PAX West 2017 Part 1: Cooking Up a Super-Packed PAX!

The Penny Arcade Expo, or PAX for short, is one of the largest video game conventions open to the public.  I go to PAX every year, at least the ones in Seattle (PAX West), and San Antonio (PAX South).  This past weekend I went to PAX West, and it was notable because I think I had more meetings at this PAX than any other!  More than 15 meetings, in fact!  So with all those games to cover, we’d better get started!

WB Games

One of the titles that WB Games was showing off at PAX was LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2.  I consider myself lucky to have been able to review most of the LEGO titles that have been released in the past, and I owe it all to the fantastic PR team that I’ve worked with over the years.  I wish I could’ve met more of them at PAX.  Anyway, in the demo I played, I was controlling most of the members of The Guardians of the Galaxy.  There was Star Lord, who could fly with a jet pack, the green lady, and the guy with all the tattoos.  Sorry I don’t remember their names, I’m not a big comic book fan so I forget characters easily.  I didn’t play as the raccoon guy but I did switch to baby Groot for a bit, who was pretty useless but so darn cute.  Anyway, in the demo I solved a simple puzzle to exit their spaceship, only to battle a giant boss robot on the ground below.  Judging from the demo, I have a feeling that time travel and manipulation will play a big part in it.  And the other big thing I noticed was how good the graphics are.  It’s certainly a big step up from other LEGO games, as it seemed there was a billion things going on at once.  Very action-packed!  Hopefully I’ll be able to review this game as well when it comes out later this year.

WB Games was also showing off some kind of new Lord of the Rings based game, and they had a big dragon at their booth on display.


This must’ve been the Year of the Dragon at PAX, because there were tons of dragons around the show.  And I’m not the only one who noticed this, too, as I overheard another pair of showgoers noticing the same thing.  Here’s a dragon.

There a dragon

Everywhere a dragon, dragon.

Oh wait, this one’s a dinosaur.

Merge Games

PAX is also great for indie developers to show off their creations, and I played a lot of them at this show.  The first was Unbox from Merge Games.  This is a colorful 3-D platformer starring a cardboard box.  Yes, you heard that right.  In the game, your box has the power to keep five boxes of himself inside like a nesting doll, so you can jump in the air five times in a row.  That’s how you get around the levels.  You can talk to other boxes and checkpoints are at mailboxes, and in the demo I travelled around a seaport dock area.  Hopefully I’ll get to review the full game when it comes out on consoles later this year.


At PAX you can also buy all sorts of various video game themed items from various vendors.  Clothes, plush toys, backpacks, and much more.  One of the largest of these vendors was ThinkGeek, who I had a meeting with at the show.

What they were showing off at PAX was a new line of clothes and accessories based on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  Here’s a shot of some of their wares on display.

And here’s another.  I have to say that most of these items were out of my price range, but then, most of my clothes cost only around 20 bucks.  But they had tons more to sell than what was on display at PAX, so if you want to see more, check out their web site.

Another gaming clothes company I’ve met with at previous PAX shows was JINX.  At this year’s show they showed off a line they’re selling at Hot Topic, as well as their online store and eSports line.  I talked about them more in my previous PAX South article, so check that out if you want to read more about them.


Another indie game I played was Lightfield.  In this 3-D racing game, you pilot a flying spaceship.  The gimmick in this game is that when you are flying in the air, you move pretty slow.  But if you attach yourself to a wall or floor, you’ll go faster.  There’s even a button that you can hold down to stick to walls like a magnet.  It was tricky at first to figure out where you need to go on the track, but if you follow the arrows and the streams of other racers, it becomes a lot easier.  It reminded me of futuristic racers like WipeOut and F-Zero.  Hopefully I’ll be able to review it when it comes to consoles either this year or the next.


In this game, you explore isometric viewed floating island worlds that reminded me of Toe Jam & Earl.  You play as two characters who must solve puzzles and defeat enemies in the inner workings of someone’s mind who is going through a traumatic event.  The art style reminds me of a mix of M.C. Escher and Dr. Seuss.  Hopefully I can review it as well when it comes out on consoles either this year or next.


