Retro Game Road Trip: The Search for the New Leads Me Back to the Old


Last week, the New York Videogame Critics Circle held their second annual community meet-up at Brooklyn’s premiere barcade, Barcade. Here in NYC, we call a barcade a Barcade, okay?

I headed over there after work to check out the scene, my calling cards tucked safely away in my case shaped like Han Solo frozen in carbonite. I was all geared up to schmooze with the best of them until I remembered I’m pretty much the worst at networking. I managed to socialize a bit, the results of which I’ll explore in a companion piece to this one next Monday over at Gamemoir.

Paul posted about it last week, but if you’re out of the loop, Gamemoir is co-edited by our very own Benny Bedlam. I’ll be contributing a piece there every Monday, and I hear tell other Unreality writers will be providing some guest posts. So why don’t you come up and see us sometime?

Back to business: the organizers of the Critics Circle event hinted that some independent game developers would be showing off their wares, and I was stoked to check them out.


I got to the event late, so I wasn’t quite sure where the developers were set up. I wandered around a bit until I saw a few guys huddled around an iPad. I recognized Harold Goldberg, writer of All Your Base Are Belong to Us and the main organizer of the event, so I guessed that this must be the place.

They seemed pretty deep in conversation, so I wandered around and checked out the cabinets. I visit Barcade somewhat regularly, so of course this wasn’t my first time at the rodeo. Still, I thought I’d get in a few games of Tetris while I waited for the devs to finish their demonstration, then I’d head over to ask about their game.

Some things just aren’t meant to be.


It seemed like it was only two guys and a iPad as far as the game demos were concerned, and they were pretty much always in conversation when I looked their way. Though if I’m being honest, I checked in on the situation less and less.

How could I resist the siren song of Centipede? Or Lady Bug, a Pac-Man clone that lets you alter the maze as you play? Obviously, I had to play Tapper between pulls of my pear cider (don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it). Then you’ve got the likes of Rampage, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Marble Madness. It turns out a Tazmanian Devil magnet was stuck to the top of the MM machine, and if I had found it and turned it in to Harold I would have won a year of Xbox Live Gold. I was too engrossed in the game.

No regrets.

The highlight of the night, though, was when I realized Barcade hadn’t rid itself of Satan’s Hollow like I feared when I saw it gone from its usual spot, but merely moved it to the back of the room. I love me some Satan’s Hollow.

Uh, you better believe I’m printing this out and putting it on my desk.

Satan’s Hollow is essentially a Galaga clone, but who cares? I love Galaga. But if there were three things I would say it were missing, they’d be a river of lava, gargoyles, and Satan. Definitely needs more Satan.

I’m sure I first played Satan’s Hollow simply because it had “Satan” right there in the title, which meant it was quite possibly the worst kind of video game, a thing that would ostensibly warp my impressionable young mind beyond repair. I stayed for the addictive yet insanely difficult gameplay. They just don’t make ’em like they used to, with the never ending waves of enemies and battles with the dark lord himself.

It’s never going to end! You’ll build that bridge and fight the devil for the rest of your inconsequential little life! F*ck narrative, how’s that for a meaningful metaphor?

So, my apologies to the game developers who were showing their wares at Barcade last Tuesday. I really wanted to play your games. But when you have a date with the devil, you can’t stand him up.

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