So this past weekend, I went to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. It’s my fourth time to the con, and I remember when it was wedged into a small conference area in the DoubleTree Hilton near Lloyd Center to it’s current home at the Oregon Convention Center.
Last year I had recorded video footage from the event, but didn’t use any of it and didn’t write anything about it. This year, I promised myself I’d actually blog about it this time. Especially since the people that run the Expo actually linked to my entry from 2012, where I had gotten a bunch of stuff, talked to “Gamesmaster” Howard Phillips, and had David Crane sign a copy of Pitfall I found at the same expo. I have to thank the expo for even giving my podunk blog a few extra views every now and then. 🙂
This is more of a “what I saw” post. I didn’t spend much at the con itself, but I did find a bunch of really, really interesting gaming stuff. Join me as we look at some of the things these vendors had to offer.
One of the things I saw early on was a booth by Level Up Studios, one of those “gaming/nerd culture” sort of places that covers the gamut of common stuff. There were shirts based on current trends, including several based on Guardians of the Galaxy. I guess people really liked Rocket Raccoon and Groot.
But one thing really caught my eye: This shirt. It’s Sonic eating onion rings. Somebody must of have played a lot of that Sonic 2 XL Romhack that was popular around the web a few years ago. Either that or they remember that old Sonic fan-forum Sonic Eats Rings. (I was a member there. I wouldn’t say I have fond memories of that place.)
Unfortunately I’m not big on wearing t-shirts that have designs on them. Even the many shirts I’ve gotten over the many PAXes I went to go mostly unused. So I didn’t buy a shirt with fat Sonic on it.
There was a lot of lesser-known consoles at various booths: Various CD-i and 3DO models, two different places were selling the less known Pioneer Laseractive, then there’s this thing.
In addition to selling video games, Atari released the “Video Music”, which was basically a giant equalizer for your stereo system that outputted graphics onto your TV as you were listening to music.
I honestly didn’t know this even existed until I stumbled upon this item mentioned on Bunchojunk. It’s that weird piece of Atari history that usually gets glossed over, and it’s a shame because I find those more fascinating than 500 documentaries about the 2600/arcade era that seems to be mentioned so frequently.
The system was being sold for $200, well out of my price range. It probably wouldn’t have worked with any of my current stuff, anyway. Apparently someone did buy this though, so I hope he gets to experience music in a way he never experienced before.
The retro gaming world has a fairly large homebrew market. While most are just taking existing romhacks and slapping them onto cheap cartridges for $40-50 each, there’s stuff like this. Like Flappy Bird on the Colecovision.
This was being sold along with a bunch of other Colecovision homebrew games, even noted YouTube collector Gamester81 was selling his own game, which worked on that same Colecovision. Really cool stuff, even if I didn’t have that system.
There’s always a bunch of booths for homebrew games. One of the bigger ones was AtariAge, who were oddly a no-show this year, considering they had one of the biggest booths in previous years.
Naturally, where there’s games at a retro games con, there’s things that overlap, like toys and comic books. At this small booth, I spotted Kiss Psycho Circus the comic, a Mortal Kombat comic series by Malibu Comics, and Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos, which lasted longer than the TV show it was based on. As much as I have a small collection of video game comic books, I passed on these, not seeing much use outside of curiosity.
I find the Kiss Psycho Circus find hilarious, considering I just wrote about the game a few days ago. You can read about that here.
There were a fair share of YouTube personalities, some I recognized (ProJared, Pat the NES Punk, Roo from Clan of the Gray Wolf), others I didn’t (Who the heck is “PeanutButterGamer”?). But there were people who were actually in the biz there like Al Nilsen whom I didn’t see.
Noted video game cover artist Marc Ericksen was there (pictured), for the second year in a row. Really find the history of those covers interesting, even if I have no room in my house for a poster based on the cover to Tengen’s Tetris from the NES.
