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PRGE is Bigger and Better Than Ever Before!

Written By: Elliott Thomas

Oct 17th, 2015

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Another Portland Retro Gaming Expo has drawn to a close and I'm back from the big show with my first hand report. This year the venerable retro gaming convention celebrates its 10th anniversary. As you will soon learn, the show is bigger and better than ever before. PRGE has quickly become the number one retro gaming convention on the West Coast. With so much to do and see it was hard to cover it all. It was a two day celebration of retro gaming goodness!

History:

The Portland Retro Gaming Expo was founded in 2005. It is owned and operated by a non profit organization dedicated to preserving video game history and raising awareness and appreciation for classic video games. PRGE is a living museum that celebrates the legacy and culture of retro video games. The event is run by an extremely dedicated group of volunteers who work very hard to bring us this amazing show. The popular show has grown larger with each passing year. After ten years PRGE 2015 was easily the biggest and the best show in the history of this great expo.

Exclusive Merchandise:

One of the best reasons to visit any convention is to hunt for exclusive show merchandise. This year there was an explosion of cool new exclusive products. The wide variety of stuff included everything from clothing, mugs, collectible coins and even PRGE exclusive video games! All of this incredible merchandise was reason enough to visit the show. Previous convention exclusives now sell for a hefty price on ebay. I have no doubt that many of these new products will follow that trend.

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The fine folks at Lost Classics have created two brand new games for the Atari 2600, made exclusively for PRGE 2015. The first game is PRGE X. In this unique two player co-operative game, two friends rush to the convention center to attend PRGE. Once on the show floor players must race around the convention center looking for deals. It's a very clever and fun game that brings the excitement of PRGE to your television screen. The second game is PRGE Smash. This game is a spin on the classic break-out style block breaker games of the past. This game adds a unique new twist to the game with a spin ball, and other new power ups, that make the title stand out from similar games in this popular franchise. It's a fun twist on a classic genre.

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Of course my favorite convention exclusive was created by yours truly. My long time creative partner Christian George-Morehouse and I created a new convention exclusive collectible arcade token. The press photos of our new coin simply do not do it justice. When you hold it in your hand it glows with a shiny, golden luster. The coins were offered in exclusive PRGE 2015 packaging, and were limited to just 1000 units. We have saved a small handful of coins for our new Collector's Club, which you can learn more about in coming weeks. We are very happy to say that the coins were a huge hit! Our most successful coin ever! They were all gone in a matter of minutes! Special thanks to our friend Rick Weis for helping us make this happen.

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Some of the best merchandise at the expo was found at the official PRGE store. There was a wide variety of items that included T-shirts, mugs, water bottles and posters. My personal favorite T-shirt was inspired by the movie Back to the Future. These items were very popular with show attendees and were selling out very quickly.

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The official merchandise store was a popular destination for show attendees. What better way to remember your time at PRGE than by picking up a t-shirt or a coffee mug? I only wish all this cool swag was available online. I would have definitely bought more even after the show. These items make great gifts for any retro gaming fan.

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Cool New Products:

PRGE is the place where everything old is new again. This year was no exception as two awesome new retro gaming products graced the show floor. Usually big companies like Hyperkin or Retro-Bit are on the scene with their latest video game hardware. This year two new companies stole the spotlight with two incredible new products that are sure to excite retro gamers everywhere.

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First up is the new AVS Video Game Console from RetroUSB.com. This amazing new device is actually a brand new console that plays 8-bit Nintendo games on your modern TV in 720p resolution! The console features two cartridge slots, one for NES and one for Famicom carts. It also has a built in cheat menu, variable image size options (4:3, 16:9, etc), and even scanline options with variable darkness. It also features HDMI, AV and a SCART connection. The brilliant minds behind this awesome new console thought of everything. Best of all it's not a clone console, it's not system on a chip hardware, nor does it use emulators. It also doesn't use repurposed, 30 year old hardware. It's built around 100% new FPGA hardware. And if that wasn't enough, it will sell for less than $200! Stay tuned to this site for more details on this incredible new product.

