Lost Levels is a combination arcade and game store in Fullerton that celebrates retro video gaming, especially the 8- and 16-bit era. At their shop, you can play several coin-ops with a particular emphasis on 1-on-1 fighters and brawlers like Street Fighter and The Simpsons. Then you can practice your pinball wizardry at their selection of modern tables. Or you can just sit back in a comfy couch and enjoy Super Mario World and other SNES classics on a vintage console TV, before buying your own carts at the counter to recreate the experience at home. When Lost Levels reached out to SC3 about hosting a combined event at their facility, it seemed like a natural fit. After all, we'd recently teamed with the owner of Lost Levels at the Retro City Festival back in January. We knew he was easy to work with and had a true passion for retrogaming and helping out the collecting community. So on June 30, SC3 showed up in Fullerton, TVs and vintage consoles in hand.
This event was our first time at Lost Levels and a bit of a departure for their team as well, so it's safe to call it a learning experience all around. SC3's "house party" vibe meshed with Lost Levels' "convention" sensibilities to create an event that was a little of both. The festivities took place within Lost Levels and in a lot behind it. In addition to the game store inside the building, about 30 vintage video game vendors set up shop in the back lot. Space was limited, so Lost Levels had to parcel it out to those who could provide the widest selection – in other words, vendors more so than collectors. Admittedly, SC3 generally prefers individual collectors to make direct deals rather than just buying vendor stock, but at a commercial venue like Lost Levels, this setup made the most sense. The large number of vendors did provide a wide selection – plenty of collector-quality games and systems, plus other gaming-adjacent items like Funko Pop! Vinyls and pins. If you were looking for something in particular, you had a good chance of finding it.
That said, most vendor inventory skewed toward the 16-bit and newer eras, which fit perfectly in line with the era of gaming that Lost Levels most celebrates. SC3 knew this going in, so we made a point of bringing the pre-crash machines: Atari 2600 and 7800, Intellivision, ColecoVision, Odyssey². These are old stalwarts at SC3, but the Lost Levels crowd obviously wasn't as accustomed to seeing them. This was a good thing! Throughout the evening, people were intrigued and excited to see and experience gaming's early days. This is one of reasons SC3 does what it does, and we see it a lot, but perhaps not usually to the level of this event. We saw a few fathers sharing two-player Atari games with their sons and daughters. We got to answer a lot of questions about gaming history, and we could see people developing an appreciation for what gaming was then, and how it led to what it is now. And more importantly, people had fun playing games they wouldn't have had otherwise, and that's really what it's all about.
In the evening, Super MadNES, the heavy metal entertainment system, took the stage to perform selections from their new Clockwork EP. This group performs heavy arrangements of NES and SNES era game music, done in the riff-oriented, guitar-focused style of vintage '80s and '90s metal. Clockwork features tunes from Castlevania III, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, NES Batman and more – games with some of the most memorable music of that era. They're fantastic choices for metal arrangements, and Super MadNES shredded them while backed by a video display of scenes from the featured games.
The interior of Lost Levels contains several coin-ops including several larger machines that don't usually make to tSC3 events, like Dance Dance Revolution Supernova and The House of the Dead 2. Several side-scrolling brawlers and run-and-guns were on hand including Double Dragon, Sunset Riders and Mortal Kombat. Vintage classics included Asteroids Deluxe, Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. There were also a half-dozen pinballs of mostly recent mintage, such as Guardians of the Galaxy and Stern's Star Wars table celebrating the franchise's 40th anniversary. Lost Levels hosted two tournaments at the show, including one for pinballs and another for Street Fighter.
Thanks to Lost Levels for hosting us and to all the attendees old and new, for making this event a success! Special thanks to all Lost Levels employees for handling so much of the setup. The SC3 organizers ended up with less to do than usual, so much so that we got to play a lot of games ourselves!
The next SC3 event is yet to be announced, but will likely be in the fall, sometime around November. As always, keep an eye on this site and our Facebook page for developments.