I’ve attended plenty of video game collecting parties and swap meets over the past several years, and I wouldn’t miss any of them for anything. I have heard about the greatness of the Midwest Gaming Classic over the past several years, but it seems that every year that passes I have to attend some boring family outing or am just too busy and can’t get off of work. This year was the year that I decided to finally make the trip happen. I scheduled a Saturday off from work and made the 55 mile trip up to Brookfield Wi. where the event took place. I carpooled with a few friends and armed myself with my digital camera since I offered to do an article Sega-16, and off I set. Just let me tell you, the trip was so well worth it and I didn’t realize just how much I was missing. I will apologize in advance though, for the pictures. We arrived an hour after the expo started and it was so packed that I couldn’t get the quality pictures I had hoped for but hopefully you get the point.
We all arrived and paid the $20 for admission and put on that itchy old wrist band and we didn’t realize just how much footage the convention took up; it was a majority of the first floor and basement of the hotel and we didn’t know where to start so we just started wandering around. We started out in the arcade and pinball room which was so packed it was hard to even walk around, but I got to play several different pinball machines and arcades, most of which were for sale if you had the space and cash for them. I’m not a huge pinball fan, so I quickly got hooked on the Columns and Circus Charlie machines and wished I had enough money for them, but we moved on. As we walked through the halls there were vendors galore. There were several vendors selling arcade and pinball parts and marquees, not really my thing but cool nonetheless. Another booth was giving away free energy drinks and copies of Feet Of Fury, the new Dreamcast homebrew, and they also were auctioning off a Pioneer Laseractive console. Just why did cash have to be an issue for me again?
We made a quick trip downstairs to check out several of the other rooms. There was a room Celebrating Mario’s birthday which had all kinds of Mario memorabilia on the walls, a juke box with Nintendo themes in it and several different early ’80s Nintendo arcade machines in it. We had fun there for a while. Another room was all about modding consoles and building Mame cabinets, again not really my thing so I moved on to the next room which had several more arcade machines including Final Fight and Double Dragon, two of my favorites. It also had a live Podcast going, but I didn’t devote too much time to it since there was so much more to see.
We went back upstairs and walked to the other end of the hotel to what was called the museum. Let me tell you, this was hands down simply the best part of the show period! There was four rooms set up with nothing but rows and rows of tables with probably over a hundred different consoles each with their own TV that were there for the playing. Have you ever wanted to play systems like the Super Grafx? How about the PC FX or others like the Nuon, Neo Geo, FM Towns Marty, CD32, Bandai Pippin, Super A’Can? How about pre-crash systems like the Vectrex, Odyssey 2, APF M1000, or the Original Odyssey? How about almost every vintage computer you ever wanted to play like the original Compaq Portable, Commodore SX-64, VideoBrain, Commodore PET and many many others? They were all there in their intended glory. I got to play so many consoles that I’ve never even had seen before that I was in heaven and I spent a good many hours there, to the point that I didn’t want to leave.
We next made a brief trip to the vendor’s room, but I couldn’t decide what to buy so we decided to get some lunch and visit some of the speaker’s panels to catch up on some great gaming history. We arrived for Eugene Jarvis and he was amazing to listen to and I loved his stories of early arcade programming. Next up was Ralph Bear followed by Ted Dabney. They were also great to listen to, Ralph especially. Unfortunately he was unable to fly in that weekend and had to speak over Skype, which kept having problems and really slowed everything down. Last but not least we got to listen to Michael Katz (also over Skype unfortunately) and he was also great to listen to. We got to hear all of the details about how he really made Sega the force it was in the early ’90s in the U.S., and how he unfortunately never got credit for it. Thankfully he didn’t seem to have any hard feelings about it any more.
Once we were done with all of that we decided to spend some money (something my wife wasn’t too pleased about, but I won’t get into that here), but there was so much available that I didn’t know where to start. I decided to pick up several dirt cheap boxed Genesis games from one vendor as well as several Game Boy game boxes. There were also a few guys that showed up from Japan and brought a table full of imports. I got Devil’s Crash for Mega Drive and some PC Engine imports which was awesome. I ended my shopping spree with a repro cart of Earthbound for SNES, a game I’ve wanted to finish for a long time now. If you had the big bucks there was a vendor that brought copies of Bubble Bath Babes and Myriad 6-in-1 for NES, and another vendor that I know had a copy of Magicard for the Atari 2600 so even the hardcore collectors like me were totally enthralled there.
We finished the night off in the museum since it was just too cool and finally had to leave as they were shutting the doors on us. I unfortunately wasn’t able to attend on Sunday to hear the rest of the speakers but had an absolute blast and was in video game heaven for the whole day. Is it worth the trip? You betcha it is! In my opinion, it’s even worth the trip if you live several states away, as there are cheap hotel rooms and food and plenty to do even for the spouses and kids. Aside from travel and hotel fair it isn’t a very expensive convention at all.
The Midwest Gaming Classic is held every year in March. Admission is $20, and the show is located at:
Sheraton Milwaukee Brookfield Hotel
375 South Moorland Rd.
You can visit the Midwest Gaming Classic website here for more details. http://www.midwestgamingclassic.com