Joystiq visits the Arcadia Festival in Montreal

This past Friday, after a long day of studio tours, we found ourselves at the 2006 Arcadia Festival in Montreal. The gigantic Uniprix Stadium was completely decked out with a wide variety of kiosks, consoles, and computers. And though the space was huge, it was filled with smoke, lasers, and plenty of noise.

Promoter François Décarie proudly announced that they would be expecting around 20,000 attendants by the end of the three-day festival. To avoid sensory overload, he offered to lead us around the stadium on a one-hour tour, and we gladly obliged. If not for our guide, I doubt we would have had a chance to see everything the event had to offer in so little time.

The LAN party wasn't scheduled to start until later, but a few die-hard gamers were already setting up. Tournaments included Counterstrike and Warcraft III.

Hey, did you see something? Yeah, me neither.

Nintendo's booth was clearly the most popular at the event. A number of Wii titles were playable, including Excite Truck, Rayman Raving Rabbids, Wii Sports, Wario Ware, and Twilight Princess. There was almost always a long line to play any title. Of course, it helps that the Playstation 3 was noticeably absent...

A retro gaming booth was set up by the show's organizers, including a wide variety of classic consoles complete with 70's-era furniture. No emulators here, folks. It's all original hardware. According to M. Décarie, a number of parents had been abandoning their kids to come play here.

We are, after all, in Canada, and hockey fans were well represented in the first ever Cyber Canada Cup. The NHL '07 tournament took place within this miniature hockey arena, which is just too cute for words.

You know it's a party when the King himself shows up. Representatives from Burger King were showing off their three new Xbox 360 titles, which are available with BK meals for an additional $4.99 CAD. Hail to the king, baby.

Microsoft had a large booth set up, which included their new HD-DVD attachment. These lads are watching The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. The HD-DVD version of the movie includes a special feature which keeps track of the total amount of damage done to each car during a race, and calculates the cost of repairs, Burnout-style. Out of sight to the left is Rockstar's booth, where a Table Tennis tourney was being run, with a custom Rockstar Table Tennis Xbox 360 as the grand prize. Pretty cool if you're a ping-pong fan (and who isn't?).

For the second year in a row, Arcadia has featured a virtual hostess, made available to answer any and all questions about the festival. She also responds to flirtation, as these two boys quickly found out.

Much like The Wizard of Oz, however, there's more to the digital damsel than meets the eye. Behind a curtain, this festival employee has full control over the hostess's movement and speech. Bet those boys would've acted a bit more respectable had they realized that there was a real lady behind those polygons.

Aha! Caught you! This Splinter Cell cos-player is, sadly, not a regular festival-goer. He was hired by event sponsor Vidéotron to sneak up behind unsuspecting attendees and pretend to slit their throats. He's pretty cool, but he'd be cooler if his facial hair was real and not drawn on. I dig the goggles, though.

Finally, it's good to see that Arcadia was showing some retro love with a lineup of classic arcade games. Poor pinball machines, however, don't seem to be getting any love. When will the world learn?

This article was originally published on Joystiq.