Another year, another trip to the Midwest Gaming Classic. Although not drastically different than the 2006 show it was still a good time. No reason to change the basic formula, it's a "classic" gaming show after all. However, classic systems seem to come in and out of favor and this year's show was a shining reflection of that. Three years ago the Atari 5200 was well represented with systems and games for sale at every booth. Last year I noticed an abundance of Jaguar games for sale, nearly every vendor had a stack. This year they were both scarce while the TurboGrafx-16 appeared to be the classic flavor of the day. Boxed TG-16 consoles were a hot commodity, selling faster than in their prime I imagine. Declining systems were the Lynx and Sega CD whose games, barring a select few titles, were available for rock-bottom prices.
Usual Disclaimer: I don't have a particularly great digital camera and I suck at taking pictures. After seeing these pictures I've vowed to finally bother buying a slightly better camera. Since mine is like 5 or 6 years old the cheapest one around today is at least 10x better.
The images on this page are thumbnails, click for the full-size image (you'd probably figure that out on your own though).
Before the Show
The trip to the Midwest Gaming Classic 2007 got off to a great start. On the way up I saw a neighborhood garage sale in Bristol Wisconsin. It was an older neighborhood so I figured I might get lucky, sure enough I scored an Intellivision with box-o-games for $5. I doubt the system works, it looks like hell, but the games were more than worth the price considering they included...
...the extremely rare The Jetsons Ways with Words. The box is pretty flat but the cartridge and overlays are fine. I knew it was a great find even before checking an Intellivision rarity guide. How? For starters, I'd never heard of it which is usually a sign of obscurity. The biggest indicator was the box text "Use with any INTELLIVISION Master Component, Computer Adaptor, & Computer Keyboard." There were only a handful of games made for the short-lived Intellivision computer. Of course, this means at some point that house likely had that system and it was already sold or tossed.
The #1 reason I keep going to the Midwest Gaming Classic is for the vendors. I love to just look at what's available and fill-in my collection with a few lost favorites.
Yeah I remember carrying the "Genistick", what a stupid name. The cool thing about it is that you could play the Genesis with one hand. Later in the day I went a speech by the famous (among nerds) Ben Heck. He talked about a one-handed Xbox 360 controller he made for a soldier wounded in Iraq. He tried to pitch the idea to Microsoft for mass-production but they weren't interested. It's a shame, being able to enjoy a hobby like gaming would certainly lift the spirits of those who lost a limb while serving their country (or any other way I suppose).
I went to the show with a single shopping objective: buy a 3DO. It's the only system from the mid-90s that I don't own and really, really wanted. The going price for the system was $50, slightly cheaper than eBay. The folks at Warp Zone Video Games threw in a sack-o-games for another $20. I can't turn down a generic sack-o-games even if most were lame "edutainment" titles. Madden, Gex, and Need for Speed were included and they're all games I would have hunted down anyway.
One thing I noticed this year was a sudden abundance of TurboGrafx-16 games and systems for sale. Years past there were a couple of games here and there but overall very few. Now it seemed like every vendor had a few games, at ridiculous prices. Ys III in a generic jewel case, no instructions, $35. Even the crappy TV Sports Games were tagged at $10-$15. The basic system was a solid $40-$50, no CD add-ons or TurboDuos in sight though (unless you include the Japanese equivalents). It appears the inclusion of the TurboGrafx-16 on the Wii Virtual Console has sparked a revival of interest in the system.
Museum & Exhibits
There were a lot of good exhibits this year, all were busy and had an energetic vibe about them. There was definitely a healthy dose of enthusiasm among this years' attendees and exhibitors.
There were a lot of contests running throughout the event. A couple were focused on high scores for Tempest 2000. OK, there was a whiff of marketing to it because all the controllers had this dial/paddle modification made specifically for Tempest 2000 that some guy was selling. It was an excellent modification though, made the game feel more like the arcade original.
I spent a good amount of time at the cramped Star Worlds Arcade exhibit. They had a few old game like Domino Man that were new to me.
They also had one of the Nintendo vs. systems. This thing was great. For starters, you could run into with a tractor and not make a dent. It's about the size of a table top game only without the neck strain from constantly looking down. Just playing it for a few minutes bumped it way up on my "arcade machine wish list".
The highlight of the exhibits was finally playing a real SuperGrafx. I still can't explain why I want one of these even though it has a grand total of only six games. I guess it's because I'm a huge TurboGrafx fan and always wonder "what if" when I think about the SuperGrafx. Apparently it didn't take off in Japan because consumers there preferred the PC Engine CD. If only the SuperGrafx had a compatible CD attachment the gaming landscape could have evolved in a completely different direction.
Last year I wrote about how impressed I was with the Bally Astrocade. Played it again and it was still one of the most fun systems I've tried. I'll say it again, the controller on this system is one of the best designed and makes for innovative game play. With one knob it does what modern controllers try to do with two (think of a directional control + camera stick).
There were a couple displays of old ads and posters in the main exhibition area. I could always go for more stuff like this. Here are some good 16-bit era ads, a little Genesis, some TurboGrafx-16, and of course Mortal Kombat II hype.
Although I've enjoyed every trip to the Midwest Gaming Classic, this one squeaks in as my favorite to date. It felt like there was more going on, more energy from the attendees. I think the show is starting to catch on and will hopefully get a little bigger (and preferably better) every year.