I’ve attended the Too Many Games* convention in Phoenixville, PA for several years now, and over that time I’ve seen it grow and expand into quite a girthy experience. I only had one day (Saturday) to see and do as much as I could, but I was not lacking activities to jump into.
Below are the highlights of the trip.
I started my day with a panel featuring voice actors for Bowser and Dr. Eggman/Robotnik, Kenny James and Mike Pollack. I won’t endeavor to sum up the entire panel, but instead will note two interesting take-aways. First, despite being the voice of Bowser for over a decade, Kenny James revealed that he has only met Charles Martinet – the voice of Mario – twice, with this year’s Too Many Games convention being the second.
On the other side, Mike Pollack was asked if it was true that he had voiced parts in Japanese hentai, to which he unabashedly answered that he had. “I wanted to see if I was up to the challenge, and as it turns out, I was,” Pollack added (note: paraphrased). Pollack followed up on social media after the by saying, “An actor ashamed of his roles shouldn’t be acting,” which is an especially refreshing attitude towards the arts in general.
I always spend plenty of time in the arcade when I attend gaming conventions, and this year was no exception. The arcade area seemed a bit smaller than previous years, but there was a pretty varied selection to play including oddities that I’d never come across in the wild, including the Thunder Force arcade game and Japanese-only arcade title Fighting Layer, which features an underwater battle where you take on a shark. Truth be told, fighting game fans would likely get the most out of the arcade area this year as the genre was very well represented, but there were also several light gun, dance, shooter and arcade classic games, all of which are of course set to “free play” so you can try them at your leisure.
As far as vendors are concerned, the selling floor at Too Many Games has by far been my favorite when compared to other conventions in the Northeast, and 2018 didn’t disappoint. There’s a good balance of merchants peddling their wares, including artists, craftsmen, and my personal favorite, retro gaming shops. There’s also a pirate or two selling repro carts… Ugh…
I didn’t go overboard with purchases this year, but I did snag a CIB copy of Cyborg Hunter for the SEGA Master System. Not only does the cartridge itself look near pristine, but it also came with an Activision warranty card and some kid (presumably) had left a small note paper stapled into the manual with power up codes scrawled onto it. I love finding that kind of stuff.
I shouldn’t be hyperbolic and say that the cosplay scene at Too Many Games has “exploded,” but it’s definitely become a more prominent part of the fun. Whether it’s due to the growing success of Too Many Games or the increasing popularity of cosplay in general, I can’t say, but either way, I was so impressed by some of what I saw that I wrote an entire piece concentrating solely on the cosplay, which you can read here.
I closed out the evening with a show by rock band Urizen, which was an awesome way to end the day. Overall, Too Many Games is getting better every year. I regrettably didn’t get to spend much time with the indie game booths this time around, but there were plenty to check out. I missed all of the tournaments, too, but those are always a strong draw.
Some small things make Too Many Games a really attractive convention. Parking is free, and there’s plenty of it, unlike some other gaming conventions (MAGfest… *cough!*). The organizers have done a commendable job making adjustments to the floor layout over the years to make full use of the space available to them.
If you’re in the Philadelphia area, Too Many Games is definitely a recommended convention. I’m not sure I would suggest traveling from far out of the area like people do for something like PAX, though. There’s no presence of major developers/publishers making big announcements or anything like that. There’s still quite a bit for everyone, and I’ve felt comfortable bringing my kid (now 9 years old) to the show for the last couple of years.
Interested? Too Many Games is held in Phoenixville, PA annually in June.