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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Bring back Star Wars at Christmas – result!

Around this time last year, I wrote this –

https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/27/bring-back-star-wars-at-christmas/

and after purchasing the 2013 Christmas edition of Radio Times I saw this –

REEEEEESULT

 

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Today, our entire family met for our pre Christmas get together lunch and as always, talk between us led to Christmases past and the memories we share. I happened to mention that Star Wars was back on TV during the holidays and we were all in fits of laughter after my dad recounted the time we brought our first VCR.

My parents must have been rather flush that year because they’d just splashed out and purchased a brand new colour TV for Christmas. Not just any TV though, this one was huge. It had an ultra modern ‘wired’ TV control (woooooo) so no more getting up to change the channel (at the time just three!), had huge silver dials down one side and was covered in enough faux wood panelling to worry Atari.

Not only that, but they also hired (because they were still incredibly expensive at the time) a behemoth top loading Betamax VCR to record some of the Christmas TV shows and movies….the first being, Star Wars. The problem with these early machines was the considerable delay between pressing the record button and when the machine actually began recording anything to tape – It’s not surprising really judging by the amount of mechanical parts contained within that whizzed (and groaned) into action. Now a delay is quite o.k for ad free channels like the BBC but for the other channel which had commercial breaks during movies and you wanted to exclude from your recording, you had to be a dab hand at judging when an advertisement was about to end and guess if the next thing would be another advertisement or the film beginning again. Add to that the delay with the record button and you can imagine the nightmare it could be to get it right.

Now imagine me, brothers and sisters all sat excited after watching the first part of A New Hope and my dad at the helm of the VCR having fully read the instructions (he say’s) and finger and/or whole hand, poised over the massive record button during the commercial break.

The movie starts again but oh no he’s messed it up, he’s pressed the rewind button by mistake. It’s on, it’s on and we’re all yelling and hollering and my dad’s flapping and trying to guess how much he needs to fast forward to counterbalance the rewind and trying not to record over the previous section of the film, and we’re all freaking out as we’re missing the movie and the dog starts barking and somebody drops a glass and….you get the picture – pandemonium. Poor dad, dog house all day.

This second instance concerns my mum that very same Christmas. Whenever she would see my Dad press the VCR record button, she would stop dead in mid sentence if she happened to have been talking at the time. It was quite some time, through tears of laughter, did we finally tell her that you didn’t have to remain silent when recording off the TV 🙂

 

Here’s a look at this years RT cover. Christmas simply wouldn’t be complete without it.

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Space Rawks on my Arcade machine.

Ever since I first watching my old brother play Asteroids in a cafe near to our school , I’ve always been drawn (in a straight line 🙂 ) to vector based arcade games such as Omega Race, Lunar Lander, Battlezone and Star Wars of course…it’s just something about those intense glowing lines moving incredibly smoothly against a darkened backdrop. To a much younger me, vector graphics were a symbol of the future. Today, they symbolise retro and boy do I love my retro.

As such, I’m a Vectrex player and alongside emulation with Mame/AAE I’m always seeking out all forms of vector styled games be it new concepts or remakes of original arcade classics. One developer that’s been releasing some truly outstanding games over the past few years is Sokurah of Tardis Remakes.

Available predominately for Windows PC (although there are quite a few for OSX now) his current roster of Vector styled games are –

Omega Race (2006 and 2009 edition) – Brilliant rendition of Midways classic.

Rip Off – Sadly, I never came across Rip-Off in the arcades as it’s one of my favourites on my Vectrex. Sokurah’s release is such a joy to play and looks amazing with those digital backdrops.

Star Castle – Another arcade/Vectrex classic. Check out the Atari 2600 port if you haven’t already.

Black Widow – A brilliant remake of Atari’s dual stick shooter (even more so than the original I think) and plays incredibly well when setup with a PC dual stick controller.

Zektor – It’s like Omega Race, Rip-off, Star Castle and Asteroids all in one game! Again, another machine that I didn’t come across in the arcades although I fear my pocket money would not have lasted very long if I had.

Space Fury – Intense Schmup action which gets even better (see below)

Arcadia – A vector styled re ‘imagine’-ation (sorry!) of an early 8-bit hit. I spent many happy hours playing this way back then on my humble Vic-20 , and this new version is just as fun and looks amazing with all that neon glow.

….and finally, his latest game, Space Rawks which is based around Asteroids Deluxe but with a shed load more rocks, plenty of power ups and frequent visits from those pesky saucers.

Just look at those gridlines…heaven 🙂

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As with previous games, you’ll find plenty of useful options including redefinable controls and the ability to jack up (or down) the amount of vector glow.

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‘Sir, the possibilities of successfully navigating an asteroid field are 3,720 to 1’. I’d say, twice that judging by my score!

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I didn’t think that playing these game could get any better but man, how wrong was I after transferred them over to my arcade machine.

Classic controls and extra bass from the wooden cabinet.

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Space Fury – Of all the games I’m tried, this one plays so well on an upright cab and feels just like a genuine coin-op arcade game from the 80’s.

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Eek!

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I do hope that Sokurah continues to make these games so spread the word and show your support by visiting –

http://tardis.dk/wordpress/

Donkey Me.

Earlier on in the year, Gizmondo did a piece about a series of t-shirt prints depicting popular movies in the guise of the classic arcade game Donkey Kong. Loved it, especially the ESB design – https://stiggyblog.wordpress.com/2013/02/26/donkey-kong-movie-mashup-pixel-art/

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The author points out that these would have made awesome video games and you’d have to agree, they most certainly would wouldn’t they?

Well, not only providing us with the most excellent Bruce Lee II, Bruno R Marcus and friends have only gone and done just that!

Donkey Me.

Absolutely loving the Star Wars themed levels with its little humorous touches and great rendition of the Mos Eisley cantina song that still retains those DK sounds and arcade cabinet bass notes.

A huge thumbs up of awesomeness for the Rambo theme tune too. Loving it!

Donkey Me is available for Windows/Mac/Linux and (woot woot) Ouya too so go check it out at – http://www.bruneras.com/games_donkeyme.php

 

 

 

 

 

Donkey Kong movie mashup pixel art.

Check out some of these Donkey Kong inspired movie scenes by pixel artist BazNet. All we need now is a talented coder who could actually mod DK for us so we can actually play these 😉

This first one from ESB has got to be my favourite.

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donkey_rises_by_baznet

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donkey_jones_by_baznet

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Check out even more from this great artist and also links to purchasing prints and tees at – http://baznetart.blogspot.co.uk/

So tempting to go for the ESB t-shirt.