Chris Michlowski has been playing video games most of his life. He likes the new ones with the lifelike characters, intensely sharp graphics and complicated rules.
But sometimes Michlowski, 32, just wants to relax with the simple, old-school games he played as a kid. On Saturday, the West Islip man did exactly that — at the second annual Long Island Retro Gaming Expo in Hauppauge.
“With some of the new games, there are so many missions to complete, you can spend a month playing them,” Michlowski said after finishing a 1980s-version of the hugely popular Tetris game. With an older game “you can just sit there and play it in five or 10 minutes.”
More than 1,500 people took over the public spaces and meeting rooms of the UpSky Hotel, some of them reliving childhood memories, others, like 11-year-old Parker Reid, excitedly playing a 1996 edition of Mario for the first time.
“I’m playing Super Mario 64!” Parker exclaimed as he jumped up and down in his chair while the 3-D game — technically advanced for its time — flashed on the television in front of him. “The original! The original!”
Parker said he’s fascinated by the vintage games but prefers the modern ones.
“There are more characters, more stars, more levels,” the Center Moriches boy said. “Here, there’s just one character. It can get kind of boring in my opinion.”
His father, Dave Reid, 48, prefers the old games.
“I like the simple action,” he said as a DJ nearby was spinning a vinyl record featuring music from a Mega Man game. “If I’m going to do something complex, I’d rather read a book.”
Members of the Long Island Retro Gaming Facebook group came up with the idea for the expo, which attracted such a large crowd last year that space was quadrupled for Saturday’s expo, said Joel Albino, 36, of Floral Park, an event organizer.
Some attendees were in the relatively subdued tournament rooms, competing for trophies and prizes playing Shaq Fu, GoldenEye 007 and Mortal Kombat II.
Others, like Michlowski’s brother, Dave, were playing just to have a good time, although he got frustrated when a Tetris game he hadn’t played in years came to an unexpectedly early end.
“I am so much better at Tetris,” he groused. “That was horrible.”
Dave Michlowski, 35, who drove from upstate Poughkeepsie for the event, immediately stood up to get in line for another shot at a high score.
Michlowski has been a video game aficionado since he was a toddler and doesn’t need the latest technology to enjoy himself.
“A lot of people want the newest, the greatest, the flashy graphics,” he said. “For me, it’s all about how fun the game is. The classics never die.”