Norwich Retro Gamers NGF 2019 Logo Norwich Gaming Festival Gaming Village Marquee 2018 Centre for Computing History 'Bannersnatch' exhibit at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Actual Reality Arcade, Norwich Games Festival 2019 Atari Sdrive Max by 8Bit-Tronics Our layout for Monday 27th May at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Flyer for Colin Porch's attendance at the Norwich Games Festival 2019 Desk setup whilst testing Amstrad 6128 Boxed retro gear and televisions waiting to be loaded into the van Setting up our equipment on the Sunday at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Visitors playing Bombjack on the Philips MSX2 at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Visitors enjoying the classic machines at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Visitors playing Bombjack on the Philips MSX2 at Norwich Games Festival 2019

Amiga CD32 console running Flink at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Centre for Computing History Commodore Pet running Space Invaders at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Centre for Computing History BBC Micro and other machines at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Showing visitor the Dragon 32 at Norwich Games Festival 2019 David Doak giving talk on N64 Goldeneye game at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Visitors enjoyed machines during Atari Day at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Visitors enjoyed machines during Atari Day at Norwich Games Festival 2019 David Pleasance with Norwich Retro Gamers at Norwich Games Festival 2019 David Pleasance signing his book with Norwich Retro Gamers at Norwich Games Festival 2019 David Pleasance with Gary Skipper at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Panasonic 3DO and Neo Geo CD consoles at Norwich Games Festival 2019 View of Norwich Retro Gamers area from up in the gantry at Norwich Games Festival 2019 View of event floor from up high at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Micro Mages being played on NES at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Philips MSX2 computer cleaned and ready for Norwich Games Festival 2019 Baggers In Space on the Spectrum Next at Norwich Games Festival 2019 Norwich Retro Gamers 3D-Printed signed by Tess Gould

NORWICH GAMES FESTIVAL 2019

It may be hard to believe that the prestige Norwich Gaming Festival had already been running for more than five years before the 2019 event was announced. This would be our fourth year and there would be several changes, not least the fact that it was going to be called the Norwich Games Festival.

I had been invited to The Forum, the venue that hosted the festival, by Richard Fair, who had been brought in to handle the marketing of events. I hadn't met Richard before so it was nice to get together and chat about how the event was being planned for 2019. Apart from having its name changed, the biggest change would be that they were no longer having the Gaming Village marquee outside the main building. This was a bit of a shock to hear that as we had always been in the marquee and I think that my concern was showing as Richard announced that we would now be in the main Atrium (which was where the rest of festival was hosted). This was very exciting news and I was looking forward to being in the main building. The marquee had always been busy but I had felt a little detached from the main event and it would get really hot when the sun was out!

The main reason for dropping the Gaming Village was due to a stronger focus on games and a reduction of retail vendors. In previous years there had been vendors selling American candy, plush characters and other related toys, t-shirts, and, of course, Last Level with their great selection of games and consoles. Looking back at it, we were probably one of the few attendees, in the marquee, who were providing content for visitors to engage with.

Other changes was the inclusion of the Centre for Computing History, based in Cambridge. This great organisation was going to be displaying some props from the unique Black Mirror episode 'Bandersnatch'. Some people may recall that this was the cutting-edge programme that allowed the watcher to make some selections at certain points, which would change the content based on their decisions. The Forum were also planning to increase the arcade cabinets in the Retro Arcade, which had previously included a multi-game stand-up cabinet and a sit-down machine. The last addition was to host some great outdoor games in the new 'Actual Reality Arcade'.

The meeting went very well, and it was clear that Richard had some exciting plans to make this years event more focused on games and to give visitors a wider choice of activities to enjoy. From my point of view, it was very positive, with Norwich Retro Gamers being viewed as an important part of the event. I was able to secure more space and just being inside the main building meant we would get more coverage. It is fair to say that as I left The Forum, I was very excited about the festival and looked forward to planning how best to utilise the extra space.

