Archive for the ‘MGC 2012’ Category

Vectrex – UC ’12 recap (that’s all folks)

Monday, April 9th, 2012

The wonderful vector-based Vectrex system was back in force again for the Underdog 2012 part of the Midwest Gaming Classic. Since the all-in-one unit takes up so little space, I’ve been making it a habit to have it at the show almost every year (it was not in the 2011 show, and one year in the past too). This system from the early 80’s always stands out in the UC room, even considering its small size. It is a very unique system.

While it was planned to display mostly home brews at the 2012 show, this didn’t work out 100%. The following games did run: Color Clash (some play), Debris (got a good amount of attention), and Star Trek Debugged (mild play). The built-in game Mine Storm is the game that got the most attention and play, as it always does when I have the Vectrex on display. This comes across to me as somewhat funny and sad at the same time. Funny because there are other really good games for the Vectrex, and sad in that people don’t seem to want to play those other games for the most part.

The old Vectrex got some good play at the show, and some compliments as well, in regards to how good of shape the screen and unit was in. Honestly, this is my original system from back in the day, bought from Toy’R’Us when it was being sold out during the 80’s video game crash (true story). It still runs like a champ today, and hopefully for many more years to come.

Vectrex popularity rating for 2012: B+

The Electronic Gamer

The Electronic Gamer (official mascot of the Underdog Chamber).

And will that, the Recaps for the 2012 show are done and over with. All future posts here should be about next years 2013 Midwest Gaming Classic show, and what the Underdog is going to do at that show. Yes, the UC will return once again, and hopefully with more change that I’ve wanted to do with the exhibit ready to go. More display boards, other systems, and a few thing I’ve thought about but won’t post here unless they become more feasible. For now, it was a fun ride, and the future looks great. The name will stick for now, but I’m tempted to alter if if one plan goes through. Time will tell.

Thanks to (in no particular order – and in some cases just for being there) Dan Loosen, Gary and Gina Heil, John Norman, Tom Legare, Greg Jervis, Erica Woollums, Jeff Nissen, Erik Olson, Justin Lewandowski, Max Idzikowski, Mark and Jeri Heil, Jeff Koss, Jennifer Drews, Marty and Marcie Goldberg, and Theresa Wagner and son Devon.

Timex/Sinclair 1000 – UC ’12 recap

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

The Timex/Sinclair early 1980’s computer(s) (1000, 1500 and the original ZX81 from the UK) have been on display in the Underdog Chamber for years now. There is always at least one unit up and running Ted’s digitized iPod commercials – the nice early ones with the silhouette people on a simply color background (those commercials are great). 2012 was no different in the basic setup, but I had the ZXpand with a SD card on it (new hardware from 2011), which made loading the video a lot easier and much, much quicker.

As has been the case in prior years, the video(s) running on this little computer always gets some attention. It did pretty good this past show, and even garnished enough interest so that people were asking about it and the ZXpand card on the back of the T/S 1000 too. Always nice when people take extra interest in old consoles and computers.

Along side the T/S 1000 was the old iSkull (recycled Mac+), making a return as well for 2012. Music was playing too, in addition to even more music videos than I had last year (and there will be more in 2013). People get a kick out of this old computer, but mainly for what it is displaying. A friend at the show asked if I would try running games on it, and I stated I had in the past, and it was a F rating in that regards. People at the show just don’t play games on the old sinclair computers, so I just don’t bother anymore (but the programs are there is anyone asks to do so). For next year, I’m going to see if Ted can convert some more commercials and make then bigger, since the ZXpand had 32K of memory (not the usual 16K I’ve had in prior years). Double the memory, double the video! 🙂

Timex/Sinclair 1000 popularity rating for 2012: B

Tele-Games Video Arcade – UC ’12 recap

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Getting near the end of the 2012 recaps, we haver the (Sears) Tele-Games Video Arcade, aka a 2600 clone. Perfect for the Underdog Chamber, and was up the weekend running some more rare or forgotten old games on this nice classic console.

