PAX East 2013, Day 1: Dubstep and DuckTalesA column article, Extra Life by: Nick Boisson
Sometimes, the game writers here at Comics Bulletin would like to write about games in a non-critical manner. Perhaps they just want to share a new game experience or go all Gonzo discussing a form of interactive media. For this, we have Extra Life, a way for you to go on a journey with our writer as they discusses video games however they see fit.
On this first edition of the series, Nick Boisson chronicles his first day at PAX East 2013.
PAX East 2013, Day 1: Dubstep and DuckTales
Being a writer at Comics Bulletin and staff at Florida Supercon, I have the chance to go to many conventions. If there is one thing I have learned from each, it is that no two are ever the same, as each convention undergoes significant year-to-year changes. But the only conventions I have ever really been to are comic conventions. [Yes, I know, San Diego Comic-Con isn't a comic book convention, it's been taken over by Hollywood, blah, blah, blah. But, for the purpose of this article, we shall call Comic-Con International in San Diego a comic convention.] This year, I had the chance to go to PAX East 2013 in Boston and I was both nervous and excited.
To begin with, it is the first time I am attending a convention as an editor here at Comics Bulletin. While I did attend New York Comic Con last October a few weeks after accepting the position, I had applied back in July when I was still a staff writer. It is also the first video game convention that I have had the opportunity to attend, as a member of the press or otherwise. In being the Games Section Editor and sole staffer at CB to go PAX East, I was anxious at the very notion of walking into the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center as the sole representative of the site. I have also never gone to a convention by myself. In my mind, conventions were a chance for my friends/colleagues and I to geek out about all the things we love for 3 or four days. So PAX East was a big deal for me, but I didn't realize how BIG it would be until after I walked through those glass, automatically revolving doors.
(image from Polygon.com)
One great thing about being a member of the media for PAX East is that you have the chance to get into the convention an hour early before the general public on the first day. There were a few booths open for press to come and play games as well as have the chance to speak with different companies and developers before they are drowning in a sea of geeks wanting to see what their booth is about.
My first stop was the Intel Gaming booth. Intel was showing off a few of their new devices that are centered around maxing out the graphic settings on any game out there today, including a 4-inch by 4-inch PC that they had mounted onto the back of a monitor. This little PC packed one hell of a powerful punch! They also showed off a Windows 8 gaming laptop that can become a tablet when you want to use the device as such. It was very light and impressive when you consider that they will be marketing this towards those who want a gaming PC. Personally, I would like to see the price points for these devices, especially the 4x4-inch gaming desktop.
Next, I had the chance to play the first 20 minutes of a game that was just announced earlier this week, Supergirant Games' Transistor. As a huge fan of Bastion, I was very excited to see that their new title was playable on the floor and running quite smoothly. There is a lot that you don't see in the awesome trailer they had launched earlier in the week, so you really wouldn't know how different this game is from Bastion unless you play it.
First off, the setting is quite a change from their freshman effort. The game takes place in a futuristic sci-fi world, where you wield a weapon – the Transistor – which can deal blasts to enemies and holds the memory and thoughts of a fallen loved one to the game's protagonist, Red. You gather that Red was either a singer or an actress when “they” (the enemy) took her voice away. So, like Bastion, our character does not speak. Her friend who was trapped in the Transistor (his name escapes me) speaks to you throughout the game, letting you know what's coming and also training you on how to defeat the enemy. With the Transistor guiding you, there really isn't a need for a tutorial. You're thrown right into the game and you just learn how to play by playing. The other thing that isn't really shown in the game's beautiful announcement trailer is that the game doesn't play exactly like Bastion. Transistor is a mix of an action RPG (like Bastion) and a turn-based strategy game (think the recently released XCOM: Enemy Unknown). You can play it in real-time or strategize how you want to you like to approach the enemy and deal the most damage. I won't get too much into the gameplay (I will save that for an upcoming PAX East First Shot article, but I will say that I will definitely be downloading this title the day it is released. It was easily, the game that I was most blown away by on Day 1 and it was the first game that I played.
Next, I had a chance to mess with The Elder Scrolls Online by Bethesda. I have to admit that I have not been in any way looking forward to this game since it was announced. While I am a huge fan of The Elder Scrolls series since Morrowind-- credit the series with being the one that made me realize that I do like role-playing games (I just hated Final Fantasy; sorry, guys)-- and have been saying that an Elder Scrolls massively-multiplayer online is something that I have wanted to see, the game looked less like Elder Scrolls and more like a World of Warcraft clone. But let me just say right here, The Elder Scrolls Online is a game that completely turned me around after playing it. I only had 20 minutes with it, so I didn't even get to finish the quest that I was on, but it is definitely an Elder Scrolls game and looks like it has the chance to be a worthwhile entry into an already beloved series.