I knew this publisher sounded familiar.  They helped release Yooka-Laylee as well as another game called Overcooked that I’ll be reviewing soon.  At PAX they had a TON of games, but I only had time to play one.  It was called Yoku’s Island Express.  In the game you play as a dung beetle in a 2-D platforming setting.  You roll around a ball of…something.  It doesn’t look like dung, though, thank goodness.  But you can’t jump, so in order to get around, you use the L and R buttons to control flippers to maneuver around the playfield like a pinball machine!  It’s really fun, and if you enjoy games that mix platforming and pinball, like Sonic Spinball, you’ll really enjoy this game.  I’ll be looking forward to it when it comes out on consoles later next year.

Cartoon Network Games

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Cartoon Network Games for many years, reviewing games based on Cartoon Network’s most popular shows.  Their newest cartoon is called O.K. K.O.: Let’s Be Heroes.  In the cartoon, the main character is a young boy named K.O. who lives in a world filled with super heroes and villainous robots.  He wants to become a hero himself so he goes to work at a convenience store.  But this isn’t any regular old convenience store, this store supplies heroes with everything they need.  I haven’t seen much of the show yet, as it just came on about a month ago, but you can tell it was designed by some of the same folks who worked on Steven Universe.

Cartoon Network Games is making a game based on the show called O.K. K.O.: Let’s Play Heroes.  You play as K.O. and tromp around the store and surrounding areas.  Gameplay is like a 2-D beat ‘em up brawler, but you’ll also spend a lot of time talking to your friends and co-workers and helping them out.  Your goal in the game is to collect trading cards based on K.O.’s favorite heroes, but you can also use them as special attacks as well.  The game has a similar art style as the show, and retains a lot of its humor as well.  I’m sure fans of the cartoon will love it when it comes out as a downloadable game for consoles later this year.

Cartoon Network Games also has a sequel to a Steven Universe game I reviewed on iPad a while back.  The original was called Attack the Light and it was a turn based RPG with action elements, kind of like a Mario RPG.  If the sequel, called Save the Light is any indication, it’ll be a lot of fun as well.  It’ll be available later on to download on consoles, and I hope to get to review it!  Unfortunately it wasn’t playable at PAX.

Adult Swim Games

Don’t let the name fool you.  Even though they have ‘adult’ in their name, many of Adult Swim Games’ titles are OK for kids, at least older ones.  At PAX I saw a group of kids playing one of their titles called The Duck Game, and I’d be OK with most kids playing the new Toe Jam & Earl game they published.  But the game they were showing off at the convention is an upcoming title called Battle Chef Brigade, and aside from some of Square-Enix’s titles, it was one of my favorite games at the show!

Battle Chef Brigade is a mix of match three puzzles and 2-D hack and slash.  You are an aspiring chef and when you are in the kitchen preparing food, the game is like a puzzle where you must match colored orbs for points.  When you run out of pieces, or what the game calls ‘ingredients,’ you must venture outside to defeat monsters who will drop ingredients.  When you have enough, you can go back inside and cook again.  This part of the game reminded me of Odin Sphere, a game from VanillaWare.  In fact, one of the artists of this game, Eric Huang (who is super cool), told me that VanillaWare was a big inspiration for this game.  Speaking of the art, the cartoon characters in this game have an anime look to them, and remind me of Phoenix Wright, one of my favorite DS and 3DS game series.  I’m really looking forward to this game when it comes out on Switch and other consoles later on.

And that’s all for now!  Check back later for Part 2 of my PAX articles where I play games from companies like Atari, SEGA, Square-Enix, and much more!

2 Responses to “PAX West 2017 Part 1: Cooking Up a Super-Packed PAX!”

  1. I wish I liked Lego games. 🙁

  2. Battle Chef Brigade has my attention. Those dragons/dinos are pretty cool!

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