PAX West 2019 Part 1: The Weird and Wacky World of Indie Games

PAX, or Penny Arcade Expo, is one of the largest video game trade shows open to the public.  There are many around the world, but it originated in Seattle and is now called PAX West.  Since I wasn’t able to get into E3 this year (which makes no sense since I was able to last year), I went to PAX West last weekend instead.  So here are a couple of articles about it.  The first one we’ll focus on indie games.  PAX is known as a showcase for indie games, sometimes even more than E3!  And I played some weird ones this time, so we’ll go over a lot of the kooky games I played at this year’s PAX West!


But before we do, I thought I’d start by showing a booth from one of my favorite video game companies: Capcom.  Their booth had a HUGE ice dragon showcasing their new Monster Hunter: Iceborne.  I don’t get into Monster Hunter games but can you imagine what it took to put that dragon together for this booth?

On the backside of their booth they were showing off a newly announced game: the Mega Man Zero/ZX Legacy Collection!  I’m not as big into those, but I’ll probably get it anyway just to have.

Inti Creates

And speaking of Mega Man Zero, one of my meetings I set up was with Inti Creates.  They’re the ones who made the Mega Man Zero games for Capcom!  I didn’t know that!  Inti Creates makes a lot of other neat 2-D action games, too.  Their flagship title is Azure Striker Gunvolt, which kind of reminds me of a Mega Man X game except a bit more anime-ish.  Gunvolt is a bit TOO anime-ish for my tastes, and it’s also pretty hard (yet still fun).  But I’ve still played both Gunvolt games and the 8-bit Mighty Gunvolt.  Anyway at PAX they were showing off a new spinoff Gunvolt game starring one of the female characters.  It’s called Luminous Avenger iX.  In Gunvolt, you would shoot a tag bomb at an enemy and then you could always shoot at it when tagged.  But in this one, you have to dash into the enemy to tag them.  It seemed a little more intuitive that way to me.  I don’t know how hard the game will be, but I had fun playing the demo!


And while we’re still kind of on the subject of Capcom, I also met with GungHo.  They have a mobile game out now that is a card game with Capcom characters.  You can expect a review of it from me next week.  The game is called Teppen and at the booth, they had people dressed up as Capcom characters featured in the game, so here are some pics of them.

So technically, Mega Man isn’t in the game, but Mega Man X is, but I’ll let that slide this one time.

Here’s another one.  Looks like the Ryu and Jill Valentine cosplayers ate their spinach!

Speaking of Teppen, I just thought of a joke.  You know that werewolf that is in Capcom’s DarkStalkers games?  If he was in Teppen, you know what he’d be called?  Teppenwolf!  Ha ha, I’m so funny!  Well, not really.

I played a few other games from GungHo.  One was called Volta-X.  In this one, you command a team of cute animals as they pilot a giant mech and battle other huge robots.  You can send members of the team to rooms in the mech to operate weapons and repair the robot.  This part kind of reminded me of the tank sections in Rocket Slime.   You can customize your robot from weapons to colors, and build rooms for your animal pilots to live in.  I also played Call of Guardians, a mobile MOBA style game that was so easy to get into, even I could figure it out.  Oh yeah, and you remember Puzzle & Dragons?  Well it’s coming to the Switch!

Indie Deluge

Ok, now for kind of a sizzle reel of other indie games I played and met with at PAX!

Creature in the Well is a dungeon crawler but you fight battles by reflecting projectiles all around, so it’s like a cross between pinball and BreakOut.  And speaking of dungeon crawlers that are like other games, RoundGuard mixes that with Peggle-like gameplay!

What happens when a caveman finds a jet pack left behind by an ancient alien?  Well you get Jet Kave Adventure.  It’s a 2-D platformer where you are a caveman with a jet pack strapped to your back so you can do dashes and higher jumps and glides.  It has some pretty responsive play control and will be out soon.

Deleveled is a unique minimalist puzzle platformer.  You control two squares on opposite ends of a line, but you can’t jump.  But if you can make one square fall and land on the other square, the other one will jump.  So you must keep that rule in mind when solving puzzles and objectives.  It’s one of those games that you’ll instantly understand once you see it.

No Straight Roads stars a female guitar player and a male drummer as they tromp around 3-D space fighting bad guys with their music.  You can do a short ranged charged attack and collect notes to fire at long distance enemies.  The music based story and gameplay reminds me of games you could play on the Dreamcast like Jet Grind Radio and Space Channel 5.

Whitehorn Digital

They had three games shown at PAX.  My review of Where the Bees Make Honey will go up next week, so I won’t talk about it here.  Newt One is a 3-D platformer where you are a music note and every time you land on something, you add color and music to it, so it’s like a 3-D coloring book.  I’m going to review it soon, so be on the look out for that.  Finally in Calico you run a café for cats, but it won’t be out until next year.

Blowfish Studios

They had a lot of games, but I played two.  First was Whipseey.  You are a cute pink critter who can whip enemies with a thing on his head.  The game features colorful 8-bit styled graphics and levels that get progressively super hard.  Kung Fu Kickball is a 2-D sports game where you play as martial arts characters and use kicks and punches to try and make the ball ring your opponent’s bell.  It has fun cartoony graphics and reminds me of some of the mini-games you could play in BattleBlock Theater.

Misc. Pictures

I took a bunch of pictures at the show, so here are a few that I thought were cool, but didn’t know where to put them.

