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LK4O4 avatar 7:30 AM on 09.15.2010  (server time)
PAX 2010: The Gameworks Across the Street

Posted by: Ryan

Instead of doing one huge PAX Cblog, I'm gonna try to write one smaller post every day for maybe an entire week,
if I can. And I didn't take many pictures, so bear with me.

Dammit, why didn't anyone tell me that Taiko no Tatsujin was so damned awesome?! It's so cool! Okay, okay, so a little context: Noelani and I went to the Gameworks across the street and that was where we both played Taiko no Tatsujin for the first time. It's an arcade machine that literally has two big drums in front, and some drumsticks, and it's obviously meant for two player. It kind of stands out, and it's one of the first games that Noelani and I decided to play.

It's not nearly as complicated or intimidating as a Rock Band drumset: instead, there is just one huge drum that registers from being hit either in the center or on the side. So it's easy enough for most normal people to play, and there's something satisfying about the fact that your patterns are the same as your partner's, so you're both sitting next to each other and pounding the drums together in rhythm. Make sure to grab a cute guy/girl when you play this, because it probably just wouldn't be the same playing it alone.

And then the cherries on top are the completely super-cute art design and music selections. The characters are adorable, and every time they speak, they speak in that high-pitched, Japanese cutesy-speak which admittedly gets annoying after a while. But you've got to check out the music: one of the songs on Taiko no Tatsujin's songlist is the ending theme to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (which fans most likely remember for its synchonized dance sequence), and another is the terribly cheesy "Cha-La Head-Cha-La," also known as the Japanese intro theme to Dragon Ball Z. (And while writing this, I realized that "We Gotta Power" would be a great song for just banging on a drum.) Seriously, I don't even watch that much anime and I know those two songs, so I'm sure more than a few nerds definitely got a kick out of the available tracks.

If you ever get the chance to play a Taiko no Tatsujin cabinet, don't pass it up. It's a treat. When you put together the approachable gameplay, the cutesy art direction, and the shameless, yet recognizable song choices, it creates a game with the same kind of wonderful, lovable appeal as one of my favorite games of all time, Samba de Amigo for Dreamcast. As if I didn't talk about SEGA games enough in my other post.

So to mention SEGA again (:P), I was really surprised at how much SEGA was all over this arcade. I played a bit of After Burner Climax, OutRun 2 SP, and Air Trix, and Noelani played a round F-Zero AX. (Pssst, Noelani and I had no clue what we were doing in After Burner Climax, but I still thought it was cool anyway.) And I should be ashamed, but I have to admit, I actually really like the song "Night Flight" in OutRun 2. I know, I know it's a terrible song, but I still like it in all it's dangerous cheesiness. As for what others were playing, we saw a few people with plastic guns shooting zombies in House of the Dead 3, a few people racing around in Initial D, and even the Ferrari F355 Challenge cabinets were constantly in use, which I thought was kind of weird. I wasn't under the impression that F355 was popular. I had forgotten just how big the truckload of SEGA arcade games was, but man, this arcade was filled with them.

So we ate at this same Gameworks one of the days we were in Seattle, and the food was pretty decent. It's not as good as the Daily Grill, but it's definitely not bad. The service was slow, but that was by no means particular to just Gameworks. Pretty much every restaurant near the convention center had slow service and was running out of supplies, but I guess it's not too surprising when you realize that there were 67,000 of us in town. Even the server girl at Johnny Rockets was telling us that PAX had completely cleaned them out, and that they were completely packed for lunch on Saturday with a line going out the door. Also, to the girl at Johnny Rockets: my girlfriend and I both want to date you.

...wait, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Gameworks! Upstairs, they had a section where all the fighting games were lumped together, so we played some of the arcade version of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom. I own the US version for Wii, so I seriously didn't realize how pathetically few characters that game has in it's arcade release. Not just in terms of the US-exclusive characters like Frank West, but I couldn't even play as Saki, which was kind of a shock to me. But as I've mentioned several times, I love Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, so Noelani and I still had plenty of fun with it. Jonathan Ross was playing some Street Fighter 4 at the cabinet next to me, but that game has never really been my thing. I recognize that it's not a bad game, and maybe I'll give the game another shot when it comes to 3DS, but I don't know.

Now a ton of people I know really like BlazBlue, and even though I've only played it two or three times ever, I decided to throw down some credits so Noelani and I could play it just because it was pretty. Noelani's got an eye for animation as well, so I thought it'd be something that she and I would like. But unfortunately, BlazBlue sucks. It doesn't just kind of suck, it really sucks. I'm sorry guys, but no matter how high-resolution the graphics are, we both had a horrible time actually playing it. Again, sorry if you're a fan, but we both hated that game. I needed a palate cleanser fighting game after that one.

The King of Fighters XII cabinet was in use, so I didn't get to play a game of that, but rightly so. KOFXII is an excellent, overlooked game that might have been heralded as the best in the series if it only had more characters and good online. And I mean that whole-heartedly: a 3-vs-3 game needs at least 34 characters to keep from getting stale. But I completely love the KOFXII system: the dark shading and weight of the the character's movement, the pause and zoom when you hammer home a critical counter, and the sound of every hit just make the game feel good to play, even if you don't really know what you're doing. But instead of playing that, I was luckily able to pick up a game of 3rd Strike against someone at another cabinet, and we went 2 and 2 before he took the third match and beat me, despite the fact that I was using a lot of normals. The timing on Makoto's Karakusa into HP into Hayate is tougher than I remember, so I wasn't playing very well, but my fingers just love the way that 3rd Strike feels. The collision and hit-detection in 3rd Strike feels better to me than even current fighting games now.

There were so many games there (yay Raiden Fighters!), and it's not even the biggest Gameworks I've been to. So yeah, if you're ever in Seattle, possibly during next year's PAX, make sure to spend some time at the Gameworks across the street, and make doubly sure to play some weird games you've never heard of. I think you'll have a good time.


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