One such Gaming Day took place on Sunday 31st October, and Andy Parkes and I, along with my friend Owen and the GG (a closet Commodore 64 fan) went along to investigate…
The event was held in a Village Hall with a large turn-out of people of all ages (I’m going to say a large number of 30-something men though…) and as soon as we walked into the hall… wow! 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!
One of the things I’ve become fascinated with is my discovery of really old peripherals for these ancient machines – add-on’s and hardware that I was never aware of at the time. How about this Cartridge Collector for the Atari 2600 VCS (pictured left) – it holds ten different Atari Game cartridges and allows you to flick between them at the push of a button!
Does anyone remember the 3D add-on for the Sega Master System? Ironic to find these as 3D Televisions become all the rage in 2010! We tried the Sega 3D ourselves, and let me just say – it’s awful! Flickering screen, ugly glasses, 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. 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!
Or how about the SD Nuxx for the Atari 800XL? A small box of tricks (pictured left) 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…
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. It’s pretty amazing how people have managed to hack these old consoles and computers to utilise modern technology!
My absolute favourite retro/modern hybrid hardware hack was this Commodore 64 case (pictured left). It contained a working PC running Windows – which then ran a Commodore 64 emulator! The GG loved playing IK+ (International Karate+ – pictured left) on it!
Of course, the most fun comes from the competition when playing the games. The fact these 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 the GG and I started playing Chuckie Egg on the Acorn Electron. What began as friendly competition turned into the challenge for the ages, as we took it in turns to best level after level and beat each others top scores! I smugly claimed victory around mid-day as I walked away with what I felt was an unsurpassable score (pictured right) – so 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!
But 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 and 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 as participants 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, but my buddy Owen (an acknowledged computer game loser) astonishingly made his way into the final four and ended up finishing second. Wow!
You could spend an entire weekend playing the huge array of games that were on offer, and indeed, the RCM plan to put on a weekend event in 2011 – more details at their forums at http://www.retrocomputermuseum.co.uk/. I’d like to extend my thanks to all the friendly people we met on Sunday, and for the great folks at the RCM for making the event possible!
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 – check out around 4’50’’ – where my frustrations at losing (again!) at Super Bomberman show through!
As for Andy and I, well we’ve 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 to visit R3PLAY – The Arcade, Retro and Video Gaming Event – a weekend of retro gaming (and maybe a beer or two) held in a the Norbreck Castle Hotel!
A full report from our G33k3nd coming soon!