Can a retro gaming dinosaur enjoy an event like EGX?
We’ll forget about the fact that a dubious pint of beer shortened my trip (it’s only me to blame) and we’ll keep trying to answer the key question: can a game dinosaur really enjoy EGX? Many of our retro gaming friends are fully aware of current / next-gen games, for which I commend them. Anyone who knows me will tell you that the last “new” game I bought was Final Fantasy XIII and look how it went! Give me a PS1 and FFVII and you’ll get a 10/10 rating from me.
So if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering if a gaming convention (warts and all) is worth going to. My trip was the brainchild of my lovely girlfriend who, wanting to enhance my birthday present (March, if you’re wondering) Googled a “retro gaming event.” Google, being Google, proceeded to load the biggest gaming event of the year simply because it had a “Retro Gaming Corner.” I fought my natural instincts to run away and accepted this union.
Six months later and our romantic trip to Birmingham was upon us. For those of you who haven’t been there, believe me when I say that it is quite a nice city to visit and that it has more restaurants than you can imagine. Anyway, I digress. The excitement meant that a start was had at 5am, which is not ideal when your train only leaves at 10am. After a relatively painless train ride, we arrived at Birmingham International. The NEC is connected to the station quite easily. What’s pretty unpleasant is the Birmingham cross walk through the station to get to it (kidding, of course), but we got there anyway.
The first thing that struck me was how dark it was. My mother always chided me for playing video games in the dark. “It will hurt your eyes, son!” she used to say, “You’ll need glasses when you’re old!” He’s right, but he would never remind him. I pondered the squint-inducing office-style alternative fluorescent lighting and concluded that the organizers knew better.
Right next to the entrance are the indie games that I had to applaud. Tell a player that the new COD or FF is lurking somewhere and they’ll be looking for it, two hours in the queue and all, but they’re a little more reluctant to search for those standalone gems. The standard of indie games on display was pretty phenomenal and it will also be reassuring to see that the retro gaming vibe remains strong (watch out for Conga Master and Modsork features soon). It has certainly given me something to aim for with my current project. Since it was a Saturday afternoon, there was still plenty of room to move around and chat with the developers while taking a look at their products. Independent events are probably a better option to look for, but since it was a small slice of a huge cake, you can’t really complain.
A massive banner for Final Fantasy XV brought me back to reality. We were on it now. The lines were long (apparently much shorter on Thursdays or Fridays when the kids are in school) but I managed to catch a glimpse of the new COD, the new Gears of War and also the new FIFA, and you know what? I hardly felt anything. I don’t know who to blame for my complete lack of attachment to current generation games. I could blame Sony, but then I would have to ignore my love for the PS1 and PS2. I could blame Microsoft and at the same time ignore the 360 sitting in my bedroom. But I will choose to blame the part within me that refuses to commit to a video game and if these games require it (other than FIFA17). The line between video games and movies is now clearly blurred (this is what you wanted, Nintendo!) And I’m not sure I like it. Give me three buttons and a pointy blue hedgehog and I’m happy.
Which brings me very well to the sacred Retro Gaming Corner, much larger than I had imagined (a pleasant surprise). Atari 7800s, Spectrum ZXs, SNES, Mega Drives, Master Systems as far as the eye can see. That’s a slight exaggeration, but there were a lot of them and all with cathode ray tubes to boot. Maybe it was the heat of all the CRTs, maybe it was the appearance of some kind of error, but I literally couldn’t stop sweating. But through sweat, my eyes could make out the various forms of said blue hedgehog, manic miners, a low fire from many plumber barrels and all was well. What I liked the most was the swarms of people from younger generations enjoying these gems. In a world where you have more than six buttons to master, the two / three button world should be a piece of cake. The games were also divided by genre: small arms games in one area (still better than anything Kinect offers in my opinion), “newer” rhythm games in another, platformers, shooter games, and so on. There really was something for everyone. . Wish I had seen more fuss in the retro games corner? Maybe with a little more interaction? Of course I would, but EGX isn’t about retro gaming, it’s about previewing new things and staying one step ahead of the game.
The all day ticket is quite expensive (around £ 20) but the afternoon session from 2pm to 7pm was about half that. Would you recommend it to an avid gamer? Only if you have a bit of an interest in current-gen gaming, as specific retro gaming events provide so much more for less money. I would also take a few days off from work and go on a Thursday to avoid those annoying queues. And stay away from beer.