Classic Gaming Expo 2000

July 29th & 30th, 2000


I'm finally back from this past weekend's show, the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. At first I didn't know if I should approach this review as an organizer (I worked with John Hardie and Sean Kelly in setting up the show), an exhibitor (we had a booth), the media (we're reviewing the show right here), or a customer. Since I couldn't decide, I'm just going to write as a guy who likes to use a lot of parentheses.

To say this year's event was a rousing success would be to underestimate it. Though the floor itself was very similar in layout and content to last year's event, it's the effort that was put in by both the exhibitors and alumni that blew me away. To demonstrate, let me run by you a few highlights, courtesy of the exhibitors and alumni.

Limited edition Odyssey2 Pinball game signed by Ralph Baer. To me, this is the most priceless of the items available at the show. You'll never see them again, and the chances of getting one signed by the Father of Video Games is even less likely.

"Lost games": Steamroller for ColecoVision, and Sea Battle and Swordfight for the Atari 2600 offered by Intellivision Productions. These games aren't just "found again", they're all quite good. And if you were extra clever, you could have tracked down Steamroller's designer David Rolfe and got an autographed copy as well!

More "lost games": Power Lords and Lord of the Dungeon for ColecoVision, offered by CGE Services. We played the game in the hotel room the night before the show. Power Lords is nothing special though it's a vast improvement over the Odyssey2 game. Lord of the Dungeon is a battery backed (!) RPG that plays out like many older computer RPG's (like Wizardry, for example). You use the ColecoVision keypad to select from menu options on the screen as you move about a dungeon collecting treasures and slaying monsters. I really enjoyed this game, and look forward to digging into it further!

Tour de France, a previously listed "rumor mill" game for the Vectrex, was found and distributed in limited release by Mark Shaker at the show. The game looks and plays a bit like Hyperchase but on bicycles.

Van Burnham unveiled a limited edition run of a new game by Ebivision called "Escape from Supercade", of which 100 copies will be produced with under 25 available to the general public. A raffle was held to determine the winners.

A swap meet was held just after Saturday's show. I saw some pretty rare games floating around and trading hands. This part of the program really brings collector's together.

John Dondzila had most all of his games available at the show, including Patriots, Spike Hoppin', All Good Things, and Vecmania for the Vectrex and Star Fortress and Space Invasion for the ColecoVision. In addition he was selling homebrew games created by others, like V-Frogger for Vectrex and Drac-Man for the ColecoVision. I backfilled my collection here.

The Intellivision Production booth hosted IntelliKaraoke, a game where various Intellivision games are played with no sound and the player or players have to make the sounds via microphone. This was GREAT fun, and I wish I had a little time to stop and play, but Digital Press was well represented and in fact one of our guys won (Roloff "Deleto" DeJeu, who teamed up with Ian "Ianoid" Baronofsky).

Hasbro demonstrated their upcoming games Galaga (for Playstation) and Frogger II (for the Playstation and Dreamcast) as well as a new Pac-Man game for the PC. Frogger II was rockin'! There are retro levels that really maintain the spirit of the original coin-op. Galaga has come a long way since the version I saw at E3 a few months ago, with a little tweaking it could be a hit.

Songbird Productions had new games for the Lynx (Crystal Mines II and Remnant) and the Jaguar (Protector, Skyhammer, and Hyper Force) for sale. Looked to me like the Jaguar games were going like hotcakes. I noticed a significant number of visitors walking around with them.

Cyberpunks debuted a new volume of the "Stella at 20" video series. The tape they produced for last year's show was top-notch, featuring great interviews with Atari legends such as Nolan Bushnell, Rob Fulop, David Crane, and Joe DeCuir. I plan on setting myself up with some popcorn later and popping this into the VCR.

There was plenty more to see and do, as vintage arcade games lined two full walls of the show floor and keynote speeches were given by dozens of the invited alumni, designers who were on the scene when what we call "classic gaming" today  was considered "cutting edge". It's always intriguing to listen to these keynotes, especially the Q&A sessions that draw new information out of them. There were arcade gaming contests held by Twin Galaxies, models jumping rope at the booth, and a huge museum of antique gaming technology. And of course, so many great visitors to hang out with. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet more of you this year!

