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Classic Gaming Expo 2010: Post Show Report

Written By: E. Thomas

08-02-2010

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Another Classic Gaming Expo has drawn to a close but the memories will stay with me for a lifetime. 2010 marks the 11th year for the Classic Gaming Expo. This year's show may have been the best in CGE history. There was so much to do and see it was almost impossible to cover it all. There was live entertainment, gaming competitions, cosplay, celebrity guests, incredible exclusive merchandise, and a museum packed with 100s of rare and unsual items. I can honestly say this was one of the best gaming related events I have ever covered in my time as a journalist.

The show was held in the historic Tropicana Hotel. Ironically, a biker gang called the "Buffalo Soldiers" and a Roller Derby League were also holding conventions in the same hotel. The scene in the hotel lobby was a surreal trip. Fortunately everyone seemed to blend well and I had great time talking to the bikers and the roller girls. Its also worth mentioning that the hacker convention "Defcon" was also in town, as were about a 1000 undercover feds. (Being an old grifter I can spot a fed a mile away.) With all those hackers and feds around I didn't use the Internet once the entire time I was in town.

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The Tropicana was a great place to hold this convention. Its right in the heart of Vegas and its just next door to the famous Sega owned "Gameworks Arcade" as well as the nearby "Pinball Hall of Fame." The neighboring Excalibur Hotel and Casino also had its own fantastic arcade.

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Speaking of Arcades....We arrived in Vegas with treasure chest full of custom arcade tokens! These are the coins we produced by our friends at Tokens Direct. They were made exclusively for the 2010 summer convention circuit. We gave away almost 5,000 tokens to fans at the E3 Expo, the LA Anime Expo, the San Diego Comic Con, and now at the Classic Gaming Expo.

The show began early on Saturday morning. 9:00am to be exact. (Who the hell gets up that early in Vegas?!) Delirious from lack of sleep I made my way down to the expo floor. There I was greeted with a Shangri-La of retro gaming. Suddenly my eyes were wide open like a kid on Christmas morning. I was literally in a vintage gaming paradise. Here are just some of the highlights of this amazing show.

Exclusive Merchandise:

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The folks from AtariAge.com had a number of incredible items for sale at their booth. The biggest draw was a rare Atari 2600 version of the Coleco game Turbo. This unreleased game was discovered by a former developer in a near finished state. With the help of some ambitious developers the game was completed and produced just for this show. The game was packaged in a vintage style box and it also came with a manual. It was even produced using a real Coleco catridge shell. This item is sure to be a highly prized collectible.

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Halo comes to the Atari 2600! This is no joke. According to its developer Halo 2600 was created to answer the question "what would Halo look like if it was produced for the Atari 2600?" The answer to that question is an impressive game that truly captures the feel of the modern title in the classic Atari 2600 style. I personally loved this idea, being both a fan of Halo and a huge 2600 collector. The game was on sale as a cartridge only, although I hope that someone eventually creates a box and a manual. (editor's note: a second label version is scheduled for release sometime in September.)

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This is the product I have been wanting for years. Although "cuttle carts" have existed in the past, the new Harmony Cart is an SD Card Reader (flash cart) for the Atari 2600. This little wonder device allows you to play all of your 2600 games on one cart! It was created by Fred Quimby and its a must have item for anyone who loves the Atari 2600. The basic version comes with the cart only. The deluxe version comes with a 2GB SD card, PC cables, software and more.

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The AtariAge store also had a number of brand new games produced just for the show. Notable games include Duck Attack (2600), K.O. Cruiser (2600), and Failsafe (7800). There were also a number of demo units available for people who wanted to "try before they buy." I was instantly impressed with all the titles I played at the show. In fact I bought a few for myself. It feels great to have brand new software in my Atari game collection!

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Homebrew games were in abundance at the show. Don't let the name "homebrew" fool you. These titles are produced with the highest production values, not only in the gameplay and graphics, but also in the label, manual, and packaging design. The people from AtariAge.com had a number of titles in stock. Notable games include Dragon, Combat Redux, Juno First, Gingerbread Man, and Toyshop Trouble. (All for the Atari 2600.) Also available was Continium for the Vectrex (by Fury Unlimited), The Void for Colecovision (from Atari2600.com), and Motorcross Challenge for the Gameboy Advance. (created by Good Deal Games.)

