Interview With Steven Cousins: The Retro Gaming Gun From The West

Steve22I love social media. I keep on banging on about how awesome it is to connect with like-minded people, and social media provides the perfect platform, especially when people are on the other side of the country! The world certainly is a smaller place with all these online channels allowing us to meet great people.

Steve ‘Steevo‘ Cousins is a classic example of meeting a down-to-earth, like-minded dude who is also a very cool gamer. We hit it off immediately with our passion for retro gaming and common love for Double Dragon and anything and everything to do with Atari. In recent times, Steve’s love of retro gaming has branched to the Neo Geo MVS! Since the SNK beauty is close to my heart, our online friendship has hit a new level. Once Steve showed me his games room, I knew that I had to ask him to join us for an interview and share his love of gaming and his awesome setup with you all.  Here we go!

AUSRETROGAMER [ARG]: Hey Steve, thank you for your time. Let’s get straight into it – when did you get into gaming? What was your first home system?
Steve Cousins [SC]: Gaming has always been big in my life. It all started with some people I knew that had an Atari 2600. All I wanted to do was go around and play the system, though I never got to play it much as I was never allowed. I could only watch! So each year I begged my parents for one and finally when I was 7 they ventured out and got me my first ever gaming system for Christmas. I still remember that Christmas morning, I opened the wrapping and out came a magical Atari XEGS system. I was very excited to get an Atari system, although I was confused as I asked for an Atari 2600 and never heard of this system. My parents assured me that this was a superior system as that’s what the man at the store told them. It did become a problem a year later though, as games were stopped being made for them. My parents felt bad about this, so I remember us searching high and low at retail stores in Tasmania and found a store an hour away that sold the games for the system and they were all bargain basement as no one was buying them. My parents ended up buying nearly all the games for me. I was set!

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ARG: Do you have a favourite game (of all time) or genre?
SC: For most gamers this must be the hardest question of all! I seriously cannot name a single game or genre as hard as I try. I go in phases as I have my whole life, so I will answer the best I can by answering this way – my favourite games as a child, were: Lode Runner, Dark Chambers, Double Dragon and Streets Of Rage. Double Dragon holds a very special spot for me as I was playing it at home and would make special trips to the arcade just to play it [ARG: Good man!]. Even when it was outdated when NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat were the coolest to play at the arcades, something about Double Dragon just kept me coming back to it. From there I went onto Street Fighter II and then on to Tekken. I still play Tekken to this day. Games like Road Rash, Super Off-Road, Rock N Roll Racing and Micro Machines kept me occupied for ages! I even got into the stealth style games like Metal Gear Solid. I got into FPS as well, thanks to Doom! I’ll stop there, otherwise I can go on listing heaps more!

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ARG: What is your favourite old school home system(s)?
SC: There are 4 I hold dear to me, with the main one being my Atari XEGS. I have also found another collector who loves the XEGS as much as me, Weird and Retro. We are both after the final piece of the puzzle to complete our XEGS collection – Karateka! Ah, one day! I also hold the Sega Master System, Mega Drive and the sexy add-on, the 32X, dear to my heart.

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ARG: What made you start collecting?
SC: It was about 5 years ago. I still had a lot of consoles, but I always wanted to get back the consoles I mentioned above as I sold them to fund a very expensive console at the time, the PlayStation! Even then, I said to myself that I would re-buy these machines again one day. Finally I decided to and the retro gaming train just kept going and I cannot stop it.

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ARG: What is it about collecting that brings you the most joy?
SC: Just finding the game you sort of forgot about and then finding it dirt cheap! Just searching for the console but knowing the price you want to pay so you pass 1000 chances to get it but then you finally find it and get it at the price that’s not breaking your budget – that is just so satisfying! Many collectors will hate me for this, but I’m not a sealed collector type of guy. So I have busted open seals to play the games knowing it will decrease the value but doing so still brings me joy, just like when I was a kid! I believe that, if I have it, then it is meant to be played! Now it’s just casually going to potential places and trying to find some console or game treasures. They aren’t always there, but when they are, it just makes my day!

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ARG: Do you have a prized gaming possession (if so, what is it)?
SC: I do. Actually, I have a few to be honest. One of my favourite games for the Master System was Power Strike – I have 1 and 2 complete for the system now. Both pretty rare games and both were cheap! Another is my Atari 2600 Sunnyvale Heavy Sixer! I got that one via eBay. The seller had it listed as an “Atari” with a Buy It Now price of $20USD with $25USD for shipping – I snapped it up immediately. It works like a charm! My collection of Atari XEGS games and boxed system will always hold a special place in my heart! I could go on, but recently I purchased a 6-slot Neo Geo MVS arcade cabinet! The machine came with 7 games, all in a workable state. I am relatively new to the Neo Geo machine, so I had some help from the man, ausretrogamer! He was certainly very helpful along the way. [ARG: Aww man, you are making me blush. It is always great to introduce someone to the big red SNK beast.]

