2012 Fantastic Arcade 'Most-Fantastic' selection Hotline Miami cleans up, alongside the iOS evolution of 2011's spotlight game Radical Fishing- Vlambeer and Zach Gage's Ridiculous Fishing.
Fantastic Arcade's mission is to champion the creators of original and unique games in the face of an industry that promotes sameness and mediocrity (supercharged by limitless money and promotion).
We're happy to point out that the tides are visibly turning.
In 2011, Fantastic Arcade spotlighted Vlambeer's Radical Fishing, alongside their newer efforts, because in the process of working on the iOS version of 'Fishing, their game had been "cloned" by another company (game mechanics copied from the free version of their game and beat to market while they worked on the iOS version). It seemed like a dark reminder that ingenuity would always be trampled by copycats with more capital and promotional resources, and that openness and the hard work of creation were ultimately a liability.
Instead of becoming secretive or more conservative in their designs, Vlambeer decided to double-down. They put an extra year's worth of work into the new version, Ridiculous Fishing. After a week on sale, Ridiculous Fishing is currently the fifth top selling app in the paid section of the US app store, playing tag with mega-titles like Minecraft. Right now they have a meta-critic score of 92. As of writing this article they are the highest scoring game of 2013. Beating out mega-franchises like Tomb Raider.
Last year's 'Most-Fantastic' winner Hotline Miami has had a similar rags-to-riches upset. The game was created by Fantastic Arcade alum Jonatan Söderström and his partner Dennis Wedin. They didn't simply make the trek from Sweden to Austin last year with their game, they actually designed a custom level for it that included the floorplan of the Highball to hose down with pixelated blood.
Hotline Miami has gone on to defy all expectations. The first commercial release for Cactus, who was famously longsuffering in the indie game scene for his groundbreaking free-to-play flash games, Hotline Miami sold 130,000 copies in the first seven weeks after its release, and it's gone on to multiplatform mega-success, with a Sony Vita version on the horizon.
Again, financial success isn't what validates a game- but when it happens to individuals who deserve it, rather than cycling back into the industry meatgrinder that alienates and preys off them, it's a big win for them... and for us.