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Licence2Play: Singapore’s “Gaming Event of the Year”

Yep, that’s what they call themselves, and with the closure of Games Convention Asia, the crown is up for grabs (unless the Singapore Toy, Games and Comics Convention or the World Cyber Games has something to say about it). Taking up a hall 6B in the Singapore Expo Hall, Licence2Play 2010 just started today the 28th of May and will be on till the 30th of May. It’s not really a huge event, given that a simple consumer electronics show at the EXPO will usually take up 2 to 3 halls, and this time half the hall is taken up by consumer electronics anyway (cameras, anybody? A new TV?). The highlight of the show was the Blizzard booth showcasing Starcraft II, and Herebegeeks was there to take a gander and take in the sights.

So what else would tell you there’s some kind of gaming convention going on in Singapore? Cosplayers of course! Traffic coming in was bad, given that it was a public holiday and there were quite a few other events going on – but a cache of cosplayers definitely signaled I was in the right place. The layout of the hall was very clear without having to look at the map – left for your games related stuff, and the right for all your huge branded consumer electronics. So that meant my path was chosen for me – stick to the left, get in, get out. Simple!
That wasn’t exactly easy, given the throngs of people in the place. It wasn’t crowded enough to warrant suffocation warnings and to get edgy about, but it was still a healthy crowd. The beginnings of the school holidays, the public holiday itself and it being a weekend definitely helped bring people all the way east.

First stop for me: The Blizzard Booth! IAHgames had recently won the distribution rights for all Blizzard games (a HUGE deal, I’m sure) and were the ones running the booth. Strangely enough, for a intro-preorder booth for such a large game it was hidden behind another MMORPG distributor. Still, it wasn’t hard to spot the Blizzard logo once you walked a little into the hall, and… well it wasn’t exactly a grand affair. They had some booth babes and… about 24 laptops lined up to play the StarCraft II beta. I got a shot at the game myself – there weren’t any queues around and so it was simple enough for anyone who wanted a shot. Sadly the beta was still buggy (presumably) as to get connected to a game they had to help me quit the game and reenter. Playing StarCraft II definitely confirmed one thing about me – I am horrible at RTS’s. Playing at “very easy” mode, I managed to play for about half an hour before I trashed the opponent. I suspect some of the IAHgames staff were looking very worriedly at my play style. (I am, after all, famous for being killed in 5 min at C&C in a 2 player game – by my friend’s scouting force.) The StarCraft II preorder is going at $106 with NO freebies and that’s not the collected edition’s price. I think I heard a few people talking about alternative means of getting their hands on the game.

Moving along, I got a look at some Gesture recognition games – kind of like what Project Natal promises to bring. We had DDJ, which was some sort of Para Para Paradise derivative, and Project GGGoal, which pits you against a virtual goalkeeper in a game of football (soccer). Rather interesting technology here I guess, but it’s nothing special or unique and probably going to be wiped out by Natal when it comes out. But definitely something for the kids in the convention.

And finally, my highlight of the day, the back Toy Carnival @ L2P which was tucked right at the back. The Falcon’s Hangar was the main exhibitor featured in the papers for this section, but we had quite a few other exhibitors. G&B Comics was here, offering tradepaperbacks at the exchange rate of 1:1 (a great deal with and a great selection) and also had a small assortment of toys, coupled with a free comics giveaway which I just missed (if it was anything like the giveaway at STGCC, I didn’t miss anything). Perhaps most interesting were… comic book frames. Basically picture frames made to fit comics. The salesman tried to encourage me to get it, given that I could “just take it down and open it up and read the comic whenever I wanted” but… nope, no sale. They also featured the worst collection of comics you’d ever want to frame up – but if you were keen on getting something like this, $10 is NOT a bad deal.

Moving on we had many other toy stores. Some anime related toys were going for a huge premium, which disgusted me right away. However, of interest was the Iron Man figures sold by Action City. The lady there was very interested when I started taking photos for some reason, then telling me to lower my aperture (it was at it’s lowest), then suggesting I get some f1.4 lenses. But a few shots in she was kind enough to take the lid off the display and I (and the people who swarmed quickly) after managed to get some good shots and a closer look of the Iron Man figures from the first movie. They’re offering the battle damaged Mark II armor on a special right now, together with 2 other armours available on pre-order. All of them looked really sweet, so if you’re into this…

And perhaps the bonus of the day was seeing the National Library Board having a booth there – where you could borrow books from! They had a nice selection of gaming and other geek related books, and some fiction. It’s good to seem them at exhibitions like these… support your local library!

All in all – I had a pretty good time! If you have some free time this weekend – there might just be something for you. My suggestion? Toping up on trades from G&B Comics!

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