PAXAUS 2022. Friday. Something is missing

A Melbourne morning, tram bell ringing, cold bluestone footpaths and the threat of rain. Mobs of gamers, easily distinguished by their plain baggy clothes (except for those in costume) and slouched posture, converge on the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre. It’s easy enough to make it inside but where to then? The speed runs were beginning at 9:00am yet dancing enforcers, dressed in yellow like minions, encouraged us to mill about in the queue hall, a cathedral dedicated to the lines that characterise PAX. So I just wandered in there, instead of further down the hall to the public access areas like I should’ve and found milling about, testing my bladder for another hour and a half to a DJ playing mashups of Blink 182 and the Pokémon theme song.

The missing paper

After a countdown over the top of the second playing of the trailer for the Dungeons and Dragons movie, which looks indistinguishable from the capes hit slopped up by Hollywood, they let us in. I knew exactly where I would first head; the toilets at the furthest end of the sprawling convention centre. I get in, somehow it already smells of the sewer outside the YHA, despite being the first and only person there. Surely they’ve recently been serviced?

fter servicing a toilet in my own way, I was distressed to discover that not only were they poorly ventilated, but the toilet roll hadn’t been refilled. I cut my finger opening and closing the toilet roll enclosure, swore, and then awkwardly waddled, pants down, into the adjacent stall to use their paper. I made sure everything was clean, Flushed the paper, returned to the scene of the crime, flushed that shit down, grabbed my bag with my good hand and washed the blood off my other hand.

Leaving the bathroom, I inspected the wound. It wasn’t bad, but it was still bleeding and exposed. I approached the nearest enforcer. They grunted and fobbed me off to the expo staff. The poor girl I asked about a bandage or directions to the first aid tent squeaked and said it was her first day. She offered some bad advice and conferred with the equally useless other staff. “There’s no toilet paper either” I helpfully yelled at them as I walked away.

I eventually found a large green cross on the wall and within a nurse pulled a bandage from his top pocket. it matched the bandage already applied to my left thumb earlier int he week after a kitchen incident. It’s just like me to inhibit my gaming appendages right before needing them.

The Missing Frames

The highlight of the day was definitely Grubdog’s Metroid Dread speedrun. During the prolonged inactivity on this site, Grubdog has quietly been developing his talents in running through games quickly. He was kind enough to invite me on the stage to offer colour commentary, along with Kenorah who could actually speak in depth on the technical aspects of the run.

Grubdog’s speedrun in full. You can see me bobbing my head beside him.

Aside from an unfortunate death, and a technical mishap that saw us lose the screen for a few seconds, the run was a great success. A creative audience member made a sign reading “First try FIRST TRY” and would hold it up every time Grub took more than one try to pull of a trick. But those were few and Grub was clutch on all the boss battles that could send the run awry.

After the run Grub was pretty exhausted and had to buy a bottle of water to replace the sweat he lost through sweaty palms, I got an avocado roll. Throughout the rest of the day people would approach Grub and congratulate him on the run.

The missing… something

None of the panels grabbed me. From what I gathered could broadly be categorised as follows.

  • How to make money in the gaming industry.
  • D-list streamer tells us what she thinks about the content creator landscape.
  • Gaming is queer, so lets be nice to the poofs.

The expo floor was bereft of the big names that usually populate PAX. This left us with amazon showcasing TV shows, facebook trying to convince us that the metaverse will be a thing, and Sonic Frontiers somehow emerging as the highest profile game being promoted. Sonic consistently attracted decent lines all day. The only competition it faced was probably Street Fighter, but their booth was so bare that it was turning people away. Grub and I looked at the spare controllers and instead wandered over the the arcade section to wait a turn to play Mario Kart GP.

8bitdo had a booth showing off their controllers with various games. Grub and I had a round of Tekken 7 with him winning in straight sets. It was then though that we discovered that somehow my controller had been mapped to control both of our characters. The button mashing nature of Tekken meant we hadn’t noticed. A farce of a game. Nice controller though.

