PAX West 2019 Part 2: Classics From Blocks to Burgers

So last time on my first PAX article, we looked at mostly wacky indie games, as I do like weird games.  Well another type of game I like is classic games.  Or sequels, spinoffs, and remakes of classic games.  So that’s what we’re going to take a look at in my second part of my PAX West 2019 blog.

Seattle is known for having lots of Starbucks, and I saw this sign in front of one.  It was Pac-Man, so I had to take a picture of it.  Of course, the Pac-Man nerd inside of me thought “they drew the bottom of the maze wrong.”  Still pretty neat.  The other side of the billboard had Super Mario Bros. on it.


They did things a little differently at PAX this year regarding media.  Usually they would let media in an hour early just on the first day.  But this time they let media in 30 minutes early on every day (except the first day because of a fire marshall taking their sweet time).  So I was able to get in early more times to check out more things!  And I was able to play some Nintendo games, which is almost unheard of at these events unless you want to wait in a line all day to play one game.  But I only had to wait 15 minutes to play two games!

The first I played was The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.  The original game is my favorite Zelda game of all time, so I was happy to play this remake.  I spent my time playing getting the first dungeon key, and then trying the crane game because I heard it was different.  It was more physics based, so it was much harder to get that Yoshi doll!  Took me three tries.  One neat thing about the game is that the YouTube videos showing footage of it just doesn’t do it justice.  When you play it in person, the graphics look so good you feel like you could reach out and touch them.  Just like E3, they had these dioramas on the top of the area where you played, so I took pictures of them.

Here’s another one.  I wish I could’ve taken these home with me!  Luckily I was able to get a little Link keychain from playing this.  That was one of my favorite little goodies I got from this show.  The game comes out a few days after my birthday, too!  I can’t wait!

The other game I got to play at Nintendo’s booth was Luigi’s Mansion 3!  I spent most of my time wrestling with the controls, as they took a while to get used to.  But like other Luigi’s Mansion games, once you get used to the controls, they become second nature.  You can do neat things like shoot out a plunger and suck in the string to pull things.  And you can poop out a Gooigi so a second player can join in the fun!

The other big main part of Nintendo booth was for Pokémon Sword and Shield.  If I had one more early media day, I might’ve done this as that part of the booth was set up like a vacation tour, with a travel brochure you could get and green screen photo opps around the booth.  So it seemed like a neat experience.  But Pokémon isn’t on my radar as much as it used to be, so I spent my second media day checking out a game where you can be a goose, and I played a new handheld console with a turn crank, which you can read about in Part 1 of my previous PAX West 2019 blog.  I also played some WayForward offerings, which you can read about later here.


I really wanted to play the Trials of Mana remake, but it was so crazy and hard to navigate around their booth, I couldn’t find it.  I used to could set up meetings to play Square-Enix’s games in private, but I guess they didn’t do that this year.  Most of their booth was dedicated to the upcoming Final Fantasy 7 remake.  They even had a motorcycle you could sit on.

And here’s a replica of a Mako reactor.  Supposedly they had a 3-D movie you could watch inside, but I didn’t do that either.

BurgerTime Party

XSEED had tons of games you could play at their booth, but I only tried one.  And it was BurgerTime Party.  People probably thought I was crazy, but I really like BurgerTime.  It was one of the few games that could pull me away from Pac-Man back in 80’s arcades.  This new one plays how you’d expect a four player BurgerTime game to play, but it has tons of modes and over a hundred levels!  I also liked how the graphics and muted colors and animations emulated cartoons from the 1930s, like how Cuphead does.  Really fits the style of this game, too.  It’ll have a physical cartridge version as well, so I’ll have to get that.  And if anyone from XSEED is reading this, please tell the lady that was running the BurgerTime Party area that I’m sorry again for talking her ear off about BurgerTime.  Poor lady probably thought I was insane.

