The glowing "ARCADE" sign returned home to The Highball today, as Fantastic Arcade took up residence in what truly looks like a legit old school arcade- a bleepy bloopy kid sister to the teeming funball that is Fantastic Fest. In addition to the 8 spotlight arcade cabinets constructed in The Highball's enclosed patio area, we wheeled out the laptops so attendees could check out our showcase selections, and Sony PSN and Devolver Digital joined in to show off their indie game wares as well.
We have always felt at home in The Highball, but last year at the Lakeline location it was also great having a theater to ourselves. This year we've tried to get the best of both worlds. Each morning we set up shop in The Highball for some morning developer commentaries, and then when things start to get too rowdy, we move into Theater 3 for our larger panels and tournaments. We started out with a sneak preview of the indie game documentary Game Loading, and then followed with a look into the mysterious and undeniably beautiful and intricate Gorogoa- an illustrated puzzle game by Jason Roberts.
David OReilly's serenely funny Mountain was up next, as programmer Damien DiFede invited audience members to plant the seed of a mountain by drawing abstract concepts, and then talked us through the creation of the game while we watched the mountain grow, and occasionally get pelted with spaceborne appliances.
We made our way to theater 3 for the next event- the first tournament of the year, a sneak peak at the new, experimental dance-battle mode of Stephen Ascher's breakdancing hot-dog opus QED- a returning favorite in a new form (complete with amazing B-Boy character creation). Bizarre and ridiculous things occurred, which is something Fantastic Arcade is now becoming modestly famous for.
Next up we had a megatournament of Austin game developer Rusty Moyher's crowd pleaser Astro Duel. In what had to be the most organized tournament we've had yet, dozens of contestants matched reflexes in this new take on classics like Space War and Asteroids.
Next we watched Episode 4 of the excellent Super Game Jam series, with subject Martin Jonasson in attendance. We'll be checking back in with the creators to check out the still unreleased 5th episode later in the fest.
Finally we all got to meet this year's special guest Thu Tran, who will be hosting Sunday's special Barfcade event at the Highball (more info here). Thu and her friend Ivan Safrin showed us their recent collaboration- a series of motion-controlled games honoring the city of Cleveland in the most bizarre and heartfelt way imaginable.
There will be more? more. more! (more) videogames and crazy wonderful magic madness in store tomorrow! Remember that all of Fantastic Arcade's panels, talks and tourneys are free-for-all.