Intellivision – 2013 recap

April 17th, 2013

The Intellivision has not been in the Underdog area since 2010, so the decision was made to bring it back for 2013, and make it part of the ‘sweet’ and ‘dead’ spot experiment within the U.C. room. Thus the normally very popular Intellvision was put into the ‘dead’ spot in the back left side of the room, and setup running the new D2K cartridge (Donkey Kong), along with a few other Intellivision classic games.

Similar to the Arcadia 2001 in the ‘sweet spot’, the Intellivision display did not do as good as it normally would have done, somewhat proving that the ‘dead spot’ in the Underdog room really exists. However, since the system is popular with gamers overall, it did better that expected considering where it was placed in the room. Many gamers got a kick out of the new D2K set of Donkey Kong games, which are much better than the DK games done by Coleco back in the 80’s (much, much better).

Won’t deny that the Intellivision deserved a slightly better spot in the Underdog room, but I really wanted to put those two room spots to the best test I could think of. Gamers still got some joy out of the old Intellivision system, and with the original non-modified controllers (with some folks complaining about them too). I personally prefer them with joystick adaptors, but that is my choice on that. The INTV system will probably return again in 2014, but in a better spot.

Some how, I have to do something with the back left of the room ‘dead spot’. Don’t care much for non-play (or low-play) displays, but that back part of the room may turn into something more of a display area, just because of how that area just does play-wise. I do not like putting consoles there that are just not going to get much game play, due to some weird phenomenon that occurs in this area. Will have to debate it before next years show.

Till then, the old Intellivision did rather well for itself, room position or not, and garnished some good game play with the special new D2K cartridge running on it.

Intellivision popularity rating for 2013: B-

Channel F – 2013 recap

April 14th, 2013

Since the Channel F had a slight breakdown last year, in which I could only run the internal games only, I decided to bring it back for 2013 (to give it another shot with my nice multi-cart). That way it would get a better chance to show off what it was and still is, a great piece of history. And honestly, I think I found another sweet spot. Nah, just kidding on that last bit, but it did rather well in the back of the room.

The original programmable cartridge-based console from the late 70’s, the Fairchild’s Channel F, is still a rather unique and interesting system. While it only does three colors, red, green, and blue, it still has some good – if odd looking color-wise – games for it, considering when it was made and how weak it is compared to other systems around its time. The oddest and one of the coolest things about the Channel F in the controllers. They are both joystick, paddles, and action button, all-in-one. Which is kind of fun to watch, as a few people take a minute or so to figure this out. 😉

As happened last year, and more so for 2013, people playing the channel F seemed to really get a kick out of it. Adults laughed a bit at the simplicity of the console, but they still enjoyed playing an assortment of games I had running on it. On Family Day – Sunday – many kids got a kick out of Dodge-It, one of the better games IMHO for this console, as it is so easy to pick up and play this game.

While Dodge-It was the main game, a home-brew version of Pac-Man did well, along with the built in Pong-like games and a few others as well. It was just so cool to see a good amount of people enjoying a piece of video game history. And best of all, was talking with Scott Adams – who popped into the room on setup night – and we had a very nice chat about the older systems that started all this gaming goodness (including talking about the Channel F and the RCA Studio II to be precise).

To wrap this simple recap up, one of the oldest systems to date did very, very well for the UC 2012 exhibit, with only two other consoles doing better overall. And that is saying something for a system from the late 70’s that didn’t fair so well on the market back then!

Channel F popularity rating for 2013: A-

Arcadia 2001 – 2013 recap

April 13th, 2013

I told myself I would not bring this system back to the UC exhibit for a long time, but for 2013, something changed my mind. The main thing was to put the ‘sweet’ and ‘dead’ spots within the U.C. room (two areas, where any console does really good, and one console does poorly in game play, no matter what the system). 2013 was to be the ultimate challenge for the ‘sweet spot’ theory.

With the help of an Arcadia 2001 multi-cart, and having the system setup in the ‘sweet’ spot, it was amazing to see result. The 2001 system did average at best (which is really good for this old console), in regards to people actually sitting down the play games on it. While this may seem to blow somewhat of a hole in the ‘sweet spot’ theory, the Arcadia 2001 faired better than it ever did within the U.C. exhibit for the few years that it was ever on display. So the ‘sweet’ spot is still what it is, an area that draws people to it, mainly because it is the first system seem upon entering the U.C. room (unless you sneak in the back door).

