ZapCon IV was a really exciting arcade convention last year, so certainly during the time I decided to spend for something fun I'd choose to get to another ZapCon event and this time under the name ZapCon 5
Around 9AM on Saturday, I arrived to the convention center. Upon entering the building, it was important to wait in line until my turn had come for purchasing a ticket only for that weekend [because tomorrow I had to work on my homework] with a sufficient amount in my wallet. However, at the time I approached toward the vendor table, the assistant told me that I had to wait until 10AM since only people who pre-ordered their ticket to ZapCon 5 could enter at that time. I wasn't sad nor mad even though they didn't have the board saying "All visitors are welcome from 10AM. Please purchase tickets at the vendor." or something like that. So, I walked out of the entrance and sat down in a place where I could feel the silence as a way to kill time while calming my mind down. Minutes later, I stood up and entered the building again and this time waiting until it's absolutely 10 o'clock. All of a sudden, one of the assistants told me that I could buy tickets to the convention as the line was already done. And so, the my time having fun at ZapCon 5 was started.
Earlier after that, I was curious to see if there was anything changed in a small room where consoles were set up for everyone to play, so I took some time to explore the inside in which the room was officially called "Console Lounge" judging by the sign on the left of the doors. It seemed like nothing had changed when I walked around as I could see tables and chairs at the center, while around the edges were several old-school gaming areas being decorated neatly. Each generally contained a comfy couch, a CRT television, and a retro system such as NES, Master System, SNES, Genesis, Atari 2600, or whatever old-school console was available. Other areas included a system to play a Pac-Man fan game that looked like an old-school version of Pac-Man Championship and that Fruity Pebbles game which I saw from the last year. Moreover, the large NES controllers, which my hand could only press a single button, were back when I saw them attached to the system with the original Contra. That made me wonder if there was already a giant version of the Famicom controller. Nevertheless, same ole' same for a console room that brought everyone back to the pleasant past of gaming life.
Entering the world of ZapCon 5, I took a look first at mini custom-made arcade cabinets and a mini Monopoly pinball machine that looked pretty much like those small pinball tables I used to play in the past childhood. More and more, I saw a few tables in the row from one where people sold mechanical parts used for keeping retro pinball machines last longer to another where those working at the video game stores displayed used and custom-made cartridges of games old-school fans know and games translated to English, originally as digital hack versions. The latter table also sold Retron consoles as well or systems that were similar.
Then came a pair of Vs. candy cabinets: One near the wall had the PCB of Street Fighter Alpha 3 being used, while another was Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike. Both were my most favorite Street Fighter games, to be exact, yet I didn't have time to play them since I had to walk around and see what other games available deep inside.
It seemed there were more than the amount of games in ZapCon IV. [About 80% of the arcade cabinets were returned from the previous ZapCon convention... I think.] Despite that there was no 6-player X-Men cabinet around, they had the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Simpsons beat 'em up game instead. It was also the first sight in real life seeing an actual upright cabinet of Aliens (US version, of course) in which I actually played the whole game as Corporal Hicks (Player 2). The last 90s Konami arcade game I spotted was the Japanese version of Sunset Riders projected from the screen on an object that resembled a heavy-duty case. [I also took some time talking to the nice guy working on that vendor because of that one video from that past which I saw years ago in addition to mentioning about the PCB of Sunset Riders he had.]
I didn't see Magical Night Dreams: Cotton Boomerang either, nor did I find any Raiden Fighters game, Two Crude, and Heavy Barrel around. Sad... though I saw more than one Macross shmup arcade game this time.
Meanwhile, a cabinet of DemolishFist by Sammy brought me to such curiosity towards an obscure 3D beat 'em up arcade game since my brother mentioned it days
after this year's ZapCon visit. Other interesting cabinets included Capcom vs SNK 2, Ace Combat, The Last Starfighter (The Game), Spider-Man: The Video Game, Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder (?), Space Gun, and more... along with the most recent arcade game Skycurser, which I could only watch its attract mode before the game was switched to Mr. Driller.
They had a plenty number of mechanical arcade games at ZapCon 5, additionally, from shooting gallery machines to pinball tables and others such as Data East's Slap Shot. Very glad to find out that they still have been existed up to this year.
Back to the subject of vendors inside the event, there were another couple of rows from the middle area to the other edge. One among included a table from my favorite retro arcade location, which was also the place where the Arcade Round Robins took place. One could also visit the row where people sold video game sprites in hama beads, fashion accessories, marquees, merchandises, more used cabinets and systems, homemade plushies, glasses with media characters, pins, and hey, even (fan) arts. Candies were shared to everyone for snacks in a few tables along with free thin, small-sized marquees that look like they could be used as "bookmarks". At the vendor where people purchased ZapCon tickets, there were free Retro magazines, current ZapCon flyers, and priced merchandise related to this convention... Pretty much that's all I could describe.
Anyhow, focusing on pinball machines, I saw several returning tables from ZapCon IV like Hyperball, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Star Wars (Data East with the actual original soundtrack from the movies), Super Mario Bros., Tales From The Crypt, Black Hole, etc. The pinball tournament was also back in addition to more sets of pinball tables I didn't see from the previous convention. Among those were Last Action Hero, Secret Service, Lethal Weapon 3, and several machines spotted at one modern arcade I often go: Aerosmith, Metallica, The Addams Family, Pirates of the Caribbean, Ghostbusters, and Batman (TV show). [There were additional machines I can't remember further. Still no Jurassic Park nor Time Machine from Data East, though.]
