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  #1    
Old 4 Weeks Ago (01:57 PM). Edited 1 Week Ago by Christos.
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Christos
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Hack of the Year 2014 - Judging Round


Introduction


This is the third and final round of 2014's Hack of the Year competition. Five judges will play and rate all three hacks out of 10 in four categories, Graphics, Story, Gameplay and General Appeal. The hack with the best overall ratings wins the Hack of the Year award. This thread will remain closed, and only judges will post their ratings and comments on the hacks here.

Eligible Hacks


Judges

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  #2    
Old 8 Hours Ago (05:51 AM).
Hiroshi Sotomura's Avatar
Hiroshi Sotomura
Top of the Class
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Nature: Lax
Had my impressions reserved for when I'd be asked to actually post them — now, apparently. Let's get the judge ball rolling.

Pokémon Glazed


Graphics: 8/10
Pokémon Glazed is filled with a variety of graphical details that enhance the presentation of each area the player visits. The graphics help to create a world that works toe-in-toe with the storyline — with graffiti on walls, park benches in parks, and poison ivy in the swamp, and some of the towns the player visits match the visual qualities of towns in modern Pokémon games. It's not without its issues — various overworld sprites and tiles appear unpolished.

Story: 7/10
Glazed presents the player with an interesting storyline involving two separate universes, but also requires the player to proceed on the standard journey of… battling gyms. It is a Pokémon game, after all.

Gameplay: 7/10
Glazed fills the game with experiences not found in any other, and some of these experiences are smartly done — for instance, the use of poison ivy in the swamp maddens players but forces them to consider the best route to use. It also, however, curveballs at the player with an astonishing level curve, which comes across as a blessing and a curse. The very first Gym Leader effectively cheats by using Pokémon with deceptively even levels and then throwing out a ridiculously-levelled Pokémon, making it a harder game to play, and the levels of trainers thereafter are ridiculously high.

General appeal: 8/10
Glazed comes across as a particularly promising hack with environments that make a good mix as well as immersive events that communicate the story well. While it is currently in development, though, it comes across as unpolished in some fronts, especially with trainers whose music hasn't been adjusted, or trainers with insane level curves, and there's a few typos abound.

Pokémon Adventure - Red Chapter


Graphics: 5/10
The graphics of Pokémon Adventure - Red Chapter appear to be a mix of various Pokémon games, but the use and selection have created a world that is not visually cohesive. The arbitrary use of Day/Night makes playing the game a pain at particular times of the day, and the mix of graphics creates visual clashes with the rest of the overworld.

Story: 7/10
A good story to base off, represented well by scripted events, with its own twists and turns. The presentation falls flat, however, with carefully scripted events that are taken from the original plot and thus rely on certain Pokémon being in the player's party. The presence of NPCs don't help the presentation, often making snide, off-hand comments that actively detract from the story rather than add to it.

Gameplay: 6/10
The gameplay is interesting — Red Chapter attempts to follow the storyline faithfully and thrusts the player right into situations that come straight from it — but often leaves the player without much idea as to what needs to be done. At times, it's hard to actually advance the story because of various game-ending bugs. The game takes a few pages from the humor cookbook by throwing in a couple of cross-franchise jokes (particularly towards the Pokémon anime) but the sheer quantity of jokes don't add value to the gameplay.

General appeal: 6/10
Having barely read Pokémon Adventures and being told it was so good, the expectations for any adaptation of it were high. Pokémon Adventure - Red Chapter takes the plot and faithfully adapts a selection of parts from the Pokémon Adventures story and puts a spin on it — but even with the story already pre-written to base off, it comes off as an unpolished project in the process.

Pokémon Gaia


Graphics: 8/10
Pokémon Gaia provides a cohesive mix of stock and remixed graphics from a range of Pokémon games. Not too many details are left unturned in what's presented, creating an engrossing and believable overworld that fits right at home with more recent Pokémon games. However, it lacks some form of originality in its graphics — the main player character remains the same, and so do various characters. With many changes being made to various characters already, missing the player character, at least, feels like an oversight.

Story: 8/10
Gaia shows the player a world that is much like other Pokémon games, but has an interesting story with an interesting plotline to go with it. The story wraps heavily around the areas the player will eventually visit, creating intrigue for the player.

Gameplay: 7/10
In a world where Gaia's general player base may spend more time holding the speed key or chatting on Facebook, Gaia requires the player to spend a lot of time doing things. Gaia has many, many compulsory trainers that the player will have to battle along the way, and the placement of grass plus the frequency of random battles simply, in this day and age, mar the player's experience. Pokémon Gaia does, however, keep the player hooked by introducing ideas from modern games, as well as an extended selection of Pokémon to keep the players going and going.