No particular game seemed to stand out amongst the others for the Arcadia 2001, with such games as Alien Invaders, Cat Trax, Pleiades, Red Class, Space Vultures, Spiders, The End, and Turtles running throughout the weekend. The shooters seemed to do a tad better than games like Cat Trax or Turtles.

And the main thing that confused most people on this system was how to start a game. Most games required the ‘reset’ and ‘start’ button to begin, while some also required a button on a control to follow as well. No real rhyme or reason for this, but just another reason this system is not that popular.

With the 2013 ‘sweet’ spot test over, the Arcadia 2001 will be retired for some years now. It will eventually return, but don’t expect to see if for at least a couple of years minimum.

Arcadia 2001 popularity rating for 2013: C

Recap for MGC 2013

April 7th, 2013

MGC / UC Recap 2013

As with every show for a while now, I cannot recap the whole thing, simply because I did not see the whole MGC show. I would always like to do so, but it is amazing how much time goes into preparing for the show, and how quickly the time goes by when you are at the show (and running an exhibit). I did get to see more than usual this year, which was nice for a changes (thanks to the help of Greg, Erica, and Jeff)!

For 2013, the lower levels were not visited at all by myself, so apologies to those who were down there. Probably would have been fun to check the down level, but just didn’t do it this show, for reasons unknown even to myself.

Otherwise, in semi-alphabetical order:

Upper level, we’ll start with the museum wing. Guys, Games and Beer was an odd podcast setup with various consoles in the room. Have to say that I just didn’t get into this room, but that was just me, as the folks in there seemed to be having a great time.

Jersey Jack Arcade Video and Pinball Hall, was on the Main level again as last year. And honestly, this room just kicked ass. Literally over a hundred pinball and arcade games running, all set to free play. Who could ask for more. This year I had time, especially the after party on saturday night, to go into this room and have some electronic fun. While I played a good amount of classic stuff (my specialty), a few friends I was with and myself discovered something that was rather cool. A Dungeon & Dragons pinball machine from 1987. While it was not one of the better pinball games I’ve played, the fact that it was an official D&D machine made up for that. It was just so cool that there was such a machine made back in the 80’s. The price was reasonable at around $1,200, but out of my reach for this year. In all, the D&D pinball machine was the icing on the cake for the fabulous Jersey Jack Arcade Hall!

The Vender Hall on the main level was packed with lots and lots of cool gaming material, from consoles, and a few arcades, to everything that goes with them. This year there seemed to be a lot of 2600 stuff for sale, which is not an issue. But I have to admit, this is the first year I did not buy anything myself form the hall. Why? Mainly because I have so much already, and nothing really jumped out at me saying ‘buy me’. So sorry to the vendors for not giving you any money, but there was enough activity in the Vendor Hall that I’m sure everyone did well for 2013.

I did peak into the MGC FIght Club room, in which folks were having a ton of fun. But fighting games are not my favorite type of game, so I did not partake in this room myself.

The Midwest Light Gun Association had a small but very active room, crammed as much as they could with light gun games for older systems and modern as well. Looked like a complete blast – pun intended too.

Atari Jagfest was just a quick glance for me for this show. For some reason, it just didn’t attract my attention (not that I’m saying anything bad, I just did not partake much of it).

The Die-Hard Gamer Console Arcade (which I think needs a shorter name) was a great setup, as it always is. Lots of more modern games, this year with a different and simpler display board setup than in prior years (the boards were mainly used to display the game running – which was simple but effective). Very nice selection of games, systems, and all, and gamers in there were enjoying themselves immensely.

The E2M area did rather well for 2013, with various groups within the E2M area showing off lots of retro computer and video game goodness. I had the chance to play some TRS80 games this year, and also some pretty good ZX81 games too. And got a nice look at Demon Attack on the old TI system, which has the oddest looking demons in any version of that game I’ve seem, including a very odd but cool dracula type boss on the second level of this game.

My own area, the Underdog Chamber did very well this year, and will be recapped in detail later this month. The best thing I can say about 2013, is I got a reasonable amount of people talking about the old classic systems, which is something I just love – talking to gamers who are enthusiastic about the old stuff. And bumping into Scott Adams was rather a thrill too! And of course, some folks coming in and recognizing the Packrat area I had setup within the U.C. area. Just wish I had had stuff to sell, as there were people looking to buy.

As in prior years, I avoided the Versus Room, as it just isn’t’ my cup of tea. Once again, no offense to those that were enjoying that room.

