Tagged: Portland Retro Gaming Expo

I Bought Stuff! 11/22/2019: Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2019 Edition (and more!)

Another year, another Portland Retro Gaming Expo. The con’s been getting bigger year after year, with it starting to significantly fill up the space given at the Oregon Convention Center. The consequence is there being a few things I didn’t see, a couple typos I saw on a few signs, and a bit of confusion of where everything was. At least them introducing a quiet room to recharge and relax was a godsend on one of the days.

I tagged along most of it with friend of the site and playing card aficionado Weasel, who now tweets about his daily decks of cards on Twitter. Hell, even in a goodwill gesture I had given him a deck of cards that had the wheel from Wheel of Fortune on the back that I had gotten from a game show convention many years back.

At this stage, I have most of what I want, and anything else available is a bit too much out of my price range. However, PRGE is more than just a bunch of vendors selling their wares. I saw some cool people, got to check out a panel or two, even played some classic video games.

I’m still proud I was able to crash Sonic the Hedgehog in a public place, the loud piercing note blaring through the convention hall.

This is probably the least I’ve spent at PRGE to date. Nothing over $5. Most of my purchases were on Sunday, which I always figured is the “fire sale” days since some of the booths are based outside of Portland and the less they have to take back with them, the better. It helped I also checked many stores in their bargain sections where the most forgotten games are there for a buck.

But there was also a general goal I was going for this year, which I’ll explain momentarily. So let’s get into it.


$2:

      • Call of Duty 2: Big Red One (Xbox)

      • SWAT: Global Strike Team (Xbox)

One thing I’ve been slowly doing is trying to get what is considered the “best” version of a certain game. When it comes to stuff from the early to mid 2000s, 9 times out of 10 that’s on the original Xbox. The Xbox versions of multiplatform games often looked nicer, ran smoother, and came with features not available on any other platform. So these cheapo purchases were the start of this game plan.

Big Red One is a game I got way way back on the PS2 around 2005-06, and it was a decent little title in the Call of Duty series. They basically tried to be more like Band of Brothers, though with it coming out the same year as Gearbox’s Brothers in Arms: Road to Hill 30, it came off as a mediocre copycat.

Big Red One is Treyarch’s debut to the Call of Duty franchise. Technically, it’s also Grey Matter’s last, as the studio would be dissolved and have members shifted over to Treyarch after both companies had games canceled on them by Activision in 2005 – Treyarch’s Dead Rush and Grey Matter’s Trinity: The Shatter Effect. Since the actual Call of Duty 2 was a PC and Xbox 360 exclusive, plus there still being lots of people with PS2s and Xboxes, Activision pushed development of this game out in less than a year. Treyarch would do that again with Call of Duty 3 the following year. While both of those are not god-tier games in the series, they’re not as awful as other installments.

SWAT: Global Strike Team was Sierra trying to make some of their dormant franchises relevant in the then-new console space. The game is a mix between a tactical shooter and a more traditional action game. It was made by Argonaut Software, the company best known for using Nintendo’s Super FX chip to bring us Starfox and Stunt Race FX. And a lot of licensed junk afterwards, which this came out around that time. It’s been mostly forgotten by everyone, but it’s probably a decent little time-waster.

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions (Gamecube, $5)

This game is the most expensive game I’d paid for at the whole con. Which is saying something, really.

While my car combat game experience begins and ends at Twisted Metal, I had heard about this lesser-known gem from various websites and gamers, saying it was a fun, yet oddball kind of game. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t exist much these days except maybe as a Steam Early Access title.

It came to all three platforms – the Xbox got it first, followed by Gamecube and PS2 a year later – but I had heard that the GC version was the “best” version of the three, so I opted to grab that as opposed to the original Xbox version. This happens sometimes: Dead to Rights ended up getting a “balance” update when it got ported to the Gamecube and PS2 after the Xbox original was considered too tough by some.

