As an avid retro gamer and collector, I was more than excited about this year’s Louisville Arcade Expo. While I’ve never been to one of the past renditions of the LAE (not a huge convention goer) I made it a point to finally attend this year’s go-around, mostly because of all of the great things I’ve heard from people that have gone in the past. Plus, when I heard that Bit Brigade would be performing, there was absolutely no stopping me.
My girlfriend and I arrived Saturday evening around 6 o’clock and was immediately blown away at the scale of this event. Like I said before, I’ve never been to one of these things so I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect. Going in I was mostly interested in playing games that I’ve never heard of, or rare games that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to experience. After browsing the rows and rows of arcades and side rooms with vintage consoles, we decided to start off by playing Alex Kidd: The Lost Stars on the Sega Master System. Having recently acquired a SMS myself, and considering that Jenn (my ladyfriend) is a huge Miracle World fan, this was a no-brainer. It was awesome watching her figure out how this game works:
Next we ventured back to the main room to peek around at all of the awesome vendors, then find more games that we weren’t overly familiar with, and whoa boy there were a shit ton of obscure games on hand. I had a blast playing games like Moon Patrol, Bagman, and Operation Wolf. We also made sure to hit a few pinball machines, as there were more than plenty of oddballs.
There was a beautiful sense of community that was really infectious; everyone seemed to be having a great time, even when there was a line to play a particular game everyone seemed patient and courteous. No arguing, no loud mouths, no bullshit. It fuckin’ ruled. There were also plenty of cosplayers, some who I didn’t recognize (I think they were from newer games), and a few that I knew immediately such as Link, Mario & Luigi, Scorpion, and Chun Li, who happened to be kicking ass at a Street Fighter II machine. She played as Chun Li, in case you were wondering:
To close out the night, Bit Brigade put on one hell of a show. In the tradition of bands like The Advantage, The Greatest Bits and The OneUps, these fellas performed a rocked out version of the entire Mega Man 2 soundtrack. Adding to their show, they had some dude sitting at the front of the stage speed run through the game while having it projected behind the band as they played. The band effectively knew when to switch from song to song, depending on what part of the game the speed-runner was playing. When he finished the game, the entire crowd simultaneously had a massive nerd-gasm; everybody was clapping and having a good time. I’ve watched other bands perform live renditions of video game tunes, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this.
Words really can’t explain how dope this performance was, so I made a video for evidence:
Now that Louisville Arcade Expo ’17 has come and gone, I’m left with an energized retro-gaming spirit, and really want to take my collecting to the next level. Who says I can’t own a few arcade machines myself? I’d love to have a Simpsons or Street Fighter II arcade in my house, and who wouldn’t, right? I’ve just got to save up a shit ton of money, but I can do that. Well, maybe I can. In the mean time, I’ll just look forward to next year’s Arcade Expo as Jenn and I will absolutely be in attendance ready to game on.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve recently started a video game series called Game Weenie where Louisville bands/artists/cool people square off against each other while playing a retro video game of their choice (from my collection). Check those videos out here.