2016 marked my second attendance of PAX East, and this type of expo in general. Year two was definitely a different experience from year one, in that I spent more time exploring on my own instead of just waiting for Andrew to finish appointments. I also attended several appointments with Andrew in order to get a better feel for how to represent Marooner’s Rock when speaking with developers.
Here are my top highlights from PAX East 2016 (in no particular order):
Ya Gotta Pinata! (RNG Studios Games)
This is a fun game coming to mobile (hopefully soon!). I was attracted to the booth by the cute props set out–hello, animal pinatas! You’re a pinata. Your friends are pinatas. You’re all at a kid’s birthday party where they’re trying to break you open for the candy. Hurry to save yourself and your friends, crossing the dance floor before the bat-wielding kids accomplish their goal. It’s essentially a cross between Snake (one of the original cell phone games) and Pac-Man with the swipe motions of a touchscreen. Plus totally adorable pinata characters. The Alpha build was available to play at PAX East, and felt like final version quality–especially considering this is the team’s first game.
Memory Match and Catch (Squish Studios)
Another mobile game from another new developer here. This is a pretty simple memory card game, suitable for all ages. It starts out simple enough, but as you progress and collect the different cards it gets much more challenging. Each level brings more cards to remember, and fewer chances to miss. I thought this was another fun game from a small team and I loved the artwork–all hand-drawn by a team member. This is a free game with the option to purchase an ad-free upgrade for offline play.
Shop Heroes (Cloudcade)
I attended Andrew’s appointment with the developers on this one, and I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with the game before PAX. After speaking with the developers and watching the demo, I knew I had to try it. Shop Heroes is a mobile game that can also be played through Facebook. I immediately downloaded it and started playing–and got completely hooked. Being a shopkeeper may not sound like an exciting role in a game, but I thoroughly enjoy it. I get caught up in crafting items for customers, sending heroes on quests for special resources, investing in my town, and trying to earn enough gems for cool in-game accessories. I have literally spent hours playing this game (and draining my phone battery…) without realizing that much time has passed. This is a free-to-play game with the option to spend real money on in-game currency.
This headset has already been reviewed by another writer, but it was by far one of the best products on the show floor. The company is all about innovation in gaming headsets–both with technology and with style. Not being a “serious” gamer myself, it’s intimidating to see all the gaming headsets that look like, well, gaming headsets. LucidSound believes that gaming headsets can be stylish and not-so-conspicuous. They have achieved this goal with their product. If you’re in the market for a new headset, go buy this one. Seriously. They’re appearing in retail stores now. Give them money.
This one was a little funny to get information about considering the name, but I did have a chance to stop by and play the demo. It’s a party game where the object is simply: don’t die. Now I’m terrible with console controllers, but I enjoyed playing this game. Until I died. Then I enjoyed watching others play the game. Did I mention the setting and obstacles change every 10 seconds? Just when you get the hang of dodging falling blocks, you have to start digging down to stay on screen. I loved the character design and the way the game kept me on my toes.
I discovered this one in some of my aimless wandering around the show floor. I mean, who wouldn’t stop in their tracks if they saw a game demo being played that was clearly a horse on a snowboard? Despite being terrible with console controllers, I tried this one as well. I wiped out–more than once–of course, but it was fun to wreck a horse wearing a rastafarian hat. At the time of PAX East, the customizations were fairly limited (the demo was put together within a few months) but the developers had big plans for adding more options. Definitely an entertaining game to look out for.
I have to be honest and say that I definitely got more out of PAX East 2016 because I made the effort to go check things out and talk with people. There were so many new small developers who were attending their first event, developers from other countries (which I didn’t expect), and just so many creative ideas. Unfortunately there was not enough time to visit them all–I barely saw the tabletop area, for example. Many of the Indie developers had the products and games being talked about though–at least with the other attendees I spoke with. It just goes to show that good ideas will work, whether you have a “big name company” behind you or not.