PAX West 2018

PAX. The Penny Arcade Expo. Began in 2004, and still going strong today. The last one I attended was in 2014, and the anticipation for this year built until I felt fit to explode. I mean, it may as well have been Christmas Eve! On Friday night (August 31st) I was so excited I thought I might not be able to sleep. Badges were safely set aside, alarms were double checked, bags packed, outfit chosen, and snacks squirreled away. All that was left was to sleep.

Little did I know I’d be coming home with a Korok!!

We arrived at the convention center at 10 on the nose Saturday morning, and there was a huge line of people still snaking in through the front doors. My eyes darted excitedly through the crowds of people, searching for cosplay and trying to get a peek at the year’s lanyards (they turned out to be Devil May Cry 5).

Some views of the Expo Hall

A game we waited half an hour to play, whereafter I promptly died and the demo was over

The space seemed more crowded than usual, perhaps since it had been a while?, and we shuffled and bumped our way inside the building and up multiple escalators, until at last we reached the Expo Hall. It is without question the “main attraction” of PAX: exhibitors, demos, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, merch booths, indie games, board games, the new, the big, the best. Naturally this means the place is jam packed and challenging to navigate.

Checking out a Final Fantasy art book, and walking around the Expo Hall

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The setup for the Resident Evil 2 remake was cool! Wish we could have seen inside.

Unfortunately this year I did not have the pleasure of demoing more than two games on the show floor. Lines were too long, demos didn’t have time limits (or the limits were too long), and it seemed that every game I wanted to play always had a “line capped” sign. I won’t lie, it was frustrating – but I still managed to have a nice time. If I had been given the chance, however, I would have tried out Untitled Goose Game, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Let’s Go Eevee. Morgan and I also saw plenty of neat indie titles that looked like they’d be great for our co-op interests!

Blessed by the Cookie Brigade as soon as we got in line for this PAX XP kiosk

The Playstation booth had a sweet pop-up store! Very pleased with my playing cards purchase.

The biggest win for me this PAX was the merch. I am a collector, and I love to have interesting items on display in my home and day-job office. PAX and other conventions are an enjoyable way to get new items without waiting for them to show up in the mail, and also to verify their quality in person. Thanks to Pink Gorilla I added a Boo and Cheep Cheep to my Nintendo plushie collection! Other notable additions include Banquet of the Wild by Kari Fry, a Stardew Valley shirt from Sanshee, and Broodhollow volume 2 from Kris Straub. The pièce de résistance has to be my Toejam & Earl: Back in the Groove SEGA game case from Limited Run, though.

Fraaaaands, going to a convention together

While there were a handful of panels that piqued my interest, I decided to spend both days roaming and exploring instead. The addition of PAX XP to the badges infused a meta-game to the convention and I liked how it encouraged me to check out areas of the con that I may have otherwise skipped. I may not have won any prizes, but I still had a good time gathering points for Team Gabe (we lost, boo)!

I don’t know what the giant mushroom is for, but it was cute and that’s good enough for me! Lower left: Rachel playing a Game of Thrones mobile game. Lower right: Fallout merch at the ThinkGeek booth

Toward the end of Saturday when we were tired, sore, and overstimulated from sounds and crowds, we went down to the board game freeplay area and checked out a copy of Telestrations – a game we’ve been interested in for a while. Turns out that with only four players the game isn’t able to reach its true hilarious potential. Still fun though and I think we’ll be picking up a copy of the After Dark version sometime soon.

A Frenchman and a dinosaur with legs that won’t quit. At the very least it was fun to draw!

I absolutely love the freeplay rooms, and I know that some people go to PAX exclusively to use the freeplay areas. Where else can one dabble in board games, dice and tabletop games, card games, and video games with thousands of like-minded people all happy and willing to teach you to play? They have tons of games to choose from, and a whole lot of dedicated space to spread out and play. God I love PAX.

Spied Sarah Graley’s Kim Reaper comic, and this amazing BotW Great Fairy cosplayer!

I forgot to take a photo of the booth’s name, but look at their super cute Sonic the Hedgehog design! Like a real fat hedgehog!

Sunday was more of the same, except with additional attempts to demo games on the show floor (another swing and a miss). I got myself a sweet Fallout 76 party horn, and we all entered for a chance to win a Fallout 76 themed Xbox One console by guessing how many caps were stored inside a large bomb. Honestly that was a really fun thing to do because there is always an awesome setup for anything Fallout related. This one felt like I truly was a Vault Overseer, clacking away on the old dirty computer at a rundown mid-century desk. Plus we got Fallout 76 branded bottle caps. Score!

Fallout/Xbox ‘guess the caps’ Fallout 76 booth

The prize for guessing correctly: a limited edition Fallout 76 edition Xbox One console

It was a lot of fun to take pictures at this desk, okay?!

Perhaps the best thing that happened during PAX West 2018 was spotting a person dressed as the 16th Colossi from Shadow of the Colossus. For those that don’t know, this is one of my top five favorite games of all time, and is also responsible for the most intense and long-lasting ragequit incident of my life. This game gives me ~feelings~, so when I saw the cosplay I immediately followed them until I was able to ask for a photo. She happily obliged, and as we got into our poses for the picture I was accidentally hit in the face by her hand. It was hilarious and I’m SO GLAD the live photos feature captured it.

I was able to stitch the live photos together to make this video!

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Begging for mercy

She felt bad, but it’s one of the silliest things that has ever happened to me. Hit in the face when I’ve come face to face with my gaming arch enemy at last? Yes, please and thank you!

Too tired to smile properly :T

PAX, I hope to see you again next year. Maybe with some new line management techniques? Possibly? I know that what you do is hard, I don’t envy the coordination required, but I want to play more games!

Love youuuu.

x – happy beast


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