When thinking about which machines to bring to the event, I knew that I had to stick to the original reason for me being invited to attend the 2016 event, and that was to provide a great selection of gaming systems from the 80's and 90's. As The Forum already had their 'Retro Arcade' which covered consoles from Sega, Nintendo, Sony, and Atari, I was providing the 'home computers'. I had decided on a core set of 'classic' machines that would be available throughout the week and these would include popular machines such as the Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Amstrad 6128, and Atari VCS. I had used the two extra 'slots' in the Gaming Village to allow for different machines to be used through the week, such as the Sega Dreamcast, NEC Turbografx 16, Nintendo 64, and MSX computer.

I eventually managed to secure four tables (an increase from our previous two), so there was a greater scope to run theme days. It had also been possible to secure the Spectrum Next for the week, after a kind offer from Rusty Pixel's Mike Ware. Another loan machine came from Simon Gould from 8Bit-Tronics, who lent me his Philips MSX2. Another very generous offer and as I have never managed to obtain one myself, I was looking forward to seeing this computer in action. Simon is a long-term friend who I met back in the 80's at One Step beyond, and he know builds devices for loading cassette files into real home computers with devices such as the Casduino, Tapduino, Maxduino, and the impressive Atari Sdrive Max. He kindly updated some of my devices as they were going to be used at the event.

In previous years I had started to create theme days, so the collection of available machines could vary during the week. The idea was to maximise the number of different machines we could make available and also the type of games to play. There had already been three main themes which had been used during previous events and these were our 'Classic Day', which was always our first day and featured all the most popular home computers and consoles from the 80's (Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, BBC Micro, Amstrad 6128, Atari VCS) as well as the Amiga 1200. The second theme day was our 'Home-brew Day', and this featured a number of the popular machines running games from indie developers that were creating modern games. The third theme day was our 'Alternative Day', and this featured less popular machines (at the time) such as the MSX, 3DO, NEC Turbografx 16. Last year we had also had a special 'Sports Day' event, which was very popular and involved a visit and interview from Rob Butler at Radio Norfolk. This year I wanted to use more theme days and it didn't take long to come up with a few ideas.

I have always been a big fan of Atari, so it made sense to see if a day dedicated to Atari machines would be feasible. I worked out that I could bring seven Atari Machines (from the original VCS to the Jaguar) and this would allow me to retain the popular machines as well. For the second theme, I looked back to the events I had held at One Life Left, which is the gaming Cafe on St. Benedicts in the city. I had created '8-Bit Norwich' but in reality, only 60% of the machines had been 8-bit as I also brought the Dreamcast, 3DO, Neo Geo CD, and Atari Jaguar. If I was to resurrect the '8-Bit' name, I wanted to make sure it was a true celebration of 8-Bit powered gaming machines. This would allow me to bring machines such as the MSX2, Atari 800XL, and Famicom. The only machine that wasn't 8-Bit on the day was the Spectrum Next. But I was so privileged to have been lent the machine for the whole week, that I wanted to make the most of it!

Something that I had always liked about the larger retro events such as Retro Revival and Play Expo was the guests that they attracted. I had tried this at the 8-bit Norwich events at One Life Left but it hadn't really worked. Colin Porch (a skilful coder who had worked at Ocean and Software Projects, and was now designing Head Over Heels 2 on the Atari ST), was kind enough to have attended the last one but I felt that he had wasted his time as there was not a great turnout and he did spend quite a lot of the evening on his own. It didn't help that he couldn't get his Atari ST to work (although after a quick plea to my partner, we were able to get mine instead) and part of the way through the night the lights were turned down as it was our 'Halloween' event (and I was dressed as Dracula which was an extremely scary sight).

