Kupo Writes! Game Awards 2023 Day 4 GOTY!!

Welcome, kupo~!! Here are the last of the rewards and the GOTY of Day 4 of the Kupo Writes! Game awards. The game of the year of bona fide certified and is completely objective. We don't make the rules here, kupo.

Best Missable Character Award/Runner-up GOTY

Presented by Andy

Project Wingman is one of those games that I knew from its inception would absolutely be a game for. And then I just sat on that thought for almost nearly 3 years until I picked it up for sale a few months ago. Maybe I sat on it because I had just finished a replay of Ace Combat 7, and playing something that I knew was essentially the same didn’t exactly spark my interest right away. In a way, I’m glad I waited this long to finally do it, and I was so pleasantly surprised that I more or less mainlined the game in a few days.

For the uninitiated Project Wingman is a flight action combat game developed by independent studio Sector D2. Partly funded by an Unreal Engine grant, partly funded by Kickstarter to finish its development. The studio has recently taken some criticism from fans due to releasing DLC missions that are exclusive only to Playstation 5. While this bothers some I’m glad that the studio has garnered enough attention to have Sony invest in the development of Project Wingman.

Taking place in a fictitious but realistic worldscape, coolly named the World on Fire, where you take control of the mercenary pilot Monarch, squadron leader of Hitman Team, part of the mercenary group Sicario. At the direction of Sicario’s handlers, Hitman Team is made available to the highest bidder. What starts as a simple cargo recovery mission spirals into a full-fledged independence war.

The vibes of Project Wingman are immaculate. All briefings are presented in a sleek and tacticool aesthetic using what I can only describe as similar to the late Cold War user interface wireframe style. Almost all dialogue is presented with brevity and tact as you're given the basic framework of each mission. All the voice acting in these sections and in-mission banter is really solid, adding sincerity and agency to the narrative, and levity to individual situations. The other members of Hitman team, Diplomat and Comic, as well as Galaxy and other various characters that you meet all have pretty distinctive writing and all share a great sense of humor.

The Prez Incident

If you’re familiar with the game or not, I would be remiss if I did not mention a certain fan favourite character, President, Monarch’s Weapon Systems Officer (WSO). President is an incredibly funny and witty character that is one of the few people that can help you glean some background on the mute Monarch. One major caveat about President is that she appears in mission only when you’re flying two-seat fighters. I was unaware of this, after maybe the first handful of missions I started exclusively using single-seat planes and never heard from President for the rest of the game. It never occurred to me that she was missing until after I had completed the game and was reading discussion posts on how Prez is best girl. Aghast, I did some immediate googling. I missed like 70% of President’s appearances. Just because I had a preference for MiGs. This is absolutely my fault, and it breaks my heart because she’s so dang cool. Don’t be like me; periodically use different aircraft in your playthrough.

Never again, Prez. I love you.

Overall Project Wingman is a 10/10 experience for me. It's everything one could want if you’re into this pretty niche genre of narrative-focused pseudo-military not-a-flight sim, action games. Even if you are not a current fan this would make a great entry point to the genre. And it would have won Game of The Year for me if it wasn’t for my final entry.

Various Assortments of Awards Awards

Presented by Mog Knight

End of the year is here, huh. For some, it's a new beginning. For others, it's just another Sunday. But for me, it's a time of reflection, a time of cleaning up loose ends, and a time to just live life as best as I can - one step at a time.

Before I get to my personal Game of the Year, here are some last minute awards I would like to give out. The first third of the year for me was a bit of a funk and a haze, just focused on my work and a bit depressed because I wanted to be better but I knew I didn't have the wisdom or experience yet. The second third was coming out of that funk, and the last third was the rebuilding arc. These are the things that got me through that rough period of my life:

The Mog Knight Stellar Manga Award (Alternate title: Lastest Obsession That's Good and Healthy) - Various Mangas

This year, I didn't watch a lot of anime nor a lot of other visual media works other than a bunch of Youtube videos. Didn't even watch a lot of streams either. Maybe I was burnt out on it.

