MCM London Comic Convention 2016: Impressions of a first time attendee. Part 1

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , , , ,

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the MCM London Comic Convention it is the biggest and longest running comic and anime event in the UK having started in 2002 is held twice each year, usually on the last full weekend of May and October at ExCeL London.

It is a mass gathering containing loads of events and stalls though this is it described in the organisers own words:

We aim to put on the best consumer shows for the modern pop-culture market. Our show floors are packed full of activity from live eSports matches and cosplay celebrations to experiential opportunities inspired by the movies and brand new releases of your favourite games to play.
On top of all that we have the awesome Comic Village area for independent comic artists, VidFest for upcoming YouTube stars, PopAsia to revel in all things Asian inspired and Memorabilia, our collector haven. Our theatres also play host to exclusive screenings and panels of special guests, all whom take part in photograph sessions and signings throughout the weekend.
MCM Comic Con is THE destination event to celebrate all things pop-culture, it is not to be missed by any geek, nerd, cosplayer, or fan boy and girl!

As you can imagine I was pretty excited to attend for the first time having secured a early full weekend ticket and a apartment close to the DLR Tube line for easy access to the ExCeL London.

Arriving at Circus Apartments they were reasonably priced between the four of us, in good condition and had friendly helpful staff though been on the 10th floor our rooms were stuff and hot even with the windows open which caused a bit of an issue while trying to sleep.
I should also mention that the Wifi isn't free and the TV signal was simply awful with the arial been pretty much useless but it wasn't really something that came up during our stay.   

Attending on the Friday the 27th I personally think I enjoyed this day the most, the crowd was reasonably small and as a result we were checked in and given our weekend passes in less than 10 minutes. In the past years there have also been special swag bags full of free goodies ranging from sweets to vouchers to DVDs and Figures for attendees which are often unavailable by the Saturday due to sheer amount of visitors, but this year there was nothing much to my disappointment and this disappointment was something I found kept cropping up throughout the weekend.

Let into the wide corridor between the two massive halls the event was split between we had no sense of bearings, there was no maps or signs apart from the ExCeL London own code for each hall section.
We quickly found a information stand and obtained a map and a event magazine however this is where things began to break down even further, now when I attended EGX 2015 I was impressed by how their map was simple to read and organised whilst in MCM's case I found the map near useless apart from from a general gist of the layout, just look below to see what I mean:

Front with map
 Back with panels and events
Now the astute amongst you may already notice something important missing from this map, that's right there is no key referring to the numbers listed on the stalls apart from the big name logos. In addition there is no reference to the ExCeL London own hall numbers or the entrance area so it is extremely easy to get turned around and disorientated due to the similarity of the stalls and lack of directions posted about.

There is a key but its inside the 140 page advert and article event magazine which also has a copy of the map located between pages 62 and 65, after another advert the key is listed BY ALPHABETICAL ORDER OF THE STALLS which is bloody useless unless you already know what stall your wanting to find beforehand. I'm looking at the damn key to find out what 471 is not the other way round. The panel event program is also a nightmare to find and read through in the magazine with information scattered between articles so at least the map was an improvement in this regard.

Now I imagine what the event planners expect was for people to check the digital copies before attending take note of the numbers and then use the map to find them but that is not very useful for a first time attendee or for anyone who doesn't have a smart phone.

Adorable and ever so soft, I just wanted to dive in. The feeling does go away though after the 10th identical stall however.

With just a small morning crowd it gave me the chance to look about the various stalls about the convention which ranged from old school video game stalls with tons of collectables ranging from the Atari to the Modern day from all over the world (curse you region locking), western comic and action figure stalls, Japanese food vendors, Plushies and anime related merchandise from Japan, Gundam model kits and other figurine stalls, Cosplay costumes including a multitude of foam weapons (which would be the bane of my life on the Sunday) and finally the Artist Alley were people sold their own artwork and comics.

In the first hour it was fascinating but I quickly grew a bit dishearten, while there were many variation of stalls they often stocked identical merchandise with little to no variation.
The same plush or swords or wall scrolls and figurines cropped up over and over again with many stall owners having huge amounts of the same Pop Figures, this lack of distinction between the stalls added to the fore mentioned disorientation and I often found myself wondering if I had already explored an area of the hall I was in.  

