The joysticks cometh
Drop everything. Yes there are big new games to play, yes there's new series to binge watch and yes, you need to decide on that Halloween outfit, but there's just one week left to vote in The 34th annual Golden Joystick Awards. Every vote counts, because this year's competition is proving to be nail-bitingly close.
The good news is there's still time to have your say in the people's gaming awards, with 21 categories to choose from in another fantastic year. But who will run off with the biggest and most coveted prize, the Ultimate Game of the Year? Well, with the likes of Uncharted 4 going head to head with Rise of the Tomb Raider and Fallout 4, the competition is sure to be fierce. With such a lineup of big hitters, we have to ask, is this the Ultimate Game field the toughest yet?
That's a tough call, because over the years, the winners of the Ultimate Game have read like a Who's Who of gaming achievement. So we've taken a trip back down memory lane to bring you a look at just some of the game of the year winners throughout the decades. Feast your eyes on these beauties, and do check out the video below to see them in action.
1983 - Jetpac
The Joysticks' very first winner was Jetpac, an arcade shooter written by Chris and Tim Stamper who eventually went on to form legendary Rare. An instant arcade classic, it saw your hover-packed Jetman hose down waves of aliens, while refuelling his ship to escape each planet. A true ZX Spectrum master blaster.
1984 - Knight Lore
A masterpiece of isometric action from Ultimate, Knight Lore saw Sabreman (hero of Sabre Wulf), alternate between human and werewolf forms as he battled through 128 rooms of a sinister castle, with just 40 days and nights to find the ingredients to beat his curse. It truly transformed gaming's perspective ... into an isometric one.
1985 - Way of the Exploding Fist
Beam Software's fighter may have been based on the arcade machine Karate Champ, but it delivered a wealth of fresh Bruce Lee-inspired thrills to Commodore 64 players. Fantastic player animations, beautiful backgrounds and a remarkably sophisticated array of attacks, blocks, kicks and punches, combined with its innovative Yin Yang scoring system meant there was a lot of depth to this impressive fighter.
1986 - Gauntlet
"The Elf needs food, badly!" The first arcade cabinet winner from the eighties, Gauntlet was a true pioneer of co-op and RPG gaming, with four different heroes crawling their way through a series of monster-haunted dungeons. Fast, colourful and compelling, with that outstanding 'just one more go' quality, this one sucked up many a 10p in our misspent youths.
1987 - Out Run
A classic Sega coin-op, Out Run was as famous as much for its hypnotic ambient soundtrack, as its free flowing drifting action. Driving a spanking red Ferrari Testarossa Spider with your girlfriend's hair blowing in the breeze, while being tilted around in the Deluxe cabinet, was surely one of gaming's ultimate driving pleasures.
1988 - Speedball
The Bitmap Brothers' fantastic futuristic sport was part ice hockey, part American football, part Rollerball - and as much about the old ultra violence as the scoreline. Featuring some brutally bruising encounters, it paved the way for the all time classic Speedball 2, but there was still many a joystick completely wrecked in this first Speedball season.
1989 - Kick Off
Dino Dini's seminal soccer game was the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga's true star player, a top down, fantastically realistic rendition (for the time) of the beautiful game. Pre-dating the legendary Sensible Soccer by almost three years, it swept the boards with 90%+ ratings from virtually major every UK publication and was a shoe-in as Game of the Year.
1990 - Kick Off 2
How do you follow up one of the best footy games of all time? Not easy, but with Kick Off 2, designer Dino Dino and programmer Steve Screech added after-touch, custom strips, slow-motion action replays, different referee personalities and the ability to import Player Manager teams into your game. Absolute footballing perfection.
1991 - Sonic the Hedgehog
The iconic platformer's plot, revolving around chaos emeralds and the evil Dr Robotnik, may have been largely bobbins, but its colourful graphics, brilliant level design and sheer sense of speed made Sonic the stand-out star of Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis. Sonic made the console fly high in the US and even (briefly) usurped Nintendo's dominant position at the top of the charts.