Category Archives: Events

NERG – A Retro Pilgrimage

For the second year running I decided to make the 350 mile journey north to attend North East Retro Gaming, what is rapidly becoming my favourite retro event in the calendar. After a five hour train journey went quite pleasantly, I arrived in Newcastle early afternoon on the Friday, the day before the event. I was met by fellow Maximum Power-Up podcasters Phil and Paul (Phil kindly providing his house Friday & Saturday nights as our base) and we made our way into the event to observe the setup, get an early look at the bargains, and generally be under people’s feet.

Arcade Games

As usual with these events, there was a great selection of free to play arcade games setup. Included a few photos of some of them here, taken during the setup when you could actually see them without people in the way.

Outrun & Space Harrier sit down cabs - NERG
Yes I took advantage of the time before opening to play these bad boys. No regrets.

Games

Along with the arcade, there was also a huge selection of pinball tables and various classic games consoles. I somehow managed to barely take any photos of those, although Phil & I did play a bunch of Pinball.

Digital Pinball

This custom digital pinball cabinet was one of my favourite things at the event. So very cool, and great fun to play.

Virtual Pinball
I’m still not 100% what software this was running, but I definitely want one for Pinball FX.

Maximum Power Up grudge match

I think lessons had been learned after last year, and there was no 3 player Bomberman with me. 🙁 However, Phil & Paul did find time to go head-to-head on some PlayStation 2 football game. It wasn’t Sensible Soccer though so I left them to it…

Maximum Power Up Football Face-off
No, I don’t know who won. I’m just going to assume it wasn’t Paul.

Other games

While the football was going on, I spent some time with my old friend Virtua Cop. This PS2 collection of the first two games is a great package. Almost makes me think about getting a CRT Television so I could play it with light guns at home. I think I’ll stick to my collection of light gun games I can play on a modern tv though.

PS2 Virtua Cop Elite
I really wish they’d bought this collection to the Wii or PS3 Move

Also really nice to see TxK playable here, via a lesser spotted PSTV.

TxK on a PSTV
Always nice to see the greatest game ever, TxK, playable at an event

Vendors

Flash House Brewing Co

As usual Flash House had produced an official pale ale for the occasion, very much enjoyed a few pints of NERG 2019. The Oro Honey Pils was pretty good too.

NERG Pale Ale
A personal favourite amongst the vendors

Allan’s Japanese Retro Games

The ever pleasant Allan was in attendance, for what I believe was his first appearance at NERG. He specialises in import Japanese games and hardware and always has a huge amount of the more rare titles. Always nice to see Allan, even if I only tend to buy controllers from him.

Allan's Japanese Retro Games
Complete with Phil elbow deep in Famicom carts. As usual.

North East Retro Den

As per last year, these guys were present, and this was also where I spent the majority of my money. Most of the stuff I picked up below was from their stall. Particularly fitting was the 5 Game Boy games, as I bought my Game Boy from them at NERG last year.

NERG Haul
The stuff I picked up from NERG, including an original xbox that was a gift from Phil.

The last of my highlights, (although there were certainly many other cool stores there), Sore Thumbs Retro Games were also at NERG. To be honest though I saw much more of Lee in the pub Saturday evening, and when we retired back to Phil’s to watch the wrestling. Well, I gave up trying to follow what was going on at 2 am, but I understand Phil, Lee and co made it to 5:30 am.

I did find time on the Saturday to join my good buddy Shaun Holley, from Ten Pence Arcade podcast fame, as he recorded a short walk-around audio clip at the event, if the audio is serviceable I’m sure Shaun will include it in their upcoming episode.

Sunday

While I’d booked up to be at NERG the whole weekend with my train home being Monday morning, just before I headed north I found out I had a job interview at 9:30 am the following Wednesday. I thus called the Sunday a bit short, and headed to my hotel a little after 2 pm where I proceeded to develop the presentation element of my interview. Fortunately I managed to secure the job, so it was worth the effort!

Summary

For pure enjoyment and atmosphere, NERG is almost tied with Play Blackpool as being my favourite retro event. Blackpool tends to just about have the edge for me because more of my friends tend to be able to get there. However Blackpool seems to have moved to take place in October now, which is already taken up by Eurogamer and the London NFL games for which I’m a season ticket holder. So I think maybe NERG steals the crown by default, even with the combined 10 hours of trains in the round trip.

See you next year NERG!

EGX Rezzed

EGX Rezzed 2019 – Game Highlights

The Event

Originally held in Brighton in 2012, EGX Rezzed was launched as a spin-off event (then simply called Rezzed) of the much bigger Eurogamer Expo held in London. Although it doesn’t have so many of the big “AAA” titles, there are still plenty of new and pre-release games to play, particularly those from indie games studios. The event also includes the opportunity to play and buy various tabletop games, a variety of games industry talks and presentations, and a selection of merchandise traders. Oh and a bar, because of course.

EGX Rezzed 2019

Rezzed has been a feature in my calendar since that first one in 2012, and although Brighton was much easier for me to get to, its current home at the Tobacco Docks in London is an interesting and unique venue that really suits the atmosphere for the event.

This was my first year attending as press though, with the aim of writing this post, and identifying games to cover in further detail both on here and on future episodes of the Maximum Power Up podcast.

The Games

There were over 200 playable games this year, and while I certainly didn’t manage to play them all, I did get hands-on with quite a few, and thought I’d cover those that I’m most looking forward to or that otherwise stood out to me.

Beyond Blue - EGX Rezzed

Beyond Blue

The surprise “game of the show” for me, this is an ocean exploration game similar in style to the Endless Ocean (Forever Blue in Japan) games on the Nintendo Wii.

