Unlike GraphiteHelix, I’m going all three days of not only Crunchyroll Expo, but also MAGWest, the gaming convention next door.
And also unlike GraphiteHelix, almost none of the things I had to do when I got there had a line. It’s what happens when you arrive to the convention center around 2:30PM with your brother.
MAGWest registration pickups? No line.
Crunchyroll Expo registration pickups? No line.
Crunchyroll Expo premium goodies? No line.
Crunchyroll Expo autograph tickets? A friend gave me a ticket, ergo no line. (okay to be fair, said friend got it from someone while they were in a line, and tickets were obtained through a line, so maybe this doesn’t really count)
The only lines I had to involve myself in were the line to get into the autograph room and the line to get the autograph itself. Otherwise, today was a virtually line-free experience (^o^)/ (i’m sorry graphitehelix)
Before the con
My brother picked me up in the afternoon and we decided to grab a bite to eat at this pizza place called Premier Pizza. We ordered a small Duke, which was pepperoni, salami, ham, and italian sausage for roughly 20 bucks (we split the cost between my brother and I), and I think this pizza has a crispiness that rivals that of Pizza Hut’s by a long mile (don’t ask, that was the closest “crispiness” rival I could think of off the top of my head).
Afterwards, we went to the hotel/convention center where we learn that all the parking at the hotel’s been taken up, so we ended up in the overflow parking after a few moments (some of those moments being my brother booing the Levi Stadium as we passed it like the Raider’s fan he is _(:3 ｣∠ )_). As I mentioned before, there was no line to get our badges at MAGWest, so my brother and I quickly got our badges and carried on with our business.
At MAGWest in the afternoon
The part of MAGWest that my brother was most interested in was the gaming area, so our first course of action was finding the place. I relied on my CA-X instincts and went upstairs to see if the games were located there, but quickly learned that it was just a panels and concert section considering how barren the upstairs area looked from the outside. We went back downstairs and found a map that led us to the gaming room, in which the room was separated into three different parts: the arcade area, the console area, and the indies area.
My brother just went straight for the console games while I headed straight for the indies area where someone at the SJSU Game Dev Club section needed help with their homemade arcade cabinets (I couldn’t help them since it was related to controller configurations). I was supposedly set for a 4-hour shift from 3PM to 7PM watching the cabinets, but realized that there was at least one person watching the cabinets at all times, so I decided to head off and do my own thing as well.
The arcade area
When I walked into the gaming room in general, the games I immediately noticed at the arcade area were:
- Groove Coaster 2: Heavenly Festival
- Beatmania III -THE FINAL-
- beatmaniaIIDX 23 Copula
- THE☆Bishi Bashi
- Tetris: The Grand Master 3 -Terror Instinct-
- DDR Extreme (with a DDRMAX marquee)
- PIU Prime 2
- ParaParaParadise 1st Mix Plus
- DrumMania V7
As I walked around the arcade area a bit, I also noticed:
- Dance Evolution
- Jubeat (didn’t catch the version)
- Pop’n Music 20 fantasia
- Dodonpachi Dai-ou-jou Black Label EX
- Super(?) Street Fighter II
- Marble Madness
- Arkanoid (which was out of order when I first arrived, but was later fixed)
- Virtua Cop 3
- The House of the Dead
- A few other games that I don’t know off the top of my head
The arcade section was admittedly sparse in its game lineup compared to larger conventions that I’ve experienced like Fanime and California Extreme, but I think it’s an alright starting point, if only for the chance to actually play things like Dance Evolution and Beatstream ( ﾟДﾟ)
The console and indies area
The console section was also a bit sparse, though it did have a neat row of old-school Nintendo and Sega consoles playing games from Super Mario World to Sonic the Hedgehog 2, from Mario Party to Chu Chu Rocket, and so on and so forth. I caught my brother going through some minigames on Mario Party and ended up joining him in a set of 7 minigames, though it took me until the 3rd minigame for me to realize that I picked Luigi, not Mario ( ﾟ^ﾟ) My brother and I tied for second, but in the end, a CPU-controlled Peach ended up going home with the spoils ( ﾟДﾟ)
I didn’t really pay too much mind to the indies area outside of the SJSU Game Dev Club arcade cabinets, though I did notice that Rhythm Core Alpha 2 was being promoted (I used to own a copy before my backpack and, by extension, my 3DS got stolen). Other things I noticed around the indies area were a couple of virtual and augmented reality projects, alongside an indie that made use of an ultrawide monitor, reminiscent to things like Darius 2 or the old Tecmo Bowl games where the games were two monitors wide. One of my old classmates was also demoing a two-week game project in this section as well, which was a simple platformer where you had to collect magic rocks before heading off to a boss battle (I died before I could reach that goal).
