Day 3 (Oct 31st): Video Games
Day 3 saw my participation in the first of several video game tournaments run by Allen and the rest of the staff. At 2pm, there was a robin round tourney in which everyone plays everyone else, and the one with the most points wins that session. Same with all the other games. The one with the most points at the end is the team winner and then squares off against the other team winner for the ultimate victor. This was called Best of Fighters with 5 different games on 5 different systems. The participants are divided into teams by random order.
The games were in order: Fate/Unlimited Codes for the JPN Playstation 2, Ramna one/half on SNES, Soul Calibur IV on PS2, Street Fighter Alpha 3 on Dreamcast, and King of Fighters 2006 on PS2. The winner from each team would then square off in a mystery game, which has a fun little story to it.
First up for my team was Fate/Unlimited Codes. Having only tried the game once before, I proceeded to lose very badly, and received 4th place. Other potential excuses (that are totally valid...) are I picked the wrong characters, my timing was off, or the other players were projectile and move spammers. The lack of truth to this doesn't really matter, and it was still a fun time.
2nd was Ramna, a very slow and clunky game with an actual button for jumping. Perhaps moreso than any game I've seen, Ramna was clearly designed to capitalize on the fighting game craze of the 1990's. I cleaned up with 3 wins, but this is only because I figured out how the moves worked and I was lucky to pick a character with an anti-air move. Several of the characters have moves that are executed by pressing two buttons together; that's right, no hadokens, no charge buttons, nothing. It's really simple and there is seemingly no strategy to it. Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike this ain't. Moving on.
3rd was Soul Calibur IV, which I've only played once before. I think everyone knows how this game plays, so let's just describe the results. I cleaned up again due to my knowledge of combos with Cervantes, Siegfried, and Misturugi. The other players mostly resorted to button mashing, which made for some tough matches. I like the Calibur series, but I don't think it will ever be as good as it was on the Dreamcast again.
4th was Street Fighter Alpha 3 on Dreamcast. Not being a fan of the DC's very bad directional pad, I was wise not to pick Zangief, as I didn't think I would be able to pull out his grapple moves consistently, so I stuck with the cheaper shotos like Ryu and Akuma. I lost one, but won twice, with Cammy being my last choice.
5th was KOF 2006. Not having a KOF game since 2001, I was glad to get the practice. This entry, while being in 3D, has all the familiar elements of the KOF universe. The oddest addition is that a lot more moves are capable of linking into multiple hit combos. I felt like I was playing Tekken, but it still allowed me to do well to move on. I should've picked Billy Kane, he destroys all!
Having won my overall team, the winners moved on the Gamecube for a Naruto fighting game. The funny thing is that Laban originally had Capcom VS SNK2 EO as the mystery game. Apparently there is a multiplayer glitch in EO that prevents combat, making the 1st player controls default to taunts and poses. That's really too bad as that game is a lot better than the chosen one.
Naruto seemed to play more like a button masher/Smash Brothers clone than a true fighting game. Super Combos can be automatically done with the X button, making high damage little more than a race to a full meter, especially if you use Naruto, whose super is a grapple and therefore unblockable if you are in range. I actually forgot the controls on the final match, so I ended up with 2nd place. Overall, this tournament had a lot of really great games and will definitely make me want to sign up for future tourneys at Bakuretsu Con and elsewhere. I always assumed that only experts entered such tournaments and I would stand no chance; I'm glad I was wrong.
Day 3 (Oct 31st): Panels
1pm - Animecons.com Behind the Scenes - This panel was a general overview on the finest website for finding out information about conventions. All the cons I've attended have either been listed here or I've contacted through links provided. It is a rather useful primer for con neophytes and veterans alike. The presenter/webmaster seems to encounter his fair share of neophytes, due to the many horror stories he shared with the audience. This included the many, many emails from people who regularly believe that animecons.com runs all the conventions listed on its site. I guess they don't take the logistics of such an undertaking into account, as it is quite impossible for the same group of people to run the dozens of anime/sci-fi/video gaming conventions that occur around the world throughout the year. It sure doesn't stop them from emailing animecons.com with a variety of inane questions though.
