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Retro Gaming Returns to Portland

Written By: Elliott Thomas

Oct 7th, 2013

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The 2013 Portland Retro Gaming Expo has drawn to a close and it was clearly the best retro gaming event of the year! With so much to do and see it's easy to understand why this show is so popular with video game fans. PRGE has quickly become the premiere West Coast retro gaming event. This show was two days of non stop retro gaming fun!

History:

Founded in 2006, the Portland Retro Gaming Expo is celebrating it's seventh year. Created by a non profit organization PRGE is dedicated to raising awareness and appreciation of classic video games. The show promotes the history and legacy of this unique art form and it's contribution to our collective society. The event is run by small army of devoted volunteers who worked like dogs to bring this amazing expo to life. On a personal note I was really impressed by everyone working at the event. They were all friendly, helpful and extremely enthusiastic. Their positive, energetic attitude truly helped make the event all the more fun and enjoyable.

Exclusive Merchandise:

One of the best reasons to go to any convention is exclusive merchandise. This year PRGE was flooded with tons of cool exclusive items. The show was a collector's dream! First up was our 2013 Arcade Token, which we distributed in exclusive PRGE packaging. Special thanks to show organizer Rick Weis for allowing us the honor of distributing our tokens at the show. We brought 350 tokens to the expo and they were gone in under five minutes. Wow!

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Next up was AtariAge.com, who debutted four amazing, exclusive new Atari games for the Atari 2600 and 7800 consoles. This was the first opportunity for Atari fans to purchase these four new games. Having played each game I can hapily say they are all fantastic titles that easily rival the games released during the golden age of Atari. The production values on these titles are outstanding, as is the packaging. Everything from the cartridge label, the manual and even the box is completely professional. AtariAge also had exclusive posters and magnets for everyone who purchased the games.

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  • Space Rocks (Atari 2600) - A mix between Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe, Space Rocks brings the arcade action home in a way never before seen on the 2600! Created by experienced Atari 2600 developer Darrell Spice, Jr., this is the version of Asteroids Atari could only dream of producing back in the day! (video)

  • Seaweed Assault (Atari 2600) - In this original homebrew game by Duane Alan Hahn, you must wield your Manatee submarine against highly aggressive seaweed before it clogs up your sector. Don't let the seaweed strangle your civilization to extinction! (video)

  • IXION (Atari 2600) - This previously unreleased prototype (itself based on an obscure arcade game) finally sees the light of day in cartridge form! They have even created a more challenging version of the game titled IXION ULTRA with all new levels, with both versions available on the same cartridge. (video)

  • Frenzy (Atari 7800) - Atari 7800 veteran Bob Decrescenzo brings arcade classics Frenzy and Berzerk home to the 7800, complete with all the details you'll find in the arcade games. Each game even includes the speech from the arcade! (video)

AtariAge had literally dozens of other exclusive games for all the classic Atari video game consoles. It was an Atari fan's dream come true! There were almost too many great games to sample and buy. This booth was clearly one of the best parts of the show. We spent a huge amount of time playing new games and we came home with a bag full of goodies! And we haven't stopped playing Space Rocks since we returned from the show! Check out our video links below to see some of the amazing games that were on display at the show.

Adventure II [Atari 5200] (video)

Armor Attack II [Atari 7800] (video)

Asembloids (video)

Bentley Bear's Crystal Quest [7800 XM] (video)

Circus Atari Age (video)

Dead of Knight (video)

Donkey Kong VCS (video)

Froggie [Atari 7800] (video)

Medieval Mayhem (video)

Star Castle Arcade (video)

Stay Frosty 2 (video)

Tempest (Atari 5200) (video)

Of course the biggest surprise of the show was a game called Zippy the Porcupine. This game is essentially Sonic the Hedgehog on the Atari 2600. You wont believe this game is running on 2600 hardware until you see it in person. It's simply amazing. It even has the signature music from the original Sonic the Hedgehog game. This title was brought to you Sprybug, the same developer who brought you Princess Rescue, a Super Mario Bros clone for the Atari 2600.

