From The Ref’s Office: October 18th, 2016

Just a quick update as I am teaching in the morning:

I am thrilled to share that I did indeed purchase a Dreamcast while at RetroWorld Expo this past weekend. It was my main goal– I sold off some non-sports games from my collection and most of my NES manuals to get there, but I’m glad I did it. It was important for this project that I have a Dreamcast, because of its significance in the sports video game genre. It’s one thing to watch YouTube videos and go by memory, but it’s another to actually play the games myself and react to them with direct experience.

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A visit to Game Depot in Holyoke, MA landed me this treasure trove of Dreamcast goodies.

Once this month (Icetober) is completed– and, yes, the After Further Review piece on NHL Hitz Pro is still on target for this week– November will be a less of a themed month and more varied. Dreamcast-related content will be part of the plan. I don’t want to get into too much detail just yet, but I have a fair number of options in my head that I’ll be looking to flesh out. I’m still trying to track down a handful of games (most notably NBA Showtime and Virtua Tennis), but I have a couple of weeks to keep looking.

The above video shows what I got at Retroworld Expo over the weekend, as well as some thoughts on the show in general. There’s more than just sports games here, for what it’s worth.

That’s it from The Ref’s Office for now, but check back in here later this week for a look at NHL Hitz Pro— a game that deserves a lot more attention than it got during its heyday.

From the Ref’s Office: October 14th, 2016

The weekend is finally here– and this is no ordinary weekend. It’s time for RetroWorld Expo, and I’m looking forward to being there. I’ve been looking forward to seeing my friends from Retroware, as well as getting the chance to meet some of my favorite video creators (including Pat The NES Punk, The Game Chasers, The Gaming Historian, Gamester81, Pixel Dan, and more).

I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be coming home from RetroWorld Expo with a Dreamcast. The console has a lot of great sports games, both arcade and sim, and I’d really like to cover them. I have put together a bunch of games from my collection to sell with the hope of getting enough cash to get a Dreamcast on site. I’ll also have my eyes open for other sports games at the event, as well as a few other things. From what I understand, I may also be doing a special video game challenge with Retroware at the show. Stay tuned to my personal Twitter feed for news on that.

“So, what’s up with the site?” Well…

Later on this morning, at about 11am EDT, a new After Further Review piece (on NHL Rock the Rink) will be going up before I do last-minute prep for my trip. I have one more After Further Review that I have on the schedule for next week (for NHL Hitz Pro), and I have one more In The Booth piece on NHL ’98 that I’d like to get done before the month is out. Hockey games will likely be on the agenda for the rest of October, followed by a focus on basketball for November… but this is subject to change and tinkering as I go, as always.

I had planned to write the Rock the Rink piece last week, but I started substitute teaching and free time was limited. It’s a bit of an adjustment going from playing games by day and writing by night to teaching by day and going to bed at a decent hour at night. I’m in the process of changing up my routine, and hope to be acclimated in another week or two.

Retro Referee content has begun expanding outside of this website. My first review for Sega Does went up a few weeks ago, and I’ll be submitting reviews of Genesis sports games there every so often when they come up on the chronological list. I think my next review there will be, and I’m looking forward to that. I have one other site that I’m looking to post retro sports game-related content to, but that’s still in the works.

As for Film Room videos, reaction was pretty positive to the NHL Open Ice video I filmed earlier this month. I’m still trying to decide whether I want to talk about the game a bit and then play a bit on camera, or just talk about the game and leave gameplay out. I definitely want to do more videos, so they’ll be coming… especially after I hammer out my daily and weekly routines a bit better. I’m strongly considering doing one for NBA HangTime next month.

That’s it from The Ref’s Office for now. I’m off to get some sleep before a day of packing and last-minute prep for this weekend’s big show. I hope you enjoy the NHL Rock the Rink review, and look for the NHL Hitz Pro review sometime next week. Icetober is in full effect!

 

Convention Announcement: RetroWorld Expo 2016

RetroWorld Expo is a convention that revolves primarily around retro video games. It features guests and panels, arcade and console games to play, musical acts, vendors and shops selling video games, and more. This year’s event takes place over two days, October 15th and 16th, at the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, CT.

Last year marked the debut of the event, and it was an absolute blast. I got to meet a lot of awesome people, I sold my loose NES instruction manuals, and I managed to buy some games for my collection that I really wanted. Sitting on the Retroware panel was a dream come true, and getting to meet YouTube personalities who inspired me to get in front of the camera myself every so often was unforgettable.

I’m very proud to once again be part of the team representing Retroware at RetroWorld Expo 2016. Our panel is just one of thirteen that have been scheduled across the two days of this year’s convention. Pat The NES Punk, John from Gamester 81, Daniel Pesina (of Mortal Kombat fame), and Josh Tsui (a video game industry veteran and former Midway employee who is putting together a fantastic documentary on Midway Games in the 1990s) will be joining returning guests, including The Game Chasers, The Gaming Historian, Pixel Dan, Eric “Goemon047” Lappe, Banjo Guy Ollie, James “Epic Game Music” Ronald, and a cast of others.