I didn’t engage with any of the indie devs, or any the board game stuff. I think I want to but something was stopping me. Perhaps after being overwhelmed by the amount of people I was missing the impetus to engage in conversation.

The missing medals

I watched Grub and his team get washed in Splatoon 3, they didn’t even score a point across two rounds. A young boy watched the match in horror, worried that he too would meet the same fate. When his turn came, his team’s performance wasn’t as disgraceful, but the result was still the same. There would be no glory.

I summoned a crew from the Another Castle discord to create. Spaceteam. We competed against the other Spaceteam in one of PAX’s longest running tournaments. After an hour of playing, about half of which as struggling with the matchmaking, we jsut called it a draw with them.

Weather it’s covid, or inflation, or just mismanagement, there were no medals at the PAX. Instead we were given golden stickers to apply to our PAX pass. Somehow my motivation to enter the Mario Kart time trials and Switch Sports tournaments tomorrow has vanished.

But I’ll try to get back into it. You get out of fan conventions what you put into them and I’ll make more an an effort to engage tomorrow. I’ll have an indie dev take me through their 3 years of unfinished work, I’ll book out an exotic board game and try to learn the rules with some people. I’ll drag people to beers at the PAX pub. And I’ll take some photos to populate tomorrow’s write up with.

No, Switch Isn’t “Dead” and Xbox Isn’t Winning

Whenever I hear the term “day one on Game Pass,” it always makes me wonder how much something will actually sell physically and if the company behind said game will even make a profit. While some will sing the praises of Game Pass, and while I have used it to dabble in games a bit (unless Xbox servers are down), I’m afraid I have to be one of those Negative Nancy types that has to take a realistic approach to this recent announcement (and Hollow Knight: Silksong too, gee, we haven’t see that one for a while haven’t we?).

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Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands – The Power of Imagination

I must be the only adventurer in the land who doesn’t know anything about Bunkers & Badasses. I’ve heard of it, but never really thought much about it. I suppose I just never had the friends or opportunities to pursue silly things like that. Pop culture didn’t interest me much anyway. Everyone talks about B&B like it’s a normal part of their vocabulary, while I stare blankly. Yeah, having friends and social experiences must be cool. Can’t relate. I’ve been a solo adventurer my whole life, just surviving in my own world. You get used to it.

I was asked to play a game for the first time in my life when my local group were short on players. Rather than be dismissive, I thought it was a good time to break out of my comfort zone and find out what it’s all about. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

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Transiruby – Androidvania

From the makers of Kamiko comes a brand new Metroidvania on the Switch. Kamiko, you say, what’s that? Kamiko was a neat little 2D Zelda clone by Skipmore that was about 60 minutes long. It came out around the Switch launch period as one of the first new Indie games on the system. Fast forward one Fairune Collection and five years later, and we have Transiruby. A game in a different genre and much bigger in scope. Really, this was meant to come out in 2019 according to this old trailer, but it’s only just come to Switch in the last week and the PC a few months ago.

To be quite honest, the delay didn’t bother me because I only just found out this game existed. So let’s check it out!

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Dying Light – Keeping The Dream Alive

It’s time to ROCK! Or it was, once upon a time. I’ve spent the past year working on these brand new songs that would change the world, but then the world changed into something else, something unfamiliar. Everything changed overnight. A deadly virus has overrun this town with chaos and isolated us from the rest of the world. The only use music has here now is a distraction for zombies. Yeah, look over there… BOOM! There goes the grenade. Sounds a bit like the bass drum part, no? My band is now tucked away in my backpack.

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Matto’s takeaways from the 9.23.2021 Nintendo Direct (and Bayonetta 3)

Screenshots were taken from Nintendo’s official website and PlatinumGames official website, and the Bayonetta 3 YouTube trailer.

