After seeing the recent Kickstarter movie, “Video Games: The Movie,” I thought it was time to take on the video arcades. At SDCC 2014, that meant visiting the Pixels Electric Dreams arcade for some old-time fun and then moving on to the Xbox Lounge at the Manchester Grand Hyatt.

The Pixels arcade was a small, cozy affair with a line and a few dozen machines. “Pixels” is a comedy scheduled for release on May 15, 2015. Imagine what would happen if  intergalactic aliens misinterpret video-feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war against them, they attack the Earth, using the games as models for their various assaults.  President Will Cooper (Kevin James) has to call on his childhood best friend, ’80s video game champion Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler), now a home theater installer, to lead a team of old-school arcaders (Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad) to defeat the aliens and save the planet.

The action-comedy is directed by Chris Columbus from a story by Tim Herlihy and a screenplay by Tim Herlihy and Timothy Dowling, based on the short film of the same name by Patrick Jean.

We didn’t get to see any clips, but got to play Space Invaders and Frogger. My frogs all failed to cross the street and stream so you know how bad I am at this game. We didn’t try PacMan which I’m only slightly better at, but Columbia Films was sponsoring a tournament on various games.

The Xbox Lounge had a special reception for press. One of the highlights was an open audition for become a new member of the Hulu original animated series “The Awesomes.” You had props and 20 seconds to give your name, your super hero name, your super powers and the reason you should be included on this team.

Dance Central was being demonstrated right next to the Awesome audition room. Kitty corner to Dance Central was Disney’s Fantasia Music Evolved.  These were the two that seemed to attract more women. More on these later.

Project Spark was also fun. Project Spark allows one to make their own games. One of the games we tried was based on our favorite atomic reptile: Godzilla. While the surface wasn’t full developed into a detailed Godzilla skin, all the moves were there. As Godzilla you got to stomp and crash through buildings with occasional interruptions by other kaiju. The blue atomic breath is there as is the tail. I hope this gets developed because it’s great therapy for those days you have rush-hour traffic rage, sidewalk rage or just my-boss-is-crazy rage.

Ian tried out Fable Legends which was fun but Ian isn’t used to the movement and view perspective. Hey, we’re pretty old-school here.

For those in love with cute animals and Japanese style anime, Ori and The Blind Forest looked like fun and it might even be considered art.

For the children, there was Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) and some of the visuals for other games were gorgeous such as the 2D Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime.

Because the press crowd was a boring crowd (not a single person dressed up beside the Dragon Lady) so we went back on Saturday. Xbox teamed up with Major League Gaming to sponsor Xbox tournaments in the Xbox Gaming Lounge for Titanfall, Killer Instinct and Forza Motorsport 5. Saturday afternoon, one of these tournaments meant that Dance Central was taken down in order to make extra room for a tournament. In addition, for we waited for about an hour before we could play Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved.

Since Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved requires you to listen to musical cues, the noise level during the tournament made it difficult to play but it did attract families, including small children.

On Sunday morning Dance Central was back and so was Disney Fantasia, but I wonder if these Xbox games weren’t properly or creatively promoted.

San Diego is the home of one of the most famous dance crews: Jabbawockeez. You might have seen them on MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew” and they now have Las Vegas shows. Fanny Pak finished third in Season 2 was from Los Angeles. Quest Crew (winners of season three) were from Artesia, California (Los Angeles County).  We Are Heroes, the Season 4 winners, were from Los Angeles. The all-Asian male group, Poreotics, was from Orange County. Having famous crews or crew members might have pumped up the excitement for Dance Central.

Further, having a more imaginative marketing strategy for Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved might get more people to try it. If it is supposed to give you a chance to “conduct” an orchestra then why not have someone dressed as a conductor or willing to act as a conductor. Remember Bugs Bunny? Danny Kaye? You might even try channeling the Force.

I also don’t remember the Xbox Lounge demo every getting into all the features as this video does.

Unfortunately for SDCC, the music selection for Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved doesn’t include Star Wars, Star Trek or anything classic with cannon. If I had more time, I would have gone through all the selections, but we haven’t found a place to play and test this video game thoroughly.

One of the game changers as noted in “100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience” but ignored in “Video Game: The Movie” is Dance Dance Revolution. America’s response to that game was Dance Central. These games are both less sedentary and more social and attract both men and women.

 

 

 

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