Well, another Classic Gaming Expo is over. Nothing left to do now but head home, unpack, play all the games you bought, watch the DVDs and read the books you picked up, post your thoughts about the show on various Internet message boards, and start saving for next year. Oh... and look through your photos. You know: those slightly blurry, oversaturated, too-yellow photos taken by the digital camera you purchased on the cheap. Well, that's what I'm doing, anyway. And now you can too!
CGE Services had a homey area, featuring a couch, TV, VCS and '80s record albums. Doesn't this photo look like one of those "happy family" ads from a 1980s Sears catalog?
Someone pulled the Center's fire alarm on Sunday, forcing us to evacuate the building. When we came back, the Intellivision booth had fake smoke and held a "fire sale." Quick thinking!
The most mysterious booth at the show was this unmanned Coleco display, promising some kind of comeback for the once-great company. What could it portend? I wanna know!
This Expo was held at the San Jose Convention Center, rather than at its traditional location of the Plaza hotel in Las Vegas. All in all, I liked it better -- although the spacious interiors of the Convention Center made the crowd seem a little smaller in comparison. Maybe it was; I'm not certain of the final attendance figures. There were noticeably fewer dead-eyed old ladies chucking their life savings into slot machines, however. The Museum, in particular, benefited from the move. It had its own large, well-lighted room, as opposed to the cramped, dim antechamber it used to fill. Overall, it looked more like a "real" museum, but that's both good and bad. I heard from a couple folks that the Museum seemed more sterile and empty of visitors, but overall, the treasures contained in the Museum made it a must-see:
The CGE Museum, as seen from its entrance. I don't mean to brag, but I actually have an item shown in this photo... that's right, I am the proud owner of a real NES console! Jealous?
This is the Museum's "More Money Than I'll Ever See" table, containing a boxed Adventurevision, and boxed GameTime watches. Now I'm the one who's jealous.
The Odyssey² Museum display, looking somewhat anemic compared to all the Atari and Nintendo stuff (but hey, ya gotta give the public what it wants). Y'know, I own most of these too!
Pre-NES Nintendo "TV-Games" in the Museum. I'm not really that into dedicated Pong-type units, but you have to love the '70s styling on these. Groovy.
The Museum was terrific... until it was invaded by KILLER ROBOTS! Actually Androbot Andy and his brethren were very well-behaved.
Unsuspecting Vectrex players are immortalized by my ever-watchful digital camera.
Overall, this CGE was essentially the same as in previous years: vendors and games in the main hall, a separate room for the Museum, keynote speeches by industry veterans in another. I went light on the keynotes this year; hopefully they will be well-covered on the CGE DVD. The main room kept me busy! I found the home console row to be much better this year; lots of stations meant I had ample opportunity to try out some "new to me" games. My findings? Jaguar Raiden really needs a rapid-fire option, the homebrew Vectrex 3-D goggles are impressive, and whenever I finally buy a TurboGrafx-16, I won't be buying Ninja Spirit.
A boy discovers the joys of Pick Axe Pete at the Packrat Games booth. Who says the youth of today lacks direction?
Howard Scott Warshaw tells another amusing story at the Atari home game programmers' keynote. Afterward, I bought one of his Once Upon Atari DVDs and confessed that I like E.T. He autographed the disc, possibly out of pity.
Someone programming a K.C. Munchkin maze at the row of consoles. I camped out at the Odyssey² machine for hours to get a shot of someone actually using it. (I'm kidding, but just barely.)
A genuine Pong screenshot, from a genuine Pong cabinet. Note how the camera captures the intense on-screen action of the ball as a blurred streak. Feel the power!
Not only a Computer Space screenshot, but the FIRST Computer Space screenshot. That is, a screenshot from the very first production CS cabinet, which was on display at the show -- not the first CS screenshot ever taken.
An OMG RARE moment during the show where nobody was playing the free coin-ops! Sadly, I wasted a half hour on the Mouse Trap machine before realizing it was broken.
I had a terrific time at the show. I only wish I'd made more of an effort to meet up with people I only know online -- you know, to put faces to the names -- but I've never really outgrown my shy gamer nerd background and lack the fundamental social skills. Still, it's always cool to know that I'm not the only crazy classic gaming nerd out there. I was glad to meet up with some of the SC3 guys again (maybe meetings will resume soon!), also my old pal Ben, Walter Day of Twin Galaxies, Cav from Classic Gamer Magazine, Joe and John from Digital Press, and of course Ken Jong, who floored me with his superhuman Defender skills. CGE's great because it gives all these people -- who are scattered all over the world -- the chance to gather in one place. The halls of the San Jose Convention Center will reverberate with psychic echoes of geekiness for some time to come, I'm sure.
This ponytailed freak hogged the Robotron game at the X-Arcade booth. What an awkward geek! He... oh wait, that's me.
I was feeling pretty good at my competent Defender ability, until Ken came along and dropped a smart bomb on my ego. He's good!
I don't know this guy, but anybody who plays Computer Space is OK in my book.
This was the fourth CGE I've attended, and by now I'm starting to feel like a veteran. That mainly means that I've learned how to manage my money. I'm no big spender (read: tightwad), but that means that I usually end up frustrated that I'm surrounded by all this cool stuff but can't bring myself to shell out the dough for it. This year, I learned not to feel obligated to buy anything and saved my money for the stuff that would bring me the most enjoyment. So, I picked up the Once Upon Atari DVD, some books, and a small number of games I was specifically looking for. I had to pass up some rare O2 goodies, but I did get a line on an Odyssey² sales kit for a possible future purchase. Plus I've vowed to sell off some extra stuff to buy a region-modded TurboGrafx-16.
The Atari2600.com booth had a bunch of Atari store displays. I asked them if they had any Odyssey² units, but somebody from NWCGE beat me to it. That'll teach me to dilly-dally.
Odyssey² games for sale at the 4Jays booth. These guys also had an Odyssey² WICO trackball(!) and some boxed hand controls. Darn it, why couldn't my last name be Rockefeller?
More Odyssey² goodies at the 4Jays booth. I almost bought the vintage ROM cart, but since the chips that came with it were regular ROMs, not EPROMs, I decided to save my money.
Umm... I can't really think of any more comments, so I'll just throw out my last few photos:
This is the last photo I took before leaving on Sunday. It's not all that great of a photo, but it was all I could do to hold the camera steady as I was so racked with emotion upon leaving.
This photo has nothing to do with CGE, but I found it interesting that you could still rent N64 games at my hotel through its "LodgeNet" service. I saved my money.
This is the Winchester Mystery House, a San Jose tourist attraction. Believe it or not, it has its own arcade, with Ghosts'n Goblins, Galaxian, Vs. Super Mario Bros. and more. The classics are everywhere!
Thanks to all the Expo organizers for once again bringing us an unforgettable retrogaming event! I'm looking forward to next year. Hopefully I can meet more online friends, and equally hopefully, I'll have a better camera.