I knew that the Games Festival would be popular and I was extremely happy to receive a message from Colin stating that he would like to come along to this years event (I didn't think I would hear from him again after the Halloween event). Somebody else that had shown an interest in my events at One Life Left was David Pleasance. He had recently released his incredible book about his time at Commodore called 'Commodore The Inside Story' and was looking for opportunities to market the book as well as meeting fans. I didn't take him up on his offer as I didn't think the events would be busy enough to make it worth his while. But with the Games Festival attracting so many visitors, I thought it would be a great chance for him to come down and attend the event with us if he was still interested. I had originally been offered use of the auditorium to use talks and I did ask David if he would be interested in doing a Q&A. Unfortunately, I only had use of the room on Wednesday and this clashed with his work commitments so we agreed that he would come down on the Saturday.

So, with the space confirmed, content for the days agreed, and our guest's arranged, it just left me to sort out which games to bring and to test the hardware. Most of the older computers now have either SD or USB interfaces to load the games from, and as this was something that I had discussed with the Festival organisers from the start, I could still take advantage of it. To be honest, with the fragile nature of tapes and disks now and the amount of time they took to load, it was the only viable option. During previous years I had put various classic and home-brew titles on these devices but had never fully tested all. This left me in a position with not all games loading properly and this wasn't good for visitors when they wanted to play a specific title. This year I had decided to wipe all the storage media and reload/test every game. It was a very slow process but it was good to try out many games that I either hadn't played ever or at least for many years. I also used the opportunity to refresh the list of games, both classic and home-brew (which were being released regularly).

It had become clear early on the that with the extra machines and televisions, I was no longer going to be able to squeeze it all in our car. By the time everything was packed up and ready, I was left with five large 84-litre plastic boxes, twelve televisions, and a few other bits. I was lucky enough to be able to call on a family member to supply a van so for the first time we able to load/unload and transport the items much easier (the process of getting stuff in the car had become more like a game of Tetris!). It had taken so long to test all the games and items that I was still working on them on Saturday and well into the Sunday morning. But eventually, everything was packed and ready to load into the van on Sunday afternoon.

After arriving at The Forum, Jonny Mousley, Hannah Britcher, and I started to unload the van and I had a chance to see the area that they had reserved for us in the main atrium. One important item that I had discussed with Richard was power. In the Gaming Village marquee, I had used 1 x 8 socket power gang and 1 x 6 socket power gang. This had just about worked for us as we only used two tables, but with four we were going to need much more capacity. Thankfully they had supplied us with a massive power supply (that looked like it could have powered a small city), with six separate spurs which could each run a power gang. So with the two gangs from last year plus a 10 socket tower that I quickly had to nip to Argos to get, we now had 24 sockets plus an extension lead with two more sockets to charge phones/laptops.

I had been a little concerned as our four tables weren't set up as I had expected but after tracking down Richard I was simply told that it was our area and to arrange them how we wanted (as long as we kept within a certain area to ensure there was plenty of space for visitors to move past and main health and safety requirement). We spent several minutes re-arranging them to try to get the best use of the space and we ended up being able to have two on one side and two on another with large divider walls marking up the other two sides of a square. This allowed us to have twelve systems neatly setup and still have a large area for us to store the plastic boxes, our chairs, and other stuff which could be kept out of the way of visitors. I was impressed with the area and it was so much better than previous years. We quickly got the banner up and stashed our gear away for the night, ready for another amazing week at the Games Festival.

Monday was normally the busiest day of the week at the Festival as it was the bank holiday and as the weather wasn't great, many people came into the building. We had to get in a bit earlier than previous years, as we had to get our equipment from the storeroom and setup everything each morning but we also had people walking around earlier now that we were in the main atrium (in the marquee the doors were normally closed until nearer the official start time of 10:30 am. As hoped, the Classics Day went down a storm. Our tables were set up in a way so that our main two tables looked out into the main floor, and was just near the entrance to the gallery, with the other two running adjacent and towards the library behind us. As the classic machines had always been the most popular, so these were set up on the front tables. This consisted of the Spectrum 48k, Commodore 64, Amstrad 6128, Spectrum Next, BBC Micro and the Amiga 1200. The other two tables hosted the Atari VCS, Atari 800XL, Philips MSX2, NEC Turbografx-16, and Nintendo 64. All machines had a lot of use and it was good to see the MSX2 enjoyed, as it was new to our tables (we ran BombJack most of the day and as it was a great conversion, it was very popular. Unfortunately, I was limited to which games I could show as I didn't have a compatible two-button joystick.

