I’d been to a few smaller retrogaming events in recent years, including a small one on Canvey Island by The Retro Lords, two small ones (Retromania) in Essex and London by Retro Asylum, and also Play Margate, but I hadn’t been to one of the big ones. The bigger ones are generally Play Blackpool, Play Manchester and Revival. I’d been wanting to go to one for a while but it just hadn’t worked out with money and dates etc. But when Ally ‘TheRetroHunter‘ Hogg asked me if I fancied joining him at Revival Solstice in Walsall this year, I was pleased that I was able to attend this time.

Here are some photos of the general setup of the event to give you a flavour.

Revival Solstice

Revival Solstice

Revival Solstice

One of the main reasons I had been wanting to attend these larger events in recent years was for the arcade machines. Having recently built my own arcade machine I guess this need had been slightly tempered. It’s still great to play the original machines though and particularly ones that you can’t emulate in MAME as easily, perhaps because they use vector graphics or because the controls are different etc. I was perhaps slightly disappointed by the number of arcade machines at Revival Solstice but I guess the larger Play events tend to have more as they’re a bit bigger. Also if I really want to play lots of arcade machines I need to make my way to Arcade Club UK. But Revival still had some great machines, and some, as I mentioned above, which are hard to emulate, such as Out Run due to its steering wheel, Centipede due to its trackball, Robotron due to its double joystick controls and X-Men due to its 4-player nature. Other machines they had included Hang-On, Defender, Ms Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Fix it Felix Jr, Street Fighter II and several others.




Out Run

Another reason why I was looking forward to attending was for the stalls. I had a few things I was looking out for, although the majority of the content at these stalls were console based and I’m more into computers. I did, however, pick up one of my holy grails which was a boxed TomyTronic 3D Thundering Turbo. I still have my one that I had in my youth but I’ve never had a box for it. I didn’t even know what the box looked like. But this one I got was in great condition and so I just had to buy it. Very pleased with that. I also bought a couple of old Spectrum manuals that I was missing.

Tomytronic 3D Thundering Turbo

One thing that was done really well at this event was the setup of computers and consoles. There was a massive array of machines both common (such as SNES, Mega Drive, Spectrum etc) and more rare (Virtual Boy, Sega SC-3000 Computer, TurboGrafx etc). And quite often at events the machines are only playing one game, and you’re not allowed to change games. But this event, as it was a bit smaller and more trusting, had a whole bunch of games at most machines that you could swap in and out as much as you wanted.

Sega Master System

Commodore Amiga

Commodore 16

ZX Spectrum +2

BBC Micro

Amstrad CPC

Sega SC-3000

I found a whole box of floppy disks next to an Atari ST and I was in heaven for about 45 mins while I flipped through the floppies and put on some of my favourite ST games from back in the day such as Eliminator, Overlander, IK+, Rick Dangerous, Test Drive and Speedball. Superb.

Atari ST

Atari ST

These Sharp SF1 TVs were pretty cool too. Built in Super Famicom cartridge slot.
Sharp SF1

And if you know about the Coleco Chameleon debacle by Mike Kennedy, formerly of Retro Gaming Roundup fame, then it was pretty funny to see how Scott and UK Mike of Retro Gaming Roundup had created a spoof version of the Chameleon to have a dig at SoCal Mike.
Coleco Chameleon

It was also great to see some of the machines that people have either restored, recovered or built themselves. Alex Crowley from Nintendo Arcade is an absolute gem of a bloke and his collection is fascinating to look at online and it was great that he was able to bring some machines to the event, in particular his very rare Sheriff game. There was also a very cool NEScade which I believe was made by the event host Craig Turner of Turnarcades.


One thing I particularly enjoyed from Revival were the guest panels. My friends at Retro Asylum were running this part of the show and were conducting interviews with several names from the retrogaming industry in a smaller room adjacent to the main floor. I didn’t want to spend the whole day in that other room, so I had to sadly skip the talks by Steve Turner and Jim Bagley, but I did go to Archer MacLean, Walter Day and the Spectrum Next session.

