Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Convention Update of August: EternalCon and LIRGE

I told everyone it was coming, so now here's a bit of coverage on two conventions that I visited across the summer, one in late June, the other in mid August.

The first of these was, of course, Eternal Con. Unlike 2018's, this Long Island-based convention didn't have much in the way of good opportunities for quality cosplay shots as being a comic-focused convention it's limited to (for the most part) people in skintight bodysuits/outfits. Sure they get the job done but as someone that goes to at most three anime-themed conventions a year, attending the likes of CPAC and AnimeNext and then going to a local low-priced comic convention is a bit disappointing.

And disappointing may sadly be what it was- Sure it wasn't as bad as some of the smaller bite-sized comic conventions I've found myself going to, but it felt much more commercial and merchandise-driven compared to prior years. Even the artist's alley, the highlight of nearly every convention I attend, felt bare and smaller in scale compared to last year's. I commissioned a few artists, grabbed some pics, and left with my feet acing me from five hours of walking on pure cold-stone cement- and like most cons the only place you could sit and rest was on said cold-hard cement, unless you went to the tabletop gaming section that is. As for the food.

So yeah, it was mostly nothing special- I could have skipped it and it probably would not have changed anything, but I had some friends there in the artists' alley so I went mostly for their sake.

Two months later, I attended Long Island Retro Gaming Expo 2019, which in some ways was a much bigger and robust convention than last year's. They got in some new, high-profile guests along with the return of Vinesauce, some new consoles unseen in prior years being demoed (including the ZX Spectrum), and alongside the endless array of arcade games, an entire section devoted to pinball. Now that last addition was significant, as it skyrocketed attendance to a much higher number compared to 2018's, and more people being aware of what was unfolding down at the expo invited a lot more of them in. It was so crowded that in the pinball section, all of the tables were almost never un-occuped, and they contained some rather uncommon finds (an intentional choice by the one that brought in the pinball tables). There were other arcade machines and pinball tables, but they were in the tournament play section and not available to the typical visitor.

The third floor's PC section from last year also remained, in which I briefly showcased Mega Man 8-Bit Deathmatch (mistakingly labeled in the computers' game select menu as the average-looking-in-quality Mega Man 2.5D) and to my surprise the game caught on with a fair number of people exploring the third floor, though the ones that tried the game struggled with getting used to the default controls and weapon-switching mechanics. As for the rest of the con, there were three 16-player LAN-powered Mario Kart: Double Dash tournaments on the second floor (the first time I ever saw proper LAN play for that game) and a group of people also on the second floor that played remixes of video game OST's, until for whatever reason they proceeded to full-blast the volume for about 30 minutes to an hour tops- forcing me to cover my ears whenever I walked nearby the corner on the balcony with the music playing. At least the food selection was good, provided you were willing to step outside and check out the food trucks.

Otherwise, Long Island Retro Gaming Expo is a good convention I wouldn't mind visiting again, provided you remember to pack earplugs.