By William Cassidy

Well, another Classic Gaming Expo is over. Nothing left to do now but head home, unpack, play all the games you bought, watch the DVDs and read the books you picked up, post your thoughts about the show on various Internet message boards, and start saving for next year. Oh... and look through your photos. You know: those slightly blurry, oversaturated, too-yellow photos taken by the digital camera you purchased on the cheap. Well, that's what I'm doing, anyway. And now you can too!

This Expo was held at the San Jose Convention Center, rather than at its traditional location of the Plaza hotel in Las Vegas. All in all, I liked it better – although the spacious interiors of the Convention Center made the crowd seem a little smaller in comparison. Maybe it was; I'm not certain of the final attendance figures. There were noticeably fewer dead-eyed old ladies chucking their life savings into slot machines, however. The Museum, in particular, benefited from the move. It had its own large, well-lighted room, as opposed to the cramped, dim antechamber it used to fill. Overall, it looked more like a "real" museum, but that's both good and bad. I heard from a couple folks that the Museum seemed more sterile and empty of visitors, but overall, the treasures contained in the Museum made it a must-see:

Overall, this CGE was essentially the same as in previous years: vendors and games in the main hall, a separate room for the Museum, keynote speeches by industry veterans in another. I went light on the keynotes this year; hopefully they will be well-covered on the CGE DVD. The main room kept me busy! I found the home console row to be much better this year; lots of stations meant I had ample opportunity to try out some "new to me" games. My findings? Jaguar Raiden really needs a rapid-fire option, the homebrew Vectrex 3-D goggles are impressive, and whenever I finally buy a TurboGrafx-16, I won't be buying Ninja Spirit.

I had a terrific time at the show. I only wish I'd made more of an effort to meet up with people I only know online – you know, to put faces to the names – but I've never really outgrown my shy gamer nerd background and lack the fundamental social skills. Still, it's always cool to know that I'm not the only crazy classic gaming nerd out there. I was glad to meet up with some of the SC3 guys again (maybe meetings will resume soon!), also my old pal Ben, Walter Day of Twin Galaxies, Cav from Classic Gamer Magazine, Joe and John from Digital Press, and of course Ken Jong, who floored me with his superhuman Defender skills. CGE's great because it gives all these people – who are scattered all over the world – the chance to gather in one place. The halls of the San Jose Convention Center will reverberate with psychic echoes of geekiness for some time to come, I'm sure.

This was the fourth CGE I've attended, and by now I'm starting to feel like a veteran. That mainly means that I've learned how to manage my money. I'm no big spender (read: tightwad), but that means that I usually end up frustrated that I'm surrounded by all this cool stuff but can't bring myself to shell out the dough for it. This year, I learned not to feel obligated to buy anything and saved my money for the stuff that would bring me the most enjoyment. So, I picked up the Once Upon Atari DVD, some books, and a small number of games I was specifically looking for. I had to pass up some rare O2 goodies, but I did get a line on an Odyssey² sales kit for a possible future purchase. Plus I've vowed to sell off some extra stuff to buy a region-modded TurboGrafx-16.

Umm... I can't really think of any more comments, so I'll just throw out my last few photos:

Thanks to all the Expo organizers for once again bringing us an unforgettable retrogaming event! I'm looking forward to next year. Hopefully I can meet more online friends, and equally hopefully, I'll have a better camera.