The Houston Area Arcade Group (HAAG) fell upon Houston once again and we were there to bask in it’s nostalgia. From Pong to Guitar Hero to the inception of pinball as we know it, the 2010 Arcade Expo had a more impressive showing than last years event.
With my tickets in hand I walked into an unfamiliar hotel lobby and felt instantly disoriented. ‘I needed to find where all of my brethren geeks were and there was no immediate indication where they had been clamoring prior to my arrival.’ Luckily I noticed a gentlemen wearing an official event t-shirt and I proceeded to stalk his ass. To my surprise the entrance to the expo was right beyond the hotel front desk area, so I quickly proceeded in. Before entering, and in the hopes of winning a multicade cabinet, I dropped $10 on some raffle tickets and proceeded into the show and this is what I saw:
I walked away rather impressed by Dan Ferguson’s collection, just like I was last year. I never realized how much fun pinball use to be before manufacturer’s started added ramps and jumps and fancy displays. There was one very simple looking game of pinball named Sally that ended up being incredibly difficult. I’m pretty sure I played Sally more than any other game that night.
Even though I had a lot of fun with pinball last night, my real love will always be with video games. I am simply a video game person at heart and unfortunately I felt a little disappointed with the video game offering this time around. There were many of the same games as last year and the ones that didn’t work last year still didn’t work this year (pong). There were two Tron machines this time around, which made me very happy, but the MAME machine was very sub-par in many many ways. Another one of my all-time favorites, Afterburner, made an appearance in a standup version but the handle was all sticky and I don’t want to know why. Warlords was awesome, always was and always will be, but there were other machines that were either not working, turned off, or frozen. Sure Dragons Lair was there but it wasn’t even turned on for most of the night and when it did get turned on it locked up at the start screen.
The console games made a more impressive showing than I remember. I got to see and play some systems that I hadn’t even heard of before like the Atari XE Game System, and the Commodore CDTV. I have to say that the Commodore was very impressive with games running off the old 3.5″ floppy, but sadly couldn’t figure out how to get it to work. Oh and do you remember someone making the Halo Atari game? Well, they had it in an actual Atari cartridge running on an actual Atari (I giggled like such and excited nerd when I saw this).
In the end I didn’t win the raffle, which curiously changed from a really cool looking multicade cabinet into a beat up looking cocktail cabinet with Tron in it. I’m not sure what happened with the original raffle game and I hope this wasn’t a classic ‘bait and switch’ tactic. I had some other minor grievances about this years show but I know I will be going back for more next year. I just hope it keeps getting better and better.