Retro Gaming Night in Cambridge

On Fri 26th June I returned to the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge for my 2nd retro gaming night event there. These events are held regularly at the centre along with many other retro inspired events so do check out www.computinghistory.org for more details of upcoming events. By Darren Cater

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On this occasion I took John an old friend of mine along who I think it is safe to say is a casual gamer & not really a retro gamer (yet). Here’s what happened.

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Now John & I go way back to our secondary school days but I learnt a few things that I didn’t know or that I had forgotten from my teenage years!

1. His first proper machine was an NES (his dad had an Amstrad with disk drive for work use which did had a few games) & it’s still in his mum’s loft along with such games as ‘Skate or Die’ & ‘Mega Man’.

2. He also still has a Game Gear which his son now plays & has possession of along with ‘Streets of Rage’ and some other games for it.

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We played on loads of systems such as an NES, Vectrex, Sega Saturn, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, Commodore Plus 4 & an Asteroids sit down table top arcade to name a few. There are always loads of systems set up at these events including some arcade machines & some light gun games. On the night Goldeneye on the N64 was very popular & in constant use as well as Streets of Rage 2 on the Megadrive. This time round there was also a Sega Rally tournament as well as a raffle which included an Amiga 1200 as the top prize (I didn’t win). The night overall was great fun but there were some certain experiences that really stood out for me.

Playing Streetfighter 2 on the SNES with John was a lot of fun. It was competitive & a great laugh at the same time. Both of us were trying to remember moves & techniques for certain characters. One fight involved John trying to constantly do the 100 hand slap with me jumping about trying to avoid it & striking in the gaps between the slaps. To anyone watching we must have seemed like a right pair of tools. We had a few stints on street fighter 2 with me favouring Ryu /Guile & John going for Dhalsim & E. Honda. Great fun for both of us & a game I still need to get for my SNES.

Sega Rally on the Sega Saturn brought back memories of playing it after a few pints in a pub we used to skive off in during our college years (we were supposed to be studying business). The 2 player races were fun with some great banter & it was very much my sensible approach to the game versus John’s aggressive foot down style. It turned out that it was a pretty even contest with us both picking up victories from each other. The set up was on a projector ready for the tournament later in the evening so playing on such a big projected screen really was different to my CRT television back in my retro gaming room at home. This session has also encouraged me to play the game more at home as I already have for my Sega Saturn so I’ve had a few nights of trying to constantly beat my best times which has been enjoyable.

The computer game cassette wall display (pictured) once again brought back memories & created discussion. Photos were sent from John to another friend of ours to remind him of the good old days of playing Kick Start 2 & Rambo First Blood Part 2 on the good old home computers that were so dominant in this country. I could stare at that wall & talk about the games displayed for hours & hours. As always it proved popular to many of the visitors on the night. I would certainly love my own similar display. If I only had the room!

Playing on a Vectrex for the first time was definitely a highlight for me. I had missed it completely at Play Blackpool which was disappointing but I very much made up for it at this event. I had a great little session on Mine storm & was won over completely by the console. If I can ever find one at a decent price & in good condition I will definitely buy one. Double thumbs up from me for the Vectrex. If you desperately need to get rid of one for a decent price please let me know.

Other highlights included playing House of the Dead 2 on the Dreamcast, Super Mario Bros on the NES & struggling to get anywhere on Kung Fu Master on the Commodore 64. We really did play a lot of games in the 4 hours we were there. Also there are a lot of exhibits to look at as well & it is interesting just to have a wander around & see what you can find. The old mobile phone display certainly brought back some memories from the late 90’s & early 00’s. Lots of chat about who had what back in the day as you might expect.

Now this event brought back many memories of messing about playing video games in my teenage years with my mates but more interestingly something else came out of the event. Both my friend & I have children & we have decided to meet up with our sons to show them all the stuff we had back in the day. But also to let them try out some of these things we enjoy so much & hopefully have a fun time. I’ll let you know how we get on (maybe a future article in the making).

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It really is great that the Centre (which is a charity) is there to provide such a great experience for not only us old school gamers & computer geeks but the next generation as well. Several workshops are held during school holidays to help give an understanding of programming as well as a guided tour where you can learn about the history of video games. Also at the end of August there will be a family gaming night which I will hopefully be at with my kids.

Thanks to my old mate John for being part of a fun filled evening (we don’t get out as much as we used to) & to the guys at the Centre for putting the whole thing together. Both of the retro gaming events I have been to have been very good and well organised so hopefully I can get over there a bit more & enjoy some of the other events coming up.

If you are close to or visiting Cambridge definitely plan a trip the Centre for Computing History. Darren Cater AKA @RetroGamerDaz on Twitter.

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