It’s that time of year again, everyone, where we celebrate the best games of the year. Despite being a heavily disrupted year thanks to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, 2021 produced some incredible games, almost from day one, and as a result, our awards this year has the most variety of games ever – almost 50 different titles got at least one award, and as you’ll see as we announce each category, it really is an endless stream of incredible experiences.
This year we had a special, expanded judging panel, with the entire DDNet team participating, but we also invited some prominent people from independent game publications outside the Website to participate, so we could get a broader range of insights and thoughts into the winners from each category. Our additional judges this year included Pete Davison from Rice Digital, Thomas Knight of Nook Gaming, Robert Allen of Tech-Gaming, Matt Ryan from Shindig, and academic and freelancer, @TsuChanJohnson on Twitter. The total judging pool for the awards was ten people this year around, and there was some heated discussion about the worthiest titles in each category indeed!
This might be a jokey category in some ways (or even in a lot of ways), but here’s the fundamental equation: in all the awards categories we reward games that are in some way “fun”. They might be fun because they engage with us intellectually. They might be fun because they’re just darned fun to mash buttons. Or, as is the case here, with the fan service award, they’re fun because they entertain us with aesthetics. In an industry that is far too puritan for its own good, these games stand out because they dare to push a boundary that too often gets them pilloried.
Surely no one doubted that this game would win a medal in this year’s awards. Neptunia X Senran Kagura took two of the most beloved fan service-orientated properties in video games, and mashed them together in a way that ensured the fan service would be dialled up to the max. Let’s just say that this game has a preoccupation with bust sizes (including for the rare – one – character whose bust isn’t that big). The game is backed by decent, smooth action and plenty of non-fan service humour, too, but the developers knew what people were coming to this game for, and made sure that it didn’t miss a beat.