Most of these shelves were bare by Sunday

In addition there were various groups that simply didn't fit in, while I welcomed and understood the presence of cosplay sculpting material sellers and some manga/anime subscription stalls the paintball trip sellers and the university course advertisers seemed like they were only there because they had paid their way in.
Also the presence of CEX and various other big names with large stalls seem just a bit strange, its like if you attended a farmers market and Tesco and Sainsburys turned up and put up huge stalls while blasting out loud music to drown out the smaller sellers shouts.

Sorry for the fuzziness some rude fellow pushed his way passed as we took photos

I was pleasantly surprised by a roleplay game stand by Shades of Vengeance as I honestly hadn't expected to see anything like it at the MCM, unfortunately it was only manned frequently on the Saturday and had no seats free to join in when I went past but they were advertising a strange mix of Roleplay/Card Games which are their Era series with:

Era: The Consortium: A sci-fi tabletop RPG with 500 years of playable history, using a multiple d10 rule set made specially for it. The game follows the inhabitants of Taranis as they create a society, encounter alien races and explore the space nearby.
The game allows the GM and players to choose where to begin playing – at any point during the 500 years of history. You can experience the wonder of discovering new alien races, command a ship in wars spanning entire solar systems, and join a Resistance movement against the government to save or destroy billions of lives.

Era: The Empowered: Upon discovering your abilities, most of you had no choice but to register as members of the Empowered Division, a government-controlled agency. This agency gives you assignments, all in the name of keeping the peace.
Do you dedicate yourself to the cause, following their direction and completing the missions assigned to you? Or do you pay attention to the suspicious activity going on: the crimes are too coordinated, your responses too well-timed.
Someone seems to be controlling the Empowered… but why?

Era: Lyres: My personal favourite. You would never make it as an adventurer, however, that doesn’t dent your ambition at all. you have bought equipment and plan to go to taverns and tell stories of your magnificent “adventures” in return for coin! While I didn't get the chance top play in person I've picked up a copy of this and hope to do a more detailed review and play session of it in the future.

A small collection of the Deadpools with a sneaky Spiderman too, Deadpool cosplaying as other people was very popular including A Payday Pool and a Maid Outfit Pool.

For those of you interested in upcoming TV series there was plenty to see and take part in from the Walking Dead new series (zombies on a boat I like to call it) and The Preacher as well as tons of signing opportunities as for myself I wasn't too fussed as I've almost stopped watching TV entirely in the last few years so I moved on.
Though I did take time to check out a few of the anime series been showcased though much to my frustration the only stall with DVD of the new series of Fate Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works was a magazine that required a years subscription in order to get it as a "Free" gift.

Heading over to the various game highlights I had the chance to take a go at a variety of new releases:

Monster Hunter Generations:

I tend to prefer the Lance myself

I've been a long time fan of the series though I had seen issues with it been a bit grindy and repetitive with no ability to transfer items between the games.
Monster Hunter Generations has four new signature monsters and introduces new special attacks known as "Hunting Arts" which have different effects such as dealing massive damage, providing buffs, or healing allies and four "Hunting Styles" which add different attack styles for a weapon.

The Guild Style is a balanced and basic style akin to combat in previous games of the series, the Striker Style is less technical but emphasises the use of "Hunting Arts" letting the player set up three special attacks. The Aerial Style specialises in mid-air attacks allowing players to use monsters as a platform which they can propel themselves off and finally the Adept Style gives players an opportunity to perform powerful counter attacks after successfully evading a monster's attack.
My favourite addition the new Prowler mode which allows you to play as your sidekicks the adorable Felyne and you apparently can even play the whole game as one, the only downside is that its only available on the Nintendo 3DS.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir: 

Having played the original Odin Sphere on the Playstation 2 and a massive fan of Vanillawares work I was delightfully surprised to see this Atlus classic given a remake (though more a polish would be more accurate). This 2D action RPG is influenced by Norse Mythology in its design and is told across five tales from the perspectives of five unique protagonists as they try to fight fate.
I can't really fay more without spoiling the plot but I recommend checking out the trailer below:

Grand Kingdom

Another game I'll be adding to my wishlist Grand Kingdom is the debut strategy title from Tomohiko Deguchi’s development studio, Monochrome Corp and it looks fantastic.
Playing the leader of a mercenary squad, players will assemble a team to lead across a battle-scarred continent to complete contracts for each nation. Players may also hop online to form an exclusive contract with one of the Four Great Nations, and participate in war with other players for the future of Resonail.

God Eater Burst/God Eater 2:

When I first saw the God Eater Stand from behind at a distance I thought it was the Monster Hunter Stand.

