PAX West is nearly upon us. If you have been a Bigshinyrobot.com reader for a hot minute, you might have seen our coverage over the years. PAX is one of the largest annual gaming events in the world. A mega-video game convention that fills Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center with crowds, cosplay and a dizzying assortment of games. The enthusiasm is always palpable. We are really excited to be able to get our hands on all the titles that have been on our radar for 2018 and beyond.
While we do appreciate the Cyberpunk 2077’s, Anthem’s, the Fallout 76’s and other Triple A blockbusters … our focus is always on indie games. They don’t typically have long lines and you can often have a good conversation with the dev(s) that actually made the game. We plan to spend the better part of the weekend in the Indie Megabooth/Minibooth just playing and talking to creators. However, even within the indie game scene at PAX, there are some things that we won’t be able to play. There just is not enough time
First, let me address some of the outdated trends and uninspired gimmicks that I would like to see downgraded, not upgraded as we move into the future.
Quantity or quality? On one hand, would you rather have a company that shows off 50 titles, a list that includes 15 exclusives OR one that sticks to a handful, but presents them in much greater depth? Ultimately, I have to say I prefer the latter. Real game play footage feels like an extremely finite resource at these kinds of events. At PAX, you DO actually get to play the games. Raise one up for real gameplay and not just cutscenes in real time.
VR still waiting
The last few years of PAX, gaming felt like an industry on the cusp of a VR breakthrough. In 2018, however, it doesn’t feel any closer. There are a handful of compelling new VR experiences at each event, but it feels like many of the peripheral and other experiences are sitting on the fringes — both literally and metaphorically — waiting for a crack at the big show.
I get that gaming constitutes a 21st century location for what Swiss psychologist Carl G. Jung called “compensation.” That is, a place where individuals can engage with symbolic alternatives to their work-a-day experiences, a place to wrestle with the unconscious manifestations of their sometimes problematic habitual attitudes. When did we start celebrating these generic, poor man C.O.D. simulators and mediocrity?
Now, here is a short list of some of the sure shots that I plan on spending a lot of quality time with:
Control– I know I shouldn’t let myself get too excited about a Remedy Entertainment game after the MEH that was Quantum Break, but Control looks like it might be the game Remedy should have made in the first place. Control might also not have been possible without Quantum Break, as it appears to take the supernatural elements of the studio’s last game and amplify them tenfold. You play as the newly appointed director of a government agency that tackles otherworldly threats, and based on the trailer, you have access to telekinetic powers for combat and puzzle-solving. This one speaks to me.
Untitled Goose Game– This is a stealth action game about being a asshole Goose. From what I can gather, It looks to be a clever mix of stealthy heist shenanigans and player-created slapstick humor. Maybe like a Metal Gear element with a Splinter Cell bent. Metal Goose Solid? The gameplay that I have checked online had me in tears. I can’t wait to “Honk” my way through that Farmers garden and cause gander chaos.
UFO 50– I’m not sure “50 in 1” is a genre of game any more than “mix tape” is a genre of music. UFO 50 is clearly winking at those old (and awful) collections of retro-tanged games. The concept seems to be “Hey, what would it be like if one of those crappy combo cartridges was actually… good?”. I have heard that you’ll probably need a hundred hours to beat them all. All 50 GAMES! Count me in.
Black Future ’88– This side-scrolling 2D roguelike cyberpunk shooter is set in an alternate post-apocalyptic version of 1988, Black Future ’88 follows players as they attempt to scale a giant, evil corporate tower and put an end to a malicious AI that threatens the entire world. It’s not complex, it doesn’t have to be. I’m hoping that It has an same addictive “one more run” feel. I’m really looking to play the hell out of it.
Fork Parker’s Crunch Out– A title made exclusively for the SNES. In Fork Parker’s Crunch Out, you play as the executive of a video game company pushing employees and developers to their limits in order to meet the deadlines. Sounds like fun, right? but it also sounds like a good allegory for the types of pressures that play out in real workplaces. Working 80 hour weeks for over a year to bring us this important lesson in self-care. Ok, it DOES sound like work. I’ll check it.
Valfaris– A heavy metal infused 2D action-platformer and the next game from the team behind, Slain: Back From Hell. Brutal combat. Deadly enemies. Stunning pixel art. Savage soundtrack. It checks all of the boxes. I have a feeling it will have that extreme pick-up-and-play potential, with runs lasting anywhere from a minute to an hour. If so, I’ll be there for an hour.
PAX West has the staples like freeplay areas, cosplay lounges, and tabletop gaming rooms. PLUS, Geek creators and influencers will host panels talking about new initiatives and issues facing the gaming community. AND…Concerts, tournaments and PARTIES fill out the evening for the enjoyment of the night owls present. Since we always make this trip on our ‘Rock N Roll Tour’, besides performing, busking and pop-ups we plan on attending the following events and you should too! If you see the Big Shiny Robot posse be sure and say ‘WHAT UP’ …
Predator Gaming After Party– This one is at The Showbox on Friday, August 31th starting at 9 pm PDT. Get your hands-on the latest Predator gaming hardware powered by Intel, watch an epic musical performance by A-Trak, pick up exclusive swag, play games and well, DRINK.
Life is Strange 2 Fan Meet Up Party with What’s Good Games– The Unicorn is the place from 6pm-9pm on Friday, 8/31. Last year, there was a line around the block so this time they booked the entire venue. Entry is free for all but the first 100 people in line will get free drink tickets. It’s open to anyone 21+ in the Seattle area, no PAX badge required.
Screenwave Media’s GIANT PAX West party– This one has the musical stylings of The Minibosses, Kirby Krackle and Professor ShyGuy live at the Rebar. 7PM-2AM. Also, on Friday, 8/31.
Red Bennies – The Lo-Fi performance gallery is one of my very favorite spots in Seattle. A night out in Eastlake like no other. Red Bennies will be opening for Bad Saint, Kid Leather and Claire Michelle. More info: http://thelofi.net/ . Friday, 8/31.
The Mix Seattle 2018– The Media Indie Exchange (MIX) is all about the games created by indies and indie game enthusiasts. Guests will have opportunities to play unreleased amazing indie titles, vibe with the teams creating them and get involved with prize package opportunities. This one runs from 2pm-11pm basically all day on Saturday, 9/1.
Pink Party Prime X– It’s back, and it’s bigger and better than ever. 10 years in the making, it’s Pink Party X! Neumos is the spot on Saturday night (9/1). If you go, try either the Mana or Power drinks and level up.
Poropalooza: Poros in Wakanda– Dance it off at the club that doesn’t quit with some of your favorite ESports players, Influencers and with geeks from every fandom. Q Nightclub, 9pm-2AM. Sunday, 9/2.
NPC Collective presents: Nerdcore Night at The Lo Fi– Some of the best doing it: Shubzilla, Kadesh Flow, 1-Up, MC-Ohm-I, Lex the Lexicon Artist & More! Free with a Pax West badge. Show starts at 7:30PM. Sunday, 9/2.
PAX West 2018, will take place in and around the Washington State Convention Center between August 31st and September 3rd.
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