Let the Games Begin

Fantastic Arcade

Fantastic Fest's virgin foray into video games last year was a watershed moment for Austin's gaming scene, which is commonly known as a hub of online PC games and the home of Richard Garriott. The Fantastic Arcade let the world know that, in addition to those things, Austin has a thriving indie scene that can hold its own with those in New York and Toronto. Like last year, the 2011 arcade will bring a who's who of cutting-edge developers to show off new and future creations and again assert Austin as a destination for burgeoning developers.

The 2010 arcade may have been an overall success, but one failure was the poor attendance at the panels, which were located at the adjacent Alamo Drafthouse. Either people couldn't tear themselves away from the games, were too lazy to make the harrowing journey from the HighBall, or they assumed that listening to people talking about games were less interesting than playing them. Whatever the reason, it was a shame, since the discussions on the whole were engaging and light-hearted. To remedy the attendance problem, the fest organizers will pack the games and the talks together into the HighBall.

What isn't changing is the laundry list of notable developers and hot-shit games. Of note is the developing duo known as Vlambeer, which will show off three upcoming releases, including the often imitated Radical Fishing for iOS. Polytron's long-awaited perspective-shifting game, Fez, can also be drooled over as we wait for an official release. On the local front, audio experimenter Robin Arnott brings his gas-mask-centric sensory-deprivation game, Deep Sea (see "Sinking Deeper," April 15, 2011), for brave souls, while Tiger Style – maker of the lauded Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor – offers an equally impressive-looking release called Lost Mars. Add to that PlayStation showing off the arty end of its downloadable titles and creator commentaries for many of the above mentioned games along with FRACT, Octodad, Bit Pilot, and Owlboy (to name just a few), and Fantastic Arcade 2011 is primed to keep you from doing anything productive for a few days. That's assuming you don't think playing and learning from the best independent developers in the world isn't productive.

Fantastic Arcade runs Sept. 22-25 from 11am to 8pm at the HighBall. Free and open to the public.

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Fantastic Arcade, Vlambeer, Radical Fishing, Polytron, Fez, Robin Arnott, Tiger Style, Lost Mars, FRACT, Octodad, Bit Pilot, Owlboy, Fantastic Fest, ff2011, Fantastic Fest 2011

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