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Games I played at PAX AUS (that I had never seen before)

It's a little late for this now, but I want to just write down my thoughts about some games I played at PAX Australia 2014 and share them real quick. I got to roam around the expo hall and played games I didn't even know exist, and a lot of them were super cool. I wanted to make a list but I don't really have time to try adding game pages into the wiki and all that =(

WAVE WAVE looks a lot like Super Hexagon, but it's a one-button game where you either zig or zag depending on whether you are touching the screen. Its main game mode includes a determined set of patterns to run through. It felt unique, but it did not hook me the way Super Hexagon did. I can see other people digging this more though.

EXPAND is a game about a square in a circular labyrinth. It goes one puzzle screen at a time, keeping you (the square) almost always on the screen and beautiful music playing continuously. There's no penalty to failing a puzzle, you just get to retry the screen but spun by 90 degrees. The way they just keep playing the music reminds me of Echochrome. It's not completely linear, which is neat. They had me write one word to describe the game and I couldn't think of anything good so I wrote "nice" after thinking for a really long time and it was pretty embarassing on my part.

I don't remember much of the first Bean's Quest, which I bought because I liked the soundtrack, but I had a good time playing BEAN'S QUEST 2: BEAN DREAMS. The chaotic nature of its physics engine and uncontrollable jumping makes this game really amusing. It's still the same music composer so that's cool too.

WITCH HOUSE is like a survival horror in a Diablo clone. It's a weird mix between 1920's pulp noir comics and Lovecraftian horror. I played as a nun (other options being detectives and magicians) and I shot monsters with a Tommy gun and it was pretty rad. The monsters aren't just there to be killed though, sometimes they would just run off into the darkness or stalk the player from a distance. Their corpses have to be burnt to prevent them from coming back (nun magic also worked well). The slow pace of the game may put some people off, but I really liked it. The very nice person manning the booth said that they wrote, programmed, art'ed etc the game alone, but I'm not buying that because 1) how the hell can you be so skilled and 2) what the fuck am I doing with my life in comparison.

SWORDY is my favourite for sure. It's as if Gang Beasts had a love child with Hammerfight. 4 players are dumped into a top-down arena with a bunch of weapons (which you can pick up by walking over) and the controls are left stick to move, right stick to stick arms in a direction, right bumper to let go, left/right triggers to punch/thrust each arm outwards. Damage, movement, and all are simulated by a physics engine. Each player has a set amount of lives and the last player standing wins. When you are having a kill streak, your weapon catches on fire. Trying to stab a runaway in the butt with a giant flaming sword looks like a scene straight out of a Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

BEARZERKERS is another 4-player game where everyone is a ball creature rolling away from one or more bear(s). You can do stuff like erect walls, which is no trouble for the bears but can block other players. Whoever gets eaten by the bears the least wins. It's fun to watch other people play, I found. There's also a co-op mode but it didn't seem as interesting.

Some guy yelled at me to play SQUARE HEROES (another 4-player competitive game) in the middle of a match and it was pretty fun. I guess everyone is worms with a helmcopter and we shoot each other with bows and laser guns? I'm not sure how but I got second place, so I voted for it on Steam Greenlight.

To play NIPPY CATS, you put your finger on a tablet screen and you don't let the cats catch your finger. High scorers get a free shirt, so I played it until my finger hurts (without success). The strategy that seems to work is to rub your finger in a large circle while dodging all visible cats, and the cats move in so quickly that I might could have started a fire with my finger. It's advertised as "the dark souls of cat gaming", but it felt a lot more like high-level Geometry Wars but with cats.

BONZA is a neat (and obviously Aussie) word puzzle game where you assemble crossword fragments around a central theme as if a jigsaw puzzle. They gave me a $5 Amazon App Store voucher, but it didn't work so that's all I'm gonna write =P

I dropped by the Microsoft booth and I was surprised at the amount of indie games coming to the Xbox One. It was unfortunately not a popular booth, however. I played LOVERS IN DANGEROUS SPACETIME alone, which would be completely sad if not for the cute space dog that accompanied me instead of another player, so it was only moderately sad. I watched 2 teenage girls play ORI AND THE BLIND FOREST and they seemed to really enjoy it, and the game looks fantastic. The most popular game at the booth was inexplicably some sci-fi roller coaster game I never heard of and then completely forgot the title of.

I also visited Nintendo's booth to check out this hot game called DISNEY MAGICAL WORLD. It was put in a weird spot and nobody was playing it, so I hopped in. I dressed up a kid in some dumb looking Mickey hat and shorts and that was enough to amuse me. The framerate unfortunately dropped significantly when I exited the dress-up menu. I then played CAPTAIN TOAD, which was positioned right across. I never played Super Mario 3D World and only heard of this game's existence. It was weird that I had to invert both axes before the cameras made sense, and the game visually looks good, but I found the game itself sort of uninteresting. Maybe just the early levels are a bit too simple. I didn't try the new 3DS or Splatoon because fuck queues, but Splatoon seems like a cool game.

I played the Australian Edition of CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY with some strangers and it was great fun. They replaced American references I don't get with Australian references I don't get! Well, I understood "throwing a baby into the dunny" at least. I really wanted to get a box, but they were already sold out at their wonderfully offensive booth within the first few hours. I instead enjoyed(?) watching an Australian marching band perform various American songs and a balloon man making... some sort of big black things and giving them away.

GAMELOADING isn't really a game, but I liked the sneak peek I saw. The sneak peek was focused around marketing. There was a great scene where the Armello team (another game I never heard of before that looks cool) tried to set up a booth during PAX East by sneaking into someone else's space, having not booked any space beforehand. It was very fascinating!

This isn't a game either, but there was a weird moment at a panel I went to. A panelist asked who have played Cart Life, and only a handful of us raised our hands (in comparison, Papers, Please got the same crowd to almost all raise hands). I'm only mentioning this because it reminded me that Cart Life is good and free and everyone should check it out.

Those are the games! This ended up way longer than I wanted, thanks for reading. I kinda wish I took photos to show, the only photo I took is of the back of the Cards Against Humanity booth. I'm not entirely sure why I took this one in the first place. Seems ironic in retrospect. Oh well!

PAX Australia!
PAX Australia!

EDIT: I forgot to mention METAL DEAD ENCORE, which franchise I admittedly first encountered as an animated gif on I watched a developer guide someone through a bit of the game, and it has a type of dumb humor that works pretty well with a crowd. One scene had someone's head slowly explode in a super gross way and it made me cringe and laugh at the same time. The developers seem to be really into it, and the completely original metal soundtrack is quite impressive.