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ARG: What item (or items) do you have your eye on to add to your collection?
SC: I’m still after the elusive Karateka for the Atari XEGS. As mentioned previously, I know that Weird And Retro is also after it. It will be a long time before either of us complete that set, but it would be brilliant if we both did!

It’s also time for me to grab myself a Commodore 64. I still remember playing it to death with a friend. I still can’t believe I haven’t got one in my collection (yet). I also would like a Neo Geo AES, but the PAL version – I’m guessing because it’s harder to find. So that will take a fair while to get.

Slowly I am trying to get all PAL Sega 32x games. It is probably unlikely I’ll complete that set because the prices are super crazy! So many more but you will see them over time if you follow me on Twitter.

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ARG: You recently got yourself a Neo Geo MVS 6-slot arcade machine – what made you choose this machine and what do you think of it so far?
SC: I played the Neo Geo games at the arcades as a kid. I always wanted an arcade machine, so this is just the perfect machine – you just interchange game cartridges! It’s like having multiple arcade machines in the one system. I am absolutely loving it! It came with a 100 in 1 game cartridge, so I am playing many games I had never got to play before. Seriously one of the best, if not the best thing I have in my games room!

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ARG: Tell us about your gaming room – how long did it take to get it setup and are there going to be further additions / modifications?
SC: Well,I had a lot of the systems all hidden away in boxes and I just wanted to display them. I convinced my lovely wife to get some shelves and it went from there. We moved house almost 2 years ago now and I now have my ultimate games room / man’s cave! There is a massive bar, billiard table, foosball table, arcade machines and a bucket-load of consoles! [ARG: Oh man, party at your place!] My thing with the consoles is I have to have every system (not multiples or variations) hooked up the the TV, so basically I can play any game I have, on the one TV. Sometimes it just takes me 10 minutes to remember which switch box I have set up to what console. I really have to organise it all a bit better. [ARG: You should do what I do, create a diagram of what is connected to what].

The games room will have many more modifications to it, as I know I will be adjusting my console section to make more room for even more games and more consoles. I will be sharing my progress on Twitter, slowly, but surely! My wife wants a pinball machine, so one day, that will be in there too!

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ARG: Like all of us that collect, we struggle to find time to enjoy it all – how do you find time to have fun with your gaming collection?
SC: For me, I still play my PS3 and PS4 the most. I do get the urge to play some older game system, especially when I get a game for it – then I’ll fire it up and play most of the games I have for it. I love it when my nieces or nephews come over because they love playing it all! I am lucky as my lovely wife understands my love and lets me get lost in all the nostalgia any time I wish. So, whenever I have free time and have the urge, I’ll duck away to the games room and just play some games.

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ARG: Thank you very much for your time, Steve, and for sharing your thoughts and your awesome games room with us all.
SC: Cheers Alex! Sorry it’s taken ages to get this interview done, I have been mega busy with real life stuff and I also needed to clean up the games room for the photo shoot [laughs].

As we leave Steve to play his beloved Atari XEGS, we thank him once again for his time and for providing us with a heap of mouth-watering photos of his brilliant games room. Next party is at Steevo’s place!

 

Australian Pinball Expo Extravaganza

PinballExpo_1When I first heard about the Australian Pinball Expo, I was first in line to buy tickets. $55.00 for 2 days of pinball was a dream, until I went to PAX Aus 2014 in Melbourne. All of a sudden I didn’t care about this pinball shindig. I had my classic gaming fill and I’m pretty sure I could better spend my time at home doing the laundry (I whack my clothes against big rocks, so it takes me a while). Alas, those sneaky organisers make it impossible to get a refund so I was stuck (*sigh*).

It’s now Saturday 15th November 2014 and the overcast sky perfectly reflects my feelings towards what’s to come. Getting up at the crack of dawn is not my idea of fun, but I paid my $55 darnit and I was going to be there from opening to closing. I hop into the car, blast some Color Me Badd (as one does when going to a pinball expo) and off I go on a long drive to Penrith Panthers. I arrive at 9:10am and immediately regret staying behind that family van for so long. YOU MADE ME 10 MINUTES LATE AND THAT MEANS $0.57 WASTED!

