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malevolent design weblog

This blog is now defunct, but you can find more stuff over at my personal site

Retro Reunited 2009

I’m very wary of excessive nostalgia. I wince at those my age who talk like no one’s produced good music/TV/games/movies after 1989, or older people who hark back to an idyllic crime-free golden age that never existed. So I probably wouldn’t normally go to a retro gaming event, even though I have a great deal of affection for many classic games/systems and am strongly influenced by them.

But I’m glad I went along to Retro Reunited the other week, and not just to see my own game. The organisers managed to strike some nice balances — between old and new systems, the geeky and the accessible, between order and chaos — and everyone involved was friendly and enthusiastic. I spent much of the time playing coin-ops and discovering obscure items like the retro-futuristic-looking Nintendo Block Kuzushi.

Show with power onShow with power off
The main room before and after a spilt pint brought a temporary halt to proceedings

Sadly, the lovely Janey Thomson’s Marathon cocktail cabinet (with controls the right way round, unlike the mockup) wasn’t up and running due to a missing key.

JTM cocktail cabinetCocktail cabinet instructions

But a custom-built tabletop machine was working and getting the occasional play. Many (most?) people seemed to be fooled by the fake backstory, and one bloke loudly mocked Nincom for their ridiculous stupidity in using a licensed sporting celebrity in such a way. I did try not to lurk and snigger too much but it was hard to resist.

Midway through the afternoon someone called Phil quietly sat down at the machine, started playing… and didn’t stop. Soon he was quite clearly in some discomfort but seemed grimly determined.

Phil after about an hour

Sadly, I had to leave an hour or so in, but others got video and some pics at the end. It’s good to know that the cheap Olympics-ripoff medal I found at a car boot sale has gone to a deserving home.

The following day, his time was beaten by Simon/mohicankid, who managed a very respectable 2hrs 22min 10sec despite making the schoolboy error of drinking several pints during the race, resulting in a frantic dash to the toilet at the finish line. He was awarded the cabinet for his efforts.

Many thanks to Gordon ‘SirClive’ Sinclair and Mat Corne/witchfinder for the invitation and all their work in bringing the game to the show, and to E4 for allowing and encouraging it to happen. If the legalities can be worked out (copyright, liability for crashes/viruses, idiots hurting themselves, etc.) then we may be able to release a kit so that the official ‘arcade version’ is available to other events and masochistic individuals, we’ll see.


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