I Bought Stuff! 11/7/2018: Portland Retro Gaming Expo 2018 (and more!)

Alright, finally got to this. A few weeks late, but I was never known to be prompt on things like these.

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So a while back, the Portland Retro Gaming Expo happened. On its twelfth year, it’s a convention that has retro arcade games, pinball machines, loads of booths to buy merchandise of various kinds, and panels about retro video games in some fashion.

Regrettably the past few years I’ve missed out on a handful of panels, but I’m grateful for at least checking out the Nintendo History Museum by the cool peeps at the Video Game History Foundation. I also bumped into my friends Weasel and Cassidy while during my roaming of the show floor, while also spotting a fair share of notable personalities here and there. (Weasel told me I was “right next to The Gaming Historian” at one point and I didn’t even notice.)

I’m at that point where I don’t really need many video games at this point, considering my burgeoning backlog. Yet against my better judgment, I did buy games for super cheap, trying to fill up my original Xbox collection and snagging a few cheap deals. But I also grabbed a few tech-based things during and after the expo, so let’s get to recapping.


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$15:

– A component video cable for an original Xbox ($10)

– Xbox: Medal of Honor: European Assault ($5)

Okay, these were after the expo. On Sunday I had put a goal to find some video cables for some of my consoles because I felt they needed an upgrade. I didn’t find one of them, so I had eventually went to Video Game Wizards (the closest mom’n’pop game shop to me) and snagged some cables, as well as an Xbox game for good measure.

At this point, now I am able to play all of the early-to-mid 2000s game consoles in component video quality. I have component cables for the PS2 and Xbox, and I have a Wii with Gamecube backwards compatibility, which I also run through component.

I know there’s solutions now to get those systems to output in HDMI, but I feel that’s a bit excessive. Though, EON had a booth for an HDMI adapter for the Gamecube, which might be cheaper than trying to get the very expensive component cables for the system. If you’re going that route, check them out here, perhaps that’s a better option for those who have more recent TVs where it’s HDMI only with no other video inputs.

As for Medal of Honor: European Assault? Well, we’ll get back to that one in a bit.

(UPDATE 11/8/2018: The cables in question refused to show any video on my television regardless of resolution, so I exchanged them for different cables. While those actually showed video in component, the signal occasionally flickers out and doesn’t work in 720p. Sadly, I think my TV is slowly dying, which I’m not surprised considering how old it is.)

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$10: Xbox: Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2x

Now to cover stuff I actually got at the expo, starting with probably the most expensive thing I bought.

The Tony Hawk games were a franchise that passed me by. I played the first two, but tapped out not long after. I snagged Pro Skater 3 on disc for PS2 a long while back, and I thought now’s the time to start getting into the series proper while they’re still easy to get.

A launch title for the original Xbox, this was a spit-shine “HD” version of Pro Skater 2 by Treyarch, before they became 1/3rd of the Call of Duty Cerberus. In addition to prettifying the original game’s levels, there’s a few levels exclusive to this port as well as the original Pro Skater stuff in there.

In my head, this is probably a better way to start playing the franchise in order than hunting down fairly pricey copies of Pro Skater and Pro Skater 2 for older systems. Though, I wouldn’t mind finding any of the Pro Skater games for the Nintendo 64, as those are interesting technical marvels. Well, that and the N64 version of Pro Skater is how I got introduced to the franchise back in the day.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the chopped up music loops they used because of cartridge space limitations, and Pro Skater 3‘s soundtrack pretty much makes them outright remixes.

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$10:

– A third party composite cable for a model 2/3 Sega Genesis ($5)

– A third party composite cable for a Sega Saturn ($5)

Wanna be spooked a week after Halloween? Until this year, the best video quality I had for my Genesis and Saturn was RF. That little cable with the black box that screwed into the coaxial port of your TV. The cable that made the audio and the video sound like hot garbage, even on a CRT TV. The only upside I can think of for RF is for the a e s t h e t i c.

So I wanted to change that. I snagged these for $5 each, and now I can play these in slightly better video quality than RF. I know there’s ways to play these with RGB, but until the tech costs less than $300-400 to achieve, I’m okay with this for now.

