JagFest 2K2: Atari & Beyond
By Gregory D. George at The
This year JagFest was held in the legendary
city of St. Louis, home of the Gateway Arch, the 2001 Superbowl
Champion Rams, the Blues hockey team, and of course, the storied
St. Louis Cardinal baseball team. (Hint: Move your mouse over
each photo for the caption.)
wife, Marianne, and I decided to fly out to St. Louis on Thursday
morning so we could get there and start setting up. I received
a surprise on the plane when we arrived which made all the passengers
look at me with wonder: JT August left me a note to call him to
be picked up! We expected to take the MetroLink to the hotel,
but a pickup would save us a lot of headaches!
Almost as soon as we settled in, Patrick Forhan
arrived with a box of Songbird stuff to sell. Marianne offered
to help and she set up the Songbird display while I kept myself
busy setting up my Atari SC1435 monitor with the Jaguar. I had
packed the monitor in a Gateway 2000 box and checked it as baggage.
I was relieved to discover that it had arrived in perfect condition.
August was in and out constantly going to his house to pick up
his game systems as well as the many monitors and TVs we needed
to hook up to the game consoles. On one of his trips he appeared
with Dan Iacovelli after picking him up from the train station.
We all began setting up the TVs and monitors while JT ran out
to get more stuff. We also began hauling stuff upstairs for the
and I were getting hungry and JT had said we would meet up for
dinner. When he hadn't arrived by 9pm, we decided to head out
to the designated restaurant. I called Dan and we took the MetroLink
to the Spaghetti Factory. JT arrived just as our salads arrived!
When we got back, James Garvin and Tim Wilson
had yet to arrive. They did finally make it sometime after 11pm
so we began setting up their stuff. After all was said and done,
we didn't get to bed until past 3am!
Day One - The Mayhem Begins
meant to get up at 8am, but I had forgotten to change my alarm
clock to St. Louis time and ended up getting up 7am! I was ready
to go, however. I called JT to make sure he was up and then proceeded
downstairs to continue working. We needed more tables, so I spent
the good part of the morning figuring out where to include them.
It was 9 o'clock when James and Tim arrived.
JT was running late and we learned he wouldn't be able to make
it until after 11am! That was unfortunate because he was bringing
some critical equipment to hook up some of the game consoles.
We would have to make do.
seemed to me that the dealers both arrived at the same time: Trade
'n' Games and Slackers had HUGE displays of stuff, but managed
to get it all ready before the 10am opening time. We were glad
they were there. Trade 'n' Games brought a homemade Dance Dance
Revolution floor and everyone enjoyed either playing with
it or watching others play it.
The night before, JT had also brought a whole
boxload of NES and Genesis games that we GAVE AWAY FOR FREE! James
Garvin and I rummaged through them and found a few copies of Virtua
Racing for the Genesis. There were a few left afterwards,
but we just had to have a copy of that $99 game that had been
marked down to $.99 !
10am is when people started to show up. I asked
Marianne if she wouldn't mind being the pretty face people saw
when they first walked in and cover the entry table. She obliged
and that was her main job for both days! I was very pleased by
that. Each guest got a free copy of the program and were directed
to the box of free games and the museum upstairs. The three Japanese
guys from last years show were excited to be back and we were
we glad to have them back!
with his stuff, Carl Forhan had sent two copies of Phase Zero
so we showed that off to great gasps from our trio from the land
of the rising sun. The graphics were very "good" they
said and were clearly interested in purchasing it, much to my
Shortly after we sent some people upstairs to
look at the museum stuff, I realized that much of it still needed
to be unboxed! So I rushed upstairs and began setting it all up
hoping that it was in a manner JT was wanting. Some of the highlights
of the museum were several 2600s, several 7800s, a 5200, an XEGS,
some strange looking detached Atari 8-bit keyboard with a parallel
port on it, a Vectrex in perfect condition, an Odyssey I complete
and with the gun, the Xenox II... and so many more I can't even
JT arrived things really got going as we had even more stuff to
setup and play with. We decided to put a PS2 and a Dreamcast together
for a side-by-side comparison. I must say that the Dreamcast did
very well and everyone was excited about the homebrew demos and
emulators that I had brought for it.
