My trip to ‘Retrovision 2010’

Last weekend saw Retrovision 2010 come and go, and what a brilliant 3 days it was. Plenty of retro gaming, socializing, eating and drinking all in one, it has been an experience i’d like to do again next year with Retrovision 2011. Apart from getting bad Laryngitis on the day we arrived, it has been a big highlight already for 2010. (Full set of my photos can be found here btw)

Based in Oxford at the Follybridge Inn, travel was a bit of an issue for me as I come from all the way in south east Kent. It meant having to get up at 4am and leaving the house at 4:20am to get my 5am coach to London Victoria. After a bit of a wait at the station, I was on the next part of the journey to Milton Keynes where I met up with Vinny [Mainolfi].

After a quick pop round to Vinny’s house to see his impressive C64 setup and games, and a well needed cup of tea, we were off to Oxford with Vinny driving us down. After almost an hour we made it, got checked into the rather nice guest house we had booked in with and then made off towards the Follybridge Inn. After quickly getting down some Fish and Chips, the gaming began!

The main event was based above the pub in a rather large spacious room, packed with classic computers and consoles round the sides. This included the likes of two Amiga’s linked up playing Lotus 2, an Acorn, a C64, Vic 20, BBC Micro, PC Engine, SNES, Megadrive, CBM PET, several MAME setups and many more.

Arriving on Friday, there were many faces – including the likes of Mat (GB20) Allan, Dave (Retro Soft) Moore, Woody Cool, RenegadeSi, Andrew Spencer (Not the Andrew Spencer before you ask!) and of course the host himself Steve (StarshipUK). Great to catch up with everyone and share some retro stories.

Yet more Space Harrier

There was a bit of bias from myself and Vinny who spent most of the time hogging the C64, but mostly to play a large selection of classic 2 player games together like Pitstop 2, IK+, Ikari Warriors, Way of the Exploding fist. We also played the likes of Ghosts n Goblins to see who could get the furthest and attempts to clock the likes of Operation Wolf, Blue Max and Ikari Warriors – which was managed 🙂 OP Wolf was clocked using the technique of killing everything apart from a single tank, and just picking up the grenades, ammo and energy from the bottom of the screen until fully replenished. RenegadeSi said he appreciated it, as it relieved the boredom he endured whilst breaking the world record of “Janey Thompson’s Matharon” (Lucky I didn’t play Driller then… 😉 )

It was fun to be able to share playing some classic C64 games with someone else who grew up with the same titles, and even has given Vinny the urge to dig out a whole load more C64 games now he’s back home. But Vinny had the important job of being the main photographer for Paul Drury, who will later be doing a write up for Retro Gamer magazine. Vinny took a heck of a lot of decent pictures of the event, of which many you will see very soon.

What was a pretty neat part of the day was being able to show off some of the latest C64 demos like Edge of Disgrace and Crest Slide Story to a small crowd of people who had never seen anything like it on a C64, as well as 4Mat’s OMD demo on the good ol’ Vic 20. There were quite a few surprised faces with both demos and some of the effects being displayed.

Later in the day, I got to have a play with the excellent ‘Zap’ game on the BBC Micro (Being sold by Dave Moore’s Retro Software label). Very low scoring system on the game meant it was very tough reaching 2000 odd on it. Dave had one of his games as part of the competition line up – being the cleverly named “Sparse Invaders” on the BBC. Me and Vinny decided to join in when asked, and I had a bit of a one off game where I put in the best score of the night. Basically I had done my usual Space Invaders technique playing it, but noticed a way of getting extra bonus ships to rally up the points, but additionally once you got past level 9/10, the game would essentially loop back to level 1 and get easy again. Therefore I was able to effectively double my score.

Friday was very good overall, but it was missing something… two things actually…. Cue the arrival of Jason (Kenz) Mackenzie (Accompanied by DJ Skitz) and Paul (Retro Gamer) Drury (and his dad!) the next day! Kenz very swiftly had set up a rather neat Psytronik themed stand, with various wares on sale and a special running preview of the impressive Armalyte on the PC, which proved very popular with many (Myself included).

Psytronik selection of releases again

Kenz additionally demoed his new “They didn’t quite sell a Million” compilation design, which Vinny photographed for Retro Gamer. A brilliant take on the original Ocean compilation. Also on show was the Specadore 64 (A C64 spray painted black to look like a Spectrum) and the latest addition, a black sprayed 1541II, which I later borrowed to play the Vic 20 disks I produced.

It was great to see Paul again (A top top bloke), who was on a mission to beat poor old Mat Allan at Hovver Bovver for the first time in a few years. Paul wanted me and Vinny to join in the competition to see if we could help put up a challenge to the prolific Mat (as a bit of fun). I wasn’t going to join in at first, as my first game was pretty poor, but rather oddly I ended up winning the event after having probably a one off game where I got quite far. Vinny and Paul both came 2nd and 3rd respectively which resulted in this cool picture (Where the two bastards proceed to have a dig at my height 😉 )

Shortly after I met up with Alex Aris, who I had tried to help find one of his lost C64 games in the past. It was the first time I had met Alex in person, and it was great having a good conversation with him about his work.Alex had a number of neat PC games with him, but sadly most didn’t want to work on Kenz’s laptop. The one we did see was a very neat platformer. I think Alex got the rest working elsewhere, but I never managed to see them in action – hopefully next time though!

After an awards session and raffle, it was time to head off for a curry at a place called “Chutneys”, which did a superb curry. Paul was off soon, so we managed to squeeze in a quick game of Chariot Races against each other (The first time I have properly played the game with someone for over 10-12 years! — man I wish that game had a CPU player option…)

My Lamb Korma at Chutneys

The only problem with the curry night was the 30-40 of us who probably scared the daylights out of the staff, thinking how they could squeeze us all in. After a short wait outside, we were in and scoffing some lovely grub. Then it was back to the venue for some late night gaming, and putting up with the terrible singing going on with Rock Band (Offering the debate of whether it was “retro” or not 🙂 ). Sadly Paul and his Dad had to head off home, but there was still time for a quick game of 3D Silicon Fish on the Vic 20.

Sunday was a much more relaxed and chilled day, after starting with another lovely full English breakfast at the Guest House and a quick coffee in town, it was back to the event and getting in some final games for the day. Whilst squeezing in some more C64 games, I managed to get some Time Pilot 84 and Scramble in on one of the arcade cabinets. For the first time I managed to clock Scramble on an arcade cabinet, and not just via an emulator/xbox.

By the afternoon, things started to wind down and me and Vinny were pretty knackered out. A chunk of time was spent sat in the bar, having a final nosh up and playing some pool. Kenz shortly had to head off home, so we said our goodbyes until the next event.

People gradually disappeared and by just after 4pm, it was time for us to go as well. I had a bus to catch from Milton Keynes at 6pm. I eventually got home just before 11pm.

Overall this was a fantastic gaming weekend, and perfectly spread across the 3 days. As well as the gaming, the best aspects were catching up with all the different people, discussing retro gaming over a drink/food and just generally chilling and forgetting about work. It was great to catch up with Vinny, Kenz, Mat, Paul, Dave and Alex (as well as many others) and certainly i’ll be hoping to go again next year! A big thanks though to Vinny, who is a great friend, was great company and looked after us for the duration of the event and drove from Milton Keynes and back.  Here is his gaming face btw, which I had to include and is how he gets when playing Ghosts n Goblins… 😉

Vinny Mainolfi's gaming face ;)

Here’s looking forward to RV2011!! 🙂


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