General appeal: 8/10
Gaia gives the players a large amount of frills and ideas taken out of modern Pokémon games, but is let down by some of these ideas appearing way too inspired. While there is some original plot, Gaia perhaps needs something else to distinguish it further from other Pokémon games, and indeed, other Pokémon hacks. What makes Gaia quite nice, though, is how it's all put together — it is, perhaps, one of the most cohesive, comprehensive hacks ever released so far, with few bugs, graphics that work well, and even a varied selection of Pokémon to use.
  #3    
Old 8 Hours Ago (06:11 AM).
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DrFuji
Helfen, Wehren, Heilen
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Join Date: Sep 2009
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Pokémon Glazed by redriders180



Thank goodness I’m not blind because I would be really sad if I was… Also I would not be able to see Glazed’s magnificent visuals. Just about everything that could be changed aesthetically, has been changed. The sheer variety of its locations, environments and events has cemented Glazed status as a fan favourite and one of the most popular hacks on PokéCommunity in the past few years. Beyond its impressive length and graphics, Glazed is also a decent game in terms of its story. I can’t say that I found the story to be completely novel or engrossing, but it still has a few interesting characters and is proficient enough to make it worth keeping tabs on.

I found Glazed’s gameplay to be its weakest aspect, but it is far from poor. There is a real hump in gameplay around the second gym as first stage pseudo-legendaries become available and ordinary trainers step up their game significantly, to say nothing of gym leaders. On the other hand, the Johto League adventure poses little challenge as by the time this segment begins, the player will have a team of fully-fleshed out Pokémon which have significant EV investment. But that minor shortcoming has not dampened any enjoyment I derived from Glazed. There’s a reason why a lot of players love its length and content as its many strengths help to elevate it above many other hacks that have come out in the past few years. For me, this is the best and most complete hack in 2014’s Hack of the Year.
Graphics: 9
Story: 6
Gameplay: 5
General Appeal: 7
Total: 27

Pokémon Adventure - Red Chapter by Aethestode



I’m the first to admit that I’ve barely read any of the Pokémon Special manga so the whole scenario being portrayed is somewhat foreign to me. While the story may not be made from scratch by Aethestode, he has certainly represented it well within Adventure Red. Of particular note are the numerous side quests which hold a surprising amount of depth and help to make it a living, breathing, representation of Kanto outside of the main story. Sadly, constant spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and jokes that don't always hit the mark have dulled what is otherwise a good showing from a narrative point of view. Unfortunately, Adventure Red’s graphics don’t live up to the scale of its story. Beyond new Pokémon sprites and a few overworlds, the altered graphics do not always mesh well with GameFreak’s own offerings, unlike Gaia’s which compliments what is already on the ROM or Glazed which overhauls everything.

Adventure Red is in a somewhat peculiar position when it comes to gameplay as a lot of its major fights are dictated by the manga, making balancing difficult at times. I recognise that following the source material is of paramount importance to this hack, it is sad that there are balancing issues that have to be carried over as well. Adventure Red is in a unique position for a finished hack where most people play it for its story rather than shiny graphics, new Pokémon or a multitude of other potential additions. Thankfully, this is also Adventure Red’s strongest feature and serves to keep its player engaged and enjoying what there is to offer.
Graphics: 4
Story: 9
Gameplay: 5
General Appeal: 6
Total: 24

Pokémon Gaia by Spherical Ice



Gaia truly feels like a snippet of a legitimate mainstream GameFreak game and that is no small feat. Its constant high production values and friendly atmosphere ensures its current status as a minor gem that is starting to expand and become well known. While its graphics have been spiced up a bit with some custom tiles and new sprites it still borrows heavily from Fire Red as a base. It is far too early to actually tell what its story will be like but from has been presented so far it seems to be solid. Gaia’s strongest suit is definitely its gameplay as it does a really good job of balancing its available Pokémon, enemy trainers/ Gym Leaders and has some excellent map design to go along with it all.

Gaia is a really well put together game with solid foundations. But unfortunately that’s all it is at the moment: a foundation. It is extremely difficult to compare Gaia to either Glazed or Adventure Red due to their significant differences in length. Glazed and Adventure Red are comprehensive hacks with completed stories and significant post-game content, whereas Gaia is only two gyms long. In my eyes, this has hurt Gaia’s overall appeal as it just simply has less to experience in comparison to its competitors. You can only review what you can experience. However, as time goes on and more content is added, I firmly believe that Gaia will continue to grow and become a favourite for anybody interested in Pokémon hacks. 2015 looks to be extremely bright for Gaia and I will be watching it every step of the way.
Graphics: 6
Story: 4
Gameplay: 7
General Appeal: 4
Total: 21
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Old 2 Hours Ago (12:32 PM).
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Hopeless Masquerade
山の新人神様
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: 守矢神社
Age: 17
Gender: Male
Nature: Relaxed

Pokémon Glazed


Graphics: 8/10
I rather liked the graphics used in Pokémon Glazed. Especially the tilesets. redriders180 has put a lot of work into changing the graphics in Glazed, and it shows. Pretty much all of the graphics used in the game look nice together, and sheer variety alone kept me interested in exploring new areas. The only complaints I really have are the mixture of OW styles (please just use one type!) and the off-colored footprints (why white?), but otherwise great. A bit of polishing, and this could really be one of the best.

