Wednesday, June 5, 2019

MomoCon 2019

 Having attended a general nerd/pop culture conventions like Dragon Con for the past several years, I've been interested in attending a convention that focuses a little more narrowly on my main nerd fandoms: video games and anime. Conveniently, Dragon Con's sister convention, MomoCon, happens to be focused on those two very things! While the anime parts of it were a lot of fun and the cosplay, of course, was on point, it was the gaming events that really stood out to me. In particular, I really enjoyed meeting indie developers and trying out demos of their games.

Here are some of the gaming highlights from the con:

Inti Creates (website)

Among the devs with displays on the MomoCon floor, Inti Creates was one of the largest and most well known. They make Bloodstained Curse of the Moon, which was one of my favorite games of 2018. As one of their employees stated, they are the makers "of fine 2D action games... and also Gal Gun."
I was able to demo four of their games at the convention:
  • Dragon Marked for Death (Switch) - The newest game from Inti, an action RPG with 2D platforming elements. It's hard to get a good sense of an RPG during a brief convention floor demo, but it felt solid and had very nice sprite work. The combat was quite tough, so I think learning combos would be key.
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt 2 (Switch, 3DS) - My favorite among the games I tried at the Inti booth. It's similar to Mega Man but with more of an over-the-top anime flavor. The character I played as, Copen, had an interesting mechanic in which you first dash into an enemy to lock on to them, and then jump back to fire homing shots at them. I may end up making space in my queue for a Gunvolt game in the near future. 
  • Blaster Master Zero 2 (Switch) - I have very limited experience with previous Blaster Master games, but this one appeared to stick quite closely to the formula of the original. This series breaks up the Metroidvania format by having vehicle combat and occasional overhead shooter segments. Since the game controls differently depending on whether you're on foot, in a tank, or in the shooter segments, I would likely need to spend some time with it to get the hang of it.
  • Gal Gun 2 (PS4, Switch) - This was probably the strangest game I played at MomoCon. It's an on-rails light gun shooter that also features dating sim elements; your character apparently is shooting crazed anime girls with pheremones?! Unfortunately, the floor demo used a PS4 controller, which I found really difficult to use to aim the gun. Also, the suggestive themes in this game made it a little awkward to play on a convention hall floor surrounded by thousands of people! 

Mega Cat Studios (website)
I had never heard of this studio before, but they had a rather prominently positioned booth with more games to try than any other developer. Most of their focus seemed to be on making new games for retro systems like the NES, SNES, and Genesis. I appreciated that each demo station uses a vintage CRT TV set. They also had a demo for one game for modern consoles.

Games Played:
  • Log Jammers (NES, PC, Switch, PS4) - A lumberjack-themed sports game pretty clearly inspired by Pong and Wind Jammers. It was pretty basic I liked the work they put into the customer NES cartridge.
  • Little Medusa (NES, PC, Switch, PS4) - A puzzle game in which you turn enemies into stone and knock them into the water to form bridges. A fun game for shorter sessions. I liked the cute and colorful graphics.
  • Old Towers (Genesis) - A puzzle platformer in which your character zooms up vertical stages along rows of coins. The way the character moves coupled with the fact that you have to get every coin to reveal the exit reminded me of Pac-Man.
  • Crunch Out (SNES) - I watched my wife play this one. In this area arcadey management sim, you play as the manager of a video game company and run around the office making sure your coders keep working by feeding them and keeping them awake. There's definitely some commentary being made about the state of the game industry here.
  • Bite the Bullet (PC, Switch) - A 2D shooter like Contra or Metal Slug but with a twist, eating your downed enemies allows you to upgrade your character and charge up special moves. As their only game on modern hardware, it takes Mega Cat's retro designs and adds a lot of embellishment. The controls and character movement felt a little sluggish but I'm hoping that's just due to the floor demo being an in-work build of an unreleased game.



Studio Soft Colors (website)
This studio only had one game on display, a visual novel:
  • Aquadine (PC, mobile) - This visual novel set in a Venice-like city had really pretty artwork. It seemed to have some pretty deep lore about mermaids, Atlantis, and other mythological concepts in addition to a more typical romance plot. The con floor was far too loud and busy to really focus on a visual novel, but what I saw has me interested to try the demo. 

Blue Bomber Games (website)

This developer's game won Momocon's Best Georgia Indie award!
  • Looking for Heals (PC) -  A dungeon crawling action RPG in which the player character is the healer for a group of wreckless AI-controlled warriors. Most of the gameplay involves following your party around as they battle their way through skeletons and demons casting various healing and resurrection spells on them to keep them alive. It's a simple but novel concept. Only a limited demo was available, but the game seemed like it will feature some humorous writing as well.

Pixel Nicks (website)
Pixel Nicks also only brought one game, but they made it count by winning Best Overall in the Momocon Indie Showcase!
  • Eagle Island (PC) - A Metroidvania with Rogue-like elements. The player character has very limited abilities, so he relies on his pet bird to attack enemies and pick up items. I liked the lush look of the environments despite the fact that they're procedurally generated.

While I mostly focused on indie games for this con, of course, it wouldn't be a real con without some cosplay. Most people were cosplaying as anime characters (a little out of scope for this blog), but I did happen to snap photos of my two favorite video game characters cosplays that I saw.


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