James Garvin conducted his gaming seminar to
a surprising turnout. He would conduct another seminar on Day
2. James also showed his work on Native which included
some great new tunes. Meanwhile, Tim Wilson and I duked it out
in a game of networked Lynx Rampart. I won every game,
Clark of WB
11 news arrived in the morning to check things out. I spent
a good amount of time showing him around and giving him an interview.
Wow, I was going to be on
TV yet again! I told him about Atari's trials and tribulations,
why people love the classic games, how many 2600's were sold and
what their value is (not much), and the purpose of JagFest. I
also made sure he talked with the Japanese die-hards because I
knew that would make a great story. (What's the Japanese word
for "nerd?" he asked.) Patrick tried his hand at some
Jaguar games, but he was especially happy to play the classic
Atari 2600 version of Frogger. The story was aired that
night at 9pm and it turned out great! (Hopefully we'll have a
link to download it soon.)
Day Two - Getting Revved Up
Goodwin (aka Dr. Clu) arrived on Day 2 to help keep weary Jaguarians
energized. He brought many of his Jaguar games that we had yet
to see such as Space War 2000 and BattleSphere Gold.
He also brought his two Catboxes and went out of his way to get
a BattleSphere network going. I only wish I had a stress-free
moment to give it a try! His curiosity led us to try the Songbird
copy of the Native Demo provided with Protector SE.
We wanted to see if that demo would work with BattleSphere
Gold's bypass system and to our surprise, it worked great!
brought several of his Pong systems and I was excited to
see how many people were interested in playing it. It's amazing
how much fun you can have whipping your friends at that simple
game. Greg Goodwin ended up winning the Pong tournament
and won an awesome 4-player Pong system!
tournaments really got going on this day. First up was The
Atari Times' Brutal Sports Football tournament. Eight players
vied for a free copy of The Atari Times 2001 Year End Issue
as well as a game of their choice from the prize pile. The second
place winner also received a game of their choice from the prize
pile. Tim Wilson ended up in second place after dominating in
the other two rounds. He chose a copy of Joust generously
donated by Songbird. The winner got the 2001 Issue and chose a
copy of Zelda for the CD-i donated by Good Deal Games.
other tournaments consisted of Soul Calibur for which I
got beat pretty early. I almost made it to the finals of the SNK
Fighters Medley playing Samurai Showdown. If I had played
THAT game all the way through, I might have made it to the finals,
but the host kept changing the game which I didn't understand...
Ah well. The winner of Soul Calibur won Space Ace
and Dragon's Lair provided by Songbird and the SNK winner
got the Nuon DVD player from the generous Japanese guests! Wow!
(Actually, one of them WON the SNK tournament so they gave the
Nuon to the 2nd place contestant.)
Japanese guests were unable to take their Xenon II and Nuon back
with them which is why they donated them to the show. I thought
that was extremely generous and I made sure to thank them for
it. These guys are true die-hards!
In one of my free moments, I checked out Grand
Theft Auto III for the PS2. That game had me laughing so hard
I could barely contain myself! I guess I'm going to have to rush
out and buy it for the PC!
from Trade 'n' Games achieved the ultimate score on Kaboom!
Over 10,000 points! Everyone gathered around the stereo game
chair that he brought to watch him make the mad bomber look like
a slow poke! Wow!
As the show began to wind down, I began to look
around at the stuff that Slackers and Trade 'n' Games brought.
It truly was video game heaven looking around at all the systems.
I ended up getting a perfect boxed copy of 2600 Frogger
for $5. A common for sure, but one that I did not have and always
wanted. I also picked up a loose copy of Iron Soldier for
the Jaguar since I had a box and a manual but no game to go with
it! Now I have a complete Iron Soldier.
of the organizers and a few remaining die-hards stayed behind
to chat about Atari even though everyone else had left. JT, who
had been running around all day, got a chance to play some Jaguar
games that were still new to him. I talked with Tim Wilson about
the Dreamcast and James, Greg Goodwin, and I played a mega-game
night, I was exhausted. After I had packed up my stuff, Marianne
and I went to Union Station to eat. I had such a horrible headache
I could barely think straight and I was no doubt a lousy date.
