Pac Man greets you at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Norwich Retro Arcade 2013 Poster for the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Crowds visit the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Visitors enjoying the many entertaining attractions at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Console Gaming Timeline Part 1 at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Visitors playing on Nintendo & Sega at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 The Atari 2600 on display at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 The Mattel Intellivision on display at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 The SNES consoles on display at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Console Gaming Timeline Part 2 at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Eager gamers at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Crowds enjoying the games at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Chompy Chomp Chomp at Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Chompy Chomp Chomp by Utopian World of Sandwiches The Chompies Chomping at Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Level select screen from Tango Fiesta, Spilt Milk Studios The jungle level in Tango Fiesta, Spilt Milk Studios The motley crew from Tango Fiesta, Spilt Milk Studios Zombie Apocalaypse, Tango Fiesta style Killionaire level in Tango Fiesta, Split Milk Studios Sci-Fi Character artwork by Charlotte Lawrence at Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Christine Lawrence, Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Charlotte & Johan during their talk at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Artwork by Charlotte Lawrece (charlightart) Lee 'Retro James Bond' Jennings at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Some of Lee's retro gaming goodies for sale Indie game developers at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Last Level Games at Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Indie developers showcase at the Norwich Games Festival 2015 David Cronin during his set at Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 David Cronin (Hubris The Dog) at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Unix playing at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Retro Arcade Cabinet at the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015 Clyde outside the Norwich Gaming Festival 2015


April 2015 marked a very important time for gaming fans from Norwich and the surrounding areas. A week long gaming festival was taking place and this year it had grown bigger and bolder than ever.

Gaming events at The Forum in Norwich city centre are nothing new. There had previously been the Norwich Retro Arcade that spanned several years and had grown from a few consoles in the Fusion studio, to a couple of multi-game arcade cabinets and multi-media presentations on the impressive multi-projector display and sound systems. We had visited pretty much all of them and although it was great to see something like this being organised in the centre of our fine city, they were pretty low-key and had sometimes seemed a little dark and out of the way. But all that was about to change, and boy how it changed.

2014 marked the first year of the Norwich Gaming Festival and this expanded upon the humble Norwich Retro Arcade in many ways. Although the 'Retro Arcade' component remained, in the Fusion studio, the event now spilled out into the large glass-roofed Atrium (which serves as the entrance to the rebuilt Norwich central library, BBC studios, visitor centre, and a couple of restaurants (as well as the underground car park). Maybe 'spilled out' is an under-statement as the whole of the Atrium floor was filled with attractions that would provide entertainment to visitors of all ages and provide a welcome showcase for independent game designers from the local area and beyond. Norfolk Indie Game Developers (NIGD) were an important partner for the festival and enabled members to demonstrate their selection of games, which spanned a number of genres and platforms. They also managed to fit in the cockpit of a F1 race car for some very immersive racing and the cockpit from a Cessena-like aircraft for a fun flight (although most people I watched, tended to nose-dive into ground quite quickly). If there was one negative view of the event, it was that the everything was a little fragmented, with developers each having their own 'booth' at various spots across the Atrium floor.

And as 2015 dawned, early indications were that the 2nd Norwich Gaming Festival was going to be something special indeed. Expanding on last year there would be more talks and workshops in the Fusion studio, as well as special showings of various game-related films, more gaming systems to play on and more indie developers given the chance to showcase their games. This all sounded very exciting so it was crucial that we visited and experienced this festival for ourselves. Due to work commitments I couldn't visit during the week but we met up on Saturday afternoon to take a tour. It's fair to say that we were not disappointed, on any level. The event ran from Monday the 6th of April through to Sunday the 12th and was open from 10am until 4pm each day.

The event was part-organised by Robin Silcock, co-founder of games company 'Insert Imagination Limited'. With help from a dedicated team, she has ensured that this years event ran smoothly and achieved it's goals. Daniel Scales (from Four Circle Interactive, creator of 10 Second Ninja - also on display at the festival) and Robin helped to organise the Industry Days, which featured talks and panels sessions from across the UK. I asked Robin a few questions regarding the festival.

