For those of you that don't know, or haven't had the luxury of having me explain it to them, MAG Fest stands for Music and Gaming Festival. Furthermore, the basic premise of it is that a bunch of volunteers, no official group like Comic Con, get together and have a giant convention for nerds. People register their arcade cabinets, game systems, and anything else related to that sort of thing. In terms of what it's like, if you've ever been to a comic con or something like that, imagine it on a smaller scale, but open all the time with tons of stuff to do. As a side note, it's MAG Fest 12 because it's the 12th one, not for the year.
Since MAG Fest is both gaming and music related, you can expect to find a lot of unknown or not well known artists. Specifically, you can find something know as chip tunes. Basically people put like older gaming sound effects to songs and the like. This, combined with concert halls devoted to cover bands of famous gaming sound tracks makes a great nerd experience.
In the gaming sense, it was like I died and went to heaven. Since the convention or festival rather, takes place in a hotel, the majority of guests and attendees of the festival could just walk upstairs to their rooms. My hotel was directly across the street, resulting in a 2-4 minute walk every time I wanted to go to bed. If I ever really wanted to go that is. Since the convention was open all hours of the day, morning, and night, I found myself not leaving until like 4-5 AM every day and then returning around 10 AM the same day. My friend put it so eloquently that MAG Fest is essentially video game summer camp.
Now that I've caught everyone up one what to expect, I'm gonna go through each of the days and what I did for those days, trying to include some pictures as well.
Day 1 - The Journey and Arrival
Around, I wanna say 11 AM or so, my friend, whom I will refer to as Scoot for now, and I left for MAG Fest from south New Jersey. MAG Fest is located in National Harbor, MD so we had a bit of a trek ahead of us, approximately two and a half to three hours of driving. Sadly, it wasn't the most direct route. After about five minutes worth of driving, we get a call from one of our other friends, whom I will refer to a TNT Hawk, called us and claimed they forgot to purchase bread for our large supply of cold cuts. We thought it would be a cheaper solution than eating at the convention or the restaurants surrounding it.
Delay one: Scoot and I GPS a Shop Rite on the way and stop in for 2 loaves of bread. Mm, honey wheat, the best wheat. With the bread out of the way, our back seats packed with clothes, food, water, and soda we were set to go...or so I thought.
Dealy two: This was more my idea than anything. It just so happened that in the same shopping center as the Shop Rite, there was a retro selling video game store, Game Alley. So, both of us being active collector's, we stopped in to see what we could find. I picked up Xenosaga I, Xenosaga II, and Castlevania Lament of Innocence.
Finally, we hit the road by around 12:30 PM or so, enough wasted time. The road and journey was long, we saw many-a-road kill and flipped many radio stations. It wasn't terrible, and we finally arrived by around...I wanna say like 3 PM or so. It took another half an hour for us to find and deal with parking, 15 minutes to check in and lug our stuff upstairs, another 20 minutes to go back to the car, grab the food supplies, and take 'em over to TNT Hawk's room. That's where our base of operations was going to be, at least for eating and drinking. Then, *drum roll* the line for waiting for our pre-registered passes!
Side Note - Colossus Roar
Something else worth noting that I learned at MAG Fest was the Colossus roar. For those of us that have played the original X-Men arcade game, the multiplayer one, you should get this right away. Whenever he used his super special awesome move, he'd shout, incredibly loudly. Apparently at MAG Fest, this was something everyone did, and it had a sort of ripple effect. Anytime you'd hear someone scream or roar like Colossus you were supposed to do the same and make it echo throughout the convention. It was even recognized by the hotel as they put up signs asking guests not to *picture of Colossus roaring from the game* beyond this point. Classic.
And then the first good cosplayer!
Hah, lots of waiting, but the line was kind of fun. Saw a bunch of cool people, nice volunteers, lots of 3DS players, and no jerks really. As we were in line, Scoot and I decided that we didn't really have the same interests in panels or events. He was more interested in the music, I wanted to play games. SO we parted ways, not like we weren't gonna see each other again. We split up, he headed for what I assumed was the concert hall (which I never set foot in,) while I ran to what was called 'The Dungeon.'
It was here that all the gaming took place, the consoles, the arcade cabinets, the vendors and where I would spend 90% of my time.
The last big thing I did for the night was attend a panel titled Shoryu-can! The Road to EVO. And for those of you that know me, you should know I had to check it out. Much to my surprise it was a joke panel, they simply made fun of the majority of pro players in good humor and the community in general. It was actually a lot of fun. Afterwards they took us down into the The Dungeon and we played Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition V. 2012 (Street Fighter).
That about covers the end of day one! I didn't really do much in terms of panels except go to this Metroid Database type thing, but they wouldn't let us take pictures sadly. After getting my fill, we went back to TNT Hawk's room and feasted on delicious cold cuts, then Scoot and I returned to our hotel and rested until morning, or later in the morning by that time.
Day 2 - Street Fighter and Johann Sebastian Joust
I only got to bed around 3-4 AM and awoke about 9:30 AM. The big reason for waking up early is because our hotel offered a continental breakfast from 6:30 AM - 10:00 AM. I kinda felt the desire for some waffles. Not only that, but I figured getting a bit of practice in couldn't hurt. Later that day was going to be my debut in fighting game tournaments.
