Last weekend, IntoMobile attended the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, one of the largest classic gaming events in the country. Ian and I were both going for the first time, and weren’t really sure what to expect. So we stretched out our thumbs, threw on our finest nerd shirts, and dove right in. We were certainly not disappointed.
The Portland Retro Gaming Expo is really something special. It’s the kind of event where cosplayers hob nob with aging hipsters, chiptunes artists and, and indie devs. The kind of place where you’ll go from playing Doom on a Sega Genesis equipped with a 32X to playing Pitfall on an Atari 2600, with a stop off at the Hyperkin booth to try out the Oculus Rift. It’s a place where you’ll see a man dressed as Starfox hoist up his tiny daughter (herself sporting a Luigi cap) so she can play one of the 12 or so Asteroids cabinets in the massive “Supercade”. And it’s a place where you’ll see R2-D2 scooting around next to KITT from Knight Rider
In short, it’s the kind of place dreams are made.
For two days, the event took over one of the Oregon Convention Center’s humongous show floors. One side of the space was packed full of vendors plying their wares, be they hard to find cartridges and consoles, original game themed artwork and products, new homebrew games for classic consoles and modern retro-style indie games and even a documentary film about arcade cabinet collectors.
The other side had a snack bar and small food court area with a stage that featured a rotating line up of chiptunes artists. The rest of the space was dominated by a ridiculous amount of playable games. There were over 160 arcade cabinets and pinball machines, all on freeplay! If that wasn’t enough, the space included several areas with long tables devoted to classic consoles. Everything from the late 70’s into the PSX and N64 era was represented, each with its own little tube TV and selection of cartridges. It’s kind of a wonder I ever made it out of this area!
There were several events as well, most of which took place in a separate auditorium. Unfortunately, we were so overwhelmed by the sheer amount of playable classic games on offer, that we opted out. The events included cosplay contests and several gaming tournaments, a couple of films and several panel discussions. Next year, I’d really like to attend some of these discussions. The show’s so big, it’s impossible to do it all!
While there were vendors selling all manner of ancient, rare and collectible games, there were also some artists and crafters on hand with some very cool classic gaming inspired merchandise.
There were tons of neat game related crafts on display. The one that really blew me away was the Clean Geeks Digital Soaps. Chrystal, the soap maker behind the line shows off a couple of my favorites in the shot below. Yes, that is a Sonic 2 cartridge and a Sega Genesis controller. Yes, they are both soap!! You can check out her stuff at cleangeeks.com. Seriously rad!
There was also tons of really cool game art to be seen. These classic gaming inspired woodcut artworks are really cool. Even cooler, they’re made by one of the founders of the Shoryuken League, Eugene, Oregon’s incredible barcade!
Also, a new documentary film about arcade cabinet collectors had a booth with DVDs and tons of swag. The Space Invaders: In Search of Lost Time looks really interesting. The film played at the event but we weren’t able to make it. I’m really looking forward to seeing this one though. Who knows, maybe it’ll be the next King of Kong!
The event was incredible, and we’ll certainly be back next year. There’s a whole mess of pictures that we posted the other day, and you can check them out right here!
So, what’s your favorite classic game or franchise? Let us know in the comments!
[Via: Portland Retro Gaming Expo]