Thursday, 29 May 2014

When Retrogaming meets modern technology





The retro-bit Super Retro Trio arrived in the post this morning. Sick of the delays with the RetroN5, I cancelled my preorder at the weekend after the word got out that the console would not be reaching the UK before September and found this alternative in stock at funstock.co.uk at the very tempting price of £69.99 a full £50 cheaper than its competitor.

The cheaper price tag, however does mean less in the way of features. No save states or built-in cheat systems, no HDMI output. I wasn't interested in the former, and I can live with AV/S-video through my SCART connector. So what do you get for your money? Here's what the official blurb says:

Supports NES/SNES/MEGADRIVE/GENESIS
Compatible with original and third party controllers
Includes 2 controllers
AV / S-Video connectors
AC Adapter
PAL / NTSC / PF / NJ Region Switch

What you get is quite a nice looking console, it feels a bit light and cheap but hey – it was cheap! I have the silver and black model, there is also a red and black version. The top of the unit sports 3 cartridge slots from the back coming forward – NES, SNES and Megadrive/Genesis, in front of these are a reset switch and a power/slot selection switch.




On the front a push releases the cover for the controller ports, here you can plug in original controllers 2xNES, 2xSNES and 2xMegadrive/Genesis. The 2 included controllers plug into the 9 pin Megadrive ports but are shaped like SNES controllers just to keep you on your toes! ;)

The bundled controllers are actually very decent and for that reason will probably see a fair amount of use, the buttons and d-pad give a very similar feel to those on my original controllers. Also behind this front cover is a selector switch for the controllers in use and a region switch for Megadrive/Genesis games for those with region protection. As mentioned there is a cover/door so you can unplug your controllers and close it up to keep things looking all neat and tidy when not in use.



Finally round back there are the DC in socket, S-video and A/V ports. The provided power adaptor has a US plug but does not require a step down converter and an UK adapter was provided for me.
My TV had some issues with the video signal through the A/V (this is not exclusive to the SR3 – I've had this issue in the past) so I use a cheap A/V+S-Video to SCART adapter and it works fine for me.

Now, the big question – compatibility! I don't have a huge pile of carts to test especially on the Nintendo side of things so here's what I have tried all work unless otherwise specified.






Megadrive:

M6 cart (Sega Soccer, Columns, Super Monaco GP, Revenge of Shinobi, Sonic, Streets of Rage) so far played Sonic, Revenge of Shinobi and Super Monaco GP
World Class Leaderboard
T2 The Arcade Game
Golden Axe
Streetfighter 2 Special Champion Edition

Genesis:
Lemmings

NES:
Track and Field 2 (PAL version)

SNES:
PGA Tour Golf (PAL)
Starwing (PAL) 

That's all I've tested on it so far I'm afraid, I need to acquire some more NES and SNES games to try out but it seems to be fine with every Megadrive game I've thrown at it. There is also a Super Retro Advance Adapter (sold seperately) that allows you to play GBA games as well.

In conclusion I'd say it's really good value for what you pay, it looks nice and doesn't look out of place under the TV, the controllers are decent, it might not have all those fancy features or HDMI but it is available now and cheap enough  to be worth a shot.

You can buy your own RetroTrio console here at Funstock.co.uk

Thank you too Jamie Gunn (@highlandboarder) for his time and review! 


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Joypad...... The Super Warehouse Party!!!

Fancy a night off gaming , music and booze!  Then the Joypad Super warehouse Party 2 is probably the best night out you will have in a long time!  Based in Bethnal green in an old Pickle Factory,  two retrogamers (and also guys behind the party), Matt Farthing and George Swain bring you JOYPAD!

We spoke to Matt and he told us more about this event, and  with only a week to go until the big day he is getting very excited!


video




 What is JOYPAD WAREHOUSE PARTY 2?

SUPER WAREHOUSE GAMING PARTY 2!” is quite possibly the best time you can have with your clothes on. We’ve taken over a disused pickle factory in East London and turned it into a haven for lovers of retro/indie games, gaming culture and booze. We have 400+ original carts across NES, SNES, Megadrive, Mega CD, Saturn, N64 and a host of Indie devs showing off their work. Chiptune badass “Steve” will be playing a live set and My Panda Shall Fly and the Super Scratch Bros will be DJing throughout the evening. All whilst our lovely bar ladies serve up liquid refreshment!

What inspired you to start the event?

The gaming scene has exploded in recent years. It’s time for indie and retro game enthusiasts to shrug off the outdated label of ‘geeks’ and show that they can party as hard as the rest of the Saturday night crowd. I personally challenge anyone to play Bomberman with 7 like-minded ’strangers', beer in hand, chip tune blaring in the background, all whilst being cheered on by a baying crowd to not have the time of their life.


