09/09/2011

Notch Hasn’t Sold Out, He’s Just Being Swedish: PAX Prime 2011 Part 2

by Matthew Hawkins

[NOTE: Like I said before, due to a technical issue, I'm running later than usual, and hence why there's more imagery than usual. But everyone has high speed internet at this point, right? For those who missed part one, here ya go. And again, the usual rules apply: for those with little time on their hands, just keep scrolling for pretty pictures. There's often an explanation of some kind nearby.]

PAX Prime 2011, Day 3

Since it was my last morning at the swanky hotel room, with the great view of the Space Needle, decided to take a pic?

The first thing I did Sunday morning was rush towards the main floor, in hopes that enough attendees had decided to sleep in, from being out all Saturday night (while I concerned myself with the train wreck that was the Minecraft party, Gerritt and Jen had gone to check out the live music, which has long been a staple of PAX). My primary destination? The Nintendo booth?

Again, PAX was all about making new pals, but also reconnecting with old ones. Like Kazimir Strzepek, whom I hadn’t seen since SPX some odd years ago. Little did I know that his day job was at Nintendo! Here he is demoing Super Mario 3D Land for Jacob?

Anyhow, mission accomplished! I got the chance to play both Super Mario Land 3D, plus Mario Kart 7, and most importantly, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. And how were they? For those interested, I provided my two cents on all three over at Guyism. Along with my impressions of Capcom’s offerings, like Dead Rising 2: Off The Record and Street Fighter X Tekken.

Though I failed to mention how I ran into Seth Killian and totally forgot to ask if he got some of the blonde chick he was caught on film macking on at Gamescom. Wwhich I mentioned over at GameSetWatch, but the clip has since been pulled… bummer.

Anyhow, back to the Nintendo booth, it didn’t take long for the place to become jam-packed. Hence why I didn’t get the chance to test drive Rhythm Heaven for the Wii, but I did have fun watching others play it…

As well as check out all the awesome artwork from the game that was adorning the booth…

Here’s Pikachu with a huge bong that I ran into (minus ten points for missing the chance to make the far too easy, yet super effective Pokeball as a weed apparatus joke)?

The Skyrim booth was easily one of the biggest, most crowded at the entire thing?

It was a tie between them and Square Enix, as for which booth was giving out the most annoying headgear. The year prior it was Pop Cat with their retarded traffic cone hats, which was tied into Plants vs. Zombies (BTW, there was a group of folks cosplaying as the undead from that game this year, but also disco dancing, and it was the most obnoxious thing ever). This time it was the thing that the main dude in Elder Scrolls has on top of his head, but far goofier looking, and a giant pink hat from Quantum Conundrum, that new game from one of the folks behind Portal.

God, Adam‘s reaction to the aforementioned traffic cone hats will still by my most favorite memory of anything. Anyhow, the Square Enix booth was also where they had Dead Island?

? For those interested in my impression of the game (which has since come out, I know), it can be found here. Though long story short, it sucked. Which again, is old news. You’ll also find my hands on impression of Rayman Origin.

Again, left out some fairly important details that, sadly, the average Guyism reader would have no clue about: there was no awkward and heated exchange with a Frag Doll like every other visit to the Ubisoft booth! Instead, I interacted with a very nice PR intern named Rich. Too bad it’s not all that fun to play, as also noted in the previous link. Which might be why my new pal hasn’t returned any of my emails!

At least the new Trackmania did not disappoint?

And here is where one will find my two cents regarding the new Jurassic Park game. Spoilers: it’s retarded?

? One will also find my impressions of both Sina Mora, which was kinda meh, and Black Knight Sword, which was kinda swell! Didn’t bother with Lollipop Chainsaw; as I’ve said before on numerous occasions, the concept is way too like something a Grasshopper fanboy would come up with as opposed to Suda 51 proper.