Also spotted was a booth ran by Steve Lin and Frank Cifaldi, notable for being mostly into the video game collecting scene. They did the Retrogame Roadshow with Pat the NES Punk, and I was bummed Chris Kohler wasn’t there this year. I love going to these panels because I’d find some really interesting knowledge about collecting, as well as the various video game-related ephemera that people collect over the years.
I did find stuff like a white Game Gear, a whole mess of video game LCD handhelds from the ’90s, and stuff like complete in box copies of Volleyball for the NES at $150-175 at one booth. Granted, I think that’s a bit much for an early NES game, but if the market’s there, I can’t complain that much.
Though it was surprising to find a copy of The Flintstones: The Surprise at Dinosaur Peak at the show, but for a whopping $900 I don’t think anyone was going to bite. Makes me jealous that The Game Chasers found that game at a store for $5. Stupid Billy.
Finally, here’s something that irked me: Someone was selling games like Conker: Live and Reloaded and The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures in those fancy VGA-graded cases for $200 each. I am not a fan of the whole VGA thing as it just feels like bragging rights for having a game in the best quality. It also doesn’t help that even games up to and including the 2000s can be VGA-graded. I could understand getting a 2600 game, or even a complete copy of certain NES games like Super Mario Bros. graded, but not a freakin’ Xbox game for cryin’ out loud.
This is a public service announcement: Don’t get your newer games rated by the VGA. It’s silly. No one’s gonna pay $200 for a copy of a game they can’t play, especially when they can find that same game at six other booths for $5 or less in about the same condition.
As for the things I bought, I only spent $8. At this point, I’ve gone straight into collecting obscure stuff, intriguing items, or mediocre/bad games for peanuts. I have just about everything I ever wanted, and I got enough of a backlog that I don’t need 100 more games to add onto it. But here’s the haul, as it were:
Game & Watch Gallery for the Game Boy. I bought a copy many moons ago, but it locks up when going through the menus. Now I have a working copy, and it was only $3. Snagged from the booth that Roo, Pat the NES Punk, ProJared and BrentalFloss were running.
That Virtua Feeling: Sub Pop and Sega Get Together. A soundtrack CD by Sub Pop Records for a Sega Saturn promotion. Right now I have no idea what this was made for, or if it was a pre-order incentive or what. I might cover this in the near future, along with that soundtrack CD I found for Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego game show a few weeks back. 50 cents.
Jeopardy! 25Th Anniversary instruction manual. Got the game, bought the manual. Just need the box now. $1 at Pat the NES Punk’s booth.
Bill Laimbeer’s Combat Basketball. I’ve seen this before on a bunch of Giant Bomb streams, and it was a top-down robot basketball game featuring a noted basketball player’s likeness. This was apparently re-released on Amiga without Laimbeer mentioned anywhere. $1.
Crystal Dynamics Sample This!, a demo disc featuring a bunch of Crystal Dynamics games for the 3DO. I assume this was to show off what was coming to the 3DO, but I think it’s a catch-all 3DO compilation because I sure as hell don’t remember Crystal Dynamics working on Samurai Shodown.
Stacked with Daniel Negranu. One of those Texas Hold’em Poker games featuring a noted poker player. The only other thing this game’s known for is the back of the box blurb where Maxim Magazine proudly proclaimed this as “Halo with chips.” To this day I wonder who the hell wrote that so I can slap them. Got this and the Crystal Dynamics sampler for $1 total.
Quantum of Solace for the PS2. Where most of the other versions were a first-person shooter by Treyarch that covered both this film and Casino Royale, the PS2 game was a third-person cover shooter by developer Eurocom, who made a bunch of James Bond games. $1.
Yeah, this is what I buy now. I do this because I like silly stuff like this. Hopefully I’ll get more substantial stuff next year.
Speaking of next year, it’ll be the tenth PRGE. I expect it to be more amazing than this year’s was, and you bet I’ll be here to write about it. Good to see a small little gaming convention in Portland get bigger and bigger each year.