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Houston Area Arcade Group 2004 Expo

 

Photos by Albert Yarusso

Houston Area Arcade GroupThe Houston Area Arcade Group (HAAG) sponsored their 2004 Houston Area Arcade Group Expo on June 4th and 5th. The expo, held at the Holiday Inn Northwest, featured about 90 video arcade games and pinball machines all set to free play for a reasonable price of admission. There was a wonderful assortment of games, including several rare machines that would be welcome in any arcade museum. Several of the exhibitors who brought machines (VidPin Amusements, Dallas Arcade, and Hassell Castle Amusements) were among those who supplied machines to the 2003 Austin Gaming Expo.

Since I don't normally get a chance to play many games at the shows I attend (as I'm usually busy working the AtariAge booth), this was a great opportunity for me to spend some quality time with some great arcade games. I arrived in Houston Friday evening and was able to spend a solid six hours playing just about everything. After the show closed at 2am, I then took most of the pictures below, with the overhead lights on so I could get better pictures without using a flash. Only the pictures at the very end were taken when the show was open to the public. The show opened promptly at 10am Saturday, where I spent another ten hours or so playing games until I returned home to Austin at around 8pm.

I had a great time and look forward to next year's event! If you're in Texas, be sure to check out the upcoming Texas Pinball Festival, taking place November 5th-7th in Irving, Texas.

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The Houston Area Arcade Expo took place at the Holiday Inn NW, just outside of Houston.
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Banner hanging outside the hall.
 
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People buying tickets to get into the show.
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Callan Hendricks of VidPin Amusements selling raffle tickets for the beautiful, restored Ms. Pac-Man machine that was being raffled off at the show.
 
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Various video game vinyl stickers available for purchase.
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This Ms. Pac-Man machine was being raffled off at the show (tickets were $5 each or three for $10). All of the cabinet art was repainted from scratch, witha beautiful clear coat, the marquee and control panel overlays were brand new, a new monitor was installed, and so forth.
 
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Another shot of the Ms. Pac-Man machine being raffled.
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An upright Star Wars arcade game in great condition. This was one of two tournament games at the show, the other being a Return from Mars pinball machine.
 
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I was especially intrigued to see a Star Fire arcade game at the show, given Manuel Polik's recent and excellent translation of it to the Atari 2600. I'd never seen one of these in person, so this was real treat.
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Looking at the Star Fire screen through the smoked plexiglass at the back of the unit.
 
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Star Fire cabinet artwork.
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Control panel and screen of Star Fire. The main control mechanism is an airplane-like yoke, and it has a great deal of travel in and out of the cabinet (more than I expected!) for moving your ship up and down.
 
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Mini Stargate and Space Invaders cabinets.
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Sinistar (Run, Run, Run!), Moon Patrol, and Tron.
 
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Quake, Discs of Tron (sadly there was no environment cabinet at the show), and Frogger.
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A rare Quake arcade cabinet. Only 20 of these were ever made!
 
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Centuri's rare Aztarac color vector game and one of my favorite vector games, Tempest.
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Aztarac by Centuri. This color vector game has a unique plastic cover over the screen, the center of which juts outward in a bowl shape, and is where all the action takes place. Unfortunately someone broke the joystick on this machine before I had a chance to try it out!
 
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Warrior, a black and white vector game from Cinematronics, where you look down into the cabinet to see the screen, and Turbo Sub, which appears to be a conversion of an upright Star Wars cabinet (ack!)
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Two rare Atari vector games, Lunar Lander and Major Havoc.
 
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Lunar Lander cabinet artwork, in great condition considering the machine's age!
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There were several Laserdisc-based games at the show, including these three, Badlands, Firefox, and Space Ace.
 
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Firefox, based on the Clint Eastwood movie, uses a Star Wars control yoke. This game is a fierce quarter sucker!
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Dragon's Lair and Dragon's Lair II.
   
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