Since the “best version” of a game is rarely on the Gamecube, this means my collection on that system will consist mostly of Nintendo first-party games and whatever exclusive games there are, barring some exceptions. Unless they were utilizing the hardware to its fullest, like Capcom’s Killer7 and Resident Evil 4, it was barely better than the PS2 version in some cases. It’s a shame, but Nintendo was basically the oft-forgotten middle child during the GC/PS2/Xbox era.

Continue reading…

I Bought Stuff! 11/7/2018: Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2018 (and more!)

Alright, finally got to this. A few weeks late, but I was never known to be prompt on things like these.

So a while back, the Portland Retro Gaming Expo happened. On its twelfth year, it’s a convention that has retro arcade games, pinball machines, loads of booths to buy merchandise of various kinds, and panels about retro video games in some fashion.

Regrettably the past few years I’ve missed out on a handful of panels, but I’m grateful for at least checking out the Nintendo History Museum by the cool peeps at the Video Game History Foundation. I also bumped into my friends Weasel and Cass while during my roaming of the show floor, while also spotting a fair share of notable personalities here and there. (Weasel told me I was “right next to The Gaming Historian” at one point and I didn’t even notice.)

I’m at that point where I don’t really need many video games at this point, considering my burgeoning backlog. Yet against my better judgment, I did buy games for super cheap, trying to fill up my original Xbox collection and snagging a few cheap deals. But I also grabbed a few tech-based things during and after the expo, so let’s get to recapping.


$15:

  • – A component video cable for an original Xbox ($10)

  • – Xbox: Medal of Honor: European Assault ($5)

Okay, these were after the expo. On Sunday I had put a goal to find some video cables for some of my consoles because I felt they needed an upgrade. I didn’t find one of them, so I had eventually went to Video Game Wizards (the closest mom’n’pop game shop to me) and snagged some cables, as well as an Xbox game for good measure.

At this point, now I am able to play all of the early-to-mid 2000s game consoles in component video quality. I have component cables for the PS2 and Xbox, and I have a Wii with Gamecube backwards compatibility, which I also run through component.

I know there’s solutions now to get those systems to output in HDMI, but I feel that’s a bit excessive. Though, EON had a booth for an HDMI adapter for the Gamecube, which might be cheaper than trying to get the very expensive component cables for the system. If you’re going that route, check them out here, perhaps that’s a better option for those who have more recent TVs where it’s HDMI only with no other video inputs.

As for Medal of Honor: European Assault? Well, we’ll get back to that one in a bit.

UPDATE 11/8/2018: The cables in question refused to show any video on my television regardless of resolution, so I exchanged them for different cables. While those actually showed video in component, the signal occasionally flickers out and doesn’t work in 720p. Sadly, I think my TV is slowly dying, which I’m not surprise, considering it’s a Toshiba TV I got about several years ago. I should probably get a new TV at some point.

$10: Xbox: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2x

Now to cover stuff I actually got at the expo, starting with probably the most expensive thing I bought.

The Tony Hawk games were a franchise that passed me by. I played the first two, but tapped out not long after. I snagged Pro Skater 3 on disc for PS2 a long while back, and I thought now’s the time to start getting into the series proper while they’re still easy to get.

A launch title for the original Xbox, this was a spit-shine “HD” version of Pro Skater 2 by Treyarch, before they became 1/3rd of the Call of Duty Cerberus. In addition to prettifying the original game’s levels, there’s a few levels exclusive to this port as well as the original Pro Skater stuff in there.

In my head, this is probably a better way to start playing the franchise in order than hunting down fairly pricey copies of Pro Skater and Pro Skater 2 for older systems. Though, I wouldn’t mind finding any of the Pro Skater games for the Nintendo 64, as those are interesting technical marvels. Well, that and the N64 version of Pro Skater is how I got introduced to the franchise back in the day.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the chopped up music loops they used because of cartridge space limitations, and Pro Skater 3‘s soundtrack pretty much makes them outright remixes.

Continue reading…

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.

prge1

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!


20171024_091659

$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. Continue reading…

I bought stuff! Portland Retro Gaming Expo: 2016 Edition.

Hi hello. It’s been a bit since I posted, and it’s been rough for me lately to really get that drive to actually post stuff here. So this will be a fairly quick one.

