PAX South Packs a Punch
Geeks Speak attended the annual “PAX South” gaming convention in San Antonio, TX. The three day event was crammed with thousands of people viewing video, tabletop, and card games from some of the biggest names in gaming and independent companies showcasing their latest products. Need dice? You can literally buy it by the pitcher. Want to see accelerated processors and liquid cooled computers? Not a problem. Need to sit down for a while? How about doing so in a custom built gaming chair with added lumbar support? We’d like to highlight some that really stood out to us. This is, by no means, a list of the “best” companies or products because that’s subjective to everyone’s opinion.
“So Simple Yet So Fun” Award: Dungeon Boss. This mobile game really doesn’t have a lot in the way of complexity. You select heroes, you tap which enemy to attack, you collect treasure. That’s just about it; but damn is it fun. You don’t even move your characters through the dungeon, the software does that for you, but the beauty of this game lies in it’s simplicity. This is a game you can sit down and play immediately. Stuck in a waiting room? A brief commute (if you’re the passenger)? Waiting for your plane to board? This is your game. I downloaded it myself on Friday and played it throughout PAX; mostly while standing in line somewhere.
“Well This Is Awkward” Award: Twitch. You’re finally at PAX South, badge gleaming in front of you, and BAM! The first thing you see is an enormous “Twitch” layout. Giant booth, huge sign, lights and cameras everywhere, it’s like Hollywood come to life. You want to see more, do more, learn more. Well…not so fast. If you’re not “partnered” with them, then you are nearly persona non grata. Reports from more than a few people indicate that they felt “shunned” or “excluded” at the booth and that a number of new features were showcased for partners only.
“What A Twist” Award: Texas Twist Poker. Combine a Rubik cube and five card draw. This game was intriguing from the moment I sat down at the table. You are a character in a cube. For each move you make, you get a card. Five moves, five cards, to form your poker hand. However…after each move, one side of the cube will twist around, changing the options you had. Going for that fourth queen? Whoops, now it’s on the other side. You only have one pair? The cube twists and all of a sudden, you can hold three of a kind. I’m personally hopeful that the game will expand and include various power-ups and tools you can purchase using house money to make the game even more fun to play.
“This Is The Line That Never Ends” Award: AMD’s VR. Sure, there were plenty of VR companies (we’ll get to that later) showing what the modern headsets can do, but what AMD had was literally breathtaking. I spoke to more than a few people who admitted they had been in the line to try the VR headset for over three hours. You can read up on what AMD had in our recent article. Day after day, the line was crammed with people who left with an exhilarated feeling.
“Did I Really Just See That” Award: Lobo With Shotguns. “Fat Panda” gaming, from Mexico, decided that if you’re going to develop a retro game, you better go all the way. This side-scrolling game has a story that doesn’t make sense (so says the designer), occasional lines that appear like you’re watching a worn out VHS tape, and a visual design that looks like a Saturday morning cartoon from the late 70s or early 80s. If you want a “throwback” game, look no further. The game itself is rather fun and really makes you feel like you’ve traveled back a few decades.
“Shut Up And Take My Money” Award: Dreadnaught. This game was the buzz of the convention. Great gameplay, stunning graphics, killer sound effects, this one has it all. It was a big hit at previous PAX conventions so the fans are drooling over a vague release of “TBA 2016”. The line for this easily rivaled the aforementioned AMD line, but there were more consoles available to play Dreadnaught. It has the hype, it has the muscle, it has the interest of the fans, but it doesn’t have the release date yet.
“The World of Tomorrow” Award: Virtual Reality. I personally visited five different virtual reality demos and was floored by each one. Marble Mountain had drops so steep it made your gut clench if you got near the edge. A fan favorite was a VR headset with two controllers you could use as guns in one game, as paint brushes in another. Many fans were drawn to a VR setup that involved an exercise bike. The faster you pedal, the faster you move. Level 2 VR gaming put you outside the Alamo, fighting off a horde of zombies. Fans got to try the Oculus as well as the HTC Vive at the convention; although Sony and Apple are diligently working on their headsets as well.
“Technology is Overrated” Award: PAX South Table Top. Last year, this was a largely underwhelming area in the far back of the electronic gaming area used about as much by diners as gamers. This year, the table top area was entirely separated from the electronic gaming, was given more square feet and tables, and more tournaments than before including a large “Magic: The Gathering” tournament. This translated to a mega-hit of the convention being old school gaming with dice, pencils, and tokens. An employee of PAX told me that they had “996 gaming titles, many with multiple copies” available to gamers at zero cost. The same employee estimated that at “at a slow time” of the convention, they still had 1000 people playing table top games.
“Would You Like to Know More” Award: You! There were cosplayers and merchandise aplenty. Want to see the pictures? Head over to our Facebook page to see multiple galleries of the goodies that were on display.