Sorry, but I haven’t been too impressed with their output as of late; hey, I love the No More Heroes vibe, hence why I want No More Heroes 3. But I also want something more akin to their earlier offerings, like Flower Sun Rain. More challenging, less pandering please.

Oh, and back to the show floor and for the sake of clarification, I was fairly complimentary towards Bloodrayne Betrayal due to my WayForward bias and having only spent five minutes with it, up till that point. Since then, I’ve given the full game a try and can attest to it being somewhat of a bummer as well. But yeah, for the record!

Okay, time for more cosplay. First, a semi-creepy Quote?

A somewhat short and stocky Bayonetta?

Someone from World of Warcraft I’m assuming?

And some dude as Alice?

? Again, it’s really tough taking cosplay pics at PAX, with so much foot traffic going on, plus there’s the age thing again. But I was also so preoccupied in other ways that I simply couldn’t concentrate, so sorry for the somewhat blah assortment. I’ll do better next time, promise!

Sunday was also the day that I decided to check out the Halo Fest, that folks I knew who weren’t even into Halo couldn’t stop gushing about. Once more, I wrote about it in detail elsewhere; here’s some additional pics?

? I cannot stress enough how mind-blowing the whole set-up was, and I’m not even that big of a fan of Halo! It was a glowing testament of how a good game can grow into something truly special, and a heartfelt love letter to the fans that made it so. Walking around made me feel legit warm inside, due to the serious sense of pride from being part of video games, as cheesy as it sounds!

Anyhow, here’s the best picture I could get of the dude in the Brute outfit, scaring little kids at the thing…

Back at the show proper, much like last year, you had plenty of areas for those who were into Dragon Questing via their DSs?

Here’s another sight I had waited a very long time for; Saturn Bomberman, with all 10 players going at it on the widescreen play field! Just like how it looked in Next Generation magazine, circa 1997?.

While out getting lunch, I decided to swing by Gameworks for sh*ts & giggles. As most patrons know already, they hardly update anything, yet a few new machines could be found. Like Sega Rally 3…

The hottest booth babes at the show? Courtesy of Good Old Games?

On my way back to the Fangamer booth, I ran into momma Link and her baby Tingle?

Yes, I did end up finally lending a hand by the end of the show, for those who thought I did nothing but goof off at the show. I was also joined by Ashely Davis, who was having a meet and greet for fans of her various work, and doing what she does: draw super cute things!

I’ll be sharing my haul from the show in a bit, but I say that I am miffed that I missed out on the chance to score this Shadow of the Colossus shirt that they were giving out at the Sony booth (along with the Uncharted tee)?

… I really wish I had more pictures of the booth in general, but the sub part lighting conditions, which meant lots of fiddling with the settings, plus the not so hot either battery life, was a constant issue. I know I say this all the time, but I seriously should invest in a proper camera.

Anyhow, last pic of the show, of Zac‘s Final Fantasy 6 print (which you may have also seen on GSW)?

Last pic of the show, of Sabrina showing off the Eliss scarves, which also ended up moving, despite the $80 price tag! Again, the power of a pretty lady when it comes to selling stuff. I recall Jenn De La Vega being our booth babe last year, with similar results?

Hanging with and helping out the FG crew was the best way possible to end the show. When it was officially a wrap, Gerritt, Jon, and Reid went over the numbers; turns out that PAX Prime 2011 was one of their strongest ever! And the first run of Fangamer X Attract Mode was a success as well. One couldn’t ask for a better beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Hey, did I mentioned that I also met Kyle Pulver? Sorry, had to make sure that I name-dropped everyone from the weekend. Also his game, Snapshot, was pretty sweet!

BTW, aside from the ones I already mentioned, the two other games that I’m really bummed I didn’t get to play were Antichamber (especially after reading Steve’s gushing hands on report) and Closure (but at least I got the chance to chat a bit with its creator, Tyler Glaiel). Next time I guess. Or better yet, hopefully they’ll be on their intended platforms proper before the next PAX!

