PAXing lyrical

Hub insisted on that title and who am I to deny him?  It’s been a week since the inaugural PAX Australia Expo in Melbourne, and it has taken me that long to come down from the massive high, recover, and get my thoughts in order sufficiently to make a post about it.

We bought out tickets to PAX the week they were released and I’m so glad we did because it was a huge, fun, and packed weekend, so we needed all three days to experience everything.  I’ve divided this post up into what I considered the key aspects of the convention, but everyone will have had a different focus so if you attended, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section.

 

Cosplay

This would be the first convention I had the guts to cosplay at.  I decided to (overly ambitiously, in hindsight) cosplay a different character each day.  I chose Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII, the girl trainer from Pokemon White/Black, and Lara Croft from the original Tomb Raider.  I spent months painstakingly accumulating/making the components for the costumes, as well as convincing my husband to also cosplay (which he did in the end, to spectacular results).

I opted to wear the Tifa costume on day one, and whilst I was pleased with how it turned out, I was regretful of the scantiness of the clothing involved (see weather section for specific issues!)  Sadly, I didn’t get any photos of this cosplay during the weekend, but I do have a preparatory one from home the week before (I hadn’t had my hair dyed appropriately at that stage).

Tifa!

Tifa!

The next day I raced down to the local Coles to buy some tights to at least alleviate some of the hypothermia, so the second cosplay was slightly inaccurate, but it did pretty well, and was extremely appropriate for the day given I spent a lot of it at the Nintendo booth, due to the Pokemon tournament (more on this later).

Another home preparation pic

Another home preparation pic

This is the day that Yetichan cosplayed as Alice from Alice: Madness Returns and hub cosplayed as Agent G from Typing of the Dead.  His costume was extremely popular and he was photographed at least ten times by random people (mostly Asian guys, which is unsurprising given the game was a hit in Japan, and wasn’t released in Europe).  You can see a pic of him from the page at Australian Retro Gamer site.

Scrubs up pretty good ;)

Scrubs up pretty good 😉

The final day I was so shattered I decided to leave the Lara costume at the hotel, given I had deliberately bought a pair of boots that were a size too small (there were none in my actual size, but they were a perfect complement for the look).  I was pleased by the end of the day that I had chosen jeans and a couple of jackets with many inner layers because I didn’t think I could go for an even scantier costume, weather-wise.

I would have looked like this if I had cosplayed.  However, I can always use this costume for next year!

I would have looked like this if I had cosplayed. However, I can always use this costume for next year!

Sadly this meant that I somewhat disappointed my new Twitter pal, RadeyLady, when I ran into her in full Link cosplay fantastica, but I think she got over it eventually 😉

Speaking of new friends, I’ve got about 900 new ones thanks to the amazing Streetpass opportunities over the weekend.

 

Streetpass

I got 70 hits in the first two hours, waiting in the queue on day 1, and the hits just kept coming and coming (averaging 300 a day!)

In fact, so many people were head down Streetpassing that PAX should have been renamed Streetpassapalooza.  However, the organisers well-anticipated this phenomenon, and had an amazing handheld lounge set up in the main pavilion, replete with comfy beanbags and plenty of space (and there were some well hidden, but accessible power points for the inevitable recharging of 3DSes that needed to occur a couple of times a day due to constant use – even on the lowest brightness setting!)

Example of handheld lounge shenanigans (pic courtesy of Obsidian)

Example of handheld lounge shenanigans (pic courtesy of Obsidian, that’s her in the black and red, right of screen)

Nintendo also had a similar (albeit smaller) lounge set up, and ostensibly offered a charging station but this comprised about 10 tangled chargers around a small table, so it was fairly competitive!  If you were sneaky, however, (as I was), you could play one of the demo 3DSes and plug your own into its charger for some super secret charging.  I did this while the Pokemon Master tournament was on.

 

Pokemon tournament

Day 2’s big draw card for me was the official Australian Pokemon Championships.  I registered early and came back at midday to await my participation.  I had pre-prepared my Battle Box with the best permitted Pokemon I had, but even so I was anticipating my time in the comp would be short lived.

Looking the part!

Looking the part!

As it was I did get knocked out in the first round, but not after beating my opponent’s first two Pokemon.  It was her Ghost Chandelure that destroyed me in the end, as I had nothing to match up effectively.  Nevertheless, it was fun to participate, and I got a cool lanyard out of it!

 

Pokemon key exchange

The other Pokemon excitement was on the same day while waiting in the queue.  I saw a few people playing Pokemon battles, so I thought I’d ask if anyone had Black 2 to exchange Unova keys with – I needed to get the Iron Key so I could unlock Registeel, and then Regigigas (2 of the 3 remaining Pokemon I needed to complete the National Pokedex).

As it happened, the first person I asked turned out to be the Victorian Pokemon champion!  He didn’t have a Black 2 cartridge unfortunately, but a nice fellow ahead of me did, so we exchanged keys.

Once I got back home, I went ahead and caught those two Pokes and swiftly remembered I was meant to ask Yetichan to bring her Pokemon Pearl cartridge along so I could use the Dream Radar to get a Palkia.  D’oh!  Will have to trade it online or wait until October when I visit her.  Though I will probably be deep into Pokemon X/Y by then!

 

Game previews

Pokemon X/Y wasn’t previewed at PAX, however I did get to have a good play of Pikmin 3 and the two upcoming Zelda titles (A Link Between Worlds for 3DS, and the Windwaker HD remake for Wii U).  The Zelda games are due out in October, and I’ve already preordered Pikmin 3 (it’s out now, but I am waiting on mine to arrive in the post).

