Our editor Stuart Williams was lucky enough to be invited to check out a new but increasingly popular retro gaming event with a modern edge in Cannock last Saturday.
The Retro Station is the brainchild of podcasters Matt ‘Kapow’ Dawson (the event organiser) and fellow retromaniac Carl Lewis Jenking, and offers a fun and deliberately family-oriented chance for dads and mums to go retro (and sometimes modern) gaming with the youngsters in the family. What a great idea – after all, the family that plays together, stays together. Why not play arcade style?
Why ‘The Retro Station’? Well, as luck would have it, Matt and Carl, who go by the tag of Kapow!EMaG, have managed to line up a great venue that just happens to be free on Saturday afternoons, which is just what they wanted. ‘The Station’ itself is a rock bar and music venue named after the Cannock Bus Station which is literally just on the doorstep, with the bar being housed in a corner of a modern shopping centre. So it is, as they say, handy for all amenities.
The bar itself is up a few flights of stairs, but there is a lift as well, and being a bar, no shortage of refreshments to buy – or the essential toilets!
What you find when you enter The Retro Station – which also happens to tie in with Matt and Carl’s podcast, ‘RetroCast Radio’, a show which mixes gaming, music and banter in fine style, and which takes place live from the event, being available FREE on iTunes and on Podbean – is a typical rock bar style venue packed full with TV’s and a wide range of games consoles from retro to modern – and lots of great games to play!
The event also includes competitions as well as the live podcast and more. With a warm welcome from the organisers, there’s a lot of fun to be had – and just a small fee for entry; just £6 for adults and £4 for kids.
There are also retro gaming dealers on hand, depending on who’s available. At Saturday’s show there was just one – the friendly and well-stocked JP Gaming, run by son and father partnership Jason and Geoff Nicholls. Apparently two or more traders are often there, depending on other commitments.
Special guests this time were DIBZ, an organisation which exists to promote easy swapping of original games between families. They were running the ‘Future Zone’ in a side room, and busy showing off everything from the latest PS4 and Xbox One games on big screen TV to Virtual Reality. They even gave away a PS4 console in a special event competition! Don (Donato Piccinno) and his family were great to talk to, their website is www.DIBZ.co.uk and if anyone is interested in DIBZ he can be contacted by email: DIBZ@gmail.com
Sometimes there’s a cross-over between The Retro Station and REVIVAL, a much bigger local retrogaming and arcade event which this May is taking over the suites at Walsall Football Club for the second year. When things are busy at the Cannock venue, there can be as many as fifty to a hundred attending The Retro Station, though this past Saturday there were more like twenty-five or so, perhaps due to the good weather.
What this all adds up to is that The Retro Station is not just a fun event, but a great place for the kids to hang out and have a blast with mum and/or dad (or even for dad or mum to get in some solo gaming!) and relax after a stressful spell of town centre shopping. They can take out their frustration on Space Invaders, kung fu fighters, Pokemon or Wario instead of each other on the way home from the weekly shop!
Kapow!EMaG have a lively website which also includes events and movies, as well as a Twitter account, plus a Facebook group, so why not check them out, ask about the next event and hop on the bus to The Retro Station next time it rolls into Cannock town?