Here are a few of my favorite things: Nintendo, Penny Arcade, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Pokemon, Harvest Moon, Fallout, Dungeons and Dragons, books, dice, Professor Layton, Shadow of the Colossus, Minecraft, and so much more. I'm going to talk a lot about video games, I sincerely hope you don't mind.

Newest paper sculpt project!

Sonic Screwdriver trio for my friend's birthday.

An interview with Adam Harum of Transolar Galactica.

They achieved their Kickstarter goal, and now the world gets more of their award winning sci-fi comedy!

Doctor Who themed lip balm!

Brought to you from Earthtastic! and A Bit of Geek.

Minecraft paper sculpt!

My submission to the Mojang community art contest. Watch the video!

A TARDIS desk lamp!

Instructions and babbling on how to make a TARDIS lamp from foam core!

Friday, September 28, 2012

It's Brighter On The Inside!

Since falling inexplicably deep into the Doctor Who fandom I have decided that I need to be surrounded by all things Doctor Who. Thus far I have some socks and the tenth Doctor's screwdriver, but I need more. MORE! The BBC website has offerings that are drool worthy, but for the Whovian on a budget I have a solution: a homemade TARDIS desk lamp!

Bow to the TARDIS, for it gives light and is good.

I tend to be willy nilly with my projects, which means that I don't have plans or a pattern to show you. If/when I choose to build another one it'll have to be from scratch and experience. I can tell you all what I used though, and give as much advice as possible. So hold onto your hats while I present: how to build a TARDIS!

This is going to be a little long, but please bear with me! Or at least just scroll through and look at the pictures :D

 Overview of materials used! Click to embiggen.

More specific breakdown of smaller items. Click to embiggen.

It didn't seem like so many materials as I was making it. Also, the lamp piece
is a "candelabra" size. This is important! Get the matching light bulbs.
Click to embiggen.

I had all of the supplies I needed at my house already as a result of working on a variety of craft projects in the past. The only thing I needed to go out and buy was the lamp pieces. It's important to note that the variety of glues DID come in handy. Rubber cement was great for working with the transparency paper, while the white craft glue was for assembling the foam core pieces. Super glue was necessary for the lamp piece on the top of the TARDIS, and a hot glue gun (not pictured) was invaluable when it came down to pieces of foam core that wouldn't cooperate.

Let's get started!

First you want to figure out the dimensions of your finished TARDIS. My main panels measured 15cm by 23cm (working in centimeters was much simpler than inches), with the top parts getting gradually smaller (I eye balled it based on this image) and the base measuring 21cm by 21cm squared, and 3 1/2 cm high. This extra 3 1/2 cm on the base accounted for the cord space needed from the lamp piece.

Once you have your dimensions you can then start drawing in where your 'Police Public Call Box' sign will go, then where your eight windows will go. Be sure to account for the layered side pieces that give the box its extra dimensions and detail. Cutting puzzle notches in the base piece as well as the four sides of your TARDIS will allow you to easily take the TARDIS off of the base piece to access the light bulb once it's fully assembled.

That third image there should say "CUT A HUGE SQUARE OUT OF IT, or else how on EARTH will the light shine through the lantern on top?!" And, as a note, the raised area in the first image was achieved by cutting the paper layer off of the foam core. It's a slow process, but not impossible. 

For the top portion I glued the shorter outer square first, then glued the taller inner square to it (image one). I don't know if it would have been easier to do it the other way around or not! This wasn't so much guesswork as it was measuring and assessing my master image to try and create similar proportions.

It may be worth noting that, at this point, the ONLY PIECES that I had glued together were the top pieces. Those three square pieces are one unit (image three), but they are NOT yet glued to the TARDIS as a whole. You need to have easy access to the underside of the top area in order to install your lantern. Depending on how you paint, your TARDIS will probably need a second coat.

Useful tip (maybe): I painted on the rough side of the transparency paper. This allowed me to wet a paper towel and remove finger prints and smudges from the smooth side once I was done handling the transparency, and before I glued it to the panels. The 0.20mm black micron pen comes in very handy for that Free For Use Of Public sign! I recommend practicing a few times, and only gluing the paper onto the transparency once you're completely satisfied.

