Play:Expo – Manchester 2014

We had an absolute blast in Manchester last weekend and Play:Expo just keeps getting bigger and better with each year passing. There was so much to see and do at this year’s event and a welcome distraction  between mammoth rounds of pinball and arcade stick waggling.

Here’s a selection of photos i’d taken.

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Arcade heaven at Play:Expo

This weekend it’s the big one….well, in retro gaming terms that is rather than Skynet finally getting his or her way. Play:Expo is just a day away and in a few hours myself and my good lady will be driving to Manchester for a day of R&R (and shopping) prior getting ones game on from Saturday morning.

The list ‘stuff’ at this years event is just staggering – Check out all this lot –

http://www.playexpo.net/whats-on/

But it’s this particular setup video that’s got me really excited now.

 

So hopefully, a good weekend all round and am looking forward to meeting up with old friends, having a few laughs and of course, enjoying the odd game or two.

Retro Remakes Mini Arcade to the rescue.

My stamina has certainly been put to the test this week having some pretty hefty I.T. infrastructure issues as work resulted in another eye drooping 24 hour shift followed by a few hours of sleep  followed up with another 4:30am drive back into work and non stop for the next 18 hours. Sleep has been like that elusive powerup that’s just out of reach on that rock hard schmup you’ve been trying to finish.

So, in need of a little pick me up during  lunch break and without having to use too many already exhausted brain cells, it’s the vintage video games I turn to and a particular remake that simplifies a bunch of them even more.

The Retro Remakes Mini Arcade by Minionsoft is a collection of eight vintage games, simplified into little 32×32 pixellated renditions of the classics we all know and love. Enter the arcade and you can  step up to play Space Invaders, Asteroids, Pacman, Scramble, Frogger, Centipede, Arkanoid and Pole Position.

Retro Remakes Mini Arcade

Here’s a scaled up screenshot so you can see all the little details. Each game has the original sounds samples and little touches to each game which I’m sure will make most of you retro gamers smile  . Brilliant stuff indeed from Minionsoft.

pixel arcade machines

 

You can download the Retro Remake Mini Arcade (Windows) here –http://www.minionsoft.com/wordpress/?page_id=193

A trio of PS1 games on the Ouya.

With most of my retro gaming machines all packed away whilst we redecorate, my Ouya is becoming quite the star with it’s small footprint, one lead setup and some rather slick emulators. Tonight, I’ve got the pleasure of three Playstation One games – two from my own gaming library and another on and loan from my friend (cheers Seb!).

Colin Macrae Rally.

Colin_Mcrae_Rally

Not my first choice when it comes to rally sims (Colin Macrae 2, 2005, Richard Burns and Rally Trophy please) , but despite the clipped and chunky graphics, CMR1 on the PS1 is bags of muddy fun. There’s eight countries to compete in providing a variety of  road and off-road surfaces as well as varied weather conditions and day/night driving. You get a choice of four 1998  WRC cars to drive including Colin’s winning Suburu Impreza and (by far my favourite) Tommy Makinen’s Mitsuibishi Lancer E4. There’s also four novice cars to zip around in including the nippy Golf GTI and the Renault Maxi Megane and, my favourite of the lot, four unlockable historic rally cars including the Ford Escort Mk11 and the (probably) rocket fuelled Audi Quattro S1.

I’ve been a rally sports fan for a long time now and really got in the the World Rally Championships during the  late nineties when drivers like Macrae, Sainz, Burns, Gronholm, Auriol and Makinen were all juggling for the win whilst future talent was being introduced with the likes of  Solberg, Leob and Martin.

I’ve not really been following it as much these past few years, but after reading about  increased live coverage on one of the digital sports channels we get I thought I’d take a look at again this year. I wasn’t disappointed, last weekends Monte Carlo rally was hugely entertaining and the unpredictable weather there brought about some real drama and an ever changing leaderboard. Sweden next, my favourite of them all.

It’s with this renewed interest that I sought out CMR1 from my Playstation collection and with the Ouya’s analogue controls playing quite nicely under emulation (FPse) I’m looking forward too some of my own armchair rally action.

NHL 99

NHL '99

Of all the sports games I’ve ever played, EA’s NHL series has been the one that I’ve purchased religiously each year right from the beginning up to when the EA big wigs  decided not continue releasing them on the PC…idiots! NHL ’99 is certainly not the best edition there is but it’s this version (PS1 and PC) that I hold dear for many reasons. I play this and I remember a friend (who happened to play ice hockey for our local team) stopping by and not leaving for hours as we played endless vs. and co-op matches, repeated many many times over the next few years. I play this and I remember leaving my PC on overnight to download the whoppin 56mb demo only to find CRC errors in the archive – back in the days of dial-up internet and billing per the minute,  quite an expensive download!  I play this and I remember the wow factor when my new shiny Nvidia TNT pro graphics card smoothed out those pre ’99 pixelated hockey players. I play this and I remember the Zamboni which didn’t seem to appear in any of the later editions. I play this and I remember trying to amass a whole host of user mods to update the player gear, ice centre and boards (again, quite a feat on crappy dial-up services). And lastly I play this and remember the very best NHL game intro that in my opinion has never beaten.

