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Gear up for a retro gaming expo in New West this weekend

At the day-long Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo at New Westminster's Anvil Centre June 25, you can play popular classic games on old gaming consoles, engage in a game swap with independent collectors, or buy your dream game from a flea market vendor.

To all those who were strikingly good at playing the popular '90s video game Dr Mario back in their school days — here’s a chance to test if you’ve still got it in you.

This weekend, polish your key smashing and joystick wielding skills, and head to the Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo to battle it out (or play casually) at the Dr Mario tournament with fellow gamers. Besides Dr Mario, the 10th edition of the expo will include Street Fighter 2, Tetris and Super Smash Bros tournaments. 

But in the age of PS5, who would be interested in the seemingly antiquated video game console?

Turns out, a lot of people.

According to the founder and owner of New West's Gamedeals Video Games store, Brian Hughes, the expo brings as many as 1,500 people to New West’s Anvil Centre annually. While earlier, it was the nostalgia associated with the games that pulled the crowd in, today, Hughes noted, “it’s more about the love of older video games.” 

“What we're seeing now is a younger group of people — who didn't grow up with these games, but were introduced to them as children — are playing the games now,” said Hughes. 

In fact, one of the panels at the expo will throw light on the trend of “retro revival” that’s seeing new games being created to look like old ones from 20 years ago. There is undoubtedly a keen interest in old gems — so much so that even Nintendo revived its popular classic Mario-themed games in 2021.

Hughes started the expo in 2012, inspired by a similar concept he attended in Oregon. Vancouver didn’t have a gaming expo then, he said. Besides his New West expo, he added, there still isn’t anywhere in the Greater Vancouver area where fans of retro games can engage in a game swap, while discussing about Legends of Zelda and Space Invaders. 

One big change over the years, Hughes noted, was the shift in the age group of people attending the event. While the first edition had mostly adults, now, it’s a more family-oriented show.

What to expect at the Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo?

  • For those who often find themselves humming Mario’s Overworld Theme and Underworld Theme, there is a Super Mario Bros. karaoke at the event.
  • How much do you know about video games that came out between 1962 and 2007? Test your knowledge at a retro game-themed Jeopardy.
  • Watch an improv comedy show by The Fictionals with a retro game twist to it.
  • Be a part of a gaming-themed cosplay.
  • Listen to Shane Steward’s music that’s influenced by his passion for video games.

The Vancouver Retro Gaming Expo will take place at Anvil Centre (777 Columbia St.) on June 25 between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Tickets to the event are available online on the gaming expo website, or at the Gamedeals store at 407 Columbia Street.

Connect with Naveena Vijayan on Instagram @naveenavijayan.
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