GamesRadar's Officially Annual Platinum Chalice Awards 2008

We can’t stress enough that Time Hollow isn’t really a game at all; even the term “interactive novel” is stretching the truth. Sure, you have to tap the screen with the stylus to progress through the story (with a few very minor pixel hunts), but it’s no different than turning the pages of a book, and we don’t call that interaction.

Above: Gameplay!

So the fact that we actually stuck it out until the end is proof enough that the story compelling. You play as teenager Ethan Kairos, who mysteriously acquires a pen that allows him to cut holes in time and alter past events. Wielders of the pen pay a price though, and every time he uses it, his own aging is accelerated as a side effect. The story starts with Ethan simply trying to reverse the mysterious deaths of his parents, but quickly adds complexity by throwing in a second, malevolent pen-wielder who’s fighting equally hard to keep his parents dead and erase Ethan along with them. Inexorably entwined in the whole mess is a woman who has somehow been left behind by the flow of time completely, and it’s up to Ethan to figure out how to safely return her to her own timeline without killing her in the process.

Time Hollow brilliantly shows the rippling qualities of cause and effect, and while we hate that it’s such a non-game, can’t help but commend it for a story that can hold its own against most of today’s popular anime fare and the like.

TFU was supposed to be played, not watched. With boring level design, idiotic targeting, repetitive enemies and enough bugs to torpedo any game without Wookies, this “canon” is far, far from classic.

The trailer for House of the Dead: Overkill left many a GR staffer squealing with delight at its lurid 70s B-movie stylings. After all, who doesn’t love random, shamelessly titillating cutaways to campy strippers and terrifying poisonous creepy-crawlies? It’s the stuff exploitation films thrive on. Looking back at the trailer, though, we realized that the game itself looked pretty underwhelming when isolated from the swingin’ presentation. While Overkill will certainly attempt to channel the grainy teen-slasher-drive-in vibe with its creepy carnival setting and faux distressed filters, we’re still harboring a healthy dose of skepticism.

Take, for example, the developers salty claim that as many as 30 zombies will appear onscreen at once. While 30 whole zombies may challenge the upper limit of the Wii’s puny processing power and permanently scar many an 8-year-old raised solely on Poniez and Babiez and PetzCatz, it will likely feel anemic to true zombie mob connoisseurs fresh from Left 4 Dead and Resident Evil 5. Add in the fact that shooters are generally awkward on the Wii, and you have a game that will probably not live up to the excitement generated by its ingenious trailer. However, if Sega does somehow manage to recapture that House of the Dead arcade magic in Overkill, it’ll be a great M-rated boon to Wii owners slogging through that system’s craptacular family-casual overload.

Our media-soaked brains revel in the heightened states of consciousness induced by self-referential entertainment. Or, as Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock calls it, “Hippie humor.” On its face, Hazard seems to offer gamers a chance to seal themselves inside a giant mirrorball of videogame archetypery as the washed-up hero struggles to reclaim his former glory. Unfortunately, early reports indicate (opens in new tab)it may turn out to be a missed opportunity.

LIttleBigPlanet might look cute and innocent, what with its shiny-eyed Sackboys and their adorable range of expressions, but that’s just a cover for a surprisingly powerful, easy-to-use creation tool. And what’s the first thing the masses do when handed an outlet for their creativity? That’s right: they figure out how to use it to make dicks.

LBP puts a truly appalling arsenal of dick-making tools at the player’s disposal. With a few minutes and an absolute minimum of effort, creativity and/or thought, anyone experimenting with LBP’s level creator can create a crude, spongy dick-shape, a piston-powered mechanical phallus or an elaborate fire-breathing cock-monster with googly eyes and working mandibles. It’s even possible for users to take photos of their own dicks using the PlayStation Eye camera, and then plaster them across dick-themed levels for a level of online dick-sharing that’s unprecedented in console history.

True, the user-moderated content-filtering system does prevent a lot of those dicks from actually staying online, but even with restrictions, LBP’s incredible ease of use and ability to put a vast array of dick-shaping options at players’ fingertips makes it nothing less than a revolution in dick-shaping technology.

Spore doesn’t offer quite the same level of create-anything versatility that LittleBigPlanet does, but it’s got it all over its console rival in terms of popularity and sheer volume. Within seconds of Spore’s free Creature Creator becoming available, the internet was flooded with “Sporn” that largely consisted of dick-shaped (or just huge-dicked) creatures and enormous-breasted quadrupeds, and that proved PC gamers aren’t quite the high-minded elitists so many of them pretend to be.

We’ve mentioned Chronicles three or four times already, even more in TalkRadar (opens in new tab), but we still feel like it’s going to absolutely disappear into the ether over the holiday break. There’s so much going against it (niche genre, exclusive to PS3, crowded release calendar) that there’s almost no way it’s going to keep its head above water. Why didn’t Sega port it to 360, or even PC given its strategy gameplay and unique presentation?

Funny how this happens, no? The entire gaming industry got behind Okami (including your palGamesRadar (opens in new tab)), constantly telling you umpteen reasons why you desperately needed to play it. Then, once the horrid sales numbers starting coming in, and we realized how few people listened to the torrent of accolades, the industry spat out numerous articles saying yet again (opens in new tab)why you should play it. And no one did. Then it came out for Wii and the same thing happened again, again.

And now it’s going to happen with Valkyria Chronicles. Yet another solid, beautifully crafted game doomed to die because of circumstances entirely out of its control. Well, except for the release date. Sega really could have dropped it in a month that didn’t have 100 other games shipping. Oh well, at least it will be a glorious, beautiful death.

Okami can’t catch a break no matter what year it is or what platform it’s released on. It won this award back in 2006 (opens in new tab), and this year the Wii version fails to finish first in a category we made up specifically for it.