Hey, do you guys like fighting games? Well, much like all of you who said "yes", I have watched EVO through various streams for the past several years, saw all the fun that the people on my screen were having, and told myself "I am gonna be there someday!". Well that someday was this year as I got to personally attend EVO 2017 in Las Vegas. Not only was I there, I was granted media access thanks to the independent website that I run (more on that later, believe me).
It was my first time in Las Vegas period, not to mention my first big gaming event as credentialed press, so "nerves were shot" is an understatement. Myself and my colleague landed in Vegas the day before the actual tournament started, so we found a nearby Irish Pub between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay and has some beers and whiskey (as one does).
Then Friday came and thanks to the shiny media badge, I was able to beat the crowd into the events center:
The first thing we did, besides take pictures, was walk by the Dragonball Fighter Z area since there were a couple "Freeplay" kiosks there. Of course, people were already playing it, so we decide to hang around and check out a little of the Capcom area. We messed with Street Fighter IV on some iPhone's. Bolted on to the phone was the Gaming Vice which basically turns your phone into a controller. The thing retails for around $100...
I knew the doors opened because I almost got trampled on by the sea of people who quickly lined up to play Dragon Ball. I eventually got to play a match of it, and it is as awesome as it looks!
I won't mention every single thing that we did since this entry would end up being about 4 years long, so I will dive into some highlights:
- Got some hands on time with Samurai Shodown V Special on a PS4, will be buying as soon as it comes out. Was told by the SNK rep that we may be hearing more from the series in the not too distant future.
- The build of Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite that was there gave me a better feeling than the story demo did, AKA people's faces look better and it plays better.
- I'm kicking myself for not picking up a complete copy of Taiko Drum Master for the PS2 which a booth had for $50. Just knew it wasn't going to fit in my carry-on luggage.
- Smash fans are rabid!
- Everybody was so nice and polite, which amazed me in a crowd that big.
- Gundam Versus was super confusing and I would have liked another go after some sort of tutorial.
How about some media? I mean that's why I was there after all:
So, I run a website, a Twitch channel, and a YouTube channel basically building a portfolio. It is my dream to break into the game journalism industry professionally, so covering EVO is a great thing to put on my resume.
I was able to grab a couple interviews with some indie developers. First up, a game that will feel very TetrisBattle Gaiden to many, but does stand out on its own: Spaera. (We don't have the $$ for a microphone, so apologies for the audio quality)
Secondly, I was able to chat with Eric from Sweet Bandits about a fighting game based on caffeine: Coffence.
Both games are available now on Steam Early Access.
Not only was I there working and doing interviews, but I found myself competing in a tournament for a game that hasn't even been released yet. Guts is from Brazilian developer Flux Game Studios. While that name brings up images of the Aggro Crag, Guts the game is a fighting game based around a dismemberment mechanic.
We also got a chance to do an interview with the CEO and Founder of Flux Game Studios: Paulo Luis
OK, on to bigger things. Grand Finals day on Sunday was a true religious experience. I know that term gets thrown around a lot, but I was just in awe of what I was a part of. A crowd full of screaming fans hanging on every move and gasping with excitement and bringing the hype...I was in stunned silence and loved every second of it.
I did break my stunned silence as soon as I saw Skullomania making his return. I literally jumped out of my seat and screamed with delight. I had that same reaction when I saw BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle mainly because I saw Charlie Tunoku from Persona 4 since one of the games being crossed is Persona 4 Arena and anytime I see anything involving Persona 4, I get excited.
A moment I will never in my life forget came right before the Top 8 for Street Fighter V as Yoshinori Ono came on stage to address the masses. Sure, his main reason for being there was showing off Abigail, the newest addition to the game, but he also led the crowd in a "Shoryuken" chant. Just imagine the feeling of thousands of gamers from all over the world coming together, putting there fists in the air and yelling "Shoryuken" as one, then multiply that by at least a hundred and that's what it felt like.
Obviously, I am missing out on so many things I could talk about from my first EVO, all the different booths that were there, all the interviews I did, all the interactions I had, but just know this: I will never forget my time in Vegas covering the biggest fighting game tournament in the world, and I can not wait to do it again, hopefully as a professional journalist.
For now, here's my EVO in a few more photos that myself or my colleague Dave from Nerd Bacon took, enjoy!
And finally, the moment I have yet to come down off of....
Until next year, EVO!