Another new area this year was NintendoAge, which got only a brief visit from me, mainly because it seemed to attract the younger generation of gamers. Not that that is a bad thing, but I have not been huge on the old Nintendo systems, with the exception of the DS and Wii

Nippon Imports was in the Museum area, and had a nice selection of Import games. One area that I don’t do too much of, but it looked like a good thing for those into imports.

Slightly out of order here, but none-the-less rather coo, was Hyperkin – showing off their Retron 5 system which will be coming out this summer. This will be a system that will run NES, Super NES, Genesis, GameBoy Advance, and games from Japan too. The demo they were running was rather impressive, with the classic systems being upscaled to 720 on a high def TV set, which was looked very good. This is something I will be watching for this summer on the market.

Spooky Pinball was showing off some cool pinball games and other material, for pinball fans. Looked like fun, but I did not partake much of this room, for whatever reason.

Table top gaming the the hotel lobby seemed to do pretty good this year, with many gamers having fun with the games supplied by local Board Game Barrister store.

Benheck was back again, this time in the museum annex. The few times I stopped in there, he was busy building his latest pinball machine. I did not see too much fixing of gamers broken consoles, but I might have just missed this. I though about rubbing in the fact that I beat them at fixing a Channel F from last year, but they just seemed to busy, so I did not do so.

Lastly here, I did partake in Scott Adams presentation for his new Inheritance text/sound game based on previous games from last years show. It was an interesting show, with a good amount of participation from the audience, and a nice amount of humor tossed in (which made it rather fun).

To sum things up, the Midwest Gaming Classic for 2013 was a fantastic show, with more attendees than last year. There was a constant flow of gamers of all type, both days of the show. It was fun to see old friends, and meet a few new ones too, and have some very cool talks about old system – like the Channel F or RCA Studio II (seriously too on that – even by Scott Adams too).

(And I’m sure I missed a few things that I saw at the show – and apologies for those interesting things I saw but did not put in this simple recap for 2013)

As always, game on!

MGC ’13 is over…

March 25th, 2013

Had a really good year for MGC, and the Underdog room too. Lots of gamers, good conversations with people actually interested in talking about old consoles, and so much more. Tired for now though just from all the physical and emotion highs from the show (and the crash after – kind of like a sugar/caffeine low). Have to catch up on things now I did not do last week due to the show. Will slowly start putting recaps on here in the coming weeks, and photos too (probably through an online service though – bit tired of posted them through the blog).

Later folks (and hope those at the show enjoyed themselves – I sure did)! 🙂

MGC ’13 day one is over…

March 23rd, 2013

Very good first day for MGC 2013, at least from what I would tell, as I did get some time to explore – but again did not get downstairs. Lots and lots of gamers, friends (new and old), and folks I meet at this show every year. Had some pretty good discussions with some nice folks about old systems, like the RCA II and the Channel F. ZX81 got some good attention as well. This is the part of the show I really like, talking, not just playing and moving on to the next thing.

The Underdog Chamber of course did well, but there were a few odd things that happened. First off, the sweet spot theory was tarnished, or maybe tampered depending how you look at it. I purposely put an unpopular and unknown system in the sweet spot, and it did not do well. This being the Arcadia 2001. For the dead spot, I put the Intellivision there, and it did fairly well – not great – but better than the dead spot normally does. So the sweet/dead spot theory kind of works, but it also depends on the systems too. I find it so odd, as 2010 had the 3DO in the sweet spot, and it did so well. Another year, the 3DO in a different spot did rather poorly. Just hard to wrap the old head around it. I will be rethinking system arrangement based on what I’ve observed.

There was also a bit of testing with upcoming Packrat games, and I ran into issues with all of the ones currently being worked on. I will have to investigate more on that, but there was graphical issues with one using the Voice with it, and the other acted totally against the way it is supposed to work, and with the Voice too. Time for some bug hunting and fixing.

But the day is done. People enjoyed themselves, the room was not too warm like last year, and overall it was good. A few issues with two people (troublemakers), but nothing to post here at this time. Trying to stay positive for now.

Later folks…. sleep, then the rest of the sunday part of MGC… and the Scott Adams presentation. I actually bumped into the guy in the U.C. room – he came in after show hours just walking through – talked about old stuff (like the RCA and Channel F) – till I realized who he was (the adventure game guy from some years ago). He seemed amused by the fact that I did not realize it was him at first, and of course he invited me to his presentation on sunday afternoon (must remember to see it)! And that is finally it. Night all.

