PAX East 2011: Photo and Video Extravaganza Day 1

Ever since I first attended the Penny Arcade Expo a couple years ago and was blown away, I’ve had a new standard in what I expect from conventions that cater to fans of video games, tabletop gaming, comic books, and nerd culture in general. PAX is a somewhat strange combination of the 3, but as I’ve said before, I’ve never quite had as much fun as I’ve had at PAX. PAX is essentially a convention that combines the loves of its creators Gabe and Tycho. It’s not without its criticisms, but I always look forward to overwhelming feeling that I always get when I go to PAX.

This year’s PAX East had alot to prove and I’m happy to report that it met and in some ways exceeded my expectations. Last year’s PAX East was the debut of the convention on the east coast, and nobody was quite sure what to expect. Although I had a great time last year, long lines and overcrowding were a big problem. Gabe and Tycho knew this, and at their closing ceremony, they announced that they had booked a bigger convention center for 2011.


Welcome to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, home of PAX East 2011


The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center is huge. From what I can tell, it’s bigger than the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle. Taking my first look into the Expo Hall, I’m pleasantly surprised to see the enormous booths showing off big games that have yet to be released. Last year, it felt as if many of the booths in the Expo Hall were left-overs or reused booths from PAX Prime. This year, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Valve, EA, Rockstar, 2K, and Ubisoft all had large booths showing off all the latest and upcoming that gaming has to offer.

The Expo Hall in all its vastsness


See what it’s like to take a walk through the Expo Hall


I could already tell that PAX East 2011 was going to be good…

Having the fanboy tendencies that I do, the first booth I made my way to was Nintendo’s. I had heard that they would be showing off the 3DS, but I wasn’t sure. Fortunately, they were showing it off in grand style along with the recently released Mario Sports Mix.


In playable form, Nintendo was showing off AR Games, Super Street Fighter 4 3D, Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Pilot Wings: Resort, Lego Star Wars: Episode III, Nintendogs + Cats, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, and Steel Diver. I was able to get a chance to play the AR Games, which I had previously played at E3. I should have stuck around to play more titles because unfortunately after a left, a massive line formed around the booth that never seemed to get smaller as the weekend went on.

This being the first day of PAX, I spent a decent amount of time walking around the Expo Hall and the convention center itself, trying to familiarize myself with its layout. I didn’t get to play much at the Expo Hall because of the long lines, instead most of my game playing time was spent in the PC and Console freeplay room where I ended up playing some Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead, Starcraft II, Rock Band 3, Scott Pilgrim VS The World: The Game and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for PC.

While exploring the convention center and its offerings, I found the Jam Space. Last year was the debut of the Jam Space at PAX, and I remember having a great time messing around on drums, guitar, bass, and keyboards with random PAX attendees and friends. This year, the Jam Space added a little extra to their itinerary, hosting a chiptunes showcase of local and regional acts. I was psyched to find out that 2 of my favorite chiptunes artists would be playing: Bit Shifter and Glomag. If you’re not familiar with these names, I would highly suggest checking out Reformat the Planet by 2 Player Productions. It’s by the group that did the first Penny Arcade Series and it’s free!

Bit Shifter in action


Bit Shifter live performance


The crowd goes wild


My time at the chiptunes showcase was the highlight of PAX East 2011. The energy and excitement conveyed in a small room filled with people dancing their asses off at 2 in the afternoon is unreal. I’m somewhat disappointed that these artists aren’t featured in the main PAX concerts. Anamanaguchi is the only chiptunes group that has played the main PAX concert, if I’m not mistaken. Speaking of PAX concerts, after the Expo Hall closed, I ended my time at the convention center with another concert: METROID METAL!


Something about the composition of the Metroid series music lends itself well to the metal stylings of Metroid Metal. Whenever I hear Metroid Metal, I’m always amazed at how much of the music is covered, yet sounds so original. As familiar a soundtrack like Metroid is to most gamers, Metroid Metal takes 25 year old video game music and makes it feel as if you’re hearing it for the first time again, albeit much heavier and louder sounding.

You might think I would’ve called it a night by the end of the day, but I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about something I had heard earlier in earlier in the day while playing Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I found Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood in a room that Intel was using to show off their newest SSD hardware. Inside the Intel room, there were 8 PCs set up to play Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I ended up playing the game and found its multiplayer very addicting. It reminded me of another game that was being showcased at PAX: Spy Party. While doing my best to stealthily kill my opponents, I overheard the Intel workers talking about a promotion they were running. PAX attendees were encouraged to “like” them on Facebook, and leave a comment on their wall. If they “liked” your comment, you would win a 80GB Intel SSD drive! This contest ended up keeping me up very late that night, as I tried to figure out how to win. I figured that my comment would need to stand out, so I stayed up making this…

Was is worth staying up for? Stay tuned for PAX East 2011 Photo and Video Extravaganza Day 2!

  • Andrew Allen

    This is awesome. I can no longer tolerate the fact that I’ve never gone to PAX.

  • Eric Robbins

    PAX West, here we come!