Raroos at Comic-Con Logo[GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo and his family are still going strong at San Diego Comic-Con. We’ll be running daily updates from the Raroos, continuing with this report on the second full day of the convention.]

In Debt to the Sleep Bank

There’s a reason sleep deprivation is sometimes used as a form of torture: It makes you go crazy. I’m definitely in need of a good night’s sleep, and hopefully that will come tonight because I feel like at the rate I’m going, everyone at Comic-Con is going to mistakenly think I’m wearing a zombie costume.

Despite my complete fatigue, however, my senses were alert enough to spot Shawn Smith not long after Missus Raroo and I arrived at the Convention Center this morning. He was on his way to do a signing, but he took a few moments to hang out and chat with us. Shawn was super friendly and it was great to finally have a chance to meet him in person. It’s always a treat when people turn out to be just as awesome in real life as they seem to be online.

I ducked into Namco’s booth to take a gander at Splatterhouse, in part because of the giant statue of protagonist Rick that was on display. Splatterhouse is one of the first games I owned for my Turbografx-16 way back when I was in high school, so I was anxious to see what the newest incarnation of the series was like. It’s no secret that there have been many development hiccups with Splatterhouse, and sadly the game seemed more than a little boring. I completely lost interest when the Namco representative who was talking to me about the game mentioned that it contained licensed music from a whole bunch of generic metal bands.

Capcom’s booth, on the other hand, featured a handful of games that really stood out. There was a ridiculously long line of players waiting to get their hands on Marvel vs. Capcom 3, but I decided not to bother waiting hours in line to play it. The game looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun, though, and it seems to combine the tried-and-true Marvel vs. Capcom gameplay with some really slick 3D character models and backdrops. I’m sure it’ll sell by the truckload.

Don't Pass Me By!More interesting to me were the two DS titles Capcom had on display: Okamiden and Ghost Trick. Capcom sure seems to be proving the old axiom that some of the best games on any system always come near the end of its cycle. Sadly, with Marvel vs. Capcom 3 attracting everyone’s attention, the DS games seemed like they were being overlooked by attendees. But I played them and liked them, which is all that matters!

The DS’s touch screen makes Okamiden a perfect choice for the system in terms of the gameplay element of drawing shapes with the stylus, but I was more than a little taken aback by how nice the game’s visuals were. I consider Okami to be not only one of the most gorgeous games in the Playstation 2’s entire library, but in the entirety of video games, period. The DS certainly doesn’t have the horsepower of the Playstation 2, but I’ll be darned if Okamiden doesn’t look fantastic. That said, I can’t help but think how amazing Okamiden would look on the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360.

Nevertheless, the demo was fun to play, and the impression I got is that it’s on par with the original in terms of being a quality Zelda-like experience with a some clever twists of its own. Even without Okami director Hideki Kamiya and developer Clover Studios (R.I.P.) at the helm, I think Capcom’s got another gem on their hands with Okamiden.

Ghost Trick is also a visual marvel, with its strength coming from its outstanding 2D graphics. The character movements, in particular, are astounding, featuring a ridiculous amount of animation frames. But even if Ghost Trick didn’t feature such outstanding visuals, it would still be worth plenty of attention due to its interesting gameplay.

Basically, you take the role of a recently-departed ghost who has the ability to inhabit inanimate objects and use them to perform “tricks” on humans. For example, in the demo’s opening scene, you can strum a guitar to distract a man who is about to commit murder. Ghost Trick seems as if it’s going to be a total winner, though I wonder how commercially successful something so esoteric will turn out to be. It deserves to do well, but consumers are finicky.

The View From the Other Side

Most of my day was spent working a shift at San Diego Public Library’s first ever Comic-Con booth. We didn’t know until a couple weeks ago whether or not we were going to even have a booth, and when we finally got word from Comic-Con that our request had been granted, we had to scramble to prepare. All things considered, I think we pulled it together well, and our presence has been a success.

We gave away a number of different “swag” items, such as books, bookmarks, and my personal favorite, cute, colorful buttons! I’m partial to the buttons because I drew the artwork that appears on them. The library system enlisted modbuttons to create the buttons for us, and the company came through big time by completing a super rush job of six different button designs for an excellent price. Thanks to modbuttons for being so accommodating!

Before I began my shift at the library’s booth, Missus Raroo suggested that I drink something caffeinated so that I wouldn’t be so groggy. I grabbed a Diet Coke and guzzled it down at the start of my shift, but it had the negative effect of making me kind of hyper. I don’t normally drink beverages with caffeine, so having just one Diet Coke was enough to make me kind of wild. Hopefully I wasn’t too obnoxious, but I know at times I was talking a little too much and a little too quickly.

Mister Raroo and Stuntdouble at Comic-ConI shared booth time with local San Diego rapper (and library clerk by day), Stuntdouble. We did our best to be outgoing and inviting to attendees that passed by, and for the most part I think we did a great job of drawing people to the booth and letting them know about all the rad free stuff libraries have to offer. It didn’t hurt having freebies to give away, either!

A couple things stood out to me as I viewed Comic-Con from the other side of the table. I knew swag was a big thing at events like Comic-Con, but it’s crazy how much power the word “free” has. Some people were almost like swag robots, picking up one of every free item on our table and hastily putting them into one of the many free bags they had slung over their shoulder before moving on to the next booth to do the same thing. No greeting, no eye contact, just grab-and-go.

On the other end of the spectrum were the few individuals who decided they were going to just hang out at our booth to the point that they more than wore out their welcomes. I was excited whenever people came to the booth, but on occasion someone would think it was okay to use our table as a place to set their heavy bags and rummage through them for minutes on end.

For the most part, however, everyone we talked to seemed really curious and quite amused about the library being at Comic-Con, and it was neat to hear how many people made regular use of their local libraries. Though a lot of the people who came by the booth seemed initially surprised when they discovered we were representing public libraries, they also acted supportive and even excited. Too large a portion of the public overlooks the countless free resources libraries offer, and it was fun to be at the booth spreading the word.

By the time my shift was over, the effects of the caffeine had worn off, and my lack of sleep was once again catching up with me. I took a little time to do more strolling through the aisles, but before long I decided to call it a day and head home. As I was making my way to the exit, I passed by the library’s booth and it put a smile on my face to see a large group of cosplaying teenagers excitedly helping themselves to buttons.

[Mister Raroo is a happy husband, proud father, full-time public library employee, and active gamer. He currently lives in El Cajon, CA with his family and pets. You may reach Mister Raroo at mister.raroo@gmail.com.]