When was the last time you dusted off your ol’ NES for a round of Duck Hunt? How long has it been since you last partook in some Warlords for the Atari 2600? Have you ever even played a game for ColecoVision at all? These and many more are the topics addressed at the yearly Philly Classic gaming convention, Pennsylvania’s retro-gaming answer to E3.
From outside the Valley Forge Convention Center (which is surprisingly not in Philadelphia) on the big day, you can barely tell that you’re on the outskirts of a gaming convention. There are a few signs up (but even on those, PC5 share’s its space with advertisements for computer and gem shows), but for the most part, it looks like any other boring building. There are no big flashing signs with pictures of space invaders, or giant banners proclaiming this building to be the home of the “East Coast Gamer’s Event”, or even a college kid dresses as Mario holding a sign that says “Welcome to the convention, kiddies!”. But don’t you worry about that last one; you’ll see plenty of costumed characters once you make your way into the basement of the convention center, where Philly Classic 5 was held.
For me, this was easily a highlight of Philly Classic 5 — all the cosplay folk that dressed up for the occasion. My personal favorite was the Dr. Mario that even forged a plaster pill, but there were also a few Links and Zeldas, a few Resident Evil zombies, and even a girl dressed as Kairi from Kingdom Hearts. There was a costume contest towards the end of the event, and I almost wished that I had dressed up; but those thoughts were shattered when I saw a guy with a near-authentic Ghostbusters outfit (complete with a realistic-looking proton pack), and I knew that I’d have been totally owned in the competition.
Speaking of competition, Philly Classic 5 had it’s fair share of gaming contests, including bouts of Tetris, Pokemon Puzzle League, and, of course, Dance Dance Revolution. Myself, I participated in the Soul Calibur tournament, and got completely destroyed in the first round after lasting almost a minute. Fighting games were never my forte, and neither were games that I’ve only played once (and a really long time ago, at that). Such is life, I suppose. Aaanyway, the contests were a bit of a disappointment this year, because there weren’t as many as there were last time I went (Philly Classic 5), and the ones there were weren’t very interesting. Neal was especially disappointed about the lack of a Dr. Mario tournament, as I’m sure you’ll read about in “Awesomer”.
As per the norm for a gaming convention (and many a flea market, too), there were old games galore for sale at the Philly Classic 5, and thankfully, not too many of them were over priced. Here’s a quick list of some of my purchasing highlights:
– Swordquest: Earthworld and Fireworld (A26): Longtime GameCola fans will recall a quadrilogy of articles on the Swordquest series written in the early issues of GC, and those articles were written without any actual first-hand experience playing the games. (Thankfully, the articles were more about the historical interestingness of the series, and not their gameplay).
– Fungicide (DVD): It appears to be a movie about a killer mushroom. The director and star of the film were the ones selling the disc to me, so that should give you an idea of the its quality. Since I bargained with the director on the movie’s price (bringing a $17 dollar price tag down to $15), he refused to autograph it for me. Hopefully the movie’s at least decent.
– N-Gage Baseball Cap: Matt harassed me about this purchase for the rest of the event, but who cares? It’s an important piece of gaming history! In ten years you’ll all be clamoring for N-Gage paraphernalia, I guarantee it.
– Issue 1 of Manci Games: I had actually subscribed to this a few months back (on the recommendation of Allec), and I bet I was one of few people at PC5 who already knew what the magazine was. It reads almost like a print version of GameCola, with it’s focus on “retro” games and features on titles that the current crop of gamers have probably never heard of. I’m about halfway through it so far and I’m enjoying it a lot, so if you’re interested in subscribing, check them out at http://www.mancigames.com/.
– Kool-Aid Man Artwork: This is probably my favorite buy from the event. It’s a painting by Aimee Dingman of the pixilated Kool-Aid man from his Atari 2600 title, and it set me back only 20 bucks. Too bad I can’t bring it to college with me ’cause someone would probably throw up on it or something. Interested in video game artwork? Visit Aimee Dingman’s site at http://www.podkaynestudios.com/.
Saving the best for last, Philly Classic 5 also featured a vast number of old arcade units, all set to free play, for the enjoyment of all us dorks. Some of the machines had already broken down by the time we’d gotten to that part of the convention, and most were occupied throughout the event by bigger dorks than even the GC staff, but the ones I got to play were pretty awesome. Too bad I didn’t write down their names, or I’d have a few recommendations for all you loyal readers.
As I said last time I wrote about this convention, I urge anyone who has the change to check out the Philly Classic next time it rolls around. The old games are fun, there’s ton of stuff to blow your money on, and you get to see a lot of fun people dressed up in strange costumes. If they continue this trend of having less tournaments than before I may have to rethink my recommendation, but as of now I say you should go next year. So do it. Keep an eye out for me — I’ll be the one harassing every Link and Zelda around for a photograph.