Useful tip #2: make sure you add your window bars to the top windows BEFORE you glue the transparency sheets onto the foam core panels. I had to add mine after the fact and it was really difficult and they didn't turn out how I wanted.

Make sure you glue support beams into the inside of the TARDIS before adding your lid piece, or else what will the lid piece sit on? It'd just fall to the bottom of the unit, and that's completely counter productive.

Also, a little note on affixing the metal legs to the lantern top: white glue didn't work, and neither did rubber cement. I had to use a combination of glue and newspaper to create a "seal" over the bent piece of metal. As you can see, I set the lantern lid and its four bent pieces of metal to dry overnight on my white glue bottle. I'm happy to say that it worked! The next morning the newspaper had dried and successfully kept the bent pieces of metal in place. I'd love to find a sturdier solution, though.

My best answer for the glass lantern was to take a strip of transparency paper, make a tube, glue it together with super glue (and nearly glue my fingers together in the process) and then coat the whole thing in a layer of rubber cement. The purpose of the rubber cement was to kind of hide the super glue marks. I like to tell myself that it gives the thing an old, sagging glass aesthetic. ...

For the signs, I really should have lined them up OVER the "door" panels before I wrote on them. If you look at the TARDIS in pictures, you can see that "Public Call" are lined up perfectly over the center of the two panels. Mine are a little bit off.

Once I had my lamp parts in hand, I realized that I'd need to add risers to my lower base in order to make room for the lamp cord. When I went to add these pieces, I found that my lower base piece had warped quite a bit during the painting process. Bummer. I had enough foam core left over though, so I just made a new one, careful to not get it too wet.

Once your raised base is painted, dried, and has a hole in the center to accommodate the lightbulb end of your lamp piece, MAKE SURE THERE'S AN IDENTICAL HOLE IN YOUR PUZZLE PIECE BASE FOR THE ACTUAL TARDIS. Apologizes for the caps, I don't mean to yell, but it'd be kind of difficult to cut this hole after you've already glued the two pieces together.

Make sure the holes are just a hair too small, that way the lightbulb end of your lamp piece will fit snugly. Screw in a lightbulb, gently push your fully assembled TARDIS onto the puzzle piece bottom, and you're DONE!

 Lights off.

 Lights on.

TA-DA! TAR-DIS! See what I did there?

And there you have it! This took me around twenty hours or so and I had a lot of fun building it. My paints were acrylic, so any stray blotches were cleaned up easily with water. The most dangerous part was working with the super glue, and your friendly Home Depot associate will help you pick out the perfect light bulbs. You know, the ones that won't get really hot inside of the TARDIS and set everything on fire.

I hope that this was entertaining, informative, or useful, or even all of the above! I tried to take as many photos and notes as possible, but it would have been most beneficial if I had made a master copy of my plans that could be uploaded to you nice people out on the internet. I'd love to build this again out of wood, and someday full size, and when that happens I'll do my best to make blueprints!

Have you made any wonderful Doctor Who items? Please show them to me!! If you are interested in building your own TARDIS lamp and you have questions, then please please ask!


*all photos property of Miranda Eubanks/abitofgeek
*TARDIS/Doctor Who rights belong to BBC, I assume.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Burger King to Sell Wii U Toys. My Inner Child Screams.

Word on the internet streets is that soon, very soon, Burger King will begin selling kid's meals that include Wii U related toys. As a former fast food toy collecting junkie, this makes me feel worried (and overweight).

Danger. Delicious danger.

Adult concerns of water retention aside, I think this is cool! I could get into a deep discussion on the moral standings of unhealthy food companies capitalizing on a child's love for toys, but I'll skip that and go straight to a relevant story of my own: the year of Pokemon toys at Burger King.

It must have been 1999 or 2000, Pokemon hysteria had not quite yet reached a boiling point for the nation, but I was in pretty deep. Burger King announced that it would be carrying pokeballs complete with a secret Pokemon inside with their kids meals but that also, ALSO, they were selling, for a mere pittance, life-sized pokeballs that contained 23 karat gold plated collectible Pokemon cards.

You only need to see the first few minutes of this to see what the toys looked like.
Feel free to watch the whole half an hour, if you'd like.

I went absolutely nuts. Like, begging my mom and grandma to take me to Burger King two or three times a week so that I could collect as many of the toys as possible. Not all 150(+1) original Pokemon were available, but a good number of them were. I was overjoyed to see that Oddish was on the list, and I think I may have died and gone to heaven briefly when I cracked open a tiny pokeball one day and a squashed, plushie Oddish fell out.

