The Vooks Awards 2023 – The Best of Switch, Indies, the ups and downs of the year
So it’s come to this, the annual award season where praise and heap on the love of all the good games we played this year. The thing about good games is that it takes good people to make them, yet the industry laid off many of them. 2023 will go down as one of the biggest years in releases and one of Nintendo’s most remarkable years ever. See Geoff, it wasn’t that hard.
This year we have our classic awards, you know, who is the best. But also our more fun, forward-looking awards – it doesn’t always have to be serious. The team voted on the awards again this year, but we also opened up most of the categories to you, the readers. Below are the winners, the runners up and the reader’s choice.
Our Game of the Year is…
Winner: The Legend of Zelda Tears of the Kingdom, also Reader’s Choice
Nothing can be said about Tears of the Kingdom that we, or anyone, haven’t already said about the game this year. Probably the only thing we didn’t expect was for Nintendo to also release two other massive GOTY potential games in one year. Super Mario Bros. Wonder and Pikmin 4 in any other year would be right up there as best of the year – it was just a great year.
With The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, we all thought we knew what we would be getting with it. It’s another game set in the same Hyrule as Breath of the Wild, with just a bit of it in the sky. But Nintendo went entirely off script with Ultrahand and including the Depths – another whole Hyrule-sized area underground.
We can’t wait to see where it goes next, the discourse has already started.
Runner Up: Super Mario Bros. Wonder
Winner: Sea of Stars and Vampire Survivors (Tie)
Reader’s Choice: Sea of Stars
If there are two games that are the direct opposite of each other, then these two might be up there. One has you saving the world using classic turn based combat and the other is the most challenge game of keep-away you will ever play.
Sea of Stars
Developer Sabotage Studios crafted a great title with The Messenger, so to hear that their next game was going to be a RPG, taking inspiration from games like Chrono Trigger and Golden Sun, it caught many peoples interest. Playing as Valere and Zale, a pair of Solstice Warriors who have the power to save the world would have been nice enough, but there is time travel, evil cults and a best friend in Garl. The fact that the game is set within the same world as The Messenger just leaves the door open for far more adventures in the future.
There are rogue-like games and then there is Vampire Survivors, a game that gives you nothing but what you find along your way to stopping the evil Bisconte Draculó. The games main hook is that your character is always attacking and only in the direction you face, so adjusting your view point is a requirement and while the game starts out easy, after a few minutes things get more challenging. If you manage to last the 30 minutes, get ready for the ultimate test. Plus with dozens of characters, weapons and upgrades to discover, one more go is something you will repeat to yourself quite a lot.
Winner: Moving Out 2 (SMG Studio)
While there were a lot of great Australian developed games released this year, there wasn’t a whole load on the Switch. Certainly a year for quality of quantity. Our pick was SMG Studio’s Moving Out 2. In our review we said “Moving Out 2 is a great sequel that nails what the original did well and expands on the concept with fresh ideas. When all the best bits of it coalesce it’s a frantically fun multiplayer experience”. Moving Out 2 was also technically solid, while other games release this year were fantastic – they gotta run well on the little old Switch.
Runner-up: Frog Detective
Winner: Baldur’s Gate 3 (Larian Studios), also Reader’s Choice Winner
If there was another game this year that got as much attention and discussion going for it as Tears of the Kingdom did, it was Baldur’s Gate 3. Larian Studios has developed a game that allows you to play how you like, and even play with someone else – all while having a compelling and cohesive narrative and a cast of wonderful characters
Runner’s Up: Resident Evil 4 (Capcom)
Winners: Princess Peach Showtime!, Metroid Prime 4, Silksong
Yeah, two of these are very much missing in action, but that doesn’t mean we’re not excited for the possibility of them releasing in 2024 – I mean, indeed, at least Metroid or Silksong has to. We’re also excited for Princess Peach Showtime! That’s Nintendo’s exclamation, but we’re happy to use it to express our excitement.
Princess Peach’s last game was fun but also just a little bit condescending – this one lets Peach kick some butt and look great doing it. And while we love all the remakes and remasters coming next year, at least this game is entirely original.
Runners up: We already picked three…
Winner: Metroid Prime Remastered
Rumours of a remastered Metroid Prime, or at least coming to the Switch have been around for years. But to see Metroid Prime Remastered just be casually dropped onto the eShop in the middle of February with absolutely no hype – now that’s a baller move. Nintendo drops remasters and remakes all the time, but usually, they apply a three-month hype-cycle to them and by the time it’s out, well, we’re still pumped for it – but just a shadow drop? Thanks, we’ll take it. It turned out pretty great too.
Our runner up was Red Dead Redemption coming to Switch, pretty much for the same reason.
Charles Martinet is no longer the voice of Mario
This year was full of surprises like Metroid Prime Remastered dropping or a new F-Zero game out of nowhere. One of them completely blindsided almost everyone. In a tweet, Nintendo announced that Charles Martinet, the man who had voiced Mario for most of everyone’s life, was no longer to voice him, Luigi, or anyone else. He instead would become a Mario Ambassador, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder would have a nearly all-new cast. All Mario and friends voicing would no longer be Charles; the internet reacted as well as you think they would have, and some months later, we got a hostage-video-esque farewell from Charles and Shigeru Miyamoto. It was odd.
We were just getting over the whole Chris Pratt thing, too.
Runner Up: Pokémon Anime ends. Well at least Ash’s journey. A big year for things that have been around nearly all your life to end.
For a bit of fun we also asked readers when they thought the successor to the Switch might be released. It kind of feels like we’re close to it after all.
54.8% of you think it’ll be released in the second half of the year, 30.8% in 2025 and just 9.6% in the first half of 2024. Let’s see what happens, time to write our 2024 predictions article.