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PinballExpo_7As I step out of the car, I immediately wish I’d stayed home. Who the heck is going to show up to this thing? 4 people total? It’s all about those Sony Playtendo whozits now. Nobody wants to play pinball anymore. I ask the reception lady about the pinball expo and am told it’s “outside, to the left in a big tent”. Pffft, tent? I’ve come this far so I’ll begin my perilous journey to that tent. As it comes into view, my regret quickly turns to not-so-regret. “That’s a pretty big tent” I think to myself, immediately followed by “Hey! Is that Aqua Golf?! Holy crap. I should go do that!”. I approach the tent, take obligatory photos (my sincerest apologies for the quality – my phone is as old as the bands that I listen to), and make my way in. I slam my order confirmation down on the counter and demand my Ultimate Warrior neon bracelets. If I’m going to play some pinball, I have to look the part, and what better way than with neon colours adorning my wrists. I step inside and am frankly, amazed. That’s a lot of pinball and look, there’s already dozens of people here. Colour me impressed (or badd, that works too).

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PinballExpo_T2My first order of business was to locate the Terminator 2 machine. Oh, it’s right there. That was easy. I should take some photos and video. Clickity click, walkety walk. That was fun. Let’s play some T2. Wait, what’s that next to T2? Is that… it is… a Street Fighter II machine! My all time favourite pinball machine mere feet away from my all time favourite video game. Hold on, that’s not a Street Fighter II machine. That’s a cabinet running an emulator that just happens to be running Street Fighter II. Screw it, don’t care, I’m playing. Guile Guile Guile Guile. awww. I lost. I’ll come back and play later. That, in a nutshell, was my day. I would attempt to play Terminator 2 whenever it was available, follow it up with some Street Fighter, and fill in the gaps with the plethora of other machines available (Indiana Jones got a good playin’ too). 6 hours of standing was all that I could stand (pun obviously intended) so at 3:00pm, 2 hours before closing, I made my journey home. Even the cheapskate in me was too tired to play any longer. There’s always tomorrow.

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PinballExpo_12Is the cost of admission worth the time? Absolutely! With close to 200 machines ranging from 1940 all the way to the current digital machines, there really is something here for everyone. Everything is, as far as I can tell, arranged by period with the earlier machines at the far end of the tent and the latest and greatest closer to the entrance. The old simple machines had a charm to them that the newer machines cannot replicate. The pinging and minimalistic gameplay transported me back to the good old days when I’d go down to the local speakeasy, have a few, ogle some women and come home to my wife. Good times. With that said, it was the machines of the 70s, 80s and 90s that felt right to me while the entirely digital machines were just… wrong. No steel balls, no flippers, no pinging, no ponging. If I wanted to play a digital version of pinball, I’d head to Steam and buy Pinball FX2 or better yet, go retro and play some Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies or Slam Tilt on the Amiga. Part of the appeal of pinball is the ding ding, bzzzzz, pooookh, bing, boof. You need that boof (Ed: tactile pleasure!).

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PinballExpo_16As one would expect, the machines from the 40s, 50s and 60s were seldom used while the newer machines had a constant queue of people waiting to get their chance to outdo one another. What I personally found most interesting is the range of people that had turned up. Male and female, old and young. Everyone was covered. The older folk (50+) stuck to the older machines while everyone else generally played with anything that wasn’t an older machine, with the exception of the kids that would play on anything that was free. The hipsters that showed up also primarily hung around the older machines, presumably because the pinging of old hardware isn’t mainstream, so it soothes them. I did what I could to play from every period, with the exception of the purely digital machines, because they’re the poo-poo faces of the pinball world and don’t deserve my time.

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PinballExpo14If you have the opportunity to attend an expo like this, I suggest you do it. If you have to, drag your family along. Everyone will have fun and if they don’t, divorce/break-up/disown/post drunk photos of them online! The Australian Pinball Expo was a thoroughly enjoyable event – make sure you go in 2015!

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FrankieFrankie!
Not a baby but a phantom editor and an arcade & pinball wizard.

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The Video Game Entertainment Curve

Originally posted on Geek Is Awesome, this handy chart should always be referenced when evaluating how a video game will effect your potential time for a social life. Which game genre / category do you fall in?

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source: geekisawesome.com

Pebble Watch: Retro Gaming On Your Wrist

I want a Pebble watch. Why? See below, that should explain it. Best part is, you can download these (and more) splash screen games for free! Don’t thank me, thank pocketscience for these creations.

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source: My Pebble Faces – pocketscience 

Why Do You Play Video Games

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Is it the fun, is it the mayhem playing with friends or is it the achievement of beating the end boss, getting a high score or completing that tough mission? Why do you play video games? If you are stuck for an answer, watch the below video and find out.


source: The Game Theorists

Gamer Personalities

Which video gamer personality are you? Are you a thinker or are you an achievement go-getter?

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source: Steven Lefcourt

Six Awesome Sega Dreamcast Facts

DC

A short and sweet video about six Sega Dreamcast facts you may or may not have been aware of. Watch it, you might learn something. We definitely did. Long live the Dreamcast!


source: Vsauce3