Side note:

Special thanks also to Chris Breedon and Geoff Voigt of So-Cal RGVC who let us crash their party the night before the show opened. John Hardie described our entry as something like a Kool-Aid Man commercial. If the entrance of a dozen or so Digital Press guys wasn't enough, I went and invited a neigboring room of Brits who were in town for the Defcon convention (they're the hackers). Fellas, if you're reading this, THANK YOU for bearing with our somewhat sledgehammer style of having fun. You're great sports, and that was a great sandwich.

More pictures and memories from the show:

The guys from Digital Press get united (from left: Roloff deJeu, Arne Kuilman, John Hardie, Sean Kelly, Al Backiel, Joe Santulli, Dave Giarrusso, and Russ Perry Jr.)

To get a good idea of how much was involved in getting this show physically set up, have a look at the floor on Thursday night, or again on Friday morning. Here's another look. And another. Big ups to Don Rogers and Scott Stilphen for being there day and night during the setup period! That's not fun.

When the doors opened up I couldn't believe the line waiting outside! Good thing we had some top-notch help from the Mundo family working the registration booth, who also assisted in some pre-show local work.

The show floor was packed from morning 'til night on Saturday.

The Digital Press gang were always on hand - Dave Giarrusso played games while not manning the booth, swapping places with Roloff de Jeu or Al Backiel to enjoy the show. Fellas, I really owe you one! Kevin "tsr" Gifford and Tony Bueno were also roaming around, spreading their good will to all.

As a rookie I could only watch in awe as fellow organizers John Hardie and Sean Kelly kept the show moving like a well-oiled machine. John is the official voice of CGE, announcing keynote speeches in a very strange, used-car-dealer kind of voice.

Billy Mitchell was on hand, amazing the onlookers with his feats of scoring. I must say, Billy is a really cool guy, a real competitor, and just one of the mose fascinating players to watch. I stopped by to check his gaming out a few times. Never have I seen someone so completely in control of what's going on in the game. While playing Ms. Pac-Man with his left hand he held a stopwatch in his right. He told me he used it to time the moment when the ghosts change direction at the beginning of a wave.

Chris Cavanaugh was our neighbor again this year, with a new issue of Classic Gamer Magazine just about ready to go. Chris is a class guy - if you haven't already subscribed, hop over to his site at after reading this page.

The swap meet was fun. Check out Roloff working Al doing the ol' "if it's foreign it must be good" routine, or Charles Dysert sitting at the podium to get the trader's edge!

Though Sunday was a bit light, it wasn't nearly as light as last year's Sunday. I was expecting things to die down at various points in the day but the gamers kept a-rollin' in.

I was happy to introduce Bill Hawkins (on the right of the next pic), who designed Star Castle, Cosmic Chasm, Rip-Off, Bedlam, 3D Crazy Coaster and other vintage Vectrex games to John Dondzila, a modern day designer of the same system. This is what it's like when worlds collide. They swapped business cards, I'm pushing for a collaborative effort. How cool would that be?

Breaking down the show is depressing, you hate watching people leave (Jayson Hill from Hasbro wheeling out a cart while the Lisa and Keith break down the Intellivision booth) but kept exciting by the discussions of next year's events. We had excellent feedback from alumni, exhibitors, and visitors alike as well as some new ideas to make next year's show even better.

In conclusion, and as a guy who uses a lot of parentheses, I'd have to rate this show VERY highly, even though I'm obviously biased. Interest and momentum is really at a high right now. Though it will be tough to top, look for another bigger and better show next year!

Special thanks to Scott Stilphen for some of the pictures used here.

Classic Gaming Expo 2012 Aug 11-12, 2012 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 2010 July 31-Aug 1, 2010 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 2007 July 28-29, 2007 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 2005 August 20-21, 2005 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 2004 August 21-22, 2004 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 2003 August 09-10, 2003 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 2002 August 10-11, 2002 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 2001 August 11-12, 2001 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 2000 July 29-30, 2000 HERE
Classic Gaming Expo 1999 August 14-15, 1999 HERE


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Last updated: Monday, August 16, 2010 08:35 AM