For the 3rd consecutive year, I was invited to cover one of Montreal’s biggest pop culture event : the ComicCon. In 2019, it was the convention’s 11th birthday. Last time, it was a huge success, having more than 60 000 visitors for the entire weekend. My expectations were high. The convention has always been a great moment to dive into the city’s important video game culture, and enjoy even a couple of exclusive games. The panels were always high quality, and the cosplay presence remarkable. Did it live up to my expectations ? Mostly, but not entirely.
This year was the 5th time I was attending the event. Previously, the presence of professional cosplayers (like Monika Lee, Jessica Nigri, etc.) was expected, and I enjoyed the occasion. All the ones that I have met are great people, with a lot of talent, giving inspiration to their fans. I didn’t see any this year, at all. (I heard only afterwards that Marie-Claude Bourbonnais was there, but I didn’t hear anything during the event.) I know some amateur regional cosplayers who also felt that, and many were disappointed. There was also a last-minute announcement that Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum would not be able to attend. Being a huge Smallville fan, it really disappointed me.
The biggest thing for me though was in terms of video games, which is my main reason for going to the convention. There were absolutely no presence at all from Nintendo and Microsoft, who usually had a minimal presence on the show floor. They usually occupy a booth, allowing you to try out some recent current games. Sony was present, but in a year where they didn’t even go to E3, did I have high expectations for ComicCon ? Not really. Because of that, I wasn’t really disappointed. The fact still remains that the lineup was… not like previous years. Previously, we were allowed to try major upcoming unreleased game (like Spider-Man on PS4 or even the PS VR headset, a couple of months before their public release). It cannot compare to this year’s lineup, which includes: Trover Saves the Universe, Five Nights at Freddy’s VR: Help Wanted, Dragon Quest Builders 2, Luna, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, Layers of Fear 2, Bloodroots, RAD and Dreams. The quantity was there, but nothing that has a huge impact of me. I appreciated Trover, Bloodroots and Layers of Fear 2 the most. Dreams ? It actually is one of the games that I am expecting the most out of this selection, but the demo I played didn’t sell the product well, so it disappointed me. (There will be detailed impressions on all of those games in upcoming articles.)
Everything is not negative though
Despite those shortcomings, there were still many things to appreciate. There were invited guests that are linked to the video game world. Benz Antoine (Baptiste) and Chloe Hollings (Widowmaker) represented the Overwatch scene. A Q&A session allowed us to have a look at their careers and their present experience. There was also the return of 2 actors from Watch Dogs 2 : Shawn Baichoo (Wrench) and Jonathan Dubsky (Josh). After a fun presence 2 years ago, they were back to talk about their experience in the game. It was a nice showing in terms of voice acting and motion capture. Their experience was still interesting to hear, especially Shawn, who is well-known in the Montreal video game scene, having worked on many Assassin’s Creed games and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, among other things. Another actress from the game was present : Tasya Teles (Sitara). She was present for the autograph signing and photo ops, but in terms of panel, she was busy talking about her new very popular project: the TV show The 100.
Even though I didn’t attend their panels or go to their autograph signings, I have to give special mention to the presence of Elijah Woods, and a trio of actors from the Harry Potter movie franchise: Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and James & Oliver Phelphs (Fred & George Weasley).
Two of the booths also made me dream a little bit. Prime 1 Studio and Pure Arts Limited, companies recognized for its very high-end figurines and statues, had a booth, in which some statues were present. For a person like me who likes this kind of collectibles, it was amazing to see! They are not in the target budget I can afford for such collector items, but seeing them there made me dream a bit. One of those is what is displayed in the picture above.
The indie developers are still the star
Every year, an important section of the show floor is dedicated to the thriving regional indie developers scene. During the last couple of years, I was able to experience before their public releases games like The Messenger, Just Shapes & Beats, Children of Zodiarcs, etc. This time around, the selection was interesting, but there were fewer games, and much of them were (for me) unknown.
The most high-profile games that I have seen is Spiritfarer, from Thunder Lotus Games. For those who have followed this year’s E3, it was shown during Microsoft’s press conference, during a montage. The game has a very beautiful distinctive art style, and it made an impression on me. Other than that, I was able to try a puzzle game called The Grand Block Odyssey, from Oddbreeze Games, reminiscent of the old block sliding puzzles of my childhood. I spent some time with a game called Lemnis Gate, where strategy and 1st-person shooter were mixed brilliantly. An adventure game called Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan caught my attention, where I was able to experience a mix of adventure and Pokemon-style gameplay, with a graphic style that made me think of Cuphead. An online MOBA-style game called Tribes of Midgard rounds up the list of games I tried. My detailed experience for each of those titles will be part of upcoming articles.
Regional cosplay display
Even though I wasn’t able to see any professional cosplay, I still saw a lot of casual regional cosplayers, which again surprised me a lot. Many of the ones I have seen were very pretty and a lot of people were taking pictures. Here is what I was able to get.
A joyful event worth going to
Despite the shortcomings that I had, I still had a great time at this year’s edition of the ComicCon. The event is considered a success, having (for a 2nd year in a row) an attendance of more than 60 000 people. I am happy I was able to cover it for a 3rd year, and I hope I’ll be able to do the same next year.