Something else new for us was being included in the 'Games Passport'. This was a small booklet that acted as both a map and a guide to the Festival as well as having eight spaces that could be stamped by many of the exhibitors. If the visitor collected all eight stamps, they could enter into a draw to win a Nintendo Switch. This bought a lot more people to our area and it was great to be part of it. I felt our inclusion made us a bigger part of the event.

We had a couple of special visitors stop by for a chat, first we had Simon (from 8bit-Tronics) and his partner and also Mike 'Flash' Ware from Rusty Pixels (who had kindly lent us his Spectrum Next and revised versions of his games Warhawk and Baggers in Space 2 (plus some demo’s of his and others games). I did manage to get in a game of Warhawk, whilst Mike explained to a couple of on-lookers what was happened with the code.

After an incredibly busy Monday, things normally dropped off a little bit on Tuesday. This was the day that Colin Porch was visiting us and it was great to have him back. He was already sitting in the café enjoying a bacon roll as we arrived. After collecting his Atari ST and TV from his car we soon had everything connected and Head Over Heels 2 was up and running. I had allocated Colin a table so there was plenty of room for the Atari to be set up and space for him and visitors to sit down and play the game. There was a steady stream of people stopping and playing the game and Colin was always ready to give advice to players and to show maps and other information about the design of the game. I was even shown the code behind some of the rooms as he broke out of the game and back to the debugger. Seeing the assembly language code was pretty impressive. It was nice to see many of kids sit down and have a go, as they wouldn't have been old enough to remember the original copies in the late 80's.

I'm sure that the highlight of his day was when Gabrielle Kent stopped by and sat down. She had a great time playing the game and had been a big fan of the original. She had been so engrossed in it that she almost missed her talk that she was due to host in the auditorium. It had been really busy for me as I was on my own (Jonny was hosting some of our machines over at the One Life Left tables and Hannah wasn't able to come in) but Colin had been a real help, especially with stamping the Games Passports for visitors.

We also had a couple of extra things that we were involved in on Tuesday. The first was to supply some systems to run Jet Set Willy on, as they were showing a short film about the life of Matthew Smith using the game engine of the iconic Spectrum game. I had printed out the map of the game, which spread over four A4 landscape sheets and had the titular game running on an original 48k Spectrum, a newer home-brew version on the Atari 800XL, Manic Miner on the Commodore 64, and Wiz and Liz (as I didn't have any of versions to show) on the Amiga 1200. I couldn't attend as myself and Hannah had been invited to a show on Radio Norfolk, but Jonny was able to keep an eye on things for me.

But before our engagements, we all headed up to Pizza Express, conveniently located inside The Forum building, for a spot if dinner. We invited Colin along and it was great to hear his stories of his time at Software Projects and Ocean, especially Matthew Smith and his 'snow' animation on the Spectrum (considering a film about his life was due to shown in the same building later on) as well as the challenges of working on Head Over Heels 2. Once we finished the meal, we went down into the Gallery to quickly get everything set up for the Jet Set Willy film, before Hannah and myself heading up to the Radio Norfolk studios, which were directly above the Gallery.

The radio show was a special that featured the Games Festival and we were joined by Daniel Scales (producer of the festival) and George Beard (Lecturer of Games Art & Design at Norwich University of the Arts). Although the main topic was the Games Festival, Hannah and I also talked about old computer shops and our time at One Step Beyond. It was my third time on Radio Norfolk and it is always great to talk about Video Games. Rob Butler is such a great host and his interest in videogames made it all the better. I'm looking forward to being invited back next year.