I went to the Portland Retro Gaming Expo last weekend, as is custom for me. I’ve been writing about it almost every year, and it’s great as always. Nice blend of retro stuff from the Atari/NES days to even an Xbox system link section where games from Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast and Halo 2 were being played throughout the weekend.

I tagged along with my friend Weasel who writes for Hardcore Gaming 101, and a fascinating little blog called Grinding the Rumor Mill that he should get back around to updating sometime (hint, hint). Most of the time we were perusing and finding interesting things here and there with not a lot of purchases (at least for me). Despite that, we both saw cool stuff. I posted some of my pictures to the Secret Area Facebook page here.

(PS: You should go to the Facebook page and give it a like and a share. Helps a lot!)

Though, I did grab a few games, none of them I’d classify “retro” except maybe the PS2 stuff. But enough about that, let’s show my “haul”…

20161027_094642

TimeSplitters (PS2): $5

One of the launch titles for the PS2, and heard it was good in its own right. I already had TimeSplitters 2 and Future Perfect on the original Xbox, thought I might as well complete the trilogy.

KillSwitch (PS2): $5

Despite the $1 price tag, I actually paid $5 for this. One of the early cover shooters before Gears of War made it blow up into something big. Might be fun to mess around with.

Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine (Wii) and Call of Duty: Black Ops II Original Soundtrack: .50 each

This was in one of those discount “everything’s 50 cents” bin, which was actually pretty nice.

Iron Chef America was one of those schlocky licensed titles released during the heyday of the Wii’s life. Yes, it has caricatures of Mark Dacascos as The Chairman, host Alton Brown, and Iron Chefs Cat Cora, Mario Batali and Masaharu Morimoto. (Guess Bobby Flay was busy that day.) The only other reason I remember this was Kotaku doing a preview that featured Dacascos as the Chairman name-dropping Kotaku in the teaser. Sadly, that seems to be lost to time. 🙁

As for the CODBLOPS II soundtrack, it’s one of the few games that I’ve seen Jack Wall compose for that wasn’t Myst III: Exile or Mass Effect. While most Call of Duty games don’t have particularly iconic soundtracks, I couldn’t pass it up at this price.

Forza Horizon (360) and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand (360): $15

Probably the most recent games in this pile. I liked Forza Horizon presents: Fast and Furious, and I’m always up for an arcade-like racing game experience. As for 50 Cent… well, I want fitty to jump off that big-ass ramp.


 

Hopefully I’ll get out of this funk and have more interesting stuff for you guys over the holidays. I know there’s a bunch of you that like my stuff, and I always appreciate it. It’s what keeps me going.

I Bought Stuff!: Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2015 edition.

Before, I wrote blogs about the stuff I bought under the relatively boring “Game finds” title. I wanted something more punchy, more entertaining. Then the name came to me. It’s sillier, but I like it more.

So, re-introducing a semi-regular feature on the blog: I bought stuff!

prge1

This one will be all the stuff I got at this year’s Portland Retro Gaming Expo. I could go into great lengths about the PGRE itself, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I did get to enjoy classics like Outrun and Crazy Taxi, I saw some pro-level Tetris being played, I saw people play multiplayer Star Wars Battlefront 2 over Xbox System Link, and I met the guys who made Game Sack. This was a good year as always, and I anticipate the next year being bigger and better.

I will publicly admit that all but 2 of the things I bought were recent 360/Wii/PS2 stuff, mostly shooters. You could call me a “fake retro gamer,” but I’ve gotten to the point where either I have everything I want, or the things I want are ridiculously expensive to me. Like I’d totally want the Spyro the Dragon trilogy, but I ain’t paying $20-25 for each game, especially when I bought the entire trilogy on the PlayStation Network for a buck a piece. I am not a man who can throw hundreds on Turbografx-16s, Steel Battallion controllers or even a complete copy of Panic Restaurant (though I give Chris Kohler guts for even offering $800 for it). So instead I go for the cheaper stuff, and that’s usually games from a generation or two back.

It’s probably the best time to start grabbing Wii, 360 and PS3 stuff. As people start gravitating towards the prettier PS4 and Xbox One, some games are gonna get harder and harder to get. So I got a fair share of stuff and junk. Let’s see what I bought.