Grabbed this pic from Aussie-Gamer.com (one of the writers of which I consequently met outside the loos on day 1, as you do)

Grabbed this pic from Aussie-Gamer.com (one of the writers of which I consequently met outside the loos on day 1, as you do)

There were other game previews on hand throughout the convention, but I didn’t try them out.  From what I’ve gathered, the Indie showcase was pretty impressive, but I only walked past and gave them a glance.

There were also HEAPS of tabletop games to play and buy, but again, I just gave them a cursory glance – mostly because I have a lot or are familiar with many of them already, and more particularly because well… STREETPASS.  It honestly was a full time job.

 

Animal Crossing freebies and presentation

Of course my 3DS ran out of battery while I was waiting for the most exciting part of the weekend – the official Animal Crossing developer Q&A.  We made sure to get in line early and waited an hour and a half to go into the very small theatre.  Every child won a prize, with QR codes and a Tortimer figurine being given away to all attendees.

The opening intro was a video custom-made for the audience of mayoral secretary, Isabelle, which thrilled us all.

dfhd

Who doesn’t love Isabelle!

We were a happy, smiley bunch until…

The developers weren’t actually at the presentation.  It was a pre-recorded video of questions and answers.  In Japanese.  With subtitles.  At the bottom of the screen.  In a flat theatre.  People walked out 🙁

Thankfully, the official Australian AC:NL Facebook page has released the video now, but it was very disappointing at the time – with very few people able to see, and even less able to understand Japanese!  I got the gist of it from catching snippets of the subtitles, but nevertheless it was pretty badly organised.  It also only lasted half an hour, which was half the time I expected from the program schedule.  Oh well.

 

Animal Crossing Happy Home Showcase overload

Despite the debacle, Animal Crossing was the definite stand out of titles people were playing on their 3DSes.  My Happy Home Showcase was full on the first day, so I have plenty of houses to visit and stock up on furniture for my collections.  It’s a pity you are limited to only 40-odd homes, because I reckon I’d be at 500 by now!

 

Hanging with friends

All in all, PAX was a great weekend, and I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with friends, both old and new – and finding each other in queues based on whether we Streetpassed or not!  I am definitely keen on going back next year.

Hanging out at the Pokemon tournament

Hanging out at the Pokemon tournament

 

Lessons learned

Melbourne weather is often just as shitty as Hobart weather.  Dress appropriately.  Warm cosplay next year!

Melbourne transportation is excellent, if you don’t bother trying to get a taxi on a wet and cold Friday night.  Two hour wait = early stage hypothermia.

 

Conclusion

Despite some queuing issues, the convention was fantastic.  The location was pretty good, but having it spread out across different buildings was a little inconvenient, but not so much so that it detracted from the event.  Improvements would be to better facilitate the popular sessions with larger venues, cap the queue early on (or better yet, have tokens for popular events), and move the food booths into a separate location (my jacket smells like cooking oil a week on!).

For next year and new attendees, I strongly suggest you get a 3-day pass as soon as they are released (like we did) otherwise you’ll miss out and really, to best experience everything, you need the whole three days.  Also be prepared to miss out on stuff, because this convention is the first of its kind in Australia and it can only get bigger and bigger in terms of popularity.

Next year I’m thinking of cosplaying as Chloe from Uncharted or a winter version of Lara Croft seeing I didn’t end up wearing my costume this year 🙂

2 Comments on "PAXing lyrical"

  1. My 2c worth!

    From someone who couldn’t face the 2 hour wait in the queue – don’t show up right on opening when the queue is at it’s fullest! Although the queue room was pretty well set up, the crowd control outside was pretty ordinary. Solution was to turn up half an hour to an hour after opening on the following days, when most of the line had already entered.

    Also, why did they put so much effort into giving everyone an R18+ wristband when so little of the show was actually rated at that level? Couldn’t they have just ID checked those who wanted to get into Saints Row 4?

    I would totally fork out the same money again for an event that was just a streetpass convention! It was so awesome reclaiming all the puzzle pieces I lost in my data transfer, and playing ‘spot the other proud owners of Animal Crossing Limited Edition 3DSXLs’. I’m surprised the power didn’t short out with the number of sneakily plugged in power boards all over the place 🙂 Available food places were more than ample, and I never had to queue to use a toilet!

    Final note, I was a little disappointed to see that some of the exhibitions were aimed at the lowest common denominator of gamer, with the use of booth babes and one of the worst ‘giveaways’ ever. However it was awesome to see such promotion of smaller independent games, some really nice gamer merch (Sanshee!) and traditional board, card, and RPG games still have a great following.

    • I agree about the crowd control – though I think that improved over the weekend. It was a shame to even miss out on what I thought were the less popular shows! Will be sure to remember that for next time.

      Ugh, the booth babes were terrible. At least the World of Tanks ones were sort of themed appropriately, but the police-dressed ones for that headphones stall were completely unnecessary, and I felt, insulting to my gender, and the general intelligence of their apparent audience. Yes, I’m sure plenty of guys loved them, but I’m equally sure there were plenty who thought they were completely out of place. Not once did they try to engage me to buy the headphones – I thought that they were probably surprised to see women there and didn’t know what to do!! Meh.

      And yes, that giveaway (EB Games) was pathetic. Don’t even bother coming if all you are going to do is have some attention-seeking chick get boys to guess how many tattoos she has in order to win a slapband. Lame.

      Sanshee was awesome. I love my discounted Hey Listen earrings. That’s what happens when you are nice to merchants instead of haranguing them about why their prices are more expensive at a con than online (it’s basic economics, rude dude, you don’t like it, don’t buy it).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: