Game On 2.0

Whilst tidying up my blog, I discovered an old draft post from November 2015, written following my visit to the Game On 2.0 exhibition at Newcastle Centre for Life. I guess I got distracted by other things and never got around to finishing this post properly … but I thought it was worth resurrecting what’s there 🙂

Game On 2.0 is a touring history of video games, featuring over 150 fully-playable exhibits. It was in Newcastle for most of 2015, then moved on to Oslo for 2016, and will shift to Rome in early 2017. These pictures come from a visit I made quite late on in its Newcastle residency — it was a wet, weekday afternoon; school trips were leaving the venue as I arrived, and I had the exhibition mostly to myself for a couple of hours.

This is the entrance area, with a fenced-off (and presumably long-out-of-service) Pong Machine.

Some more fenced-off-and-unplayable early exhibits — Computer Space and something else? The wall projection to the right was connected to an arcade controller (and — I presume — a copy of MAME), with a random game selector front end. When I tried it, the game that popped up was Pengo. I *love* Pengo, but it’s a prime example of a game that doesn’t work very well at all with an 8-way stick. Yuk! 🙁

Next came a row of “early” arcade machines and — slightly inexplicably — an MB Vectrex Console that had been encased in a stand-up cabinet that completely hid the device from view. This seemed like a weird thing to do, considering how unusual/unique this particular console is. I can only guess that the donor machine was smashed up or in pretty poor shape 🙁

I was surprised by how well Mine Storm stood up against the full-size vector arcade machines on display. So surprised that I went straight onto eBay in search of a Vectrex of my own the next day 😉

Disappointingly, Bride of Pinbot was out of service. It was the sole pinball machine in the exhibition, and also happens to be my personal all-time favourite pinball machine … so I was massively disappointed not to get a play 🙁

There was a lone Atari Jaguar displayed near the start of the next section of the exhibition, running Tempest 2000. I don’t own a Jaguar, but I know this game has a reputation for being awesome, and I usually *love* tube shooters + Jeff Minter games. Maybe I was just having a particularly good day, or I’d missed a difficulty setting somewhere, but this seemed way too easy — I was gaining bonus lives far faster than I was losing them. It’s the only game in the exhibition that I got bored with and walked away from half way through :/

Then… there were aisles and aisles of home computers and consoles. Pretty much every home gaming platform you could think of. And many I’d never even heard of.

Good to see the ZX Spectrum being represented by 3D Death Chase … this was one of the first games I owned on the Speccy, and it was cool to revisit it after all this time. Also interesting to see that they were running the games on real hardware; I *had* wondered how they’d deal with all those old home computers that needed to have games loaded in from audio cassettes, and whether they’d cheat and have a PC hidden somewhere running an emulator … but, if you squint at the picture, you can see that it’s got some kind of modern day SD Card thinger on it, which is presumably used to boot up a ROM image on power-up. Clever!

(Points deducted for the awful choice of controller on the speccy exhibit though! Possibly the least ergonomic / most uncomfortable Joystick I’ve ever used. It’s a shame you couldn’t prod the rubber keyboard)

Parappa the Rapper merchandise … scary to think that this game is now 20 years old. Gulp!

And I know that everybody too young to hang around in arcades in the 1980s is never going to understand why Dragon’s Lair is such a big deal … but for those of us of a certain age, being in the same room as these original animation cells comes pretty close to having a religious experience. Great stuff!

Moving into the (slightly) more modern console era… I was amused to see a full Steel Battalion rig. Amused because I’ve got one of these in a cupboard in my man cave 😉

They also had a side-room containing an xbox kinect running Mizuguchi’s Child Of Eden. I’ve also got one of these. But it’s not in its own room. Yet.

A Nintendo Virtual Boy — not working 🙁 … there was also some kind of VR-in-a-spherical-treadmill thing nearby that was roped off; I’m not sure if that’s because it was broken, or because it needed an attendant to look after it. There wasn’t much sign of staff members while I was at the exhibition; maybe they (and the machines) were recovering from the School trip that departed as I arrived.

The exhibition ended with another room full of arcade machines. They were a bit of a mixed bag, but the star of the show was a fully-working Star Wars machine — it was only the stand up version, but beggars can’t be choosers 😉

It must be a good 30 years or so since I last played one of these. I *just* managed to crawl into 9th place on the high score table after several attempts, but it was an absolute blast. Great game, in fantastic condition for its age. Almost worth the price of entry alone!

There was also a Defender cab tucked away in a corner. Whenever I go to a retro event, I seem to end up playing an awful lot of Defender 😉

Posted in Gaming, MAME, pinball, Retro Gaming, Travels | Permalink.

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