But what I did do was read. A lot. Especially big ones that are popular among the niche manga circles. Also reading in bed before I sleep and losing track of time, so maybe it wasn't so healthy. These are ones I particularly enjoyed, with the ones above the line are ones I particularly recommend as they impacted me in a large way:

Hey, it turns out manga is pretty good. And now that it's the most accessible that it has ever been, maybe pick something up or two~.

The Mog Knight Stellar Innovation in Technology Award - The OLED Steam Deck

I read somewhere that the biggest innovation after the invention of CRT TVs in television technology is OLED screens. Me, having never used an OLED, just thought that it just might be another gimmick. Then I used the OLED Steam Deck for the first time. My mind was blown. The darks are actually dark! The colors look more vibrant and different but probably in a good way!

But the two biggest change for me was how light it was compared to the original Steam deck, and the super cool design of the limited edition.

Now, what better to play on a new Steam deck than stylized 2D games with pixel art and visual novels. And that's exactly what I did. What a cool piece of tech.

The Mog Knight Stellar Breakfast Food Award - The OLED Steam Deck

I love breakfast. If I can have any meal any time of the day, it's breakfast.

I had the opportunity to try out a bunch of breakfast places over the summer since I had to take my sister mog to work and she's there for a few hours so rather than head back home and have an hour worth of commuting, I stayed for a few hours to get some personal work done.

Part of that personal work? Eating at various breakfast places around the area.

I went to about 4 or 5 different ones, but this one I went to takes the cake. I first ordered an omelet, and they way they do it is a kind of fritatta style. And of course, I had to get their mocha as well. It is a cafe, after all.

The omelet came, and the first thing I noticed was that the plate was hot to the touch. They warmed the plate. That's how I knew this place would be stellar.

And it was. I went back once more and ordered their popular breakfast lasagna. It was amazing. Absolutely fantastic.

I wish I had the opportunity to go back. I need to bring someone here. Perhaps, dear reader... would you like to go?


You're not getting a free meal and a date that easily.

But this place is that good. I swear.

The Mog Knight Stellar (and not so stellar) Games I Wish I Had Time to Play/Play More/Beat and Write About Awardees

As said before, there has never been a better time to be playing Video Games. Wish time was of abundance though.

Andy's Game of the Year: Chants of Sennaar by Rundisc

Presented by Andy

It is always a miracle as a gamer to find a game that checks off all your boxes. Visually interesting art direction: Check. Cleverly Written Narrative: Check. Impactful Subversion of Expectations: Check. Thought Provoking Mechanics: Check. Chants of Sennaar does all that in spades. Developed by Rundisc, and released on September 5th, 2023. Chants of Sennaar is a language-based puzzle game with light exploration that focuses on the player character attempting to decipher and codify the languages of multiple living in a mysterious tower. Unfortunately, without any significant marketing games like this tend to fall to the wayside against the never-ending torrent of releases especially at the tail-end of the year. As luck would have it, and at the mercy of the twitter algorithm, I saw some coverage stating that this one of the best puzzle games of the year. Usually when given the advice to not look up anything about the game is almost nearly enough for me to purchase something, (I look forward to playing Paranormasight, given the same recommendation)

I’m not the most familiar with the story of the Tower of Babel, but this story put into practice the basic premises of Babel. There are numerous tribes speaking different languages that all live on different levels of the tower. You appear as an outsider, and have the singular goal of reaching the top of the tower.

Out of the gate, whenever you’re conversing with someone you will have to use context clues, deduction and any previous knowledge to try to parse out what they are trying to communicate to you. The first couple of words are easy, you understand basic directions and greetings, but soon the difficulty ramps up in trying to figure out emotions, objects, and abstract concepts and ideas. The game will guide you in figuring these out by having a journal where you can test word meanings three at a time to check if they are correct (much akin to Return of the Obra Dinn) and if they are, congrats! You now know a couple of words in that language, if you’re wrong try another guess if something else would make sense. Relatively straightforward if you make good notes or can educated guesses based on context.