After a late night, we headed off and Colin came back with me as I had offered to put him up doing the festival (it was the least I could). Colin is a very intelligent man and has a great sense of humour, it was a pleasure to have him with us for the two days. Tomorrow would be our 'Alternative' day and I was looking forward to showing off some new machines that hadn't featured in previous events.

Wednesday was an interesting day but also noticeably quieter than previous days. Colin was back with Head Over Heels 2 on his Atari ST and was still getting a lot of interest from old and young alike. The new machines that were to be featured were the Dragon 32 and the Commodore CD32. I wasn't sure how the Dragon would be seen by visitors as it wasn't particularly popular and isn't very nice on the eyes with it's green or white screens, but I thought it was unique and was an 'alternative' machine. There were several good games, mainly based on arcade games and it would give me a chance to use the 8Bit-Tronics Casduino device. The CD32 was an ideal machine to show as it allowed us to feature some of the better games that we couldn't show on the Amiga 1200 due to the number of floppy disks they used (it's no fun swapping out 8 disks to play a game!). Many visitors sat down to play a game although some did struggle with the strange controller and wasn't sure which way up to hold it. I also swapped out the 'normal' Spectrum 48k with my 'modded' one. This one had a smoked plastic case and orange keys (which were certainly eye-catching). As the voltage regulator had been replaced with a better version, I was able to remove heat-sink so it was possible to see the chips inside the case as it was transparent. I also kept the more popular Commodore 64, BBC Micro, and Spectrum Next. The line-up was completed with the MSX2, Neo Geo CD, and Panasonic 3DO (which unfortunately didn't quite last the whole day as it developed a capacitor fault and kept resetting).

As it was a bit quieter it also gave me a chance to have a wander around the event and check out the other stands. I was very impressed with the Centre for Computing History's exhibition, just inside the main entrance to the atrium. Katrina was doing a great job chatting with the visitors and helping them enjoy the nice selection of machines on display. It was an inspired collection of iconic machines, especially the Commodore Pet running Space Invaders (the machine that I was taught about computers on at high school in the early 80's. They also had an early pong console, an Atari VCS, a BBC Micro with a Microvitec Cub monitor (which looked amazing), an original PC Engine, and an old PC running Solitaire (of course). I did notice that the PC Engine screen was blank and when I asked, was told it had died. I did take a quick look but thought it may be something inside the console so thought it was best to leave it alone. As I wasn't using my Turbografx-16 for the rest of the week, I offered to lend it to them to fill the gap (and it was the closest console to the PC Engine I had). So for the rest of the festival, my TG-16 sat proudly with the other machines on their stand (with an NRG flyer).

In the Gallery, the Centre for Computing History also had some props from the Black Mirror episode 'Bandersnatch'. This included a signed Spectrum 48k, a cool Sony Walkman, some tape cases for the games that were released by the fictional games company 'Tuckersoft' from the show, and various paperwork linked to the episode.

Also in the gallery was The Forum's 'Retro Arcade', which consisted of their consoles as well as some multi-game arcade cabinets and a nice new addition, 'Star Trek' pinball. I did take several other photo's, including the Norwich University of the Arts, and these are shown at the end of the article.

I had been taking the opportunity to take some photo's (something that I hadn't been able to do much in previous years). James, from The Forum, noticed that I had my camera with me and asked if I wanted to go up to the gantry at the top of the atrium to get some shots. Anybody who has visited The Forum will know that the building is quite large and about four stories high. At the very top of the building, there is a walkway so we went up with the staff elevator and then walked around, through the various air-con and heating machinery to come out onto the walkway on the opposite side. Now I have to admit that I am not great with heights but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to take some images from a location that many people do not get the chance to see. I did get some great shots of the whole event floor but was glad to back on the ground later!