As for the rest of my trip?. and as noted already? most of it was dedicated to getting my father up to speed, technologically speaking. Something that I had planned on going in-depth, but I’ll save that for another time. In fact, I actually believe this might be my new ticket to SXSW, as crazy as it might sound! Stay tuned.

Yes, That’s A USB Drive Shaped Like A Crucifix

Time for the obligatory part of any convention wrap-up in which one details all the stuff one has acquired! FIrst off, the aforementioned entire set of Spelunky figures…

And I guess the blow of not being able to attend SPX was somewhat lessened by the fact I managed to score some comics nonetheless! Seriously, all the new cartoonists peeps I now have in Seattle is making the idea of moving back west far more enticing than it’s ever been. Anyway, here we have the latest from Corey Lewis and Kyle Fewell?

Some random odds and end, like a Faraway QR code, a lulinternet sticker, a Fez button, and a Samus as a peeper button by Chris Furniss!

Though the wackiest take aways, by far, might have to be all the stuff that GameChurch gave me?

? Yes, that’s a USB drive shaped like a crucifix. As for what’s inside the pamphelt, it’s actually the book of John, but annotated for gamers. I kid you not?

? My conversation with the guy who runs it, and a write-up about the organization, was intended for GSW, but I unfortunately never got around to it. But the guy was actually a pretty cool guy! A super tall Californian type, whose out to spread the gospel, but in a non denominational way. I did agree that people generally speaking have zero issue with religion, it’s organized religion that turns most people off, and that’s what he’s all about.

When asked about where they congregate, he spoke of a 30+ capacity gaming center that basically has everything a gamer dork could want, like all the latest games and best gear. When I asked if there was a sermon at the end or the like, he again was adamant about how no one’s pushing anything down anyone’s throat. Though when I asked where the money comes from, he was a tad bit more clandestine. From private donations, mostly.

I also mentioned that I was familiar with other attempts at appealing to the youth of America in rather hip ways, like Stephen Baldwin with his skate parks and graphic novels (which again, Joe illustrated). Though he was quick to say that him and the Baldwin brother have two totally different approaches towards the same goal. Fair enough.

Moving on, I also had a bunch of super sweet goods waiting for me in the mail when I finally got back home. Like Hilary‘s latest minis which debuted at this year’s Otakon! Including her ode to Regular Show (which she’s a storyboard artist for now, hence why she moved to LA) and a little something about flowers?

? I am such a sucker for Hilary’s shojo stylings. Next, my copy of Love Love Hill‘s Vocaloid fanzine also arrived as well! Which also features the work of Hilary’s, plus assorted other excellent members of the collective?

Well, since they were handy, decided to take a picture of the copy of Game Developer’s Magazine, featuring a Sword & Sworcery cover that Cory Schmitz laid out, and my Japanese copy of No More Heroes: Heroes’ Paradise?

? aka No More Heroes: Red Zone, not to be confused with the original PS3 release, also called Heroes’ Paradise, and which totally sucked (I should know, I owned it; the load times were unbearable).

And yes, I mostly got it because of the character viewer, so help me God.

A Pokemon Cartridge With A Digimon Sticker On It? A Mind Asplode

And this was where I originally wrapped things up, but because a week has gone by, and a few notable things have happened during that time, real quick now, are the highlights:

- In addition to Hilary and Joe’s birthdays last weekend, it was also Raina Lee‘s as well! And wouldn’t you know, she was also in town! So I stopped by the shindig thrown in her honor, at a bar in Williamsburg. Ended up spending most of my time chatting with a very nice gay guy pal of hers, demoing the various iPhone games that I had (and Adam can tell you; I have a TON).

- On top of Raina’s, Saturday was also Peter Berkman‘s big birthday bash at the Denim Club! The highlight (and there were many, trust me, but most are not appropriate for such a public forum) was the performance by Pete’s pal from Chicago, some dude who calls himself D.A.D.