There were only six gold plated cards to collect, and try as I might I only ever got three of them. It was a dangerous time of picking up extra chores, pestering adults to drive me to town, devouring excessive numbers of fries, and having my heart beat nearly out of my chest as I waited to see which Pokemon was coming my way. I held my breath in the car, waiting to hear if they had a new batch of gold plated cards in that week, crossing my fingers and wishing for one I hadn't yet purchased.

My hysteria took me to near burger eye makeup heights. [source]

This time period will live in infamy in my head. The best kids meal toys ever. Well, them and when the toys were watches of different Nickelodeon shows. That was another frenzy of mine, but instead of collectibles on the shelf it resulted in me wearing multiple watches on each wrist. What a bamf.

Moving along! What makes the Wii U toys even more dangerous (if that's even possible) is that they will (supposedly) have NFC functionality with the gamepad. REAL WORLD APPLICATIONS. Better start saving money now and scheduling in some work outs to offset those burgas!


*burger photos from the following locations: 1, 2, 3, 4

Monday, September 24, 2012

To Apple, With Confusion. Why Are You Update Blocking Me?

In fall of 2008 I acquired my Macbook and it was rather love at first sight. Fast forward (almost) exactly four years later and the love goggles have worn out. This thing is slow, so slow, and has a passion for locking up during minimal web-surfing sessions. I try to keep very little stored on the hard drive (I use an external for most things) and I've done a RAM upgrade before.

And then my computer was lighting fast! ...if only. [source/source]

While a buggy computer is certainly cause for gripe, it's not exactly a rock and a hard place situation. However, with Apple's insistence on releasing an updated OS about once a year, my basic functionality has gone nearly out the window. The majority of programs that I'd like to use require at least 10.6, and sadly my computer is running 10.5.8. In my Windows user mindset I think, "No problem. Just grab a more recent version of the OS and off I go", but Apple has other plans.

I prefer both Mac and Windows. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, and each offer different types of satisfaction and use. For instance I love being able to dig into a Windows machine to fix a problem. With Macs, I love that all hardware works seamlessly together without various company's incompatibility concerns. I absolutely prefer the price point of a Windows machine, and I cannot ignore the visual appeal of Apple products. Apple haters be damned, they are undeniably visionaries.

So shiny. So sleek. [source]

I find myself quite trapped with my Macbook though, given my "ancient" OSX version. I'd love to pop onto the Apple website, purchase Mountain Lion and solve my program compatibility issues. But, no. Apple doesn't want to make it that simple. Mountain Lion is purchasable online only through the Mac App Store. The Mac App Store does not exist in 10.5.8. I need OSX 10.6.6, an update of Snow Leopard, which cannot be purchased from Apple online. That's right, the software necessary to run Mountain Lion is not available on the Apple website.

Now, I find myself asking, nearly yelling with passion, why Apple would prevent me from obtaining an update. This situation isn't exactly user experience at its finest. Additionally, even if I were to get my anxious hands on a disc version of Mountain Lion (OSX 10.8), it would not install on my system. Why, you ask? Because one of the the requirements of 10.8 is that the computer already be running 10.6. It's a vicious circle.

 This picture should have been a circle graph that I made, but I haven't  reinstalled all 
of my programs since wiping my machine a few days ago, so I'm improvising here!

I believe that I should be able to get a few more good years out of this laptop, and I also believe that Apple should facilitate that. I'd love to know why Snow Leopard is no longer obtainable through the great wide internets. I'm willing to pay for the update, for goodness sake! And, as evidenced by multiple requests for help via Google search, so are many others who are so out of the loop* as to still be running 10.5.8.

Dear Internet, what would you suggest? Do I simply need to deal with the "Genius" bar at an Apple store? What if they laugh at my early 2008 body? I don't think I can handle the technological humiliation.


*This is a joke directed at Apple, not users of 10.5.8. They must think that we're out of the loop or computer challenged for waiting "so long" to upgrade.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Puppeteer For PS3, Not Your Average Side Scroller!

