09/23/2012

The Greatest Idea For A Kickstarter, Ever: PAX Prime 2012 part 1

by Matthew Hawkins

First off, am back in NYC. Been meaning to file my post PAX Prime report for weeks now, but you know the deal. The new teaching gig in particular has been kicking my ass. It’s going well, but I don’t think my students are exactly thrilled with my latest assignment: crafting the dialogue tree for a dating sim.

I’ve also had plenty of freelance on my plate, which is good (especially since, long story short, I need the money). Did I ever mention that I now write for TechRadar? For the past few months, been back to writing about a favorite subject of mine: cell phones. Though there’s still zero love between me and Android I’m afraid.

But I’m mostly still resting and recovering from my most recent Pacific Northwest tour of duty. Which means I’ve actually been playing games! Like Persona 4: Arean. As super exciting the idea of a P4 fighting game has been since day one, in the back of my mind, was also secretly afraid that such a thing would be the dumbest thing ever. Well, it’s not.

Anyhow, back to the business: where was I? Oh yeah, was about to make my way to?
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Seattle Days 1 & 2/VERSUS Prep Day 1

Behold my very first meal in Seattle: kimchee and pulled pork pizza, at some beer garden near the convention center?

Looks great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the kimchee wasn’t the least bit spicy (which can often be lost when cooked? unless you know what you’re doing). If it was, you wouldn’t need jalapenos in the first place. But on the plus side, the cheese and especially the crust were fabulous.

Rolled into Seattle about two days before PAX, Wednesday evening. My original plan was to simply chill in the Emerald City the following day, to enjoy a little R&R before PAX, and specifically VERSUS. Didn’t happen; was up near the crack of down Thursday morning, going over last minute bits of business with Jon, before heading on over to the space with artwork in hand.

Thursday was when set-up for the art show commenced, which was made complicated by the fact that I also had my usual freelance obligations that had to be fulfilled (plus I was behind deadline on a review for an Android handset). At least I was done in time to attend Cory‘s going away party, who was flying out to Chicago the very next morning, to start a new life with his gf. Here’s a pic of us, in the park, in the dead of night?

PAX Prime 2012 Day 1/VERSUS Prep Day 2

Because of VERSUS, there wasn’t much time to spare at PAX proper (thank goodness I wasn’t covering it for anyone, otherwise I would have been screwed). The doors open extra early on the first day, for press folks, which I took full advantage of this year. First stop: the Konami both to give Revengance (God I love that name) a spin?

The verdict? Simply awesome. And as expected; I’ve been behind the Platinum produced revamp since day one, haters be dammed. Though I was honestly surprised that the slice-o-matic gameplay was not just reserved by inanimate objects, as one might have assumed from trailers up till that point (a point that has since been clarified with more recent footage).

Watched some five-year-old kid (with his mom watching on, kid you not), tear apart someone apart, but not do the most thorough job possible. So after leaving “slice time”, the poor soul was stumbling around with 35% of his body sheered off, squirting blood everywhere. But the best part is the controls for slicing and dicing is super easy to handle!

Next was Nintendo’s booth. Finally got the chance to give the Wii U a spin, along with New Super Mario Bros U?

The verdict? The game is cool is guess; wish it was something different, like everyone else, but I dug New SMB, so I guess a little more is not so bad. But I’m not sold on the new system quite yet; it’s hard to make judgments here, but the Wii U GamePad hardly flexed its muscles in this instance, but that’s going to be case with most launch titles.

Swung by the Sega booth, real quick like, to give the HD re-release of NiGHTS a try. I much prefer the chunky pixels on the Saturn original, and the smoothed out look is hardly any different from the PS2 re-release, but I’m glad it’s coming out anyway. Also stopped by the Phantasy Star Online 2 section, because of super kawaii cat girl?

Right next to the Fangamer booth was Hawken. Been looking forward to the game for some time now, and aside from looking awesome as always, am happy that it’s getting some super strong buzz! Especially for a free to play mech title, of all things?

Last stop, before spending the rest of my day at the event space was the Indie Mega Booth, to say hi to Nathan and the rest of the crew at Capy, and one of the star attractions for VERSUS?

As already noted in my Attract Mode wrap up, Nathan mentioned how, immediately after receiving my email in which I asked if I could borrow his studio’s latest and greatest for the show, and saying yes, he was immediately bombarded by similar requests (and by some super high profile outfits). Being told that he gladly said no, because he felt that being part of something Attract Mode was involved in “simply made sense” got me all gooey inside?

