As many of you know (because I’ve been super excited and unable to shut up about it), I was at PAX South this past weekend! I’ve got all kinds of crazy things to share, but this post will be the general summary of the event/main photo gallery. I’ve got a few things to talk about that probably deserve their own posts, given my general inability to keep things concise. But without further adieu, on to the main event!

PART 0: TRAVEL

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Listen. I realize this is already a tangent, but stay with me. Because this is honestly one of my favorite parts of going to PAX South: stopping in Stephenville, TX, for barbecue at The Hard Eight. It’s pit barbecue cooked outdoors, meat cooked to perfection that doesn’t need sauce, but you still want some because they make their own sauce that’s also amazing. I’m scheduling this post to go up around when I should be getting back on the road again, so I should be eating some AS YOU’RE READING THIS. Assuming you read it fairly soon after it goes up.

Once, as a birthday present to myself, I took some friends and drove four hours for this food. It’s my unapologetic favorite.

PART 1: THE EXPO HALL

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And now for the actual reason you’re here. The Expo Hall is the main appeal of PAX: it’s where all the developers and vendors gather, ultimately with the goal of selling you something. PAX South has a lot of small/indie game developers, which I’ve heard is the niche setting it apart from other PAXes (PAXen? PAXii?). Last year I thought there was actually a drought in big names, and a lot of the smaller developers were showing off alpha builds that were in too rough of a state to make a solid impression. Not so this year, while there were some games that felt rough around the edges most of what I played was actually pretty solid! I ended up buying a couple of Steam keys while I was on the floor, and have a couple more games I intend to look into later.

An early shot of the expo hall on Day 1. I like the random Link cosplayer that ended up being in the middle of the shot here.
I didn’t get the chance to demo World Domination, but it looked fun. Worth mentioning: there are a LOT of board/card games at PAX South in addition to video games. Personally I consider that a plus, but your mileage may vary.
Shovel Knight was there! It’s... it’s Shovel Knight. If you aren’t aware of Shovel Knight by now, that’s actually kind of impressive.
Tiny Build usually has some good stuff, although this year’s focus was Hello Neighbor. Which I’ve already seen played to death on YouTube. Still, there were some other fun games in their area, which was cool.
Tower 57 is a top-down shooter that was a little reminiscent of BioShock. I’d definitely give it a try; I don’t know if I’ll buy it yet but it was a fun demo and certainly worth a look.
Fantasy Strike was very much a Street Fighter clone. Watching it in action just SCREAMS “Street Fighter”. Turns out the main dev is one of the guys who worked on Super Street Fighter II HD Remix. The game was actually really fun and had some quirks to make it stand out from Street Fighter, so this is another one I’ll put on my personal radar.
This game got my attention on title alone. I unfortunately didn’t play it, but it looks like a resource management/exploration game. I talked to a few people who really enjoyed this one, so I’m including it as a “probably worth looking into”.
I didn’t go into the Resident Evil house, partially because I’m not a big fan of the franchise and partially because they filled up like crazy. But it was still really neat that they put a horror attraction in the middle of an expo floor.

PART 2: PANELS

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It’s to the convention’s credit that I have to admit that I only went to one panel this year, and that was the one on board games. There were a lot of other panels that looked really neat, but I either lost track of time or wanted to go to something else. That being said, I’d like to take a moment to draw everyone’s attention to The Cookie Brigade, a group of people who bake cookies for the people waiting in line for panels. The cookies are given away for free, and they accept donations which are then given to Child’s Play. They’re good folk, and definitely deserve your support.

PART 3: PLAY

There was plenty of opportunity for playing games outside of demos from developers wanting to sell you on their hard work. For starters, on the second floor of the convention hall was a free-to-play arcade!

Yeah, this is the best picture you get. Inside was actually pretty crowded, and it was hard to get a decent picture of anything,

My only real complaint about the arcade was lack of space, but kudos to them for trying. When you’ve got an event as big as PAX, even though South is the smallest one, you’re just always going to be fighting for floor space.

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Also available was the tabletop area, where board games could be rented and tournaments were organized. There was also a life-sized King of Tokyo set-up, which is another thing to add to the list of “activities I wanted to try but didn’t”.

If you’ve never played King of Tokyo, then shame on you.

Lastly, there was Magic: the Gathering. I actually learned how to play Magic at PAX South 2015. Sadly, Wizards no longer does the kind of turnout for PAX that they did then, so potential new players continue to be exactly that. But there were organized events going on, and I did take part in a sealed tournament that was pretty fun.

Winding Constrictor. Best snake.

Also available were the handheld and console areas. I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture of the handheld lounge, because it’s really cool- they set up a bunch of bean bag chairs to sit in, and there’s a charging station nearby where you can give them your handheld and get it charged while you wait/walk around (yes, there is a system in place to ensure that your 3DS does not get stolen). The console freeplay area I only glanced at, but I believe it worked on trading your ID for a controller and just going to one of the several stations they had set up.

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To say that there was a lot to do at PAX South would be an understatement- last year’s was a little thin, but they came out swinging this time around. As I said before, I’m splitting up my PAX South thoughts into three separate posts that I’m scheduling to go up today. Because Part 4 of this post has to do with the biggest draw of the event, one I’ve been dying to give my thoughts on for some time...

It’s about the use of 1950s diners as a theme in video games and how there’s strangely been a resurgence in that particular iconogr- no, it’s the Switch. I’m talking about playing the Switch.