Here is a brief gameplay video showing the RetroUSB AVS console in action. In this video you will see the two cartridge slots as well as a brief gameplay demonstration featuring CastleVania III. This is important as this title was one of many that had an infamous lock out chip called the 10NES chip, which prevents it from being played on many clone systems. As you can see the gameplay is flawless and the graphics look amazing on a modern television. And purists please take note, although we are playing this game in full screen mode, you can also play the game in perfect, original 4:3 screen ratio.

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The new Edladdin Supreme 78 controller is an arcade style joystick for your Atari 7800 console. I cannot say enough good things about this incredible new product. First up, it is built with the highest quality parts. This thing is pure luxury. It's also fast and extremely responsive, which is very important if you really care about your high scores. It works great sitting on a table but it works just well when it's sitting on your lap. This is the joystick that 7800 fans have wanted for years. True arcade gaming on the Atari 7800 is finally a reality. The product costs $179 and is available from the folks at AtariAge.com.

Homebrew Gaming Explosion:

PRGE 2015 was also filled with incredible new games for all your classic consoles. Aside from the two show exclusive titles we mentioned earlier, there were a number of other vendors offering new games for retro hardware. PRGE was a great place to keep up on the booming homebrew scene.

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Once again the folks at AtariAge.com absolutely dominated the show with an incredible lineup of new games for all the classic Atari consoles. Their booth was easily the biggest and the best attraction at the show. I was among the droves of eager fans that ran to the booth the second the doors opened each morning. Once I arrived I was greated by a shangri-la filled with tons of new games. Albert Yarusso and the gang at AtariAge had over a dozen new titles on display. They really outdid themselves this year. They even provided AtariAge badges for all the members of their extremely popular forum. As always, my AtariAge badge is one of my favorite souveniers from the show!

Take a video tour of the AtariAge booth and see all the incredible new games that were on display. Fans could demo all the latest titles, and even sample the amazing new Edladdin Supreme 78 arcade joystick. Some of the awesome new games that were available for sale were titles such as Star Castle Arcade, Zippy the Porcupine (a loving tribute to Sonic the Hedgehog), Dungeon Stalker, Astro Fighter, Wall Jump Ninja, Xari Arena, Jump VCS, Titan Axe and many, many more!

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Not to be outdone, the gang over at Good Deal Games also had a wide selection of great new games for your classic Atari consoles. The selection included show exclusive games like Shoot the UFO, Clyde's Revenge and The Realm of No. They company also had a nice assortment of reproduction cartridges of rare and unreleased games, including a version of the game Missing in Action for the Atari 7800, that was never released to the public.

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Tucked away in the corner of the arena I discovered this technological marvel, a fully working version of Space Harrier for the Atari XL computer! It truly was a sight to behold. The game was originally created by members of the AtariAge forum. This limited edition version was produced on a cartridge with special packaging just for the show.

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Of course Atari homebrew wasn't the only game in town. There were also a number of great games for the Nintendo Entertainment System. HAUNTED: Halloween 85 is the new game from developer Cash-In Culture. This classic side scrolling game made it's long awaited debut at PRGE 2015. The title was a big hit at the show. It sold very quickly to excited fans looking to get their hands on this spooky new title. It's the perfect game for Halloween!

Cash-In Culture also had their new chip tunes cartidge available for demo. The cart, dubbed The Chip Maestro, is a new NES cartridge that allows you to play chip tunes directly through your NES, using a connected keyboard. Fans were given the chance to demo the unit and create their own musical masterpiece. You can learn more about The Chip Maestro on the official website [Link].

Attractions and Events:

The show was filled with special events and attractions that kept gamers busy all day long. PRGE 2015 had an incredible roster of special guests, speakers, and panels that ran from morning until night. There were also multiple contests and tournaments which allowed gamers to compete for fun and prizes. The special events alone were well worth the price of a ticket to the show.

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One of the biggest draws of the show was the massive free play arcade and pinball museum. This area was filled with literally dozens of classic arcade machines and pinball tables. Best of all they were all set to free play, no quarters necessary! One attendee actually told me that he came to the show just to play all these free arcade games. It was his goal to play every game at the show! And just next door to the arcade was the free play console musuem. It featured over 30 classic consoles ready for play. Each console was pre-loaded with some of the best games for each system. It was a retro gamers dream come true!