After about an hour at the convention center, it was off to 1927 Events?

The previous day entire was spent on transporting artwork, and getting the space ready. Next on my list was figuring out what would be hung where. Here’s everything on the floor, after I had switched pieces around, maybe 50 times or so?

Naturally, last minute, pre-show hype was courtesy of Instagram?

And eventually, stuff found themselves on the walls, at long last?

Here’s Jon and Reid, testing out the projectors and giving Cumulous Nimbers a spin for the very first time (not surprisingly, they were hooked in 0.0 seconds)?

Our schedule was pretty tight, but we managed to put up the signage before heading out for the day?

By the time I had gotten back to the show floor, day one of PAX Prime 2012 was over. Which meant the complimentary meal for exhibitors, in which I enjoyed some of the finest, tiny burgers I’ve ever had. After dinner, it was time to check out some of the post-PAX shindigs taking place all across Seattle. Myself and Zac caught wind of some other art show opening happening that evening, but due to erroneous intel, we ended up at some Hawken afterparty?

Had much fun gawking at the gothic lolitas that were floating around, along with the lone dude trying to impress them with his mad raver skillz, plus the complimentary drinks were nice and stiff. Best part is how I was finally able to secure an interview with the creator of the game on the behalf of Mecha Damashii; look for that in the coming days.

But once the place became too smelly, we made our way to our originally intended destination, Ltd Gallery. Described as a “modern video game art show” it was somewhat long the lines of VERSUS, except all the participants were artists who currently work at game studios. Including Double Fine, Valve, and Rockstar. Some good stuff were on-hand, including?

And a few pieces from Ltd Gallery’s permanent collection that caught my eye as well?

Soon it was time to craw into our hotel beds. Unfortunately, I couldn’t indulge in my late PAX night tradition with my bro Adam, who sadly could not make it to PAX this year. Thankfully Zac and Gerritt were able to appreciate my fondness for The Disney Channel.

PAX Prime 2012 Day 1/VERSUS Prep Day 2

After many months, the big Fangamer X Attract Mode art show as finally going to take place. But unfortunately, we were not able to access the space till a bit late in the afternoon. Thankfully, much of the work was taken care off already, so that meant I could take a breather and check out PAX in proper fashion?

For a variety of reasons, I’m not nearly as gung-ho as I used to be when it comes to taking cosplay pics. Aside from the fact that everyone does it these days, am also tired of constantly fighting with the camera that I have, plus I’m just getting too old. Thankfully these girls as assorted Metal Gear Solid characters didn’t find me the least bit creepy. Instead they pointed out the dude behind me who decided to take a pic (and whose head was practically resting on my shoulder)?

Mario characters are dime a dozen, but steampunk Waluigi? I think not!

Instead of a gothic lolita, I guess this one is patriotic? Sorry if she’s a character that I don’t recognize?

And then there’s this guy, also exhibiting American spirit. Whom I did ask who he was supposed to be, and was in fact, just dressed like he normally does?

But everyone knows (and loves) Roll, right? Except for Capcom of course?

I thought it would be funny to, instead of asking these Journey cosplayers to pose for a pic, just capture them roaming the show floor. Too bad the lighting conditions (and my crap camera) made that so difficult?

It’s Izanagi, from Persona 4, watching someone play a 3DS game, and totally being a creeper. But then again, I can hardly talk?

Speaking of, here’s a dude wearing a Monodeer shirt, as was I at the time. It’s funny how I’ll try to wear something to an event, whether it be a video game convention of indie comics show, that I feel is relevant for the occasion at hand, but that I’m convinced that no one else will also have?

BTW, the guy was super friendly, as I’d expect a fan of the next hottest thing in chiptune to be. Was someone from British Columbia, and a 8bit musician himself, but sadly I have misplaced his contact info.

Soon it was time to make my exit and head on over to 1927 Events. But not without swinging by the Sony booth and giving the PlayStation Vita version of Persona 4 a test drive?

And with VERSUS just a few hours away, I knew that I would need some energy to get them though the final crucial steps of pre-show preparations. Hence my very first Dog Japon of the weekend?

Got the Spicy Matsuri?

?That’s it for now; tomorrow is part two!

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