SpecialEffect at REPLAY 2011

Replay was an exhausting ear-blistering pleasure. It was a privilege to run the SpecialEffect stand populated mostly with games using simplified control methods mostly from my personal geek-a-tronic stash. So what did we have?

1. A dance mat game using alternative controllers. These included single-switch play and a "pogo-dance-mat". In the end,  Dancing Stage Fever on a standard TV just couldn't compete with DDR:UK's real coin-op dance machines positioned opposite, so the slightly shoddy Gottlieb Pinball and very brilliant Destruction Derby took the slack.

2. A one-point or one-press to play game. Shenmue Duck races raised some grins. I guess not everyone was expecting bow-tie wearing ducks. We played so that if you got a top three place, you won a prize. Including 1989 Nintendo bubble-gum. Tasty. That got swapped at times with Tekken 6 that got bashed within an inch of its life. Amazing how tough those accessibility switches are. Thought the table would collapse at one stage.

3. Atari Ms.Pac-Man played against a single ghost (there's normally four coming after you) using a one-handed ASCII Grip controller. Other times I ran Cookie Monster Munch using the Kids Controller. Googly. Star Trigon got an outing here too.

4. Vectrex Minestorm. Quite a few people were left very confused by this. I had a single switch on a Flexi mount. Some people thought the Flexi was a joystick and were wiggling it about.  Others thought the switch was a steering wheel. Later I put a switch on a Trabasack. Some people started to wiggle the Trabasack thinking it was some kind of motion sensitive controller. Nope. It's a one-switch game. Just play!

5. Pure one-switch games: Fotonica and Space Invaders. Both went down pretty well. People found Space Invaders very hard with just one-switch, so after a while I turned off the Space Invaders shooting at you. Wished I'd had the bass thump in effect, but it was loud enough there I guess. Ears took a few days to return to normal.

6. The un-game "Doodle-City" in Atari's I, Robot. This was to show off a free-play and no pressure area of a game. Atari did it first here with their art-toy. When this wasn't running, Uo Poko was up showing off a super-colourful multi-player one-switch playable game.

Most popular of our games was Tekken 6 for sure. And no red-ring of death for the Xbox nor melted Vectrex I was happy to see. On the stand I met some great people, such as the two Andy's from Ovine of Whacka Monty fame, Nintendisco and Mark of the inspirational Games Britannia. I was also chuffed to bits with the inclusion of "A Brief History of Accessible Gaming" in the Replay magazine available at the show.

Away from the SpecialEffect stand, tireless volunteer James Harkness beavered away getting a hugely enjoyable after-show party sorted with proceeds going to SpecialEffect and GamesAid.

And self-indulgently, I loved Blackpool's five miles of illuminations and was plenty impressed by the tower. Games I most enjoyed playing were mentalist Bishi Bashi Special, laser-disk Astron Belt and Badlands (one-switch), Pole Position whilst throwing bugs and glitches at me and the brilliant range of pinball machines. So huge thanks to the organisers Dave, Matt and Gordon and all others that supported us at Replay. Nice one.

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