PAX East 2020: The Recap!

This past weekend was the popular gaming convention PAX East 2020, held in Boston, MA. I was a co-host of two panels at the show, so I was excited to be there as a Special Guest and to perform with my friends. But I was also hyped up about the Animal Crossing New Horizons booth that was planned to be at the con!

The panels were both very successful. On Saturday night we hosted the Nintendo Feud Game Show: Team Isabelle vs Team Bowser. We had a huge crowd of gamers and cosplayers that were eager to participate in the game show.

I’m happy to report that Team Isabelle prevailed in the game show! The Enforcers running the queue room did a tally of which team each audience member voted for, and Isabelle won the popular vote as well! She is quite the politician. But we already knew that! Click on the Twitter post to see the full thread of photos, and be sure to click that Follow button while you’re there!

Our second panel was on Sunday, and was a panel format that we’d never done before. It was called “Pokemon: I Choose You Adventure” and was written by my friends at The Poke Problems Podcast. They wrote a complex choose your own adventure story with many many many endings that mixed comedy and surprise and Pokemon lore into a really fun story line. I was cast as the female NPCs and we had a lot of fun bringing up audience members to make the decisions and act out the story. Here’s a little bonus for my blog readers: You can now play along at home! Here is the link to the full Pokemon: I Choose You Adventure story from PAX East 2020. Try it out and see what ending YOU get!

I believe there may be video footage from these panels out there somewhere. If I manage to find any, I’ll be sure to share on Twitter or maybe another blog post!

Those panels were definitely my highlights of the event. The Animal Crossing New Horizons booth on the other hand, was not as delightful as an experience. How can this be??

I believe that the ACNH booth was out of control for a few reasons:

  1. SONY pulled out at the last minute, leaving some gamers with less options for mainstream swag
  2. The booth location was RIGHT next to the escalators, making it hard for anyone coming from another entrance to get a chance to join the lines
  3. Obviously the game is amazing and the merch was unbelievably cute

Even with the Warp Pass, I waited on line for 30ish minutes to play the ACNH game demo on Friday. But that was the least of my troubles. On Saturday, I planned to arrive an hour before the expo hall opened to get a good spot on line. Unfortunately an hour wasn’t early enough, and by the time I made it to the ACNH booth, the queues were already closed. I waited in a ‘holding area’ for an hour and a half in order to get on the Nintendo Store queue, and by the time I was actually at the cash wrap (which only had TWO registers!?!) all of the PAX Exclusive shirts were sold out. I was devastated.

The photo op area was completely adorable, they’d set up a human sized Animal Crossing town with different photo sets to stop at and take a photo. That is, if you had magically managed to get into the line. Every time I was there, the queue was closed. They wouldn’t let you stand nearby because of the foot traffic coming through. You’d have to hover around for 30+ mins and hope to get lucky enough to make it into the line. I couldn’t do it and only took photos of the scenery from the sidelines instead. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I was upset that I couldn’t get the full experience that was advertised, unless I was willing to spend the entire day waiting around by the booth. I’m old and my back starts hurting when I stand around, so I couldn’t do it to myself. I managed to get the Isabelle pin on Sunday, I guess the lines were slightly less insane that day. But I wish they had set up a lottery, or Warp Pipe passes for all of these experiences, instead of only the game demo.

Which brings me to the important info from the game demo itself! The Nintendo reps had us playing in multiplayer on one system, using characters that all lived in the same demo town. This town was already a bit more established, with an actual Town Hall instead of the Resident Services tent, in addition to the basic shops like Nook’s, Able’s and the Museum that are not present at the beginning of the new game. Unfortunately, the reps I spoke with knew nothing about New Horizons aside from what was in the demo, and couldn’t answer my questions, such as, “How long does it take for these staple venues to unlock in the game?” They didn’t know. It was a bit frustrating.

I don’t really recommend anyone play the game in this multiplayer mode, unless you’re playing with small children and don’t want them to mess things up in your town. Since you’re all sharing one screen, only the “Leader” of the group can access their pockets or pick up items. The “Followers” can only run around and use tools. If the Leader gets too far away from the Followers, they poof themselves back into view moments later. You can switch who the Leader is, but it’s still pretty wonky to play that way. I think the game will be much better when multiplayer is done on multiple Switch systems, with everyone looking at their own screen and being able to control their own life! lol

We were able to experience the crafting table and the Nook phone. I learned that Nook Miles will unlock many different things as you progress in the game, such as new hairdos and expressions. We also explored the Museum, which is completely mind-blowingly gorgeous. The entrance of the Museum leads to staircases and side doors that lead to the exhibits, which are humongous! I don’t want to give too much away by describing all of the details, because the WOW factor is worth it, but you can seriously get lost in that place.

The demo was good enough to make me want to play. The booth experience was pretty bad but it doesn’t change my mind about the game itself. It’s going to be amazing and I cannot wait!! 18 days to go!!

Did you go to PAX East this year? What booth was your favorite? Did you have any better luck than me at the ACNH booth? Let me know in the comments!

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