What sets you apart from other events?

 We marry together Indie and Retro. Many modern indie games are heavily inspired by the classics - but the two rarely meet! The party atmosphere is electric and you are surrounded by like-minded people. We also focus a lot on presentation; a Joypad SUPER WAREHOUSE GAMING PARTY is a pretty damn cool place to be.


Do you own all the games you feature?

We do indeed - we’ve both been collecting games our whole lives.


In your opinion, which era of video gaming was the greatest?

I personally adore the 16 bit era. The aesthetics of the time, both in terms of graphics and audio, has aged extremely well. It was a time when creativity and originality reigned supreme!


There seems to be a big musical influence in your event , how did that come around?

I am actually a musician by trade. So for me the combination of my two favourite things in the world comes pretty naturally!

What is your favourite console/computer?

It would be a tossup between the SNES and the Atari ST. I’m going to have to go with the SNES though... As I mentioned earlier - it just has the most fantastic design across the board. The sounds, graphics, even the console itself are all just beautiful! I also feel that some of the most unique titles in gaming came out on that console. I’ll always have a soft-spot for it.



What are your plans for the event going forward?

We’re planning on running SUPER WAREHOUSE GAMING PARTIES monthly - in interesting venues across London. We want to grow it in size in scope, maybe even branch out into some specialist events involving heavier focus on particular families of consoles or music. I also love the idea of running an all-nighter at some point (could get very messy!) Eventually, though, we will be opening our very own space - “Joypad". Then the SUPER WAREHOUSE GAMING PARTIES will have a permanent home.

Where can people get tickets to the event?


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Play Blackpool 2014, Sponsored by www.funstock.co.uk - Replay Events

Replaying at Replay

This weekend saw two important things happening - Star Wars day (May the fourth be with you!) - and the return of Replay to Blackpool


Turning up at the Norbreck Castle Hotel felt like returning to an old friends house. There was a welcomed sense of familiarity.

Walking through the corridors to get to the main hall, there were a few stalls to whet the appetite - Retro Hardware showing off the incredible BBC restorations they do, and AmigaKit touting their Amiga wares. We finally got to see an AmigaOne X1000,  and wanted one immediately. The bank balance however decided otherwise. We left the bright lights of the corridor to the promising darkness of the gaming hall. It sounded loud - always a good start.

The GYL and Funstock stand welcomed people into the arena where they got to play on the Neo Geo X console – a pacman arcade machine with the chance to play and chat to the people around the stand. The arcade section was huge – masses of cabinets all glimmering with their attract screens all supplied through the guys at Retro Games Party. The layout of the arcade perfect - you could easily move around or stop to admire a players skills without causing a bottleneck.


All the classics were there - Defender,  Robotron,  Battlezone,  Out Run,  Daytona,  After Burner.. the list goes on and on! Kudos to Retro Games Party who supplied the cabinets - over the weekend I only saw 3 machines out of commission. Great job,  guys!, Moving away from the arcade section,  there was table upon table of retro consoles and computers,  all with a small section of games to play on them. It was quite interesting to see the mix of old and young gamers. 


We saw one Dad showing his daughter (she looked maybe 2 or 3) how to play on old Pong game. He was twisting the knob to control the bat,  and the little girl was waving the controller in front of the screen like the Wii. Amazing to see how natural motion controls are to kids these days. its almost expected. Very endearing to see dads playing the old games with their kids though. Console Passion had a large stall next to the indie gaming zone, and there were two Oculus Rift demo stations set up - one with Jeff Minter and Llamasoft, the other with Project Games' Adam Sawkins. As the queues quietened down at the end of Saturday,  Adam was kind enough to let me play with some other demos he had been working on - I was really impressed by the tech and how immersive it is.

The side halls had LAN gaming set up,  and one of the side rooms hosted the card and tabletop gamers., From the main hall you walked through the "Games that Weren't' section, showcasing some games over many systems that never made it to commercial release. 


This corridor took you to the trader zone. It was always very busy, and you could buy almost anything, from cupcakes and radio controller drone-copters, to retro games on every format imaginable and posters, mouse mats and artwork. Some of the stalls you would recognise if you are an ebay addict - Rockrabilia, The Attic Bug etc, and some names that you'll know - Retro GT, RetroLords, ABeadsCStart.

Overall, the event was great - constantly moving, plenty to do and see (and buy!).

Replay Events did a great job of putting this on – we’re all looking forward to the next one!