Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Penny Arcade Expo 2009: Lots of stuff related to stabbing people

The sixth annual Penny Arcade Expo, aka PAX, has come to an end. I’m the kind of extreme introvert who considers going grocery shopping or attending my own birthday party a harrowing experience, so this sort of event isn’t my thing, but from everything I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun for those gamers who are part of the whole convention/gamer gathering/making eye contact with other humans crowd.

In an example of the sort of bizarre cross-linkages that occur when one has a strong interest in several disparate nerdy subjects simultaneously, the name “PAX” keeps making me envision Tycho and Gabe from the comic wearing 2nd Century Roman legionary armor, wielding blood-soaked gladiuses (gladii, whatever) and surrounded by dismembered Celts. Which, now that I think about it, would probably be the greatest webcomic-related poster ever.

Speaking of brutally slaughtering people with swords, a playable version of No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle for the Nintendo Wii was revealed at PAX. Now, I certainly applaud efforts to bring more games like this to the Wii. That said, running into something like No More Heroes must be disconcerting to many of the people who’ve come to gaming for the first time through that system because of its family-friendly appeal. I can just imagine my mother browsing the shelves at the game store: “Let’s see, here’s a collection of sports minigames to play when you have friends over… Here’s a game that let’s you use the Wii to help you exercise and lose weight… How cute, a game about taking care of pets… Ah, here’s a game about a guy trying to get a girl to have sex with him by hacking people to bloody shreds with a lightsaber!”

In one of the odder examples of promotional game swag, Ubisoft also promoted the game by giving out toilet paper featuring the No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle logo and returning series protagonist Travis Touchdown. Frankly, this strikes me as an extremely poor method to promote this particular product. Presumably, the sequel's subtitle is supposed to evoke the image of the game's sword-wielding hero fighting for his life, whereas a promotional item like this gives the impression that the game's titular "desperate struggle" is the result of Travis Touchdown's inadequate dietary fiber intake.

Continuing further with today’s “edged weapons” theme, Klei Entertainment previewed a forthcoming side-scrolling brawler at PAX called Shank. What system it's for remains unknown at this point. The game is part of a projected trilogy, and if sales of Shank are good players should watch for the release of the sequel Shiv in 2011 and the trilogy’s epic conclusion Sock Full of Pennies in late 2012.

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