I bought stuff!: Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2017 Edition.

Hey, y’all. I’m really sorry about the dearth of updates as of late. For the past few months, I’ve been down in the doldrums. No drive to write, to make videos, to stream. Sometimes, something comes around that seems pretty neat and I’ll write about it. I haven’t missed a single month in the blog’s 5+ year history, and I’m not breaking the chain any time soon, so I felt it was time to write again.

Having a yearly tradition on this site helps a lot too.

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Oh hey, it’s that logo again.

2017’s Portland Retro Gaming Expo happened last weekend, and it’s always a hoot to go. The cool deals, the amazing art, walking around the show floor and accidentally bumping into people like MetalJesusRocks and Bob Mackey of Retronauts among other notable people in the gaming internetosphere, the works.

Of course, as you can tell by the subject, I bought a few things.

Admittedly, at this stage in my collection career, I’ve slowed down in my collecting quest considerably. Most of the iconic games or systems that I’d want are just way out of my price range, especially for someone with fairly low income like myself. Though, seeing someone sell stuff like a JVC X’eye – a Genesis/Sega CD hybrid – or even visual novels entirely in Japanese is at least worth a look even if I can’t pony up the cash to own them.
However, I did walk away with a few things of interest, at least to me. Let’s go!


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$2 – Soldier of Fortune: Gold Edition (PS2)

Soldier of Fortune is one of those underrated gems. While on the surface it’s a boilerplate action game with a clunky inventory system, the appeal was the occasionally mentioned GHOUL system, where you could literally blow limbs off with a shotgun.

Cranking the violence factor to 11 was literally the game’s appeal, as the first level gives you the shotgun real early to show off this GHOUL technology. Otherwise it’s an action movie game with some military leanings that existed in a pre-Call of Duty: Modern Warfare world.

Sadly, it may never get re-released digitally, because Activision often doesn’t care about their older franchises, plus the costs of relicensing the Soldier of Fortune name from the magazine of the same name probably wouldn’t recuperate costs to do it, even with frequent GOG and Steam sales. A shame, really.

2020 Update: Soldier of Fortune Gold, SOF II: Double Helix and the oft-maligned Payback are now available on GOG. I’d say the first two are worth playing. The third one I never played, though it’s by famous developer Cauldron, of which I talked about one of their previous games, Chaser, a few years back, so it’s probably some passable eastern-european jank. Get these while you can!

I own the original on PC – albeit it’s the later Platinum Edition release; and a Dreamcast release oddly published by Crave Entertainment. I didn’t know a PS2 version existed. Surprisingly, this was also not published by Activision, but rather published by a pre-Advent Rising Majesco.

They also touted four player split-screen multiplayer, as well as USB mouse and keyboard support, which puts it in the rare league of PS2 games that support mouse and keyboard for something besides text chat. Other games that use this include the ports of Half-Life and Unreal Tournament, and according to my friend weasel, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, oddly.

The low $2 price tag helped, too, let’s be real here.

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$10 – Four PC games:

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter

  • Wanted: Weapons of Fate

  • Turning Point: Fall of Liberty

  • Carol Vorderman’s Sudoku

I like collecting what I’ve called “junky” PC games. Ones of dubious quality, or ones that would fit right at home in the bargain bins of any place that sold computer games. At a booth that also had unplayable PC games like Auto Assault — of which I have a story about that one, ask me about it sometime — was some of this stuff I couldn’t resist picking up.

I think owning the PC GRAW and Wanted is a nice contrast: Both games were made by GRIN, and were during two important periods in their history: When they were nearly at the top with GRAW, and when Wanted was one third of the triple whammy that would later shutter the company – the other two games being Terminator: Salvation and the 2009 Bionic Commando reboot.

While GRIN has since splintered off into several studios – most notably Overkill, makers of the Payday games; and Fatshark, makers of Warhammer: The End Times Vermintide – these games are a nice time capsule, as it were. Since these were made before PC games pretty much became “CDs with the Steam client installer and a code to redeem the game”, I get to relive the tail-end of the pre-Steam PC era. Complete with stuff like GRAW having 6 CDs instead of a single DVD. Ugh.

Turning Point is a “what if Germany won World War II” game by Spark Unlimited, the makers of such fine products like Legendary, Yaiba Ninja Gaiden Z and Call of Duty: Finest Hour. I can’t imagine it being any good, since their previous output seemed to be middling at best.

Carol Vorderman’s Sudoku, on the other hand… Well, it’s fascinating to see a game that’s tailored to UK audiences somehow make it to the United States. If you wanna read more, I eventually did write about this in early 2018, so check it out here.

