Mako-chan here with the exciting tales of my first major con for the year: PAX East 2013. Learning from last year, the crew and I opted to head into Boston a day early. It allowed us to leave at a more reasonable time, and also have enough rest before the convention actually started. It also worked out because many groups were doing gatherings that night as well, so we were able to meet up with other podcasters and facebook groups to socialize, mingle, and schmooze.
Thursday tends to be really relaxed. You can peak in through the front doors of the convention center and see that little peek of what will be in store, or like me, you can meet up with friends for dinner and then drink till your little heart’s content. Granted driving around Boston is a pain, there are at least a few pubs and places to eat right outside of the hotels. However, if you really want to be adventurous with a 15 minute walk your able to find a little bit of everything instead.
Friday we were up and out of the hotel early to change hotels so we were closer to the action. After that we were off. The first thing both Ranma and I did was hit up the Nerd Core Hip Hop panel run by Mega Ran, MC Frontalot, and Kyle Murdock. Random doesn’t do anything easy, and had a nice change up from the presentation last year. While still sticking with the origins of both hip hop and Nerd Core respectively, the way it was presented was fresh enough that even those of us that went to last year’s panel weren’t just sitting through a retelling. Gotta love the teacher’s logic used.
I have to say that this was the only panel I went to. I had plenty that I actually wanted to get to, but most of them were on Friday and unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, I lost track of time and didn’t leave the expo hall in time. Oops. Next year I’ll get to more of them…hopefully…
The rest of Friday I wandered the expo hall just taking everything in. I played a few app games while looking around, though most of them were already out by that point. Nun Attack has a pretty good concept and art style. The game reminds me of Gauntlet in the actual play concept, but the controls were horrendous. The actual tough play was drag and point which was just really confusing specially when drag pointing for shooting guns. There’s also a version for PSN, so I’d hope that actual controller play would be better.
I also played Usagi Yojimbo: Way of the Ronin. It’s actually been approved of by Stan Sakai the creator, so you know the story has to be decent. While only being able to play the demo, which is just a short version of the first level, it is just your typical 2D side scroll fighter. However the characters are spot on and the app versions of the game actually have a build in controller instead of point and drag, so it make it much easier to get through, even if you wish to have a full controller in your hands.
The group behind the Usagi Yojimbo game, Happy Giant also had one of their other games available to play, Dolphin Paradise. While your typical pet game where you have to play with and train your animals to gain points, this is the first time I’ve seen it with aquatic pets. Just like the others, it’s a cute game, and an original concept that steps away from the normal dogs and cats. You teach your pets the normal water mammal tricks like tail splashed, hoop jumps, and even flips and then have to level those tricks up after they’re learned. It’s a fun “time killer” game and one that I’m still playing.
The rest of Friday I spent wandering the expo hall until it closed. Friday was also the start of Omegathon, so in support for Team Pork Bun, the runner up of last years’ Omegathon, I went to check it out. Let me tell you, as much as I usually enjoy watching people play video games, watching team after team play game after game of Bomberman, not so much fun. Unfortunately as well, Team Pork Buns didn’t make it past that round.
The rest of the night was hanging out. I found a nice secluded corner to relax and read a bit, play a few of my own phone app games and just have a rest from the long day. Then I met back up with Ranma and we walked around watching people play board and card games before finally calling it a night and heading to bed.
Saturday dawned bright and early and Ranma and I spent a good chunk of it roaming the convention dressed in Japanese school uniform versions of Luigi and Daisy. The convention was filled with Mario Brothers cosplayers, and Luigi was a popular costume due to the new game and everything. Our first stop was the expo hall to get our free controllers from the MOGA booth. To celebrate the release of their new bluetooth mobile controller, they were giving the original one out to everyone at the convention with an android run device. Best freebee of the whole con.
We walked around taking pictures for a while, checked out Nintendo’s booth and played LEGO City: Undercover for a bit as well. Great game and for anyone that plays the LEGO franchise, you know just how mind-numbingly fun it can be. The game pulls from the cop/detective genre, but also pulls in elements from various prison movies and detective shows as well. The level I played, which had me squeeing like a fangirl and spazzing out, was based on the movie The Shawshank Redemption. Can’t wait to play the whole game and see where else scenes are pulled from.
Ranma then got sucked into watching and competing in a fasted computer build competition. The grand prize was a custom build computer, so I left him to it. I wandered the expo hall while the rounds were happening, just looking for anything that I may have missed the day before. Once Ranma actually got called on to compete though, I went back up to the room to relax before the Curse after party.
After hearing so much good stuff about the party from everyone last year, I was excited to go. However, due to the mishap at the PAX Prime Curse party, the rules had been changed. Instead of open bar, you got one free drink. I was bummed, but stuff like that happens, so it’s understandable. However, when your party base isn’t drinking and is mainly sober, that means the DJ you hire has to at least be good. This, however, was not the case. 1 out of every 5 or 6 songs was actually danceable to, while the rest was very weak, or questionable given the audience that would have been at the party. You either feed people drinks so they don’t realize how crappy the music is, or you get a decent DJ.
So I left really early and went back to the room for a night cap. Shortly thereafter everyone else started coming back as well and since some weren’t tired we decided to snag a table in the hotel and play Cards Against Humanity so as to not be rude to those trying to sleep on our floor. The game was epic. While we started with only the 5 people from our group that wanted to play, the final game count was 16 people. During this time some guys came buy with a new dice drinking game aptly entitled, Game. Game has very simple rules. You roll the dice, make up a rule and then drink. But as Game is supposedly from Russia (which it’s not) everyone was using horrendous Russian accents to play, thus the start of Game-ception, in which both games were being played at the same time. A great time was had indeed.
Sunday we packed up, did a last round of walking the rooms and expo hall before getting a few interviews and last minute photos. Twitch.com’s booth was talking about the revamp of the Duck Tales game, and whoever was brave enough to go up and sing the theme got a poster. Knowing it was being streamed live on the internet, there was no way I was going up and singing. Ranma got a poster though.
Soon it was time to go, and having a final dinner in the area, it was time for the long drive home. Amazing weekend was had and I definitely look forward to going again next year.
Pro: Amazingly well run con, and even though it draws a huge crowd, due to the size of the expo center, it doesn’t feel that bad for the most part. Lots to see and do, so there’s never a dull moment and you’re never bored. There’s such a variety of events and happenings that there is something for every type of gamer out there.
Con: The con is growing, so the expo hall itself was pretty crowded on Saturday. Some rooms, like the arcade room, were the same as last year, and while I love those games, I would have liked to have seen some different things in there. There’s almost too much to do and all of the main stuff happens during the same time. More panels need to be scheduled after 6 in order to be able to wander both the expo hall and enjoy the panels.
Overall: I enjoy this event so much. It’s great for people like me that aren’t into the large crowds other big name conventions have. You get to meet so many new people and for the most part, they’re all pretty much great people. I recommend attending PAX East to anyone questioning it.