The inaugural PAX South was this past weekend.
Jennifer and I had talked in the past about going to a PAX, though nothing ever came of it. This time, though, it made sense for us to go as San Antonio was only a couple of hundred miles away. We decided to attend Saturday only, as we weren’t sure we were going to like the show and we didn’t have enough accrued time off at our jobs to justify going the entire weekend.
I should point out before I go any further that Jennifer earned herself 40 million wife points that day. Originally our plan was that she would only be at the show for about a couple of hours in the morning, and then go out shopping at San Marcos for baby stuff. Instead, she stayed the entire day with me, helping to keep me grounded and encouraging me to go see things I probably would not have normally. It’s especially impressive when you consider she’s seven months pregnant. I was really thankful she stayed as long as she did.
So, how was the show, you might ask? In short, it was better than I expected, if a little different.
I was always under the impression that PAX was an extremely big show where all the big developers would want to show their latest and greatest, similar to E3 (which I am more familiar with). Perhaps that’s what other PAX shows are like, but this one was not like that. I suppose I should have realized that when I learned WB Games wasn’t going to be there, which was a disappointment in so far as I had hoped Mortal Kombat X and Batman: Arkham Knight would be playable. As far as video games went, the main focus appeared to be on PC and (especially) indie gaming. The only console manufacturer there with a booth was Nintendo, and pretty much all they were doing was promoting their new 3DS XL line, not to mention its flagship game, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. While Microsoft had a booth, it was smaller and focused almost entirely on PC indie titles.
That’s not to say I didn’t find titles of interest at the show, though. In addition, there were several tabletop gaming vendors I found fairly interesting as well, complete with games that I would love to have played at my semi-regular Game Nights at my house. In the end, while the video game side wasn’t entirely my cup of tea, I came away having found some very nifty games that I would get in future.
Admittedly, I missed the panels this time, as I wanted to cheer on a friend. My friend Josh was an Omeganaut; in other words, he was one of twenty attendees chosen to take part in a six round gaming competition called the Omegathon. He made it through the first three rounds, which consisted of Mario Kart: Double Dash, Portal, and Beautiful Katamari, only to fall when playing Operation. It’s a shame he didn’t make it into the final four, but it was obvious he had fun doing it. :-)
I did come away with four clear favorites at the show. You may take these awards with a grain of salt, as these are purely my personal tastes. :-)
- BEST PC GAME – Dreadnought
This game actually made me kind of sad that I more or less have given up on PC gaming. Dreadnought by Grey Box is a space combat sim where players control warships of different sizes and classes in massive battles in a beautifully-rendered 3D playfield. Part of me is hoping I end up with a PC that can handle this game when it comes out.
- BEST CONSOLE GAME – Light Fall
I confess that we went to this game’s booth simply because of the developer’s name (Bishop Games). That being said, Light Fall is a beautiful 2D platformer coming out for the Playstation 4 that involves the protagonist exploring a beautiful dark world with no memory of how he came to be there. An artifact called the “Shadow Core” acts as the hero’s main tool; during the gameplay we saw, the player used it as a hovering platform on an as-needed basis. Jennifer is not always a gamer, but you know a company is doing something right when she’s as eager to play it as I am. :-)
- BEST MOBILE GAME – Texas Twist Poker
Again, this was a game I sought out because it involved poker, and it’s no secret I love playing poker. Texas Twist Poker acts as an interesting variation on video poker, where you have a character in a three-dimensional 3x3x3 cube filled with poker cards; your goal is to move your character through the cube to make the best poker hand possible. The “twist” is that after every move your character makes, part of the cube rotates like a Rubik’s cube, thus either helping you or (more likely) screwing you. I found myself stymied more than once by a cube twist while playing. There are multiplayer modes in the game as well, but the game itself is enough of a challenge for me even in single-player mode.
- BEST TABLETOP GAME – Bring Your Own Book
I almost literally stumbled upon this game at the Indie Tabletop Showcase, where the developer was starting a game with some people. I was intrigued when he handed me a book from the bookshelf behind him (Riptide by Catherine Coulter), and with the first round, I was hooked. Bring Your Own Book is a game along the lines of Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity, where people take turns being the “judge”, and the players must find lines that work best with the command/statement on the card. The difference with Bring Your Own Book is that instead of choosing lines from cards in their hands, the players take the lines from the book they have with them. It’s hysterically funny, and the only reason I didn’t play longer was because I had to meet Jennifer to watch Josh in his final Omegathon round.
I feel it should be pointed out that Texas Twist Poker is currently accepting applications to take part in its beta, and Bring Your Own Book is in the middle of a (hopefully successful) Kickstarter. I’ve already signed up for the former and pledged for the latter.
Even though it wasn’t what I had originally expected, I really enjoyed PAX South. I’m not sure if I’ll go again next year, if only because with a son on the way I don’t know what my life is going to be like that far down the road. Still, I wouldn’t mind going again, and if I do I’m sure I’ll find it as interesting as I did this year. :-)