Accosting more cosplayers in Manchester

This post might be a little brief because Spencer and I pushed the Oldschool Gaming kit into the back of his car and spent the weekend at the Play Expo in Manchester.

So I’ve had a weekened of babysitting temperamental 1980s and 1990s home computers – the CPC464 developed a fault two days beforehand, the Spectrum +2’s DivIDE conked out completely during the set-up and one of the VGA monitors was dead on arrival but it probably wouldn’t be quite the same if everything had worked perfectly – whilst talking to people about recent 8- and 16-bit homebrew games and getting to meet with some friends who I only get to see in person at these events; I was joined once more by Mark Ball with his Intellivision and some new games he’s been working on and Frank Gasking who arrived with the Games That Weren’t rig. And of course there were the amazing cosplayers who put so much time and effort into their costumes only to be stalked approached for pictures by me so I should probably apologise for being so shameless. Again.

Even after a pretty good night’s sleep I’m still fairly thrashed this morning to the point where I’m having to look at the keyboard once in a while just to keep my typing straight! I’ve repeatedly said that I’m getting too old to do these events and that my poor joints can’t take it (usually from around 3pm on Saturday onwards, give or take an hour) but then the next one comes around and off we go to have another great time with some lovely people and shouted conversations over the white noise of coin-ops and pinball tables. A metric bucketload of photos were also taken, some of which come handily packaged thus:

Play 2015

And as a footnote, whilst driving around slightly [ahem] “misplaced” on the Sunday morning we went past Coronation Street! There’s a big version of the sign by the gates an’ everything.

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

Wolverhampton wandering

So… what did I do at the weekend? Oh yes, on Friday Spencer and I threw the Oldschool Gaming small rig (C64 with Turbo Chameleon, Atari 800XL with SIO2SD and A600HD with CF conversion) into the back of his car along with his four player Daytona USA emulation set-up and pootled down to Wolverhampton for Revival 2014 at the Dunstall Park race course. Like you do…

As with the previous Revival, the event took place over two halls in an L shape and this time we were set up in the room where the two met. Spencer was running the Racing Zone and I was there to help out and provide a couple of indie 8- and 16-bit games next to Pocket Studios (who are Kickstarting a reboot of Saboteur based on team member Clive Townsend’s original Spectum code) quite literally under the indie gaming banner (there was one hanging from the door frame that decided to jump for it just as we were shutting down the machines on the Sunday!)

There were a few games running on my stand over the course of the weekend including Commando Arcade on the C64 and my own Atari 8-bit blasters Callisto and Battle Eagle, but the Amiga conversion of Flappy Bird, Twenty Forty Eight on the Atari 8-bit and C64 Canabalt were particularly popular for some reason.

These events are always a fantastic chance to meet up with old friends (including quite a few people who I only get to see at retro gaming events or chat to online) and meet new people that I can talk at talk to about new games on the 8- and 16-bit systems or indeed anything else retro-related. A couple of random highlights were watching two small boys play the sit down Ridge Racer coin-op with one steering and the other working the pedals, getting hold of a Diddy Kong plushie for Sue and the cosplaying photo shoot for the Revival game Revival Survival where some of the people who kickstarted the project dressed up as their in-game characters and “menaced” Craig Turner.

In fact the only down sides to the entire weekend are the myriad aches and pains I’m bravely suffering this morning and having All I Want by The Offspring on constant loop in my head, the latter being caused by prolonged exposure to a Crazy Taxi on free play. On the plus side, I developed something of an irrational attachment with Racing Hero and Super Chase

…simply because they were the two machines in the Racing Zone area that didn’t have a proper free play mode so I spent the two days feeding them “coins”. As always, here’s a gallery of photographs taken before and during the event which probably give a better idea of how much fun was had at Revival than can be achieved with words at the point and “normal” services will recover when I do.

Revival 2014