One person asked about working (for a salary no less) to travel to conventions for reporting! As a reporter myself, I'd really like to get in on this proposed arrangement, imagined or not. Quite a sweet deal, I would think...
The host took many of these humorous emails in stride, almost like it has been a natural side effect of running a compendium on conventions around the world. Plus such stories are great fodder for convention related horror stories. Thanks for sharing!
I'm excited about the future of animecons.com, their podcasting efforts, and their consideration of forming a site to help for arranging hotel roommates. Poor otakus everyone would rejoice!
11pm - Vampires Don't Sparkle - This Anti-Twilight gathering was an encore from Connecticon, with the familiar humor and ranting of Jodi, a huge fan of Lewis Black. I could go on about why such panels are a necessity, but I urge you to watch the actual panel that I've posted online. I will say that the smaller audience encouraged more charades and fan participation. It was unfortunate that it didn't last for the 2.5 hours that it did at Connecticon, in which the larger audience allowed for greater diversity of topics rather than just a rant with audience participation. Think of Bakuretsu Con's version as Jodi: The Alternate Cut.
12am (technically Sunday...) was Con Horror Stories - Baku Edition. Having never attended a panel like this, I'm really wishing I had captured it for posterity, if only to carry to future cons to help add to the list. This panel was a collection of sad, perhaps even morbid tales about unfortunate events at conventions. While many of them can be humorous, others are decidedly not. Sparse details will suffice, I'd think. Here are the titles of some of the stories, and I'll leave them to your imagination, where they are sure to be more outrageous: 35 Year Old Multi-Functional Yaoi Creep, Alcohol in Excess mixed with Cosplay, Teacher Assumes Congoer had jailbait girlfriend, No Babies at Conventions, Wrong Camera Angles at AnimeBoston equals Austin Powers silhouette joke, and Steampunk Corset needs food!
These stories were very amusing to listen to. I'll definitely be attending similar future gatherings at all the conventions I go to!
Day 4 (November 1st): Video Games
At most conventions, Sunday is a day with fewer events; a kind of wrap-up day mostly for meetings and feedback. This was not the case with Bakuretsu Con, who had some tourneys still running. A coworker of mine at www.original-gamer.com, Neil Chatterjee, teamed up in Mario Kart: Double Dash against 3 other teams.
I was the driver due to my familiarity with the game while Neil handled the weapons. The overseer decided on random for the courses, which led to Rainbow Road as the first course selected. I love the DD Rainbow Road as it is highly colorful, has great music, and you can actually fall off, making careful driving a necessity. In the words of Neil: "I knew it was going to be completely unpredictable and utterly crazy, and was just going to enjoy it since that place requires about 50/50 luck/skill."
It was also funny how many bananas were got to litter the track with, making it even tougher for safe driving. The results were actually a 3-way tie; as each team beat each other team once, which allowed everyone to receive Baku Bucks! This convention currency could be traded for DVD's, strategy guides and many other items. A very cool prize!
Overall, Bakuretsu Con's video game tournaments were all very good and have encouraged me to participate at future conventions. I kind of always thought that gaming experts were lurking, ready to demolish any challengers, so I shied away from them. It was good to find out that this isn't always the case.
I had a mini-interview with Laban, as he was reluctant to do a full interview on camera. He's been gaming for a long time, and had a big collection from many different systems. Valerie also had a big collection from many different systems. Now they have a HUGE collection! Sounds like a good summary to me!
He is definitely a fan of import gaming, as the above can attest to. He recognizes the greatness of the underrated Sega Saturn and its excellent ability at arcade perfect fighter translations. He also told me a story of how he got copies of Taiko Drum Master for PS2 for 10 dollars because the store was trying to get rid of them. Clearance items are often the key to great finds at Target and other stores.
