I figured we would never get into any of the concerts based on how many people there were, but we were able to stroll right into the Friday night one without a problem. We walked into The Protomen, whom I knew based on the exuberant recommendation of a friend. I don't like live concerts where I'm not familiar with the music, because it just seems really loud, which is what I got from this. Having since listened to their CDs, though, they're quite good! And they're playing in NYC this month!
This actual picture is from the Anamanaguchi part. I was more familiar with their work beforehand, although I feel like the guitars overpower the chiptune stuff. It was cool nonetheless. Here they revealed they would be doing the soundtrack to the Scott Pilgrim video game which I was not even aware of prior to that moment, and played the theme song from it. There was some sprite artwork of Scott Pilgrim beating stuff up - that damn well better be what the game is like.
The best part of the exhibition floor was all of the indie devs, who had a lot of cool stuff. This one here is for Mommy's Best Games, who put out the ridiculous Weapon of Choice, wherein you are commanded to destroy more or less everything by someone who looks suspiciously like Wilford Brimley, and Shoot1up, a completely fantastic shooter which I can go on great lengths on how fantastic it is (and probably will in a later entry. Both are on the Xbox Indie marketplace for cheap and should purchased immediately.) They were showing off their in-development game, Grapple Buggy, which looks like Blaster Master with a grappling hook, although much better implemented than the one in the lousy Wii remake. The actual mechanics feel a bit more like Umihara Kawase, with the grapple acting more like a bungee cord, and you can use the physics to do all kinds of crazy stuff. Nathan Fouts, the rad dude behind all of these, described it as being an analog version of Bionic Commando's digital swinging controls. It was quite popular and everyone was giving it a go while I was at the booth. Currently they are trying to get it on the XBLA so they are shooting for a release in a year or so.
Aksys's booth wasn't that much smaller than Nintendo's, strangely enough. They were showing off the new BlazBlue update, as well as Death Smiles, which was advertised with the help of a few models dressed in gothic lolita garb.
The best part about booth babes isn't ogling them, but trying to determine exactly how fiercely they don't want to be there. The one in the middle is like, yeah, I'd totally rather be stripping than hanging out with these fucking nerds.
The classic arcade room! This place was supplied by FunSpot, that mega amazing arcade featured in King of Kong. There's actually a TON of games in here I'd never heard of, including the rather goofy Food Fight, a laserdisc based FMV shooter whose name I can't even remember, and a Buck Rogers game by Sega which appeared to be the precursor to their super scaler games. It looked amazing for 1982, although the game was either incredibly glitched or the hit detection was remarkably terrible, because it was impossible to beat the third stage or so without randomly blowing up every couple seconds. I also realized that Donkey Kong 3 is really morbid! Like when you die, those bees or whatever come down and eat you whole, leaving only your bug spray. There was also an arcade game called Leprechaun, where you played as a kid trying to escape from those little green Irish monsters, and seemed far creepier than the developers actually intended.
Here is the Retronauts panel, although this picture was actually grabbed from the 1up photo blog. From left to right is Chris Kohler, myself, Jeremy Parish and Shane Bettenhausen. It went quite well and you can find the video here. Alas my stories aren't quite as intricate as Chris', as he tells a fascinating story of a Nintendo device called an LA Konga (may not be the proper spelling.) As noted, he seems to have way more luck with thrift stores in San Francisco, because out here in NJ, they're pretty bad. They usually have a good random stock of PC games, which I've been more into lately so yay for that, and while I occasionally find some random pirate Famicom cartridges or Tiger handhelds (actually found one of "C", the version of Contra earlier today in one of my runs) but certainly never any Turbografx games or anything.
There's also an extra bit that I really didn't want to go into at the panel. One of the topics was to pick a one game that we'd never get rid of. I have an autographed copy of the Final Fantasy Tactics OST which I will never voluntarily get rid of, but the general consensus is that we wouldn't give up anything with sentimental value. I told a story where my copy of Sexy Parodius was pissed on by one of my cats after moving into a new apartment. The game still works, although the packaging was ruined totally. (They were all Japanese PSOne imports - Dragon Quest IV, Snatcher, Tales of Phantasia, and some strategy game with artwork by Ayami Kojima...Soldnerchild, I think.) I didn't care too much about most of those, but I was devastated over Sexy Parodius.
It hearkens back to when I was in high school. It was the day we had just brought out cat Krystal to be put down since she was terminally ill. My whole family was pretty depressed that day, when the postal guy came by with the copy of Sexy Parodius I had ordered a few days earlier. If you haven't played that game - it's one of the most ridiculously jolly, upbeat games every made. It really helped pick up our spirits that day and has something of a special meaning to me in that regard. It also appears karmically linked to cats, somehow. One day I'll probably just wash the scent of the disc, sell it cheap, and cough up the $50 or so to buy a new one. I love it too much to not own mint.
I don't have any other pictures, but there were a few other panels I went to. There was one on Hiroyuki Iwatsuki, also known as IWADON, who's been around the game music scene for a long time. I was hoping the panel was going to cover his work, but it was more of an advertisement for the various artists doing a new remix project. The project itself seemed kinda cool - you can listen to the music at www.iwadon.com - but it was one of those self important things that was more concerned with the scene than the actual work. Still, it got the name out there, so I guess it worked on that end.
That about does it. I hear PAX will be going to a bigger venue for next year. There were definitely some growing pains but overall it was worth it, and besides, Boston is a gorgeous city. To all who will be going, see you next year!