A remake of a PSP game originally released exclusively in Japan on February 4, 2010, the enhanced version features an expanded story and new game mechanics will also be available for the PS4 and PC. The remakes sequel was also been showcased but I was unable to have the chance to play but it looks like more of the same with bigger monsters and more weapons.

The game seems to have a similar play style to Monster Hunter I wish I had more time to really get to grips with this game but the demand to play was huge and I didn't want to hog the console. Interestingly there is also a anime that is been created based on the game animated by Ufotable.

Gal*Gun Double Peace:

Possibly the strangest game at the MCM London Comic Convention, Gal Gun Double Peace is if a dating visual novel game kidnapped Time Crisis, tied it to a chair and force it to be the father of their love child.
The sequel to Gal*Gun in which a student Tenzou is accidentally shot with several Cupid Arrows by an apprentice angel, Patako. The blessing from the arrows makes Tenzou irresistible to the opposite sex, transforming him into the most popular boy in school for one day however the catch is if Tenzou is unable to find his true love before the effects of the Cupid Arrow wear off, he’ll be destined for a life of loneliness.
The new games plot is nearly identical with a new loser protagonist and references the events of the first game as a school/collage legend as you fight off the unwanted attention and confessions of nearly every girl in the school with winks and glances.

Actually quite fun as cabinet shooters go I find the main issue with Gal Gun Double Peace is that it has occasional scenes that just make you cringe and pray that no one else walks into the room to seem them out of context. Just watch the trailer to see what I mean.

Gun Double Peace the only game to boast that there are 450 underwear designs to discover.    

Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade: 

I didn't actually get to play this one properly I had the chance to mess around with the character and class editor finally deciding on a Plasma Gun wielding Tactical Marine but after waiting nearly 20 minute at the top of the game queue and been unable to connect I decided to move on. If your unfamiliar with Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade it is an upcoming MMO third-person shooter video game based on Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 setting.
Not an official  trailer but it shows the glory of the powerfist that may or may not still be in the game after the latest patch.

There were plenty of other games including Battleborn and Overwatch and these were in high demand to play but those have had plenty of coverage and I'm sure you've already heard about them.

Some indie developers were also presence but due to very cramped areas they have to set up in and the massive flow of the crowd most of the weekend I only had the chance to play a handful of titles, those of note that stuck in my mind are:

VA-11 Hall-A: The Cyberpunk Bartender Simulator

VA-11 Hall-A's developers SUKEBAN GAMES have had their ups and downs but this great homage to 1990s cyberpunk and DOS games is almost ready to release and its looking great. I was one of the early backers and managed to get the game for a mere £5, unfortunately if you've not gotten it yet the price has risen to its full price of £15 but it is certainly worth it.

Tokyo 42

Developed by SMAC Games and published by Mode 7 Tokyo 42 looks like a possible classic and is a stylish looking isometric action game inspired by classics such as Syndicate and GTA1.
In reality it was a waste of my god damn time the person manning the stand was rude and seemingly clueless about their own game apart from the controls as when I politely enquire about the style of game and the objective/story they talked to me like I had never used a keyboard and mouse before without actually answering my questions.

The game itself had terrible story writing with a stupid nonsensical plot in which you are framed for the murder of one of your love ones and been a hitman, so your response is naturally to have your friend sign you up with a assassination guild some how to become a hitman and start killing random people.
Combat was a chore with guns simply not hitting where you aimed no matter the camera angle, now some of you may have seen my youtube channel and know I can get irritable but after taking 25 shots with a sniper rifle from a designated mission spot, at a still target which your tiny aiming reticule is directly over and every shot missing inexplicably no matter which angle the camera is rotated on the target then your game has problems.

Fallen London

Originally released in 2009 under the name Echo Bazaar Fallen London is a browser based game that times in with Failbetter Games roguelite PC game Sunless Sea, I had the chance to have a chat with Failbetter Games Communications Director Hannah Flynn who described Fallen London to me as a Choose Your Own Adventure which certainly peaked my interest.

I've had the opportunity to play it since and in all honesty its more accurately describe as very similar to a facebook game but without the need to bother your friends and contacts to join or send items.
It does have a very interesting setting and much of the writing is good but its only every obtained in drips and drabs hidden behind stat grinding and paywalls.
I do think however that it will work very well as a mobile app and the format is far more suitable for its style of short burst of play than a browser.

As this post just keeps growing and I've barely skimmed the surface I'm going to leave it here for now and I'll catch you in Part 2.


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