Do you remember the Neverhood? I had almost forgotten the game until I found it among my daughter's CDs as I was looking for something else. At the time of the release in 1996 it was voted "Game of the year" by - somebody. The link leads to Gamespot, and I can't find anything about a Game of the eyar award there. But I did find an article mentioning a follow-up to the Neverhood: Skullmonkeys. Their website is down, but there is a link to a review - possibly from 1998.
So what about Neverhood? I just think it is the prettiest game I ever saw. The music is cool and funny, the clay figures are amazingly well made, the animation impressive and the whole thing just a pleasure to have running on the PC. And it's the best example I know of a delicious interface - and a really bad game. As a game it just doesn't work. The puzzles are so cryptic you have to be inside the head of the creator to get it, and even using the cheats heavily I never managed to finish the game. It is slow, not because it has to be, but due to the rhythm - it's a cool, laidback game with slow responses and long pauses. Good for contemplating the impossible puzzles... not so good for fun intense gameplay. In the terms of Huizinga: there is no tension.
Still, I was very happy when I found it today. Bad games can make good examples!