I’m not sure if there’s an annual event I get more excited for than the Louisville Arcade Expo, which is entering it’s 8th year as our town’s biggest and best celebration of retro video games (read my 2017 recap here). As an obsessive fanatic of classic gaming, I love walking around looking at the hundreds of arcades and pinball machines, some familiar, some not — I’d say the biggest thrill is getting to play the rare machines that I had no idea existed. I also enjoy perusing through the various vendors to see if anyone is selling old Master System game I’ve been hunting for, or perhaps a cool Mega Man poster for my game room.
The 2018 rendition of the Louisville Arcade Expo is set to be underway this weekend, Friday through Sunday (March 2nd-4th) and as usual it will happen at The Triple Crown Pavilion next to the Ramada Inn off of Hurstbourne Lane. Yes, this is a kid friendly event, but fret not booze hounds, there will be adult beverages available. For more details and a complete schedule on the various competitions and musical performances, go here.
To get a bit of information behind this killer event, I reached out to the organizers for an interview. Thankfully, Jeremy Fleitz agreed to answer a few questions…
Never Nervous: Why put together an Arcade Expo? What is the goal behind this annual event?
Jeremy Fleitz: This is the 8th year for the show, and we put this on so that we can recreate the “80s arcade feel” as well as provide a place where there can be cross-generational gaming between parents and kids.
NN: How will this year’s Expo differ from last year’s? What’s new?
JF: Each year has several different games from the previous year. This is due in part to the awesome collectors that bring their machines to share with others. We also have four bands playing on Friday and Saturday evening, as well as guest speakers Dwight Sullivan from Stern Pinball and Keith Johnson from Jersey Jack Pinball.
NN: For someone that has never been to a con like this, what should they expect at Louisville Arcade Expo ’18?
JF: You can expect hundreds of arcade and pinball machines all set up on free play, and pretty much every console you can imagine up to 1999 with your favorite game. Mix the gaming aspect with the cosplay costume contests, and you get one awesome weekend.
“Mix the gaming aspect with the cosplay costume contests, and you get one awesome weekend.”
NN: Where does your passion for vintage gaming come from?
JF: From the heart (haha). Actually, I am more of a pinball fanatic, but I do love vector arcade games too (Tempest, Star Castle).
NN: What do you attribute the continued rise of retro gaming to? Where does the growing fascination come from?
JF: I do love modern gaming as well (COD for example), but there is just something about the classics like Galaga, Super Mario Brothers, and of course name your favorite pinball machine. I think the rise is due in part to “modern gaming” (80’s) being a lot of the past time memories of now parents. Video games have now been a part of three really solid generations now. It’s not just kids that are into gaming anymore, it is parents and kids.
NN: Throughout your life, what arcade would you estimate that you pumped the most quarters into?
JF: Hmmm…the actual arcade location itself had to be Aladin’s Castle at Bashford Manor mall. The game that got the most quarters from me was probably the pinball machine Theater of Magic.
“The game that got the most quarters from me was probably the pinball machine Theater of Magic.”
NN: What would you consider to be your favorite video game soundtrack? Mine would probably be Streets of Rage 2 or Mega Man 2. Or Castlevania.
NN: What was the first game you ever played, whether it be an arcade or console cartridge? What kind of impact did it have on you?
JF: Atari Space Invaders at my grandparents house. It was awesome being able to compete with my brother on something that was drawn on the TV. Our parents bought us an Intellivision, which I am pretty sure is the best console ever made to date.
“Our parents bought us an Intellivision, which I am pretty sure is the best console ever made to date.”
NN: Growing up, which did you prefer: Sega or Nintendo? Why?
JF: That is tough. I would have to go Dreamcast simply because of Crazy Taxi and Sega Bass Fishing.
NN: Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat?
JF: Mortal Kombat – Raiden
NN: Mario or Sonic?
JF: Mario. I have kids now and we play Mario Kart 8 all of the time on Switchso has to be Mario 😉
NN: Before you go, tell us about a game that no matter how hard you’ve tried, you’ve just never been able to conquer.
JF: Going with pinball again –you just never win (haha).