Retro Computer Museum Gaming Day

Atari 2600 with Cartridge Caddy
The GG playing Retro GamesI make no secret of the fact I’m a massive and unashamed retro gaming 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, and that gift set me on the road to a career in IT – learning how to program, hack, build and modify computers – from the Atari 8-bit range, through to the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Sinclair Spectrum and finally the IBM PC compatible.
I’ve always collected Retro Gaming goodies – in fact, I’ve got a pretty large collection that includes the above mentioned computers.
At the Vintage Computer Festival, Andy and I 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 – a very much hands on museum where people can play the games that started the home computer/gaming explosion. We learnt that the museum owns just over 150 different systems, and that they put on annual Gaming Days where retro gamers can get their hands on the kit. Commodore 64’s, Atari 2600 VCS, Sega Dreamcast, Sony Playstation 2, Super Nintendo, Intellivision and others – but in the past twelve months my passion for geeking out with these nostalgic machines has grown, thanks in no part to a trip Andy Parkes and I took to Bletchley Park earlier this year for the Vintage Computer Festival.
A day of playing games such as Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder, Pac-Man, Star Raiders, Boulderdash and others really reminded me how much I love re-discovering these games and reminiscing with fellow retro gamer geeks about youthful days spent waiting for Cassette Decks to load games, and wrestling Joysticks through Daley Thompson’s Decathlon!

The GG and The Enforcer playing Retro GamesOne 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!

Atari VCS with Cartridge CaddyOne 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!Sega Master System with 3D glasses

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!

Chuckie Egg on the Atari 800XLThen 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…Andy Parkes playing retro games

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!

International Karate+The GG playing IK+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!

Chuckie Egg Top Score ChartThis 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!

Ten-Man Super Bomberman TournamentTen-Man Super Bomberman TournamentTen-Man Super Bomberman TournamentTen-Man Super Bomberman TournamentDragon 64

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 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!


  • 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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    [...] in 2010 I first visited the Retro Computer Museum and I’ve been quite a few times [...]

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

    [...] year when it was a single day event Richard Tubb and I went and had a great [...]

  • 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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