U.C. setup and ready for the weekend

March 22nd, 2013

Spent about an hour packing three vehicles, drive to the hotel, and about an hour to unpack. Then roughly eight hours to setup the room. Much smoother than prior years though, with no major issues and only a few minor problems (nothing that really got in the way). Looking forward to gamers of all ages over the weekend, but in particular, the one that show a true interest in the old stuff.

(Special thanks to Dan for buying food during the early evening for exhibits in the museum wing – and nice to see familiar faces once again)

On a side note, I did bump into a fan of Packrat Video Games during setup, which was rather cool. No games to sell at the show unfortunately, but that is just how it goes this year. Next MGC will be a different story.

Later folks… it is going to be a long and busy day.

Almost setup time…

March 21st, 2013

Stopped by the Sheraton for about 3 1/2 hours to help move things around (and to check out the U.C. area). Was surprised, pleasantly too, that the U.C. room is already setup and ready for actual putting together of the Underdog exhibit. Thanks to the show guys for doing that this year!!! Much appreciated. 🙂

Now to get up early on Friday, and get everything up and running. Not a real Spring day for Wisconsin, but at least there is no snow in the forecast – and it better stay that way!

Night all…

Intellivision is back

March 20th, 2013

It has been missing since 2010 in the Underdog Chamber, but the Intellivision is official is the show now for 2013. Didn’t take much to get this system working on a Magnavox LCD screen, along with the rather good new game DIIK Arcade. This set of two Donkey Kong games, along with the likes of AD&D, Astrosmash, Dragonfire, Nightstalker, and many others will be running at the MGC show for 2013 (I have virtually the entire library, excluding and recent homebrew games). Can’t deny that it feels good having the Intellivision back in the U.C. lineup. This system has always done well as far as game play in the U.C. area, so this console will also be putting the ‘dead spot’ to the test.

If I haven’t mentioned it before, there is a sweet spot and a dead spot in the U.C. room, which is something I noticed over the last three years at the Sheraton. Both spots have existed since 2009, and I still find it somewhat odd. I won’t give the secret away (only a few friends really know), but one very specific area does rather well, no matter what console I put there (3DO in ’10, Dreamcast in ’11, and a pong system in ’12. The opposite is true for another area of the whole room, were the 3DO did poorly in ’11, and the Dreamcast in ’12. This year I’m putting both areas to the ultimate test, by putting a rather true but not well loved underdog system in the ‘sweet spot’, and a rather good and well liked underdog system in the ‘dead spot’. Will see how the ‘experiment’ turns out!

On the side, I did manage to phase out a CRT TV, as I found an extra one I forgot about in the corner of my basement (silly me). So the Odyssey2 will have a nice 24″ screen, which is what I wanted in the first place this year.

That is it for now. Have to do a bit more packing, and try to create a new display board for this year. Thursday I will be helping out for about three hours to start the initial setup of that area. Friday will be the big ‘setup’ day. Then on with the show saturday and sunday!

Music and video is set

March 19th, 2013

While I have finally dug out the Intellivision unit (it took a bit of time to find the thing), it was one of the last things I did today, so Wednesday is when I get the thing going. So much time, so little to do… and of course, strike that and reverse that.

I did manage to finish up on some paperwork today, adding some extra signage for the Packrat area. I will hopefully get that 100% done tomorrow. But honestly, it is amazing at how time flies when your trying to get this stuff done. Poof!

I tried using a larger 23″ TV for the Odyssey2, as I wanted that on a bigger screen. But the larger LCD TV just didn’t like the old analog signal, and had way too much whine in the sound, so that just won’t be happening. Such is how it goes with older equipment. I actually keep a list of what systems works good with every TV I have. Sounds tedious, but it saves time down the rood. So scratch off the 23″ for use with the Odyssey2 (which is rare – this thing has worked with every TV I every had, until now). While doing this, I also uploaded the latest, and possible final release candidate for Minefield / Shooting gallery onto the 7050 test cart – which I just got recently from Rafael (the game designer/programmer). This will be the version of these games to be shown at the U.C exhibit, and I hope to get some feedback on these and a few other games too – such as Traffic, which was done by Chris.

Last but not least of the things done today, the old Macbook and the MGC music library are ready to go, including cleaning off a rather dirty 20″ monitor that I acquired late last year. This will be for iTunes music, and music video too.

And frankly I’m tired and need some sleep now, so that is it for today (I did more, but this is enough details for today). One and 2/3 days to go (Thursday night I’m helping at the show). Rush, rush, rush. Later gamers…