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Monday, February 1, 2016

SoCal Retro Gaming Expo We Should've Bought Everything

What shanty town con did I go to? Am I going to see a ball pit with Slender Man in it? Oh, wait there's the SoCal Retro Gaming Expo!

That was my thought as we trekked our way through Frank & Son Collectibles Show in the outskirts of LA. I'm talking about the City of Industry, y'know our nether regions. Adjacent to Round 1, Speed Zone Go-Karts and many themed and Asian restaurants. Other than that you can think of it as the wasteland from Mad Max: Fury Road.

If any nerds survived the apocalypse their bazaar would look like Frank & Son Collectibles. A warehouse filled with collectible shops from Gundam and baseball cards to its very own card district. The only thing it does need is any form of aesthetic style.

Finding our way inside passed the strange McDonalds tributes (????) we had finally found the SoCal Retro Gaming Expo. Out first thought, literally as I was about to say it to my colleague was how much better it looked than the Video Gaming Community Foundation history gaming booth at last Anime Expo. That booth was a strange monstrosity, this layout with plaques and playable systems of earlier consoles was a friendly relief. 

As you entered the SoCal Gaming Expo you were offered to play some early consoles on your left and to your right were some of the most beloved arcade machines provided by Royce's Arcade Warehouse-that has free plays every Saturday in Chatsworth. As people played Time Crisis or The Simpsons game or even my favorite Super Mario World on the SNES we were looking at the widest collection of hard to find games and parts we had seen in a long time.

Plaques of gaming history adorned the early console side, telling you some info about the console you could play. Some people might think does don't matter, but we disagree. It's those little bits of extra work that show time and effort went into setting up consoles.

Not to skim past the couch and TV in the center of the arcade and early consoles where you could forget you were surrounded by hundreds of people trying to buy games. It was almost an abstract art piece that I some times write about from MOCA or LACMA. The incredible lack of self-awareness or one could say chillness of being able to just plop down in front of a TV and play video games in a crowd busy with movement... I would only add a sign that said, " 90's Gamer," as opposed to a now gamer who would be steaming himself playing or being on PC.
"It's a... technically it's a large rumble pack for the game Rez (a favorite of mine), that's just a normal rumble pack, but it was..uh, advertised in Japan for your significant other, your girlfriend, your wife to have a good time while you were playing Rez" , that was Brendon Butler of B & B Imports. I myself was laughing a bit after having an open grin about this PS2 add-on for Rez that never made it to America. Brendon was one of many vendors selling, and selling well, hard to find gaming merchandise not limited to North America.

"The PCFX, the failed Japanese only follow-up to the PC Engine, the aka TurboGrafx 16, it launched against the PlayStation and Saturn and bombed miserably," Brendon told me was the strangest item he had brought and had just sold at the expo.

We then talked about the failed PlayStation PocketStation that lasted about a year only in Japan. So many products so little time to go over each on at the expo.

As we bid Brendon adieu we were reminded constantly by those who we met that YouTube personalities we're walking the convention, as they were those YouTube personalities. We met Super Retro Mexican for a second, possibly one of the only cosplayers we saw Saturday.

In another instance we met up with Maggie Paynter who'll be opening up a game shop later this February in Burbank, Games Realms. We hope to cover its opening and tell you more about it. 

You could join a few tournaments, one for melee and one for the original Star Fox. The one for Star Fox recreated the Star Fox Competition and even used a moded version of the game with the top three scorers winning special prizes.

The biggest draw to the event was being able to purchase older games and merch. It was a vast collection of titles I wanted to play as a kid, but have since played on emulators...or will now have to pick up when I see for cheaper. Hard to find games and import titles I've never seen, Ranma sure had a lot of PS1 titles, stretched out over the caged area we in reminiscent of horror films and box companies.

A booth just for spare parts? It was selling battery covers to the game boy color and other backings for controllers. They might make a nice amount online with the toher booth selling new ssyems capable of playing older cartridges.

Only additions to the event might be a much larger area to play the classic games in and maybe some demonstrations of some hard to find titles by some personalities. It was a buyer and sellers convention. Not really a fan event, but a good place to pick up that Resident Evil chainsaw controller or see the huge Neo Geo console. Oh and more consideration for parking, because it sucked.

SoCal Retro Gaming Expo needs to find some more hearts to fully power-up being more than just a place to buy rare games. If you're someone who wanted to just buy and own something you've been missing than more power to you. Enjoy your pile of cartridges, discs and consoles, it does make a nice chair of nostalgia.