Retro Computer Museum gaming event (no.2)

Yesterday I attended my second retro computer gaming event since becoming a member of the RCM group. It was being held at recording/rehearsal studio in Leicester called the Convolution Rooms, which has been used by many bands including one of my favorites Kasabian.

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Unlike May’s big event (and maybe the one to follow in November), the focus this time was a small informal gathering of retro gamers and old computer fans to chat and play games all day….and into the wee hours of the morning.

Being a members only event, it was quite nice to finally meet up with the folks I’ve been chatting to for the past few months who also have a thing for beige plastic!

From the inside, the venue’s main room reminded me of a Manhattan loft apartment – open plan, wooden floors, minimalist white washed brickwork and huge arched windows. Being on the top floor (accessible by a very steep wrought iron spiral staircase) the views looking out across Leicesters country side were stunning.

After saying hello to a few familiar faces from May’s event, I had a scout round to see what had been setup. Andy, the curator of the museum had provided most of the kit himself with a few additional  items brought along other members. As well as the usual suspects from Commodore, Amstrad and Sinclair there were a few that caught my eye such as a Vectrex (witht 72-1 Multicart), PC Engine, Atari 800XL, Amiga 1500 & Sega Mega CD.

There were also quite a few upright MAME arcade machines as well as a mini ‘bartop’  conversion each offering plenty of original arcade games. The three pictured below took quite a lot of my time up especially having Final Fight, 1942 and Wonderboy on offer.

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A Sega Megadrive sits atop a Mega CD for some not so good FMV action

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A few Atari cartridges stacked ready play

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Taking a time out to have a look around the equipment in one of the recording booths

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Around 8pm, we all went in search of ‘proper’ food and settled on the local Chinese takeaway.  On our return we all sat outside eating, chatting and generally enjoying each other company (hey, they’re geeks, they don’t get out much 🙂 All this accompanied by an amazing sunset.

More gaming to be done and I sat myself down on a very comfortable sofa next to a TurboGrafx-16/PC engine for few rounds of Space Harrier. Played on a regular TV/Monitor this game looks great but on a 10x10ft wall using a projector make for one dizzy experience 🙂

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Some of the other interesting pieces of development kit was this SDrive for the Atari 800xl. The unit emulates a floppy disk drive but used regular SD cards for greater storage capacity.  With this, large catalogues of games/demo can be installed on a single SD card and be loaded withing seconds.

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This next device blew me away and one I really want to track down to have one myself. Similar to the above device but this time for the Commodore 64 (including c16/+4 & C128).. It allows for Commodore .d64 images to be stored and loaded from a SD card. Depending on the size of SD card you could practically hold the entire C64 back catalogue of games and have a title load within seconds. It supports many feature including cartridge emulation such as the Action Replay cartridges allowing easy peek/poke of game code.

For any C64 owner, this is a must have device and i WANT one!

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For further info on this amazing device, please visit http://www.1541ultimate.net/content/

By 11:30, things were winding down and most of us were sat playing Tekken on the PS1, projected onto the wall. I like how the slow shutter speed on my camera has blurred the fast screen action creating weird patterns.

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By midnight, it was time to head on home but before doing so I needed to collect a Commodore 1541 floppy disk drive from one of the other chaps. A few months ago, i’d asked if anyone had a non working drive that they didn’t need. I have the idea of turning it in to a ITX based mini PC or NAS hard disk device (will be posting on this in the next few weeks).

I got home about 1am but was still buzzing from the day, I didn’t go to bed until 3am.

I’m looking forward to the next meet in November but also have Retro Reunited coming up in September – http://www.retroreunited.info/

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