Retro Computer Museum Gaming Day – Atari, C64 and More!

Retro Computer Games
Retro Computing - An Atari 600XL
The Atari 600XL. My first home computer.

I make no secret of the fact I’m a massive and unashamed retro computer geek!

My first ever computer was a second-hand Atari 600XL (16k RAM!) bought for me as a Christmas present by my parents when I was about 9 years old.

As a result of that gift, I was set on the road to a career in IT.

Since then, I’ve learned how to program, hack, build and modify computers.

These computers included the Atari 8-bit range, through to the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Sinclair Spectrum and finally the IBM PC compatible.

My Name is Richard And I’m Addicted to Collecting Retro Computers

I’ve always collected Retro Computer goodies – in fact, I’ve got a pretty large collection that includes the above mentioned computers.

When my friend Andy Parkes and I visited the Vintage Computer Festival, we saw a presentation from the guys at the Retro Computer Museum (RCM) based out of Coalville in Leicestershire.

The RCM is run by volunteers, with the aim of opening a permanent Retro Computer Museum to the public.

As a result, the RCM is a very much hands on museum where people can play the games that started the home computer/gaming explosion.

During the presentation, we learnt that the museum owns just over 150 different systems.

We also learned that the RCM put on annual Gaming Days where retro gamers can get their hands on the kit.

The computers the RCM owns retro computers including the Commodore 64’s, Atari 2600 VCS, Sega Dreamcast, Sony Playstation 2, Super Nintendo, Intellivision and others.

A day of playing games such as Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder, Pac-Man, Star Raiders, Boulderdash and others sounded right up my street!

I also thought I could reminisce ith fellow retro gamer geeks about youthful days spent waiting for Cassette Decks to load games, and wrestling Joysticks through Daley Thompson’s Decathlon!

RCM Gaming Day

Playing Retro Computer GamesOne such Gaming Day took place on Sunday 31st October 2010, and so Andy Parkes and I, along with other friends, went along to investigate.

The event was held in a Village Hall with a large turn-out of people of all ages.

I will confess that there were a large number of 30-something men, though!

But, as soon as we walked into the hall… wow!

You could see Retro Computers everywhere!

All you could hear was 8-bit music playing, and people laughing and (often) shouting their frustration as they tried to best the games they remembered so fondly!

Discovering Retro Computing Peripherals

One of the things I’ve become fascinated with is my discovery of really old peripherals for these ancient machines.

As a result, I’m always intrigued to see add-on’s and hardware that I was never aware of at the time.

Atari VCS with Cartridge Caddy
Atari VCS with Cartridge Caddy

For instance, how about this Cartridge Collector for the Atari 2600 VCS (pictured right).

This unit holds ten different Atari Game cartridges and allows you to flick between them at the push of a button!

Retro Computing - Sega Master System 3D GlassesPlus, does anyone remember the 3D add-on for the Sega Master System?

We tried to use the Sega 3D ourselves, and let me just say – it’s awful!

The 3D goggles are ugly, feature a flickering screen, and only a hint of 3D action.

How these ever came to market, you can only guess!

Then there are the modern hacks for old hardware.

For instance, I myself own an SD-Card reader for my Amiga A1200 – it contains just about every Amiga game ever produced, all on one 4GB card that fools the Amiga into thinking it’s a Disk Drive!

Retro Computing - Atari 800XL with SD Nuxx

Atari 800XL with SD Nuxx

Then there was the SD Nuxx for the Atari 800XL?

The SD Nuxx is a small box of tricks that connects to the Atari SIO port and can emulate four disk drives, all run from an SD-Card!

I played Chuckie Egg from this device – more on Chuckie Egg later…

Sega Mega Drive with SD-Card Reader

Similarly, Andy found a Sega Mega Drive (pictured right) where a Cartridge had been adapted to incorporate an SD-Card with a ton of Mega Drive games copied on to it.

Retro Computing - Sega Mega Drive with SD-Card Reader
Andy Parkes playing the Sega Mega Drive with SD-Card Reader

It’s pretty amazing how people have managed to hack these old consoles and computers to utilise modern technology!

The Commodore 64 Retro Computer — or is it?

Retro Computing Emulation - A PC in Commode 64 CaseMy absolute favourite retro/modern hybrid hardware hack was this Commodore 64 case.

But this wasn’t a Commodore 64!

What the case actually contained was a working PC running Windows – which then ran a Commodore 64 emulator!

