Turning up at the Norbreck Castle Hotel felt like returning to an old friends house. There was a welcomed sense of familiarity.
Walking through the corridors to get to the main hall, there were a few stalls to whet the appetite - Retro Hardware showing off the incredible BBC restorations they do, and AmigaKit touting their Amiga wares. We finally got to see an AmigaOne X1000, and wanted one immediately. The bank balance however decided otherwise. We left the bright lights of the corridor to the promising darkness of the gaming hall. It sounded loud - always a good start.
The GYL and Funstock stand welcomed people into the arena where they got to play on the Neo Geo X console – a pacman arcade machine with the chance to play and chat to the people around the stand. The arcade section was huge – masses of cabinets all glimmering with their attract screens all supplied through the guys at Retro Games Party. The layout of the arcade perfect - you could easily move around or stop to admire a players skills without causing a bottleneck.
All the classics were there - Defender, Robotron, Battlezone, Out Run, Daytona, After Burner.. the list goes on and on! Kudos to Retro Games Party who supplied the cabinets - over the weekend I only saw 3 machines out of commission. Great job, guys!, Moving away from the arcade section, there was table upon table of retro consoles and computers, all with a small section of games to play on them. It was quite interesting to see the mix of old and young gamers.
We saw one Dad showing his daughter (she looked maybe 2 or 3) how to play on old Pong game. He was twisting the knob to control the bat, and the little girl was waving the controller in front of the screen like the Wii. Amazing to see how natural motion controls are to kids these days. its almost expected. Very endearing to see dads playing the old games with their kids though. Console Passion had a large stall next to the indie gaming zone, and there were two Oculus Rift demo stations set up - one with Jeff Minter and Llamasoft, the other with Project Games' Adam Sawkins. As the queues quietened down at the end of Saturday, Adam was kind enough to let me play with some other demos he had been working on - I was really impressed by the tech and how immersive it is.
The side halls had LAN gaming set up, and one of the side rooms hosted the card and tabletop gamers., From the main hall you walked through the "Games that Weren't' section, showcasing some games over many systems that never made it to commercial release.
This corridor took you to the trader zone. It was always very busy, and you could buy almost anything, from cupcakes and radio controller drone-copters, to retro games on every format imaginable and posters, mouse mats and artwork. Some of the stalls you would recognise if you are an ebay addict - Rockrabilia, The Attic Bug etc, and some names that you'll know - Retro GT, RetroLords, ABeadsCStart.
Overall, the event was great - constantly moving, plenty to do and see (and buy!).
Replay Events did a great job of putting this on – we’re all looking forward to the next one!