Some time ago I saw a brief snippet of information about Puppeteer on the Playstation Network. After reading the short description I went, "Well that sounds really freaking strange" and moved on with my life. Cut to a few days ago and I read a much fuller and more involving preview of the game and I felt exponentially more interested.

So what do we all think? A puppet boy on a spinning theatre stage fighting sort-of-marionettes while wielding a giant pair of magical scissors, all in an effort to obtain his soul and get back to his normal life.

Sounds like a trip and a half.

This article over at Wired has some really cool information, such as the game and art director Gavin Moore designed the game for his son, who was frequently bored with games because of similar levels and repeated use of the same in-game assets. The result is that Puppeteer is a game that is constantly changing scenery; every five to ten minutes according to Moore.

It's a 2D platformer at heart, and is very reminiscent of Little Big Planet in its look and feel. Very wobbly and exciting, with a lot of texture and depth.

Puppeteer is set to release.... sometime in 2013. Keep your eyes on it!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Writings of a Noob "Explaining" Netrunner.

On Friday night I had a board game marathon. I know how to party hard. We kicked things off with a few cans of soda and a riveting game of Carcassonne. After trying it at PAX for the first time it has become an instant favorite. Good thing one of my housemates owns a copy! After winning the game by two little points (which was marvelous because originally we thought that he had won by one point, but it turned out that one of my farmers round-about-ly connected to three completed cities, booyah) we moved onto a surprisingly confusing session of Toboggans of Doom. I've had that for a while, a PAX of yore purchase. It's fun for the most part, but needed more play testing before it emerged into the heaving world of sleek gameplay instructions and cards that are fully colored in.
The shiny new box! Netrunner came out a little over a week ago.

Against my better judgement, it being past midnight and myself being exhausted, I agreed to play Netrunner, the newly released (re-released?) card game from Fantasy Flight. In the 90s, Netrunner was a collectible card game (CCG) that was, apparently, loved greatly by my housemate and his twin brother. Considering the way the game is played, though, the collection aspect was a challenge and ultimately the game failed.

Bear with me as I attempt to explain my experience playing Netrunner. It's not untrue to say that I was extremely confused for the majority of the game. It was tons of fun though! The story here is that one player is a hacker of sorts, and the other is an evil corporation. The hacker must steal Agendas from the corporation, and the corporation sets up Programs to keep the hacker out. This is the sort of game that would benefit greatly from a playing mat, at least to start out. It was difficult for me to keep track of which cards were supposed to go where.

You can't tell from this photo, but there was high action going on.

Eventually I figured out the turns: hackers get four actions, and corporations get three. I played the hacker, so I made sure to lay down a variety of Icebreakers, cards that would allow me to break through the protective Programs that the corporation player laid down. My objective was to collect seven points worth of Agenda cards, and I came so very close. As the game progressed, I had three Icebreakers, a Hardware card that allowed me extra RAM (very helpful), and a lot of additional Link points to prevent Tagging from the corporation. As I write this I feel that I'm making little to no sense. Forgive me, maybe?

KNOW THIS! Netrunner is a lot of fun, but, as with all complex board and card games, make sure you have a solid understanding of the rules before playing. Also, go in with a lot of patience. Since my housemate was such a fan of the original CCG, and loves reading game manuals, he knew a lot about the gameplay process and he helped me along. There was a lot of me showing him my cards going, "Will this be useful?"

A close up of the "Action" card and my character card, complete with money tokens.

Ultimately he won because he set me a mega trap. As the hacker hacks into the Programs set by the corporation, the hacker doesn't know what he or she will find. The corporation can be protecting valuable Assets and Agendas, or it can be creating a trap. As I executed a Run, what ended up being my last Run, I uncovered a deathly trap, one that caused six net damage and destroyed me. If only I had picked a different Program to Run through.

The card on the left brought certain death. The right brought winning.
Unknowingly, I chose certain death.

Thanks for sticking around, I know that this probably made no sense whatsoever. In order to get better at writing about board, card, and tabletop games I guess I'll have to play them more. What a drag!


*all pictures are property of abitofgeek/MJ. Netrunner is property of Fantasy Flight!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Minecraft paper sculpt video!

Right before PAX I posted some shots of a Minecraft paper sculpt piece I did for a Mojang fan art contest. I've finally compiled the video for everyone to see! Enjoy!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Wii U Price and Release Date At Long Last.

