Really?! It’s been a year already? I am truly shocked but also am very thankful to all of you to be able to help me go from an hobby writer to being able to be eligible for a press pass to this convention! So for that I am truly thankful and I will do my best to keep all my reviews and write ups to a high standard in the future.

So, Arcade Con 2014. Not much has changed since last year, it is the exact same venue, the very fancy Ballsbridge Hotel in Ballsbridge Dublin 4, the only thing that seemed to change was that now I have an overall better knowledge about what to expect, and I hope that shows in my past reviews in the past. I sometimes feel that since I was a “Con-Virgin” before I wrote my first review everything to me was either amazing or awesome, mainly because it was a new or exciting time for me. But as stated above I know what to look out for now so this review will be a lot more technical than my previous write up!

One thing that I love about Arcade Con and I really hope this doesn’t change, it is a different type of con than most others, where some focus on showing off props and photo opportunities, others may only set up for the objective of making money, Arcade Con to me, doesn’t seem to be intent on any of these, they want to put on a show for you, to entertain you, to educate you but also give you the opportunity to purchase some niche artwork and crafts. Which I will touch on in a second. Of course there was a slew of special guests, two of which were the highlight of my weekend, meeting the man behind the immensely popular Adventure Time Mr Pendleton Ward, and “The Doctor” from Star Trek Voyager, the one and only Robert Picardo. Meeting Pen was actually really strange, it happened at the bar in the gaming side of the introduction night, I just casually sauntered up beside him at the bar and said hey, we chatted for a bit and he went off to play, then a friend said to me, you see that guy in the red hat, that’s Pendleton Ward, the guy behind Adventure Time!! Needless to say, I was surprised!

 

Courtesy of Owen Quinn of The Time Warriors

 

The Opening Ceremony and Burlesque Show

Spanning over 4 days (1 public, 3 attendees only) they certainly had a jam packed schedule for those days! But let’s start with Thursday, the public event. Not only was this the opening day for the con but it also was there to set the tone for what to expect for the remainder of the weekend and what better way to do that rather then have a show hosted by the always awesome folks from the Pubcast! But as if that wasn’t enough already the Pubcast was also joined by the guys from the 2D Cast, and by God did they put on one helluva show! What started off as a formal introduction to the event suddenly become a very raunchy burlesque show. Now I know what you guys are thinking, no, I don’t have pictures, although there wasn’t anything over the top, I still wouldn’t want to post photos of the girls on Akroview without their consent, if you are so eager to see them then have a search through Facebook!

But all that aside, to review the performance in a purely professional sense I was pleasantly surprised with the performances the girls gave, it was very tastefully done with hints to almost every corner of nerd fandom. And they certainly raised some of the heartbeats of the male (and probably some of the females) in the crowd, judging by the clapping and the woo-ing that filled the air after every performance! In short it was one helluva way to open the weekend, as some of the other attendees would put it, Booze, Boobies and Banter!

First Official Day!

Then we stroll in on the Friday and the premier day of the attendee only day of the con,and the first thing you’re greeted with are the gentlemen from the Starfleet and U.S.S Cuchulainn showing off some props and selling badges and promoting, which is always a good thing to see. Then we see the trade hall, and the centre piece of the entire con! And I dare say it is probably one of the best con trade halls that I have been to so far, the reason why is simple, it is all independent traders and artists and a handful of bigger comic shops and traders scattered about. The layout of the entire con was ok, it did get a little confusing at times but the good folks at the event staff must’ve anticipated this because strewn around the walls were helpful layout maps of where each little event was going to take place, very well done!

GAMES GAMES GAMES!!!

Then there was the gaming room which was situated up stairs! Which should have been by home for the weekend but strangely enough I didn’t get to spend that much time in the gaming area as I first planned. I don’t know why it just didn’t call me as much as I thought it would. But I did get to meet two individuals who were either flaunting their wears or flaunting their games. One of which was Colm from Gambrinous who was showing off his next title called Guild of Dungeoneering.