How did you first become involved in the Festival?

The NGF started out as The Forum Trust's Retro Arcade which they had been running for several years, to great success. They approached myself and Alastair Aitchison as we are co-organisers of Norfolk Indie Game Developers, in order to look to partner up and expand the retro arcade to become a much larger event for the public to come and celebrate all things gaming! Since then I have been working closely with Danny and James at The Forum Trust to ensure that we keep the festival as successful as possible, giving opportunities for local developers as well as the general public to see behind the scenes of games development.

What do you feel are the main aims of the Festival?

We really hope that the festival will always be an open and family-friendly event which gives a platform to showcase all sides of games and their development. From independent developers showing their games, to panel discussions on how creating games and the video games industry is an exciting career path. We hope that the festival will continue to stand out as the free and fun event for those who love games, and those who might have never played a video game in their life!

And, of course, I had to ask Robin what games she had played in the past, and did she have any favourites?

My favourite games from childhood are a real mix, I remember playing Sonic and GoldenEye with my brother, and then moving on to a PS1 and playing (more watching really though) tony hawk underground for hours! However my favourite game will always have to be The Sims (The original!), which I saved up my pocket money for and bought from Woolworths at the age of about 9 or 10. Oooh and Zoo Tycoon around the age of 11!

Robin also told me how video games had been a way to bond with her older brother as a child, watching him play Sonic and Tomb Raider.

Finally, I asked Robin how people can help with next years event?

For now, its worth keeping up to date with how things progress over social media ( ( and if they are interested in partnering with the festival, approaching The Forum Trust through Danny McIlwrath (


As you can tell by the images on the left, the floor-space of the Atrium was much better organised, with a console gaming 'time-line' running the width of the floor and divided into two sections (1970's to 1990's and 2000's to 2010's). And this was just the first of the improvements as the machines were now in the Atrium and were more accessible. Judging by how much attention they got, this was a good move. There were also more consoles than previous years with the oldest being the Atari 2600 and Intellivision, as well as the normal Sega, Nintendo, Sony, and, Microsoft machines from previous years. I was also impressed by the banner running behind the machines that illustrated a timeline of popular machines from each decade, as well as some of their landmark games. It gave the whole display an extremely professional look and worked well as a border for the rest of the event space.

Having the older machines on display was a nice touch and helped show the growth of gaming hardware over the years. I'm not sure if the choice of game on the Atari VCS did much to demonstrate what Atari's classic console was capable of (I think, if they agree, I might bring a few of my cartridges so we can pick and mix). As you can in my image, the television used was perfect though, a great example of the big old colour sets from the time. Unfortunately the Intellivision was switched off when we visited, which is a shame, as it would have been interested to see how visitors got on with the unique 'disc' controllers that this popular console used (I have had experience of these myself as they were used on Mattel's mini-expander, an add-on to the Aquarius home computer that would have made playing games a little easier). As with previous events, the Super Nintendo (SNES) received a lot of love, with not one but two playable consoles, running both Mario Cart and Punch Out!

The trusty multi-game arcade cabinet made a welcome comeback and I have to say it was quite difficult to find it free during Saturday, although I did manage to sneak in a game of Mr. DO! on Sunday - but couldn't beat the high-score!


The indie developers were now arranged in a large square of tables and allowed for many more games and developers to show products to the eager visitors. The games changed through the week to ensure as many different titles as possible had exposure. Over the week there would be 25 games on display, providing a varied selection of game types with some extremely clever and unique games on show by the many indie developers, from solo creations right up to teams of coders spread across the country.


One such team was Ghost Town Games which were showing their game, Overcooked! for the first time in public. I contacted Phil Duncan from the company to ask him a few questions regarding the game and also their time at the festival. The following section uses Phil's comments.

Phil and his colleague, Oli De-Vine, are based out of Cambridge and previously worked for Frontier Developments. In 2015 they decided to leave and start making games for themselves, games that they wanted to play, with an emphasise on group play, so Overcooked! was created. Phil describes the game as a 'chaotic co-operative cooking game' in which a team of heroic chefs travel to various kitchens and work together to prepare the orders for the restuarant. It is focused on team play and a strategy must be formed to perform the many tasks required, whether it be chopping up the ingredients, using the cooker, doing the dishes, as well as fending off rats and putting out fires, to name just a few.

