By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
It’s very rare that I get to ply my video game handle at a show. When the days of Golden (and Silver Age) gaming meets modern arts at the Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo, I’m in the zone. This event was held on June 22, 2019. It’s now in its eighth year. Tournaments, music performances, and panels make up most of this one-day show. and its present location includes a New Media Gallery.
To have this exhibition in the middle of a sprawling metropolis, the municipality of New Westminster is the right spot to locate this show. The Anvil Center is the center of a nice hub where the Fraser River cuts through. Food and the arts are nearby. On a beautiful sunny day, this neighbourhood is a nice place to explore. Those wanting a history lesson of the area will get more than one since the area includes three nearby museums.
The show occupies most of the available space this building offers. Upon entry, the merchandise floor is where everyone will be headed to first. I saw enough variety that I will not find back home. One item I spotted was the gun from the anime Red Photon Zillion! There’s no point in owning some games and accessories unless I have the Sega Genesis it’s made for–but I drooled over that like the rabid old school anime fan that I am.
I even found what looks like a complete Rayman collection, saw the gold box edition of Zone of Enders and pondered if I should lug home a modified PlayStation3 so I can revisit those games I kept instead of simply selling off. I have a complete Wild Arms videogame collection and it’s worth some a fair amount of coin. On a whim, I invested in a factory sealed How to Train Your Dragon game for the DS.
Realistically, Victoria only has three places to buy and sell console-based gaming products. The Lower Mainland has at least six. They are spread out between the many municipalities and it’s not easy to visit them all. While half of what’s there can be found anywhere, I have a better chance of finding those obscure items under one roof. I saw enough where I wished I brought more money with me.
Highlights include DJ performances throughout the event. Enzo, 20SIX Hundred, Viking Guitar, and Jewel Maiden are three of the eight talents who got to present some wild synth (or Commodore 64 SID) style techno music to which nobody danced to, but could sit down to have drinks and beep to. This is a retro show after all. The sound was not necessarily limited; composers need to know their old tech above and beyond to create the sound they want.
The panels included introductions to the scene, meeting local mega-collector John Hancock, how to collect on a budget to how to make chip tunes. I was particularly interested in the Star Wars Gaming panel where Michael J. Cohen (local Star Wars enthusiast and host of Rebel Cels: The Star Wars Animation Podcast) and Tyler James Nicol talked about what defines a terrific game and how it should not break what defines this universe. It all boils down to not including Jedi mind tricks, using The Force, in the gameplay to fashion the franchise for what it is. I feel it should also be about recreating classic moments from the original trilogy since who doesn’t want to blow up the Death Star?
No gaming convention can be complete without some people showing up in costume (no cosplay contest was offered), videogame tournaments and free play areas. If only the Nintendo 3DS was still hot, I would have bought mine to increase my spot pass friend count. This company’s games dominate this scene because they are either multiplayer or designed for competitive play. It was more of a joy for me to watch skilled players have at it then try myself.
When compared to PAX in Seattle, the difference is tremendous. This event is all about the retro à gogo, and the turnout was tremendous. People of all ages showed up to shop, browse, and investigate. The Commodore 64 Club of Victoria was here to spotlight not only this device but also the Amiga computer. Later in the day, they had two networked Vectrex machines.
The Chilliwack/Fraser Valley Retro-Computing Club was also present with even older machines for event goers to try out. Even Portland’s Retro Gaming show came up to advertise their event.
It’s all a happy community here, and I did not expect to find anything to fill my Ultima (PC wares were suspiciously minimal here), Zelda and Wild Arms collection. I love the cloth maps of the RPG and was after the Prima guides. By the end of the day, I found a bargain basement game and foreign film which helped make my trip all the more worthwhile.
2 thoughts on “Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo 2019 Report”
Wow! Its nice to see that there was an entire Retro gaming expo in Canada. Its nice to see that Rayman for the N64 was there too. Also I wonder if retro PC games will be more present in next years convention?
Hard to say. Each year will be different for what will be on the spotlight.