He hopes to have Beatmania for PS2 next year, with its fun controller. Maybe if DJ Hero is a success, Konami's sound simulation series will receive greater recognition in the United States. Thanks for your efforts at making the gaming room awesome and looking forward to next year.
Day 4 (November 1st): Panels
11am - I attended an encore of the Yankee Battle Auction set in the Main Events room (or close to it). Originally scheduled for 10am, this event played out just like Friday's session. The big difference for me was that I played more for fun than big prizes. To the end, I stole a bad prize from someone hoping to be voted wrong prize. Unfortunately, I was unaware that people don't tend to vote for people who steal bad prizes. Too bad, I wasn't picked for the top prize, but it still worked out in the end. This is because I traded my theft (pantyhose) for a manga set in the 1980's. The only thing that could have made that trade better if there were cats in it.
12pm was Music in Video Games and Anime, a not-at-all fanboyish discussion about why this music is better than anything else. Speakers were setup for audience members to share their favorite pieces that the crowd may have been unfamiliar with. Neil and I were the main contributors after the initial discussion. It was a small group affair, making the music-sharing feel like a friends only experience.
I shared the Black Mages' versions of To Zanarkand and Otherworld from Final Fantasy X. The reaction was interesting, with many saying they didn't dislike it. They did ask for the track names afterwards, so I guess that was a recommendation. I should have played Birthday Cake by Cibo Matto to see if the 9/10 rule (most people HATE it the first time they hear it) held up. It would have been amusing!
Neil also offered songs from the Last Remnant and other games via his PSP. Lastly, I went on about the greatness of Actraiser's composer Yuzo Koshiro, a man who can really do a lot musically even with lacking technology. Conventions really need more panels like this, in which the premise is for the audience to not just comment, but actively engage in the discussion. I'll be sure to mention it at future conventions. Thanks for the inspiration, Bakuretsu Con!
2pm saw the Video Game Industry panel. I expected it to include a discussion on the politics on the industry, but it was more focused on game production, skills required, and how to get into the industry. I thought it was an interesting discussion, even though I am a video game journalist more than anything. Future talent is always emerging and it is helpful to know where to find such talents and how to give your creative vision form. Speaking as an aspiring author as well, it definitely seems that there are more forums/schools to facilitate entry into the video game industry. It doesn't speak well of the publishing industry when the hardest part of publishing a book isn't actually writing it...
Leaving the VG panel early, I spent some time and the Bakuretsu Con Feedback panel next door, which quickly filled up for the closing party at 3pm. Feedback had the standard recommendations of better schedules, more clear schedules and suchlike. Let's not forgot the more personal recommendations of showering and deodorant for cosplayers! It seems that no matter how often you mention this at conventions, it still need to be said!
The closing party was epic, as a lot of people attended to see the winner of the big prize gathered by Bakuretsu Con's many anime sponsors. The prize totaled over 400 dollars, consisted of highly detailed resin statues of anime figures and other prizes I can't quite remember. This is why I should've taped the ceremony. It would've been great footage for montage videos as well as a sense of the familiarity of the convention. The big prizewinner was an individual who couldn't have deserved it more (names again!) He had been volunteering at Bakuretsu Con for several years and donating his time to make the convention great, so the heads couldn't think of a more appropriate winner.
He really cleaned up, also winning free admission next year, much to the jealously of several congoers that I talked to. That prize was determined by the registration number listed on the back of con badges. I had been wondering what the purpose of those was, other than bragging rights perhaps?
In summation, Bakuretsu Con is the best small convention that I've been able to cover so far. The video games selection was amazing, the panels interesting, the guests friendly, and there was just a palatable sense of fun and community throughout the weekend. Attendance was down at bit this year at 475 individuals, so I hope my recommendation will encourage you to check out this Vermont convention next year. It will be held at the same location a week earlier, so no Halloween conflict potential. Looking forward to 2010!
Bakuretsu Con 2009 Montage!