A visit to the Arcade Expo in Amsterdam

Last Friday I was in Amsterdam for a client meeting, so since I was in town anyway, I decided to drop by the Arcade Expo (runs till March 27th in the Mediamatic building, located at the Vijzelstraat 68).
When I entered the expo, I was greeted immediately with the all too familiar bleeps from the classic coin-ops I remembered from my childhood years – spending my weekend pocket money at the local fair and then returning home hoping that soon there would be a port of one of the new machines onto the C64.

The first machines at the entrance featured Mrs. Pac-Man, Breakout and the very popular (yes, there was almost a queue) Galaga.  The first part of the expo is totally dedicated to the classic coin-ops (there’s also Mortal Kombat, Badlands, the Up Scope featuring an actual periscope) and you can already spend a few hours playing the classics.

Just around the corner, you have a strange exhibit (again, just pick up the controller and play – all machines at the expo are there for you to try them out yourself) showing a game (Room Racer) that projects a couple of cars onto the floor.  You control your car with an Xbox controller and have to drive around a circuit that is made up of real objects on the floor (like sticks, bricks, pots and pans and sometimes even the odd visitor of the expo)… pretty cool and fun to play.

After a few rounds at the coin-ops and the “projection game”, it was time to move to the second part of the expo, which is the console exhibition.  Just like the arcade machines, all the consoles that are on display are also there to be played on.  The consoles on the ground-floor featured amongst others the classics from the 70s such as the Atari 2600, the Philips Videopac G7000 (I had one of these when I was a kid), the stomping machines of the 80s like the Colecovision, the MB Vectrex, the NES and many many more.  The classic Commodores were there as well, with the Amiga 500 and the Commodore 64 and Amiga CD32 being on display at the top floor.

The top floor featured a huge circular bed, with all the consoles stationed around it, so you could go for a relaxing and loungy game on of the classics (oh and they also had further classics on that floor such as the Sega Saturn, the Dreamcast, the Atari Jaguar, and many many more).

On the ground floor again, I noticed something quite special: the Atari Gotcha (1973) and the Atari Tournament Table (1978).  Two amazing classics, with the latter being one of the first multiplayer arcade games, allowing multiple players to play a game of Pong.  The table was in an absolutely fabulous condition and is definitely one of the top items of the expo in my book.

So, after a couple of hours enjoying some of the classics from my childhood, it was time to go home… and load some classics onto my C64.
The Arcade expo is a great exhibition, showing nicely how the gaming industry evolved into the multi-million business it is today.  “Older” gamers will enjoy the classics and have a great time playing the games from their childhood on the actual coin-ops.  “Younger” players will be able to see how their mums and dads got hooked onto gaming and be introduced to a piece of history in real-life, rather than seeing the classics as re-releases on modern day platforms like the Wii.

Note: You can see all pictures from the Arcade Expo here.

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