- The next day was Joe’s belated birthday dinner (we had Indian, btw, as I had hoped). Though you’d never know since I was the one who got a present that day; an entire pack of American Gladiator cards that him and June found in some hobby shop at Virginia!

- Had lunch with Dave Roman. Met him at Book Off, where I ended up coming across this…

… Yes, that a Game Boy Pocket, but with the color scheme of the original Game Boy! Something I had been looking literally years for! But I didn’t get it cuz of the scratch up front. Crazy I am, I know, especially at that insanely low price.

I also came across the following, which I was hoping Tiny Cartridge would post. But since they’ve got more than enough TGS stuff to concern themselves with; it’s an old Pokemon Silver for Game Boy Color cart with a Digimon Sticker on the back (and random Japanese writing to the side). Was almost tempted to get it…

- Fashion week just wrapped up in NYC, and I ended up checking out a show believe it or not. A pair of designer tees, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Galaga, were on-hand at one event. … The shirts were actually part of a contest (as detailed here), and were by Danilo Gabrielli, a designer whose done work for Anne Klein and Tommy Hilfiger…

? We chatted for a bit, but since he was doing several women’s hair for the runway show that was happening later that evening, I didn’t want to be a bother. Though I stuck around for a while, to enjoy as much of the top shelf liquor as I could, in order to justify the trip. If I knew there’d only be two shirts at the thing, i honestly would have stayed home.

Was also somewhat of a thrill to be to be the most underdressed person in the entire place. It was like being in the cantina of Mos Eisley, especially some of the wacky, high-end threads that some were sporting. Though when another video game scribe showed up, one whom I can’t stand, it that was my cue to split. Though I will say, I found it amusing that all the fashion types were all in love with the dude, mostly cuz of the WWE belt that’s always with him.

- Found out that none of my panels for the upcoming New York Comic Con/Anime Fest were approved. Which was a bummer to hear, needless to say. At least the event’s organizer sent me a personal email to explain the situation, and that he was deeply sorry. And that was nice.

To be honest, if you had to run a show with few programming slots to fill, and had to choose between some random blogger or a company like Capcom, who would you choose? And to be totally honest, I had a really good run; for years I had on average two to three panels per show, whereas many don’t even have one!

Though if that group that started the homophobic chant from a few years back managed to retain their spot, I’m gonna be PISSED.

- Radiant Silvergun was finally released in America earlier this week. Something that I still have a hard time comprehending. I still remember how difficult it was, selling my precious copy almost nine years ago, due to being dirt poor and needing rent money. I guess it also serves as a reminder of how much has happened in my life, as overly sentimental as it might sound.

If you think that’s bad, I actually got a tad bit teary eyed by this. Anyhow, if RS being accessible to all at long last isn’t proof enough that this is truly the new golden era of gaming, I really don’t know what it is.

- Was asked to the artist for a comic that a friend of mine is starting up. Had to politely decline, due to my hectic schedule, plus me being such a slow poke with it comes to drawing. But that? coupled with how a LOT of folks have been all of a sudden asking when the next UNLUCKY was coming out (which is something I honestly figured everyone had forgotten about by this point)? has gotten me wondering: perhaps I should get back into making comics?

- Later this weekend, Adam and I will be guests on an upcoming Fangamer podcast! We’ll be talking in detail about the Fangamer X Attract Mode deal and other fun stuff. Be sure to check it out!

? Oh, and one more thing?

the fort90forum version 3.0

So yeah, it’s back! And? on Canvas! It’s primarily the handiwork of my good buddy Dave Mauro. Basically, him and his team have been cooking up some new community management tools, and we both figure that this could be a cool, mutually beneficial experiment of sorts, so here we are.

There’s really not much else to say, mostly due to the fact that I myself am a bit uncertain of what the hell is going on. I ultimately am still somewhat unfamiliar with the place and its workings. Despite being one of the first people in (not to brag and all), been super busy since to get a proper grasp. Though that time is obviously now. And for those interested, come on board!

? All right, that’s all I got!

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