We loved playing IK+ (International Karate+) on it!

Chuckie Egg on the Acorn Electron

Retro Computing - Chuckie Egg Top Score TableOf course, the most fun comes from the competition when playing the games!

The fact that ese old games are so simple to pick-up, but so addictive and hard to put down, meant there was much competition to prove who was the best gamer!

This was evident when we started playing Chuckie Egg on the Acorn Electron.

What began as friendly competition turned into the challenge for the ages!

We we took it in turns to best level after level and beat each others top scores!

While I smugly claimed victory around mid-day as I walked away with what I felt was an unsurpassable score (pictured right).

But, imagine my horror when I visited the Top Score table at the end of the day and noticed somebody had tripled my old top score! Waaah!

Super Bomberman on the Sega Saturn

Super Bomberman on the Sega SaturnBut if you wanted to talk about competition, then the big one was the ten-man Super-Bomberman tournament on the Sega Saturn!

Using a ten-player adaptor and a big screen, two-rounds of a total of twenty people crowded around.

We then played and played to determine the final four who would contest the Supreme Bomberman crown!

This was *such* good fun – everyone ostensibly playing for “fun”.

But, Bomberman is such an addictive and simple game, yet so frustrating, that there were some real laugh out loud moments!

For instance, more than one participant let their frustration at making mistakes in the game get the better of them!

Andy and I gave such woeful showings that some people felt we were playing for pure comedy.

However, my buddy Owen (an acknowledged computer game loser) astonishingly made his way into the final four and ended up finishing second. Wow!

Ten-Man Super Bomberman on the Sega Saturn
Ten-Man Super Bomberman on the Sega Saturn

Conclusion – Retro Computer Fun!

You could spend an entire weekend playing the huge array of games that were on offer!

As a result , the RCM plan to put on more such weekends.

Since the time I originally wrote this article, I’ve become a patron of the Retro Computer Museum – Preserving Computing History.

I’d like to extend my thanks to all the friendly people we met on Sunday.

The great folks at RCM made this event a good one!

Plus, RCM have also put together a short video of the event, which you can view below.

If you’re looking for a moment of comedy then check out around 4’50’’.

This is where my frustrations at losing (again!) at Super Bomberman show through! 😠

But what about me and Andy?

As as a result of our visit, we’ve been well and truly been bitten with the retro gaming bug!

We, along with Guy Gregory and a load of other retro gaming geeks from AMITPRO, are heading up to the M6 to Blackpool on the weekend of 6th November 2010 to visit Play Expo Blackpool – a weekend of retro gaming (and maybe a beer or two) held in a the Norbreck Castle Hotel! 🤓

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  • Richard Tubb2014-01-13 10:27:26

    Well spotted Stefan! I've made that change. Thanks!

  • Stefan2014-01-09 23:56:43

    You mixed up the Master System and the Mega Drive in your Text. Simply exchange one with another.

  • Andy’s Techie Blog » Blog Archive » Retro Computer Museum–Help please!2013-01-30 11:54:52

    [...] then they didn’t have a permanent “home” and could only hold a few open days per year in the village hall in Coalville. Since then they have worked really hard behind the scenes and have ran events at the Snibston [...]

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  • Andy’s Techie Blog » Blog Archive » Retro Computer Museum–May 20112011-04-05 21:34:45

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  • tubblog2011-02-28 09:33:11

    Steve - it goes without saying that I *loved* that C64 ITX PC. Thanks for sharing the slide-show - and thanks for building such a cool piece of kit! Keep us posted on the A1200 and Spectrum projects! :-)

  • stiggyworld2011-02-27 13:42:29

    It would be uncool to comment but i can't help myself :-) The C64 ITX PC is mine which i built a few months ago thanks to the kind donation of a nice C64 case from Andy at RCM. A brief photographic slide show can be found here if you're interested to see more - Future projects include an Amiga 1200 using a laptop motherboard and am currently working on a 48k spectrum/PC complete with working rubber keyboard. Regards Steve

  • Andy’s Techie Blog » Blog Archive » 2010 has been a year of….2010-12-31 12:13:34

    [...] been great spending time with AMITPRO friends at Pecha Kucha, the Replay event in Blackpool, the Retro Computer Museum, and the Vintage Computer [...]

  • Richard2010-11-08 12:33:56

    Andy - well spotted. ;-)

  • Andy2010-11-05 11:48:06

    Great write up!You need to swap your megadrive and master system references over ;-)

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