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Review: Retro Gaming Championship

BY CONOR MCBRIEN | SEPTEMBER 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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Humbly situated in the Hillel House, the Game Geek's Retro Gaming Championship 2014 drew a sizable crowd. It was nowhere near so much of a crowd as the Hawkeyes’ game against Iowa State but still an impressive turnout for what is considered a small gaming community.

Two local indie developers were present. Kinto Games showcased its retro-style action RPG Bit Dungeon (available for smart phones), which takes artistic inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for a cartoonishly gory experience with various weapon types and character classes. I was able to play as two unique characters, one of whom rammed into enemies as his main attack. When I drew a comparison to classic RPG Ys Book, the lead designer looked it up on his phone and seemed giddy to check it out.

The other developer was Austin Sojka, operating independently from his own business, Austin’s PC Repair (which could be a hilarious name for a game-development company if he focused only on games). His game, Retaliate, is a fixed shooter reminiscent of Galaga. This is the one that hooked me. The game offers four difficulties, and I started on the highest, quickly absorbing myself in its simple and addicting play.

“I’m very stubborn,” I remarked to Sojka as I began my umpteenth game.

“I can tell,” he replied dryly.

Retaliate’s premise is that you are a lone spaceship fighting waves of enemies who unfortunately run out of ammo. However, your shield is able to absorb enemy fire and use it for your own weaponry, allowing you to fight back against the relentless force in front of you. Bullets, missiles, and laser cannons can all be redirected at the enemy units. Sojka’s game is available on Google Play for free (99 cents without ads).

Both Kinto Games and Sojka were both overshadowed by the championship’s vendors and the numerous Super Smash Bros. tournaments in the same room. The vendors were all classic game collectors, showcasing products from the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s including games for Atari 2600, the original Nintendo Entertainment System as well as its successors, Sega’s consoles from the Master System onward to the ill-fated Dreamcast and of course Sony and Microsoft’s original PlayStation and Xbox lines, without getting too close to modern games, of course.

Super Smash Bros. drew the crowds from around the state. As four different games in that one series were all played competitively, the other games that were supposed to be featured (and pay homage to the classic gaming tournaments of the late-80s and early ’90s) were left to collect dust or be quickly dismissed by the “young’uns” who have apparently never played Tetris.

If you missed Game Geeks Retro Championship 2014, don’t worry. There’s always next year, and Game Geeks’ monthly Smash League is returning Saturday.


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