are clean and the music by Drax is fantastic. However, the game sorely lacks a CPU opponent, which is a real shame as I'd love to be able to practice against the computer." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"I'm not aware of a computer version of the classic pen-and-paper game 'Boxes,' but it would surprise me if it hadn't been done before. This is of course excellent fun with two players, as long as you are prepared for one to walk off in a huff! The addition of a time limit where you have a count of 10 to make your next move makes it all the better. The presentation is fairly basic, as you would expect, but nonetheless nicely done. The only issue is I found it awkward to select the lines right at the edge of the game grid - which under intense time pressure could lose you the game!" (John Dennis)

"A very clean and stylish version of the game. Unfortunately lacks AI, which maybe is not that important considering the simplicity of the game. Not very original but probably the version to go for if you are looking for this kind of game to play with your kids. :)" (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"Including an AI would have been a waste of memory space, there wouldn't have been enough to provide a sufficient challenge. Another player is always where it is. And what the game does, it does it more than well enough to accommodate that." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Candle Burner 1.1 (Dirk Schmitt)
13th Place (20.4 Points)

"This is a nice enough Christmas mini-game. Bonus points for saving scores to disk too." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"This is a fun little time waster with an original concept. Although simplistic in presentation, the controls are very well made and it's interesting to see how fast you can light all the candles. This is great stuff if you have a good microswitch joystick and a real C64. Using a keyboard with VICE makes it much harder and less enjoyable. The fact that it saves the times is also a nice addition. But unfortunately it's not a serious game, and outside of a few parties with your friends, it won't have much lasting appeal." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"While not the prettiest game on offer it does offer a unique challenge, as a fan of simple concept games I had fun trying to beat my score through multiple plays. It does what it set out to do, and to be fair I can't think of much more you could do with the play mechanic. Candle Burner isn't what I would consider a game I would return to, However like the Christmas tree featured in it - it may get an outing once in a while if only for a brief period. Disposable fun, could be a fun concept for a 'loader game'." (Anton MacArthur)

"Although very basic looking, this Christmas themed game is quite addictive! The char-graphic suits the simple gameplay mechanics, and overall the fun factor is surprisingly high considering the prospect of such a simple idea. The long term appeal is probably quite limited, but for a time score challenge this will do for a few plays. Nice title tune and ingame music." (Flemming Dupont)

"A game which is fun enough to play, but only probably for a few turns before you move onto something else. This is a nice tribute to an old PET demo I believe? Something festive to possibly dig out over Christmas at the very least, but not a serious contender to the other titles in the competition, which I'm sure the person entering is aware. Presentation is functional, with a reasonably converted screen for the title page. Nice to see something festive though in the competition!" (Frank Gasking)

"A very simple game for the Christmas season." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"A Christmas themed game, just in time for the holiday season! I hope I'm correct in assuming that this isn't a super serious entry, because although well-executed it's pretty simple. The splash screen and music are both excellent, but the in-game PETSCII art is very basic - I would have preferred to have seen the whole game done in standard multicolour mode. Also, I sense there is a missed design opportunity here; surely a game about lighting candles on a tree should involve some sort of risk factor, just like real life? Would be fun if you could accidentally set fire to the tree, burn down the house and thus ruin Christmas." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"It's nice to have a festive entry to the competition! You must light all the candles on a Christmas tree as quickly as humanly possible. This is a well presented game, if rather simple and limited in scope. I did find that I quickly got to a point where it would be very difficult to further improve my time. This means the game has short-lived appeal. There is excellent use of festive music to create a frantic tempo for the challenge!" (John Dennis)

"Extremely simple concept but well executed. Despite its basic concept it actually is a bit of fun. Comes with a dedicated title screen." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"Short, sweet and perfect for Christmas. The definition of time attack. Nice to come back to every so often to try and better your time." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

Revenge Of The Tomato (Richard Bayliss)
14th Place (19.9 Points)

"I'm not a huge shmup fan to be honest. With this game I wasn't sure if there was some sort of collision detection issue or what but I kept on dying when I couldn't work out why. Was I colliding with what I thought were background sprites or were there bullets I couldn't see hitting me? Either way it was pretty frustrating. I liked the efforts made in the different speeds and movements of the tomatos in creating the waves though." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"A side-scrolling shooter where you have to rescue petrified humans and shoot tomatos. That's pretty much it. Nothing special about this game. Also buggy and boring. Pass." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"A bizarre experience indeed. I can safely say its the best tomato shmup in this years competition. The game-play is ok and it can be quite challenging at times. Visually interesting, it's clear a lot of effort has been put in to his entry. While it doesn't do much beyond its humour to differentiate itself from the standard shooter fare, it is certainly an enjoyable experience with the collecting of rooftop civilians providing a serious challenge. If the visuals were improved upon slightly it may make it clearer how close you can actually get to buildings before crashing into them - which is my only real gripe." (Anton MacArthur)

"The uninspired tomato attack patterns really broke the gameplay for me, and often it also felt like the hit detection was somewhat off. I like playing simple shmups, but this one just seemed lacking in the fun department. The game has a really nice looking title screen, and the music is not too bad either! If more interesting tomato attack patterns, power-ups and sound effects could make it into a update, this could be worth a playthrough." (Flemming Dupont)