They heard about the festival from their fellow indie devs at Cambridge. The fact that the festival was free to visit and to exhibit, as well as giving them the chance to show their game to a wide range of different players were big draws for the team. As it was the first time they had shown the game to the public, there was a certain amount of nervousness but the response was overwhelmingly positive. They had people from a wide range of ages and experience playing the game and they all really took to it.

I asked Phil what his 'stand-out' moment from the festival was, and I'll let him tell us in his own words.

Stand out moment for me was when we had our first player sit down in front of the game and start playing. I was holding my breath for pretty much the entire time and it was such an amazing feeling of relief and happiness when we realised she was genuinely enjoying it. She managed to pick up the game really quickly and kept coming back throughout the day to play it again and again, even to the point where we could take a break and she would take over introducing it to any newcomers : )

As would be the norm for everybody that I contacted for the article, I asked him about his gaming memories. Again, over to Phil.

My earliest gaming memories are probably the first games my brothers and I would play for the ZX Spectrum, games like Snapple Hopper and Granny's Garden. The Mega Drive is probably when I started to get really obsessed with gaming, playing Streets or Rage and Golden Axe for hours, that's probably where my obsession with co-operative gaming really started too!

You can find out more about these guys at

Also, and


Another game that always had a crowd around it was Chompy Chomp Chomp, the fun multi-player party game by husband and wife team James (Woody) and Sarah Woodrow. James describes it as a cross between Pac-Man and Bomberman, which makes for a tantalising dash around the screen as you try to 'chomp' on the player with the same colour disc as your character (all the while trying to avoid other players who are the same colour as your disc). These colours change during the game so it can easily turn into the hunter becoming the hunted. And this is only the 'battle' mode, other modes use the colour-changing mechanics to mix things up.

James and Sarah met in art college in 2000 and had always talked about making their own games. James became an animator for a games company in Cambridge, whilst Sarah continued to build up her design, development, and illustration skills. And after almost a decade, they decided it was time to stop talking about their game ideas and make their dream of setting up a games company become a reality. So Utopian World of Sandwiches was born, or should that be prepared (with love of course).

I asked James how he thought their game had been received by visitors to their stand?

I’d say it was pretty well received. We had a good crowd playing throughout the whole day, and plenty of times the game was running at the max capacity of 9 players, so it was a pretty intense and exciting day. The big thing for Norwich was the debut of a couple of new game modes which hadn’t been played at a big public event before, as well as a new jump power up which really opens up some of the tighter arenas.

And, of course, the final question had to whether they had any 'gaming memories' from the past and did they have any favourites?

We have quite a collection at home. I’m a massive retro gaming nerd, so we have pretty much everything from the ZX Spectrum, right up to the Nintendo Gamecube, and it takes up a whole room of our house. So I guess you could say I have "a problem”. It’s tough to list favourites… probably Saturn Bomberman for its 10 player double-multitap glory. Lemmings is a game that I simply can’t fail to enjoy. I have an Amiga permanently set-up in the living room for the sole reason of enjoying a game of Sensible Soccer or Cannon Fodder whenever I fancy. And I also have an unhealthy obsession with Sonic the Hedgehog. One of my earliest memories of gaming is playing a game called “Oh Mummy!” on the ZX Spectrum which, interestingly enough is a top-down maze game where you try to avoid being caught. An early inspiration for Chompies perhaps?

As frequent visitors to the festival, they hope to be back in 2016 so be sure to check them out and their great little game.

To find out more about their chomptastic game, visit

Also\UtopianSandwich and\UtopianSandwich


Okay, so hands up those who have always wanted to star in a great 80's action movie? Plenty of you, of course. Well this little gem let's you indulge in some over the top carnage and live out your Schwarzenegger or Stallone fantasies without the risk of being locked up!

I reached out to Andrew Smith, part of the four man team behind this great game, to find out more about the game, the studio, and his time at the Festival.

