Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mario, Yoshi, and the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo

This weekend we attended the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo in Bellevue, WA. It was a dramatic weekend, for reasons I'll share, that inspired me to do some illustrations based on retro games. I've already painted the first, and here it is:

Mario and Yoshi

In case you grew up in a controlled environment as part of a science experiment, Mario and Yoshi are characters from the Mario series of Nintendo games. It's been foretold unto me by nerds that Mario was originally based on the Seattle landlord of the game's designer. So, really, he's a hometown hero! Usually they look like this:

Look at 'em go!

I decided to try and give them a children's story feel. I may try different styles for other games. Castlevania and Megaman are just too tempting for my love of horror and sci-fi to make all the paintings super cute and sweet. We'll see....

Speaking of super cute and sweet, don't you just want
to pet Yoshi on the snout? 

A detail of the mushrooms.

The pencil and pen sketch.

Back to the expo! Saturday and Sunday Ryan and I went to the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo. Ryan was crazy excited to go, because there was a raffle planned and the big prize was a rare copy of the Nintendo game Bubble Bobble 2. He went to the expo with one goal... to win Bubble Bobble 2.

What's that? You may be saying. (It's okay, I was). It's a game that was released right before Nintendo made the jump to Super Nintendo and so they didn't make a lot of copies. (Check out the "among collectors" section of the wiki). Ryan prides himself on his Nintendo game collection, and was somewhat excited (stark raving mad) to get his hands on an actual copy of this game.

Ryan proudly cataloging his collection.

He had a great plan. Purchase enough tickets to cover the spread. We've seen this in action at the Northwest Majors and it usually pays off. He set aside a little cash for a few weeks in preparation enough to fill the raffle pot and still make Bubble Bobble 2 a deal. And it was all for a good cause, Camp Kesem a Washington camp for children of cancer patients. So, even if we didn't win anything, it was still a noble reason to drop some money, right? Right.

Ryan's plan to beat the spread was a little nerve racking, because Bubble Bobble 2 was not the only prize. There were gift cards, retro game systems, awesome framed pieces of pixel art (I really wanted to win those) a Vectrex (pretty cool) and a Bad Dudes arcade cabinet (otherwise known as the machine Robocop throws that guy through in Robocop 2). Those other prizes were cool, but if we won the arcade cabinet we were going to have a serious problem fitting it in the apartment... Now I'm getting ahead of myself.

Dazzled by Bubble Bobble 2 laying mere inches from his grasp, Ryan spent most of Saturday afternoon hovering over the glass case, checking out the little cartridge. I hit up the other tables and looked over rare consoles, old games, and everyone's favorite--adorable plushies!

Like this guy, my new BFF chain chomp.

I like to look at Japanese Game cartridges and guess their names.
I call this one "Hitler Money Fight."

Oh no Ryan, look out!

Our friends were competing in Street Fighter and Marvel tournaments. We watched and cheered them on. Cole won Street Fighter, and now he's being sponsored to fly to Evo by Another Castle! Pretty cool, right?

Finally raffle time came, and Ryan pulled out his many tickets. He'd entered the ranges into his iPhone, and he eagerly scanned the screen for each number as they were read. We didn't win the cards. We didn't win the awesome art work (damnit). We didn't win the Vectrex (also damnit). However, we did win the arcade cabinet (BIGGEST DAMNIT).

The crowd was surprised to see Ryan throw his hands into the air (and hear my cry of agony) as our number was read for the Bad Dudes arcade cab, but see, we already have an arcade cabinet.

It's in the living room.

Every girl's dream, right?

So Ryan walked to the front, shook the MC's hand, took the mic, and in a shocking twist none of the crowd could have predicted, said, "Whoever wins Bubble Bobble 2 tomorrow--I will trade you that machine!"

Everyone was pretty excited to hear this, as not too many folks collect rare Nintendo cartridges but arcade cabs are big business. Heck, if we had the room for it we would have loved a third (oh, yeah, no, we have another one back east. It's a Pengo machine. We own two arcade cabinets. No kids, just two giant game machines. My Mom is thrilled, thank you for asking).

Ryan being a Bad Dude for his winner's portrait with the cab.