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Once again the Tetris World Championship returned to Portland. The contest brought out some of the best players in the game. and big crowds who showed up to watch them compete. The championship was open to all attendees and anyone who was up to the challenge. The competition was fierce and it lasted all weekend. It certainly was an exciting thing to witness. It's always one of the best reasons to attend the show.

If Tetris wasn't your thing there were several other contests being held throughout the weekend. Gamers could compete in the PRGE Retrothon Gaming Championship, which featured both arcade and console games. Puzzle game fans got the chance to show their stuff in the Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Tournament. And finally, Nintendo fanatics battled for prizes in the NintendoAge Tournament sponsored by the website of the same name. All of the contests were great fun for everyone involved.

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The Cosplay Contest was a big hit at the show. Folks took to the stage dressed as their favorite video game and movie characters. I have always said that cosplay makes any convention more fun. Special thanks to everyone who wore a costume to the show, and especially to those of you who took the time to pose for my camera.

Special Guests:

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The wide list of celebrity guests included a long list of famous developers like Pong Creator Al Alcorn, Activision developer David Crane, Tod Frye, John Decuir, and famed developer Howard Scott Warshaw (best known for creating E.T. on the Atari 2600.) There were also a number of internet and YouTube celebrities which included John "Gamester81" Lester, Pat "The NES Punk" Capaldi, and the infamous father and son duo known as LuigiFreakOut123.

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Here we see our friend Pat "The NES Punk" Capaldi checking out the cool selection of classic 80's toys available at the show. I was happy to learn that he's also a collector of the popular M.U.S.C.L.E. (a.ka. Kinnuki Man) figure line from the 80's.

Art and Fan Creations:

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My favorite part of this show is always the unique artistic creations made by so many talented artists. I love video game related art. These creations enrich my life and I'm always excited to see something new. In this regard PRGE 2015 did not disappoint as the show floor was filled with dozens of artists showing off their latest creations. We had everything from pixel art to classic oil paintings. The incredible selection of artistic wares also included clocks, key-chains, plush items, soaps, and so much more. I honestly want to thank all the dedicated folks who poured their heart and souls into all these amazing artistic wonders. Your contributions are the most unique and interesting items at the show.

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Shopper's Paradise:

The biggest question for anyone wanting to attend a show like this is how are the deals? Let me be the first to say that PRGE 2015 was a shopper's paradise of incredible deals. Was there ever a game console or a rare title that you dreamed about owning? Well it was definitely for sale on the show floor. The selection of classic games and consoles was the biggest and best I have ever seen in any retro gaming convention. The sheer amount of products for sale was a sight to behold. I personally bought tons of homebrew games, import titles and even a few handheld games.

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The deals at this show were so incredible that one company even set up a MASSIVE dump bin filled with gaming stuff where you could could fill you bag for only $5! It was insane! There was definitely some great stuff to be found in the bin. You can actually see videos of this amazing deal HERE.

Take a Video Tour of PRGE 2015:

Take a walking tour of the 2015 Portland Retro Gaming Expo. This year the popular retro gaming expo celebrates its 10th anniversary. The show has grown bigger and better with each passing year. See why this was easily the best show in PRGE history!

See Over 250 Photos of PRGE 2015:

Click THIS LINK [LINK] to see over 250 high resolution photos direct from Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2015.

In Conclusion:

I truly had an amazing time at Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2015. The show was bigger and better than ever before. PRGE has established itself as the best retro gaming convention on the West Coast, if not in the whole country. I really had a fantastic time and I can't wait to come back next year. I would like to extend my deepest and most heartfelt thanks to show organizer Rick Weis and to all his devoted volunteers. You all worked so hard to make this a wonderful show for everyone. I can't thank you enough. I would also like to thank our friends at AtariAge.com, including Albert Yarusso, the folks at RetroUSB.com, and our friends Gamester81, LuigiFreakOut123 and Pat "The NES Punk" Capaldi. Most importantly I'd like to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to read this article. If it wasn't for your support I wouldn't get the chance to go to so many great conventions. I hope to see you all at the show in 2016! Until next time!

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.