Beyond Blue is inspired by the Blue Planet II TV show, and the publishers, E-Line Media are working in partnership with the BBC Studios to produce the game. E-Line Media previously produced the well received Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna) in partnership with Upper One Games.

I really enjoyed the relaxing deep sea exploration of the Endless Ocean games, and have long hoped they’d get picked up for a new version on modern hardware. The story already feels familiar, and a play through of the demo at Rezzed confirmed it is just as enjoyable to play. Thankfully the creature identifying mechanic is more ‘scanning’ and less ‘rub them with the Wii pointer’. Beyond Blue already looks and sounds incredible, and first impressions suggest it is going to be essential for anyone fascinated by sea life.

Beyond Blue on Steam

Nanotale - EGX Rezzed

Nanotale: The Typing Chronicles

One of the games I was most excited to try at Rezzed this year. I was a huge fan of their previous game “Epistory: The Typing Chronicles“, which I played back in April 2017, and was very pleased to hear that it was receiving a spiritual sequel. Like Epistory, Nanotale is a really pretty and absorbing isometric RPG, with exploration and combat controlled by typing. Along with Beyond Blue, this is probably my most anticipated title at the moment.

Nanotale on Steam

Sunless Skies - EGX Rezzed

Sunless Skies

Sunless Skies is firmly in the realm of those games that can be said to be “Lovecraftian” and if you’ve heard me on the Lovecraft episode of the Maximum Power Up podcast, you’ll know I’m very much a fan of these games. This follow up to Sunless Seas will be instantly familiar to players of that game.

When I first heard about this follow up, I was originally turned off by the idea of flying trains. However, when I tried this at the event, those concerns were instantly forgotten the moment I left port. In retrospect, I’m pretty glad it wasn’t just zeppelins.

With just a demo to play, and the map still procedurally generated, I set off out into the murky distance to see how far I could go before something terrible happened or my crew ate each other. Fittingly I stumbled into an area called something along the lines of “Grey Wilderness” (this is definitely wrong, but I can’t remember what it was actually called) and lost a fight with a train that had tentacles coming out of the front. A chat with one of the writers afterwards revealed some interesting ideas for the future of these enemies in further content.

Like Sunless Seas, I love the idea of these games. The atmosphere and story is very much my kind of thing. Unfortunately I have limited patience for the roguelike genre of games so I might not make much progress with it, but I am looking forward giving Sunless Skies a proper go all the same.

Sunless Skies on Steam

Ritual of the Night - EGX Rezzed

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

I’m really glad I got to play this at EGX Rezzed, as although I’ve been looking forward to this and included it in my 2019 in Games post, recent trailers have had me slightly concerned. The demo however has mostly put those concerns to rest. I still don’t really like the graphics, while everything about the game screams the best of the metroidvania style Castlevania games, I do wish it was closer to Symphony of the Night in graphical style. As it stands, Ritual of the Night is a 2.5D game, and the graphics are reminiscent of the Dracula X Chronicles game on the PSP, albeit it much more polished.

The gameplay feels perfect for the genre though, and they have nailed everything else about it. Happily back to just looking forward to this now, and think it’ll be a perfect fit for the Switch.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on Steam

Lamplight City - EGX Rezzed

Lamplight City

As I was passing the Application Systems Heidelberg booth, I was captured by the 19th century Victorian aesthetic of Lamplight City, and I do enjoy a good point & click adventure. The nature of the EGX Rezzed event means I only got to enjoy the first few screens and puzzles, but I’m now very much intending to play the rest of the game later.

Lamplight City on Steam

Dicey Dungeons - EGX Rezzed

Dicey Dungeons

This was another pleasant surprise on the day. I had heard murmorings of Dicey Dungeons over the last month or two, but didn’t know much about it. I sat down to the demo because one of my friends was interested in seeing it. I didn’t immediately take to the art style, but the mechanics were quite addictive. It felt a bit similar to playing Slay the Spire, with deck-building supplemented with added dice rolling.

One to watch I think.

Dicey Dungeons on Steam

Guntastic

Startlingly simlar to 2015’s Duck Game, the premise to both games is still great fun. A single screen arena for four players to shoot each other. On my second day at Rezzed I was joined by three friends, and we had a blast with this.

Guntastic on Steam

Super Arcade Racing

Another game that the four of us enjoyed playing together, and I still enjoy the novelty of 4 player split screen racing. The world needs more top down racing games. Haven’t been able to find much more about the game since the event though, but I would like to pick it up.

Outofthebit homepage

Other mentions:

Warhammer: Chaosbane

A pretty shameless Diablo clone in the Warhammer universe. Did have fun with the demo, but I found it lacks the charm and polish of Blizzard’s game. So far as the demo went, it didn’t really do anything new for me, but would certainly fill a gap if you’ve exhausted Diablo 3 and don’t want to go down the Path of Exile rabbit hole. Games Workshop fans can expect to get a lot more out of it too.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2: Wings of Magic

Was a bit disappointed by the demo of this. Vermintide 2 is the current game of choice for the four of us who attended Rezzed together. I had hoped we could try this expansion together, but they only had two PCs linked so we gave it a miss.

Dirt Rally 2.0

Was nice to get hands on with this demo. Like the original Dirt Rally, it is really impressive. Looks fantastic, the cars feel great and it oozes polish. Difficulty from the first game remains though, and thus it is still impossible for humans. (Well, for me anyway.)

Round up

The best events are always those where you can spend a good amount of time playing new games, but also take in the atmosphere, meet new people and spend quality time with friends. Rezzed has always ticks these boxes, and 2019 was no exception, an excellent event. Personally I think this year was the best EGX Rezzed yet.

See you next year!