20171024_092021$11 – Two games:

  • Dragster (Atari 2600)

  • The Joker’s Wild (Philips CD-i)

 

Okay, I don’t buy many Atari 2600 games anymore. I pretty much have the ones I want, and some of the others I can play through one of the dozens of Atari compilations that have come out over the years. The last one I bought of note was back in 2012, when I bought a copy of Pitfall just so designer David Crane could sign it. But Dragster has become sort of a “meme game” in the Speedrunning community lately, mainly because of an infamous history.

There’s a great video by EZScape on YouTube that explains it, but the gist is that Todd Rogers — a member of the once-notable Twin Galaxies — alleges that he holds the world record for fastest run in Dragster, an Activision developed 2600 game that emulates drag racing. Rogers says he got 5.51 seconds. Cue lots of speedrunners accusing this as impossible, even speedrunner Omnigamer doing a tool-assisted speedrun saying the fastest time one could get is 5.57 seconds. As a result, notable speedrunners tried to tie the tool-assisted 5.57, including darbian, a former world record holder for the fastest run in Super Mario Bros., could only get the aforementioned 5.57.

Cue Jace Hall, once of Monolith Productions fame and now owner of Twin Galaxies, accusing Omnigamer of faking the results, defending Rogers’s record, and causing a big kerfuffle between Twin Galaxies and the speedrunning community. There’s were rumors of Hall setting up a big event where Rogers would recreate the 5.51 record, but nothing has come of it. It doesn’t help that I heard Hall wants to do a stage event, which is pointless in the era of Twitch where all one needs is the system, a capture card, and a copy of Xsplit to demonstrate your world record skills.

Anyway, back to the game itself. I honestly was having a hard time finding Dragster. Presumably because there are gamers who were at the expo also aware of the Todd Rogers fiasco, and probably wanted a copy of the game for themselves. I’m surprised I found my copy to begin with. Bonus: It was mostly complete in box. It’s missing the manual, the box is a bit torn on the corner, and the cartridge label is slightly peeled off. But hey, I now own an infamous speedrunning game for a pittance. Can’t say no to that. Hell, I would’ve been fine with just the cartridge.

As for The Joker’s Wild… it’s the second CD-i game I own – the first being an unopened copy of ABC Sports presents The Palm Springs Open – and I still don’t own a system, mainly because of the aforementioned problem from earlier about these systems being ridiculously overpriced. It doesn’t help that when people like The Angry Video Game Nerd talked about the CD-i, systems and games such as Hotel Mario shot up in value drastically and have not gone down since.

The Joker’s Wild is interesting because to date it’s the only video game adaption of the classic game show. It’s hosted by Tic Tac Dough’s Wink Martindale, and features a slightly different format from the TV show it’s based on, but it’s a nice novelty.

There were several game show games on the CD-i, and to me are the only other games worth owning on the system besides the Nintendo-licensed ones. Okay, maybe CD-i Tetris because of it’s chill new age soundtrack. But that’s about it. It’s nothing but cruft otherwise.

It’s also a funny coincidence I’m posting this the very same day a new Joker’s Wild hosted by Snoop Dogg – whom I’ve written about his past video game escapades here – is about to debut on TBS, as it’s been about 26 years since we’ve seen a new game show based on that iconic slot machine.

Now I gotta hunt down a copy of The Joker’s Wild Jr., featuring a post-Double Dare Marc Summers as the host. Or Name That Tune, hosted by Entertainment Tonight host and frequent game show host Bob Goen. The CD-i game show games are fascinating, y’all.

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FREE – Old School Gamer Magazine, November 2017 issue

I was on a magazine-collecting hunt for a while, and there were people selling old game magazines, however they were at ridiculous prices. Old Nintendo Power issues were going for twice the price they went when they were new! I didn’t really buy much in terms of books, as a result.

But as I was browsing a booth with my friend, there was someone running the booth just giving these away. It’s probably a decent read, but I’m worried it’s just going to cover the somewhat old and worn-out eras that I think I’ve heard enough about – NES, SNES, Genesis, that kind of stuff. Now, if they were talking about old PC games, or even dabble into the weird 32-bit era with stuff like the 3DO, then you’ve piqued my interest.

But for now this will stay in its shrinkwrap, of which I might read someday. Or I’ll just shove it into a box like my other gaming magazines. Either one works, realy.


Anyway, that’s 2017’s Portland Retro Gaming Expo in the books. I saw cool stuff, bought some things, and now have prime writing and streaming fodder. Now to just get to work and actually write or stream about them rather than let them collect dust…

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B.J. Brown

B.J. Brown is the creator and sole writer on You Found a Secret Area. Casually writing since 2010, Fascinated by dumb things like game shows, music, and of course, video games. Also on Twitter. You can support their work on Ko-Fi or Patreon.

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