Story: 5/10
I have to admit that the story is quite creative. Multiple dimensions? You don’t see that everyday. But that’s sort of where it ends for me. The rather generic story of traveling to all the gyms was expected, so no complaints there.

Gameplay: 5/10
A lot of the gameplay is rather creative, but not completely outside the realm of the usual Pokémon games. One of the coolest things, to me, was the poison ivy that actually poisoned your Pokémon. Now, while these novel experiences are nice, Glazed really killed me with the level curve. A level 18 Jolteon for the first gym? Really? And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous jump in levels following after that first gym. I feel like I spent more time grinding my team on weak Pokémon than I did actual gameplay.

General Appeal: 7/10
I can definitely see why Glazed has garnered such a fan following the past few years. It was amazing graphics, creative events, and a lot of people seemingly like hacks with hard level curves. Apart from fixing the level curve, I’d really like to see redriders180 fixing the random grammar errors that can be found in events, and then also perhaps change up some of the events (like the Mudkip event) which seemingly have no relevance to the story.

Total: 25/40

Pokémon Adventure - Red Chapter


Ahhh, another manga hack…

Graphics: 4/10
The graphics of Pokémon Adventure - Red Chapter are somewhat of a mess. The only thing I really enjoyed about them was the hero’s overworld. Otherwise, a lot of the graphics were somewhat painful to see. In particular, the tilesets chosen clash horribly, and were not exactly pleasing to stare at. I especially did not like the glaring green tones used by the trees/grass. And if you mix the D/N system with the tilesets’ colors, it was quite annoying at some points.

Story: 6/10
I’ve actually read the Red chapter of the manga, so I knew a bit of what to expect going in to Adventure - Red Chapter. I can’t really complain about the story, considering I liked it in the manga. I think really what I have to complain about was the implementation of the story, which I’ll talk about under gameplay.

Gameplay: 4/10
Like I said before, I knew a bit of what to expect story-wise going into this hack… But that didn’t really help. The events are supposed to follow the manga’s, and this ends up unbalancing much of the encounters in the game, but that’s somewhat unavoidable. What really threw me, however, was the way the events/chapters played out. Like I said, knowing the events of the manga did not help very much, because the game itself made no effort to guide the player beyond the obvious, and ended up being very confusing at points.

Apart from the story, the horrible grammar and snarky NPCs that abound throughout Adventure - Red Chapter really killed my enjoyment of the game. The abundant grammar errors (that can be found in nearly every event) really make the game seem like a rushed job, and it’s hard for me to look past that.

General Appeal: 5/10
If you ignore what I’ve said above, I’d say that as a whole the idea of playing a manga-based Pokémon game is quite appealing. But even with that factor, a number of different factors (which I detailed before) really detract from the overall appeal of the game, and make it seem a lot less impressive than it appears in concept or on the surface.

Total: 19/40

Pokémon Gaia


Graphics: 7/10
I’m a sucker for FRLG-style graphics, so I was quite happy with the graphics of this game. The fact that Spherical Ice can not only find new graphics that actually fit, but also make new ones himself just makes it better. I especially liked the variety of new tiles used in the caves. Apart from that, the custom OWs used in the game are also quite nice, and the gym leaders actually look like unique characters. What I’d really like to see, though, is a new OW for the player character. But really, even the current one works because it at least fits the style of the game.

Story: 6/10
It’s really too early in this game’s development for me to actually rate its story, but I like what I’ve seen so far. Spherical Ice has created a world with a seemingly rich history, and an actual mystery for the player to solve make me excited to see more.

Gameplay: 6/10
Of all the three games, I liked Gaia’s gameplay the most. What Gaia does really well with is guiding the player. Every event is very specific with what it wants you to do by the end of it (go here, go there), then leaves it up to you to fill in the rest. If the rest of the game follows like this, it will be quite easy for players of all types to enjoy the game, because nobody will get lost in the gameplay.

Other than that, Gaia honestly made me feel like I was playing an actual GameFreak produced Pokémon game. It was just that professional.

The only complaint I really have about the gameplay is the sheer number of trainers! I liked that I didn’t need to grind my team to play the game, but what I didn’t like was the seemingly endless stream of trainer battles covering each route. You couldn’t go 6 tiles in this game without encountering a new trainer.

General Appeal: 5/10
At this point, Gaia is simply too short of a game to hold any major appeal. The events in the game are all scripted perfectly, and the number of new generation features are great, but until more content is added, there really isn’t much to say beyond “it will be great one day.”

Total: 24/40
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