The local group Arcade Zone Hard Punch (AZHP) made their official debut of their revamped image at last weekends’ Phoenix Comicon. Not only did this provide AZHP Gaming with an opportunity to debut new shirts, layouts, and sponsors, but a chance to partner up with Team Hazmat to make the gaming room more unique than before.
Did you miss out on the gaming rooms? Check out our video coverage of AZHP Gaming’s official debut and interview with Haz of Team Hazmat below:
AZHP Gaming has been known to provide console gaming to the Phoenix Comicon for several years running, and as indicated by last years’ layout, they have been working to be better. This year the group renamed itself from Arizona Hobbyists Paradise to Arcade Zone Hard Punch as a step towards becoming more open to outside events and sponsors.
That reinvention led to a full blown debut at the Phoenix Comicon. The group touted new shirts designed by Aqua Red, separate display tables set up for partners University of Advancing Technology and Evil Controllers, triple projection and stream setup, as well as two entire rooms dedicated to gaming.
The smaller secondary room for AZHP Gaming was relegated to rhythm games suck as Rock Band, Dance Dance Revolution, and Kinect dancing titles like Dance Central. It worked well to have separate space for players to interact and spectate those games without crowds or noise bleeding into each other.
The main action was in the adjacent room where the layout appeared very similar to the previous years’ Phoenix Comicon. Triple projection screens showed not only ongoing tournament matches, but also the stream feed run by Team Hazmat. The commentators were pushed up front next to the tournament setups and AZHP Gaming registration area, where everything could be heard rather clearly despite having a live DJ in the back.
Arguably Team Hazmat’s presence created an interesting buzz around the competitors and con-goers. Frequent Hazbat players including Mr. Snk and Tubazo1989 both made appearances in the tournament action, as well as the convention regular players such as Gabrielle Lerma (Devastator).
The ensuing mix appeared to be positive, with many convention attendees interested in the live streaming aspect of the gaming side. Hazem Ibrahim, creator of Team Hazmat, commented in a Saturday interview that the streaming regulars had a positive reaction to new faces and cosplayers showing up on the feed.
The live stream wasn’t the only thing new for tournament participants, as AZHP Gaming rolled out the first of their custom NES cartridge trophies, as well as sponsor-provided prizes. AZHP Gaming founder FrankCastleAZ commented in a later interview that the prizes and trophies were a part of the effort to grow better among followers and other businesses, an indicator that there is much to come for the restyled group.
“We still have so much more to go, this is just the beginning,” said Frank in a Wednesday interview. “We’re not just going to stop changing because of this debut, we’re going to keep getting better.”
Both Frank and Hazem commented that their respective groups may team up again at some point in the future, but the details of those plans remain unknown. The next events in store for Team Hazmat will be Hazbats 2.4 on Saturday June 2nd, and Animeland Tucon in July for AZHP Gaming.