A Nintendo Direct is always a good time, whether it announces the things you don’t expect or completely makes the “industry insiders” look hilariously wrong (more on that in a bit). But, hey, I got some things to talk about with this Direct, because some things are very interesting. But its also a chance for me to mock things semi-related to the Direct because why the hell not?

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How To Beat The “Impossible CPU” In Renegade Every Time

I recently finished mastering all the games in Clubhouse Games 51 Worldwide Classics for the Nintendo Switch. I’d almost done it a few months ago when I first got the game. I had been working my way through the various games usually bouncing around five of them until I mastered them and then dove into some others. However, it was near the end when I had eight or so games left to master that I started playing Renegade aka Reversi aka Othello in this package. It seemed like a simple game but I soon discovered it had more strategy to it than I had thought and soon the game seemed to be more complicated than Chess, Shogi or Riichi Mahjong due to the amount of times I’ve had to replay it.

It probably didn’t help that this was my first time ever playing the game of Renegade. With no idea of what kind of moves to make or what to look for on the board for the next best move, I was thwarted at just the Amazing CPU for some time. I felt I was improving over time and figuring out the strategy of the game and finally did beat that level of difficulty. Then I played the Impossible CPU and it was like I had learned nothing.

Nintendo showing how Renegade should really be played on the cover: CPU free.
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Control DLC – Shock and AWE (Classified)

Shhh, don’t tell anyone. I overheard the janitor say there was a secret section of the Bureau. He was singing something about “post-game paid DLC” but who knows what the heck that means, probably just singing to the plants again. I waited for him to leave and found a keycard to the “Investigation Sector” on his table. It was just glowing under a lamp, almost like he wanted me to find it. We all know how Ahti can be, always making a game out of everything. Gotta love him though. Without hesitation I dove headfirst into this new area from the Sector Elevator. This is my report of The Dark Spot from AWE. The following information is classified and can not leave the Federal Bureau of Control under any circumstances. Major spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned.

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art of rally – lowercase in fifth gear

some people view racing as an aggressive, reckless, chaotic sport, but the experience of competitive driving is the complete opposite of that. pushing a fast car to its limit requires such precision that you are forced to focus your mind. to do this, you need to shut out everything else that might be distracting, which consequently brings a feeling of calm. you’re finally in control. nobody else can hit that brake pedal, only you.

life has an endlessly confusing amount of avenues vying for your attention, but when you’re in a car you know exactly what you need to do. the only thing that matters is the next braking point, because you might die if you miss it. this intense level of sustained focus instills a level of discipline that can also lead to ultimate zen and peace. art of rally harnesses the zen feeling of racing and allows it to flourish with beauty and creativity. we don’t need upper-case letters where we’re going.

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Control – Supernatural Lockdown

Cold, oppressive, stern, blunt, and quiet. The properties of concrete. If you stare intently enough, it can also be much more than that. Bare concrete is an empty canvas for human expression. There’s nothing better than a blank wall to empty the contents of your mind.

As you walk into the Federal Bureau of Control, the walls notice you. Pulsing and throbbing, you can feel the building breathing. It feels hostile, almost. It’s suddenly much harder to gather your thoughts. A living organism made out of concrete now controls your life.

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Super Squidlit – Muffin Overdose

The long awaited squid game sequel is here! After braving the monochrome Game Boy world of the first Squidlit, we’ve now arrived in the era of Game Boy Color! Now anything is possible with a full palette of wonder and excitement. This game has crammed in so many new things, it certainly earns the “Super” in its title, but does that mean it’s a better game?

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Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana – Vacation Isle

Your ship sank, your crew is missing, and you’ve washed up on a mysterious island, completely alone. So many questions flood your mind. Where am I? Where’s the rest of the crew, did they make it? This couldn’t be the mysterious Isle of Seiren, could it? Am I stranded? The existential anxiety fades as you begin to look around in awe. This place is beautiful.

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