Autograph Hunting

Over the last few months, I have been privileged enough to have been allowed to attend some pretty amazing gaming events as part of the RetroCollect team. My duties at these events have mainly been to help man the stand, speak to gamers about the site and generally just have fun whilst encouraging people to come and play some games and compete in challenges. Naturally, there's also been a lot of wandering around these events, meeting people who I speak to on Twitter and also the purchasing of lots of cool games and gaming hardware. The most recent event I attended was the massive Play Expo at Manchester's Event City.

I attended last year's event as a member of the public and it was at that event that I first met the creator of Tempest 2000 and TxK (amongst others), Jeff Minter. He was in attendance again at this year's event and I managed to speak to him before the doors opened to the public. He's a really nice guy and has a lot of time for fans of his games - I even got to have a quick go on the Occulus Rift version of TxK and had the cool as hell 'debug' mode demonstrated to me first hand. The debug mode allows players to pause the action and then wander around within the game world, while the Occulus lets you gawp at the monsters crawling up the web in full 3D. It's very impressive. Naturally, expecting Mr Minter to be at Play, I came fully prepared - I had my copy of Tempest 2000 with me and asked him to sign it...which he did. I also scored a copy of Llamasoft's lesser spotted original Amiga light synth, Trip-A-Tron on floppy disk. I don't own an Amiga of any flavour (yet), but it was a nice little extra and even cooler that I got it off the man who actually created it.

Earlier in the year, I attended Revival 2014 at Wolverhampton Racecourse. Unlike Play Expo, Revival is purely a retrogaming event and was one of the best exhibitions I've yet attended. Pretty much every console you could care to think of was either available to be played on, available to buy or at the very least, on display. It was at Revival that I finally managed to meet Kieren 'Laird' Hawken in person. Kieren is very probably the most knowledgeable Jaguar collector I know of - indeed it was his article on the Jaguar that was published in Retro Gamer Magazine and he was a guest on the RetroCollect podcast we did on the Jag. I must say that while I obviously love the Jag and lament at the missed opportunity it represents, Kieren's fondness for the system goes far beyond my own. It was cool to finally meet the guy and also play some of his rarer Jaguar games; Kieren had a little display and had his Jaguar Pro Controller as well as Rayman and Sky Hammer carts available for the public to sample. I'd never played either of these titles prior to attending Revival and I was pretty stunned by the quality of Rayman's colourful cartoony visuals and outstanding animation - it certainly looks better than the PlayStation version I own.

The real show-stopper however, was Sky Hammer. I'd never seen the game in motion before and actually playing it was a real eye-opener: this game looks incredible. Furthermore, the fluidity of the game engine is unrivalled on the system and really proves just how good Jag games can look if programmed properly. For those who don't know anything about Sky Hammer, it was a late release and plays a lot like Descent or Forsaken in that you have full 360 degree movement in a futuristic cityscape and must fly around between the towering, neon-lit buildings shooting enemies and completing various mission parameters. I remember reading a review of Sky Hammer in a copy of Games Master Magazine way back when, and the story of it's eventual release is an interesting one. It is worth seeking out if you can afford it, although it is quite highly-priced so it may be one for my wish list.

Worms was also on display
Revival was a really great event and the highlight for me was meeting one of my all-time gaming heroes, John Romero. I absolutely love the Doom series and own pretty much every version of the game for consoles, as well as the other id Software titles that came either before or after; so meeting the man responsible was an incredible experience. It was even more incredible because he was such a genuinely nice man. I got to meet and chat with Mr Romero before the event was actually open to the public and he told me a few cool stories about the development of 32X Doom. One thing I'm kicking myself for not asking was the truth about Jaguar Quake and whether it was ever on the cards. That would have put the whole thing to bed there and then. Alas, I totally forgot to enquire. It wasn't all bad though - he posed for a photo and also signed my copy of Doom for the Jag. Once the doors opened and the public streamed into the event, Romero was absolutely mobbed by fans and he just stood there posing for photos, signing memorabilia and just generally chatting with people. He was a really cool guy and it was an honour to have finally met him.

Tempest signed by Minter, Doom by Romero. 
So, two amazing events done and dusted and some really cool people from the history and present of the Jaguar met in person. Can't really complain!

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