Tired, broke, and completely fulfilled

The indie games of PAX Prime 2012

By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor

What was just here, and now seems so far gone, PAX Prime 2012 was everything it could have been and more—only better, because it involved video games and the Sega booth provided me with lollipops. For those not in the know, PAX Prime is an annual gaming convention that takes place in Seattle at the end of August, with sister conventions in Boston (PAX East) and a just-announced third convention in Australia occurring next year, which I will call PAX Vegemite.

My experience this year was not as full as it could have been, having only just caught a single day pass for Saturday; the convention takes place over three days (Friday-Sunday), although it will be extended to four days in 2013. Nonetheless, I marathoned my way through all that I could in my all-too-brief PAX 2012 experience. But while I got to test out the Wii U (it’s alright) and grab all the swag my little arms could muster, perhaps it was the exhaustion, or the lack of air, but I had an epiphany—of all forms of gaming, my calling is to follow indie games.

Maybe it’s their affordability, or the casualty of it all, but I don’t think I follow other types of games (full-length, table top, or otherwise) nearly as much as I follow independent games. That said, much of my time on the floor was spent immersed in the Indie Megabooth and exploring the PAX 10; to quote the official PAX site, “Each year our group of 50 industry experts select the ten best indie games in regard to gameplay and overall fun-factor.”

I’m going to be perfectly honest in saying though that while some of this year’s PAX 10 were definitely interesting (Puzzlejuice and Offspring Fling! being personal favourites), the games that really caught my attention were featured over at the Megabooth.

Some of these games, such as Octodad: Dadliest Catch and Runner2 didn’t need to be promoted any further, as they’ve already acquired followings in the past for earlier games like the original Octodad and other entrants in the Bit.Trip series. What I will say is that I’m excited for these new additions; Octodad was delightfully weird and silly, but what would’ve made it even better were tighter mechanics, which Dadliest Catch does indeed feature (along with cleaner graphics). As for Runner2, we’re given a far more complicated world than the original Bit.Trip Runner, and our previously 2D hero Commander Video is now a rubbery and far more defined stick creature.

Other games such as Closure instantly caught the eye due to its shadowy, Limbo-esque colour scheme—if you could call it that. Closure is creepy, as you control a small spider-like creature, picking up objects and moving them in order to keep going. What makes the game a challenge is that there is very little light, with everything but your goal and your spider friend shrouded in darkness. Then you had Snapshot, where the object of this colourful game is to snap pictures to solve puzzles; taking pictures absorbs the item in focus, which you can then use to aid you through the level.

The unquestionable breakout hits of the Megabooth though were Guacamelee!, the Metroid and Castlevania-inspired fighter game with a Mexican twist (yes, this exists, and yes, it is awesome and fun) and Super TIME Force, which is every great thing about the ‘90s in a ridiculous, pixilated shooter (and has one of the greatest video game trailers ever).

There you have it! Keep an eye out for these awesome indie games, as well as the likes of Charlie Murder, Antichamber, and rhythm game Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby—all due out between now and 2013!