I will think about this architecture for the rest of my life.

In addition to its gameplay, what impressed me further was the architectural design of the individual societies. I don’t really want to spoil all of the areas of the game, but each is unique and conveys a lot about the people that live there. The warrior society is emblemized by stark statues and muted colors, and the artist class has lavishly decorated halls full of tapestries and plantlife. There’s a lot of thoughtfulness in making it really feel grandiose, really pushing the sense that you are so miniscule in a tower that must have been built by the gods.

We must ascend!

What really enamored me, and cemented this as my game of the year was a certain optional objective. Dotted around several sections of the tower you will find a computer-like console. For most, this is used to fast-travel, but sometimes you will find people from different tribes trying to communicate. That’s where you come in. You can act as a conduit for these people, translate for them to help build that relationship. Where it really gets interesting is when you’re asked to translate concepts that that exist in one language but do not exist in another. One of the more extreme examples, at one point you have to translate the concept of slavery from language to another that has no word for that concept. That’s good game design, thought-provoking, shocking even. In some way it touches upon some core memories, that some may also share as the child of immigrants, where one has to translate for their family, and try even with limited vocabulary to make sense in one language and relate those same ideas in another.

It was these conversations that I will remember.

I will remember this game forever.

If there was one game I would recommend to anyone this year, it would be this. It's a wonderful combination of aspects that hasn’t struck me since I played Arc Symphony many years ago. Short, entertaining, and shares a wonderful creative vision. I hope to see what Rundisc has in store for us next year.

With that, I would like to thank everyone who has read this year's game of the year awards! I’m as always happy to be invited by Mog to do this every year.

Happy New Year and hope to see you in the next one!

Mog Knights's Game of the Year: Cobalt Core by Rocket Rat Games

Presented by Mog Knight

I’ve been looking back at my picks for Game of the Year, since this year I was having trouble picking what really impacted me this year. The games I picked were a bit unconventional and definitely away from the ordinary. But I realized that’s who I am. I shy away from the mainstream sometimes not as a way to think I’m better than that or that I’m trying to be some contrarian or something.

I’ve been playing games since about 7 or 8 years old, and years before that I watched my dad or brother play. We didn’t really have the latest consoles at the time, and we didn’t even have a lot of games we owned - we rented from Blockbuster. A lot of the games I played around that time came from the internet. Just playing games that were made and designed to just be games - short experiences that didn’t need to have a big grand overarching story. You just press buttons, reach a goal, and you either start over or play a new thing.

Of course, games have come a long way since then. Even at the time growing up, I realized that there are so many other games out there - those that are longer and those that convey things like characters, narratives and stories, and so much more gameplay.

But at the core of it all, games are made to be fun. Games can challenge in their own ways, games can reflect and touch the human heart, games can deliver a message, games can be art, games can create community, and games can just be technical showpieces or more.

What did I have the most fun with? What’s the game that really captured me enough to where I couldn’t stop thinking about it or didn’t want to put it down?

Cobalt Core, a game where I currently have 30 hours in and one that I’m still playing right now at the time of writing this. I played their first game, Sunshine Heavy Industries, and wrote about it in last year's game awards. This game is set in the same universe (wild, huh) and has some cameos too. But that's not the only reason why I started to love this game.

The premise is simple - you and your crew are stuck in a time loop. You have to regain everyone’s memories in order to figure out what went wrong and to break the time loop.

The gameplay is simple - you have a spaceship with gimmicks. You have cards with gimmicks, and a deck of these cards based on the three crew members onboard your ship. You have up to ten different nodes you can travel to with different events at each note and you have to choose your path to the end. The more nodes you go through, the more powerful you become. There are three levels of nodes and events and three big bosses at the end, and if you are successful you gain a memory of your crew. So, go on your space adventure and battle many enemies until you reach back to where it all started - the core. Have some fun along the way. Or not, and die. Either way, keep on going.

The story is simple - every successful time loop you do, you get to restore one memory from your crew, and everyone has three. You piece together the last memories everyone has before the forced time loop happens. You find the motivations and personalities of everyone through these memories. You kind of get a glimpse of them by the style of their decks and what they bring to the table.

