The weekend of the 30th-31st July saw Revival Retro Events' Solstice take over Walsall's Bescott football stadium for the UK's largest dedicated retro gaming event. The Dreamcast Junkyard was there to spread some love for Sega's final console and the event was an outstanding success. It wasn't all about the Dreamcast though, as pretty much every retro system imaginable was on display in the large gaming hall - all fully accessible and available to play. Even extremely rare systems such as the Pippin Atmark and NUON were on offer, and I took the opportunity to experience Marathon on the Bandai/Apple console and Tempest 3000 on the VM Labs hardware.
On the subject of Marathon on the Pippin, it ran way better than I was expecting and had a silky frame rate - far better than Saturn Doom, for example. Those two games were probably the (non-Dreamcast) highlight for me, but there were plenty of arcade machines and pinball machines on offer, and retro consoles going back to the very dawn of gaming were on show.
There were plenty of traders selling all manner of games, consoles and paraphernalia and I took advantage of this by picking up a copy of Senile Team's Rush Rush Rally Racing and also a handful of Gameboy Advance carts. The main Junkyard area was kitted out with six Dreamcasts and a random assortment of displays from my own collection, and I set the area up with a host of different peripherals with which to show off the Dreamcast's rich and varied library.
This clearly went down well with the crowds who attended the event as the lightguns, keyboards, arcade sticks and fishing rods got a thrashing over the course of the two days. Rez, Cosmic Smash, Virtua Tennis, Daytona USA 2001, Bass Fishing, The House of the Dead 2, Capcom vs SNK 2, Souls Calibur, Sturmwind, Wind and Water, Crazy Taxi, Propeller Arena, Typing of the Dead...they all entertained the punters and I'm pretty sure plenty of people went away from the event either looking to dig their Dreamcasts out of the loft or investigate buying a system of their own.
As well as playing Dreamcast games, I had some really great conversations about games in general and met up with a lot of familiar faces from the UK retro scene. Ben Lancaster (creator of the James & Watch indie games) was in attendance, as were plenty of other old friends. On top of this, I made a lot of new friends too and it really hit home just how cool a lot of people in the retro gaming community are. There were guys from YouTube (TootyUK), band The British IBM (I also picked up their new album), and various gaming podcasts too, including Retrogaming Roundup, Ten Pence Arcade, The Same Coin, Retro Asylum and RGDS; while The Retro Lords ran a series of competitions throughout both days. Another highlight was that the Coleco Chameleon was on show, complete with SNES Mini innards and hastily taped rear!
Overall, Revival Solstice was a fantastic event and not one that I will forget in a hurry. I played some great games, met up with some really awesome people and generally had a fantastic time representing the Junkyard and spreading the good word. Big thanks to Craig and his team at Revival Events and an ultra special mention must go to Kieren Hawken of Retro Gamer Magazine fame because he moaned that I didn't mention him. Kieren is the best bloke ever and has a lovely collection of Atari Jaguar games. Furthermore all the men want to be him, all the women want to be with him. Kieren. He's awesome. That OK Kieren? XD