Were there any other arcade games I played besides Aliens? Can't say "nah" for that. I did play Panic Bomber [... horribly], Mr. Driller [still failed at clearing 1000m Mode], 10 games I will describe in the Arcade Round Robins tournament experience, and a few games I played with an enthusiastic, energetic guy named Rex. Some were my first times playing, while others were what I'm already familiar with.
As for the Arcade Round Robins event, I participated [as someone who was curious, lost, and confused] since I would like to have fun and that anyone at any level could join in and do their best to score as much as possible in 10 chosen arcade games (Sinistar, Marble Madness, QIX, Make Trax, Tournament Arkanoid, Elevator Action, Bump 'n Jump, Jr. Pac-Man, Gyruss, and Tutankham).
Three attempts to score in each specific game summed up the player's overall points for each specific row. I had to bring my score sheet given by Sid, the tournament manager, to the table to verify the scores until everything was done and that I didn't have anymore "credit" to record my scores again. [10 overall points from a player summed up together in a column to make the total points that would be used to compare to the other players'. Only three top players would be chosen to receive the rewards based on the highest amount of points.]
Honestly, I was not very good at QIX because of that titular enemy in addition to those sparks and the ignition when the cursor was stopped during the point of dominating an area of the screen. However, I wasn't that bad at playing Sinistar, Jr. Pac-Man (Turbo), and Gyruss. It's also the first of all attempts in Sinistar that I managed to get to the Warrior Zone. As for Jr. Pac-Man, ...somewhere around 150,000 points as my own new record. And I didn't manage to reach to the Earth on Gyruss either. To my surprise, I was told by Sid I WAS among the top 3 players with the most amount of points when I came back to the vendor table to check my backpack and then had a seat to rest my legs. The reward was something I could pour my favorite healthy drinks to enjoy. [Even the other two players received the same thing. We're all fair and squared, overall.]
In my mind I expected I wouldn't reach that far to be included in the record of 3 people with highest total points considering that there were only close to half of the games I'm intermediately skilled at. Still, it was a miracle... actually hard but fun effort I did, that the history of RS' gaming life would describe the expression of being the 3rd winner in a friendly all-ages tournament. [I'm gonna make fun of myself upon saying this...]
Most importantly, we all had an amazing time playing those ten old-school arcade games, having conversations together, and in the end wishing each other joy and prosperity for the rest of the days in their life. [I hope Jewel is doing alright up to now...]
But wait a second. What was going on? It was when the 1st winner named Rex took an interest in inviting me to play a few arcade games with him. He didn't mind sharing those he often played around the area from obscure to well-known, while we spent the remaining hours playing Blasteroids, Asteroids, Asteroids Deluxe, Robotron 2084, Joust, Joust 2: Survival of the Fittest, Last Action Hero (pinball), Tales From The Crypt (pinball), that one mechanical pinball game I forgot the name of, and might be a few other games I could barely recall. Of course, I also shared several arcade games I heard of before to him, including Mr. Driller, which Rex admitted was fun to play despite that I was about close to getting to the last 100m on the 1000m Mode gameplay.
During that time as well, my friend whom I often see in the school's cafeteria along with her guy looking around the vendor tables saw me sitting inside. After a hug, I didn't mind walking around with both sharing particular games I played. As I knew before, they did have a good time in ZapCon when they came in, mostly for fascinating pinball machines. I also mentioned and introduced Rex as well, and we ended up playing just a pinball game of Tales From The Crypt... almost. Though, the time we all had fun didn't last long; she had to leave and would attend to the convention tomorrow. As for me, I had my homework that had to be done prior to Monday, so no Sunday at ZapCon 5 for RS because of more important stuff to do.
Before 9PM, I was able to have some time to talk to my friends working at my favorite retro arcade. Though, I didn't see anyone around when I had to leave, so I left them a small note on the table giving best wishes to them when I was busy with things during the rest of the days [and being kicked on the rear by reality]. Only on Saturday as usual would ZapCon be closed that late, yet I had to get home before 11PM to watch the new episode of Samurai Jack on Adult Swim. [Managed to watched all ten episodes of Season 5. It's bittersweet at the end, though I was very satisfied about it over the typical "happily ever after" ending because it brought me more... real emotions and such dark yet beautiful moments in which... it was worth to be able to move forward after all the hardship happening in life. I will never forget the samurai who finally got back to the past, and so as the whole cartoon series itself that has brought a lot of positive things to those who have enjoyed for long.]
My thoughts toward ZapCon 5 were pretty much speechless... well, with the feeling of satisfaction and enjoyment I had after hanging out around the convention for over 10 hours. [Yeah, that would likely make my legs very tired if it wasn't for the availability of small areas for people to sit.] Despite that I wasn't able to play certain games like Skycurser, It was like another day/night of awesomeness seeing over a hundred of arcade cabinets "united together once again" except with an additional amount of machines I didn't even see on the previous ZapCon and a few extras. As for the opportunity of going to "ZapCon 6"... I'm unsure whether or not I will be able to because... real life issues I'm having to deal with and schoolwork. Nevertheless, memories of ZapCon to me are worth to be treasured deep in the mind of those who have such pleasant times there.
And that's all for this journal. More will come soon whenever I have time...