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The folks at Lost Classics have recreated the infamous game Polybius for the Atari 2600. The cartridge only version was on sale for $60 and all 30 copies sold out almost immediately. A special one of a kind "Agent Edition" (pictured above) was created exclusively for auction at the show. It includes a number of unique items, including a cyanide pill, which may or may not be real cyanide. You can see the game in action in this VIDEO.

Cool New Products:

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Hyperkin, a company devoted to creating brilliant retro gaming products, was on hand with several new items. The most popular and most anticipated is the Hyperkin RetroN5, a console that plays games from five different classic consoles. The final system shell was on display as well as the innovative new wireless controller that comes with the base unit. The RetroN5 is set for release on December 10th.

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Hyperkin was also showing their extremely popular Supaboy handheld, which is a portable game system that plays Super Nintendo cartidges. Gamers could sample the system up close or they could try the TV out feature and play games on the big screen. This nifty little device was definitely a fan favorite at the show. For a better look at the Hyperkin booth please check out our video tour. (video)

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Back at the Atari booth the new Atari 7800 XM Expansion Module was on display. This amazing new device plugs into your Atari 7800 console to give it additional graphical power and audio capabilities. The system works with XM compatible games, two of which were available to demo at the show. The first was a new platform game called Bentley Bear's Crystal Quest (video), starring Bentley Bear from the classic arcade game Crystal Castles. The second was an ultra enchanced version of Donkey Kong called Donkey Kong XM (video). Both games were a great showcase for the power of the new expansion module.

Innex, another company dedicated to creating modern retro gaming hardware, showcased their new Retro Duo Portable. The new portable game system plays both NES and Super Nintendo games.

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Have you ever wanted to play Sega Genesis and Mega Drive games on your Super Nintendo? Well now you can with the Innex Retro Gen Adapter. This inexpensive adapter allows you to play classic 16-bit Sega games on your SNES hardware. Innex also had a new wireless controller for the SNES console. This amazing new technology brings classic consoles into the modern age.

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Now you can be as cool as that kid in the movie "The Wizard" with this new oven mitt inspired by the famous Nintendo Power Glove. The Power Mitt is made by FanGamer, and it's one of the best items I picked up at the show.

Sights and Sounds:

Of course PRGE was more than just great merchandise, there was also a ton of things to do and see. From movie screenings, to musical acts, to special guests and speaker panels, the daily roster of events was filled with non stop entertainment. There was even a DJ spinning great tunes and keeping the crowd informed on all the happenings at the show.

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One of my favorite bands, 8-bit Weapon rocked the house with a performance that really got the crowds jumping! I love their unique style of music and it was great to see them perform live once again. I haven't seen them in person since Classic Gaming Expo 2010 and they were better than ever! As you can see from our video the fans REALLY got into their music.

Other musical acts included Computeher, Mechlo, DJ Mr. Smith and DJ Jeff "Switch" Sorenson, who also doubled as the show MC.

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One of the best attractions at this show was the massive collection of free-to-play pinball and arcade machines. It was a gamers paradise! There were literally dozens of incredible arcade games and some of the best pinball tables we've ever seen at a public show. The collection of pinball machines included games like The Wizard of Oz, Tron, Star Trek, Genesis and Funhouse, my personal favorite. The best part was the free arcade stayed open well after the official close of the show. It was worth the price of admission just to play all these great games.

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Speaking of arcades, The Behemoth, developer of such legendary games as Castle Crashers and Alien Hominid HD, set up their own arcade at the show featuring huge arcade cabinets. It was a very popular attraction at the show, and it was great to play all those great games on those massive arcade machines.

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Show attendees were treated with a special movie screening of the The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time. This new documentary is focused on arcade history and arcade collecting. It's truly a must see for anyone who grew up during the golden age of arcade games. The film was also available for purchase on blu-ray. I made sure to pick up a copy for myself before leaving the event.

Events:

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PRGE was home to the 2013 Tetris World Championship. Dozens of skilled players lined up to compete for the top prize. It was a heated battle with some of the most talented players in the game. I always considered myself a bit of a Tetris expert, that is until I saw some of the players at this show. Their amazing abilities put my own skills to shame! First and second place winners received bragging rights and a cool trophy. Check out this VIDEO to see the action in the competition arena.