Andrew's path into development started way back when he first started playing Half Life and began modding rather than doing his GCSE revision. After University he had some QA jobs and managed to bag a junior designer role on a racing game, which was, sadly, never released. But this was it, he was in the industry and it was just a matter of time before he got together with some like-minded people and the legend was born. But I won't bore you with my prose, let's get the scoop from the man himself.

How would you describe Tango Fiesta to somebody who hadn't played it?

Tango Fiesta is a love letter to the greatest action heroes of the 80's. It's a 4 player co-operative shooter that sees you try to save the world and defeat all those bad guys battling through randomly generated worlds, both offline and on, with tons of guns, explosives and bosses... though you'll have to bring your own cheesy one-liners.

How was your game received by the gaming public of Norwich?

It went down really well! We had gaggles - throngs even! - of kids playing the game (enjoying it despite most of the more thoughtful 80's references no doubt going over their heads) for hours on end. To the point where we had to ask them kindly to let other people play! Tango Fiesta always seems to raise smiles and laughter... especially when you let people know that they can smack each other for money. In the game! Not in real life.

And lastly, to fill my 'retro quota', what are you earliest memoriess of gaming?

My earliest memory of gaming is Pacman. I was on holiday in Switzerland (not only the land of snow, cuckoo clocks and chocolate, but also my Dad's family's home country) and just remember being enchanted by the sounds and colours. I was far too young (4? 5?) to play it, but it stuck with me. It's a REALLY vivid memory. After that was Lemmings on a friend of the family's Amiga during a boring Sunday visit... and then neighbours who had a NES. That was when I was introduced to Nintendo games and my life changed forever. I still love dipping back into retro games - I recently finished Super Metroid, Zelda 3 and Secret of Mana (all classic Snes games) for example. I think there's still a lot we can learn about good design from classic games, and 'thanks' to the swift advance of technology in games, we often don't see great ideas fully explored. A classic example is in fact Super Metroid. That game invented/popularised a genre (alongside Koji Igarashi's Castlevania series) and only these last two years have we seen a true exploration of the potential, largely thanks to the rise of the indie. That's mad to me - that it took 21 years for that cycle to complete. I think my favourites are Super Mario World, Zelda3, Goldeneye, Secret of Mana and slightly more recently Half Life 1 and Metal Gear Solid.

After not being able to attend previously, Spilt Milk Studios were glad they had been able to make it in 2015 and had a great time. They have more plans for Tango Fiesta which they hope to show off in 2016, and maybe even a new game, so be sure to visit them and see what they're been up to.

You can check out their tumblr page at for more info.

You can also find them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the Steam store.


There was a greater emphasise on the talks and workshops this year, with a varied range of suibjects covered. From 'How to become a video games artist' and 'Character design for games' to 'Career router into industry' and 'Breaking into a video game critique career'. There were two discussion panels covering 'What does it mean to be Indie' and 'Education in games'. As well as workshops for 'Progamming for absolute beginners' and 'create your own AI'. We attended the talk hosted by Tommy Thompson on 'The impact of AI-based game design', which was both informative and humourous. As these were now in the Fusion studio they were away from the bustle of main event and provided a perfect environment with professional multi-media hardware and a spacious room so both the host and their audience could get the most out of the talks.


The first talk of the festival was hosted by Charlotte Lawrence and Johan Legesson, both students at Norwich University of the Arts. Although I wasn't able to atend the talk, I asked Charlotte about her talent and her experience during the talk and also of the festival itself.

Charlotte is a concept/illustrator and currently a first year Games Art & Design student at Norwich University of the Arts. She has been drawing from a young age with paint, pencils, and Letraset ProMakers and moved onto digital tools at the age of 9/10. Initially using programs such at MS Paint, PaintShop Pro X, and GIMP, she now normally uses Adobe PhotoShop CS6.

Her involvement at the event had been via an email that had been sent by tutors at the Unversity and although it was rare for first year students to get involved in talks, Charlotte really wanted the chance to give a talk. She emailed the organisers with some ideas and they accepted her request.

