Rick Weis is the founder of the Portland Retro Gaming Expo which has so far enjoyed six years of success. He is also the owner of one of the most impressive video game collections on the planet. Dear Atari 2600 fans, Rick has it all (almost). His collection isn’t dedicated to the Atari 2600 alone however. Rick is indeed a true gamer and is still actively involved in modern releases. VGA got a chance to talk to Rick on gaming. He has a unique view on the subject so please enjoy this interview.
Video Game Auctions: Is there a game in the Atari 2600 library that isn’t mentioned often which you feel deserves more recognition gaming-wise?
Rick Weis: YES, I’ll give you a couple of them. Dragonstomper! This was the first true RPG on the Atari 2600 and what got me into playing RPG games, doing the random battles, avoiding traps, buying and selling items to help you make your way though your journey to the dragon. This was a tape game that required you to use a Starpath Supercharger to load the tape game to the Atari 2600 and is probably why it has not been played as much as games that are on cartridge form. Another game is Frogs and Flies. When most people think of multiplayer games on the Atari they think of Warlords but I always first think of Frogs and Flies. It’s a 1 or 2 player game, there are 2 frogs and 1 to 2 flies on the screen at a time and you jump and try to eat more flies then your opponent. It’s a very good strategic game.
VGA: Between the age of Atari and the era of the NES, what stood out most to you as being different between them?
RW: I think the biggest difference is the time to play a game. With many games on the Atari 2600 you can play a full game in under 20 minutes, where on the NES unless you die/lose quickly 20 minutes might get you only to the end of the first level.
VGA: Gamers have often done their best at getting a world record score… have you made such an attempt?
RW: Officially no, first off I don’t check to see what’s the highest score on any games, I do try to beat my own personal scores! or I will try to beat a game while I handicap myself (only using this or not using that or finishing the level the fastest time…etc). I did once when I was young I set out to play Space invaders (Atari 2600) for 24 hours straight, and after about 17 hours of playing it my dad forced me to go to bed.
I’m sure I could have lasted 7 more hours! I’m sure there are some games out there that I can set a world record on but needing to tape yourself doing it makes me not want to try.
VGA: Aside from the Atari 2600, what is your favorite console?
RW: That is a very hard question is answer. I have a lot of fond memories playing the NES with a good friend for years, and the SNES had many of the NES games with better graphics. Then you had the Vectrex and with it vector graphics that I love. The Playstation had me addicted for MANY years just playing the resident evil series, not to mention all the RPG and other tittles. And last but not least the Xbox just for giving me HALO. After thinking about it I would have to say the NES just for the fact I had more fun playing with a friend then playing the others just by myself. My fondest memory ever was me and my friend was playing River City Ransom on the NES and we got stuck and had no clue where to go. After about a full day of running around the game and still not knowing what we missed we found our selves at a spot in the game where it was an open area and a lake (please keep in mind that we always played games like this as a team not against each other). Out of frustration I walked up to his player and hit him then picked him up and threw him in the lake! He looked at me for a second (with a look like WTF!?) then started to laugh like crazy, which made me laugh like crazy and we spend the next 2 weeks just playing at that one spot fighting each other to see who’s gets to throw the other in the lake. BTW, we finally did figure out what we missed and finished the game.
VGA: When Microsoft entered the console gaming world with the Xbox, how did you react?
RW: Of course I was very excited about it but I did not buy one right away. I waited a bit to see if the Xbox would have any problems with the units. (wish I would have done that with the Xbox 360 I’m on my 3rd 360 system now) but the Xbox did very well and had many games that came out that I was very interested in playing. Being that HALO is one of my favorite games ever, made me love the system even more.
VGA: What is your favorite game and why?
RW: My top three games ever are Super Mario Bros 3! HALO, Resident evil 4! BUT, Super Mario Bros 3! is number 1 by far! why? for many reasons, it was the game that got me back into playing video games (I stopped playing video games in 1983-84ish) all of the hidden secrets in the game (I’m the type of guy that likes to find 100% of all secrets in a game) and many ways you can get to the last level. I’ve played SM3 as many ways as anyone could ever play it.
VGA: Xbox Live was the big introduction for gamers to online competition. What are your thoughts on the online gaming world?
RW: I think it’s great! it’s a way to be able to play with friends at any time of the day/night and be able to talk to them while you are playing now how GREAT is that!! I do stick to ONLY playing with friends on-line! For a while I did play HALO with people I did not know and it was an unhappy experience (mostly kids with foul language) another great thing about Xbox live is that they have many retro games now (even Atari 2600)
VGA: Are there any games set for future release that you want to play?
RW: I always look forward to getting the next Resident evil game for whichever system it comes out on. I soon will be getting the HALO anniversary game for the 360 and looking to relive many fun times with it.
Thanks to Rick for his time on this great look on gaming! For those who would like to take a look at Rick’s massive video game collection, please check out this visit to Rick’s game room by VideoMastersTV.com