While at the Retroware booth, I’ll be selling some video games from my collection as well as a variety of NES, Super NES, SEGA Genesis, and Nintendo 64 instruction manuals. I’m hoping that the latter will help other collectors fill in missing pieces in their libraries. Since money is tight this year, I’m hoping to sell these items in order to buy some other things at the show. My fingers are crossed, since I’d really like to buy a Dreamcast and perhaps some of its sports games so that I can cover them here.

In addition, I’ll be giving away some loose sports video games to those who may want them. Unfortunately, older sports video games often get trashed or destroyed instead of played– and that’s a shame, since many of the games are still fun to play today (even if the rosters are outdated). One of the things that drove the Retro Referee idea was the desire to stimulate memories of and conversation about these sports games from years gone by. While I can write about them or talk about them on camera, another strong way to get people interested in them again is to put the games in their hands and let them play to remember.

Speaking of sports video games, NHL ’94 and NBA Jam tournaments will be going on during the first afternoon of the event. In addition, a WWF No Mercy tournament will be going on that evening. I’ll be stopping by the NHL ’94 tournament early on to scope out the competition. The Freeplay Arcade will have NFL Blitz 2000 and NBA Showtime available to play for fellow arcade sports game fans, and I’m counting on getting a couple of games of each in over the event’s two days. There’s also going to be a console gaming area to check out, though I’m not sure which games will be available to try.

I hope to see some of you at the show. The schedule is packed, there are more than 75 exhibitors to buy cool stuff from, and a ton of games to play. If you can’t make it, I’ll try to post some photos and maybe some video on my personal Twitter account, @PeteSkerritt.

From The Ref’s Office: July 31, 2016

From The Ref’s Office: July 31, 2016

Greetings, everybody!

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have checked out the site in the latter half of July. It’s been good to have some time (and some content ideas) to get some writing in, and I’m hoping to have a bit more time in August. Over the last couple of days, I wrote and published this piece about EASN— the Electronic Arts Sports Network– over the weekend, and put the finishing touches on another piece, which is scheduled to publish on Monday afternoon (August 1st).

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The EASN piece is the first in a series that I’m calling In The Booth, and the series will focus largely on presentation values in sports video games. While most people (understandably) are most concerned with how a game looks and plays, I’ve had a fascination with how the game is presented. I am interested in stat overlays, commentary, graphics packages, and a presentation style that’s close to what I watch on television. I have some ideas lined up already for the next two or three installments of In The Booth, and I hope that at least some of you will enjoy reading them.

The piece that’s going up on August 1st will launch another new series, called 1st and 10. These are lists– in random order– of my favorite games that are bound by a certain theme or topic. The first 1st and 10 will be on arcade sports games, which are easily my favorite games. I had a lot of potential games to choose from, and I could only pick 10. (Hence the “10” in “1st and 10”.) Lists are fun to do, and there are plenty of potential topics. I already have the next three topics in my head, so I am pretty confident that this series will pick up steam.

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Another piece that I’m working on is a Scouting Report on Frank Thomas Big Hurt Pinball, which recently released within the Pinball Arcade application for iOS, Android, and Steam. I’m a huge pinball fan, so it’s pretty much a dream scenario to play a pinball table that revolves around sports. I’ve been capturing some photos from my iPad which are pretty clean, and after a few more playing sessions, I should have enough experience to get some words typed out about it.

Aside from that, I do have some things that I’d like to cover if time allows in August. The NFL Preseason will be underway, and with Madden NFL 17 coming out on August 23rd… I’m hoping to do some Scouting Reports or After Further Review pieces on some of the pigskin games in the Retro Library. Football will probably be a pretty consistent theme for August and into early September, leading up to the NFL’s opening weekend.

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Some have been asking about my YouTube channel, and where the new videos are. While I want to do some more videos, the weather has not been cooperating. More than half of the month of July saw temperatures in the 90s, including 8 of the last 10 days, as of this writing. It’s impossible to film with my air conditioner and fan making a racket. That said, I did power down the cooling equipment for a special thing that I shot for a friend of mine– and, yes, I’ll link you to it when it goes live. When things cool down, I will be back in front of the iPad to shoot some new stuff. I miss doing it.

Finally, I want to start talking about RetroWorld Expo 2016, which is going to be happening on October 15th and 16th in Wallingford, Connecticut. Last year was the first RetroWorld Expo show, and I had an absolute blast. That was only one day, though– this year is a two-day extravaganza. The guest list for this year is already filling up nicely (I’m psyched to finally meet Pat the NES Punk!), and there’s going to be a nice selection of exhibitors selling great retro games and consoles. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, you’ve still got time… but it’s always nice to buy early and start saving money to take with you on the trip. I’ll be at the Retroware booth once again this year, so I really hope to meet some of you.

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That’s all I’ve got for now. Be sure to check back on August 1st for the premiere of 1st and 10!