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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Power Up!

Yesterday I took a trip down to the Science Museum in South Kensington for a long awaited poke around the Power Up! exhibition.  Its a celebration of gaming and game culture through the last 40 years or so of gaming.  Imagine if you will, a bank of old consoles and computers hooked up to televisions, showing off some of their best games and all ready to be played.  This is power up.

Its a brief exhibition for the summer holidays only on for two whole weeks and occurring in 90 minute blocks.  So if you come early, be prepared to kill some time looking around the museum at some of the exhibits, my tip make your way through rocketry to the Imax bit at the back and then upstairs into the memory and humanities bit. There's a tonne of interactive stuff there and some genuinely interesting stuff on the state of who you are, failing that big fuck off rockets.

The Black Arrow the only rocket we built
So what can I see?

As everything is playable, you can make your way down to the back area where all the retro stuff is you'll notice that the first half is mostly themed around genres.  There is a timeline of sorts for Mario, Sonic, Batman and Streetfighter series although in Sonic's case that is mostly a nose dive to mediocracy.  You can relieve being at Boots the Chemist in the early 1990's with a limited play on the original Megadrive Sonic. You can hear grown kids marvelling at how shit the original FIFA was and play the updated versions too.

Me, I got a few retro kicks with some obscure stuff and relieve an old memory of my first ever encounter with Mario in the Index bit of Littlewoods Department store.  Or rather Luigi, as that's what it was (and what I thought it was called) this was the arcade version though with the extra lives dummied out and a re arranged layout pretty sure there's a romhack of this.  Edit yup.

The MAME cabs where the most interesting, with an obscure line up of platformers and puzzlers including Choko from Mitchell Corp, a Shanghai clone against the clock where you have to match pairs before the sides close in and Saboten Bombers a single screen action game like Tumble pop in which you have to clear the screen of enemies without being killed.  Oh and its the only game I know with both cactus as a hero and Huernia flowers as an enemy among other stuff.

The back area was pretty nice, they a load of old consoles with a few playable games in each cases, the Amiga contingent was brought up by James Pond on an Amiga 600, speccy fans were treated to Bombjack form Tekhan and C64 fans could play Toki running from cart.  Amstrad fans had a non playable version of Cybernoid for the 464 which was a shame but still better than the BBC which had basic up and running inviting kids to "code" something.  Atarians of course had a playable ST and the Jaguar with Jeff Minter's Tempest 2000 running (and yes the pad was still a nightmare to play with) in fact it reminds me a lot  of what TXK would become 2 decades later.

Played a load of Super Star Soldier for the PC engine before moving on to what I'd missed on the other side.  Didn't get a go on Taiko no Tatsujin or the rhythm action games sections and passed over the big lan party bits for Bomberman, Worms and Minecraft.  Did have a poke at Mickey Mouse for Master System and a ropey Batman game for PS2.  But spent the remainder playing Mario games for the Wii and Wii U.  Still not convinced the world needed motion controls or a big fuck off tablet to play either on or off screen but am convinced that Yoshi's Woolly World is a thing of loveliness.

Look everything is made of wool, you can collect yarn and unpick the landscape and push things around, its excellent and feels just like a Yoshi game should.  There is no 3DS version sadly but it what there is looks and plays ace so there.

Poking around Mario Galaxy with my first grab at the Wii motion controls, I suspect you'll get used to them  but it didn't grab me like Woolly world did.  We also played New SMB Wii which is more like the DS Mario games, they had (cliche alert) a slippy slidey ice world with a Hammer bro lobbing snowballs and various icicles to dodge.  Did briefly get a penguin suit but then it was time up and had to leave.
Let the games begin.

Final thoughts is this, if there are a family and one or more of you are a gamer you can show your youngsters what you were playing then and how stuff has changed.  Also give them a go on a few old consoles to see how far we have come even play multiplayer I see Mario Kart and Bomberman for some old school fun.

Power up 22nd July - 7th August. £8 to get in Adult and Child tickets available on line and on the door from here.

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