Archer MacLean was a fascinating guest. I’m a big fan of his work, in particular IK+ and Jimmy White’s ‘Whirlwind’ Snooker on the Atari ST. He had lots of interesting stories, particularly ones involving Jimmy White, and I’m sure he has loads more stories that he’s not allowed to tell. It was also very intriguing to hear him say that he put lots of hidden cheats into IK+ and Jimmy White’s ‘Whirlwind’ Snooker that haven’t all been discovered yet. I hope they all get revealed one day soon.

Archer MacLean

Walter Day, of Twin Galaxies fame, was interviewed via Skype and that was fun having such a big name guest talking from across the Atlantic. Anyone who heard him recently on the Retro Asylum podcast knows that he is a fascinating man, very intelligent and has a great story about how the video game high score scene took off. A lucky attendee won the full set of Walter Day trading cards. What a great raffle prize.

Walter Day

I had been looking forward to seeing Paul ‘Mr Biffo’ Rose, who was meant to be coming but had to pull out at the last minute due to a horrible street attack that he suffered. Get well soon Paul.

One of the highlights for me, however, was not another chat with a luminary from the past, but rather the talk with the man behind the upcoming Spectrum Next, Henrique Olifiers. I’ll be writing a separate blog post about this Kickstarter machine but suffice to say that Henrique was extremely impressive and passionate about the Spectrum’s legacy, fielded some tough questions incredibly well and gave everybody a massive amount of confidence that this might be the most successful of all the recent retrogaming Kickstarter hardware projects. There was a real buzz in the room after his session.

Spectrum Next

But without doubt the best part of the event for me was meeting fellow retrogamers, many of whom I knew on Twitter but hadn’t met in real life before. It’s always great to catch up with my retrogaming comrade-in-arms Ally ‘The Retrohunter’ Hogg, who just lives a few miles away from me, and it’s great when I get the chance to meet up with Paul Davies and Dean ‘Swainy’ Swain from the Retro Asylum podcast, who I sometimes get to see once or twice a year. I’ve also met the Retro Lords, Lozz and Bob, several times, and it’s great to see them doing great hosting again at this event. But other people I met for the first time included Steve ‘Press Play on Tape’ Erickson from Retro Asylum, Alex Crowley from Nintendo Arcade, Chris O’Regan from The Sausage Factory podcast (and Retro Asylum’s 8-bit Wars), the hilarious Vic Marland and Shaun Holley from The Ten Pence Arcade podcast, Scott and UK Mike from the Retro Gaming Roundup podcast, Tom Charnock from The Dreamcast Junkyard podcast, the lads from The British IBM, Garron and Benny from the RGDS podcast and also Ross ‘Super Goatuko’ and MadSteDotCom. Hope I haven’t left anyone out. It was a lot of fun going for a beer and curry with some of these guys on Saturday night. There’s a great vibe around the UK retrogaming community with a bunch of really positive and supportive people who all look out for each other and contribute to the greater good of the community. Great to be a part of it.

One thing I often find interesting when mixing with other retrogamers is how different some of our gaming backgrounds are. Depending on your age, just a few years difference can give you a very different gaming experience and there were so many different platforms, in particular computer versus console, that people often have a very different gaming history. I think this is good as many of us are still learning new things even though these games were released 20 or 30 years ago, and it just goes to show how rich this world of gaming is. I’ll touch upon this further in my upcoming post (tomorrow hopefully) about my own gaming history.

Lastly, well done to Craig Turner, from Revival Retro Events, who I unfortunately didn’t actually manage to speak to, who put on an excellent event. I hope to be back next year. What with also watching a bit of Murder She Wrote and Catchphrase in our hotel room and having an 80s theme tune competition on the car journey south, it was a pretty retro-filled weekend.