November 2019 saw the Free Play Florida arcade event in Orlando come around once more. The fact that I fly across the Atlantic each year to make it part of my arcade calendar each year should tell you that I really enjoy this event – it doesn’t take itself too seriously and genuinely aims to educate the public about old arcade games. Not to mention there are literally hundreds of great classic arcade games and pinballs all on free play of course! Check out my two previous reviews here and here.
This year I was in attendance with two friends of mine, Paul and Rich – we spent a week travelling around Florida and sandwiched the event between other activities on both the West and East side of the state. Paul and I offered up our services to run most of the panels, which went very well. This added a sense of purpose and structure for us, which broke our time up nicely across the three days.
I thought I’d create a picture book style review to give you an idea of how things went down:
I mentioned the panels that Paul and I hosted. The great thing about this event, is the number of special guests that are invited to the show. This year was the best yet in terms of the variety of industry legends and YouTube stars in attendance:
The Activision panel was very well attended, and could easily have gone on for several hours – so many cool stories! Hopefully they’ll be back again in the future to share more. Here’s a video of the panel itself. Do take some time to watch it, Paul did a cracking job of getting some great detail from the guys on what it was like to develop games as one of the first third-party developers for console games:
As for video games, there were plenty to get your teeth into. Here’s a few highlights:
The show has so much to do and see, it’s hard to fit everything in. But again, the Free Play team and volunteers delivered in spades, and in my view, this years event was easily the best yet:
There’s plenty of walk through videos of the event on YouTube, this is one of the better ones, that hopefully captures everything else that I didn’t picture here:
So there you go. Huge thanks to the Free Play team for having me over yet again – it was a pleasure to work with such dedicated people. Once again, this is a great show that you really should attend if you are an arcade hobbyist! See you there in November 2020!
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Just some notes on some of the games… Has anyone played Firefox recently? I haven’t played it since it was new and I wonder how it holds up. I remember playing both the stand-up and cockpit versions. My friend always played Cliff Hanger but I couldn’t get into it because (like Dragon’s Lair) it wasn’t obvious to me what the heck I was supposed to do with the controls! Krull was great because it had that Gottlieb aesthetic with the incredible sounds and unique gameplay. I think I saw Mazer Blazer briefly before all the arcades in my area started closing in the mid 80s.
I was able to play Firefox at an event here in Atlanta last summer, although it also broke down before the second day(considering the crossover with FPF it may have even been the same machine). It suffered a bit from being next to an upright AfterBurner in great condition and still a blast to play, especially with unlimited credits.
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As I’m unlikely to ever get to this event, for some years anyway, Iblove these write ups. Thanks TT.
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