Back in October last year PS2NZ held its inaugural social get-together and gaming session for forum members known as The Icebreaker. The idea behind it was to get members out of the forums for a day and bring their PS2s and all their gear along so they could meet face-to-face, enjoy some gaming and maybe enter into the odd bit of friendly competition. We also got to try out some pre-release games and many got their first taste of 6-player iLinked GT3 - something that had only been talked about or dreamt of prior to then by most people! Well that day was a roaring success and popular with all whom attended so it was very quickly decided that we should follow it up with another, only this time bigger and better! The Black Box Sessions were born and No. 1 took place on Waitangi Day, Wednesday 6 February 2002.

The venue was once again the function room at Western Springs Stadium and it was filled this time with what seemed like twice as many tangles of PS2s, TVs, extension cords and all other kinds of gaming paraphernalia! Numbers were up by only one or two people on the Icebreaker due to some unfortunate last minute pull-outs but the games and competitions on offer well exceeded what we saw last time.

After giving everyone an hour or so to arrive, set-up and get into the general mood of the day, TheOrphan kicked off proceedings with a welcome and announced that we’d be starting the competitions at 11.00am with the GT3 iLinked 6-player comp. Now at the Icebreaker we held a timed 3 lap single-player competition on the bigscreen but the 6-player races were to be something else! 12 people entered (well about 8 people entered and 4 Mods were roped in to make up the numbers!) so we had 2 rounds with the top 3 in each going through to a final. There was action aplenty as yours truly and the other Mods careered and skidded off the track all over the place in a bid to stay in contention and the other competitors gave it their all. At the end of it all though only 3 racers were ever going to take those top places - it was just a matter of in what order! 3rd place, a Brass magazine (?!) and a poster went to SupraSam. 2nd place, an EA Rugby T-Shirt, an MGS2 demo and poster went to PT. But a well-deserved 1st place was taken out by Joe Racer who took home a copy of Sony’s Wipeout Fusion, an MGS2 demo and poster for his masterful efforts! Well done lads once again - those skills never fail to impress!

The other two comps were to be held in the afternoon so the next phase of the day was an extended break for lunch while everyone either did their own thing playing the various demo machine’s littered around the place, played some more iLinked GT3 or participated in the wonderfully interactive 8-player Pro Evolution Soccer Exhibition Matches! This for some was actually the highlight of the day and I must say myself that it was one of the most enjoyable events that took place. You really had to be there but essentially we had 8 players sitting around a 54" bigscreen TV and as the game started to wind up just about everybody else in the place ended becoming "the crowd in the stands"! The ensuing rowdiness, cheering and virtual soccer hooliganism only mirrored the behaviour of the players themselves as fists were thrust in the air at every goal and the loudest cheers of the day echoed around the room! Mention must be made here of a display of particularly brilliant goal scoring from some of the players, in particular a very nice and subtle last minute tap for an equaliser from Cullen, an overhead 'bicycle kick' into the net from 'M' and an amazingly fluky strike from TheOrphan that was almost mistaken for genius!!! Others also had their moments of glory and it was all over too soon when after a tense few moments with the score at 2 - 2 the final goal was nicely placed just seconds before the final whistle! Roll on BBS2 as Pro Evolution Soccer will no doubt be a major highlight of following events!

Then we moved into fighting game territory and the Tekken Tag Tournament began at around 1.30pm. Fights were 2 rounds untimed with your choice of fighters. 8 contenders slugged it out in the heats and 4 went through to the semi-final. Again this event proved to be a crowd pleaser and some very tense and close bouts were spectated with enthusiasm. When it came down to the final though all eyes were on the action as it was to be brother against brother in a contest of unmatched sibling rivalry! p996tt using a controller and wthc using his arcade stick displayed some awesomely controlled skills and the bouts were nail bitingly close at times. However p996tt managed to just clear 2 bouts in a row to win out the competition and take first prize - a copy of EA’s Madden 2002, an MGS2 demo and a poster. For his efforts in taking second place wthc received an EA Accessory Bag and a poster. Good effort bros!

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