I asked Charlotte how she thought the talk had gone and what sort of feedback she received.

In the talk, me and my friend Johan Lagesson (primarily a 3D artist) mentioned the workflow of a 2D and 3D artist within the industry,  the difference between AAA and independent studios, as well as how to get into the industry, and tips before applying to a job. We thought it went really well and received quite a few questions which we really didn't expect, considering we were fairly new to giving presentations. It was great to see that many young people seemed interested, as we even received a question from a boy around the age of 10 who was asking about working in a AAA or independent studio. After the talk, we also got invited by a member of the Norfolk Independent Game Developers group to join them and get involved with their meet-ups which was an awesome surprise.

Next I asked Charlotte where she got inspiration for her artwork.

I'm inspired by many things, from past experiences to the people I meet. Whenever I see an image I feel which could work very for a concept, I also make sure I have it bookmarked or saved on my computer to later reference or take inspiration from. Not only this, but I get many ideas from watching movies, television shows and playing games. Most notably fantasy epics like The Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

I finished by asking Charlotte what her plans were for the future.

I am considering to apply for an internship at a games company in my final year, or doing a Masters degree in Games Art and Design after my course has finished. I hope to make many contacts through attending talks, conferences and conventions in the next two years however; which should help open doors to new opportunities along the way! I'll never know what the future holds but I hope to see myself working as a concept artist within a games company in a few years time.

Charlotte's artwork can be seen on her website -



Another first for 2015 was the presence of some traders. In fact the first thing that grabbed my attention as I started walking around the Festival was a selection of various gaming systems and home computers being sold by one Lee Jennings (aka the man with the gun - see picture on left), which some of you might have seen in the Eastern Daily Press, posing with a Commodore 64 running Bubble Bobble.

His appearence at the event came about after James and Danny from the Forum came across an advert of his on Gumtree and emailed Lee to buy his Vectrex. Jokingly he told them that if they were interested in more stuff, they should turn up with a small lorry! Yes, Lee was selling off his huge collection of retro gaming systems and games, and this was not a small collection. It was during this initial contact with the two guys from the Forum that Lee expressed an interest in being part of the event. It was decided that Lee could have a small stall and from there he was able to sell items from his collection as well as having a chance to talk to visitors at the festival. When we arrived on Saturday there was a Tosiba MSX, Binatone games console, and various Sega / Nintendo consoles for sale as well as a large selection of games for home computers such as the Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad, Atari ST, and Amiga, and cartridges for the various generations of Sega and Nintendo hardware. I have to admit that I was very surprised to find somebody like Lee at the event and I wanted to find out more about how he had amassed such a large 'collection' of items. Below are Lee's own words.

I had my first console way back in the late 70's. It was a Binatone pong/lightgun game, colour version which was quite rare for the time. Over the years my interest grew and grew. I spent so many hours playing on the latest tech enjoying every thing about it. It was when I finally had a zx80 home computer that things really changed for me. Being able to program your own games either learning BASIC or copying from magazines at the time, it was a real eye opener to what could be done. And so my collection grew larger. Nothing was left to rest it was always being used. I kept up with the times and then one day in my local arcade i saw Tekken for the first time and that completely blew my mind. I could not wait to have something like that at home and when the PS ONE was released I knew that things were finally going to accelerate dramatically for home entertainment. It was last year when I finally took a step back saw exactly what I have kept over the years that it dawned on me that it was time to take a massive break from it all. My collection of games was over 12000 strong and the hardware was just mind numbing big. I never really thought about as a collection, it was just something that had been with me from the very very beginning.

As somebody with a large collection myself, I had to ask if it had been had to part with his items. As it was, Lee had already decided that he had received enough entertainment from them, so he was ready to let them go so others could enjoy owning them and relive a little bit of their childhood.

The other trader was Ed from Last Level Games, who used to own a shop on St. Benedicts Street in the city. He had a nice collection of consoles and games for sale, including some for the Atari Lynx (which I wish I had bought now!).

