Underdog Chamber 2009

Computer systems, consoles and games that were in the Underdog Chamber for the MGC 2009 show:

2009 – Returning to its original size (with more systems than 2008)

The Underdog Chamber 2009 – systems that were on display during the 2009 show:

Apple Macintosh LAN running Quake – Back again for its third year, Quake returned, this time with an 8-player setup. It was a very popular game, with folks standing in line at times to get a chance to play this classic game. And of course, all of this running on classic Macintosh computers.

Apple IIgs -The old IIgs returned after a being absent from the UC area last year. This true underdog of the Apple II line was up and running a few classic games from the 90’s, and a game or two from the Apple IIe line as well.

Bally (Astrocade) – This system has been out of the UC area for a few years, but it returned in ’09, and thus was the oldest system on display this year. This real underdog console has some great games running on it, with a nice display using an upgraded S-video output.

Philips G7400 – The G7400 returned after being out of the UC area for a year. There were several Odyssey3 type games running on this console, plus a few homebrew releases that took advantage of the better graphics of this system (compared to the Odyssey2).

Nintendo Gamecube – This has been the most modern underdog gaming console in the UC area so far. It was running a few outstanding games during the ’09 show, and got a decent amount of play time.

Odyssey2 – My favorite classic underdog console, that will always be in the UC display (if I can help it). I ran some of the more popular titles so that folks would at least recognize something they could play. Even Pong did rather well during the show on the old Odyssey2.

Sinclair ZX81 (T/S 1000 & T/S 1500) – Returning after a year’s absence from the UC display, the Sinclair computers were running both digitized iPod commercials, and Mazogs and 3D Monster Maze.

Vectrex – Returning again for another run in ’09, the Vectrex was setup to run a specific selection of games for this very fun underdog console from the early 80’s. Folks had lots of fun playing with this system.

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As I do ever year after the MGC show, I summarize the Underdog Chamber and how well various areas of it ran. The UC 2009 ran at the Midwest Gaming Classic on March 21-22, 2009. Every individual system (or game) that ran in my area is summarized below, with a rank based on each systems popularity during the show. The longer the green bar, the more popular a system or game was in the 2009 UC display. And as always, I include my own comments on each section of the UC area.

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Summary of system rankings for the UC ’09:

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Apple Macintosh LAN running Quake

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Apple IIgs

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Bally (Astrocade)

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Philips G7400

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Nintendo Gamecube

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Odyssey2

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Sinclair ZX81 (T/S 1000)

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Timex/Sinclair 1500

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Vectrex

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Apple Macintosh LAN – Quake, running on various Macintosh computers using Classic OS 9, returned for its third year in ’09. The setup included 5 iMac computers (the older CRT models), two B&W G3 Macs, and a Quicksilver PowerMac G4, for a total of 8 computers. 2009 proved to be a very good year for Quake at the MGC show. The chairs were always full, and at times there was actually a waiting line to get in on this classic and still popular FPS game. As in prior years, there were some familiar faces playing Quake, along with a bunch of newcomers to the show (but not to Quake). Plus I was a bit amazed by the age groups this year, from young kids (with parents) to folks around my age (and maybe a bit older). In all, Quake did very, very well in 2009.

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Apple IIgs – The Apple IIgs returned to the UC area after a year’s absence. A bit to my surprise, it didn’t get as much attention as I would have expected it to. It didn’t too badly, but it garnered much more casual play than it had two years ago. There were a few folks who specifically remembered and played some of the classic Apple games, from Arkanoid II to Rastan (and a few others). However, most of the attention the IIgs got was rather casual, with many folks never having touched this old computer before. In a way, I guess that is a good thing!

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Bally (Astrocade) – The old Bally/Astrocade came in fourth place this year for the amount of play it got in my UC area. This was a last minute swap, as I had a few system failures the week or so before the show. Plus the Bally had not been in the UC display for a few years now. I was rather happy to see the oldest system in my UC ’09 display get some good attention, from casual folks, to people who remembered the system from their childhood. The Incredible Wizard game on the Bally did very well, but so did the built-in Gunfight game too, along with a selection of great games for this system. In all, a pleasant amount of play time for the old Bally system.

