“You remember where you were the first time you played Super Mario” says Pat Contri, also known as YouTube’s @PatTheNESPunk.

During a special, live edition of the “Completely Unnecessary Podcast,” Pat and his co-host Ian Ferguson show their appreciation for Nintendo.  They start the show by throwing Dum-Dum lollipops to the fans at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo.

“I remember playing Mario with my parents – telling them to avoid the poisonous mushrooms or they’d die.” says Ian. “It wasn’t until the next day that I found out they were power-ups.”

It’s been thirty years since Nintendo kickstarted the console gaming revolution.  Before that, you either gamed on your massive, expensive computer, went to your local arcade, or settled for the primitive Atari.

The Portland Retro Gaming Expo remembers where gaming has come from and gives fans a chance to participate. PRGE is dedicated to preserving classic video games, while educating and inspiring gamers.

Half of the room is set aside for vendors; cartridge games, one-of-a-kind art, and any accessory you could need. Some vendors come well equipped with lists of all the games they have to offer – like Ogre Battle, a Nintendo 64 game listing triple its original value.  Others opt for a garage-sale approach; with bins full of wires, controllers, and other tokens of gaming history.

AtariAge’s booth has two-dozen playable Atari consoles  Some of the systems come equipped with classic games like Alien Invasion and Space Invaders.  But many of the systems show-off AtariAge’s home-brew titles. The company specializes in making brand-new cartridge games for the Atari – including “Zippy the Porcupine” (gotta be fast!)

Pinball Bulbs blends an original arcade favorite with modern technology.  They make Mini Virtual Pinball machines for your home.  It’s a physical pinball cabinet that runs on PC technology; allowing you to download and play multiple pinball style games.  The cabinet controls feel like the real thing, including the option to virtually “tilt” your pinball machine.

Portland barcade Ground Kontrol is a staple vendor at the Oregon Convention Center – and this is one of their biggest set-ups.  Knowing their audience, Ground Kontrol has three of each retro-cabinet game: Centipede, Galaga, Dig Dug, and the list goes on.

While the recreational gamer enjoys the unlimited free play, hardcore gamers are knuckling up for the Classic Tetris World Championship.  The annual main event is a thirty-two seed, single-elimination tournament on the original NES platform.  Combatants go one-on-one in a best two-out-of-three match, while their Tetris game and game faces are projected on the wall behind them.

A living metaphor for Retro Gaming Expo is a father with salt-and-pepper hair playing Atari. He wears a nostalgic smile while his eleven-year-old son curiously inspects a Sega Jaguar cartridge. Unlike other obsolete technologies, gamers don’t forget about their dated consoles and games.  As PC gaming and consoles continue to evolve, gamers still find joy playing simple, retro video games.