GOTY 2018: Norman Reedus Presents the Kojima Award for Biggest WTF of 2018
This year we've brought back our category awards to recognize achievements in specific areas of game development. There are 10 awards in all, with two new ones being awarded every day this week. Keep checking back for more winners!
Winner: The Cardboard Glory of Nintendo Labo
Nintendo EPD | April 20th, 2018 | Nintendo Switch
Runners-up: Hitman 2 for Lamp-Shading Sean Bean | Donut County for Imagining a World Where Raccoons Deliver Donuts
Nintendo has a long and storied history of spinning ludicrous-sounding ideas into absolute gold. After all, unlike the electronics background of Sony or the computer software history of Microsoft, Nintendo’s basis was in toys. Turning a self-help puzzle game into one of the Nintendo DS’s first must-buy games? Say hello to Brain Age. Marketing interactive fitness with your home console? Allow me to introduce World Class Track Meet on the NES and Wii Fit on the Wii. Those are just a couple of the examples from Nintendo’s history of toys and video games.
Following on from that storied lineage, enter Nintendo Labo, a series of kits that blend video games with arts-and-crafts and a healthy dose of imagination. Central to each is the use of the Switch system and its Joy-Cons in concert with cardboard pieces to craft into new experiences, some more robust than others. But each of the three main sets offers a selection of items to make—the newest Vehicle Kit comes with a wheel, flight stick and boat helm and Switch experiences to match, plus integration with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. If I was 10 years old—or had a 10-year-old child in my life—I would absolutely love these kits, from the value to the creativity and customizability.
Special notice about the other two games we nominated this year. Hitman 2 continues to get more and more lovably weird, and the epitome of that was the intricate setup behind the first Elusive Target, Sean Bean. Not only is it a character who is also a hired killer and one voiced and styled after a known actor, but the fiction for Bean’s character is that he’s “The Undying”—despite multiple confirmations of death, this character keeps coming back. Until you get Agent 47 to snipe, strangle, knife, or drop a duck on him, that is.
Our other runner up in the category is the gleeful writing and magical realism behind Donut County. A common comparison for Donut County is to Katamari Damacy, which makes sense both from a gameplay and story standpoint, but it’s a very Los Angeles take on the formula. The writing is pitch perfect, the character BK is the most wonderfully 2018 creature in existence, and the game “gets” text messaging in ways few do. The setup for what and how the ‘donuts’ work is pretty brilliant, and almost took the Kojima gong home.
But in the end, the concept and execution behind Nintendo Labo proved too gloriously unique to ignore. Plus, it was easy for us to give the Hideo Kojima-related award to the game which features extensive use of cardboard boxes. That’s just on-brand. — Doug Bonham