Trip to Retrovision 2011

Well, it was straight back to work yesterday after a fantastic 3 days of retro gaming at Retrovision 2011 in Oxford.  Following on from last year’s event, this was some more of the same gaming goodness.

I was up at 4:30am to catch a 5:20am train to London Victoria, then switching at 9am to a bus to Milton Keynes, where I met Vinny Mainolfi of fame.  From here Vinny drove us both up to Oxford, quickly checked in at the hotel (Which had superb “all you can eat breakfast” every day! 🙂 )and headed straight over to the venue at the Follybridge Inn.  Things were quiet on the Friday, as most people were still working and the large majority of people were to arrive on Saturday.

We grabbed some lunch quickly to fill our boots, along with host Mark Rayson and also Vintage Matt and Rob (Psycho Rob) Callister.  Matt and Rob both had brought along their 3DS’, which I hadn’t played on before – so I had a quick game of Ridge Racer.  Overall, it was a neat machine – the 3D effect worked well (although Vinny had a bit of motion sickness from it after a while).

Upstairs we then had a quick chat with last year’s host Steve Perry, before then heading over to the C64 to get some games of Way of the Exploding Fist in (Of which I duly had my arse handed back to me on a plate by Vinny).

Compared to last year, there were a lot more machines for playing on.  There were the usual machines such as the Atari 7800 with a Harmony cartridge with a ton of 2600 VCS games on, an Amiga 1200 with loads of games – but also a Master System, Mega Drive, Snes, NES – all with SD loaded cartridges with many games to choose from.  Pretty much anything from your childhood could be loaded up and enjoyed.  Other machines included MAME loaded PC’s,  4-linked gamecubes, a Wii,  PS3, 360,  Einstein and more.

Jason (Kenz) Mackenzie turned up a little later in the afternoon, where he set up his Psytronik stand with every single release set across a shelf.  On the stand was his Specadore 64 (A C64C dressed as a ZX 48k Spectrum), an Amstrad CPC6128 and a PC with various goodies loaded up over the weekend.

Kenz had a special surprise to show, which was the C64 Arkanoid tune complete with the Game Over drum samples included.  Martin Galway’s tune being successfully sorted out by the guys at HVSC, and I guess will be coming very soon!  He also unveiled a superb conversion of Sub Hunter on the Elan Enterprise machine, which was a sort of conversion of the Amstrad code mixed with elements from the C64 version.  I had no idea at all that it was being converted!

Throughout the weekend Kenz demonstrated some fantastic stuff on the Amstrad, including the Batman Forever demo (which has really blown everyone away in the 8-bit world), a great adventure game called Orion and of course Star Sabre – which I had a good few goes at (and which I also bought for my CPC+)

We bombarded Pizza Hut in the evening – literally drowning in pizza and salad bar food.  Here Vinny found out more about WHD load from Jason Butwell which later inspired him to dig out his Amiga and get WHD set up properly.  I also had a good chat with a guy called Simon, who is a big SNES fan.  It was then it was back to the Folly for some final gaming before getting some sleep around 1:30am.

Saturday was a lot more lively and had the introduction of even more machines and people.  I had the honour of meeting Richard Bayliss (and his brother Phil) for the first time in person, whom as you may know did the coding for Sub Hunter on the C64.  Richard was very humble and was really taken back by the event and the attention received for his Sheepoid game which was released at the event.  Later in the day, Vinny Mainolfi would run a competition on the projector screen for people to get the highest score – Richard got to see people for the first time enjoying his work.

Other competitions ran throughout the afternoon/evening, including Hyper Viper on the BBC Micro, 8-player Bomberman on the Sega Saturn, Tetris on the DS and also a PC game called Sheep Snaggers (created by Beerman).  Vinny won the competition on Sheep Snaggers by getting the highest score and won a Minotaur trophy for his efforts.

During the day I met up with Colin Davies who showed us his unreleased Aqua game on the C64, which was meant to have been released back in 1993 for a budget label.  He also demonstrated his friend’s shoot-em-up game which was very similar to Galax-i-birds.  Also attending was Dave (Who’s second name I didn’t catch) – he had fancied going along to his first retro event and did a search online to see what was up coming, and found Retrovision on the list.  As well as having an impressive Commodore t-shirt, Dave informed me and Vinny that he owned over 50 C64’s!

In the afternoon, Paul Drury arrived with his Dad – both dressed as characters from the Professor Layton games (In a theme known as “Cosplay” where you dress up as gaming characters).  Paul wasn’t quite short enough, but had done very well to get the same style of clothes as the boy character. His dad was superb as Professor Layton – with a great hat!
Paul was his usual warm and friendly self – it is great chatting to Paul as he is bursting with enthusiasm and you cannot help but enjoy being in his company.  Paul had recently been to see the Hope family who were behind the fantastic Chariot Race game on the Vic 20, to build up information for a magazine article.  Paul told me the amazing story of his journey – of which you’ll get to read about very soon in Retro Gamer.

The evening consisted of a fantastic BBQ by Beerman, which was very popular – and the largest BBQ that Beerman had done.

During the evening had the presentations for the competitions, and also a new auction with around 90 lots in total.  You see, this year had the aim of raising money for charity, as sadly this year’s Retrovision was missing two iconic people who were a big part of previous events: Ian Muir (elizian) and Paul (DJSkitz) Hadrill (Who was a close friend of Kenz’s, and whom Kenz paid a very touching tribute to in the evening presentations).  I was a little short on funds due to an upcoming wedding and paying a fortune for the hotel, but I managed to win some Spectrum games – though missed out on an old Binatone system and a framed Sheepoid poster signed by Richard.  Vinny also very kindly won an auction for a signed copy of Matrix by Jeff Minter on the Vic 20 – something only a very good friend would do.  Mark Rayson had told me during lunch on Friday that he was really hoping to raise about £500 over the weekend to give to the families – in total well over £1000 was raised, which was fantastic!

Sunday was much more subdued and quieter, mostly as people were a little hung over and the weekend was catching up with them.  Determined not to let a migraine get in my way, me and Vinny got in a final day of gaming – playing Super Cars 2 and Sensible Soccer on the Amiga.

Me and Vinny battling it out at Pool on Saturday evening (Photo thanks to Jamie Mann)

After a bit of lunch and pool, it was a final hour of Barbarian on the C64, IK and Way of the Exploding First before it was time to say our goodbyes and head off home (Unfortunately I had a coach to catch back at Milton Keynes at 5:40pm).

Things were so busy that (as you’ll notice) i’ve not linked any photos – as I didn’t really get chance.  So i’ve linked to my YouTube vids, and pinched Vinny’s overview 😉 .  Overall this is a testament to how much I really enjoyed things during the weekend, and am really looking forward to the repeat event next year!  Thanks guys for a great weekend!


2 thoughts on “Trip to Retrovision 2011

  1. Beerman May 25, 2011 / 9:43 am

    Glad you enjoyed the BeerBQ, dude. Think I’ll be recruiting some assistants for next year if we do it again, I was pretty much dying towards the end there!

    If anyone wants to play the competition game mentioned above, you can find it at along with a few of my earlier creations.

  2. Jasybee May 28, 2011 / 1:19 am

    Thanks for the mention Frank! i noticed you were quite tuned in when I was talking about WHDLoad lol. It was nice meeting you and chatting to you and Vinny. I hope to see you guys sometime soon! Take care. J.

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