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NWCGE 2004 Report - The Atari Times

NWCGE 2004 Report

The NorthWest Classic Games Enthusiasts show was an experience to remember.
by Brad Prillwitz

May 30, 2004

A two day (May 8 & 9) event that had games from just about any system/console that you can imagine! Games to play, games to buy, and games up for competition. The first day they had several competitions, and prizes that were donated. People were hesitant to start any kind of competition, but once they got going, you could not stop them!

NWCGE Saturday competitions:
Atari 2600 NWCGE Invaders, X3VOLuX
Atari 7800 Klax
Atari Jaguar Tempest 2000, Protector
ColecoVision Ping Pong, Mr. Do!
Intellivision Beamrider, Pinball
Odyssey 2 KTAA, Turtles w/voice
NES Playchoice RC Pro-Am, Contra
Vectrex Yasi
Xbox Fusion Frenzy, Arcade Treasure
Dreamcast Mr. Driller

NWCGE Invaders and X3VOLuX seemed to be popular. Two very good shoot-em-ups for the 2600, that provided some intense action for the competitors. Klax, for the 7800 did not seem to get much attention. Personally, I love the game. The 7800 version does have very good gameplay, and good graphics, but the sound is not as good as other versions.

Tempest 2000 also did not get much attention. Only a few people entered this contest, possibly because of the length of time it would take to get the high score, which was around 550,000. (I came in second, stopped playing at 508,000 to eat pizza :) Protector did well, and everyone that played this Defender clone on the Jaguar seemed to enjoy it. I didn't hear what the final score was for Protector.

The Ping-Pong game for ColecoVision was very good. Not just another Pong type game. The control was something that took a while to learn, because you could move the hand with a paddle in four directions, as well as applying more thrust, or punch to your serve. Ping-Pong had one small problem, the 2-player selection was not active. Hopefully it will be fixed, so all ColecoVision fans can enjoy it (we could not get the 2-player option to work.) I never saw Mr. Do! running on a ColecoVision that day. Maybe they had problems with it.

The Intellivision console stayed turned off for quite a while. When it was on, Pinball got the most attention. Personally, I think the Intellivision version of Pinball is a little slow, but a few gamers enjoyed it. Beamrider did not get very much play-time. On the Odyssey 2, KTAA was either left out, or did not get played much, because everyone loved the Turtles w/voice game. It was constantly played by someone both Saturday, and Sunday. Someone had to turn the sound down, when Joe Decuir was ready to speak! The NES Playchoice Kiosk was popular, for the kids! Only a few adult gamers got to touch the Playchoice, because the children kept playing Super Mario Bros. on it! NES Playchoice was a nice set-up, and would be popular anywhere, with all age groups.

As for the Vectrex, I did not see Yasi. I saw two Vectrex units, one was for sale at Vintage Fun World, the other was set up for the competition. The Vetrex that was to be used for the competition, got used as a test system, for gamers to try out their new purchases. I brought three Vectrex games with me, and tried to get passing by gamers started on one of them, but not a lot of interest for some reason. The Multicart didn't get played at all. Vix/Tsunami (Qix and Tempest clones, on the same cart) got about 30 minutes of play time. The most popular would be Spinnerama, which is a cart with several games on it that are modified to use a standard Atari driving controller. Armor Attack (on Spinnerama) was fun, but you have to use two controllers, a driving controller to steer, and the Vectrex controller for gas and firing your shots. Spinnerama drew some big smiles from the people that played it. As for the Xbox competition, I completely missed it, because I had a crowd of gamers enjoying Bombastic on my PS2 at that time (more on that later.) I did look up to notice that the XBox Fusion Frenzy competition seemed to be going well.

For the Dreamcast, the Mr. Driller competition was very popular. It always had someone playing Mr. Driller to for a high score. I've got Mr. Driller at home, but have only played it once. I was asked to try out for the competition, and got eliminated quickly, by gamers that knew how to play this highly addictive puzzle game. Drill (or make disappear) the brightly colored "rocks" next to your character, or underneath you. But, don't run out of oxygen! Mr. Driller went on being played, well beyond the time limit, until they had to stop it, for the Atari 2600 competition.


Several booths were set up, some for vendors, some for show, and some for game play. My personal favorite game to play (not in a competition, darn!) would be Computer Space, that was projected onto the ceiling! Green lasers shot the game upwards, and had everyone that passed by looking up! One of the ships you could choose was the Starship Enterprise, complete with sounds from the classic show. Another was a pair of scissors, that made a "clipping" sound every time you shot off a round towards your enemy! This game was hard to stop playing (very addictive), and it's probably rare to enjoy such a treat. The computer AI would get "smarter" every round, making the game that much more fun!