I had a bit too much to run on this system over the weekend, that ended up meaning that only a select number of games were used in total. They will be listed here, with a comment on how each one did. Fast Food (some casual play), Frogger on the Supercharger (did not do as well as expected, mainly due to the odd menu screen), Tax Avoiders (got pretty much avoided), Tunnel Runner (mild play at best), Star Ship (ignored), Pac-Man Arcade (mild interest). The last game, which wasn’t last on display, but is listed last here because it got the most attention. That game was Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The game itself is mildly fun at best, but the title and of course a horror-based game on the old 2600 clone got it some decent attention and comments (how I would have loved to have had Halloween too – better and more graphic than Chainsaw).

As a whole, the Video Arcade did a bit below average in regards to play time in the Underdog Chamber. I was a bit surprised by this, but then again, it is a pre-NES system. This means that a lot of folks walking by didn’t know what it was, which is sad. I keep stating if you never played it, try it, you may find out you like it. They are games, play them. Ack! (Enough though, I could go on).

Thanks to Jeff Koss again for borrowing the Video Arcade (along with the TV Scoreboard). It (the Tele-Games system) may return again in 2013, with a more well thought out selection of games (and hopefully Halloween will be one of them). I think I may go more for the shock value of some of the odd games on the old 2600 clone, to a point of course. It was fun having it on display though. Main problem I had with it was with the Supercharger add-on. I brought the CD for this, but forgot the CD case, so I had to guess what the tracks were when trying to load some games (not fun at all). If it comes back, I’ll have to remember to bring the game list, along with some truly special games.

Tele-Games Video Arcade popularity rating for 2012: C-

Super A’Can – UC ’12 recap

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

This poorly sold system from Taiwan was mistaken for an SNES a bit too much when it was on display in the UC exhibit for 2012. This true (and I mean TRUE) underdog system, with a total of 12 games made for it in 1995 was put between the 3DO and the TV Scoreboard systems, and the Super A’Can actually faired reasonably well is regards to people actually sitting down and playing games on it. It did better than the 3DO or Dreamcast, at least in the UC room!

During the show weekend, mainly two games ran on the A’Can. Sango Fighter got some decent play as a pretty good fighting game. Speedy Dragon was the other game, a rather cool spin on Sonic, but with a kid and a bat instead as the main character. This game got the most game play of the two games running. There was C.U.G. too, but for some reason, it never went up for play.

While it was nice of J.D. to borrow this system to the UC area, it may not return for a bit, but I won’t rule it out for future shows. As true of an underdog as it is, the A’Can is not that bad of a game system. Just wish there were a few more games for it.

Super A’Can popularity rating for 2012: C

(Xbox) Steel Battalion – UC ’12 recap

Friday, April 6th, 2012

At the last two MGC shows, 2010-2011, my brother-in-law Greg was fascinated by a Steel Battalion setup on the Xbox (original) in the then-called Modern Museum. He liked it enough to go out and buy two Xbox units, both games – Steel Battalion (2002) and Steel Battalion: Line of Contact (2004), along with the massive controllers and foot pedals.

For those not familiar with Steel Battalion, it is a vertical tank game. Think Mech Warrior and you kind of get the idea. The thing with Steel Battalion though, is they made this game as realistic as possible. even making it so your save game is erased if you die in the game (brutal). You don’t just hit a start button when you sit down to this game, you actually have to go though a ‘start up’ sequence just to get the tank operational. And that is just the beginning. In the long haul though, it is a great game, especially when you get past the steep learning curve (or at least enough to just move around and fight the enemy within the game).

Back to Greg. During late 2011, he decided he would like to bring his two Steel Battalion units to the Midwest Gaming Classic. I wasn’t sure on this at first, because the Xbox is not an underdog system. But as pointed out by some of the show’s staff members, Steel Battalion technically is an underdog game, as it sold in rather limited quantities (around 42,000 total), and isn’t that well know. Thus it was in for the UC 2012 lineup. J.D. from the Modern area of the museum thought it would be cool to try a 4-player LAN with Steel Battalion., so he borrowed us his unit, and we got a fourth one from Sean who helps out in the E2M room (thanks to both for doing this). Thus we ended up with four Steel Battalion units.

