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Replay FX is over

Cafeman

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I attended the Pittsburgh Replay FX last year Friday and Saturday - the show runs from Thursday to Sunday. So this year for 2016 I attended Thursday through Saturday. I also joined the Replay World Championships, played a lot of Time Pilot and Dig Dug on max difficulty, but got eliminated in the first round finals. Also attended some GREAT seminars, played countless pinball, coin-ops, and consoles, and heard some good music. Great show!

Kong-Off Championships.

This returned for a 2nd year at Replay FX Pittsburgh. I got to talk with one of the youngest competitors, Tanner, who shared with me some of his knowledge of how DK works and various patterns and percentages rules. Pretty cool. Billy Mitchell was walking around and also playing the game himself. I saw one fellow get over a million points and achieve the final "Kill Screen" - level 22.1 I believe. And I bought some Pepper Sauce!

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Replay World Championships.

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The difficulty settings were set high on all the games, so several of us laughed and struggled to even beat a few boards of Time Pilot. Several of us concluded that Stage 1 was harder than stage 2, due to the bombs along with the many shots. If I had more patience, I would have just stuck it out on Stage 2 , not killing the boss plane and hitting 100-point planes for 30 minutes. I didn't see anyone get past stage 3, with the helicopters and guided missiles. The gamer who got the highest TP score did so by staying on Stage 1 the entire time!

I also concentrated on Dig Dug, which I'd had a chance to practice at max difficulty. But there were players who just knew the game inside out and could consistently get 10,000 point rock-drops for example, and could consistently outwit the monsters. I got about 120k I think ; top score I saw was over 900k. All games had a 30 minute time limit.

They also had Frogger, Tempest (too hard!), Missile Command (that ball arghhhh), Space Zap, Gyruss, Lady Bug , and Centipede. In the first round finals, I was quickly eliminated by my foe "Chris" at Lady Bug. I'm not very good at the game, never really played it, besides it was Saturday night and all the Seminars were starting so I was anxious to move on to those.

Game Playing Highlights

I enjoyed trying out games I don't own -- TurboGrafx (Blazing Lazers, and Victory Run), Vectrex (multi-cart - mostly the Tank game and Berzerk), and Neo Geo (a vertical shooter ). Also tried out Sega Saturn NHL Powerplay 96 for the first time in 20 years - we used to LOVE that game , and it has held up pretty well. I didn't see good representation of Atari's though. Most of the Atari's and the Colecovision were actually Flashback systems. There was at least one 2600 (Pitfall was in it when I passed by), but no 5200's, and I didn't see any 7800's either. I couldn't pass up Genesis Outrun for a few rounds.

On the many coin-ops, I enjoyed playing rounds of Zaxxon, Tron, SEGA's vector sit-down Star Trek game (awesome!), Karate Champ (I still can't do the bonus segments), and about 50 others for a token play.

There were of course tons of Pinball games there. Pinburgh competitions were going on and lots of pinball fans. I especially enjoyed playing Twilight Zone and Funhouse. There was an AC-DC pinball - I expected lots of great rockin' stuff, but either the game has no actual AC-DC songs, or the volume was set too low.

I did bump into Ed Fries as he played Williams' Sinistar and we discussed strategies of this too-hard game.

Seminars

I kind of felt bad for the Saturday night Seminars folks - attendance was sparse, even though the location was right outside of the main halls. Last year we had an excellent multi-media room, but it was very far away and upstairs. Mike Stulir told me the idea was to move it closer to the main show this year. The show had high quality banners advertising the Seminars. Still, Pittsburgh gamers kind of showed their indifference by not showing up. Slightly unfortunately, the seminars area was kind of stuck in a small corner along the side of the lobby area (with bright sun shining in sometimes), and the projection TV really should have been much bigger. It was hard some of the details unless you sat close enough. Sound quality was pretty good and loud enough - especially Mark Bussler's CGR seminar where he reveled at saying TRUXTON!!!!! into the mike. :)

Mark Bussler, Classic Game Room - pretty much what you'd expect, and entertaining CGR based show with a intro video (which I had not seen before) where Mark , and 2 of the Replay FX guys, played the Robocop pinball game. The entire audience were enjoying it and busting a gut laughing at those guys doing 'the robot' in the video as another played the pinball Robocop game. Further Robocop NES discussion took place and talk of the future of CGR.