Thursday was another theme day and this was the true '8-bit Norwich' event. We kept the normal line-up of Spectrum 48k, Commodore 64, Amstrad 6128, BBC Micro, and Atari VCS, but we also added the Atari 800XL, Philips MSX2, Dragon 32, Atari 7800, and Nintendo Famicom (the original Japanese version of the NES). It was quite a busy day and all the machines were popular. It was nice to have many of the 8-bit machines that would have been competing for space in UK homes back in the 80s, as well as a couple of Japanese machines that many hadn't seen before. We did, unfortunately, have one casualty on the day, with the Atari 7800 gradually losing his display. This was an AV-modded machine and it looked like one of the wires had come away from the circuit board. A quick hot-glue repair brought it back temporarily as it would be needed for the next day as well.

The day finished with an evening talk by David Doak, one of the developers on the cult Nintendo 64 game 'Goldeneye'. David is now a lecturer at the Norwich University of the Arts (which has a strong tie to the Games Festival. We had been asked to supply some N64's and copies of Goldeneye and as we had three systems and multiple controllers, we were able to set these up and also sit in on the talk. David delivered an interesting and engaging talk with a certain amount of humour thrown in. It tracked the early days of Rare and how they managed to work on such a high-profile title, the challenges of working on a first-person shooter on the N64 and implementing the multi-player options. The talk ended with a Q+A session before heading back up into the Gallery to enjoy some actual Goldeneye fun, including a four-player game which David took part in (he didn't win though). After a nice chat and a photo-session we headed home to catch some sleep, ready for another day of retro gaming fun.

The week was passing so quickly and before we knew it, Friday had arrived. This was one day that I was looking forward to as it would allow me to showcase some of my favourite machines. Yes, it was Atari Day!

Although I had already featured Atari machines such as the VCS, 7800, 800XL, and Jaguar, I was now able to bring more machines from the legendary hardware manufacturer. The full setup consisted of the Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari 800XL (modded with twin Pokey sound chips and 512KB of RAM), Atari 65XE, Atari XEGS (the so-called games console, based on the 65XE), Atari 1030STe, and Atari Jaguar. I hosted some of the best games on each platform (although I was limited on the Jaguar) and they went down very well. I also had a visit from Andy Jones, a long-time fan of Norwich Retro Gamers and a great chap with a like-minded interest in retro gaming. He had found some old Atari ST cover-disks and wanted to see if they still worked. We tried them on the 1040STe and impressively, most of them did work. We had great fun playing 'Revenge of the Mutant Camels', which I had only played on the Atari 800XL and Commodore 64. It was a typically crazy game with the type of bizarre and retina-burning graphics that you would expect from the mighty YAK!

During my wandering around on Wednesday, I had noticed that Katrina didn't have anybody else to cover her on her stand. As she didn't have any backup for lunch, etc., I offered to cover for her if she needed to pop out. She called in the favour on Thursday, so I spent a little time covering the Centre for Computing History's stand, which was a great privilege. I had a great time helping out the people that came over to play on the machines. I think I probably enjoyed it too much, as I was engaging with people as soon as they came through the door. Whilst I over at the Centre for Computing History stand, I had a visit from the Norwich Amiga Group, who were covering the One Life Left tables for the day. They were struggling with a temperamental CD32 and asked if I could lend them mine (and a TV). I didn't need it until Saturday and had a spare TV so obliged. Always happy to help out this great group and on that day I had 14 machines running at various parts of the festival (wow!).

And so, in the blink of an eye, it was Saturday morning and I was gearing up for possibly the busiest day so far. We had a very special guest arriving and I made sure that his table was tidy, with a supply of water and a marker pen for any signings he wanted to do. Our guest for the day was the legendary David John Pleasance. Some of you may recognise his name as he was a director at Commodore Business Machines (UK), from the mid-80's right through to their demise in the mid-90's. He had worked both in the UK and overseas, in various roles but mainly in marketing. Not many may realise that he is a local lad, being born in Great Yarmouth and his brother still lives in Norwich. I was very honoured to have him with us and he brought copies of his book and Blu-ray to sell, as well as to talk to visitors and sign any Commodore related items that they brought along.