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Philips G7400 – The European cousin of the unreleased Odyssey3 returned for the ’09 UC exhibit. This G7400 contains a built-in Voice module and upgraded video output (thanks René). Some of the ‘+’ graphics games were running, alongside there normal version on the Odyssey2 sitting next to the G7400. I thought this was a nice touch, during the times when I did this comparison of the ‘+’ and non-plus games. While this system (and the O2) did not receive a lot of attention at the show, they got more play than they have in prior years. Part of this may have been due to the game selection, and partly because the crown was much larger at this years MGC show. Either way, the G7400 did fairly well, showing off such ‘+’ games as Attack of the Time Lord and UFO. Some homebrews where shown too, such as K.T.A.A and Puzzle Piece Panic. This year, the last two games mentioned here got the most play.

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Nintendo Gamecube – The most modern underdog gaming console returned again for the ’09 Underdog Chamber exhibit. Even though many people like the Gamecube, it is still a true underdog of the last generation of gaming systems. Surprising enough this year, the Gamecube got a little less play in the UC area than it did last year (but not by a large factor). In fact, it got as much attention as the special Timex/Sinclair setup I had running (see below for more on that). For most of the show, I ran Burnout 2 and the Namco Museum Anniversary Collection. While Burnout did fairly well, I was rather amazed at how well the classic games in the Namco Musuem collection did. The old arcade games in this collection drew in a good crowd. I did let someone run Smash Bros. for a bit on Sunday, just because I’m a nice guy. 😉

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Odyssey2 – This system is a true underdog from the late 70’s and early 80’s, which is actually still getting some attention from folks on the Internet (they are a rather devoted group). As has been stated many times, the Odyssey2 is my favorite classic gaming console! Why? Because I grew up with it, simple as that. Unlike last year, even though I had the entire game library at my disposal, I only ran specific games for the ’09 show. Attack of the Time Lord and Turtles fairly rather well, considering this system only garnered a little more attention than the G7400 did. On Sunday I put up the Homebrew Pong game for part of the day, and I found it amazing at how it drew in the female gamers (not being sexist – just stating a fact). I found this a bit odd, but it was good that some people where enjoying a simple game of Pong, which is darn cool in my book!

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Sinclair ZX81 (T/S 1000) – I setup a Sinclair ZX81 (and had it’s America cousin nearby but not hooked up) with my small Sony 9″ TV set and had it running the two iPod digitized commercials I got from my friend Ted a few years ago. This little computer, with black & white graphics and no sound, was running either an iPod shuffle (original) or iPod Nano (original) commercial, or at least 13 seconds of them, held within the computer’s 16K of RAM. To liven up the display a bit, I had a pair of Bose speakers with some 70’s and 80’s music playing, which ran off of a 2nd generation iPod shuffle. Along side the display, I had my iSkull hooked up, which was an old Mac Plus gutted and the insides replaced with a color organ and a small ceramic skull. The lights from this flashed to the music playing. I was truly amazed at the attention that the ZX81 and the digitized iPod commercials got this year. The whole setup got a little more attention than the Gamecube, making it the 2nd most popular thing in the UC ’09 display! Lots of people commented on the display, talked about it, and asked questions about the system and videos that were playing. Plus many folks remembered the old computer, and were amazed about the frame rate of the videos that were running on the old ZX81, with a meager 3.25 MHz processor.

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Timex/Sinclair 1500 – The old T/S 1500 returned after being gone from the UC display for year. Unlike last time though, I actually setup this system to run two of the best games for this old computer, Mazogs and 3D Monster Maze. However, much to my disappointment, both games drew in very little attention from show attendees at all. In fact, the most use this display got was from small kids, who delighted in plunking away on the tiny keyboard until the games would crash. I think part of the issue was not knowing what to do with the games, even with the ‘Press a Key to Start’ message on the screen! I did get one person who remembered Mazogs when he was much younger, and just for that, I’m glad I brought this system and the two games to the show. Note: I only had this on display for Saturday, as the TV for use with the system decided to quit on me by Saturday night.

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Vectrex – This vector-based console with a built-in black & white screen returned again for the ’09 show. I setup a specific selection of games to run on this wonderful underdog system from the early 80’s. As it did last year, it drew in a decent group of gamers that enjoyed playing games on this rather unique classic system. Mine Storm again drew the most play out of the games I had on display, which it always does. And it should, as it is a very good clone of Asteroids (better in my opinion).

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