Pax East 2011! I went to it. For those who don’t know, Pax East is the Boston version of Penny Arcade’s Expo, and it’s basically a gaming convention, with emphasis on video games.
Here are a few modest observations. Paxervations.
I learned that I’m not interested in standing in long lines to play games that will be out in a month or two. So I didn’t do any of that and therefore can’t tell you how amazing Portal 2 or Star Wars Old Republic or Guild Wars 2 is.
I watched some of these when I could though. Guild Wars 2 and Star Wars Old Republic looked very pretty and I worried about the adequacy of my laptop. Otherwise I didn’t really get a feel for how the gameplay is beyond the familiar standard mmo fare. I’m still excited and interested in them.
I got as good of a look as I could over the shoulder of someone playing Street Fighter on Nintendo 3DS at the Capcom booth. I can’t give a fair assessment until I actually play it. My first impression was underwhelming. The 3D seemed to go into the screen more than out of it, which surprised me.
I have a Kinect, the motion sensor for the Xbox, and love Dance Central. So of course I’m also interested in the Michael Jackson dance game (The Experience) and watched some people play it for a few minutes. I like that it shows a video of the player dancing in real time between the NPC dancers. Dance Central just shows you the NPCs, which makes it more about them and less about the player’s chance to shine (or look ridiculous.)
I was drawn to the Soda Pop Miniatures booth by the cute minis, which I assumed were minis for their own sake, and I selected some for our D&D campgain. Then an enthusiastic guy asked us if we knew about the game! The game? What game? Super Dungeon Explore! He demoed it for us. Fun dungeon brawler, easy to learn. Heroes against console (monsters). I kept thinking of it in terms of DnD, but they were relating it to a retro video game RPG. I’ll definitely be downloading the rules and watching out for whatever they’ll have to sell for it.
Onward, to more board game demoes! Munchkin is a light dungeon delving card game by Steve Jackson. Its focus is on getting loot (hence the name) and being the first player to reach level 10. I prefer more strategic games, but enjoy Munchkin for its humor and player interaction. I sat down with some nice folks to play the latest iteration of the popular game – Zombie Munchkin! It has a couple minor tweaks, but is essentially a retheming of the dungeon romp into a zombie apocalypse, in which the players are zombies. Great theme of course, but the new skin alone wasn’t enough to entice me into buying the game.
We demoed two board games at the Mayfair (American distributors of Settlers of Cataan) booth. The first was Lemming Mafia. I loved this. It’s pretty simple and fast and forces you to make new and interesting decisions. You control lemmings and bet on which ones will jump into the water first. You have to readjust your strategy as the game progresses, and figure out the other players’ goals and try to thwart them.
The second game we demoed was Lords of Vegas, a casino building game. It’s like Monopoly but better because it’s more intricate and requires more strategic thinking. I had a hard time wrapping my head around what I should be doing, and I didn’t do very well. By the end though I saw my folly. I like the game but didn’t see myself playing it very often.
I bought Lemming Mafia.
One of my favorite things at Pax was an old school arcade room. It was dark, humming with loud 80s music, and full of the great arcade games of the time. All free! Of course it was popular and few free machines, but we hopped on what we could. I played Junior Pacman for the first time and walked away with a greater appreciation of the entire Pacman genre. I like the adrenaline rush I get from making so many split-second, high-stake decisions.
I’m not sure I’d get enough enjoyment out of Pax to justify paying airfare and hotel to be there. But it was certainly worth the $40 bus ride from NYC and the nights spent at my boyfriend John’s family’s house.