Funny enough, I was worried which Genesis composite cable to grab. I own all three models, but the model 2 was the one I’ve had since I was younger. I know the original launch-era Genesis is considered the superior model, but I didn’t wanna buy two cables for one system. Thankfully, I have a 32X which has the adapter cable to switch the video output to one that the later models support, so maybe it won’t be as bad. Unless that doesn’t work, I’m still learning how to master this A/V thing…

Now that I got good video cables for the Saturn, I need to find some form of memory cartridge so I can actually save my progress in games. Maybe then I can finally play NiGHTS into Dreams or Quake

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$7:

– Xbox: Medal of Honor Frontline Platinum Hits ($1)

– Xbox: Medal of Honor Rising Sun ($1)

– PS3: Resistance 2 ($1)

– Xbox 360: Army of Two ($1)

– Xbox 360: The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct ($3)

I had gotten these over two trips coincidentally to the same booth. Ignore the prices, these were all in a pretty large bargain section filled with $1 bins of sports games and, oddly, dozens of copies of games like Borderlands 2 and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Okay, so I mentioned I had gotten European Assault earlier. The reason I held back why I got that was because of this: I snagged the other Medal of Honor games on the original Xbox on the show floor, so I wanted to complete the set.

One of my current goals is to replace my multi-platform games that I have on PS2 and Gamecube with the Xbox counterpart. With some rare exceptions, the original Xbox ended up getting the “superior” version with good image quality and such. I figure this will be a never ending quest, which might having me ending up with the same game on three different systems.

There’s also the million-in-one shot that some of these games will appear on the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility. While they haven’t announced any new original Xbox games on backwards compatibility since April 2018, there’s that glimmer of hope. If all else fails, I still got the original Xbox to play them on (in 480p, no less!).

I had Frontline and Rising Sun on PS2, and the thought of playing a slightly better looking version sounds nice despite the age of those games. Frontline was the last of the “espionage” style Medal of Honor games, which ended up being slowly phased out by the time we got to European Assault. I don’t expect these games to be amazing these days, but I should at least give them a try and see if they’re at least somewhat competent WWII shooters.

So why I’d get Army of Two? I own The 40th Day, and thought I should play the original. The game servers went offline years ago — typical of EA — but I bet it’s still a decent little cover shooter. I also want to see how much they turned down the bro-tastic attitude because they apparently delayed the game a few months because people thought there was a homoerotic relationship between the two playable characters. Not like there’s anything wrong with that.

I grabbed Resistance 2 because it was $1, and I’d been meaning to play the following games in the series to see if they’re really as mediocre as I had heard. A shame the online services for this game are also shut down because I would’ve loved to play the 60-player chaos multiplayer one last time, since I did try out the game’s beta way back when.

Now that I think about it, somebody at Sony was really fascinated by large player counts in the early PS3 era. 40 players in Resistance: Fall of Man, 60 in Resistance 2, then 128 in the slowly-forgotten MAG: Massive Action Game. Thankfully they were brought back down to reality, as Resistance 3 dropped it down to a more realistic 16 players. Bigger isn’t always better, folks.

(Update 11/8/2018: I just realized the copy of Resistance 2 I have is either a system bundle version or a promotional copy, as I realized the cover is similar to the ones released in Europe rather than the generic “stern military dude” the US cover uses. If anyone has any information about this, let me know in the comments.)

The most expensive game I grabbed out of this lot was The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct. It’s somewhat appropriate considering another Walking Dead video game came out recently: Overkill’s The Walking Dead. Whereas Overkill and Telltale’s games which are set in the comic book universe, Survival Instinct is based off the AMC TV show and was made as a side-story to the show’s continuity.

I’ve heard the game is notoriously bad, mostly because developer Terminal Reality only had about six months to make the game, and anyone will tell you that’s not nearly enough time to make something cohesive and great out of that.

Surprising nobody, Survival Instinct was critically panned, and Terminal Reality folded not long after, leaving a 20+ year legacy behind with classics like Terminal Velocity, BloodRayne and Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run. Oh, and they apparently made an amazing Ghostbusters video game, which I should play sometime.


The Portland Retro Gaming Expo is something I’ve gone to since 2011-12, and I’ve blogged about it every year on this site. It’s a convention that’s almost getting stale to me as there often isn’t a lot of new stuff year over year. I’d also heard from a few friends how badly managed it was and how there wasn’t a lot of advertisement for panels and such.

I don’t want to knock the convention too bad, as I’ve gone to them for several years. But PRGE needs a bit of a shake-up for 2019. Something to make it grow and be something very amazing. Better engagement with internet personalities, better advertisement of panels, more pinball machines, maybe a different DJ… The possibilities are endless.

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