Take it away Dave!

and lastly (thanks once again Seb!) – Xevious 3D.

To be honest, I’ve never been much of a fan of the original arcade game, preferring something like 1942 for my vertical schmup fixes back then. The air-air and air-ground  weapon systems in Xevious was quite a novel feature but, I dunno, I just found Xevious to be a bit….well, a bit boring.

xevious

 

 

Whilst wandering around the console area at Play:Expo last year I happen across a Playstation running this rather funky looking 3D(-ish) shooter. I sat down for a while and absolutely loved playing it not knowing that, until my lives had been spent, I was actually playing Xevious 3D.

Unlike the original, this is much more fun to play with plenty of  power ups and some truly outstanding boss attacks. Check out the spider robot for example at the 1min:55 mark in this long play video by betamanATstage6.

This 3D version also has the original (and super arrangement) games included to so maybe I’ve been a little too hard on the original game and it’s time I gave it another look?

Just a quick word on the PS1 emulator ‘FPse’ on the Ouya. It can be purchased and installed directly from the Ouya Store, is a breeze to use and supports .iso files directly from either your Ouya (limited space)or directly from a USB stick. It also detects your game files and auto downloads the cover art for you. There’s plenty of options to play around with for graphics and audio and both digital and  analogue gamepad emulation is available (including vibration) as well as on screen controls and emulated memory cards for save support. In a nutshell, pretty much everything you’d need from a Playstation emulator and has run everything I’ve tried so far without a single hitch or slowdown.

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Astrocade gaming.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’ve been enjoying the ‘Living Room Console‘ at Archive.org which is a collection of vintage games consoles and games which you can play directly from within a webrowser. If you haven’t tried it yet, head on over there right now for some great retro gaming fun –  I find running it with Firefox give you a massive speed boost compared to Internet Explorer and certainly a massive improvement than using Chrome (come on Google, you’re my web browsing weapon of choice!).

Of the emulated consoles available, the Bally Astrocade is  the only one that I’ve never had the pleasure of playing before (digital or physically) and I’m absolutely loving  what this little box of faux woodgrain and smoked plastic has to offer.

They’re not wrong, for late 70’s tech, the Astrocade sure is a ‘Professional Arcade’.

astrocade

 

..but enough messing with the Calculator and Creative Crayon, here’s a look at some of my new favourites.

Galactic Invasion 2011

This is really nice Galaxians clone which is surprisingly very well animated considering it’s age and compared to the Atari 2600 version for example. Sadly, there’s no sound via this online emulator so you’ll have to make up your own. I recommend ‘pyu-pyu’ for your laser and a Duke Nukem ‘Hail to the king baby’ when you’ve completed a wave.

manual_galactic_invasion

The Incredible Wizard.

This Wizards of Wor style game has been seriously eating into my free time this week, its one superb little arcade game. Basically, run around the dungeon trying not to get hit by any of the evil Wizards minions…well, they must be evil right? Anyone that looks at you in a funny way, give them a blast with your wizarding stick. Further into the game, you’ll come up against the big cheese who shall not be named . Smyte him with extreme prejudice and thy shall be rewarded.

That radar at the bottom of the screen will come in handy later on as it appears  that said evil minions have nicked Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Sneaky boggers!

Wizard

Space Fortress

Reminiscent of an old VIC-20 game I used to play called Cyclon Zap, Space Fortress will test your reflexes as you defend your ship against enemy assault from all sides. Space Fortress is one of those accessible games which anyone can pick it up an instantly get playing yet still provides a  real challenge for veteran shooters.

Move your (yellow) cannon up, down, left or right and shoot anything that appears on screen. Everything starts off nice and slowly at first giving you plenty of reaction time to move and shoot. Gradually the game gets faster and faster and you’ll really need to be on your game to keep alive. If not, don’t worry, there’s actually a rather nice screen filling explosion effect to watch should your Space Fortress get hit.

Loving these Astrocade colourful pixels.

space fortress

Cosmic Raider

Looking and playing a little bit like Defender, this fun little schmup is great fun for a short time. What is impressive is how smoothly it runs and scrolls even when there’s plenty of activity on screen. I wonder if the game on the original hardware was this smooth?

Great games, and great box covers too.

cosmic_raiders

manual_amazing_maze-tic-tac-toe

manual_brickyrd

manual_star_battle