Guild of Dungeoneering (DoG) is a top down dungeon building game that sees the player take control of an egghead little fella as he walks through a hand drawn dungeon in search of treasures and fighting vicious monsters! DoG has a very unique system underneath it’s cute demeanor, which took me quite a while to get used too, listening, taking notes and playing the game was a lot more difficult than I thought. But what I can remember is that I had a blast whilst playing, which first seemed like a simple point and click dungeon building game actually turned into a very strategic game of baiting and luring, the system underneath it all basically allows the players egg-headed hero to be lured in a certain direction!

At the minute the game is still in very early stages, but the developer has a lot of plans for the future of DoG. At the minute he is only working with 4 slots for different weapons and attire for your hero but he is hoping to not only add more slots but also add different personality points, for example, one hero could be terrified of ghosts, so if you place a ghost in a dungeon he is more than likely going to avoid that room. It’s already gotten past Steam Greenlight so it’s already well on it’s way to being on your system in the near future. You can check out the current version of the game over on their website right here!

The other happy little fellow was from Player1, a shop/site based in Maynooth who specializes in selling games and custom controllers. He told me that with the rise of retro gaming he is now going to try to stock in as many retro games as he can, which is always a plus in my books. But that wasn’t all he had to show me, he also had (his personal one might I add) Oculus Rift. He had an OR there for anybody to come over and play, I would’ve liked to play it myself but due to my surgery  and prone to dizziness I decided to give it a miss. But the crowds reactions were amazing, and it certainly did draw a crowd over to his table. Player1 will also be stocking custom SharQ controllers, these controllers are amazing. What makes them so different? Well they have two panels at the back where your middle finger rests and these two panels activate your A and B button leaving your right thumb free to continue aiming! The triggers have also been modded with a blocker to define how much is needed to activate the triggers, saving you previous time. Currently they do seem quite expensive but if you are a hardcore gamer then you might consider picking one up, they currently have Xbox 360,Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 versions!

Courtesy of Owen Quinn of The Time Warriors

Trade Hall and Events

Going back to what I said about the trade hall being my possible favorite for any convention, it’s really simply done and it focuses on the independent artists and craftsmen and women out there rather than focusing on the bigger companies. I did a couple of laps around the hall chatting to some of the traders and artists and I must say not only are they very talented but also are really friendly people, although give them a hand of Cards Against Humanity cards and we see the real person come out! I did like the overall layout of the hall, the surrounding walls housed the larger stores and shops whilst the heart of the hall was the indie traders, which you could say can symbolize that the community is the heart of Arcade Con (or maybe I’m looking into it way too much!)

There was literally so much going on that I couldn’t fit everything into my schedule, but from what I’ve heard from other attendees was that almost all the panels and lectures were both informative and funny, which is basically what I stated earlier on. Arcade Con is there not only to entertain you but to educate you in every aspect of the fandom world! Panels were spread out across a wide array of subjects, gaming, film, cosplay, rpg and other more quirky/random ones.

But at the end of every night the Arcade didn’t disappoint, where some cons would just let out an announcement that the trade hall or entire con is closing Arcade Con had everyone change into their most formal outfit and attend the Starlight Ball, along with performances form various musical acts. They really did put on a helluva show for us all. Then for hours afterwards it was just a brilliant night of card games, drinking games and laugh filled conversations. It was perfect!

Courtesy of Owen Quinn of The Time Warriors

Courtesy of Owen Quinn of The Time Warriors
Final Thoughts

I did hear rumors whilst walking through the con that it wasn’t as popular this year as it was last year, I have no solid evidence to back that claim up but from what I could see it certainly seemed a lot better than last year. Even though last year I was so phased by everything and probably high on pain-killers from my surgery that I just didn’t notice!

All in all I would say it was a success, from the opening to the closing ceremony it was all handled so well, the staff were great, traders were friendly and talented, guests were courteous and down to earth. I had a great time over the weekend and it really did seem to go too quickly. During the closing ceremony and the charity auction we were all left in suspense as the organizer warned us that he did have thoughts that he was not gonna bring Arcade Con back next year, and as the worried cries settled down he reassured us that Arcade Con 2015 would definitely happen and that it will be better than ever!

And to end it all, here’s the Cosplay Music Video courtesy of Graham of Grahamedia.

Arcade con 2014 from Grahamedia on Vimeo.
Adam Waugh

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