I had only seen David at trade shows, back in the late 80's, when I worked at One Step Beyond, but I was a great fan of the Commodore 64 and Amiga range. I had also recently read his book and was extremely impressed with the stories that he had shared.

Once he was set up at his table, with his books, Blu-rays, and mouse mats, I got some coffee and sat down and chatted. He was still very protective of the Amiga brand and I could tell that having the Commodore UK assets robbed from him at the final hour was still a little raw. He talked about the ideas that Colin Proudfoot and himself would have had for brand rather than see it squandered and the disappear in a sorrow state. He still had a keen eye for marketing and was soon negotiating with me over a deal for his Blu-ray (the offer of a free mouse-mat brought back memories of selling the Amiga 500 at One Step Beyond in the early 90's). It was really nice to have him with us and I felt that as well as having more space, being able to bring guests such as David and Colin had taken our position at the Games Festival to a new high (we could never have arranged within the marquee). I did have to provide a little tech-support as his card machine was struggling to connect to his phone.

It didn't take long before a steady stream of visitors were sitting down for a chat, with items to sign and to talk about their past experiences of Commodore (it was humbling to hear people thank David for the Amiga and how it had changed their life). A good selection of books were sold and I was even called in to give my honest opinion of it when people were undecided. It wasn't a problem as I had enjoyed reading David's rise through the company and hearing about some of the shocking decisions that were made by the people in control of the company and its finances were unbelievable. David single-handed implemented sales techniques such as bundling software with the machines, which boosted sales greatly. But his story is only half the book, the rest includes chapters by other Commodore luminaries such has Dave Haynie, RJ Mical, Tim Chaney, and Gail Wellington.

The day went by so fast and before I knew it, David's brother and wife appeared and we started to pack up everything. I manage to get David to sign my trusty Amiga A1200 before he went and after saying our goodbyes, I got a hug and carried on clearing everything away. Whilst I was taking the last few bits to the fan, I bumped into Jason Fitzpatrick from the Centre for Computing History (I had previously met him at Retro Revival in Wolverhampton). We had a quick chat and he thanked me personally for helping out with the TG-16. We both said how we hoped we could work together in future.

Once I unloaded the van and had a chance to sit down I was completely exhausted. It had been an incredible week, the best by a long shot when compared to other years. The opportunity to move inside The Forum, the extra tables and machines, our involvement with other events, being in the Games Passport, helping out other attendees, and being able to bring a couple of special guests in, was incredible and I felt like a major part of the Festival. Richard Smith, James Coates, and everybody else that helped support the event were amazing and deserve a massive pat on the back for all the help they gave us.

After the event, I asked if there was any estimates on visitors numbers for 2019 and was told that it could have been in the region of 58,000. This really does put the event into perspective as that is an incredible amount of people.

I wanted to take the opportunity to hear from some of the people that made the week at the Norwich Games Festival such an amazing week, so here are some of them.

 

Richard Fair, Events and Technology Manager at The Forum

Norwich Games Festival was born out of a love for retro gaming. In its early years the Festival was an opportunity to wallow in the games we grew up with. Since then the Festival has grown to become a national recognised showcase for the game makers of today and as an inspiration to the developers of the future.
 
Having the support of the Norwich Retro Gamers has been such a bonus for us. Working so closely with a dedicated group of people who have the knowledge (and the equipment!) to engage with visitors of all ages, means that we can invest more time into supporting the developers of the future and programming even more events and activities.
 
As we look to forward to May 2020, we have no intention of turning our back on the past. Retro gaming is, and will always be, the very foundation on which we build the annual Norwich Games Festival.