Cool New Products:

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Hyperkin had a booth at the show and they were selling their amazing RetroN3 multi-console. For those of you who don't already know, the RetroN3 is a classic gaming system that supports NES, SNES and Genesis cartridges. It also has SIX different controller ports, each designed for use with the original controllers and accessories for each classic system. It also comes with two wireless controllers which are built in the style of the classic "six button Genesis / Mega Drive" controller. This item was voted "Best Retro Gaming Product" at E3 2010 by our staff. The product truly deserves that honor. And you can't beat the price. You really do get a lot for your money.

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The Multiple Classic Computer Systemis a new product that allows gamers to play Commodore 64 and Amiga games on their PC monitor or TV. The system comes with 100 built in games but you can add additional software by using Micro SD cards. The MCCS also features an outstanding controller that both comfortable and extremely responsive. We hope to have more information on this amazing product when it is released this fall.

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Here is one of my favorite items from the show. These are reproduction NES carts created by the people at RetroZone. Games include Super Mario 2 (J), Nintendo Campus Challenge, Splatter House and *Nintendo World Championship. (*as seen in the movie The Wizard.) The company also has their own SNES/SFC flash cart (called the SNES Power Pack), as well as a number of USB adapters for various classic controllers.

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I can say from first hand experience that these products are extremely high quality. They are produced using the finest materials and are assembledby skilled craftsmen. The production of these carts is no easy task. I was lucky enough to talk to a young woman who did much of the work in creating these amazing products. I also spoke with the designer the SNES Power Pack. Manufacturing these products takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. All that hard work shows in the final product. Be sure to check out their web site for more information.

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The Retro Zone SNES Power Pack

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The modern retro revolution continues with the release of Intellivision Lives for the Nintendo DS. Representatives of Virtual Play Games were on hand with a demo of this highly anticipated retro collection. The game features 60 classic Intellivision games divided into 5 different categories. (Arcade, Space, Battle, Sports, and Gaming.) Users can browse games in a cool looking "cover flow style." The touch screen is also used to replicate the original Intellivision controller keypad, complete with overlays for many different games. Several titles also support single card, multi-player. This robust collection also includes six unreleased titles. They are Brickout, Deep Pockets, Blow Out, Hard Hat, Space Cadet and Take Over.

Dealer Tables:

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The dealer's area was a shopper's paradise. There were many amazing deals to be found. (I actually purchased an Atari Lynx from the people you see in this photo.) On sale was just about anything you could ever want from the past 30+ years of gaming history. At one point I met a fellow Atari Jaguar enthusiast who was close to completing his collection. Later I talked with a man who was buying a mint in box "Speak and Math." (remember those?) Like I said, if it was created in the past 30 years it was probably on sale at the show.

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There were a few art related collectibles available at the show. Noteworthy items include these Super Mario refrigerator magnets (seen below), a set of Pac-Man Ghost resin models (Der Bittergeist, "The Bitting Ghost") and this awesome Donkey Kong sculpture made by artist James Hakola.

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Special Guests:

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CGE 2010 also featured a panel featuring many legendary developers and distinguished guests. Some of the biggest names in classic gaming history were on hand to celebrate the event and share their stories of the golden era of video games. (I even publicly admitted that I love the game "E.T." for the Atari 2600. It was nice to see that I wasn't alone in my devotion. This despite the fact that copies of the game were destroyed by the millions.)

Here is a list of just some of the people who attended the show. Steve Cartwright, David Crane, Michael Breen, Steven Bristow, Don Daglow, William Fisher, Ed Fries, Rob Fulop, Rebecca Heinemen, Arnie Katz, Joe King, Garry Kitchen, Bill Kunkel, Rick Levine, Karen Nugent, Michael Meyers, Bob Polaro, Keith Robinson, Stephen Roney, Owen Rubin, Jay Smith, Robert Smith, John P. Sohl, Richard Spitalny, Dave Warhol, Russ Wetmore, Steve Woita, and Joyce Worley. (phew! what a list!) With all of these special guests in one place it was a great opportunity to rub elbows with the people who started the video game phenomenon.

