Event: London Anime & Game Con 2014 Show Report

2600haloThe Rocket Center in Holloway hosted this years London Anime and Gaming Con (LAGC), an event that has been running for a few years now and RetroCollect was there flying the flag for retrogamers, chatting to the attendees and trying to rack up some serious scores on a contrasting spectrum of games.

Its interesting to see the variation of people that go to events like these. LAGC seemed to be dominated by cosplayers and anime fans but sprinkled in were a mixture of folk keen to be a part of the action. The gamers I spoke to were very impressed to see the likes of 'Misty' and 'Jesse' from Pokemon wandering around looking fantastic, while playing some Halo on an Atari 2600 (yes you read that right!)

A large space was allocated to the anime and cosplay fans, the whole second floor given over to trade stands selling anime and cosplay goods, with performances and competitions being conducted on the stage. Downstairs there was a large space to relax and get a drink from the bar, an anime cafe and an artist area. Everything an fan could want, but personally I was here for the games and the gamers. Massive Kudos to all the effort and skill the cosplayers put into their costumes, but for me its all about the games.

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The retro section was in the back of the building and after arriving and a few quick 'hellos' we got down to business and began setting up several ancient CRT's that had obviously seen a lot of 'Con action' judging by the battle scars and wounds they had picked up over the years. A quick set up of an Xbox, Mastersystem, Gamecube and N64 later, we find that we run into the age old problem of the lack of 4 socket extension leads. This problem is resolved with a little begging and maybe a hijack or two we manage to get hooked up and ready, but of course there is another problem. Where is the actual power?

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A man with low trousers is dispatched, fixes the problem and power is restored, lets get gaming! Well I would, but I find myself distracted by Katsu who is already playing a game that I really haven't given any attention in the past, but it was to suck more than a few hours from my convention this day, and of all things it was a mini game.

The idea for the RetroCollect stand was to have some machines set up, run various games and have people play them, enjoy them and record their high scores; real back to basic stuff. I used to have a real competitive streak in me, and if I saw a gamers initials that I knew above mine I would take it very personally, luckily I know this was all in fun for the good of RetroCollect and all that but something was stirring in me that had been asleep and I just couldn't allow the leaderboard to be dominated by 'Katsu' at every entry, so it was on and for the first time in my life, I had to play Super Monkey Ball.

This game is not a favourite of mine, infact until Saturday I had played it only a handful of times, but we weren't playing the full game but one of the minigames where you rolled down a ramp, gliding for a while pilotwings style and then dropping on to a multi shaped target, trying to get the highest score from four attempts. But thats not all, there is a chance that bombs or mines will appear and ruin your score, this is determined randomly, wheel of fortune style. The thing is, once you start playing in this atmosphere, surrounded by your friends and like minded gamers things get focused and the scores start to matter. This is the essence of a good convention.

After a while I managed to tear myself away and have a look around at some of the other machines people had to offer. Perhaps most interesting for me was the Atari 2600 that had a multi cartridge adapter plugged in, allowing you to change games at the touch of a button. This was something that I have heard about but never seen, it really is an ingenious bit of kit and very stylish, its lines and design coming straight from the pen of some 1970s designer. There was also a copy of Halo 2600 which I just had to try and found myself enjoying immensely. Various other machines, such as the rare Panasonic Q proved that they weren't quite so rare as three of the groups that were displaying games and consoles, including RetroCollect, had them up and running. It was a nice mix with a good blend of game genres and by late in the afternoon the space dedicated to our games was heaving with eager gamers.

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One of the more interesting machines was a Sharp X6800 brought along by Steve, a member of the RC Squad. This was only released in Japan and can fetch a hefty price if you can even find one. Its very interesting because it served as a development machine for Capcom, its architecture similar to the arcade games of the time. In fact it was one of these Japanese arcade shooters that was running on it, and it captured a lot of attention, and soon we were all back at it, plying for the high scores. I am not at liberty to say who ended up on top, I'm just happy to report that I was on the leaderboard before the controller type was changed over.

 

This was a great event, it brought together similar interests that go hand in hand. It attracted all sorts of people and had a warm and friendly atmosphere. Sometimes at these things there is an elitist feel but I spoke to a lot of different folk and everyone had a story to tell me, most involved how friendly and approachable everyone was. Like most, I came away with a lot more than I went with, not just the games I managed to pick up from the trade stands, I came away with new discoveries and have added some great new friends to my circle. In fact, it was almost like visiting an arcade, when arcades were cool.

 


Last Updated ( 18 February 2014 )  

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I am the original first generation. I wandered in to an arcade in the late 70’s and never really got over it. I don’t have a favourite system but I do have a lot of favourite games and spend most of my spare time playing and writing about them. On sunny days you could find me outside, but only if my longboard is with me.

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