Best Animation: Machinarium
Sometimes the simplest tools are still the most effective in skilled hands. You’d think a game made with Adobe Flash would struggle under the burden of its limited framework, but Amanita Design understands how to squeeze every last drop out of Flash animation techniques. In Machinarium, flat paintings come to life with subtle ambient detail, robot characters move expressively and fluidly, while cinematics are frequent and generous in length and personality. Even the idling animation of the player character has half a dozen variations, and we dare even the most hardened cynic not to feel utterly charmed by the optional robot dance sequence.
Being animated on a flat plane, Amanita has used an array of clever techniques like motion blurring to disguise that, simply put, they're doing the digital equivalent of pushing paper dolls around, and the result is a well-rounded and coherent world. Yet there’s still more to the presentation than that, as thought bubbles appear above characters’ heads in lieu of dialogue, and the remarkably revealing contents of each are animated in delightfully shaky line drawings. Such animation fits the aesthetic perfectly. Indeed, the art and animation achieve a natural, elegant symbiosis, earning Machinarium the animation Aggie to add to the design award already in its virtual trophy cabinet.
Runners-Up: Tales of Monkey Island, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Readers’ Choice: Machinarium
Ever wonder where a game protagonist stores all the inventory items? We didn’t have to wonder in Machinarium, as we watched the little robot gobble down, suck up, or otherwise mechanically ingest his collectables in numerous endearing ways. It’s just one tiny example, but indicative of the incredible attention to animated detail that characterizes this deserving reader vote winner.
Runners-Up: Tales of Monkey Island, Runaway: A Twist of Fate
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Next up: Best Music... the envelope, please!
Platform(s): iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, PC, Wii
Platform(s): iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Mac, PC
Platform(s): PlayStation 2, PSP, Wii
Platform(s): Android, iPad, iPhone, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Vita, Wii, Linux
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Platform(s): iPad, PC
Platform(s): DSAlso known as Professor Layton and Pandora's Box