Everything else didn’t seem all that memorable to me.
At Crunchyroll Expo in the afternoon
Eventually, I had to get my badge for the Crunchyroll Expo side of things. Transitioning to and from each convention took a while to do, since MAGWest was focused on mostly the hotel portion of the location, and Crunchyroll Expo was actually the main attraction for the convention center itself. CRX (alternatively for me, CRExpo) had a bag check at every allowed entrance to the convention center, but since I stowed my backpack in one of the Game Dev Club arcade cabinets back at MAGWest, I went into the convention center with just me, myself, and me…and a smartphone and wallet, I guess 😡
I made my way through the outer hallways of the convention center to find the registration desks, and, as I mentioned previously, these, too, had no lines to get badges or the premium member goodies off to the side, so I just went in, showed my QR code for registration, and then signed in to my Crunchyroll account to claim my Premium goodies. I stopped by the exhibit hall real quick, lurking around and seeing what was available, and the following actually did catch my eye a bit:
- Kinokuniya (sadly, they did not have Kinmirai Happy End, so I guess I’ll need to re-order a copy from Amazon Japan)
- A huge promotion for VRV, complete with what I think are Cartoon Hangover promos
- A GIANT INFLATED TITAN HEAD
- Itasha (anime cars, basically)
- an EA booth (apparently they give out free goodies ranging from tattoos to free copies of their games if you sign up to playtest their games)
- a few mystery box vendors, one of them having Mario ? block, Pokeball, and Weighted Companion Cube designs (my brother would eventually buy the Mario ? block mystery box for one of our nephews)
- a huge section exclusive for premium members (I didn’t check it out, personally)
After lurking a bit, I returned to the MAGWest side of things to play a few games and wait for my net friends to arrive. Apparently they ended up in San Francisco to pick up someone that had come all the way from SoCal, in which they stopped by Kinokuniya and derped around a bit. Meanwhile…
At Crunchyroll Expo in the late afternoon/early evening
My cousin texted me about getting a ticket for Monica Rial’s autograph session; apparently someone that was in line for Adam Savage’s had something to do around the time Rial’s session was up, so he gave away his autograph ticket to my cousin. I picked up the ticket at around 5:15PM from my friend in the artist alley, in which I spent the next 15 minutes…scrambling to find a print that Rial actually did a role in (sure, she had over 500 roles in her whole career, but I needed to know the stuff that I knew of, which was limited to around a handful). I ended up settling for a Tsuyu print–nevermind the fact that I only watched part of the first episode of My Hero Academia–and headed over for the pre-line for the autograph room.
Once I got into the autograph room, I saw my cousin in line for Caitlin Glass’s autograph session, in which he got a couple of UR Maki prints signed. Caitlin’s session was already over schedule, so he wasn’t able to get a group picture with her in it. Things started moving on at around 6:10PM, and it took me around 15 more minutes before I got to her, but the wait was very much worth it. Meeting someone that rarely ever comes to this part of the state is honestly a sight to behold, and Monica was also contemplating making more appearances here since California was one of her favorite states (she’s based in Texas). If she could make it to more Norcal conventions, I, for one, would not mind this one single bit.
Ending with MAGWest and dinner
After I got Monica’s signature on the aforementioned Tsuyu print, I made my way back to MAGWest to drop off the print with the rest of my stuff (actually, one of the guys that supervises the SJSU Game Dev Club texted me to get one of the cabinets set up for a tournament tomorrow). My phone was also dying as well, so I went to one of the cabinet’s computers and plugged my phone in to charge it for a bit. I contacted one of my net friends (in Japanese) to see where they were, and they had finally arrived at the hotel after their impromptu trip to San Francisco. They eventually did come over to the gaming room, in which I see two of my net friends for the very first time in the flesh, but unfortunately, my cousin and friend texted me about heading out early (which meant no Sub vs. Dub panel for me) since they were tired and broke from being at the con for almost 12 hours straight.
I told my net friends that I’d see them tomorrow since I also wanted to head off for dinner with my cousin and friends, and afterwards, we went to a Chinese skewer restaurant on the way back home.
The adventure continues tomorrow…but before I go, have a couple of cosplay pictures that I caught at both of the conventions.