I then sat down and played a level of Drinkbox Studios' Guacamelee. For those of you who have not heard of this title, Guacamelee is a PSN-exclusive action platformer inspired by Mexican luchador wrestling and Mexican folklore. We are already working on getting an interview with the developers and will certainly be reviewing the game on the site, so I'm even hesitant to speak much about this game, but like every game I will speak of playing today, you will hear more about it on a First Shot, I promise you. Guacamelee is a fun title that I look forward to seeing more of as its release date draws ever so near.
At noon, I was able to get into the “World of Capcom” panel. Easily, this was the highlight of the day. The first topic of discussion was the 25th anniversary of Mega Man. They spoke about the projects that they are working on, like bringing the old games to the 3DS eShop and an awesome crossover epic in the Archie comic series where Mega Man will meet Sonic the Hedgehog. Then, they said what everyone in the Phoenix Theater wanted to hear: Capcom is working on a new Mega Man title! Yes, kids, a brand new Mega Man game! They didn't reveal anything about it whatsoever, but Brett Elston, Community Manager at Capcom, said that they felt that it was better for Capcom to say that they are working on something rather than say nothing. They spoke a bit about Remember Me, which is playable for the first time on the floor, though I have yet to play it. I was already excited about this game and I keep getting excited the more I hear about it. Then, they made an announcement that they are making a new Dungeons & Dragons game in the style of the old Capcom arcade classics, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara. The game looks great and the crowd went pretty wild about it. But, the cheers from both the Mega Man and D&D announcements were nothing compared to what they decided to close the show with. They told us that they had one more exclusive announcement and just began playing a trailer. This trailer:
Yes! WayForward is remastering the classic, beloved platformer from the NES, DuckTales! Now, I'm sure that you all have heard about it. The Internet went wild and I saw that while I was live-tweeting the panel. When the theme song started playing, you hear everyone start singing along to the beloved tune. As a fan of the game, a huge fan of Scrooge McDuck and the DuckTales animated series I grew up with and a gargantuan fan of WayForward, this announcement dropped me to my knees. When Disney Interactive closed down Junction Point Studios after the critical and commercial failure of Epic Mickey 2, I had given up hope of ever seeing a new DuckTales game. While this may not be wholly new, the game is a lot more than a graphical facelift. New gameplay, 3D backgrounds, hand-drawn animated sprites and the offical Disney Character Voices (including many who were voices on the original cartoon) make this announcement a swan song to the classic platforming fans that Capcom has. Some may call this fan service, but if there is one thing that can be said about Capcom, it is that they rarely disappoint their fans and Capcom fans are loyal to Capcom for a reason. This is easily the best way for us to see if Disney Interactive might look into a new DuckTales game. So, buy DuckTales Remastered, naysayers! It will be out this summer on the Wii U eShop, Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network for $14.99.
After the “World of Capcom” panel, I got a chance to sit in the room with the creative minds at Volition Entertainment to talk about Saints Row 4. While we did not get to play the game, we were walked through a gameplay video that shows off some really interesting changes to the Saints Row franchise. To start, the head of the Saints is now the President of the United States. Yes, you play a gang leader who was elected to the most powerful seat in the free world. Not just that, but your enemy is unlike anything we have seen in the Saints Row games: aliens! The aliens are known as the Zen and they come to Earth to take over. But you and I know that no one can take over the Saints' territory. Weapons have also had a makeover. Firstly, they have taken weapon upgrades a step further and now give you the ability to customize your weapons. One such case they showed off is a grenade launcher that looks like a guitar case. This adds quite a bit of extra support to how you design your character. You can make your own weapons match you appearance. One weapon that was also shown off was more in the vein of the dildo bat from The Third. This weapon was elegantly titled the dubstep gun. Yes, you read that correctly, the dubstep gun! You fire it at enemies (or the general public) and your enemies instantly begin dancing dubstep. This will easily be the gun that we all will just spend countless hours firing at civilians on the street of Steelport rather than enemies. Well, that or the mech. Oh, did I forget to mention the mech? Well, you get to roam the streets in a mech and take down those aliens in some style. The last huge change to combat comes in the form of superpowers. Yes, the gang leader that was elected as POTUS while aliens attacked Earth and has a gun that makes everyone dance to dubstep music and a mech to shatter your own town to pieces also has superpowers. And you thought it wouldn't get any more over the top than Saints Row: The Third. For shame, sir!
The last game that I got to play was Dead Island: Riptide. All I can really say about Riptide is that it certainly is a zombie game and you can play it with your friends that also like zombie games. Let's just say that I wasn't a fan of the first game and playing this one didn't change my opinion on the series.
All in all, a very long and very busy day at PAX East. And it only just begun! Stay tuned for more coverage on PAX East 2013 over the next few days and weeks. Hopefully, a lot of articles will come out of this convention and stop me from sleeping for quite some time!
Pop culture geek, Nick Boisson, lives in front of his computer, where he is Section Editor of Comics Bulletin's video game appendage and shares his slushily obsessive love of video games, comics, television and film with the Internet masses. In the physical realm, he works in Guest Relations for Florida Supercon in Miami as well as a day-to-day job, which he refuses to identify to the public. We're thinking something in-between confidential informant and professional chum-scrubber.