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Not counting that SXSW thing
James Renovitch, 11:24am, Tue. Mar. 5, 2013
Media Molecule is clearly ready to visit Texas

It's common knowledge: The SXSW Gaming Expo is going to be great. It's free. NASA's going to be there. Nintendo will be showing stuff. More on that in the big Interactive/Film issue coming out this Thursday. But surely there are other things going on in the robust gaming world of Austin. Well, yes, you inquisitive scamp, there are things going on.

It might be a good time to check out or revisit one of our town's remaining arcades, Arcade UFO. The campus-area spot has been renovated and, according to Twitter, is 100% functional. Improvements include a new coat of paint, tiled floors, better ventilation, and some new titles to play. You might want to brush up on your Street Fighter tactics before dropping in, the competition can be pretty fierce, and the battles can continue until midnight or later. Good thing there are new beverage vending machines.

If you don't want to jump into the SXSW Gaming fray cold, Austin's indie gaming collective, Juegos Rancheros, is happy to warm you up. Their monthly meeting hosts Media Molecule (aka the creators of LittleBigPlanet) this Thursday, 7pm, at the North Door. They'll be talking about their company's internal game jam and showcasing the results thereof. Why won't they be talking about their upcoming release, Tearaway? Because Media Molecule will be showing off that game the next day at the, wait for it, SXSW Gaming Expo. Juegos Rancheros is free and open to the public, as is the Gaming Expo, so if you're impressed on Thursday, check them out again the next day. If you need convincing, just play LittleBigPlanet again. How cute is that game? Also featured at this month's Juegos meeting will be SoundSelf, the locally developed experiment in audio/visual input/feedback looping. If you don't know what that means then checking it out in person might be the only way to fully understand it.

On Friday, there will be lots of parties Downtown with fancy drinks and free T-shirts and business card swapping. But if you want to party like a real Austin indie game fan then IndieCade Annex is for you. That means a keg, a nice backyard, and games on big and small screens. This month, the Annex will include games like Panaramical and SoundSelf as well as titles that made my best of 2012 list like Proteus and Super Hexagon. The party happens at 1310 Broadmoor, from there just ask to be pointed toward the beer.

And just to make sure that everything somehow relates back to the SXSW Gaming Expo at the Palmer Events Center, that same venue will host the Classic Game Fest in July. The CGF is a vastly expanded version of the event previously housed at local Game Over Videogames stores. They were the ones who started the festival after all. Like the rapidly expanding local chain, the Classic Game Fest is growing to two solid days of tournaments, movie screenings, music, and more. The one downside is the event will no longer be free, but a wristband good for the whole weekend is a measly $10. If you're under 12 years old it won't cost you a dime. More details on this event as they're announced.

If you're worried about keeping yourself occupied while waiting in the many lines that come with a festival of this size there are a few good new releases to check out:

Local developer Rusty Moyher released a platform game to the App Store called Angle Isle pitting a bird against a shark. Get from point A to B while the shark nips at your tail feathers. You only get four flaps of your wings before having to touch the ground, so make them count.

God of Blades is already on the App Store, but if you have an Android device or something that can use Google Play then, as of today, you're in luck. We've already recommended the game, so check it out.

If the line is really long, bust out your laptop and start a game of Banner Saga: Factions, which was officially released last week to Steam. Just be prepared to answer questions about the game's art design, because it's stunning.

Ready? Go!

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