Try to imagine your own personal euphoria. To some, it may be a scenic countryside, with bunnies, deer, butterflies, and all sorts of other delectably cute creatures prancing about. For others, it could be a beach during sunset, with a calm ocean, a gentle breeze gliding through the air, and their lover walking hand-in-hand by their side. For me, it’s a musty convention center with “blips” and “bleeps” and “zoots” lessening the hearing ability of all those in attendance.
The building was innocent-looking enough. Apparently, some sort of housewares convention was also taking place at the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, PA, and it was getting all of the attention. Until I saw a small sign on a staircase inside advertising the “Philly Classic 3”, I doubted that it even existed, figuring that the whole shebang was merely an elaborate plot set forth by those in my party to beat me up and take my money. We went down, acting all bad-ass in our various nerdy t-shirts (Pac-Man, Ninja Turtles, ironed-on Young-Link, the kind of thing you’d expect), and paid our $15. A few of us were lucky enough to have a special card that entitled us to free gifts. These “free gifts” consisted of a waterproof container for beach excursions, and a chip clip, both advertising some sort of monstrosity in New Hampshire known only by the name “FunSpot”. These items bestowed upon me no wish to visit such a place. We did get some nifty identification badges, though, which we wore around our necks, and served the purpose of showing the ticket folk that we had indeed already paid.
We arrived there approximately a half-hour after the event started, and already the place was crawling with all sorts of shady sorts. People with long, curly, purple hair, people dressed up as giant Atari games, people who looked too young to know what a Super Nintendo was, and people who looked too old to know the same; we saw all kinds of diversity. One roly-poly nine-year-old beat me with a comb and taunted me. I had never been so scared in my entire life. He picked that comb up off of the ground! That’s just dangerous.
As soon as we got to the place, our little posse broke apart. Jim and Doug went off to play Smash Bros. Melee, Dave and Neal played all of the old-school games they could get their hands on, and Mark and I went on a shopping spree. I entered the Convention Center with $120, and left with eight. Among my purchases were:
– Secret of Mana for the Super Nintendo: One dealer was asking $45 for the cartridge alone. Another $25. I ventured over to the twenty-five man, and offered him twenty. A deal was made. I saved twenty-five friggin’ dollars; it was incredible.
– A Famicom-to-NES converter, with The Lost Levels included: This was a real steal at $20. Now, if only it worked…
– Super Mario Bros. the Movie and Super Mario Bros. the Movie soundtrack: I’ve seen the movie on eBay for upwards of $15; it cost three here. The soundtrack was five. This place = heaven.
– A bunch of random video game books and magazines for $2.
– Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? for the NES: I saw this for $8 and thought it was quite intriguing, since it came packaged with a desktop encyclopedia. Any game that requires such heavy reading must deserve a place in my library. I was hesitant at first to make such an expensive acquisition, but the dealer offered to throw in this aparatus that allows me to somehow get e-mail on my Game Boy, so I couldn’t say no.
– Lots of other random tchockes that are barely worth mentioning. Except possibly for the “Bible Adventures” NES game.
But, wasting money on things you’ll probably end up using as dust catchers is only half the fun of the Philly Classic. There were also various gaming tournaments going on throughout the day. Tournaments for Burger Time, Dance Dance Revolution, Bust-a-Move, Tekken Tag Tournament, Warlords, Goldeneye, and probably some others that we just didn’t catch. We had representatives in several events; some of us participated in Burger Time I believe, but I was too busy bargaining with a man who just would not budge on his $10 for a Winky-Dink cassette/drawing screen combo to pay any attention. As for DDR, we were all too scared to compete in that; and I’m pretty sure no one gave a shit about Tekken Tag-Tournament. But, Neal did get quite far in Warlords, I made it to the second round of Bust-a-Move before being defeated by Mark (who, along with Doug, advanced to maybe the third, fourth, or possibly moreth round), and Neal proved to be the “Jesus of Goldeneye” as he kicked the ass out of all the nine year olds competing. A few ten year olds, too! All kidding aside though, those kids were damn good, and Neal deserves a little more than Chef’s Luv Shack for Dreamcast for defeating them.
So, this is pretty much how we spent nine hours of our precious Saturday. Playing video games. I would never give up that experience for the world. If you ever have the chance to attend something like this, I urge you to do so. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth it to play all of these antiquated arcade games, or to just screw around in the tournaments, or to just check out all the old merchandise for sale. It’s quite the trip!