Yesterday Nintendo had some sort of planned information exchange, no big deal (the faked nonchalance is obvious here, right?), and it turns out they decided to finally provide a real release date and price for the upcoming Wii U console. Here's what you need to know!

Release date: November 18th, 2012 (U.S.)

Price for Basic Model: $299.99

-white system
-8GB of storage
-one game pad
-game pad stylus
-game pad AC cable
-console AC and HDMI cable
-sensor bar

Price for Deluxe Model: $349.99 

-black system
-32GB of storage
-Nintendo Land
-one game pad
-game pad stylus
-game pad AC cable
-console AC and HDMI cable
-sensor bar
-a digital promotion program that translates
purchases to points for the eShop
-console stand
-game pad stand
-game pad (charging) cradle

Both systems will be backwards compatible with "most Wii games and accessories". Which games wouldn't be? I find that very perplexing. I appreciate Nintendo's dedication to backwards compatibility; titles last much longer this way. The $350 price tag for the deluxe model is more than I had anticipated, but considering the greater amount of memory, the included game, and all of the additional accessories I can see that easily adding up to at least fifty extra dollars. For those that aren't interested in the accessories or in owning Nintendo Land but you want additional memory, know that you can get more space via external USB drives.

Other big announcements during today's presentation included a plethora of games, Nintendo TVii, NFC inclusion, and more information on the games in Nintendo Land and the Miiverse.

Interestingly, some Wii U games will support up to five players.

A lot of the newest features look promising enough, but their applications still seem few and far between. My skepticism is on the rise after watching the video for Nintendo TVii. It seems that Nintendo is attempting to reinvent the way people watch TV, but services like TiVO and Hulu already do that. There are almost too many options at this point. Also, all of the football features seem nice, but since I don't care about football I found myself wondering why I should care about the sports specific game pad features.

The Wii U will be pre-orderable at a variety of retailers including GameStop, Best Buy, Walmart and more, as well as

Did anyone watch the live presentation? I received my information via the Nintendo of America twitter feed. What do we think about the pricing and the games? What about Nintendo TVii? If anyone is excited about the applications, I'd love to hear it!


*All images are property of Nintendo, and were borrowed from the Nintendo of America twitter feed or the Nintendo website.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Amazing artist round-up: video games and geekery!

With the internet being the vast expanse that it is, I go back and forth between feeling amazed that I find good things at all, and miffed at the number of ridiculous things that I encounter. This is most evident in the amazing game-based artwork that crops up from time to time. 

Two artists I very much enjoy: Zac Gorman of Magical Game Time esteem, and Wednesday Wolf, with his drippy, macabre, watercolor Pokemon masterpieces. With their inspiring works in mind, I set out to try and find additional dedicated art masters to keep an eye on, and in the process I want to (hopefully) share some new artists with you as well!

Zac Gorman: Magical Game Time

I'm pretty sure most people have seen his work by now, but I'm including it anyway!

                                   source                                                                                      source

Sonic running like an idiot is the first Zac Gorman piece I ever saw. It was on tumblr, such a wonderous place, and after that I found his Magical Game Time haven. I've been enthralled with his whimsical, slighty-gif'd, game-based pieces ever since. And, if there were any doubt, his UH-mazing 'Joust' piece sealed the deal for sure.

I found this guy (name unknown!) while cruising through video game items on Etsy. His pieces are all so awesome and unique, I hope to purchase one someday! He does paintings that aren't Pokemon, of course, but it's hard to deny how great it is seeing some of my favorite pocket monsters in twisted, badass form.

                                          source                                                                                 source

It would appear that no popular culture subject is safe from his wicked brush and mind, and I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief and thanks for that fact. His work is all for sale, and you can bet that I WILL own that Oddish piece someday. Oddish for life.

These little gems are created by Mel K., and I commend her for her variety and talent! I really love perler bead art, but I'm pretty sure I don't have the patience for it. One of my favorite aspects of her work is the diversity of use: coasters, decoration, pins, magnets, dioramas, and more. With glue and any number of backings, you can have her work anywhere in your house, office, car, boat, airplane, spaceship, etc. 

                                                source                                                                     source

All of her items are reasonably priced and look very well made! It's tempting to buy a bunch and create my own Mario World play set on my fridge! Actually, that's an amazing idea. Time to update my wish list!

