When I went to Otakon a couple years ago in the midst of the financial crisis and decided to report back on something, it ended up being the feeling that hard times hadn’t hit this convention at all. This year it’s all about me being broke and unemployed, and just deciding to take pictures of stuff I wish I could buy.
The biggest thing that doesn’t seem to change every year in Otakon’s dealer’s hall are the prices of rare and/or import games. Every year I go I end up spending a few minutes staring at a $100+ copy of Mother or Mother 3, or both. It’s times like this when I praise digital distribution of old games. Final Fantasy VII was something like $150 this year even though I’d bought it on PSN for $9.99. The strong yen is probably making things worse nowadays. I saw a copy of Final Fantasy Type-0 there and had just learned that the PSP is actually region-free, but the game was $92.
The one thing that hurts me the most when going to Otakon though is still walking into one of the art book vendors. It’s probably another case of the strong yen, but combined with the still common superiority of Japanese game art books, some of the prices in there are just devastating.
In terms of the actual playing of games, it might be just me, but the gaming hall felt a lot more competitive this year. I’m disappointed that we couldn’t get some kind of Persona 4 Arena preview like we got for King of Fighters XIII last year, but Soul Calibur V, Street Fighter X Tekken, Modern Warfare 3, and Skullgirls all debuted at Otakon this year.
Is one-on-one MW3 a thing? I saw a lot of that at the convention, and it was getting a fair bit of attention too. What really impressed me though was Skullgirls, which I’d never seen in action before. I’d kind of ignored it for being a western-developed fighting game (though Mortal Kombat did get an increased presence at Otakon this year) but it actually looks pretty amazing in motion and the matches I saw were intense.
The only game I myself tried to break into this year was Soul Calibur V. Even though I didn’t win at all I still feel good about the game, I just need to figure out ground recovery, which I swear has changed significantly since SCIV.