Interview With Retro Rich: A Neo Geo Superstar

Rich_HDRWe’ll start this by thanking Twitter. I know, it is a strange way of starting an interview piece, but the context must be set. If it wasn’t for the social media Goliath, we would never had met so many fantastic people in the retro gaming community, just like our very good friend from the UK, Richard Evans (aka: Retro Rich). After many conversations, limited to 140 characters of course, we decided it was high time we got Rich in the ausretrogamer interview hot seat! Grab your favourite snack and beverage, kick back and let’s see what Rich has to say for himself…

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: So Rich, hope we can call you Rich, tell us how you got into gaming?
Retro Rich [RR]: You certainly can call me Rich! Well my first memory of gaming was at my cousin’s house when I was very young. He had what I now know to be an Atari 2600 with the game Combat. Whenever I went there I always asked him to play Combat with me. I loved the tanks! Around the same time I visited another cousin of mine and she had Grandstand Astro Wars. I wanted both the Atari and Astro Wars so badly, but it wasn’t until some years later I was lucky enough to own a computer of my own. My father decided that we needed a BBC Micro at home because that was what we had at school. I don’t really ever remember using it for school work, but I do remember playing Granny’s Garden and Magic Adventure at school. The first games we owned at home were Acornsoft titles Planetoid and Arcadians which were good clones of arcade hits Defender and Galaxian. I grew up with the BBC and ended up with it in my room, so I bought games myself. The ones which I remember and loved the best were Elite, Citadel, Chuckie Egg, Repton 3 and Codename: Droid. I only really replaced the BBC when I got a Sega Master System Plus many years later and it spiraled from there. Next came a Mega Drive, then the Playstation, Playstation 2, N64 and so on.


ARG: Are you equally both into retro and modern gaming?
RR: Not really, it’s mostly all retro nowadays. I do own an Xbox 360, but my son Ethan plays that most of the time. He plays FIFA and Minecraft a lot. The last games I played on the 360 were Skyrim and Fallout 3 which I think are amazing games. So immersive, especially in Dolby 5.1 surround. Bethesda are awesome! The trouble is I find I don’t have the time to get into those longer games, and that’s where arcade games fit in since I can just play one for 10 minutes without having to spend an hour remembering where I was.

ARG: What is it about retro gaming that you most like and enjoy?
RR: There is obviously a significant nostalgia value to these old games since I grew up with them. But more than that I think some of the games still hold up against the games of today. Gameplay truly is more important than great graphics and sound. I also really enjoy the social interaction of the retro gaming scene, which I mostly participate in through Twitter. I’ve made so many friends! It’s like becoming a member of a really large club where there are so many cool and interesting people with similar interests. A group of us have created our own gaming organization / club called the Gaming Illuminati which started from an informal high score competition. There are five of us now, and we have the website coded by one of our members (Rob). The site features our scoreboard where we compete against each other for fun. Finally another attraction for me is the engineering side. I love fixing things and vintage gaming provides opportunity for that in large amounts!


ARG: Tell us about your games room setup?
RR: Unfortunately I don’t have a proper games room as I’m limited by space, so my games share the lounge (Den, family room). If I move house I intend to buy a place with enough space for a proper games room.

My console collection consists of: Mega Drive (PAL), Megadrive 2 PAL (modded to allow 60Hz and NTSC and NTSC-J), a jailbroken Neo Geo X, SNES, Playstation 2 – 1st Gen, Nintendo Wii, XBOX, Nintendo Gamecube, Sega Dreamcast, Xbox 360, Atari 2600 Jr, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, Nintendo DS and a Nintendo DS Lite.

All the consoles that support stereo sound end up going through my surround amp in one way or another. I try and connect them to the TV using the best picture method, so where supported they have RGB Scart or component cables.

The arcade collection is as follows: Neo Geo MVS 6-slot Electrocoin Arcade and a JAMMA cabinet I built from a flat pack kit – which is wired for JAMMA+ and has various arcade systems installed; a Hyper Neo Geo 64, 2 x Neo Geo MVS 1-slotters and a GameElf with both horizontal and vertical game card (which has about 1000 arcade games).


ARG: Do you have a fave retro system? If so, tell us which one and why it is your fave.
RE: It’s really difficult to pick one only! I think my favorite console is the SNES. The SNES has some of my favorite games including Legend Of Zelda, Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World and I love the control pads on the SNES – small but perfectly formed with loads of buttons. I feel I also need to mention my Neo Geo X as it’s rather special. It has a Jailbreak by OMG-SNK installed which means it plays all but 2 of the 148 official Neo Geo games, and has emulators for Capcom CPS too. It also plays ROMs from most 16-bit and below systems including Mega Drive, Master System, SNES, NES, Game Boy, GBC, GBA and Atari. It has literally hundreds of games on it and is a great emulation system with the addition of being completely portable when the handheld is removed.

