Christmas has already come and gone but these events are like mini Christmas Days to us retro collectors. It was the Leeds Retro Games Fair and we had our wish lists in hand.
Stephen at the Fair
I had one thing on my list and that was a working NES. Anything else was a bonus. It’s handy having something in mind because these places get busy FAST. In fact, just one lap around the fair and then tactical decisions needed to be made to get anywhere.
‘Buy Me’ cried the Atari 2600 woody as we hit the FIRST table. I capped first because buying anything from around the entrance is usually crazy, or maybe that’s my embedded car boot paranoia doing the thinking. It was priced at £30 with a joystick and two paddles. That’s a great price, maybe too great? I’m here for a NES but this is too good to miss. I already own a Junior 2600 but I’d love this. I want this. I bought this.
OK, I’m still buying a NES.
After becoming a little disgruntled by the prices of NES’s in the main area (£75+), I decided to hit the outskirts. Stumbling through the crowded corridors I came across a stall selling one unboxed for £40. At last, a decent price! Let’s have a closer look. Dammit, the cartridge tray doesn’t lock when you push it down. I tried to convey this to the guy selling it but he actually replied with something along the lines of “they all do that”. Well, I haven’t had a NES for quite a while but I do know the tray locks down. I had him check it through a TV and yeah, it didn’t work. He had another one and tried that. Flashing lights issue. He had one more. This one worked but had a blue power light instead of red. I assume it’s been modded. I took the NES and managed to get an unboxed Super Mario Bros thrown in.
So I got my NES, I was happy. As I was obviously going to test it out that evening I decided to pick up a couple of games. I opted for Maniac Mansion and Bart vs. the Space Mutants, two games I loved when I was a kid. They were in decent condition, boxed with manuals. That was me done.
Stephen at Home, Crying But Eventually Fist Pumps the Air
At home it was testing time. I set up the Atari Woody in the living room on a HDTV as I don’t own a CRT (need to remedy that). Tuning the signal in via the RF signal took its time as expected, but I was really pleased to see it working – well nearly. There was no sound! I’m never buying from a fair again! Luckily this seemed to be an isolated issue as after testing on a different TV YARS’ Revenge was heard in all its glory!
NES time and another issue. Grey screen. I wasn’t clued up on what the grey screen meant, only the blinking power light issue so I googled the hell out it. It’s like googling for a headache or sore foot, you instantly get CANCER or PLAGUE. Basically, the internet was telling me my NES was a wreck. I’m never buying from a fair again! Turns out it was the game I was checking. The unboxed Super Mario Bros that came with the NES must be to blame as every other game I tried worked first time.
My stomach settled. I’m definitely going to retro fairs again.
A Day at Ye Olde Fair
Right, I’ve been specifically putting off doing my part of this post for one simple reason. My Sega Multi Mega that I spent £100 on didn’t work properly. How very annoying. I’ll get to that later though, but for now, story time!
Stephen made me meet him (He’ll say he didn’t but he absolutely emotionally forced me) on the train at 8am. It’s bad enough I have to get up for work at 7am, let alone do the same thing on a Saturday, what a monster! We didn’t get seats together right away, but that changed after half an hour and we could start chowing down on some serious catch-up (We hadn’t actually seen each other in person for about 6 years).
We get there 2 hours early and attempt to have a mooch around the city centre. All I can say is Leeds is a fantastic looking city, it has some incredible architecture and a mammoth amount of shops. But we weren’t here for shops, we were here for retro games! Quick coffee break, but we were running on anticipation by this point anyway so caffeine was surplus to requirements.
Doors open at 11, and we’ve already been lightly dusted in snow thanks to the delightful Northern British weather. All that didn’t matter though, games were close! Stephen says to me “Right, we can wingman for each other. If you see something I need, text me and vice versa!”
That absolutely was not adhered to.
As soon as we got in, we ended up going different ways and ignoring each other completely. It was like being in a nerdy sweet shop, and everywhere you looked was sugar. Sugary, unhealthy, calorific retro games. Mmmm.
I ended up coming away with a nice haul in the end. A Sega Multi Mega (more on that later), a modded region-free NES with new 72 pin connector (so games would actually work), Super Runabout (DC), Virtual On (Saturn), Lemmings 3D (Saturn), Nights Into Dreams (Saturn), Dungeons and Dragons (Mega Drive), Boxed Super Smash Bros (N64), Sonic CD (Mega CD), Bonanza Bros (Master System), Black Belt (Master System), Mario is Missing! (NES) and a presentation box of Chaos Emeralds from Sonic (Oh yes). The journey home was looooooong, we both had worries of hardware not working. I was kinda right but also it’s my own fault for being an idiot.
Use the Other TV You Idiot
Right, first things first, try the thing you spent the most money on. I carefully took my Multi Mega out of its protective bubble wrap and set it up. OK, cartridge slot is fine. If anything, it’s the best cartridge slot I own for Mega Drive as it felt like a solid fit in the pins, doesn’t wobble and didn’t even need the ol’ blow trick to get it working. Not a bad start! But then the issues arose.
I put Sonic CD in and it gets stuck on the console OS.
Ok, wipe the laser lens maybe?
Ok *sigh* try again..
“Checking disc”….*boots*. YAY! Maybe it had just needed the cobwebs blowing off it!
He thought, wrongly.
*Gets stuck at Title Screen*
FOR GODS SAKE. I’M LIVID, THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T BUY THINGS FROM STALLS, RARRGH, I HATE RETRO EVENTS, THEY’RE ANNOYING. THIS GUY RIPPED ME OFF.
Tried a few more times, and it started to play ball more and more. I get to the Title Screen, then I get to the first level, then I get to the second level, then it’s glorious for half an hour! I can switch it off and on again, I can switch games! It all works! Leave it on overnight, and bam, back to “Checking disc” again. Right, time for action.
So I get in touch with the guy from the event, tell him of my issue, we locate the private seller and he passes my details on to him. Bit of a back and forth and he gives me a £30 partial refund. Not bad in the grand scheme of things considering these things sell for £130 broken. But I’m a collector, I shan’t be parting with it anytime soon! It’s not ideal, but I’m £60 quid up and I’m not sure it’ll cost that much to get it repaired.
As for the NES, it was amazing straight away, apart from it was in black and white. My telly didn’t agree with it. Took me a good half hour to figure that out though, but all was well and now I can play Faxanadu at NTSC speed, even though it is a PAL cart (It’s weird playing things faster than I remember them being..)
In conclusion, all is well. I intend on getting my Multi Mega fixed/realigned or whatever the hell is wrong with it. It’s a beautiful system, but I’ll trust the electronics boffins to do the fixing, not me.
10/10, would retro event again. I spent far too much, though.
For more information on the Leeds Retro Fair visit: http://retrogamesfair.com
Follow them on Twitter: @retevents
Here’s some photos from the fair and our loot!