Classic Game Fest kicked off on Saturday, July 28, at the Palmer Events Center. Hundreds of people of all ages showed up to play retro video games, experience game-related live music, listen to fun and diverse speakers during panels, and shop at tons of cool vendors.
We arrived to the event in time to see metal band Descendants of Erdrick, named after a character from the Dragon Quest series. The band is based in Austin and have been playing arrangements of music from classic video games since 2009. Descendants of Erdrick is also the first video game music cover band to appear in their own video game, Battle Legend Infinity. Their music is hardcore but melodic, and there was some impressive headbanging onstage.
Walking around the hall where the stage was located, we saw attendees playing games like Punch-Out!! and Tekken on large screens. Around the perimeter of the hall were old arcade games and pinball machines (the latter provided by local arcade Pinballz). We got the chance to play the side-scrolling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, fixed-shooter game Phoenix, and a Starship Troopers pinball machine. There are so many more we hope to check out on day two, including Frogger and Space Invaders.
Another musician we caught at Classic Game Fest was David Ramos, an expert in ocarinas. While many people have heard of ocarinas, no doubt due to the Legend of Zelda game series, they’re not necessarily well-known as an instrument. An ocarina is an ancient type of flute featuring a mouthpiece and four to 12 finger holes. Ramos brought a bunch of ocarinas from his collection, playing songs in different tones and octaves to a captivated audience.
No fest is complete without vendors! There are hundreds of artists and local shops offering their best work for people who love video games, TV and other pop culture. There is handmade jewelry, collectible and custom figures, prints and other art, tote bags, T-shirts for buyers on nearly any budget. It’s amazing to see the creativity at each booth in such a huge space, and somehow each one stands out in its own right.
We ended our time at Classic Game Fest by seeing the special guest speaker for Saturday’s program, Warren Davis. He was a game developer on Q*bert, and he shared with a packed audience the process of imagining the game, then bringing it to life with his team. It was a humorous and eye-opening presentation from a true gaming legend.
After such a fun and exhausting day, we can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s schedule holds, but stay tuned for coverage here and on Instagram. Let us know what your favorite parts of Classic Game Fest are this year!
Featured image credit: Jackie Ruth
Originally hailing from Pennsylvania, Jackie has called Austin home since choosing to attend the University of Texas, where she graduated with a degree in multimedia journalism. She loves spending time with her dogs, writing about pop culture in all its forms and spending time with friends – eating, drinking and doing trivia.