At the MGC 2012 show, due to the complexity of the game, Greg ended up running two units connected by a LAN, and having two Xbox units running Steel Battalion in single player mode. Any way it was done, it was a true smash hit, even with most people struggling to try to figure out how to play the game. The units were in use throughout the show, but did get knocked done to three on sunday due to a glitch in one of the controllers (which hopefully is repairable).

Steel Battalion is a unique experience on the original Xbox. Some folks had experience with the game and could play with little help, but most were new to this complicated but fun game. Due to its popularity though, it will most likely return in some fashion for 2013 (not sure if it’ll be 2, 3, or 4 units though – may cut it back to just 2 or 3 at most, to make room for other things – only time will tell). I get the impression this may become the Quake of the Console section of the Underdog Chamber. 🙂

Steel Battalion (on Xbox) popularity rating for 2012: A+

(Radio Shack) TV Scoreboard – UC ’12 recap

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Thanks to fellow gaming friend Jeff Koss, the Underdog Chamber finally had a fist generation system on display for 2012. This was the pong-based system, TV Scoreboard, made by Tandy and distributed by Radio Shack from 1976 to around 1981. This unique little system, and it was somewhat small, had eight built-in games. Six of the games used the two paddles controllers, one of which attached to the side of the unit for storage. Two of the games used a light gun attachment, the old fashion kind, which looks like a real gun (except for the cord coming out of it). There was no rifle attachment for the light gun though, but one was made for this system back in the days. The system was running off of AC too, but could run with six 1.5 AA batteries if one wanted to. Sound came out of the unit itself, so we were able to use an old Goldstar TV with poor sound, which was turned off for the TV Scoreboards own speaker.

As mentioned a few times, location seems to help with systems in the UC room. TV scoreboard was the first console people would see coming into the room (the same position that the Dreamcast was in 2011, and the 3DO in 2010, when those systems did very well). And like those years, the TV Scoreboard did very well in regards to the amount of people sitting down to have some fun with an old pong-based game system. Many people used the two controllers for two-player action, and the light gun got a good amount of use too. After so many years, it sill amazes me how people still get a kick out of pong, and I am no exception. The game is so easy to play, and fun too. Pong rules!

(On the side, I’m tempted to put something like the Arcadia 2001 in this special spot in the UC area next year, just to see if the popularity theory of this spot holds true. It has for three years so far).

The TV Scoreboard honestly was a smash hit, beaten in popularity for the UC 2012 exhibit only by the Quake LAN and Steel Battalion. And that is saying a lot about the power of pong!

TV Scoreboard popularity rating for 2012: A-

Odyssey2 – UC ’12 recap

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The old 2nd generation console from my teenage days, the Odyssey2 is still my favorite (sentimental) system, for various reasons. For the UC in 2012, the Odyssey2 did slightly better than average, as a system getting play during the show. While this wasn’t as good as last year, it is rather good for the Odyssey2, as it usually doesn’t fair that well in general. Part of this is the simple fact that folks don’t recognize it, which is sad in my book. The other reason is because it is an underdog from the Atari 2600 days. If you see something you’ve never played before though, give it a try. You may find out that you like it, as some folks at the show did.

I was planning on doing a bunch of home-brews for the MGC 2012 weekend, but I ended up just running one game all day saturday, and one game all day on sunday (plans always change to some degree). The two games were from Revival-Studios, and were Astrododge and Mayhem. Mayhem ran saturday, and it got a fair amount of play. There was even one person (a friend of mine) who got a top ten score, but for some reason the code won’t work on the Revival Web site. Oh well. He did comment that the game would have been a hit if it had been released in the 80’s, and that is one great compliment towards the game. Other than that, the folks that played the game easily picked up on what to do, and enjoyed the game.