Mike Stulir - Mike's fascinating show had plenty of pictures as he discussed the American Classic Arcade Museum.

Ed Fries, My Life in Games - Ed talked about coding Atari 8bit games in the 80's, his Microsoft days and Halo, reading Racing the Beam and subsequently working on the Atari 2600 homebrew Halo, and his involvement with the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Halo 2600 is in it!). During the Q&A, I asked Ed how Microsoft's legal team felt about his Halo 2600. He laughed a bit and said he had indeed discussed that aspect , and it sounds like he got an unofficial 'okay' . He said humorously that nothing is in writing, so they may come after him legally yet. :) He also mentioned that he talked to Namco about his Atari 2600 Rally-X port; I got the impression Namco was not going for it, thus that project is still a work-in-progress and in limbo somewhere on one of Ed's computers.

Steve Golson, the Atari 7800 ProSystem - I had heard Steve's seminar at last year's Replay FX too, and I was pleasantly surprised that the content was quite different this year. Very interesting to me - Steve worked for GCC , and I was already knowledgeable about GCC's creating Ms. Pac-Man , some 5200 games, and the 7800 system itself . What I didn't know until now is that GCC was responsible for several Atari 2600 games, including Atari Cube , Ms. Pac-Man, and Phoenix. Steve is a hardware guy, thus he showed a lot of PCB's and diagrams as he discussed the "Atari 3600" design, which would become the Atari 7800 later.

After Steve's seminar, several of us perused his items - design docs, and amazingly, the Atari 7800 adapter for the Atari 5200, the only one (a prototype) in existence!

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Warren Davis, creator of Q*bert - Warren also had plenty of pictures and videos of various games he worked on, including Q*bert of course, but also "Us vs Them", a film-like Laser-disc game which I'm surprised didn't end up on the Sega CD 10 years later. Warren ended his interesting seminar with a video showing the making of the Aerosmith game Revolution X in the 90's, which was pretty awesome to be honest.

This ends my brief synopsis of Replay FX highlights. I had a great time. In conclusion, let me mention some other things that made the show cool - watching people enjoy playing the games; watching people get exhausted attempting to play Capcom vs Street Fighter (projected onto a huge screen) by stepping on foot pads to control it; seeing the Star Wars stormtroopers, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, and Imperials walk around; listening to Pittsburgh Rush-inspired band Caress of Steel City (Friday night), and even better the excellent and tight band Flashback play Journey, Bon Jovi, Billy Idol, Judas Priest (with guest vocalist Richie Knuckles!), The Doobie Brothers and many others (Saturday Night) .

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Thank you for attending our sessions on Saturday night & I am pleased to hear you enjoyed them. I am not exactly sure what happened with seminar attendance. It seemed light across the board as I made a point to check in with quite a few other sessions to check attendance levels. Needless to say, I am a little let down that I brought in three big-name people from the gaming industry that are supporters of ACAM and turnout was so light.

 

On the whole, the event was fantastic and we are big believers in many of the objectives the ReplayFX people are trying to achieve.

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I count it as a real privilege and treat to have heard all the seminars in my home town of Pittsburgh. Last year was great too. Perhaps there could be a better form of advertising for the seminars. I heard TV and radio programs talking about the show - but it was focusing on the show itself and the Pinburgh aspect.

 

Thanks for your efforts, Mike. Hope there is another Replay FX, with similar seminars , next year. The seminars were all recorded on video - where will those videos be available? Youtube?

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We did all of the promos we could from our end via e-mail blasts, social media, etc. We even bought a full page ad on the inside cover of the event program. I am not sure where the ball got dropped.

 

As for the recordings.... The speaker sessions were recorded for use with the ACAM Education Program. We routinely work with groups of college students around New England that are studying video game design/creation as a career. We try to educate them on the history of arcade video games. At this time, we are not planning on making the videos available to the public. We will probably premiere those recordings with our first group of 170 students in early October.

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I think the pinball competition is a part of the problem. The A Division finals lasted until well into the night on Saturday, and then there was a consolation tournament that everyone else was competing in during and after. Too much competition taking potential seminar attendees away. :(

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