Borderlands 3 was big at PAX West.  They had this statue at their booth.  I’m assuming it’s characters from the game.  I don’t really know, never got into the series myself.

I’m not sure if this is a Borderlands character or not either, but it was at another booth featuring Borderlands stuff.  I just thought it looked cool.

Here’s a dinosaur you could ride.  The statue was animatronic and would even move its head!

TinyBuild had a bunch of games, and one of them was called Graveyard Keeper.  To play the game at the show, you had to lie in these coffins!  In a way it was kind of in poor taste, but I can’t help but laugh at it anyway.  Hope that doesn’t make me a bad person.

My brother Jeff loved playing Kerbal Space Program a long time ago when it first came out, so I took a picture of the booth showing the sequel.

And finally is this neat spaceship thing I saw.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics

We’ll conclude this part with four of my favorite things I saw at PAX West.  First is The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics.  I’m not a big fan of strategy games, but I’ll check out anything Jim Henson related, as he was a big part of my childhood.  I still need to watch the Netflix show this is based on, hopefully can do that soon.  Anyway, this game plays a lot like other grid based similar games such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Project X Zone, etc.  But the developers have added a lot of things to make this game their own.  Like certain status ailment spells can be used in combination with hits for even more powerful attack combos.  And they studied the movements of the puppets from the show and movie and implemented them into the game’s character animations, too!  Half of the game follows the show’s story, and the other half is new side story stuff.  And there are multiple difficulty levels, including an easy one if you’re not into tactics games like I am and just want to enjoy the story.  The only thing I’m worried about is that the game will be out later this year.  I know they want to take their time and make this a good tactics game, too, but I’m worried if the show will still be relevant by then.  But the best thing about the game is that it’s being developed by BonusXP, who is based near where I live around the Dallas area!  And many of the folks there also worked at other Dallas based companies making games like Age of Empires, so they really know their stuff!  Maybe I’ll get a chance to visit them someday!

Psychonauts 2

Oh man I love Psychonauts.  It was my Game of the Year in 2005, so I’m glad I was able to set up a meeting with Double Fine to check out the sequel.  It was just a hands off demo, but I’m OK with that.  You play as Raz again and now he’s a member of the Psychonauts.  In the first level, you must go inside the mind of an evil doctor and find out who he works for.  The level starts in an office setting but mixes with a dental inside the mouth tooth setting, so it gets very weird, like the Meat Circus level from the first game.  They do all sorts of crazy things in this level like make a hallway stretch out and turn things on its side so you’re climbing on office cubicles like platforms.  I’m assuming this is the introductory level as you relearn all the moves you had in the first game, but they don’t add any new ones yet so it’s all more of the same.  But I’m OK with that.  New enemies include doubts and regrets, which is creative.  I only wish I could’ve played the VR side game Rhombus of Ruin, as this sequel makes reference to it.  As a goodie, they gave out Psychonauts toothbrushes, which is as weird as the game but at least it keeps the theme.  But the coolest thing is that I was worried that Psychonauts 2 would be an Xbox One exclusive, since Microsoft just bought Double Fine.  But they are still releasing it on PS4 as well so I’ll be able to play it when it comes out next year!  Yes!

Untitled Goose Game

My brother Jeff first showed me this game and now it’s coming to Switch in September, so I can’t wait.  You play as a goose and get a list of objectives, most of which involve bugging the crap out of people.  You must do things like sneak around and steal a gardener’s keys, lure him to a sprinkler and turn it on and get him wet, and other things.  There’s even a button for honking!  Just looks like weird, silly fun.


And finally, I played one brand new console at PAX.  No it wasn’t the Google Stadia, but something much weirder.  It’s a handheld with black and white graphics and a crank on the side!  So supposedly when you buy this, you’ll get one new surprise game a month (bet you one of those will be a fishing game).  I love this thing but I don’t know if it’ll be worth 150 bucks.  Even so I signed up for their newsletter so we’ll see.  Anyway, I played a game on it at PAX, and it was made by the same guy who did Katamari Damacy!  The game is called Time Travel Adventure, and you are a little caterpillar man and you must run from left to right to your girlfriend so you won’t be late for your date.  You do this by turning the crank to make time go forward.  Turn it the other way to make him run backwards.  Along the way, he might do things like bend down to smell a flower.  Certain obstacles are not affected by time and you must avoid hitting them.  So if a butterfly goes by you, you must rewind time to when you bent down to smell the flower, effectively ‘ducking’ under the butterfly until it passes.  And it gets more hectic from there.

And that’s all for now.  So you all know I like weird games, but you also know I like classic games, so I bet you can guess what my part 2 PAX article will be about.  Stay tuned!  –Cary

3 Responses to “PAX West 2019 Part 1: The Weird and Wacky World of Indie Games”

  1. Volta-X sounds like Lovers in a Dangerous Space-time. A great co-op indie title available on most of the platforms…

  2. Is that Ice Dragon real ice?
    Is that a Morrigan cosplayer? Neat!
    I’m interested in what Kerbal Space Program 2 will be like. I played the first one and found it too complex.
    The Dark Crystal game has me interested. I love strategy games.
    I believe Psychonauts 2 is coming to all systems despite it being owned by Microsoft. I think I heard that on a podcast. I’m excited for it.

  3. that Megaman cosplay is pretty good!

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