Sunday was Astrododge day for the Odyssey2, and this game got more play than Mayhem, much to my surprise. Personally I find this game hard to play for some unknown reason, but those that played it faired much better at the game than I do. Anyone who actually sat down to play the game enjoyed it, and that is what the UC area and the MGC show is all about. Enjoying games, old and new!

So for 2012, the old Odyssey2 had its day in the light once again, as it will ever year. Because it is my favorite old console system, and probably always will be. Here’s to 2013, and some new home-brews (they are coming already – the more the better)!

Odyssey2 popularity rating for 2012: C+

(Sega) Dreamcast – UC ’12 recap

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The Sega Dreamcast did outstanding play-wise in the Underdog Chamber in 2011, but 2012 was a totally different story. The last of the Sega systems from the late 90’s is a great console, but it drew just a bit more attention than the 3DO did in the UC exhibit this past show. Part of it was probably room placement, which I mentioned before in really noticing it from the 2012 show. Odd how room placement could affect a systems popularity between just a year, but the Dreacast just didn’t get a lot of play. It is also possible that the Steel Battalion setup next to it drew some attention away from it as well. Hard to say for sure, but I wish it had done better.

Games running on the Dreamcast war Bangai-O, Crazy Taxi, Demolition Race: No Exit, and Ikaruga. Even with the systems limited played in the UC area for 2012, Ikaruga and Bangai-O probably did the best overall of the weekend.

The old Dreamcast will return, but probably not for 2013. I think the system needs a rest for a year or so. For now, it did not fair well this past show, and was the second least popular system in the UC 2012 exhibit (hard as that was to believe).

(Sega) Dreamcast popularity rating for 2012: D+

Channel F – UC ’12 recap

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Next on the list of 2012 recaps for the Underdog Chamber is the Fairchild Channel F system. This old console is a bit of an enigma, as the cartridge port on the unit used in the UC area broke shortly after opening the show on Saturday. Thus it was only capable of running the few simple pong-based games built into the Channel F. Despite that though, it was rather fun to watch folks struggle for a short bit, before they could get the games going (the Channel F doesn’t have the easiest user interface). People did manage to get one of the few Pong games going though.

The amazing thing to me was, understanding after a while, that folks were truly enjoying the simple built-in pong-based games for the Channel F. Most people at the MGC show played the two-player games, and seemed rather entertained by the first cartridge-based console (this is the one that truly started the programmable cartridge-based system in the late 70’s and beyond – a nice piece of history that most casual gamer do not know).

Most people didn’t ask how to use them, but it was noticeable that they were somewhat amused by the odd controllers that the Channel F has. While they are unique in that they are part joystick, part paddle and action button all rolled into one, I personally wish they had a regular action button on them (they did just at the crash in the early 80’s, but I’ve never seen one of these controllers yet). That is about my only complaint with the Channel F, besides the limited color palette, which doesn’t bother me more than just finding it somewhat funny (to me at least).

In all, the Channel F, even with just the built-in games faired reasonable well play-wise for the UC ’12 exhibit, beating out almost half the consoles on display. Truly amazing in my book.

Channel F popularity rating for 2012: B-

3DO – UC ’12 recap

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

While the 3DO system did well when it first appeared in the UC exhibit back in 2010, the system did not so as well in 2012. The game was setup roughly near the middle of the room, and had a small selection of games running on it throughout the weekend, including Blade Force, Gex, Out Of This World, and Road Rash. Of these, Out of this World did the best, and even that was not spectacular. It was a surprised that Road Rash did not do well at all, as this is a popular game for this 90’s console.

It may seem odd, but I noticed this year that were a system is located within the UC room can make a difference in how much play it gets. Sad but true (this will come up in another recap). The 3DO for 2012 did not get a lot of play. More casual looks, and minor play at best, throughout the weekend. A large contrast form how well it did in 2010.

Suffice it to say, even though it didn’t garnish the attention it deserved, the 3DO will return for another year. But that won’t happen in 2013.

3DO popularity rating for 2012: D-