Forget E3, the Game Developers Conference and the Penny Arcade Expo, staff writer Lee Miller is back from Otakon 2006 and ready to tell us all about it. Follow Lee as he explores three days of crazy costumes and loud music in this feature length feature we're calling Hot Baltimore Nights @ Otakon!
Although she looks inviting, take my advise and run far away from a girl like this!
I hate Baltimore City; it represents everything wrong with America, crime, poverty, disease, political corruption and decay. Ironically it is also home to the three best days of my year. Those days are Otakon, "the Convention of the Otaku generation." For those three days I run on one meal a day and four hours sleep. I wouldn't have it any other way. I tell my friends every year that the event is like the internet in person: hundreds of people and things you would only ever know about, see or meet on the internet under normal scenarios right there in your face for you to meet and see. It's surreal in the best possible way.
While the convention its self ran from Friday to Saturday, Thursday is the day to pick up your tickets to avoiding missing valuable time on Friday. This year's ticket pick up will forever remembered as "The Trials." I call it that
It's important that you have a cool new look when you go to something like Otakon!
because it felt like some sort of sadistic elimination contest; it happened to be the hottest day of the year, 104 degrees with suffocating humidity. As I stood in line with my friends, we saw many people being escorted and carried away, pale as sheets from heat exhaustion. Only those who knew how to hydrate and were in relatively good shape would get tickets that day. Even as an athlete, the heat made me sick to my stomach.
This year was a little bit different for me; this was the first time I would be going as a member of the press. This convention was the farthest away Defunct Games had officially been
I wonder why we don't have a review of Neo Geo Battle Coliseum on Defunct Games yet!
from their West Coast headquarters. I hoped to make an impact on those I met, or at least get them to visit the site. I was also hoping to get some interviews. Well, only half of that happened. While I handed out business cards and talked up Defunct Games in the video game room, I was left high and dry in the interview department. Judging from the responses to the blog post asking who everyone wanted to hear from (A.K.A. none) though, I'd say that you aren't too upset about that.
Last year, the game room featured two things that made the event unforgettable; Neo Geo AES' for all to play and Halo 2 tourneys on giant projection screens. I spent much of my time on both, getting hammered on SNK fighting games and doing some winning of my own in a free-for-all slayer tourney. Neither was present this year, though those exceptions weren't nearly enough to dampen my spirit, as there were many games present that I really needed to experience such as Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, Under Defeat, and Ridirgy. Halo
Otakon is a dream come true for Sega Saturn collectors!
2 was still there, if not in tourney form, so I took the liberty of setting up a two-on-two team slayer tourney myself. Blessed with the luck of an opponent who had a tendency to kill himself in the first round, I and my partner cruised to a relatively easy victory.
Before I get ahead of myself, the game room is extremely large, the size of a football field or more. Over against the wall was a row of old arcade cabinets. This year's selection was not as varied as before, but still included some great stuff such as multiple MVS cabinets and Konami's Turtles in Time. In front of that was the shooter table, drawing gamers who can't afford import copies of Radirgy and Under Defeat. The rest of the tables featured games such as Chu Chu Rocket, Bomberman, Puzzle Fighter, Pop n' Music, Naruto Gekitou
Ninja 4, Guilty Gear XX Slash, Tekken 5, Super Smash Brothers Melee, Soul Caliber 3, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Dead or Alive 4, Battle Stadium D.O.N. , Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, and Twinkle Star Sprites those just scratching the surface. There were also more versions of King of Fighters and Street Fighter then you can shake a fist at. The most popular multiplayer games were featured on massive plasma screen displays for all to see.
Tournaments were played in a number of multiplayer games, including Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Super Smash Brothers Melee, Soul Calibur 3, Beatmania II DX 11 RED, Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, Pop'n Music 12 Iroha, Naruto Gekitou Ninja 4, Tekken 5, DDR Extreme, Guilty Gear XX Slash and more.