20151019_184552

A 5 for $10 deal of the following:

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (360)

  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (360)

  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (360)

  • Gears of War 2 (360)

  • Call of Duty 3 (Wii)

So one booth, Another Castle, was doing a ridiculous fire sale on Sunday. One of the aisles had 2 games for $5, or 5 for $10. Most of them were shooters or sports games, and I thought I’d grab some of the few that I missed out on for a good bargain.

GRAW and GRAW2 were pretty solid third-person shooters for their time. I don’t expect them to have aged gracefully, but the first one was the big action game people were playing on their 360s ’til Gears of War came along. Since I had gotten Future Soldier earlier in the year, I thought I might as well grab all the Ghost Recon games on the 360.

I had beaten Modern Warfare 3 in the past, back when I had a Gamefly subscription. Hell, I even wrote a blog on the shoddy PC port after dabbling in it on a Steam free weekend. This was basically the fifth game of the set. It was either this or EA’s Medal of Honor reboot from 2010, and I decided to go with the ridiculously over-the-top shooter as opposed to the copycat.

I always wanted to try Wii versions of popular 360/PS3 games, like Call of Duty 3. It felt like it was built for the Wii first considering the ridiculous quick-time events involving fighting enemy soldiers. Here’s hoping I can get used to waggle motions, as I had difficulty playing through Medal of Honor Heroes II with it’s weird first-person shooter/light gun hybrid control scheme.

Funny enough, the only Gears of War game I owned was the first. Heard great things about 2, and good things about the later ones. I bet this would be fun in co-op.

Continue reading…

A bunch of stuff I saw at the 2014 Portland Retro Gaming Expo.

prge1

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.

Continue reading…

I Bought Stuff! 10/2/2012: Convention finds edition.

Since I just got back from going to two conventions in the course of a month, it’s about time for me to show that I Bought Stuff. It’s gonna be a double-header this time around: We’re gonna be covering not only the stuff I got from last weekend’s haul at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, but also what I stumbled upon after PAX back in early September. It’s gonna be a fun one, indeed.

A bunch of Sierra and some Pat Sajak for your Tuesday. (or any day, really.)

Police Quest 2: The Vengeance (DOS, $3)

The Colonel’s Bequest (DOS, $3)

Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters (PC, $3)

I got these three games the day after PAX ended, on Monday. I had some free time to kill before I had to get to the train station to get home, so I had a doughnut at Top Pot Doughnuts — highly recommend you do so if you’re visiting Seattle — and found a Value Village several blocks away from where the main convention center was. After poking around the store that was in an old building complete with freight elevators, I found these three gems.

Police Quest 2: The Vengeance and The Colonel’s Bequest are classic Sierra-published games. This was back in Sierra’s heyday, when they made a whole bunch of adventure game titles. Granted, most of them have not aged well primarily due to their obtuse puzzle mechanics, but finding complete box copies of both games is a treat.

The Colonel’s Bequest was the first game in a mystery series starring Laura Bow, which she returned in another Sierra game a few years later, The Dagger of Amon Ra. I have no idea where this ranks on terms of quality Sierra games, but judging how I didn’t hear of this until I bought it, I assume it’s one of the forgettable ones.

Police Quest 2 continues the same silly stuff that other Police Quest games did where you had to follow every step of police procedure to the absolute letter. I preferred the later spinoff series SWAT, which went from being a bad FMV game to a strategy game to a solid squad FPS that rivaled Rainbow Six in its day. As an unexpected bonus, Police Quest 2 had extra 5 1/4″ copies somebody made presumably to give to a friend. Funny, considering the original disks are also inside. I guess somebody didn’t watch Don’t Copy That Floppy.

Pat Sajak’s Lucky Letters, on the other hand, was more of a gimmick purchase. It had never been opened, and one copy there had a dozen GameStop price stickers on it, going from $20, to $10, to $5, to $2 by the end of it. This is the Wheel of Fortune host’s first foray into making video games after having a weird aversion to appearing in Wheel of Fortune games for a solid two decades. At least he eventually got over that.

