written by Andy Roan (flatapex)

Saturday August 10th marked the date for the 2013 Sega8bit & SMSPower meet. It was my first one as I am one of the newer members on the site. The venue was the usual Lass O'Gowrie pub in Manchester but this time there was a twist as James (known on the forum as Rupert) had arranged with the landlord for us to have the room upstairs as there was going to be another meet in the 'Snug' (a small downstairs room that we usually use).

I was due to be getting a lift to the meet from my missus but unfortunatly she had a flare up of back pain, so James came to the rescue and offered me a lift there. At 11:00am he sent me a text message saying he was half an hour away. Sure enough, he arrived exactly when he said he would, then off we went.

Having never met anyone from the forum before, I was understandably nervous, but as we made our way to the meet it turned out that I had a lot in common with James and he reassured me that meets are laid back and friendly, much like the forum itself.† I had watched the previous videos and had an idea of who was who and would have a decent chance of putting names to faces when I arrived.† Some are serious collectors, some are interested in the development side, some (like me) have a few dozen games and just enjoy all things retro.

We made our way upstairs to the room, which was separated off with a large black curtain. There were 5 TV's already in the room and Maxim, Ian and Ninjabearhug were there already with some systems set up. Playgeneration arrived within a few minutes of us.† James set up his Samsung Gam*boy and I set up my Master System 2. Phil arrived shortly afterwards so we figured this was going to be our full attendance.

After I set up my system Ian challenged me to a game of Slap Shot, an ice hockey game I bought a week earlier in a poor condition box for £1. I had played it for about 2 minutes the day I bought it to test it works. I was beaten quite comprehensively (13-5),†but it was great fun all the same.

A few of us went down to the bar and on the way called in on the 'snug'. Mike, from the Retro Gamer forums, had set up a small extension of his computer club, which is a monthly occurance at the pub. Some items were being sold off to fund repairs to some arcade machines and as it was the weekend before my birthday I figured buying myself a retro-themed birthday present was in order.†I spotted 4 Master System games that I was interested in (Ninja Gaiden, Double Hawk, Laser Ghost and Rambo 3), which Mike offered to me for £10. I also tried out a Mega Drive but the cartridges we tested didn't work, so we had no idea if the console worked or not. Luckily, the power supply and AV leads from the Master System are Mega Drive compatible. I think it was Maxim that told me if the power light came on, it was probably the cartridge at fault (or the cartridge slot was full of dust and general dirt). I took it down to Mike to tell him that that I unfortunately couldn't part with the £5 he wanted for it. He said as it wasn't working I could have it free!† He also included a Mega Drive cartridge of Sonic 1, which was a bit battle-scarred. The only Master System game left after my visit was Space Gun, which for £5 I thought was a bit too much.† I paid Mike £10 for the games and brought my haul up to the room. I then got talking to someone I had not seen before, who introduced himself as Jono. We had a good talk about various retro nonsense. He later picked up the Master System 2 that I had considered buying (it was suffering from a common problem of a loose cartridge slot cover) which turned out to have Sonic 1 built in. A very nice variant to have, good find Jono.

I have said to Jono that I will help him find decent items like a power supply, pads and AV leads affordably if needed and I am sure my spare copy of Castle of Illusion will be sent to him too. I cleaned the Mega Drive up the next day and it worked fine, meaning I will be able to get a collection of Mega Drive stuff now.

The competition cart that Maxim made was brilliant, although my lack of skill at Alex Kidd in Miracle World became apparent. I came 8th on the Sonic 1 speed run, but somehow managed 2nd overall on Ms. Pacman. I put the 1st victory down to sheer luck and was convinced I would lose massively to Maxim but somehow scraped a victory. I was then well and truly beaten by Phil in the final round.† Putt and Putter was great fun and the Missile Defence 3D round was erm.....interesting. I put my inability to aim down to my poor eyesight (I have very little vision in my right eye) but Phil informed me he had the same problem, so maybe it just was a game neither of us were good at.†I was very impressed with the Master Everdrive too, a very impressive little piece of kit.† I cannot thank everyone enough for bringing such great kit along for us all to use.

At about 4pm I decided to go in search of food as I had last eaten before James had been in touch. The pub were not serving food anymore but the local Spar was only 2 or 3 minutes away. A well earned tuna sandwich later, I was ready for some more gaming.

My pads were knackered and in need of taking apart, cleaning, generally renewing and putting back† together. Maxim gave me some great info which I will be putting to good use. That is what is great about the site, someone who knows a lot about the system is always willing to help out.

We did a presentation of sorts and this year the competition winner was Playgeneration. Well done mate, very well deserved. Mike stayed around and took a group photo of us on my phone. We packed our systems up, shook hands and parted ways till next time, vowing to meet up again at Play Expo in October. I will be there all weekend and am looking forward to sharing more laughs, game challenges (which I will inevitably lose) and generally great memories.

So to sum up, it's a massive thanks from me. You guys have shown me what a great site this is and what a wonderful community you have, which I think a lot of sites lack. You have all shown me so much friendship and assistance that will not be forgotten and I had a great time meeting you all. It has been a wonderful pre-birthday weekend for me. If anyone is reading this and thinking of coming to a meet for the first time, please do. I hope the 2014 meet up is set at a time that means I can make it either before or after my wedding and honeymoon.

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