What made this one so interesting (besides its being well-drawn and not just a pasted collection of sprites) is that hours after I posted it, my old school friend Jason (aka my old modem colleague Nitnatsnoc, SysOp of The Screaming Tomato BBS) took a moment out of his busy schedule to check in and say "hi, cool beans, did you know that picture you just posted was drawn by my sister?" It's true, she was commissioned to create the artwork by a local used video game emporium, and the characters gaming on the sofa were even chosen by the staff!
It's funny that Jason was my teenaged re-entry point into comic books (sure, as a little kid I had a small collection of Richie Rich, Donald Duck and Star Wars comics, plus troubling appearances by Moondog and the "Anatomy Lesson" issue of Swamp Thing), not only getting me back on track by loaning me Kingdom Come and Mike Allred's Madman but also introducing me to small press indie comics such as 86'd by Ian Boothby (now of Bongo Comics writing fame.) (Oh yeah, and the ANSI art scene we both jumped into was a crash course in the then-current garbagey Image Comics revolution.) And... I never ended that sentence. It's funny that he led me back into the comics fold, and then it wasn't HIM, but his sister, Nina Matsumoto, who ended up becoming a bona fide comic art professional.
Down the line she did a sequel to that ensemble piece, which is also outstanding, this time, with the video game villains taking a turn on the gaming sofa:
Phew. I had that much fun just talking up the promotion for the party (the level of detail, down to the specifics of the controllers being held, omg!), did I have any fun actually playing games at the actual party? Well yes, we found several very interesting games. "Woody, how did you get that far into Bubble Bobble playing on your own? Don't you realise you can't get a true ending without bringing your friend?"
The pinball ain't great. (I was delighted, however, to find that you can bump the entire landscape... hopefully not to result in TILT.) The military strategy isn't the easiest to pull off. But everything works much as it is supposed to, and there is truly else nothing like it. It's not a multiplayer game, but my chiefest observation of the gameplay -- I don't have enough hands to maneuver multiple areas on this Gamecube controller AND deal with a microphone -- might be neatly solved by giving it a 2P. (Tucking the mic behind my ear as a makeshift headset just didn't cut it, because you need to press the button on the mic to accept input from it!) Apparently an early version of the game accepted additional morale-boosting input from taiko pounding on the DK Bongo peripheral, but now you need a whole team leading your army!
I did not realize that I was previously familiar with any of the auteur's work, but Yoot Saito is not only renowned for SimTower, but he is also the offbeat mind behind the Dreamcast's dark horse, Seaman. Funnily enough, we had made a few Seaman jokes
(what's long, torpedo-shaped and full of seamen? A submarine!) over the course of the night because of the (surprisingly!) dark cyberpunk tone of the following title...
We also were given a live demo of "Viper League", a multiplayer "snake" arena game for web browsers, which occupied us in clusters of four around a single keyboard for quite some time. I don't believe it's launched yet, so I'm not authorized to point you to a build to try out for yourself, but do keep your eyes open for it, because it was a slice. Of. Multiplayer. Fun.
@AccordionBruce "Ecco the Dolphin is the Silver Surfer of the Segaverse."— Rowan Lipkovits (@UnwashedMass) May 15, 2016
Hits and misses in brief: the blackout curtains make playing using the projector as a display viable before nightfall, which is awesome! But they do block window airflow, which makes for a room full of hot electronics and sweaty humans. A friend brought an extension cord for backyard projecting-on-the-side-of-our-house play, but we never followed through on it. (Hopefully to be addressed later this summer at a smaller, one-system event.) My N64 is growing increasingly unreliable; I couldn't get a single game to launch on it this time. My TV antenna transformer adaptor has come loose from a soldered joint, so until I can lean on someone to repair or replace it, my Atari 2600 is out of commission. Though I play Gamecube games on my Wii, I kept a Gamecube on retainer for the sole purpose of being able to play Pac-Man Vs., but the Game Boy Advance SP (which connects to it) whose battery ran down cannot simply have its battery replaced with a stock supermarket variety; instead, I need a special charging cord it did not come with, second-hand -- a hassle. (But Pac-Man Vs. is worth it!) The Neo-Geo X delivers exactly what it promises and no more: the joysticks are sturdy and feel solid in the hand, just the thing for its fighting games (King of Fighters, Samurai Shodown) but SNK's Neo-Geo games themselves are somewhat unbalanced due to their arcade origins. (My kaijiu-wrestling favorite -- ask me sometime about the giant monster combat pen and paper game I designed in elementary school -- King of the Monsters delivered a surprising result: the players were not able to inflict enough damage quickly enough for anyone to win a round before the time limit ran down. And finally: begin your setup with the machines that are easy to set up and get working, so when guests arrive you'll have at least something for them to play. Troubleshooting problem units means the first hour of your party can just scale up to four people scratching their chins and speculating rather than just one.
I can't wait to do another one and, y'know, even get around to playing some games between the six-month-interval parties, so I can make recommendations rather than falling back on my guests stumbling across hidden gold in the stacks. Somewhere down the line, this will become easier. You'll hear about it here first! Cheers and game on!