Last Level Games can be reached on Facebook -


Our second visit to the festival was on Sunday the 12th and it was to enjoy some of the music performed by Chiptune musicians Tristian Burfield, Henry Homesweet, and Unix. In conjunction with the sound, there was also live visuals projected onto the large screens behind the musicians. These were created as part of a collobration between visual artist Liam Roberts and Y.A.K. (Young Art Komminity) - a young person group from the visual arts organisation based in Colchester.

Unfortunately it appears that Henry Homesweet didn't make the event so first up was a set from 'Hubris The Dog', the moniker of the talented David Cronin from Norwich. Returning after playing at last years festival, David's varied brand of electronic music was a nice surprise and the added visuals worked well to immerse the listeners into his world. I had originally wanted to use a clip of David's music in a podcast I had planned to produce for the festival but I felt that with the assets I had, a web article would be more interesting. I still wanted to include David in the article, so I asked him a few questions about himself and his music.

How did you first get involved in creating music?

When I first got in to music at about 12 it was pretty much all about playing guitar and I really loved rock bands like Aerosmith and Guns 'N' Roses. I kind of realised after awhile however that I was not really the lead guitarist type and that I found rock music to be a little dull. When I was about 20 someone lent me a tape four track and I got more and more in to the idea of composition rather than trying to be a flashy show off and I found myself more influenced by acts such as Massive Attack and Radiohead. I think I've really been focused on composition and song writing since then.

What sort of things help inspire your compositions?

What doesn't inspire me!!! Seriously though I think what really inspires me is art, and art is all around. I can be in a different city and the architecture could set something of in me or I could be watching a film or playing a game and suddenly something will resonate with me and make me start writing. On the other hand sometimes I just really, really need to escape from the world and music is the place that I can do that and still do something productive.

Can you talk a little bit about the technology that you use to produce your music?

The music that I have been making in the past couple of years and in the guise of Hubris The Dog has been by and large made using hand held gadgets such as I Pad and Nintendo DS. I am big fan of the software that Korg has realeased on both of those platforms. I think that it's a good thing that there are so many apps available for people to busy themselves with music creation, they are a good way to encourage people to make music on the move. As a result I've managed to sit in the Spanish countryside and record music, which is something that I could not do before hand. Before taking the handheld route I had a period of writing extensively using Music 3000 on the Playstation 2. I love how companys are releasing music creation software on consoles and allowing something as humble as a games console to be used for more than just playing games. 

You can find out more about Hubris The Dog (as well as listen to some of David's music) via his Facebook page -

Next up was Tristan Burfield from Norwich, who creates tunes using retro game machines, such as the Commodore 64's SID chip, Gameboy, NES, and even the Atari 2600! His music was more closer to the tradational 'chip' sound and very well done, which probably explains why he is a mainstay at festivals and has even been featured on Radio 1.

A visit to his website at is recommended to discover more about his music.

The last set was performed by UNIX, aka Lyam Bewry. Another chiptune musician from Norwich (we seem to have a few of them, which is a good thing!), he had his Gameboy out to play some of his catchy tunes which finished off a great little chiptune 'festival'.

Do yout ears a favour and follow Lyam on


If everything already mentioned wasn't enough to fit into a week, there were a few other things going on.

On the Friday evening there was a popular pub quiz, which raised £400 for GamesAid (a great charity that supports smaller charities to help disadvanted and disabled childern and young people).

Gamehub were in attendence throughout the week and were on hand to provide video-game advice to parents. You can visit their extensive website here.


And so that brings to this article to an end. It was due to be a small synopsis of our time at the event but after reaching out to a number of people in attendence, to get their feedback, it has turned into a much more indepth article. And I would like to say a big 'Thank You!' to everybody that spent time responding to my questions.

We have a gaming event to be proud of and it can only get better. I intend to visit more next year and who knows, maybe I'll be directly involved in helping with the retro game part of the festival. The great team that helped organise, run, and help out with event deserve a big pat on the back for their hard work.

I hope that anybody reading this article, that visited, had as much fun as we did, and if you didn't attend, well there is always 2016. Maybe I'll see you there!


Article by Gary, Images by Gary & Jops - May 2015