A Penny Arcade forumer by the name of LewieP's Mummy runs Canvas and Paints, and it's a chronicle of the art commissions she paints for people, as well as charities. All proceeds go toward either Oxfam or Child's Play. Her paintings are really well crafted and very diverse because of her client's requests. If you'd like to commission something from her you'll have to wait a while, she's usually backed up!

                                                source                                                                    source

The Professor Layton and Limbo pieces are but a small sampling of her work. I definitely recommend that you check out her site and follow the progress of current pieces from pencil to finished painting!

Sometimes I forget that deviantART is still a buzzing hive of artistic activity, and the times that I do remember I am generally greatly rewarded. Case in point: botjira from deviantART. botjira makes these wonderful paper collages, with the more popular pieces being Pokemon related. As a budding paper artist, it's exciting to see the medium being put forth into the video game world! These pieces differ in that they're entirely two dimensional, but they have no less talent or beauty to them.

                                                 source                                                               source

Be sure to click to embiggen and see the detail! I am just in love with the textures and separation of subject and background. The diverse paper types and everything are blowing my mind. They make me want to dabble in collage sculpting! Great art is inspiring, after all.

Those are my artist picks for today! I know I've hardly scratched the surface, so I'd just love it if you told me YOUR favorite gaming artists! Or your favorite artists in general. Comment or tweet @abitofgeek with your wonderful, arty information :D


Monday, September 10, 2012

Fans of Pogo: this is how he creates his remixes!

Digital remixing master Pogo has released a video detailing the technical aspects of his trance-inducing tracks. He gets quite jargon-y, and it can be difficult to pay attention seeing as his accent is so great, but for the technologically inclined and equipped, there is some fantastic information provided.

He states quite eloquently that he cannot tell anyone how to make music. It's something that "you have to feel out", which is exactly why I'll never be a famous composer because I don't get how music works. All the same, for those music remixers out there that have always wondered and dreamed of his equipment and specific steps, your wondering days are over. Quite kind of him, really!

Here's my favorite Pogo track: Alice.


(originally found via nofilmschool)

Friday, September 7, 2012

PAX 2012 Was Amaz-O-Matic! Part 2: Everything!

Welcome to the second part of my attempt to sum up PAX Prime 2012. On Wednesday I told you all about the games I was able to play, and today I will attempt to portray Enforcing, my experience with tabletop games, and my run-in with The Doctor (spoiler alert: it was a little embarrassing and awesome).

My very special Enforcer shirt for PAX. 

I worked the afternoon shift in the handheld lounge, so for six hours each day I was surrounded by calm and happy DS gamers (very few PSP/Vita peoples) and incredibly comfortable bean bag chairs. Nintendo's addition of the Mii Street Pass for the 3DS created a sort of mega meta game at PAX: how many other opportunities does one have to collect over four hundred new Miis in a weekend? The handheld lounge is next to two sets of escalators, so I essentially had a conveyor belt of Street Passes to collect as fellow 3DS owners streamed past me all through the weekend.

 Some shots from my Enforcer shift in the handheld lounge at PAX.

Last year was the first time that I spent any significant time in the tabletop area of PAX. I had such an incredible time that I was determined to do so again. Sadly I was only able to play games on Saturday night, but at least I made the most of it and stayed at the convention until two a.m.! I had high hopes for games of Catan, Carcassonne, Cards Against Humanity, and new titles that I hadn't yet heard of. Catan was a no go, but I did end up playing Carcassonne for the first time. It was so much fun that I almost became angry that I hadn't ever played it before.

The large city that you see forming ended up taking over almost half the board!!

The rest of my tabletop time was all Cards Against Humanity. Originally it was going to be myself and two friends, then they invited two friends, then those two invited some more, and eventually total strangers approached us asking if we had room for more people to join. It was simultaneously very fun and the most horrible, awful thing I've ever participated in. The card options are truly despicable, just downright atrocious. The right combination will most likely be hilarious, and I find an outright shame in winning a hand and having to identify the combo as mine. Seeing as I'm so easily offended I'm really not sure why I bought the game; I think it'll be worth it to have around in the future though.

Cards Against Humanity spawns gems such as these.

