My alarm franticly goes off!
I mumble like a new born zombie. As I look at my clock and turn off the alarm, it reads 8:30 and I think to myself, “Why so early? It’s freaking Saturday. . . Ohh yeah, it’s the Portland Retro Gaming Expo today!” As soon as I realize this, I’m up, running around trying to get ready. LOL, now it’s on like Donkey Kong!
I’ve participated in many other gaming conventions before, but never a retro gaming event, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As I rode the local Light Rail towards downtown, I could hear the anticipated excitement of fellow gamers going to the same event. 35 minutes later I finally reach my destination and to my surprise I see a Geo Metro remodeled as a Ghostbusters mobile! That’s when I knew this wasn’t an ordinary event.
I guess the Portland Retro Gaming Expo started out primarily as a collector-focused convention, which would explain the insane number of merchants there. There were sooooooo many vendors with all sorts of things for sale that I didn’t even know existed; from 70’s gamer consoles to Nintendo cartridge shaped soap! Being a fighting game fanatic, some of my favorite unusual items I found were a Street Fighter 2 styled rock’em sock’em game and some Guile’s SONIC BOOM energy drinks!
Even though most of the vendors had something unique to offer, 2 really stood out. The first was the Game Trader booth. Owned and operated by Danny Kim, a very cool guy to hang out with, the Game Trader booth had lots of retro and new merchandise to offer. As soon as you walk up to it you can see all the variety he has to offer thanks to his orderly, clean, inventory. The Game Trader booth also had a large staff, so transactions went quickly and smoothly with great customer service, but that’s not the best part! Danny and his crew didn’t come off as people trying to make a quick buck. They were really down to earth and just had FUN with everyone!
The second booth was Pink Gorilla. Not only did they have their own selection of rare retro and new games, but they also had various gaming and anime related items, such as T-shirts, talking key chains, toys, hats, and plushies! Everything was also very well presented and priced for your convenience. So all in all, if you’re looking for rare hard to find items or just like shopping for cool and unusual things then the Portland Retro Gaming Expo definitely has you covered!
Games are not really fun unless there is a decent challenge and some good competition! So naturally there had to be some tournaments going on. PRGE’s featured tournaments included Nintendo World Championship, Pac Man Jr., Capcom Bowling, Madden Football 94 and last but not least Street Fighter 2 Turbo! Hosted by Portland’s Best Bout Gaming, the Street Fighter 2 Turbo tournament was definitely a huge hit! I wanted to sign up for it, but I had arrived at the expo too late on account of my indecisiveness about what to wear. Yup, I was trying to look stylish for all the Lora Croft and Samus wannabe’s! Anyways, I’m about 25 mins late to the PRGE so I figured I was still going to be able to get to sign up, WRONG! All the slots were taken and the line was wrapping around the convention! Apparently everyone wanted to show off their fighting skills and have a chance to win an enormous trophy and the bragging rights that come with it. I even recall a 10 year old girl salivating at the chance to SHORYUKEN any rival she came across. I was surprised she even knew what this game was. It was twice her age, and she knew how to pull off a Dragon Punch; uber insane! Although I wasn’t able to compete, I was ecstatic to see the fighting game community coming out strong like a Chuck Norris kick to the face. It was really fun watching the matches and seeing old veterans and the young new generation of fans bonding and enjoying the con in a challenge of fisticuffs.
Retro Gaming & Sick D.J.’s
The selection of retro games was overwhelming! PRGE had tons of consoles and games to choose from. Ataris, Nintendos, Commodores, and Segas galore! They even had a ton of real arcade cabinets and pinball machines! I spent a lot of time playing Dragons Lair 2: Time warp. I love this game, but I found my skills are not quite as sharp as they used to be; I died a lot! Thank God this game was free. I could only imagine how many quarters this game ate when it first came out. The graphics are really well animated and the game play is fun and hilarious as you try to control the main characters reflexes though quick time events. I also played a lot of Karate Champ with a friend of mine; I saw Jean-Claude Van Damme playing this in his movie Blood Sport and after years of waiting, I finally got to try it out! Oh, the time we had.
The other game I really enjoyed was the pinball machines. I don’t know about you, but there’s something so alluring and captivating about those machines that I can’t step away from. Other people must have felt the same way because the lines were kind of long. The Superman Machine seemed to be the people’s choice; I know it was mine!
To top it all off, for the 1st time ever, PRGE featured live D.J.s. They played various BBoy and 80’s hits like “The Life of the Party”, “Super Bad”, “It’s Just Begun” and so on. Not only did the convention goers get to indulge themselves in awesome moments of gaming but they also got a sweet soundtrack to go with it! You see, little things like that make PRGE such a delight!
Overall, such a great weekend it was. Every time spent was worth the anticipation; as a gaming fan there was something to love about PRGE around every corner! Before I finish this article, I would like to thank all of the PRGE staff and personal friend “Blackstormy” for great photos. Hopefully we get to participate again next year!