Kitsune Kon (pronounced kit-soon-nay con) is Green Bay’s own video game, comic and geekery convention. For those wondering what that means Mike Nettekoven, the con’s public face tells us that for geeks, “When you come to Kitsune Kon it’s like returning home.” Whether you’re into American science fiction and fantasy, Japanese animation, or one-off’s like the BBC’s Dr. Who; the convention, running from 2 p.m. July 22 to 5 p.m. July 24 at the Hyatt KI convention center is likely the best place in the city to indulge.
The heart of the show is its costume contest. 7 p.m. Saturday night fans from amateur to professional put on their quite literal best face and come dressed as their favorite characters. Atalier Heidi, notable for her costume work featured in gaming outlets like Kotaku and IGN, will be coming once again this year as a celebrity guest judge. The Texas based theatrical technology and design professional offers tips and critique as part of the convention’s crack judge team for each costume contest category.
Other guests include DJs Color Wars and GRAMMY’s top rated female turntablist DJ Shortee. Geek Chic rockers Arc Impulse will entertain 8 p.m. Friday Night. But for a more sedate dance experience the Kitsune Kon Formal is on the same evening. For 5 dollars entry, well shod guests can compare elegant dresses and costumes while putting on the waltz. The money goes to this year’s charity, the American Association for Cancer prevention. But if you’re worried about your two left feet Nettekoven stated there would be a 9 p.m. lession prior to the 10 p.m. formal, at no extra cost.
Now the uninitiated might not be aware. But much like hackathons, conventions tend to go 24/7. Nettekoven emphasized, “once it starts, it starts 1 p.m. friday july 22nd, once KistuneKon starts, it does not end until Sunday afternoon.” Even if it’s three in the morning he said, you’ll find a lively scene.
Local vendors like Chimera Hobby Shop and Gnome Games run tournaments and show off some of the games they sell. But Nettekoven says the most enticing sellers often come from out of town. English and Japanese language manga and merchandise vendors and artists are drawn from all over. Whether you need a watercolor print of Hanzo from Overwatch over your couch or digitally generated waifu posters, Nettekoven says they’ve got you covered. Every year Kitsune Kon invite a wide variety of traditional and digital artists to the show.
For the competitive minded Nettekoven stated that the convention would feature approximately twenty video game tournaments run by a professional crew out of Oshkosh. While Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers series was expected to be the biggest draw, offerings range from fighting and racing games to the more obscure. Every year the convention also hosts a mystery tournament, on a game announced the day of. Last year’s mystery tournament featured Battle Heat, a fighting game from the little known Japanese PC-FX console
Nettekoven told us, another one of their attractions, the whimsically named boffer room is one of the largest in Wisconsin. Think of it as laser tag with foam swords and you’ll have a good idea. Last year they had 500 different participants over the course of the weekend playing in organized tournaments and mock battles where “losing” two limbs meant defeat. According to Nettekoven they try to cater, with different sizes and categories of foam armaments marked red green and blue, each with their own rules for fair play.
There’s also a wide variety of video and tabletop games available throughout the convention. Nettikoven stated they had a “large console area devoted to anything from the original pong all the way to the PS4 and almost everything in between,” including, “over 45,000 video games,” free to play with admission. In addition the convention boasts a local area network room, for face to face PC gaming and an arcade room with everything from donkey kong to Dance Dance Revolution.
But the biggest gaming draw this year is Steam’s new virtual reality console the HTC Vive. Nettekoven stated he’d already gotten some hands on time with it and was blown away by three games in particular. Space Pirate Trainer VR is a traditional arcade shooter, except you can aim and fire in every direction just by turning as the robots rain lasers down on you. You may have heard of Tilt Brush. It’s been described as MS Paint, if someone gave the program more access to steroids than Barry Bonds. The 3-D drawing program has a fun set of starting tools that are equally intuitive and awesome. The last of these, Vanishing Realms will probably appeal the most to hardcore gamers. It’s not much longer than the average demo for now, but the game lets you take on a good old fashioned dungeon expedition yourself and fight toe to toe with the undead within, by sword and bow. They say nothing sells a 9 foot unhallowed monstrosity better than having to look up to meet its gaze.
Whether you’re a fan interested in meeting the voices behind Metal Gear Solid’s Raiden, or Space Dandy’s Meow or you’re hoping to get professional tips from costumer Atelier Heidi or Magic the Gathering’s fantasy illustrator Tom Baxa, or you just want to drop by the traditional raman eating contest, there’s a lot to do. With four booked panel rooms in addition to the video game and main programming locations there’s always something going on. So if you’re looking at an empty calendar the weekend of July 22, you might want to get your geek on and pick up a ticket to Kitsune Kon. They’ll be ready for you.