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The annual show auction brought out big crowds on Saturday as potential buyers bid on some truly rare and unique items. There was something for everyone, from rare games to store displays and retail signs. For a complete list of everything on sale check out this link. My personal favorites were the Legend of Zelda clock, pictured above, and the gold Famicom Punch-Out cartridge, shown below.

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Special Guests:

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PRGE had one of the largest rosters of speakers and special guests I have ever seen at a retro gaming event. Over 30 different speakers took to the stage in two different auditoriums. Notable guests included video game industry legends like David Crane, Rebecca Heineman and Joe DeCuir, alongside members of the video game press and other gaming celebrities. The panel schedule was literally filled with events from open to close.

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Veteran illustrator Mark Ericksen was there to show off some of his best art work from some of the most legendary titles in gaming history. Mr. Ericksen is responsible for the covers of games like Tetris, Mega Man 2, and Strider. He was also the cover artist for Game Pro magazine during it's golden era. It truly was a pleasure to meet Mark in person and to see all his amazing work on display. His creations are a big part of my youth. His work has provided some of the most iconic images in video game history.

R2-D2 made a surprise appearance at the show courtesy of Scott Boothby. Also, KITT from the 80's TV show Knight Rider was in attendance. Both stars posed for photos and videos with fans but were unwilling to sign autographs. Divas!

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Watch this VIDEO to get an up close and personal look at KITT.

Art and Fan Creations:

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One of my favorite parts of the PRGE was all the retro gaming inspired art. One booth run by Luigi Freakout 123 had classic consoles built into various household items. This included a Super Nintendo Coffee Maker, a Robot Game Cube and a Rocket Ship NES. Very cool!

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These beautiful pixel art wooden wall decorations you see on the left were made by The Wooden Arcade. Meanwhile the amazing framed sprite art creations you see on the right were made by 2.5d Sprites. One can only imagine the enormous amount of time and effort it takes to create these beautiful works of art.

The Wooden Arcade PRGE Booth Tour (Video Link)

2.5d Sprites PRGE Booth Tour (Video Link)

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Amery Studios brings us this collection of wonderful hand crafted video game jewelry. They had a number of other unique items on display but these bottle cap earrings really caught my attention. The attention to detail and the level of quality is unmatched.

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Get clean with video game soap from Digital Soaps. The Pokeball soap actually has a pokemon creature hidden inside. Neat!

Shopper's Paradise:

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PRGE 2013 was literally a shopper's paradise. There were deals at almost every booth and treasures to be found everywhere in the arena. The folks at Video Game Wizards even went so far as to build a giant wooden garage so they could have a garage sale right on the show floor! It was certainly the most ambitious booth at the show, and easily one of the most popular. Everyone knows that gamers love hunting garage sales for great deals!

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The dealers at PRGE had everything you could want in a retro gaming collection. From high end products like ultra rare imports, to one of a kind reproduction carts, to dollar deals, there was literally something for every budget.

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Take a Video Tour of PRGE 2013:

Finally we complete our coverage of the show with the largest collection of PRGE 2013 videos currently on the web. Take a tour of the show floor, see all of the great exclusive games on display, walk through the free play arcade, visit the best exhibitors at the show, and see a live performance by 8-Bit Weapon. It's all here in our massive collection. We have over 50 exclusive videos straight from the show floor. Check it out!

  • At the Front Door of the Portland Retro Gaming Expo (video)

  • Portland Retro Gaming Expo Show Floor Tour Part 1 (video)

  • Portland Retro Gaming Expo Show Floor Tour Part 2 (video)

  • Classic Pinball Tables and Arcade Marquees (video)

  • Oculus Rift Demo using Minecraft at PRGE (video)

See Over 160 Photos of PRGE 2013:

Click THIS LINK [LINK] to see over 160 high resolution photos direct from Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2013.

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About The Author: Elliott S. Thomas is a hardcore retro gaming enthusiast. His retro gaming collection could fill a small house. When you ask him, "Have You played Atari today?", he will almost always say, "Yes."

Be sure to check out your Retro Gaming YouTube channel for 1000s of classic gaming videos.