We are going to forget the fact that a dodgy pint of lager curtailed my trip (I have only myself to blame) and crack on with trying to answer the key question – can a gaming dinosaur truly enjoy EGX? Give me a PS1 and FFVII and you’ve got a 10/10 rating from me.
Therefore, if you are like me you are probably wondering if or not a gaming convention (warts and all) is worth going to. My trip was the brainchild of my lovely girlfriend who on wanting to bump up my birthday present (March if you are 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 Keyboards”. 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 people who have not been there believe me when I say it is rather a nice city to visit and has more restaurants than you can shake a selfie stick at. Anyhow, I digress. Excitement meant a 5am start was had, hardly ideal when your train only leaves at 10am. After a relatively painless train travel we arrived at Birmingham International. The NEC is rather conveniently attached to the station. What is rather unhandy is the cross Birmingham hike through the channel to get to it (I kid of course), but we came nevertheless.
The first thing that struck me was how dark it was. “It’ll damage your eyes son!” She used to say,”You will need glasses when you are old!” She is right but I’d never remind her of it. I pondered the alternative, office-type squint-inducing fluorescent light and concluded the organisers knew best.
Right by the entrance are the indie games which I had to applaud. Tell a gamer the new COD or FF is lurking around somewhere and they’ll hunt it out, two hour queue and all, however they are somewhat more reluctant to seek out those indie gems. The standard of the indie games on show was quite phenomenal and it is going to also reassuring to see that the retro gaming vibe remains powerful (watch out for features on Conga Master and Modsork soon). It’s definitely given me something to aim for with my current job. Given it was a Saturday afternoon there was still ample room to move about and talk to the developers 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 part of a enormous pie you can’t complain.
A ginormous banner for Final Fantasy XV attracted me hurtling back to reality. We were in it now. The queues were long (apparently much shorter on a Thursday or Friday if the kids are in school) but I did manage to get a glimpse of said new COD, new Gears of War and also new FIFA and you know what? I barely 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’d 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 perform 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 like 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 of the CRTs, maybe it was the beginning of some kind of bug but I couldn’t stop sweating. But throughout the sweat my eyes could make out the many kinds of stated blue hedgehog, manic miners, an under-fire from plenty of barrels plumber and all was well. What pleased me more were the swarms of younger generation folk enjoying these gems. In a world in which you’ve over six buttons to master, the two/three button universe must be a doddle. The games were also split by genre – the light gun games in 1 area (still far better than anything Kinect as to provide IMO), the”newer” rhythm games in another, platformers, shooters etc.. . There was something for everybody. Would I like to have seen more of a fuss made of the retro gaming corner? Perhaps with a little 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 around half that. Would 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 lot more for less money. I’d also take a couple of days off work and go on a Thursday to beat those pesky queues. And steer clear of this beer.