ARG: From chatting with you on social media, we know you are a huge Neo Geo fan – why do you have such an affinity for SNK’s Neo Geo? 
RR: I’m actually quite a latecomer to Neo Geo would you believe? I never played or owned one as a kid. I saw games for sale in magazines and couldn’t understand why they were so expensive when compared to other games systems of the time. It was more a myth, with one of my friends claiming they had another friend who owned one. When I started getting interested in arcade games I watched John’s Arcade on YouTube and when I saw his Neo Geo 4-slot “Big Red”, I knew I wanted to get one – it just looked so awesome! I still want a US spec Neo Geo like that one, but I’m very happy with my UK spec machine. I love the architecture from a technical point of view, and it has in my opinion, some of the best arcade games ever made. I could literally list tens of games here as the best ones, but I particularly like the Samurai Showdown and King Of Fighters series, the Metal Slug series, Pulstar and Blazing Star.


ARG: Any plans on getting an AES? If not, what other potential retro gaming items are you targeting for 2016?
RR: I don’t have any immediate plans to get an AES because I own several MVS systems and obviously I still have a long way to go to get all the games I want. That coupled with the fact that MVS games are generally cheaper anyway, means I’m unlikely to start collecting for AES any time soon – unless I come into large sums of money obviously! I would like to make either a consolized MVS, or better still, a SuperGun with a cool custom enclosure and control panel. That might be a better option since I could then plug in other arcade systems including an MVS. I kind of like the idea of making this myself and I certainly have the technical know-how needed. The more challenging side of it would be making it look cool, but I have friends who could help me with that. On the console side, I would really like a NES and a bunch of games. Will probably start looking out for a good deal this year. Finally, I really want an original R-Type arcade board, or better still, a Nintendo R-Type arcade cabinet. I love this game which I first played on the Sega Master System as a kid. I would like to go for the Twin Galaxies world record on R-Type, but keep that to yourself… sshhh… ARG: Your secret is safe with us! *winks*


ARG: You recently put up a YouTube video (which our readers can see below), what are the plans for your channel?
RR: I’m going to keep it simple to start with and not over complicate it or try to come across as a pro when I’m obviously not. I will continue to record using my iPhone 6s for now, but if things work out I will get a dedicated camera later. I’d also like to aim to stick to one-take videos so that I don’t end up delaying a release due to editing time etc. I have enough to think about remembering all the stuff I need to say, and trying to stay focused as it is when I’m recording – not to mention how nervous I am! As far as content goes, I aim to keep it all focused on retro gaming. I will continue to upload my Twin Galaxies world record attempt videos. I also have a list of requests to cover and things I’ve added myself, which include: more restoration videos, including my Neo Geo MVS; videos on the Xbox Steel Battalion plus the controller; my JAMMA cab and it’s various systems and technical setup; the scan-line generator (in the JAMMA cab); my Hyper Neo Geo 64 and the four fighting games; my consoles and demos of the modified Mega Drive 2. I’m also going to do a video on the Neo Geo X jailbreak. I will cover some of the Neo Geo games, and will probably tweet out before I record it asking for suggestions from my followers for games they would like me to include in the video, and then I will credit them with a mention!


ARG: Now we get to the hard hitting question – do you have an all-time favourite game? If you have more than one, that’s cool, we will allow this privilege only this once *winks*
RR: Well, as predicted, that is a tough one! I have always loved the Legend Of Zelda games, and if you had to push me to pick one it would probably be A Link To The Past on the SNES, but I do really like the gameplay on the Wii versions. The Skyward Sword game with the Motion Plus controller really works for me. I also really love shmups, so Pulstar, Blazing Star and R-Type have to get a mention here too.

ARG: Where can people get in touch with you or check up on what you are up to? 
RR: They can follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my YouTube channel. Oh yeh, check out I love seeing and hearing about other collections and gaming related stuff, so just get in contact!

We wanted to keep Rich in the interview hot seat and ask him a heap more questions, but we had to allow him to get back to his family and his many retro gaming goodies. We can always ask him follow up questions on Twitter – so watch out Rich!

A big thank you to Rich for agreeing to this interview and allowing us to take a peek at his awesome gaming collection. I wonder who we will put in the interview hot seat next…………