I had hoped to get back and help out with the clean up, but I
was so worn out... I peeked into the meeting room when we got
back from dinner and saw everyone still there chatting about Atari.
It seems they stayed there until 2am!
Day Three - St. Louis
JagFest was over, however Marianne and I still
had several hours before our plane was to leave. So we decided
to go to the Cardinals Hall of Fame, Busch Stadium, and the Arch.
were originally disappointed that the Cardinals were out of town
and would not be playing any games over the weekend. This was
our first trip to St. Louis and I am a HUGE Cardinals fan. However,
we were able to do something even better than see a game: We got
to tour Busch Stadium!
The tour started with the outside of the stadium
where several Cardinal greats are immortalized in statues. The
9 World Championships (the most of any team except for the Yankees)
are commemorated by 9 large
columns outside the stadium. We moved into the stadium and got
to see many of the exclusive areas including the $70 per seat
club that is behind center field, the press box and KMOX booth
where Jack Buck called so many great games, and the players entrance.
Lastly, we got to go out onto the field just as I had hoped! We
sat in the dugout and it felt as if I were in a shrine of history.
One of the players had taped "That's a winner!" on the
wall of the dugout and I thought that was very touching.
After the tour, we walked around outside of
the stadium and saw the Jack Buck and Darryl Kile memorials. If
nothing else, St. Louis is one of the most classiest baseball
towns I've ever seen and they truly understand the importance
of baseball's history. I think that in and of itself made St.
Louis a great place to hold a video game convention dedicated
to the most historic company ever, don't you?
We toured the Cardinals Hall of Fame and I took
several pictures, including one of the 1982 Championship Trophy,
the last Championship the Cardinals won. There were places dedicated
to Cardinal greats like Dizzy Dean, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou
Brock, Ozzie Smith, and Mark McGwire. Jack Buck had an entire
wall dedicated to him and the lineup included a brief message
under Darryl Kile's photo: "In Loving Memory."
Next we headed to the Gateway Arch, but it was
very crowded and we were worried we would be late to the airport
if we were to go up. So, I placed my hand on it and looked upwards
to receive a most dizzying feeling. The magnificence and beauty
of the Arch is difficult to place into words and it's no wonder
people walk away from it in utter awe.
final excitement for my St. Louis visit was to stand on the shore
of the mighty Mississippi. Living in Florida for most of my life,
I had never traveled as far west as St. Louis before and this
was the first time I got to see the legendary river where Mark
Twain spent his days. I dipped my hand in the cool water and the
history of the river engulfed me.
After a big lunch, we headed towards the airport
on the MetroLink. The ride took us only 35 minutes from the hotel
and we had lots of time left to prepare for the flight. I watched
the Cardinals beat the Padres 4-1 on the airport television making
my day complete. I found a copy of Jack Buck's book, "That's
a Winner!" and learned from it the kindness and generosity
he possessed that we all should have. He was a great tipper because
he knew what it was like to be stuck in a low paying job. He always
made someone's day.
are some more pictures of our Sunday in St. Louis.
all was said and done, we had a lot fun at JagFest 2K2. Everyone
who attended had an enjoyable time, however costs for this show
were much larger than we originally anticipated. It seems
that the hotel felt it was necessary to charge us for things that
we didn't ask for (such as food.) James Garvin footed an extremely
large bill and I think it would be a great thing if we as dedicated
Atarian's stepped up to the plate and made a donation to help
out. We have several very nice
programs from the show that I will give out to anyone willing
to donate $20 or more. Also, Tim Wilson is working on a DVD that
will have various media from the event including pictures, video,
media kits, and the program in various formats.
me an email if you would like to show your support. Your name
will also be dedicated into the JagFest Hall of Fame! Even donating
a few bucks will help out immensely!
a listing of all the pictures.