On graphical adventure games & awards

Switching gears for a bit…

A short while ago TIGSource made note of the recent 2007 Adventure Game Studio Awards. These are annual awards for excellence given to freeware games made with the AGS system. The awards have been handed out since 2001, although I admit I haven’t been an AGS user or player and didn’t know much about the awards or community. Still, for those who like LucasArts-style graphical adventure games, there are a lot of good games out there, and I thought I would check them out for once.

This year’s two biggest winners are Nelly Cootalot: Spoonbeaks Ahoy! (5 awards, including Best Game, Best Gameplay, and Best Dialogue Writing) and A Tale of Two Kingdoms (4 awards, including Best Puzzles and Best Animation).


Nelly Cootalot is a medium-length game, and the download is 15MB in size. The graphics have a nice hand-drawn quality and are very polished, and the interface utilizes a “verb coin” that appears when you hold down the left mouse button. You play the protagonist, Nelly, a “fearsome pirate and lover of tiny and adorable creatures,” charged with investigating “the mysterious disappearance of a fleet of birds known as spoonbeaks”. It should take a few hours to play, and I’m looking forward to checking it out.


Two Kingdoms is a longer game (“full-length”), with “an atmosphere of fairy tales, magic, and intrigue.” It has been described as a very large game with an enormous amount of detail, especially hidden goodies — and it’s a huge download, coming in at 96MB. I have read about some inconsistencies in the world model, but the graphics and animation look excellent from what I have seen so far. Given my own time constraints, I probably won’t be able to play the whole thing, but I’m definitely eager to dig into it.

It’s interesting to put this into context with Indiegames.com’s recent “Best Freeware Adventure Games 2007″, which lists A Tale of Two Kingdoms at #9 and Nelly Cootalot at #11.


The top spot was occupied by “Fedora Spade”, a game in which you play a detective attempting to solve complicated cases by gathering evidence and questioning crime suspects. I haven’t tried it yet, but it appears to have a simple menu-driven interface and retro-style graphics. Given that, I’m interested to find out what worked so well to give it the top spot.


Of note, at #2 is “Covert Front”, a Flash-based spy game which has you investigating the disappearance of a general Karl von Toten. Per the web site, “the plot takes place in 1904 but in a different reality-line, where the first world war has already begun due to earlier technical revolution that took place in the mid 19th century.” The game is supposed to take place over 4 episodes; only the first two are currently available. It’s a simple game with a point-and-click interface; despite some pixel hunting, the artwork and sound effects work really well. I enjoyed it and would recommend it for a few minutes of idle time.

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4 Comments

  1. SSH
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

    Hi, as the guy who runs the AGS Awards I was intrigued to come across your blog. Hope that you get time to try out those and a few more AGS games. I notice that Infinity String did much better in that top 20 list than in the AGS Awards where it only got one award (for Backgrounds).

  2. Rubes
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 8:43 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by, glad you found it. I haven’t had the chance to try out any of the other games that did well in the Awards, but so far I’m pretty impressed with the quality. Infinity String looks well made…hard to tell why it did so well in one list but not so much in the other.

    Hope you get the chance to hang around for a bit!

  3. SSH
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 2:20 AM | Permalink

    Sure, you’re in my Google Reader now. As for story based games, the best examples of AGS games with fabulous character development and a good story are those by Dave Gilbert at http://wadjeteyegames.com

    Unfortunately for cheapskates like me, his success has meant that he now charges for his games, but I beta test for him so I get free copies, whee!

  4. Rubes
    Posted April 4, 2008 at 9:40 PM | Permalink

    Thanks, I appreciate you doing that. I’ve heard a lot about Dave Gilbert’s games, especially The Shivah, although I haven’t played any of them yet. I’ve been meaning to check them out — I didn’t realize he was charging for them now. Still, I’m happy to support his efforts…

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