The convention center was ripe with brilliant cosplay this year, and I am retroactively kicking myself for not taking enough pictures. Again. I walked around a lot of Saturday with my camera out but somehow failed to take lots of photos! After seeing so many cool costumes last year I promised myself that I would stop people for pictures this year. I failed miserably. Even though I know that costumed attendees expect to be stopped for photos, I still feel bad preventing them from being on their merry way! I choose to look from and admire from afar. But all of that changed when I saw The Doctor.

On Saturday evening I was leaving my Enforcer post to go and find friends. As I prepared to round a corner, a guy dressed as the tenth Doctor appeared in front of me. I was very excited and attempted to gather my wits to say something along the lines of "Hey you're The Doctor! Awesome!" but instead, I gawked at him while walking backwards. My brain just couldn't string to words together! I started to feel very ridiculous, when suddenly he stopped walking, struck a dramatic pose, and pointed his sonic screwdriver at me. This broke the gawking spell, and instead I smiled hugely, and ran to give him a full body slam hug.

My buttoneering collection from PAX! I will definitely participate again next year.

It's important to note that I've never done that before! I always, as previously stated, admire from afar and go on my way. But for some reason seeing this guy dressed as the tenth Doctor just blew my mind and I was so happy and I had to hug him. As soon as I realized I was hugging a total stranger, I pulled away from him feeling highly embarrassed. He looked frightened, but it turns out he was concerned about smelling bad since it had been a long day, but he smelled of delicious Subway sandwiches, so all was well.

I ended up chatting with The Doctor through the weekend, and I played Dragon Dice with him on Sunday afternoon. For those that don't know, Dragon Dice is a dice game sort of styled after Magic: The Gathering. I'm under the impression that initially the game wasn't very fun. However, the company changed hands and it has been revitalized into a VERY fun roll-of-the-dice strategy game. I ended up buying a copy for myself.

The Doctor and me!

What about you, fellow PAX goers? What was your favorite piece of cosplay? How about the best tabletop game you played all weekend? How many people did you add to your street pass log? And while we're on the subject, does anyone want to be 3DS friends? I'll gladly post my friend number if anyone is interested! I'll be needing folk to play with once Animal Crossing 3DS comes out next year :D


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

PAX 2012 Was Amaz-O-Matic! Part 1: Games

It's not enough to simply say that PAX was wonderful, or awesome, or that I met a lot of incredible people, saw cool things, hugged the tenth Doctor, and played unreleased games that I've been excited about for close to two years. These separate moments add up to something much greater than their sum. Any PAX attendee will understand, and those who have been unable to go, well, it's not an easy task attempting to explain the unexplainable. I'm going to give it an honest try though! Today will be all about the games I played, complete with tiny previews/reviews, and Friday will bring the rest of my experiences.
PAX Prime 2012 street banners along Pike in Seattle, WA.

This PAX was my first year joining the Enforcers, and my eighth year attending (I'll never get over missing PAX Prime 2010 because of my Ireland trip). This added a whole new depth to the already overflowing show experience. My afternoon shifts in the handheld lounge allowed me plenty of time to explore the expo hall and play some upcoming Nintendo titles. If you were following me on twitter then you received a lot of exclamatory tweets regarding Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon, Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii U.

Giant, exciting banners at the Nintendo booth at PAX Prime 2012.

It's a relief to finally have played the Wii U. Mario looks just wonderful in full HD, and the built-in screen for the game pad is sharp sharp sharp. I was concerned about the games looking squished or crowded, but there's not a chance of that happening. The game pad is also extremely comfortable to hold. The size of it facilitates comfort for long gaming sessions, and guys especially will be glad that their hands won't cramp up like on slimmer DS systems. The buttons and joysticks were easy to access and not too close together. One of the best aspects of the game pad is that it's incredibly light and does not feel cheap. Nintendo really covered all of my concerns! I found it to be more comfortable than the regular Wii remote (when held sideways).

New Super Mario Bros. Wii U was a real treat to play. My short experience showed me that it's pretty much exactly like NSMB Wii, but I guess that's not a bad thing. There are some new power ups to play around with, and obviously new levels. I don't have much to say except I'm disappointed that designers decided to keep in the "freeze" mechanic when another player dies in multiplayer mode. That split-second freeze really messes with the players that are still alive. Why is it there?! I suppose I'll make a house rule: Dying In Mario Is Not Allowed.

