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Magazine #10.2 3/00

Classic Gaming Expo 2K
Part II

New Games

Always one of the high points of classic gaming conventions is the release of new games, either newly discovered prototypes or new developments by hard-core classic gaming enthusiasts. This year was no different: a whole bunch of new games for the Atari 2600, Colecovision, Vectrex and even the Odyssey 2 were released.

The start was made by the Blue Sky Rangers at the Intellivision booth. They released Sword Fight and Sea Battle for the Atari 2600. Sword Fight is a little blocky but surprisingly complex: two players each control a (laser) sword fighter with three offensive and three defensive moves as well as advance and retreat steps. I played it a few times and game play quickly evolved from primitive button mashing into more refined strategies: attack, blocking, counter-attack - lots of fun. I didn't have a chance to play Sea Battle but the graphics looked pretty good for a 2600. Both of the titles sold out during the show but they should be available at the Intellivision website soon.

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Swordfight for the Atari 2600, Sea Battle for the Atari 2600.

The Intellivision guys also release Steamroller for the Colecovision, a game that David Rolfe finished in 1984 while working at Activision. David got the permission from Activision and Retrotopia released the game. Steamroller rocks! It's basically a maze-type game but the game play is very well tuned! I played it for at least an hour and it's an awesome game, requiring quick reactions and strategic planning.

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Steamroller for the Colecovision.

Ebivision, Eric and Igor also had a new game in combination with Van Burnham's soon to be released book 'Supercade - a visual history of the videogame age 1971 - 1984'. Their new game called Escape From Supercade! is a classic platform game and very well done! It's one of those games where you can memorize movement patterns of the bad guys and have to plan an escape/route strategy. It's not easy though, in the higher levels the timing gets very tight! One game was up for grabs in a high-score contest and 24 other copies will be raffled off to CGE2K visitors who entered their names. Once the book is released the ROM image will be available for downloads.

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Eric Bachert and Van Burnham in the enthusiastic crowd.

Van Burnham announces Escape From Supercade! The guy with the glasses and the blue Atari t-shirt one the high-score contest.

Also for sale at the CGE Services booth were two new releases for the Colecovision: Power Lords and Lord Of The Dungeon. Especially Lord Of The Dungeon was very impressive, great graphics and an on-board battery to save your games. Sean and John also sold limited edition copies of Pinball for the Odyssey 2. Each copy of this prototype game was signed by Ralph Baer himself!

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Waiting in line for the games, here they are, Ralph Baer holding his baby.


Key Notes

Another big attraction of the classic gaming conventions are the numerous key notes by alumni of the classic gaming industry. The organizers of the CGE2K were able to get an impressive group of distinguished guests ranging from Atari and Intellivision programmers all the way to the inventor of the video game console himself, Ralph Baer.

The key note of the Intellivision guys was great, lots of funny anecdotes and also some interesting background information on the unique relationship with APh, the technological consulting company that helped design the Intellivision and wrote the system's software, almost all of the development tools and the initial batch of Intellivision games.

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The Intellivision guys (John Sohl, David Rolfe, Dave Akers, Keith Robinson, Stephen Roney and Peter Kamisnki, Keith and Stephen close-up. 

Joe Decuir, one of the chip and system designers of the Atari 2600 had a great presentation detailing the technical aspects of programming for the Atari 2600 - way cool! Joe is a great guy and wore a cool Xbox t-shirt - he is still excited about video games!

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Joe Decuir in Xbox-garb and his presentation.

Unfortunately I couldn't attend all the presentations but another informative and entertaining keynote was held by some former Atari 2600 programmers. The enthusiasm of the guys combined with plenty of odd little stories from the past made for a great show! The group consisted of Steve Cartwright (Megamania, Frostbite), Andy Fuchs (sound programming), Rob Fulop (Demon Attack, Night Driver), Bob Polaro (Road Runner, Sprintmaster), Bob Smith (Dragonfire, Moonsweeper), Howard Warshaw (Yar's Revenge, E.T.), Steve Woita (Taz, Asterix, Quadrun).

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The Atari guys: Rob Fulop, Howard Scott Warshaw, Bob Polaro, Steve Cartwright, Bob Smith, Steve Woita and Andy Fuchs.

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Bob Polaro, Steve Cartwright.

The highlight for me personally was the keynote of Ralph Baer, the inventor of the video game console. Mr. Baer had his legendary 'Brown Box' at hand, the prototype for Magnavox's Odyssey, including a light gun and two hand controllers. After a minor snag with the 30-year old prototype was fixed he told of the origins of video game consoles and how everything started. At the end of the presentation Mr. Baer explained the functions of the Brown Box and then played a few games with his grandson and kicked butt :)

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Grandson John and Ralph Baer, the audience, Mr. Baer, armed and ready!

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Mr. Baer signing the Twin Galaxies book and an original Odyssey manual.

More pictures of the Brown Box are in the museum section on page 3.


Special Events

Twin Galaxies had numerous contest running throughout the show and some of the achieved scores were very noteworthy. Towards the end of the show Walter Day handed out the prize money and the certificates, some of the contestants won in multiple categories/games proving their overall video game skills.

Lee and I also met Jan Boehm (unfortunately I was in the middle of something else so I missed most of the conversation). Jan was responsible for sending out the Atari prototypes and receiving them back in the labs. Her name is featured on many of the prototype labels and she was very nice and had a great cartoon from the better days of Atari to show to us (see picture below),

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When Atari ruled, Twin Galaxies contest winners, trading session, two press guys from ??? with Arne Kuilman (DP, on the left).

Saturday night was the by now traditional trading session, everybody unpacked boxes and suitcases and their were quite a few rare and obscure items to be found.

The guys from Intellivision celebrated the console's 20th anniversary with a big party, candles and cake. After the birthday tune the audience lined up for the cake and to sign up for the video game karaoke.

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Happy birthday Intellivision!

The Intellivision crew and the audience celebrating 20 years of blocky graphics!

Afterwards it was time for the folks who had signed up for the Intellivision video game karaoke. The goal was to reproduce authentic sounds to a variety of Intellivision games: Baseball, Frog Bog and B17 Bomber. Everybody definitely knew their games and some folks were absolutely hillarious. The guy from Electronic Playgound did an excellent B17 Bomber soundtrack: 'Brbb... ban brbb... dits brbb... 12 brbb.. o' brbb... clock brbb...' (see picture below). The guy in the left picture made great Frog Bog noises :)

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Intellivision video game karaoke, on the right: guy from Electronic Playground.


Continue with Part III


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