PAX AUS 2014 – A Look Back!

It seems like only yesterday that the Retro Domination team was front and centre co-hosting the Classic Console free play area at PAX AUS 2013 (the first Penny Arcade Expo to be held outside of the United States) with our good friends from Retrospekt, Ausretrogamer & Retro Gaming Australia. Whilst our little corner of PAX was generally positively received and an amazing time was definitely had by all involved, it was a learning experience everybody including the Penny Arcade team and we knew we could do be better, iron out those kinks and put on an even better show.

Fast forward fifteen months and PAX AUS 2014 has now been and gone! With this year’s event changing venues to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre (located in the heart of the Melbourne CBD), it also meant increased floor space for the Classic Gaming area and also allowed us to bring an even greater range of consoles along for the ride, with the end result to hopefully provide an even more enjoyable experience for all of our visitors.

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The Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre – the new venue for PAX AUS!

The first order of business was to enlist the help of our good friends Alex and the crew from the awesome Weird & Retro! With their love and expertise of both handheld and multiplayer gaming, they were the perfect choice to come in and add a completely new dynamic and flavour to the area and they did not disappoint! Some of the highlights of the weekend included the linking up of four Atari Lynx’s playing a variety of games including California Games & Checkered Flag, as well as the absolutely gorgeous Panasonic Q Gamecube linked with a Game Boy Advance, running Pacman VS for even more multiplayer fun!

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The Panasonic Q Gamecube running Pacman VS was a thing of beauty!

Speaking of multiplayer goodness, by far our most popular console at PAX AUS 2013 was the Nintendo 64 along with four player Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 64 and Goldeneye. Taking this into account, a real emphasis on multiplayer gaming this year with multiple Nintendo 64’s running these fan favourites, along with the Gamecube making its PAX AUS debut with consoles running Super Smash Bros: Melee and Mario Kart: Double Dash alongside a second console dedicated to Japanese fighter Battle Stadium DON (featuring characters from One Piece, Naruto & Dragonball Z). These, along with a Playstation multitap setup running Crash Team Racing, proved to be real hit with visitors to the area, with people crowding around waiting to get in on the action all weekend long. Perhaps a bit of a more controversial addition to this year’s console line up was the inclusion of Microsoft’s debut Xbox console into the mix. However, with three consoles system linked together and running the ever popular Halo 2, it also proved to be a real hit with visitors!

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The addition of system linked Xbox’s was a controversial addition to the Classic Gaming area.

Another new feature of this year’s show was the running of classic gaming tournaments throughout the weekend. The team from Retrospekt kicked off proceedings on Friday morning, with a Sonic The Hedgehog Speed Run challenge, with the person able to obtain the fastest time through Green Hill Zone – Stage 1 being awarded the winner. Other tournaments included River Raid & Hero (C64) high score challenges run by Ausretrogamer, a Galaga (NES) high score challenge run by our very own Matt, along with a Bomberman (Saturn) tournament run by Dave from Retrospekt. However, by far and away the most popular tournament of the weekend was the Point Blank (Playstation) high score challenge run by Retro Dominations workhorse, Mr. Darren Borg (aka Daz), with lines queuing to the entrance of the Classic Gaming area, all of the chance to walk away with bragging rights and one of those shiny PAX AUS 2014 tournament winner medals!

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This gentlemen got in some early practice for Daz’s Point Blank High Score Challenge!

Whilst the Classic Gaming area was our main focus for the weekend, it’s not the only thing that Retro Domination got up to. In between his busy media duties for Console Domination, Matt (along with Gavin Petersen from Console Domination) was fortunate enough to have a sit down interview with Ron Gilbert (the creator of Maniac Mansion & Monkey Island, amongst others), one of Matt’s gaming heroes, and to say that he was thrilled was an understatement. Check out the interview below!

One of the main draw cards of PAX (besides the Classic Gaming area, of course!) are the many guest panels that run throughout the entire weekend. This year, Daz was asked to co present a panel on “The Best Retro Video Games You’ve Probably Never Played”, along with Marcus Schmerl and Paul Monopoli over from Retrospekt. The games presented by Daz included Myth: History in the Making, Dragon Breed & Soldier of Light and not only focused on gameplay, but also highlighted some of the more memorable ports for each game.

Footage courtesy of Hellfire64

Speaking of panels, the entire team were lucky enough to attend the entertaining Retro Roadshow panel, which was hosted by our good friends Alex & Kane from Weird & Retro! Some of the highlights of the items brought in for ‘show & tell’ included a transforming robot handheld LCD game created by Bandai, the Commodore SX-64 (a totally impractical portable C64!) brought in by Alex from Ausretrogamer, a mint collection of Nintendo Game & Watches as well as a mint collection of Australian Club Nintendo magazines!

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The Retro Roadshow run by those awesome lads Alex & Kane from Weird & Retro!

These are just but a few highlights from this year’s Penny Arcade Expo, as there was just far too much to see and do to be able to completely put it all into words. Overall, this year’s show was a huge improvement over last years and the vibe and feedback has all been overwhelmingly positive! It was also announced during the weekend that PAX AUS has now been locked in for Melbourne for the next five years, so if you were unlucky enough to miss this year’s show, be sure to grab your passes once next year’s go on sale and don’t miss out again!

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The hard working team from Retro Domination, Retrospekt, Weird & Retro and Ausretrogamer!