Tuesday, November 12, 2013
2013 Houston Pinball & Arcade Expo
I saw a Berzerk machine for the first time. It was sitting next to Ghost 'N Goblins and Robotron: 2084. I was at the 2013 Houston Pinball and Arcade Expo.
Over 200 machines filled the bottom floor of the Crown Plaza. The first was dark and blasting '80s tunes. The second was brighter and half filled with machines. The other half consisted of arcade junk vendors, a pinball tournament, and arcade tournament, the Atari Age booth, and kitsch vendors.
My girlfriend and I had driven in and arrived just an hour after opening. It had already been in full gear since Friday afternoon, with the hardcore partying until 2:00a.m., and undoubetly past that for the truly hardcore.
Every machine at this place, except for the pinballs, is from the '80s and '90s. Asteroids, Donkey Kong, 2x Robotrons, Berzerk, Star Wars, Tron, I Robot, Virtua Fighter, Centipede, Battlezone, Tempest, and others.
Atari Age (.com) had a huge booth with about 20 Monitors. Each had an Atari System or classic computer. 5 or 6 Homebrew titles published by Atari Age were on display with their boxes and information about the title. Frenzy, Space Rocks, Ixion, Seaweed Assault, and Stay Frost saw constant playtime, and it's cool that the homebrews were displayed so well. Also, there were Colecovisions, Commodore 64s, an Apple ][ and a Dreamcast. I set the high score on the Apple ][, which was was running Galaxian all day. Samiorigami discovered Adventure II on one of the 5200s and beat it twice.
I found a weird looking machine, Major Havok. It's a vector based shooter/platformer with minigames in between stages. It's one of the best arcade games of all time, and I've never even played it before this week! I'm hooked on this machine, and I probably spend about 1.5 hours of the day playing it.
But I couldn't stick to one machine, there were the pins, of course. Xenon, Stars, Centaur, Demolition Man, The Wizard, Kiss, The Black Knight 2000, Terminator 2, Pinbot, Pirates of the Caribbean, Johnny Mnemonic, and dozens more. There were new machines as well: Wizard of Oz, Metallica, and Star Trek are all new and play very well. Wizard of Oz is the flashiest thing in the universe. The Metallica machine was camped out for hours by a pair of friends with pinball tattoos. Also I met Steve Richie, the famous pinball designer and he talked a little about his new Star Wars machine from a rules perspective.
Someone else brought a Vectrex and Virtual Boy. And the Vectrex was totally wicked. Vectrex was released into the public domain in the '90s, the system OS and the ROMs, so you should go download ParaJVE (http://vectrex-emu.blogspot.com/) right now and check out the Vectrex. It's free and you have nothing to lose. Dark Tower is especially fun, and Frogger plays like it's arcade perfect. The Berzerk port surpasses the 2600 by a mile. Awesome vectors.
After 10 hours we had to leave, but I scored 8x $1 Star Wars Action figures, 2x $1 He-Man Action figures, and 12x $1 untested Atari 2600 Carts.
I'm going back next year.