OK, bit of inside-baseball here, but what are blogs for, eh? For years now your humble hosts at VGR have made time with friends for an annual gathering of retro-gaming and catching-up. For the busier among us it’s a rare chance to sink teeth into some solid extended gaming time. Original hardware, pads and peripherals preferred wherever possible; emulation eschewed; as many CRTs as possible and the opportunity to play “new” old games or systems people have brought along (Windjammers on NeoGeo FTW!). Last year we added a successful competitive element, but the day was still pretty chill (except for the swearing when I inexplicably got slaughtered on two different Street Fighter games).
Embellishing it slightly but for me one of the signature elements of the day is the chance to play games in different/uncommon configurations. Multitaps ahoy! for games like Circuit Breakers on PS1 (a Micro Machines-alike). The other year acidbearboy brought a weird-but-fun Pac-Man game for Gamecube(?) which allowed the rest of us to play the ghosts hunting the player Pac-Man. That sort of thing, as well as more mundane pass-the-pad, time-trialling on Sega Rally.
This post is mostly adressed to people who knew all that already!
Here are a couple of ideas and fragments of varying practicality that have been floating around my head which I’d like to try one of these days in some form or other.
Escape From Midgar aka Let’s Kill Aeris aka Squall’s Out 4EVA
Where we normally play a lot of arcadey, shortform games, it’d be cool to try something meatier. A relay playthrough of something everyone loves and knows well would be great, with players spectating and tagging in between other games. Final Fantasy VII and VIII are my examples here although a Zelda or even a classic Resi might work.
While completing a disc-based FF is too optimistic, getting to a key scene/moment is definitely doable. E.g. the first disc of VII and VIII both finish with deaths, one more permanent than the other. FF8‘s first disc (up to the end of the float scene with Edea) takes about 8 hours, FF7‘s CD1 up to Jenova-LIFE spamming Aqualung whilst Aeris’s Theme plays is more like 20 hours sadly. Escaping Midgar, standing on that broken end of the highway when you first reach the world map is probably about 8 hours max though. Plenty of iconic scenes and opportunities to misname (mal-name?) characters.
I know acidbearboy wasn’t keen on relay-gaming when I suggested sending saves round once before, but would other people be interested? Do enough of the Nintendo Contingent actually know/care much about the FF games?
If we ever did do it, we’d be tying up the valuable space and telly which could be used for a range of other things over the day, so it’d have to be a game that most people are keen on playing.
Chaos is an early 8-bit strategy game by Julian Gollop (of X-Com fame). Turn-based tabletop miniatures-style battle played out on a black featureless plane between 2-8(!) wizards any of whom can be player or CPU controlled. Starting spells are randomly assigned every game and dominated by monster-summonings. Other classes of spell can create environmental hazards such as fire, aggressive trees and the all-engulfing Boulderdash-style “gooey blob”; buff your wizard with armour, wings or a weapon; or to magical attacks with lightning and the illusionary-beast destroying Disbelieve spell.
Since it’s turn-based the main hurdle to getting a game of this running in the background is interesting enough people and familiarising them with the basics of play. Retrolechuck may have to help with the press-ganging duties (Da22 seemed to dig the sound effects so he’d be a good first target, ha!)
A Link-cable To The Past
I think/say this every year, but always too late (i.e. on the day). I’d love to try WipeOut 2097 and especially Bushido Blade with a full link cable set-up. With so much else going on room to set stuff up is the first hurdle, although maybe getting my hands on a working link cable would help. Do we have 2 PS1s with the port for it and a second copy of Bushido Blade?
Toejam And Earl
This came up in a conversation about roguelike-likes with acidbearboy. Should be able to find an opportunity to try this, maybe even complete it if it’s any good. Do any of us have a copy or should I try to grab one?
Related to the number of screens question, is there more we could do with handheld systems? I’m still well up for bringing classic LCD games along and love that we fit early GameBoys into proceedings too. What about the newer systems though, you guys must have got through dozens of Nintendo or Sony iterations. Some of them have link-up capabilities too, don’t they? Surely someone’s got more classic games on their Lynx or N-Gage that they want to share?
Right, that’s your lot. Bit scattergun, let me know what you think, plus any other ideas you have floating around in your heads for “one year maybe”.
Squall’s been blown to pieces