Last weekend's III Points festival was a celebration of art, music, and technology. GAB Studio's Bro Gaming Lounge proved a welcome representation of all three.
Despite what the name suggested, this arcade wasn't just for Miami bros. Plenty of women picked up controllers and proved their mettle on the available consoles. On display were an Xbox 360, NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, and Nintendo 64.
TVs were lined up strategically in front of the bar, which offered Strongbow cider (neat or over ice) to cool you down if your matches got a little too heated. A variety of DJs from Y-Not to Po$hstronaut provided the soundtrack to your fatalities and forays into the Mushroom Kingdom.
The more popular entries were the classics, such as Super Mario Bros. for the NES and Mortal Kombat for the Sega Genesis. People who hadn't picked up an NES controller in ages marveled at how much they'd retained from their childhood: "Wow, I can't believe I remember all of this," many marveled as they conducted speed runs through each level.
The gaming variety, however, left a bit to be desired--unless, of course, you were a huge sports game fanatic. If you were digging through the cardboard box full of games, you'd find all manner of Madden, Troy Aikman, and NBA throwbacks. I tried doing the classic "blow into the cartridge" technique to resurrect a Wheel of Fortune game for the SNES, but Vanna White was DOA. Javier Uribe, one of the organizers, expressed a desire to bump up the selection to perhaps include classic arcade cabinets next year. Here's hoping we see some Frogger or Galaga action--or even a pinball machine to mix things up.
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One gem I did find was Cool World. Yep, this was a real game based on the Brad Pitt/Kim Basinger semi-animated early 90s "classic." In a world where current generation games guide you through upwards of 15 minutes of hand-holding tutorials, it was both refreshing and jarring to be thrown into a gaming world like Cool World left to your own devices. I had to look up a walkthrough just to figure out what the heck the controls were.
But what about the art? Probably the most drool-worthy pieces there were not even officially affiliated with the Gaming Lounge. The "Miami Bros" and 8-bit hearts from 8-Bit Lexicon were shown in the shop at GAB Studio, and it took everything I had not to snatch them off the shop wall and adorn my own with them.
While I would've liked to have seen more 8-bit artistic renderings and a little more variety in games, the potential of the gaming lounge was clear. I'm looking forward to seeing how much the concept expands for next year's festival, especially given that we're entering a whole new generation of consoles and possibility in the gaming world. That gives you plenty of time to practice your combos for that Mortal Kombat hustle.