The Day we went to Play Margate
By Hedger & Preece
Chas and Dave and Del Boy and Rodney are arguably the most famous duo’s to have made their way to Margate, well lets just say they were…
As your favourite Games You Loved duo Hedger & Preece found their way to the jewel in the Kent coastline for Play Margate 2015 - www.playmargate.com. The duo departed their secret Sussex location (also known as Burgess Hill) at 8.00am Zero Hour! We had a great journey with only one “Are we nearly there?” from George and Matthew tinkering with ipads in the back of the car.
The gates opened to the Winter Gardens at 10am and we descended the strangely Brasso-smelling stairway down into the first ‘zone’ that had mainly sellers with an impressive array of gaming merchandise. That and a fantastic display of four of the original Tomytronic 3D handhelds. Obligation, coupled with a shouting inner voice telling us we’d not seen these for years and so we MUST have a go, dictated that we pick up Thundering Turbos and Shark Attack and immediately try our luck.
The old magic was in short supply however so after losing all our lives (very quickly!) and attempting to show our two 10 year olds how to play (quite unsuccessfully!) we quickly moved on.
A few short steps further down later and what a beautiful glow we saw as we entered the arena. There were tables, stages, benches, LAN networks and even an arcade tucked over the back. It delivered everything we had been anticipating. There were over 100 consoles, 20 pinball machines and 25 arcade cabinets lovingly prepared for our enjoyment.
George and Matthew let loose a 4 letter word beginning with F before their eyes could have adjusted to the darkness....FIFA. There were 3 Xbox Ones set up, so the boys tucked straight into that – the game they play religiously at home!.
We decided to work from the back - eyes darting back and forth. It was a slow journey as we moved through the beautiful machines of yesteryear, running the finest games they had to offer – Look a Spectrum with Manic Miner, Megadrive with Moonwalker, Saturn with Daytona, a BBC with Chuckie Egg for goodness sakes! And then we get there - the arcade.
“Get in” shrieks Preece “I’ve not played this for ages” It wasn’t the last time we would hear that. “Point Blank 2” Hedger wearily picked up the player 2 controller feeling that a beating was about to be administered. Hmmm lets just say the younger of the duo has lost none of his sharpness as Hedger was duly dispatched.
Given we were in early and perhaps the most competitive of the duo, Hedger stepped up to enter the UK Gaming Championships. The rules were simple: 3 goes at 3 different games, your best score went into the pot. The games were Kung Fu – NES, Hang On – Sega Master System and Pop n’ Pop on PS1. Hedger got stuck into the task and when leaving the event was the 17th best classic gamer in the UK. That’s out of 65 million people in the UK – not bad! lol
In the meantime Preece went over to re-live his first gaming memories with a rather beautiful looking C64. Super Sprint was all loaded up and 3 races later the smile on his face couldn’t even have been wiped off with a 3-foot kipper smacking him in the chops. A move to seat next to him brought a date with IK+ - and that’s where any degree of ‘I know what I am doing’ seemed to say “Cheerio!” If only there had been some sort of instructions card nearby and then he wouldn’t have looked like a plum in front of the audience that had mysteriously assembled. Turns out where a fantasy kipper in the mouth would have failed, a pathetic attempt at IK+ on the Atari ST could indeed wipe the grin away… But only briefly.
Multiplayer then called him. First on Jedi Knight II then on Counterstrike, both on PC LAN, and both fantastic! But it was on a circular setup of Halo 4 (on 16 Xbox 360s) that the dynamic duo of Hedger and Preece were reunited. Sat either side of a young lad (there were a lot of the younger generation enjoying this event as much as their dads!) we entered in a game of Slayer. 4th and 5th respectively at the end. Not bad for two not-as-quick-as-they-used-to-be’s. Any then we looked at the 9 year old, sat between us with a smug grin, a proud dad behind him and a big ‘3rd’ flashing up on his scree
We popped back upstairs for a little dabble in the merchandise arena. It's quite amazing to see the range in prices from 5 games sellers all in the same room so you need to shop around. We did our research, checked our wish lists and moved off back downstairs smiling gleefully at the prices paid for Pilotwings 64, Resi 4 on GC, Battlefront 2 on Xbox and Gauntlet on MD. Nice doing business with you!!
We returned downstairs to what was possibly the single most father and son bonding event of the day. We browsed around for a while, a little NBA 2K here and Goldeneye there, a swig of Dark Forces and a snifter of Tomb Raider and then we saw it - 4 Xbox controllers sat with 4 chairs all with our names on, but we didn’t know it yet. “What’s this game then?” say the boys. “Mashed” came Hedgers reply “I’ve heard this is a good multiplayer game”. We settled in and not since the days of Micro Machines has there been such a noise of joy and despair. We were attracting glances as we stayed tucked into this far corner of the hall. I don’t have the literary skills to articulate how great the moments we all spent playing this game were, but safe to say we both bought copies via a well known auction site on the way home and I recommended you do the same and invite 3 people round sharpish.
Our time at the event was starting to come to a close but there was one final delight left, slipped into an Atari 2600 was one of the most beautiful sights you could see. Pitfall!!!! Wonderful to see Harry swinging into action as once more we dodged crocodiles and scorpions to close out the day with an old friend…
Keep your eyes peeled for our next event review, maybe we will even see you there…