The first day done, we went out to dinner with friends and Ryan hoped somehow he'd win/trade/cajole Bubble Bobble 2 on Sunday.

Me and my Bad Dude.

Ryan leans into our photos,
because he's over a foot taller than me.

Back at home, Elvis made a friend.


Elvis loves that ghost, so he was pretty stoked
we added another weird fuzzy ball to the collection.

Elvis with his boo (get it?) last summer.

He spent all of August and most of September like that.

Sunday dawned and we returned to the expo. On the phone, my Mom said "Tell Ryan I hope he wins the Bubby Bobby Bee thing!" I conveyed the message, and we gathered with the crowd to hear the numbers called. We didn't win the gift cards, we didn't win a Dreamcast hook up, and... we didn't win Bubble Bobble 2.

However, in another shocking twist no one could have predicted the guy who did win it took the mic and announced, "I'm going to auction this right now and all of the money will go to Camp Kesem!" (So, if you're paying attention, he's the real hero of this story. What a sweetheart!)

Ryan had dropped his "ridiculous game purchases" budget into the raffle already, so he waited with a sick stomach as everyone around us called out prices. Finally it was SOLD! for $230 to a gentleman who had come to the Seattle Gaming Expo with one goal... To win the Bad Dudes arcade machine.

He and Ryan met in the crowd, overjoyed but cautiously hesitant like a slow motion airport scene in a romantic comedy. They eagerly made the trade with a handshake, and a hug from me as I cheered, "Thank you for saving our living room!"

Ryan and the Bubby Bobby Bee Thing!

It was a great time. I love going to these events and shows--no, ladies, I really do! They're a great opportunity to build a collection, learn more about rare weird old games, and snag some swag.

Our friend Jared gave us this Super NES, so I can finally
master Buster Busts Loose again!
Thank you, Jared!

Did I mention we found a friend for our green
mushroom, Teddy?

And there it is, (yes he placed it in a glass case and hung it on the wall)
Bubble Bobble 2.

One of the things I like about my husband is his resolute determination to make something happen. Once he gets a bee in his bonnet (or a Bubby Bobby Bee) to do something, he moves Heaven and Earth to get it done. That's pretty cool.

Back to my Mario and Yoshi painting! My goal for the upcoming year is to create enough game illustrations to sell prints at the events we attend. We love games and we enjoy doing game art; between us Ryan and I have a lot of video game themed paintings done already, but not yet quite enough to justify a table.

It would be fun to be able to offer prints of everyone's favorite games! Right? I think so. But like Johnny 5, I need input! What were some of your favorite video games growing up? What characters would you like us to try and draw?


  1. I feel like you owe it to the 'dudes to give them a moment of your time. I mean, it was really they who put bubby bobby bee thing on your wall. Also, if it's not too much, they'd really like to see "I'M BAD!" in there somewhere.

  2. zomg super NES! yoshi's island was muh jam.
    also, who wouldn't want to see a grown up version of duck hunt? and star fox!!!

  3. OMG BUBBLE BOBBLE 2?! I never even knew there was a part 2, I totally loved the first one!

    Also hm, favorite games growing up that weren't Super Mario related? For Nintendo: Q*bert (which my parents detested), M.U.L.E. (which my mother also detested), The Hunt for Red October, Legend of Zelda, and Kirby's Adventure. That's all I can think of right now.

    And for PC: The Oregon Trail.

  4. These are great! Keep them coming, folks! Jaime, M.U.L.E. is one of Ryan's all time favorite games, he'll be excited to read this :)

  5. Yeah, yeah, M.U.L.E.! Georgia's paintings of all the different kinds of aliens would be amazing!

    1. The ONLY other person I ever met that had played M.U.L.E. is my younger sister. We used to play it together all the time, for hours. SUCH an awesome game!!!

    2. Yeah, I struggled to gets friends interested enough in it to play with me. It's a tough sell: "This ga,e's awesome, I promise! It's like, you barter with each other and mine smithore to make robotic mules. Huh? Well no, the robot mules don't shoot missiles... But they DO help you harvest food which you can sell at the monthly auctions!"

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  8. I have long been interested in the theme of retro games, but to be honest I've never seen any information about this software. Is it reliable and stable enough? Because I'm used to download roms from a reliable service.


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