"A good looking sideways shooter from Richard. It is sort of like City Bomber meets Kamakazi, but unfortunately isn't quite as fun. Although a good concept and starting well initially, the attack waves are very samey throughout. What saves things a little is the variety in the backgrounds and good solid presentation, with a very good main game picture and titles. Collision is also a little ropey and needs a bit of tweaking, as well as trying to improve the attack waves which cause a lot of frustration. It's clear that this was compiled quickly for the competition, so my recommendation is to spend more time on the far better Invert entry from Richard." (Frank Gasking)

"Lovable for its theme, but the game is based on very known concepts. However, as you are required to not only shoot tomatos but also rescue people, this is not the usual shooter as you'd first expect. As well, it is pretty damn hard! The tomato waves are too repetitive and they are unfair, because they can cross through buildings and I can't!" (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"There was a stage when it didn't look like our compo was going to have enough entries. To help out, Richard entered this quick and dirty 16KB cartridge conversion in the final days before the deadline, but in hindsight it might have been better left out. The game suffers from some major collision detection issues - and although the basic design (shmup with survivors to rescue) is sound, it fails to compare favourably against some of the other entrants here. By no means a bad game, but not great either!" (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"Unlike most of the other games in the competition, this has a slightly unpolished feel. It's a shoot-'em-up, side scrolling, and a difficult one at that. Those tomatoes are vicious and zigzag all over the screen in waves. The collision detection seems to be out, and sometimes your ship explodes for no apparent reason. And why can the tomatoes fly over the scenery but your ship can't? I guess they are bouncy. The music and graphics are perfectly good, but it lacks in-game sound effects. I do like the idea of rescuing people from rooftops as you go - it adds a welcome extra dimension to gameplay." (John Dennis)

"Quite some effort in the title pic. Nice menu and tune! The graphics are ok but a bit boring in the used level design. Overall its ok, but lacks a bit of uniqueness." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"A reasonable side scrolling shmup game with moderate graphics and an immediate difficulty curve, which isn't helped by the fact that many times I died when I didn't appear to actually hit anything. Either my eyesight is up, or the collision detection is a bit wonky. Sadly this rather detracts from the playability." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)

S-Blox (Payton Byrd)
15th Place (13.1 Points)

"Thumbs up for being open source but I agree with one of the commentators on CSDB who said that the tune didn't really fit with the game. At the end of the day it's a basic Tetris clone and yet it doesn't feature all aspects of a Tetris game. Plus there may be a bug when trying to rotate a block that is touching the right-hand side wall. It works fine but to be honest there's no real reason to come back to this given that an official Tetris game exists among numerous clones already out there, one of which was released literally this week. As a basic Tetris clone it works, but it feels a tad too slow for me." (Alex Ross-Shaw)

"Have you heard of this new game called Tetris? It's awesome, we should really do a C64 version of it. That's not what I would've expected someone to think in 2013. Sorry for being cynical, but this should not exist. Nobody needs another version of Tetris, especially not if it's done like this. Bad, uninspired, boring with awful music. Best feature is the mute button. Sorry, but no thanks." (Andreas Varga/Mr. SID)

"A passable Tetris clone, more at home as a 'loader game' rather than a fully realized singular experience. Underwhelming visually (even for Tetris) this title does little to use the C64s strengths. Game-play is good, however with so many clones already existing, its a little redundant. The music is very nice though with a dark, 'glitchy' feel and it ticks along nicely - maybe if the visuals were in keeping with the dark tones of the music the whole experience would be more unified." (Anton MacArthur)

"Average Tetris clone, with basic graphics and slow gameplay. The music is really good, but does not fit the gameplay that well. I like Tetris, and this version plays a good version of the game, however there is nothing here that has not been seen before, and the basic look and feel does not bring anything new to table to get me excited." (Flemming Dupont)

"I love my Tetris games, but S-Blox doesn't really do enough to drag me away from the Gameboy original (or Colour Gameboy update). Although it plays a perfectly good game of Tetris, the white background is a little harsh on the eyes and it doesn't really offer anything more than any of the other Tetris games out there do already. Graphics are purely functional overall, but music is good. If the game had improvements on its presentation, and maybe something a little new to add to the concept, then it would have scored higher within the competition." (Frank Gasking)

"A basic Tetris game with no specialties. Interesting graphic style and nice music." (Jacob Voos/Jak T Rip)

"Much like Revenge of the Tomato, S-Blox is not a bad game, but it fails to impress when compared to most of the other competition entrants. A character-based tetris clone with an unsuitably heavy soundtrack and wildly contrasting graphics. The addition of a highscore table or 'next piece' indicator would have made a big difference, but the game is already using every spare byte of ROM space." (James Monkman/Heavy Stylus)

"S-Blox is a fairly standard version of Tetris, which looks quite stylish with white as a background and base colour for the patterned blocks. Once the well becomes quite full the graphical style does make it hard to quickly spot gaps, but otherwise it works fine. There is a slight sluggishness to the controls which is noticeable but doesn't really impede gameplay. However, blocks cannot be rotated on the right side of the well (but can on the left). Other slight flaws are the lack of a high score function and the lack of a 'next' indicator, both of which I would expect to be available." (John Dennis)

"Very simple concept (by today's standards). A bit buggy. Some pieces got stuck in the bottom wall and the joy handling could need some debouncing. Clean, nice design." (Martin Wendt/Enthusi)

"Tetris. We've had plenty of them over the years, and this one plays well enough, but doesn't bring anything new to the table, and is arguably not as good as some others that occupy less space. C'est la vie." (Matt Allen/Mayhem)