This casual game is a hybrid of crossword puzzles mixed in with elements from The Joker’s Wild. Put into a sleek casual games package, it’s an interesting little game made around the time of the casual games boom. There was another game under the Pat Sajak Games label named Trivia Gems, but I don’t know if that ever got a retail package. Bet both of those games are worth looking into.

The rest of my PAX swag was a shitload of buttons, energy drinks, cards and promo stuff, followed by Guitar Hero: Van Halen. I mean, when Dan Amrich (then of Activision and One of Swords in 2012, currently at Ubisoft) just hands them out for just showing up at a panel, you can’t resist. Then again, I heard that lots of people got copies of that game, apparently they had excess stock.

Continue reading…

Checking out the 2012 Portland Retro Gaming Expo.

Last year, after PAX Prime 2011 ended, I found out there was a local retro games convention around Portland called the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. Apparently it had been running for several years, and I was unaware of its existence, so I decided to head over to the event. Despite the small venue – it was at a DoubleTree convention hall not too far from the Lloyd Center mall – I had a blast buying a few games to fulfill my ever-increasing collection.

Cut to 2012, and the Portland Retro Gaming Expo came back for its seventh year. This time, they kicked things into overdrive as they moved facilities to the much larger Oregon Convention Center just off downtown Portland. Though the ticket prices jumped due to the venue change – $20 for a day, $25 for both days – I still expected to have a lot of fun.

The Computer Space cabinet is pretty cool only because it hits that perfect style of the 1960s: round yet angular.

On Saturday, I grabbed a friend along for the ride. He hasn’t played much video games, but did remember messing around with the old Kaypro, Macintoshes and Commodore 64s that some of the vendors had, while occasionally talking about the classic Atari 2600 and NES eras. I’m honestly amazed he was willing to put up with me being an obnoxious nerd about some of the things.

Naturally like any retro games convention, the place had many different vendors selling off all sorts of things: Old computers, Nintendo Power magazines — likely will increase in value since they’re shutting down — NES and SNES game reproductions, Tiger Electronics handhelds, various toys and figures, comic books and other assorted nerdy things. There was an absolute breadth of stuff there. My wallet took a hit during the whole event, which I talk about in another blog post.

The Retrogames Roadshow in action. Pictured from left to right: John Hancock, Steve Lin, “Gamemaster” Howard Phillips, and Chris Kohler.

After me and my friend roamed around the main hall and played a few arcade classics like Galaga, Robotron 2084 and that pinball/arcade hybrid Baby Pac-Man, I walked into the small auditoriums they had for the convention’s events. Chris Kohler (of Wired at the time of this article, now at Kotaku) was doing his Retrogaming Roadshow event. It’s a fairly simple thing: people bring up interesting gaming things and basically seeing if they’re worth anything.

Later during the panel, there was a surprise guest: Howard Phillips, formerly of Nintendo during the NES glory days, now advertising himself under the “Gamemaster Howard” brand. He’s lately been posting stuff on Facebook and other social media sites, showing off most of the old stuff he had from his Nintendo days, such as a promo booklet for the Nintendo AVS — the original name for the NES — back from the 1985 Consumer Electronics Show. Honestly I was not expecting these people to make the trek to Portland, but hey, anything to talk to Chris — and have him recognize me! — and ask him how much my Japanese copy of Hot Shots Golf 2 is. (Turns out it’s worth nothing. Oh well, I only spent $5 on it.)

I still bought a couple of things on Saturday, and bumped into Howard Phillips at the show. I asked him about why we never got the original Super Mario Bros. 2, since it was one of those apocryphal stories that he was the impetus for why the original Super Mario Bros. 2 never made it to the US until years later, and why Nintendo reskinned Doki Doki Panic into the US Super Mario Bros 2. Turns out it wasn’t nearly as clear cut as that. He gave these reasons: “It was too similar to the original, and I hated the poison mushrooms and the wind sections!” It was still neat to talk and hear stories from him about those days, as those aren’t as documented nearly as well.

Continue reading…