I was surprised by how popular it was, and how it could be in this competition, let a lone be winning, I know that sounds mean, but it's true. . .
I do not exactly agree with you. Snakewood did take place in a post-apocalyptic Hoenn, so it would be natural to use Ruby's default maps. Not to mention that Cutlerine did create a bunch of new maps, such as the Shakya Monastery, the S.S. Cangrejo, and the Lilycove Sewers. Plus, even though I have to agree that Cutlerine's spriting skills are... not really above average, to put it in a polite manner, his story is truly unique. Even though zombies have been done to death(pardon the pun) in modern media, the plot twists, the sheer amount of factions, they all took my attention. To paraphrase Cutlerine, "While a pretty picture can take your attention for five minutes, an engaging plot can enrapture a person for hours." You can't really judge a hack's quality just by seeing its first few scenes.
In my opinion, Cutlerine's game was successful, his intent was not showing off with well-done sprites, nor was to showcase his mapping skills, but it was to tell a serious and dramatic story, with a few insanely crazy bits and pieces.
But I have to say something, Snakewood seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it game, sort of like Baro's Quartz.