Another booth had a Nuon, hooked up to a projector, so you could play Tempest 3000 on the wall! T3K is a fun game, but the lighting was to bright to see the projected image very well. Tempest 3000 would have been more popular, if gamers could see it better.

Lee Krueger had a demo Cuttle Cart 2, on his 7800. The Cuttle Cart 2 is a masterpiece! Almost any game you desire for the 2600 and 7800 available to play. If I remember correct, the only games not playable would be Pitfall 2, and a few 2600 games that will not work on the 7800.

Next to the Cuttle Cart 2 demo, was a Sega Saturn Nights Kiosk. It looked sharp, and clean, but did not get much game play.

I was immediately hooked on the Atari 2600 Battlezone hack. Packrat video games was selling it, which allows you to use 2 joysticks, for a more realistic arcade type control. Two Spectravideo joysticks, with suction cups on the bottom, attached to a flat plastic board, made this game very nice! Anyone who enjoyed Battlezone will love the control on this 2600 hack. Check out http://www.packratvg.com/ to get Battlezone TC.

I was asked to bring a PS2, along with a few good games. Blaster, on the Midway Collection 2 (PSone) caught quite a few gamers eyes. Most said they had never seen this classic arcade game. I put in several different multi-player games, as well as some more classic collections, but two games got the most attention:

War of the Monsters (PS2), was a smash hit for everyone that played it. Pick your favorite monster, old movie style, and battle your opponents. You can also rip up the zone/city that your battle is in. Great gameplay, and graphics too. War of the Monsters is fun for everyone.

Bombastic (PS2) drew a crowd. I hooked up a Multi-Tap, so five people could play Bombastic at the same time. Gamers were having a great time trying to match up dice, while blowing up their opponents! This game was fun for all ages. Bombastic had gamers from ages five to fifty-five! My favorite comment was "I'm a Zombie too!", by one of the younger players, after his on-screen character blew up. :-)

The Big Dee's Games booth had a multitude of imports for sale, as well as some to play. My favorite would be Cosmic Smash, an import for the Dreamcast. A 3D holographic skeleton character, that you controlled while playing some type of racquetball. And, you would also have to smash some transparent blocks out of your way. Great graphics, and fun gameplay, but hard to find.

SUNDAY, MAY 9th, they had a very special guest, Joe Decuir! It was very interesting to listen, and learn. Joe discussed the origin of the VCS/2600, along with programming it. He went into detail about what the VCS/2600 was originally meant to be, and how they decided on the correct processor for it. Joe showed everybody "Stella", his bicycle, where the original name for the Atari 2600 was inspired from. Joe also said he still uses Stella (the bicycle).

Joe displayed an Atari 800 computer, and explained the differences between how it was designed, and how he wanted it done. He wanted the Atari 8-bit computers to be more like the Amiga was, with a built in disk drive, and the proper connections, so people would not have to buy extra cables, or adapters just to use additional hardware. And, he also had a very good discussion about the Amiga computer, how it was originally to be a gaming machine. I enjoyed listening to Joe very much, and even got him to sign a Combat cartridge!

Joe Decuir was going to show an unreleased game for the Amiga, but the cable hooked to his keyboard had been chewed through by his cat! He told us that the unreleased Amiga game was a flight simulator. One statement I enjoyed from Joe while he was looking at Jr. Pac-Man, on the 2600, was "It wasn't designed to do that!"

Joe was browsing a display of 2600 cartridges for sale, when he said that he wanted to see what Beat 'em and Eat 'em looked like. Someone standing next to him told him what the gameplay was like, then he changed his mind.

The Atari 2600 Championship at NWCGE was held later that day, and it was a blast! I could not believe how good some of the players were. Personally, I was terrible, and got wiped out after the first round.

Atari 2600 games that were in the championship:
Kaboom (dang it gets fast! )
Combat (classic battle fun)
Millipede (high score was over 177,000! )
Indy 500 w/driving controllers
Space Invaders
Root Beer Tapper
Jr. Pac-Man
Video Olympics
Super Breakout
Frogs 'n Flies.

The Atari 2600 championship went over very well, and the winner (I think it was Chris, from vintagefunworld.com) didn't start, until it was half over. He did have to go "backwards" and play every game that was in the championship, to be eligible.

Several vendors, and classic gamers with stuff for sale were at NWCGE, so you couldn't leave empty handed!

Someone else (who shall remain nameless :) snagged a Dreamcast Kiosk! He bought it just before the show started. I helped load it after the show, and it was a lot heavier than it looked! Very nice.

Everything about NWCGE was great, from start to the end. I can only hope to enjoy this great event again next year!

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