We’ll forget the fact that a dodgy pint of lager curtailed my trip (I’ve only myself to blame) and crack on with attempting to answer the essential question – can a gaming dinosaur truly enjoy EGX? Many of our retro gaming buds are fully clued up with current/next gen gaming for which I salute them. Give me a PS1 and FFVII and you’ve got a 10/10 rating from me.
So, if you’re like me you are probably wondering whether or not a gaming conference (warts and all) is well worth going to. My trip was the brainchild of my lovely girlfriend who on wanting to bump up my birthday present (March if you’re wondering) Googled”retro gaming event”. Google being Google proceeded to load up the biggest gaming event of the year only because it had a”Retro Gaming Corner”. I fought my natural instincts to flee and consented to this union.
Six months down the line and our romantic trip to Birmingham was upon us. For those who have not been there believe me when I say it is rather a nice city to go to and has more restaurants than you can shake a selfie stick at. Anyway, I digress. After a relatively painless train travel we arrived at Birmingham International. The NEC is rather handily connected to the station. What’s rather unhandy is the cross Birmingham increase through the station to get to it (I kid of course), but we came nevertheless.
The first thing that struck me was how dark it was. My mom always told me off for playing video games in the dark you see. “It will damage your eyes son!” She used to say,”You will need glasses when you are old!” She’s right but I would never remind her of it. I pondered the alternative, office-type squint-inducing fluorescent light and reasoned the organisers knew best.
Right by the entrance are the indie games which I had to applaud. Tell a gamer that the new COD or FF is lurking around somewhere and they will hunt it out, two hour queue and all, however they’re somewhat more hesitant to find those indie gems. The quality of the indie games on show was quite phenomenal and it will also reassuring to see that the retro gaming vibe is still powerful (watch out for features on Conga Master and Modsork soon). It’s definitely given me something to aim for with my current project. Given it was a Saturday afternoon there was still ample room to move about and talk to the programmers whilst having a gander at their wares. Indie-only events are most likely still a better bet for seeking them out but seeing as this was a small portion of a enormous pie you can not complain.
A ginormous banner for Final Fantasy XV attracted me hurtling back to reality. We were in it now. I hardly felt a thing. I don’t know who to blame for my complete lack of attachment to current gen gaming. I could blame Sony but then I would have to ignore my love for the PS1 and PS2. But I’ll choose to blame the part inside of me that refuses to commit to a video game and my do these games require that (FIFA17 apart). The line between video games and movies is now distinctly blurred (this is what you wanted Nintendo!) And I am not sure I enjoy it. Give me three buttons and a spiky blue hedgehog and I am happy.
Which brings me nicely to the hallowed Retro Gaming Corner, a lot bigger than I’d imagined (a nice surprise). Atari 7800s, Spectrum ZXs, SNES, Mega Drives, Master Systems as far as the eye could see. That is a slight exaggeration but my were there a lot of these and all with cathode ray tubes to boot. Maybe it was the heat from all the CRTs, perhaps it was the beginning of some kind of bug but I literally couldn’t stop sweating. But throughout the sweat my eyes could make out the various kinds of said blue hedgehog, manic miners, an under-fire from lots of barrels plumber and all was well. What pleased me were the swarms of younger generation folk enjoying these jewels. In a world where you’ve more than six buttons to master, the two/three button world has to be a doddle. The games were also split by genre – the light gun games in 1 area (still far superior than anything Kinect as to provide IMO), the”newer” rhythm matches in a different, platformers, shooters etc.. . There was something for everybody. Would I like to have seen more of a fuss made from the retro gaming corner? Perhaps with a bit more interaction? Of course I would, but EGX is not about retro gaming, it’s about previewing new things and being a step ahead of the game.
The all-day ticket is quite pricey (about #20) but the afternoon session from 2pm – 7pm was about half that. Can I recommend it to an avid gamer? Only if you’ve got a bit of an interest in current gen gaming as particular retro gaming events offer a whole lot more for less money. I’d also take a few days off work and go on a Thursday to beat those pesky queues. And steer clear of this beer.