 

Colin Porch, Games Developer at Software Projects and Ocean Software

I was very impressed with the Games Festival, There was plenty to see and an awful lot of people attended. Head over Heels Two, which had recently been (just about) finished was very well received and I enjoyed my two days there immensely. I'm sure I will go to the next one, given the chance.

 

David Pleasance, Director at Commodore Business Machines UK and FriendOS

Hello to all Commodore and Amiga fans wherever you are in this world, as I am sure you know, I have over the last few weeks been invited to be a VIP guest at events all over Europe, including Sweden, Belgium Netherlands and of course Amiga 34 in Neuss Germany.

However I just have to tell you about the wonderful day I enjoyed at the Norwich Games Festival on Saturday June 1st, where I was a special guest of Norwich Retro Gamers who helped coordinate the event.

Yes I have to admit, that being born in Great Yarmouth just 22 miles from Norwich, I am of course biased, but the welcome I received upon arrival and throughout the day was truly humbling.

In my opinion this Norwich Games Festival was not only very well organized, but the choice of venue was spectacular, as it was held within the most prestigious shopping centre adjacent to Norwich famous fresh market, which meant we had constant traffic of people, all day in addition to the fans who attended in big numbers.

So I am delighted to send a massive thank you to Gary Skipper and the whole of the team at Norwich Retro Gamers and may I also encourage any C=/Amiga fans who live in reasonable proximity to join the group, I am certain you will receive the same stellar welcome as I did.

 

But before I finish the article, I would like to thank some people that helped to make our content at the festival so great this year.

First of all, to Jon Gage at One Life Left, for letting us use his tables on some of the days. Jonny Mousley did a great job with a selection of our consoles and spare televisions. We were incredibly lucky to be allowed to use the extra tables and I think that at one point, we had 16 or 17 systems setup across six tables and the loaned TG-16. One highlight was having the home-brew title 'Micro Mages' running on the NES, which was a title that Jonny has backed on Kickstarter and the ROM file arrived just in time for us to use. Home-brew on the NES is something that we will look to continue in the future if we have the chance.

A massive thanks goes to Simon Gould and his 8Bit-Tronics venture. Not only did he kindly lend us his Philips MSX2 for the week (which was very popular) but he also supplied and upgraded the Casduino on the Dragon 32 and the Sdrive Max on the Atari 800XL. It was great to have the support of a very good friend. Tess Gould also designed a great sign for us that generated a lot of interest. I look forward to trying out more of his interfaces in the future (especially one that should be coming for the Oric computer, could that feature in an 8-bit Norwich event one day).

Mike 'Flash' Ware also deserves a huge thanks for lending me his Spectrum Next, crammed full of great games and demo's. WarHawk, Baggers in Space, and Horace World Tour all had a lot of play and I am forever grateful for being entrusted with such a special piece of hardware. I know I didn't give the machine or the games enough coverage in social media during the week and that would be something I would have to rectify if we have any future use of the machine.

And, of course, I couldnt forgot the other two Norwich Retro Gamers helpers, Hannah Britcher and Jonny Mousley. Without their help it would have been almost impossible to run the larger area or the One Life Left tables. Helping the visitors and taking photos was only part of their support throughout the week.

 

Useful Links

Norwich Gaming Festival - norwichgamesfestival.com

8Bit-Tronics Ebay Page - https://www.ebay.co.uk/str/8bittronics

One Life Left Gaming Cafe - https://www.onelifeleft.net/

Commodore The Inside Story - https://downtimepublishing.com/

Rusty Pixels (Spectrum Next Games) - https://www.facebook.com/groups/RustyPixels/

ZX Spectrum Next -https://www.specnext.com/

Tess's Signs - https://www.facebook.com/groups/490278995053144/

Centre for Computing History - http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/

Norwich Amiga Group - https://www.facebook.com/NorwichAmigaGroup/

 

Article by Gary Skipper - October 2019.

Images by Gary Skipper, Hannah Britcher, Jonny Mousley.