Perhaps what made this game so compelling to me, other than it’s a perfect Steam Deck game, is that it’s just super solid. I love the characters. The gameplay is challenging, yet rewarding. It’s math and luck combined with the rogue-like element of something like an FTL but shorter and more condensed. It’s fun, and there’s something new every time but since a run is so short and quite possibly fast-paced that it’s really easy to keep going or take a break and come back to it later.

Cobalt Core reminds me of the games I used to play in the past. It reminds me of how far games have come. It reminds me that at the core of it all, games are just amazing and fun and works of art. It reminds me that sometimes simple is all you need to be really effective and great at a concept or what you do.

That’s why Cobalt Core is my personal game of the year. There’s a lot to love about it. But in its simplicity and solid game foundations - it leaves such a lasting impression. It reminds me that it doesn’t take a whole lot to be great and stellar. It just needs to the the best it can be at the moment. Cobalt Core scratches that itch, and it inspires me to just make things just for the sake of being things. It inspires me to be persistent and keep trying, even if I’m stuck in a loop or a rut. It inspires me to reach and look back in my own memories and experiences for the truth or for peace.

At the end of the day, Cobalt Core reminds me why I love video games - no matter how bad, mid, or good. It’s an experience and art form like no other.

So, thank you Cobalt Core and the entire time at Rocket Rat Games. Can't watwiit to see what else lies in your future.

Thanks for reading Day 4!!

Thanks for taking this journey with us as we celebrate games (and more) that meant a lot to us the entire year of 2023! Hope you enjoyed reading all this just as much as we had fun writing down all our thoughts.

This year was a mixed bag of so many events all across the world, some good and many very bad. That's why I think a lot of people turn to games. To escape. To socialize. To feel something that is in their control. And many, many more reasons too endless to name. I like to think that games, like many other art forms and media, serve as a reflection of humanity. Games capture and invoke emotions from simple to complex. Games allow us to experience unique situations that we can both share with others or have all to ourselves. Games allow us to feel both powerful and weak, with everything in between.

That's why I play games. To think. To feel. And to learn. About myself. About others. About what's close to me, and far away. That's the beauty of this medium. While others have their unique ways of accomplishing these same elements, none quite does it in the way that games do.

That's why it's important to remember - as we play, it's important to still condone things that are anti-human, anti-life, and anti-humanity. While we often use games as a way of escapism, we cannot forget that there is life beyond our own experiences. Time still goes on, and the world is always forever changing. With things like corporations going against the service and respect of their own workers who create and labor for them, the rise of technology and people who think artificial intelligence can be a suitable replacement for human beings, and ongoing war and oppression against people who just want rights and a place to call home - it's important to be aware of what is going on. I'm not asking you to make changes, I'm not asking you for any kind of activism. I'm asking you to just be aware. Challenge your notions, and test them if you must. I'm privileged to even just be talking about this stuff, I know. But I'm just asking to find goodness, find truth, and express it in any way you can. Games help remind us of this, just look and think about it a little closer. Use games as a positive and critical outlook on life, and humanity.

Speaking for myself, I'm looking forward to another year of life and games in 2024. I am also coming at the new year with a level of uncertainty and have a lot of general anxieties in life in general. But no matter what happens, I'll do my best to keep on going.

And I hope it'll be the same for you. Good luck, have fun, and see you throughout the new year of 2024. We'll be back next year with more awards, but in the meantime:

You can follow your lovely host Mog Knight on twitter (@mogknight), Twitch (ttv/mogknight11), and even on Cohost (mogknight). Oh, and keep an eye out on his website and sponsor of this event: kupo.cafe

You can follow your lovely other host (some might call him a co-host) Andy on twitter (@sommerkurz) and check him out on the local podcast Kupo Talks!

Thank you again, happy gaming, good luck with everything, and we wish you a very wonderful 2024!

With love, Mog and Andy. Good luck with everything, and have fun :3

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