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.

Nintendo 3DS 10 Year Anniversary (Guest post)

Between February 26 and March 31st is the 10 year anniversary of the 3DS, depending on where you live. It was a wonderful device that pushed the boundaries and friend of the site Lvaneede made an excellent tribute video that we’re sharing with you dear readers.

The normal version is embedded above but if you’d like the canonical 3D version, best viewed on your 3DS, touch here.

Visions of an Apocalypse

I began writing this post, a review of two (now three) games that dealt with the end of the world about a year ago. In what remains of the draft, I had the line; “it’s the end of the decade, we don’t have time for details.” Eerily prophetic because in the time since the world really is ending and it’s doing so as T. S. Elliot suggested, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

As a species, we have been contemplating the end times since the beginning times. Poems, films, video games, even whole religions are based around imagining what it will be like when there no coming back, when progress reverses and we enter terminal decline. Something I’ve been thinking about, during our very real unfolding apocalypse, is that I need to finish things I start because at some point, this is all going to come to an end. So here’s three short reviews of three short games and their take on the end of the world.

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STAY (Away)

STAY is the story of a therapist named Quinn who was abducted in the early morning and woke up to find himself in a dank basement with seemingly no way out and a computer hooked up to a private instant message conversation with you on the other end. You talk Quinn through the challenges he faces and the game also tracks how long you are not playing for, inviting you to ‘stay’ with Quinn long as your absence affects his mood and trust in you. It’s an original and interesting premise that is unfortunately let down by almost every other aspect of this game. If anything you should stay away from this game.

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A Demo Harvest

Sometimes I forget that game demos are a thing. That some games offer little tasters of the full product to try before you buy. It honestly feels like a bygone era, like the demo discs you could peel off game magazines. I must’ve played tons of the Fury3 demo back in the day. You have to wonder why all games don’t offer it in today’s world of digital marketplaces. Well after a recent harvest of demos from the Switch eShop, I can see why many don’t.

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Tonight We Riot – The Official Game of Antifa

Developed by the worker owned cooperative Pixel Pushers Union 512, Tonight We Riot is a side scrolling crowd brawler with a retro-anarcho-communist aesthetic. Set in 20XX, Tonight We Riot depicts a society at breaking point under the oppression of capitalism, with the working masses living precarious lives in service of the capitalist owners whose power is entrenched through owning the media and political institutions. So pretty much like right now, without the global pandemic.

Before we go on, a big trigger warning for any reactionary readers we might have who prefer their video games to not contain politics; Tonight We Riot is unashamedly political, featuring not only women but people who are not white too.

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All That Remains

During a decluttering phase in 2018 I found a deal that seemed too good to be true. A New Zealand based online store, Fishpond, would stock, advertise and sell my used games and give me a portion of the revenue. All I had to do would be post a box full of stock to them, they’d even cover postage and just take the costs from my first $15 of revenue. So a found a Hello Fresh box, filled it with almost all my remaining DS games, half my Wii collection, piles of DVDs and posted it to Auckland 5000kms away. The scheme was too good to be true and after 18 months, Fishpond emailed me to say that they were shutting it down and offered to post me back my remaining stock for the cost of postage. The DVDs could stay, but I asked for my games back. And then the world as we know it ended.

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I know nothing about video games, but there’s something fishy about Animal Crossing and COVID-19

A guest post from Roland's partner.

With our lives suddenly controlled by social distancing and quarantine, my boyfriend and I are spending dramatically more time together. I thought this might be a wholesome bonding experience, however he’s dedicating almost his entire time to some game called Animal Crossing. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it? I hadn’t, but it’s popped up in my socials a bit and apparently it’s a bit of a big deal. So anyway, I thought I’d sit down and watch a bit, and after just 5 min I am 100% convinced this game is intricately connected, if not entirely responsible, for the covid19 pandemic. Let me explain:

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limbo title screen

Originally released alongside Hydro Thunder Hurricane in 2010’s “-Insert hemispheric appropriate season- of Arcade”, Limbo would escape the bounds of Xbox Live Arcade and go on to become a darling of the indie gaming world, collecting accolades and praise, from critics and gamers alike, on every platform it was released on. But in an unusual twist, Limbo is set to become unavailable on a platform for the first time, as macOS will cut support for 32-bit applications when new update drops next month. On the eve of this gaming purgatory, let us look back on Limbo.

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The Pokémon culling is a disaster, here’s how it can be salvaged

Luxry's self sacrifice to save her crying trainer from dying of exposure.

Pokémon trainers around the world were shocked to learn that not all their carefully raised Pokémon, their friends, will be able to accompany them on their next journey. This news came from game director Junichi Masuda who sheepishly admitted at E3 that the full roster of Pokémon wont be playable after a lengthy preamble to soften us up with excuses. A week on, with the frenzied backlash dying down, this article will examine exactly what the culling of Pokémon means, evaluate the reasons given by the developer Game Freak, and make recommendations for how both Pokémon fans and The Pokémon Company can rectify the situation.

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The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa – Impressions

I don’t yet know what to make of The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa. Seemingly developed by one guy in Russia, The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa sees you play as a directionless high school thug who is threatened with expulsion from his school, which he hardly attends due to spending all his time getting into gang fights. It’s like a tribute to NES classic River City Ransom or some sorta slice of life anime like Cromartie High School which I’ve never watched but Deguello says is a parody.

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Fear Effect Sedna

Fear Effect and it’s sequel were breakthrough hits at the turn of the millennium. Releasing late in the life of the original Playstation, they stood out with their stylish cel shaded graphics and sexy bisexual lead character, which was a big deal at the time. And then the series died. 15 years later Square Enix, who inherited the property after buying out Eidos Interactive, put out an open call for expressions of interest in bringing Fear Effect back. A (barely) successful kickstarter followed and last year French developer Sushee shat Fear Effect Sedna out.

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Every Game has Flaws, Zelda has a Motorbike

Disgraceful, unforgivable motorbike sullying Link and The Legend of Zelda froever.

The Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a great game, by any measure one of the greatest ever made, but the final instalment of DLC inflicted the most egregious assault I’ve ever seen on a video game. At the end of an uneven extra quest Link is rewarded with a motorbike. I invite you on a personal journey with me to learn about why the bike is so bad, how it came to this, and the personal toll it inflicted on me.

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Repairing My Left Joycon – A Real Time Blog

For a while now the thumbstick on my left Joycon has been acting up, drifting up mainly but it can do other directions if it feels like it. I blasted it with some compressed air which fixed it for a couple of weeks but now it’s worse than ever. A few weeks back, thumbstick drift caused me to lose the final Smash Bros Ultimate Challenge, and even when I play Tetris 99 the drift can cause me to target other players are random. So I ordered a replacement thumbstick off ebay and found a guide on iFixit and thought I’d share my repair journey as I go. This would be a liveblog but we don’t have that WordPress plugin, also traffic to this site probably doesn’t warrant it, so instead you can follow my progress by looking at the timestamps I provide.

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