Dawnseed: A pleasant little Zelda tribute with a rather clever turnaround - after a certain point, your control shifts from the protagonist to the enemies, leaving you having to counter attacks and abilities you had very recently been relying upon. The story becomes an appealingly dark reversal of the standard lone hero situation. It's just that the inclusion of the assigned theme of "Light" was tenuous at best. I wonder if they were going to call it Darkseed until they realized there's already a game by that name, and that they couldn't compete with its moustache.
Soledad: A genuinely touching story vignette about a woman's relationship with her father throughout her life, but I'm basically a Borg and refuse to let my emotions influence me at all. The gameplay is traditional adventure game-y in that its main purpose is just to briefly delay you on the way through a linear story. Good story, mind.
Hamal: Like Cheese and Punishment, Hamal is kind of done with once you figure out the one twist to the Simon-like gameplay, but it's presented well. Also like with Cheese and Punishment it's always impressive and a little surprising when a 48-hour game is in full 3D. Taking that option feels like holding a big sign over your head reading "Headaches This Way Please".
The Garbage Collector: This is where my little anally retentive sphincter tightens, because as efficient as the three-tier scrolling shooter gameplay is, the theme ("Zealotry") and element ("Garbage") don't seem to be acknowledged anywhere but in the accompanying text blurb. I appreciate that some themes were easier to incorporate than others, but we must have rules, or where are we? On fire. That's where we are.
Caesar's Day Off: As with Soledad I couldn't in good conscious consider this one for a prize intended for a game, because it's not much more than an interactive cartoon. But for the record, it did make me laugh, and I'm impressed by it as a humorist if not as a game critic. We didn't have a prize for that, but, you know. Thanks.
Gnoming Around: A strong contender, this. The 2D animation was excellent and the light-based gameplay in which you must balance visibility with influencing the state of certain platforms was innovative and made good use of the random theme ("Light" again). Shame there was only one prize. As it stands I guess everything in this list won joint second place.
Spin Cycle: As I understand it this was the winner of the popular vote, and I can see why, because Super Meat Boy was a very popular game, wasn't it. Oh, but I kid. The addition of spinning grappling hook movement does add another level to the easy-to-learn, hard-to-master nature of the platforming. But the assigned element of "Submarine" appears only once on a billboard, and that just feels like Spin Cycle wasn't taking this seriously enough.
So, congratulations again to Protein Pirates, and also congratulations to everyone who actually kept themselves sane long enough over forty-eight hours to put out something playable. That's a great skill to have. And the satisfaction of knowing you pulled it off should be all the prize you need. NaNoWriMo doesn't have a prize at all. Even if you did finish a week early, not that I'm bitter.
Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.