Saturday, October 14, 2017

Gamestart Asia 2017: Strictly Reserved for the Hardcore Gamers and E-sports Enthusiasts

Gamestart Asia, South-East Asia's largest gaming convention, kicks off today at Suntec Convention Centre.

At 8:45AM, there was already a small group of gamers lining up to be amongst the first to enter the hall. After all, the first 300 people get a random loot bag filled with goodies.

Red Dot Diva and Ed, her good friend from the Glam Blogger Alliance got to enter the hall for a quick media preview, just before the VIPs were allowed in.

Upon entering the show hall, one cannot miss the trippily lighted main stage looming in front of you. It looks pretty grand, and was a very nice Instagram moment right there.

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Generally, there was a lot of space, with most of the booths hugging towards the side of the hall. There were wide walking paths all round, which was reminiscent of this year's STGCC, but with more intuitive pedestrian routes, and nary a badly planned constructed wall panel in sight.

However, Red Dot Diva found that since the last time she attended the show in 2015, Gamestart Asia has become less experiential and less visually exciting. E-sports is the in-thing, and the focus is all on the tournaments. This does not bring much excitement to a non-gamer like Red Dot Diva. It is strictly for the hardcore gamer boys (and some girls).

The PC & mobile game booths have been downplayed this year as well. Playstation, a main sponsor, secured only a small corner section, and had practical, basic-looking booths.

OK, granted that their Gran Turismo section looks pretty Tron-like and cool.

They showcased some VR games, and other titles like, FIFA 18 and Dissidia: Final Fantasy NT.

Other than e-sports, Tabletop Gaming is in the forefront in this year's Gamestart Asia. The entire area was set for players who love well-known titles like "Warhammer", "Dungeons & Dragons" as well as "Sushi Go" and "Exploding Kittens".

Of course, there is also Magic the Gathering, with volunteers all ready to help newbies get started with the game.

The first game Red Dot Diva tried at Gamestart was digital card game, "Shadowverse". She was mainly attempting it to help Ed get more freebie cards, and even with the booth attendee trying to explain to her how the game works, she still really has no clue. Mostly, she was not in a mood to think or use her brain to strategize, so she just dragged and pressed buttons. (As you can probably guess, RDD has low IQ and always loses at checkers. Let's not even mention chess.)

There were two games at Gamestart Asia that Red Dot Diva found most interesting though.

The first was the now-infamous "Fight of Gods" by Taiwanese company Digital Crafter. As the name suggests, the fight game pits religious deities and gods with each other. Seriously, there's even a very ripped Jesus Christ, fighting using slabs of his broken cross.

Here's Ed playing as Jesus, pitching a fight against Buddha! The Buddha was auto-played but he was pretty vicious. Not so namaste.

Red Dot Diva decided to join in and she choose Athena because she looked like Wonder Woman! YEAH! Ed went with Anubis this time round and the battle was ON!

After three rounds of battle, she still did not manage to figure out what kind of special Divine Powers Athena had. All she knew were there were buttons to press (YAYY!), and there were low, medium and high power moves for each character. So, she just hit them when it matters. Or tried to.

She pierced Anubis to death with her sword by the way. :D

Was the game irreverent? Yes.

Was it fun? HELL (or is it heaven?) YEAH!

The quick and dirty game play was a wonderful workout for Diva's repressed anger issues, and she could not help being amused by the tongue-in-cheek idea of the entire game, as well as the characterization and vocalization of the gods when they are in battle mode.

Indie studio The Gentlebros are back again with a new game called Cat Quest. These are the guys who designed the award-winning action game Slashy Heros.

Cat Quest is an RPG game of Meowfully Cat-tastic proportions. The cutest catventurer goes on quests, either beating baddies, slaying dragons or saving fellow kitties in the Catpital. He even needs his precious cat nap from time to time so that he can heal from his wounds!

The purrfectly charming game has a hilarious script, cute visuals and was rather addictive. So, if you love cats and RPGs, this one is for you!

Red Dot Diva always found that the indie game booths were the more interesting parts of Gamestart. She wishes there were more of such fun titles to play with!

People playing the HADO AR Techno Sports game are one of the strangest things to look at. Is this how the future of playing games will look like? Red Dot Diva seems to feel that what's missing are some fancy futuristic fashion gear to go with the techno sport.

For those who prefer shopping, the Doujin Market is filled with little booths for their fandom needs. There were also other stalls like Basheer Bookstore and Kinetiquettes. Red Dot Diva did not stay long enough to meet the cosplayer guests or attend the panel featuring the producers of "NieR: Automata".

As for the "cyberpunk" The Drinkery presented by Samsung? Forget it. It was a pathetic after-thought draped with pale LED lights. It did not even look remotely cyberpunk to Red Dot Diva, so she did not even bother to see what drinks and food they were offering.

On the other hand, Red Dot Diva has to give props to Monster Energy Drinks for muscling in on their presence.

Perhaps, this is where Gamestart Asia intends to head toward in future years. More e-sports, more tabletop gaming, more doujin market. Gamestart falls under the shadow of the far bigger and very popular Tokyo Game Show in September, which caused many game companies deciding not to showcase their wares again in Red Dot Island.

Despite of this, Red Dot Diva learnt that there was a huge crowd who attended the show on Day 1. Whether this actually translates to more sales for game companies, or if it helps to elevate the status of gaming in the region, remains a real question.

To check out Gamestart Asia for yourself and to form your own opinions about the show, Day 2 of the convention begins in about 10 hours. Don't miss saying hi to Alyse, the Gamestart mascot, if you see her!

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