Long story short, I spent the majority of my spare time, until about 3 PM walking around the floor, looking at new vendors that may have set up and practiced my Street Fighter. TNT Hawk and myself had entered the tournament and as names that weren't ours were continuously called, we grew more and more nervous. Since the tournament was single elimination, meaning you lose your set you're out, we would hate to knock each other out. There wouldn't be any fun in it, we'd played so much together. Luckily I was called first and cinched my set, thus advancing into the second wave of the tournament. TNT Hawk advanced as well and boy we were pretty pumped and dancing...or we just really had to pee.
After about a half an hour of waiting, my hands going cold some, I was finally called for my second match, was was TNT Hawk, so we couldn't watch each other play and offer tips this time. I could have used them. I was eliminated from the tournament, cut down after a bad counter pick on my part. Oh well, learning experience and being in the top 32 from a group of 64 was still quite the accomplishment to me.
Feeling the need for a bit of cheering up, TNT Hawk and I scoured the floors, looking for good deals on them here vidgyas. Somehow, he recognized one of the vendors and snagged us both a pretty good deal. He got the first Clock Tower game, CIB, while I purchase La Pucelle Tactics, Gundam Battle Assault 2, and Suikoden III. Then up to his room for some chippy chips and snacks. Shortly after we returned to the Dungeon from whence we came.
Found some people playing through Megaman games, they had already gotten up to the Battle Networks by the time I took pictures, whoops.
Oh and hey, a Gran Turismo 6 set up.
Then suddenly, I experienced possibly the most nerdy game I have ever played in my life. It's called Johann Sebastian Joust. The premise of the game is actually quite simple. Up to six players hold a PS Wand, keeping it in an upright, or just stable position. Players then move around in a slow paced manner, trying to keep tempo with classical music. As the rhythm of the music increases, the threshold as to which the move wand can move is increased, meaning players can move faster or even run. The point of the game is physically strike or hit another player's wand from their hands, to be the last one standing. I apologize for the quality of pictures, people were moving and it was incredibly dark so people could see the glow of the wants better.
This shows which colors / players are still alive.
That wraps up my second day, more cold cuts, some fruit so I could pretend that I wasn't being incredibly unhealthy, and at least four bottles of water. Finally more sleep around 4 AM.
Day 3 - BlazBlu'in it up and Matthew Mercer
I hate to say it, but day 3 was pretty uneventful until later in the afternoon. To start off in the morning I simply played some Street Fighter, still a bit salty from my own stupidity the day before. After maybe like 20 or so minutes, I gave up on it, switching to a game I hadn't played since I was in Japan, BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma. Oh god I loved it, and although my main character, Ragna, feels the weakest he's ever been, I very much enjoy the changes they made and most of the new characters. For the most part I went back and forth, then one person talked themselves up and I went 40 and 0 against him. He never won a single match. Feeling rather proud of myself, I backed away, happy to have a smile again from playing a game.
A quick look at the time and I realized it was time to meet the big person I was excited for, Matthew Mercer. Firstly, he and a few other big names, John St. John and Ellen McLain to name a few were hosting a panel talking about their experiences in voice acting. It was pretty damn cool actually, but I left about a half an hour to go wait in line for autographs from them. I figured something like this would get full really fast and I was right.
After about 20 minutes of waiting, which was nothing, I finally got to meet him, he even signed my copy of Akira 25th Aniversarry on BD and Tales of Xillia. If you don't know who he is by now, Crom-Fire Emblem, Alvin-Tales of Xillia, Leon-Resident Evil 6.
And for the rest of that day I did absolutely nothing. I played a bit more fighting games, mostly in the cabinets, a few rhythm games like Pop'n, but I kinda didn't feel well. A bit of a head ache and my throat was incredibly sore from all of the Colossus roars so I thought it would be best to turn in early. Like 11:30 PM early.
Day 4 - Buy all the things and the trip home
There's a severe lack of pictures for today and that's mainly because of all the stuff we had to do on the last day. I woke up early to grab a bite to eat, might as well right? When I returned to the room to pack, Scoot was doing the same. After a bit of smooshing and squishing, we gathered up all of our things and went for the front desk to pay. And then to the car to drop off our things. After debating it, we decided to return to the Dungeon one last time, take a quick peak and see if there were any Sunday specials. Got some art work, got a few games, Street Fighter EX 3, King of Fighters '98, King of Fighters 2006, Dark Cloud. Not the most impressive thing, but I talked the guy down from what he was asking so I felt accomplished.
This is the only picture I can show due to the other two having...questionable content. *Ahem*
Scoot and I left from National Harbor, MD and arrived back in southern NJ around 2:30 PM or so. After piling my stuff in my own car, I left, headed for my own home and arrived home by quarter after three. Home sweet home.
All in all the trip was an immensely fun time, if I could do something differently, it would probably be bring meds with me. Some sort of Vitamin C booster just to avoid getting sick or feeling like crap. Other than that, I can't wait til next year! Hopefully some of you guys make it out next time too~!