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Director Greydon Clark was on hand to host a special screening of his classic 80s arcade film Joysticks. Mr Clark is also the man behind such notable films as Black Shampoo (a personal favorite), Without Warning, and The Bad Bunch. He was also the writer of the psychic revenge flick The Psychic Killer. (another personal favorite.) It was an honor to meet Mr Clark at the show. And the screening of Joysticks was a real blast. For more information on the man and his diverse body of work, please visit his Official Web Site: http://www.greydonclark.com/

LIVE Music:

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During the lunch hour guests were treated to musical entertainment provided by 8-Bit Weapon, ComputeHer, Bud Melvin, Crashfaster and Descendants of Erdrick. Now I've seen 8-Bit Weapon perform in the past and they always give a fantastic show. I'm a big fan of their work. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the amazing performances of ComputeHer, Bud Melvin, and Crashfaster. Each gave an outstanding perfomance that truly elevated the atmosphere of the expo. But the real show stopper was Descendants of Erdrick.

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Descendants of Erdrick is a hard rock video game cover band from Austin, TX. I was completely floored by their incredibly tight performance. This band rocked HARD. Their version of the Castlevania Theme thrilled everyone in the crowd. I was also impressed by the guitar skills of Amanda Lepre, the band's founder. This 5'2" raven-haired guitarist reminds me of Joan Jett. Her intense guitar playing was a thrilling spectacle. She plays with amazing passion and vigor. I was so impressed by Descendants of Erdrick that we plan on reviewing their album sometime in the near future. Until then, please be sure to visit their Official Web Site for more information.  http://www.descendantsoferdrick.com/

Retro Gaming Rumble: AtariAge VS Digital Press

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The staff from AtariAge.com squared off against their rivals from DigitalPress.com in a retro gaming rumble that left no man (or woman) standing. It truly was a clash of the titans. Two members from each team would compete playing a number of different Atari 2600 games. (I was happy to see the game M*A*S*H was part of the contest. Its a personal favorite of mine.) The competition was extremely intense. Some battles were won by a single point. At the end of the rumble DigitalPress emerged as the victor, but it was an extremely close victory. Let's hope there is a rematch next year. 

For me this was one of the best parts of the show. Observing the contest was a lot of fun. And there was an obvious camaraderie between both groups, despite the friendly rivalry. It felt great to be around people who loved vintage gaming as much as I do. Seriously, the folks from AtariAge and DigitalPress are some great people and good time was had by all.        

Cosplay Contest:

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I have to admit that I love cosplay. I really do. There's something about people in costume that adds more fun to any convention. Several people showed up in costume this year. There was Sonic the Hedgehog, Dr. Mario, Alex from River City Ransom, Princess Peach and even a Tank from the Atari 2600 game Combat. (my personal favorite.) The cosplay contest was lots of fun and I really appreciate everyone who showed up in costume. Thanks for helping make the show more fun for everyone.

Free Gaming: Classic Consoles and Arcade Games Set on Free Play!

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It was a gamers paradise. Dozens of classic arcade games were on display, and they were set on free play for everyone to enjoy. There was also a huge selection of classic consoles featuring many of the greatest games for each of the systems on display. The entire set up was a great way to experience the history of gaming. One person even set up a table with two Steel Battalion controllers. He even let players wear a real military pilot's helmet just to get into the spirit of the game. 

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The Classic Gaming Museum:

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Probably the most impressive sight at CGE 2010 was the incredible classic gaming museum. This exhibit was filled with literally 100s of different items spanning many years of gaming history. Tons of strange and unusual items were on display. Not only was the museum a great history lesson, but it was also lots of fun. It really was the "icing on the cake" for me. After all I had seen and done it was nice to reminisce about the amazing history of my favorite hobby. At the bottom of this page is a gallery of photos showing just some of the items that were on display.

In Conclusion:

This year's CGE was a rousing success. I've never had so much fun in Las Vegas in my entire life. And Vegas is a really fun town. I can't wait until the next CGE. It can't come soon enough for me. We'll see you again next year. Until then I'd like to thank the show organizers, the special guests, and all the fans that turned out in droves. What an incredible show! I'll be thinking about all the fun I had for weeks to come. This really was one of the best conventions I have attended in the past several years. If you didn't make it to the show be sure to start planning your trip for next year. Until then I've got to escape back to LA before the hotel realizes that I'm gone.

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E. Thomas: Our Fearless Leader

Image Gallery: Click On Thumbnail Image to View Full Size Picture

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