I’ve always been into the arcade experience, so when I initially heard about this local event in Atlanta, needless to say I was intrigued. I have never been to a local gaming expo, let alone any type of gaming expo, as they are pretty rare down here in the south. We’re like a void when it comes to video games. I was curious to see what it was about.
When the last arcade a uction ended down here in the south, I sort of gave up hope of ever having another exciting local event dedicated to my favorite thing; arcades. I would go to the auctions whenever I could, both on the search for a good deal as well as to feed my nostalgia. It was always a success. Thanks to the auctions, I own my very own Neo Geo MVS (which is radical). I also flipped a ‘broken’ Marvel vs Capcom 2 machine which I bought cheap and sold for twice as much as what I paid for it. Auctions were my thing, and I’m not sure I could ever find another event quite like it.
While the Expo wasn’t exactly a buying and selling affair, it had the most important part of the auctions; the games. At the arcade auctions, there was a preview period which started LUDICROUSLY early in the day. It was meant for potential buyers to ‘kick the tires,’ so to speak, of the arcade machines. You could plug in and play anything in the room. This expo took that 2-3 hour period and extended it to 3 DAYS. 3 days of free play on a ton of classic pinball and arcade machines.
I was hesitant to go to this event, but in the end I walked away a happy guy. I’m a huge fan of arcade machines, but the arcade showing was pretty sparse. I did put in some time in some old stand-bys, but the overwhelming amount of pinball machines made it worth the entrance fee. I split my time between a few machines of choice, and dabbled on some random tables across the halls. If you saw me at all at the event, I’d probably be tapping the buttons on the Judge Dredd machine which looked and played absolutely fantastically.
The 3 day event was dedicated primarily to pinball, and hosted a PAPA tournament. The tournament area was pretty neat, although I know nothing of pinball tournaments. Through out the day there were panels dedicated to the history of the industry, as well as pinball/gameroom maintenance. I didn’t attend any panels, because I was too busy playing pinball! Haha!
The arcade selection, as mentioned before, was fairly small. There were the hits like Street Fighter and UMK3, as well as a Tekken and 4-player X-Men (not the HUGE cabinet). There was also a pretty nice Turtles in Time and an example of every major classic (Galaga, Ms Pac Man, Gauntlet). I got down on a fantastic Tempest machine, squarely asserting that I blow real hard at that game. There was a surprise awaiting me in the form of Radiant Silvergun. It was conspicuously hosted in a Die Hard Arcade machine, which threw me for a loop. I saw the marquee of Die Hard and saw laser beams, which made me stop and look twice. Die Hard Arcade is really fun, but Radiant Silvergun is INSANE! I’ve never gotten my hands on a copy of RS, but now I need it!
An interesting phenomenon I noticed at the event was the demographic. While I expected an older crowd, that is exactly what I got. The interesting bit, however was that most of the younger kids (I’d say under 15 or 16) were not really in the pinball/video area and shoehorned into a room boasting Xboxes playing Halo or Titanfall. It was weird. Decades of classic entertainment you more than likely could not get at home is ignored in lieu of something you can do at home already. Shame. One day these kids may come around to the greatness of the arcade.
I had a blast at the expo and can’t wait for next years event (hopefully!). I plan on spending A LOT more time on the machines next time, as well as hitting up the swap meet. Hopefully I can get some more carts for my MVS! I also need to dig into the pinball scene a little bit more, because my interest in pinball machines has just been completely re-awoken. Next go around I’d like to try each machine on the floor at least once! A lofty undertaking, but it shall be done!