So this is where a GOOD video game journalist would post screenshots of the game.  But I figure, you can see screenshots at any old web site.  But where else can you see the burger shaped bean bag chairs you could sit on to play the game at PAX?  Sit your buns on these buns!  They were so cool!  I wish I could’ve taken one home with me, but I don’t know how I would’ve snuck it out of XSEED’s booth, much less get it on the plane back home!  At least I got a BurgerTime Party pin for playing.  That seemed to be the most popular thing for people to give out at this year show: lapel pins.


Dotemu had two sequels of classic games!  First was Streets of Rage 4.  I never had a Genesis as a kid, and since I tend to side more towards the SNES, many Genesis games don’t impress me as much.  But Streets of Rage sure impressed me once I finally played the series!  The new game has hand drawn artwork and animations, which I have mixed feelings about.  The cartoony visuals look great, but I kind of like the idea of pixel based sprites, too.  The classic beat ‘em up gameplay sure was fun, though.  I love how smooth and fast it was.  I was able to punch a bad guy straight in the air and punch him twice on the way down!  There is a new character, Cherry, who is a rock ‘n’ roll girl who uses an electric guitar as an attack.  But I played as good ol’ Blaze.

The other game they had was WindJammers 2.  The original game was on the NEO GEO and was like a cross between Pong and dodgeball but you throw flying discs.  It was so much fun.  The sequel features flashier graphics and some new characters, but the gameplay remains largely unchanged except you can jump now and perform more special moves and attacks.  Both games will be out next year, with WindJammers 2 coming earlier.  Just two more things to look forward to!

While we’re on the subject of WindJammers, nearby was another company who looked like they had nearly the exact same game, just with crazier characters.  The game is titled Shot One, and is so early in development that they said it may not be out until the PlayStation 5!  But since the developers are stationed in Austin, TX, I wanted to give them a shoutout since I used to live there when I went to college.  I do like the character designs of the players.


I’ve been a big fan of WayForward’s games ever since the first Shantae title on Game Boy Color (which I still have, by the way).  So I spent some of my media early 30 minutes the second day at their booth playing all their games!  First up was River City Girls.  So in Japan there is a long running game series starring Kunio.  He’s a hot-blooded high school student who gets into fights and trouble sometimes, but he always stands up for his friends against bullies.  He also likes to play sports.  Some of these games have come to the US under different names, so if you’ve ever played Renegade, River City Ransom, or even Super Dodge Ball, yup, those are all Kunio games.  In many of the games that are like 2-D beat ‘em ups, Kunio and his pal Riki have to rescue their girlfriends. But in River City Girls, it’s Kunio and Riki who get captured and now it’s up to their girlfriends to save them!  Being able to play as the girls gives the new game a bit of humor, cuteness, and lots of girl power!

The initial beginning story is told via black and white manga comic pages.  The two girls are in detention when they find out their boys have been captured.  So they have to fight their way out of detention and get out of the school.  The principal even sends an announcement over the intercom telling all the other students to fight the girls and keep them in the building!  Wow, what kind of school is this?  Anyway, gameplay-wise WayForward really captured the feel of the classic River City games.  But it comes as no surprise, as they also made the great Double Dragon Neon (which has ties with the River City games, too).  I’m not sure if the game will be as open world RPG-like as past River City games were, but you do get cash and experience points from defeated enemies.  When you level up, you get new moves, like being able to stomp enemies who got knocked down.  I also love the combo attack of one of the girls, whose final blow is to swing around her heart-shaped backpack to smack baddies.  The game has high production values, too, with lots of voice work and songs with vocals in the background!  Unfortunately I couldn’t get past the first boss, who I think was in previous River City games.  She’s a big woman who runs security for the school, and seems familiar.  Once I do get the game, I’ll probably set the difficulty on Easy.  I love these games, but I’m horrible at them!