Nintendo split their booth between the expo hall and the 2nd/3rd floor. Source

All of the 3DS demo systems were the new XL versions, and they were just gorgeous. I already own five DS systems so I initially imagined that I wouldn't be purchasing an XL. After playing one, however, it has become apparent that the hardware upgrades are totally worth it. I feel that the 3D was sharper, better, more enjoyable to look at. I generally play my 3D titles with the 3D slider set to off, so that's a good indicator of how impressed I was. Perhaps it's that the upper screen is so much larger. The stylus has been moved back to the right hand side (more sensible) and the 3D slider can be clicked into a fully off position, eliminating the ability to accidentally turn it on.

Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon translated beautifully to the 3DS XL. The controls were a little overwhelming at first, but after a few minutes of play everything fell into place. The game starts off with a sly demo section, allowing the player to become familiar with Luigi and his vacuum without the stress of a lot of ghosts. Players walk around a dark and creepy mansion, pointing a flashlight around to inspect rooms, and holding down the B button if they want to run instead of slowly walk. Once the ghost vacuum has been acquired, the game becomes a delicate mix of strategic flashlight pointing, followed by rapid suction action to capture ghosts. Progression to new rooms is facilitated via hidden keys, and I have to say that the developers hid each key quite cleverly, making Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon for the 3DS a sleuthing, challenging adventure.

Vigilant fans could collect these special Paper Mario: Sticker Star stickers at PAX 2012!

Paper Mario: Sticker Star was falsely advertised by Nintendo as being playable at PAX. I made a beeline for the 3DS stations on Friday morning so that I could play first thing, and was a little devastated to see that there was only a live demo being played for viewers. Admittedly it was the first time the demo was ever being played and gameplay footage couldn't be found anywhere else, but still! Disappointing! I wanted to experience it in all of its glory for myself. While the name 'Sticker Star' still rubs me the wrong way, the stickers look to be a fun mechanic in the game. I'm relieved that the developers returned to the turn based battle system, and I was surprised to see that travel from town to town now takes place on an over world map like the traditional Mario titles. I hope that this doesn't make the world feel small, because I genuinely liked traveling through each location and enjoying the paper-y graphics.

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask, the first 3D iteration of the series, came at me with the same cast of characters from The Last Spectre, similar beautiful music, and a familiar suitcase interface. The story is very elaborate, causing the beginning of the game to move at kind of a slow pace. Visuals change back and forth from the traditional old world 2D drawing style to a newer, three dimensional cel-shaded character design. I'm not too fond of the cel-shaded versions, I feel that they're lacking the charm normally found in the Layton designs. Miracle Mask looks to be a longer gameplay experience than previous versions, and I base this off of the new exploration mechanics. Environments are much larger, with more areas to search. There's also a zoom option to see specific locations in greater detail. If players hope to find all Hint Coins and puzzles, they're going to have to search very carefully! Miracle Mask will also offer daily new puzzle downloads.

Power of Illusion was playable at PAX 2012, much to my delight.

Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is a title that I was very anxious to play. I haven't seen a lot about it online, and I was hungry for gameplay videos. I'm pleased to report that it plays like a dream, looks super sharp, and is a truly wonderful spiritual sequel to Castle of Illusion for the original Sega. The graphics are a total throwback to the 16-bit era, and the developers even included iconic sound effects from the older title. Power of Illusion is a perfect fit for the 3DS, and players will also get to play in well known Disney locales, very similar to the formula for Kingdom Hearts. The paint/paint thinner mechanic from Epic Mickey for the Wii carries over well, especially with the touch screen and stylus. The upper screen hosts all of the action, while the lower screen serves as a map with hints to puzzles. During my play through there wasn't a shortage of paint and thinner to collect, so players won't have to worry about running out. Any fans of Castle/World of Illusion for the Sega are really going to love Power of Illusion.

Games I wanted to play but didn't get to: Adventure Time for 3DS, Pikmin 3 for Wii U, and Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for Wii. I can't even count how many other games I was unable to play. The expo hall was just enormous! For any people that attended PAX, which games did you get to play? Did you have any favorites?

Check back Friday for the second part of my post PAX 2012 summary: enforcing, tabletop games, The Doctor, and merchandise!


*all photos are property miranda eubanks/abitofgeek unless otherwise noted

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