Tired Thumbs are Not Just From Texting Anymore: Retro Games are Alive and Clicking at Medford Comic Con
As part of the retro game roadshow organized by SORG (Southern Oregon Retro Gamers) at the 2019 MCC, thousands (yes thousands) of archaic arcade games will be available to play on gaming systems from: Konami, Hudson Soft, Bandai, SNK, Tradewest, HAL Laboratory and the iconic Tecmo. Play Pong, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and so many more at the Medford Comic Con on April 27 and 28.
“This year’s MCC theme is Fandoms Unite, so having a video game room was a natural addition to the Con,” says co-organizer and Medford Library Branch Manager, Terra McLeod. “I had been wanting something like this for a couple of years.”
But where to get such classic games? Enter Kurt Liedtke of SORG, who has continually donated the use of his personal collection to populate the pop-up gaming suite.
“My all-time favorite game is Tecmo Super Bowl, circa 1991,” says Liedtke. “It was the first sports game to track player stats throughout a season and included a customizable playbook with real NFL players. The fact that annual Tecmo Super Bowl tournaments are still held shows just how much of a landmark game it was.”
A few years back Liedtke found Klamath County Library’s monthly retro game night. As a new member of the community, he generously offered the use of his personal gaming collection. This soon grew to the current roadshow which has become popular not only on the Comic Con circuit, but Oregon’s Tech Con as well.
Liedtke explains, “An enormous subculture surrounding retro gaming has grown over the past decade. I believe that part of the popularity behind retro games is the difficulty factor. Even though controllers had fewer inputs, the games are notoriously so much more difficult than modern games—and that’s by design.” Liedtke also feels the games are sometimes just too involved for that instant gratification itch which requires a simple quick fix that some retro games provide.
“Modern games require long tutorials and many hours of investment to complete, but sometimes I just need five minutes of Donkey Kong,” he admits. “Seems developers today want to make every game an epic animated journey, like a Pixar film, but what’s wrong with pressing start and blowing up spaceships for five minutes?”
Anything pre-2000 is considered retro by SORG, with games over 10-years-old getting the cool classification on a title-by-title basis.
“All gaming systems will be setup chronologically starting from the early 1970s,” Liedtke explains. “Experience first-hand how games have changed over time. We will have systems available to play that go as far back as 1975 (Wonder Wizard Bullseye), and as modern as 2012 (Nintendo Wii-U). Each console will have a minimum of 5-10 different games and we will have every single game ever released for those individual consoles, from iconic classics to obscure rarities.”
Keeping all of these consoles operational presents unique challenges to Liedtke’s continued use of the sometimes 40-year old digital dinosaurs.
“When dealing with any electronics that are decades old, there are the inevitable gremlins that tend to pop up,” he says. “Thankfully there is somebody in Medford who I take my broken systems to who usually can resurrect whatever is beyond my capabilities to restore.”
One system, the TI-99/4A computer, is so obsolete it actually has a “lego-style” stacking system of add-ons, like an audio tape input or the ever-popular old school “speech synthesis add-on, which provides an added level of fun to games, hearing a very early 1980s synthesized robot voice during gameplay,” says Liedtke. He also recounts how “teenagers for some reason love to play notoriously awful games that have gained a ‘must-play’ reputation. At Tech Con, everyone wants to play E.T. on Atari 2600.” But, he continues, “the younger generation seems to have an appreciation for the oldies in general.”
SORG Video Game Time Vortex
11 am – 4 pm, Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28
Rogue Community College, HEC Building, Room 112, 101 S. Bartlett Street, Medford