Next up was the newest entry in the Shantae series: Shantae and the Seven Sirens.  Visually it looks a lot like Pirate’s Curse.  In fact if you didn’t tell me, I’d say they were the same games.  But that’s OK because Pirate’s Curse is one of my favorites in the series.  Anyway, the 2-D platforming game plays great as usual, but they handle animal transformations a bit differently here.  When you get the ability to turn into a newt and climb walls, you just press a button to dash into a wall, turning Shantae into a newt.  But when you’re done climbing the wall and land on the ground again, you automatically turn back into Shantae! After going through a dungeon maze you fight a boss, a sexy plant lady, and you must use your newt climbing skills to flip switches to make the plant lady move underneath sunlight so she’ll bloom flowers you can jump on to reach her and attack.  Can’t wait for this game either!

Last was a new game that WayForward announced at the show called Vitamin Connection.  It’s a Switch game that takes advantage of the JoyCon controllers, and can be played in co-op.  The game kind of reminds me of a cross between LifeForce and Irritating Stick (getting all hardcore with the references here).  You control two little dudes or dudettes (can’t tell) and they travel inside a human body piloting a JoyCon shaped vitamin pill (I think).  Use the analog stick to aim and fire a beam to defeat germs, and use the shoulder buttons to rotate the vitamin so it doesn’t bump into walls and lose energy.  You must also solve color based puzzle obstacles by rotating the ship to the right color to pass.  Mini games even use the IR camera as one person can control the ship at the bottom and the other person can move their hand toward and away from the IR camera to make a hand move up and down to grab items.

But the best part of WayForward’s booth is I got to meet one of my Facebook friends in person who works with WayForward, and he helped make the Vitamin Connection game.  It’s kind of funny because as I was playing it and before I knew he helped make it and before he walked up, I thought to myself, “Yeah this seems like the kind of game that guy would make.”  So getting to meet him in person was cooler than any of the games there.

Tetris 35th Anniversary

I was invited to a special event celebrating Tetris’ 35th Anniversary.  I was hoping to be able to meet the creator of Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov, but he wasn’t going to be at the event until the evening and it sounded like he’d be just up on stage along with DJs playing remixes of Tetris music.  Which sounds cool, but I was hoping to be able to meet him and talk with him in person, not just see him up on stage.  So I didn’t do that part of the event because I didn’t want to walk Seattle streets after dark and I was getting pretty tired anyway.  But I did go to the event long enough to check out the rest of it, where people could play various versions of Tetris while sitting on light up blocks and you could get a pretty neat lapel pin, too.  So I just did that, played some Tetris on NES and got my pin, and went back to the hotel room.  I did like the light up blocks, so I took a picture of them.

Yacht Club Games

Aside from not being able to meet Alexey Pajitnov, really my only other big disappointment at PAX was my meeting with Yacht Club Games got cancelled.  I was really hoping to be able to play new games from them, like Shovel Knight Dig, too.  I was a bit miffed as well, because they wouldn’t try to squeeze me in, even though they remembered me and said they could’ve sworn they put me on the schedule.  Oh well, their loss.

And that’s pretty much all I did at PAX West 2019!  It was great being able to play all those games, but really the best part was being able to spend time with my dad, who I always take with me to these shows.  Anyway, tell me what you think about my articles, and let me know if you have any questions.  Later!  –Cary

3 Responses to “PAX West 2019 Part 2: Classics From Blocks to Burgers”

  1. Those dioramas look cool. I can’t wait for Luigi’s Mansion 3. Having some trouble with the controls at first seems like par for the course in Luigi’s Mansion games. It took me a few tries to get used to the first one and Dark Moon.

  2. I love Burgertime. A multiplayer mode sounds neat.

    Windjammers is one of my favorite games to play on emulators. I got all the kids in the local youth group addicted to it..

    You didn’t mention which platforms they will appear on… will they be on Switch (my preferred multiplayer) at some point?

  3. wait a second, there’s a new Burgertime???

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