This Labor Day Weekend, I had the pleasure of checking out the latest games and accessories at Penny Arcade Expo in downtown Seattle. If you love games or geek culture, I highly recommend attending PAX as you get a chance to preview the big holiday blockbusters as well as play amazing games made by small studios and students.
Here are some of my favorite picks from the show that I’m looking forward to playing in the next few months.
Aden’s Musical Playground
(coming to PC and Mac, requires Oculus VR headset)
Imagine teaching a deaf child about music by using flashing orbs or exploding fireworks to show musical rhythms. That’s what the developer team Spontaneous QuirK set out to do when they created the wildly imaginative virtual reality game Aden’s Musical Playground. Not only do you get to see your favorite pop or classical song brought to life as falling snowflakes, dancing fountains, or fireworks blasts, but you can also play composer by touching the three-dimensional notes.
Bebylon Battle Royale
Kite and Lightning
(coming soon to PC, requires Oculus or Vive VR headset)
In the far future, parents have created designer babies who live forever. The only problem is that while the minds of the little tykes matured, their bodies didn’t. That’s the hilarious premise of Bebylon Battle Royale, where bored immortal toddlers battle each other in tricked-out robot cars. While nobody can die, each time you win you get the satisfaction of watching your opponent’s avatar cry like they’ve lost their favorite binkie.
Developer: Sweet Bandits
(coming to PC, Xbox One, and PS4)
Finally, a fighting game for the espresso addicted. In Coffense, your goal is to use your coffee mug to block, twirl and smash your way to victory. If you land a lucky hit, you can drink some of your opponent’s brew and get a quick power-up. But be careful, as once you’re down to the last drop you’ve lost the game.
(coming to Nintendo Switch, PC, Xbox One, and PS4)
Attention Harry Potter fans: here’s your new favorite party game. Choose from one of several eccentric magician apprentices and battle your way across gorgeous Anime-inspired environments. You can choose from a variety of spells and even create powerful combos with your friends, but be prepared for things to go horribly wrong if you mistime your wand blasts.
(coming to PC)
In Phantom Doctrine, you get to embrace your inner James Bond or Lorraine Broughton as you try to uncover a global conspiracy during the end of the Cold War. Practice your spy craft as you recruit new agents, blackmail or brainwash enemy spies, and collect intelligence. Then carry out daring missions with your agents in turn-based tactical mode.
Super Mario Odyssey
(coming to Nintendo Switch)
Few games can unite different generations like Super Mario, and Odyssey is shaping up to be the holiday game both parents and kids will love. The game is perfectly designed for the new Nintendo Switch, allowing you to twirl Mario around or fling his hat with the flick of your wrist. You can also for the first time take control of objects and enemy creatures, even the mighty T-Rex.
Finally, I’d like to give a big shout-out to all the amazing students I got to meet at the DigiPen booth. Located in Redmond, DigiPen is one of the leading programs for game development. All of the great student PAX games are available for free on the school’s website (http://games.digipen.edu/collection/pax-2017), and I especially recommend playing the adorable 3D adventure game, Guardians of the Gears, which was a finalist in the E3 College Game Competition.