Margate is cold in February

On Saturday the 21st of February we held the Cosine (UK division) annual general meeting… in other words Sean, Frank and myself made our way to Margate for GEEK (or Games Expo East Kent to its parents) for a mixture of video games, “bracing” sea air and a chance to sit down face to face and chat about projects. My Beloved came along too in order to take the minutes try not to look bored as we talked shop!

We did actually find some time to wander around the venue, soak in some atmosphere, chat with friends and occasionally even play a game or two; I had a quick go on the pretty horizontal Neo Geo blaster Last Resort since the old favourite Ghost Pilots wasn’t present this year and found an Atari 7800 running the wonderfully weird Ninja Golf where a ninja plays a round of golf whilst fighting off opponents and the local wildlife.

But there was far less in the way of retro gaming than at previous iterations; we did see some Atari 8-bit consoles and couple of Sega Master Systems, but there was no sign of any Commodore, Sinclair, Amstrad, Acorn or Atari computers. We weren’t alone in feeling there could have been more from “the olde days” either, most of the people we talked to felt the same and the sticker board put out by the organisers for feedback looked like this:

The word “landslide” springs to mind. And yes, I know the event wasn’t started as a purely retro gaming do but the previous iterations all covered that ground well so people were expecting a continuation this time around. I’ve heard that GEEK is going to be moving into Margate’s Dreamland amusement park next year which should equate to more floor space, so hopefully the organisers will listen to their visitors when planning for 2016 and bring back the retro goodness. In the meantime, here’s some photos taken on that Saturday.

GEEK 2015


Looking for new Leeds

Yesterday was the second Video Game Market here in Leeds, so my beloved and I pootled into town to meet a few friends, look at lots of cool things and grab a few items for ourselves. The previous event had been really good (I apparently forgot to add a post, but there are a few pictures) but extremely crowded, with far more turning up than had been expected and the queue to get in having to wait for others to leave to make room for them; this year was several times bigger and, despite an even better attendance, was thankfully nowhere near as crowded.

The event took over Leeds town hall and the surrounding corridors, most of which were occupied by sellers with tables laden with goodies. When we arrived it was still quite crowded in those areas but we still got a chance to see everything and purchase a couple of bits and pieces of interest and the crowd thinned out as the day went on.

In the end we left with World Of Illusion and Toki on the Megadrive, an unboxed Gameboy Advance Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Super Breakout for the Atari 2600 (there’s an Atari 7800 in the house… erm, somewhere that I’ll need to get up and running for that), three Nintendo DS titles, an untested Amiga 500 power supply… oh, and a Toshiba HX-10 MSX which cost me just £25 and looks like this:

We’re looking forward to visiting the next one (hopefully there’ll be another this year, although the poor organisers are probably still recovering) but our next outing is going to be the Saturday of GEEK 2015 in Margate!

Accosting cosplayers in Manchester

So last Friday saw Spencer and I piling worrying quantities of computer equipment into his surprisingly spacious Mazda and wandering over to Event City in Manchester for the Play Expo. Once there we unloaded and I started making things up planning the layout for the weekend and setting up the Oldschool Gaming computers.

Things didn’t go entirely to “plan” of course, the telly taken along for the VIC 20 decided to start ignoring its own controls and wouldn’t flip over to the composite input (so a CRT portable was blagged from the organisers), the monitor cables on the Amstrad CPC464 are becoming temperamental in their old age so it would occasionally drop green from the picture and the Spectrum’s VGA upscaler had sync problems so the picture would jitter and roll occasionally. Only that last one was an issue that couldn’t eventually be “fudged” on the spot.

The event was, as is always the case with Play, a huge amount of fun and our kit was set up in pretty much the right area, not too far from the “beaten track” but away from the louder areas to the point where Frank Gasking, Mark Ball and I could actually have conversations with people about the games and hardware on show without having to pretty much yell ourselves hoarse!

The machines themselves saw quite a bit of use over the weekend as well, with Commando Arcade on the C64 (which takes Chris Butler’s original 1980s code and yanks it apart to add the missing levels, stop the sprites flickering and generally improve things) seeming to be the most popular on display, even attracting some of the security staff… or at least I think he was?

I’d like to thank the people behind Play (and there are far too many for my still dessicated brain to remember even twenty four hours later so I won’t list names for fear of forgetting someone) for putting on such a great event and inviting me along to fill a very small corner of it, all of the people who stopped by for a chat, Mark and Frank for coming along with their own hardware and helping on the stall so I had a chance to wander around and Spencer for giving me a bed for the two nights and driving us around once again.

There’s a photo album to go with this post which is, for some completely unexplainable reason, just a teensy bit “cosplay heavy”.

Play 2014