Indie Retro News is back from the GEEK 2015 gaming expo and it certainly was an enjoyable experience, and unlike the last few years we actually went as press and met many new people and recent friends in the retro scene. So far the expo has been up and running every year and it's a huge tourism boost for Margate, especially as this time GEEK actually sold out and needed more tickets. But unlike last year, there was a slight negative tone from hard-line retro gamers, read on for the highlights!
As per usual the main entrance hall had many different market retro sellers, from Level Up Games who sold me an almost mint condition Amiga - Zool, to A Beads C Start and RetroVideoGames1999
Level Up Games
A Beads C Start
But apart from these decent bunch of retro game sellers, there was a serious lack of other retro game stalls. Not only that but all the home built electronics, tiny arcade's and old style hand held devices were nowhere to be seen. Even the BBC of which I spent ages playing Grannies Garden was gone! If you were into board games then sure, the start hall was a great place to be.
Moving on to the main hall, this is when I expected to see lots of lovely retro systems, with each banner at the top going through the years. But wait no, there were hundreds of modern computers and modern consoles. You could pretty much tell straight away that GEEK was slowly going away from the retro and heading towards the modern. They had already removed all the Arcade machines from the last event which everyone wanted back, only to be replaced by Minecraft.
But not to be too disappointed, even though I heard from a lot of retro gamers that they came home feeling it to be a big let down. I did see a good number of retro consoles, from the Sega Megadrive, to the Sega Saturn and from the Sony Playstation to the Neo-Geo. You can certainly tell that even old consoles and gaming systems can still pull in the crowds, especially with dad and son shooting at the TV together!
But here's our next negative, if you were expecting some proper retro computers, forget it! There were no Amstrad's, no C64's, no ZX Spectrum's, no BBC Micro's, No Amiga's and No Atari's, I was gutted. Not only had GEEK had no Arcades to show, but proper gaming from my childhood were also removed. Was this a choice by the organisers or just a lack of willing by the owners not to have those computers on display? Who knows but at least GEEK didn't forget the 90's at all.
Putting the negative aside, the big positive was the great amount of Indie games available to play, and as I'm a huge Indie fan it gave me a chance to experience new games by small developers and of course seeing other peoples reactions in modern design. It was especially cool to meet up with Leda Entertainment again talking about their big success 'Bopscotch' and a new teased game 'Smelly Sock'.
The Pokemon tournament was once again going strong, it's not a huge hit compared to the other events but those who like to throw a good pokeball pushed through the ranks with DS in hand. I'm not sure who won, but I believe my brother came second.
Minecraft was again popular this year, some of the queues were huge, which must've been great for the stalls close by selling extra bits and bobs. I'm not a fan of Minecraft my self, but I know it has a vast following, especially with the younger generation.
As for my favourite part of the Indie scene, it has to be the chill out room. Being either an adult or child you could just chill out in the blue lighting scheme and play some of the many Indie games available. I can't say I got much chance to play many of the games though as being kids, they were addicted to new toys!
The over 18 section didn't have much attendance as many of the games were titles that are already known on modern consoles. Games such as the awful Assassins Creed Unity and WatchDogs, but I did give Assassins Creed a try and within 20mins was put off by it. Just not my cup of tea!
Now this is the other part of the convention, COSPLAY! You know the deal, people dressing up in costumes to look like characters either from Anime, Games or Movies. It was very popular this year, far more so than last. You couldn't walk 20 paces without another Cosplayer showing off the latest get up. I could certainly say I knew many of the characters, Spiderman and Sonic being two of the most popular.
And that's not all! Some of the work put into these costumes is just astounding. Here's Sonic who decided to show up with his last ring, I don't think he has many lives left.
Megaman and... Can you name the other Character?
Here's Megaman again and this time I think he's with the medic from Team Fortress, however I could be completely wrong
So after all that my day was done and what a fun day it was, from seeing all those classic consoles, to playing more modern Indie titles and triple AAA games. But there was a massive down side and it's one that others were complaining about. What had GEEK done to many of the systems from last year? Why did the Amiga, BBC, C64 or ZX Spectrum not appear this year? Why has GEEK yet again removed all the Arcades. Where did all the retro handhelds go and many of the stalls from last year?
These should come back and be included with modern titles, it needs to appeal to all as it did when it originally started. I did have a good time I must admit that, but it was nothing compared to last year. Last year I just wanted more but this year I'm starting to get concerned that GEEK is becoming just another typical convention without the speciality it had in the early years.
They also need to deal with overcrowding, if tickets are sold out and the queues are out the door, is it wise to fill it with even more people and find more tickets? Perhaps the convention needs to move to a much bigger hall so they can fit everything that was needed and still allow people to play.
With all that said and done I'll go back and I've got to be thankful to Vincent from GEEK allowing us to join in the fun.