Monday, November 16, 2015

GameStart 2015: Weekend Recap

Gamestart 2015 has concluded. The event saw a fantastic turnout over the weekend. I'm not sure of the numbers but I think at least a thousand were in queue Saturday morning before the event start time. According to social media, quite a number even queued overnight. Unsurprising considering last year's events.

The queue management was significantly improved. Although the queue stretched from the fourth level down to the third, running the entire length of the Suntec Convention and then some, attendees were able to enter the halls smoothly and quickly. The main reason for that is the larger event space. And there was no more pesky wristbands (aside for cosplayers). You got a stamp instead which was so much faster.

Now I have already touched on some areas in the previous post. This will mostly be a picture recap of the weekend's happenings.

What was the most popular game? Not wanting to play favourites I'll just say each booth had its star. At the PlayStation booth I feel it would have to be Street Fighter V. I could be bias here. I mean we got to play almost the complete version of the game months ahead of its release. How great is that! Attendees also got to try out a newly available character in Dhalsim. Star Wars Battlefront got a lot of attention as well. Players no doubt wanting to get a peak of what lies ahead in the next couple of days. 

Many took the opportunity to try out the new PlayStation VR headset. Attendees of GameStart 2015 were the first in Southeast Asia to try it out. Reactions from I observed were mostly positive. One or two looked bored when they came out though. Perhaps they chose the wrong type of game. I personally can't wait to see what other games they will make for this.

There was non-stop activities at the PlayStation booth with events going on every hour. PlayStation premiums could be won if you participated in their Guitar Hero Live and Just Dance 2016 try outs or answered some simple questions. Many great deals were also available. Their "Crazy" ten dollar titles sold out within the first hour.

The neighbour from across the hall was just as happening as well. Blizzard had numerous giveaways which they tossed from their upper level. A Blizzcon bag filled with goodies? Throw it here!

The Blizzard booth did not have many trial consoles. There was just two for each game and this led to queue times hitting 40 minutes or more. 

The Bandai Namco booth was "quieter" in comparison to the above two. Not that less people visited. On the contrary. It was consistently packed. There was no mini stage or not as much fan engaging activities. But come to think of it, it may be a good thing. We don't need another set of speakers blasting away competing with other booths and the main stage. It was at times difficult to concentrate on what you were paying attention to.

The trailer for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was also screened at the booth. No playable demo unfortunately.

LEGO Marvel's Avengers from Warner Bros. Entertainment was a big draw, especially with teens and kids. The game follows the events of the Avengers and Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Attendees got to play a level from the Battle of New York. Just four characters were available. They were Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Thor. The play style is similar to other LEGO titles. You can destroy stuff and use the pieces to build new objects and so on. You need to combine the abilities of your characters to progress through certain areas.

Other titles available for play at the WB Games booth include Mad Max: Brave the Wasteland and Batman: Arkham Knight. They also held the Mortal Kombat X Challenge where if you beat Timothy Cruz, the winner of the Mortal Kombat X Asia Pacific Championships 2015 you could win a free game.  

The Force was with the Geek Culture booth. The Star Wars: Battlepod which they brought in was extremely popular and the line never let up. They were supported by personnel from the 501st and Rebel Legions Singapore, FightSaber and SaberMach. It was photo opportunities galore and you could even borrow a saber to pose with as well. These guys are a great bunch of people. 

BB-8 also made an appearance at the booth Saturday evening and late Sunday afternoon. It is a life-sized, 3D printed model of the droid. Very cool!

I caught several of the main stage programmes over the two days. If there was any you were interested in you had to be there early to get a good spot. 

The first presentation I caught was the Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Force by producer Hiroshi Kosuge. He introduced some of the various characters in the game which includes new ones such as the Neo Zeong from Gundam Unicorn. We were given a live demo of some of the new features. There will be large scale battles where you can lead a team of six Gundams and a Warship. Using the Command Mode you can direct your units to their objectives. Once that objective is complete you can redirect them to assist in other areas. The game will be released in February 2016 and for the first time, Southeast Asia region will be getting an English version. If there was a good reason to get a PS Vita, this would be it.

One of the most anticipated presentations on Saturday was the one for Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Producer Shunsuke Fujita cossed as Madara Uchiha earning the nickname "Fuji-Dara" for the event.  

The game will feature the largest playable roster of characters and there will be incredible boss battles including one which will take place in the air. We got a look at Itachi and Shisui's Perfect Form Susano's which was designed by Masashi Kishimoto exclusively for the game.  

We were shown several gameplay trailers of the Combination Secret Techniques and also of the Linked Awakening. The new trailers from GameStart can be found on Youtube.

Like last year there was the beat the producer challenge. Fuji-Dara played three matches. He won two and lost one. 

Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 will be released in February next year!

The Game On! Cosplay Runway Showcase, organised by The Neo Tokyo Project was held on Sunday. This year's event saw some eighteen participants competing. The judges for the contest were Johnny (Junkers Cosplay Inc), Karin (Acanthastar Cosplay) and TUNA Cosplay (kneeling centre of the following pic respectively). Prizes were awarded based on the judges' choice. Junkers picked Miku, Acanthastar picked Scarecrow and TUNA picked Red from Transistor.

The hottest panel of the event was undoubtedly Street Fighter V. Producers Yoshinori Ono and Tomoaki Ayano, who cossed as Chuin-Li were on hand to present the game to us. They first introduced a couple of recently announced characters in Laura and Dhalsim. There will be sixteen playable characters when the game launches and a further six characters will be available later. They teased that one of the characters might even be a Singaporean! 

A new feature of the game will be the tutorial. Most of us would be already familiar with the controls but this is especially useful to new players. There are even stories weaved into them. We can also learn how to use the new V-skill which is also a new feature of the game.

Three special guests graced the panel. They were pro players Poongko, Infiltrator and Xian (centre three from left to right respectively in the following pic). A challenge was thrown to the audience. If anyone could beat them, they could win a PS4. That's right a PS4! This had the crowd on their feet wanting to be selected. Three matches were played but no one from the audience won. 

The PS4s were re-offered to the most passionate fans who showed their support to Xian and Infiltrator in an exhibition match. A lucky youngsters won one while another was given to M.Bison. A cosplayer that is. I would be panicking if the real one were in the hall. 

I stuck around and watched the absorbing finals of the Capcom ProTour Asia. Poongko came out tops in this one using Seth.

Poongko (left) with Producer Yoshinori Ono

It was then a face-off match between the top two high scorers of the official GameStart game. They competed in a never before seen boss level which has two stages. In the first stage you had to overcome a big horse boss and in the second you had to defeat Akuma! This new content will be available for download in a couple of weeks time. 

That's it from me for GameStart 2015. This year's edition was simply awesome! The bigger floor space was very much welcomed. More people could be accommodated and the line to enter was smooth. The booths were bigger and very accessible for the most part. I love the bright lights and the multicoloured spotlights. It truly felt like a real convention. Would it be asking for too much to get the waiting time down with even more demo consoles? It was great to see the big brands which participated. The content brought in was top notch. I also found out about some cool games from local developers. It was nice to see them get a turn in the spotlight. I'm looking forward to next year's event!  

I leave you now with some additional pics. Click images to enlarge.

The galleries as follow:

GameStart 2015 Game On! Cosplay Showcase

Cosplay (Saturday)

Cosplay (Sunday)

Thanks for viewing!

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