Ever wonder what happened to all those games you used to play as a kid? Well, the truth is that your old games have been purchased by some guy for $10 at your parents’ garage sale and are now sitting in a giant box with about 50 other obscure titles waiting to be traded. Think we’re kidding? Well, then you just aren’t hardcore enough to hang at the Classic Gaming Expo that graced Vegas with its presence July 29-30 at the downtown Plaza hotel.
While the event is a bit more niche than E3 (okay, a lot more), it serves as a meeting ground where fans of the classics can meet, trade and, in some cases, learn from others with similar interests. In fact, wandering among the collectors on the floor were the likes of David Crane (Decathlon, Pitfall), John Harris (Atari Frogger, Jawbreaker), Howard Warshaw (Yars Revenge), David Rolfe (BeamRider, Steam Roller) and many others, including, on the final day of the show (and the opening dinner), Ralph Baer (creator of the Odyssey and widely known as the father of videogames). Many of these luminaries also gave presentations during the course of the show on subjects ranging from Atari’s early attempts at wireless content to the brown box (the prototype of the Odyssey.) For those who eat, drink and live games, it was a rare chance to interact with those who have built our hobby today.
Besides just meeting some of the old-school heroes, a lot of fans just showed up to shop and play games. The convention’s main floor space was devoted to dealers with tons of classic game goodness for sale. Disappointingly, a lot of this space was devoted to obvious overstock like Jaguar and Lynx (on which many good deals could be found), while some neo-classics like the NES were nowhere to be found (we found one pretty rare NES game at the same show and nothing of interest on Genesis and Super NES). The bulk of what could be found on the floor was for the early Atari systems (2600 mostly, but with some 7800 and a smattering of 5200), the Intellivision and the Colecovision. As a special treat, there were even several games released at the show that never made it out before the great crash of 1983-ish. Two of these games were for the 2600: Swordfight and Sea Battle (from Intellivision productions) — we’ll be reviewing both of these later in the week. And three were for Colecovision: Steamroller (from Intellivision Productions again), Power Lords and Lord of the Dungeon (both on sale from the CGExpo guys themselves). Trust us, for collectors this stuff is pure gold. Of course, the most remarkable release of the show might have been Pinball for the Odyssey 2 by none other than Ralph Baer (some were lucky enough to even get it signed — the bastards!)
If you got bored with shopping, you could always play in the videogame tournaments sponsored by the Twin Galaxies guys or just play one of the many classic arcade games that were set on free play. Titles of interest that you don’t see too often anymore included Cliff Hanger, Thayer’s Quest, Zoo Keeper, Toobin’ and Vanguard. Personally, we played a lot of Dragon’s Lair but couldn’t finish off the damn dragon.
The final attraction of the show (not including the mini events like the swap meet) was the amazing museum of classic systems, displaying such incredibly rare systems as the Adventurevision, the Microvision, the his-and-hers Lynxes and a whole host of other crazy rare collectibles (including unreleased systems like the hologram-based Losmos).
So, while the show may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, it was one of the few gatherings where fans of classic games could get together, hang out and even learn a thing or two. Not a bad way to spend a weekend (although it was a bit mellow by Vegas standards). Adding to long list of Classic Games is the SimCity series with its new title. Now it is on mobile which is very flexible platform.