Thoughts and highlights from the biggest show of the year!
For those who haven’t heard of it, and didn’t see my Blackpool trip with Mike earlier in the year, Play Expo is a huge convention that celebrates everything videogames! The Manchester version is quickly becoming an annual tradition for me, and this was my fourth visit. I had to tackle it solo this year, but that meant I could experience this year’s event at my own pace and really soak up the atmosphere!
I was up bright and early Saturday morning. Heading straight down to the event, I was a little dismayed at the length of the queues. But It could have been worse – I had my Ipod to keep me occupied and it wasn’t raining. The organisers actually had people scanning your tickets and giving you your wristband while you waited, a brilliant idea. Once the doors were open we could go straight in!
Convention mentality took over as soon as I was through the doors. The machines would be there all day, but the merchandise certainly wouldn’t! I headed straight for the stalls.
There’s always so much choice at these conventions. Stalls sell everything from Plush toys to Samurai swords, so I strolled round for a while and started eyeing a few things up. I didn’t want to go TOO crazy (I’d bought two 3DS consoles last month, after all) but I snapped up Shellshock for the Saturn, Out Live for the PC Engine and some super cheap Pokemon cards to share with Katie. The great thing about owning flash cartridges is that I don’t really have to splash out on SNES, NES, Megadrive or N64 games any more, and lets just say my wallet is really thankful!
I left the stalls (which were starting to get really busy) and decided to sample some classic console games. I had a ton of fun with old classics like Pitfall on the Atari and Sonic R on the Saturn, and discovered some cool new games (Probotector: Alien Levels on the SNES and Punisher on the Megadrive are two games I’ve never played before)
After that, I had some lunch. Retreating to the food court in the nearby Trafford Centre gave me a break from the noise and the crowds! Refuelled and ready to go, I went back in for round 2.
I decided to have a bash at pinball. I got on a few tables, which were all on free play! I suck at pinball, but certainly appreciated the tables. Some great designs and definitely pieces of history!
The Arcade machines were next on the list, and here’s where the story goes a bit sour. This area of Play Expo was so packed that EVERY machine was occupied. I could either pace up and down, looking for an open space (like an angry driver in a full car park!) or I could stand still and wait. I did manage to get on a few in the end, thanks to a little patience, but I would have been really upset if we’d not visited the amazing Arcade club a few weeks earlier!
I strolled around the hall a little more, there was so much going on I was just taking it all in. The was a huge stage set up for Rock Band players, Cosplay competitions, a ring of PC’s all connected running doom deathmatches, developers giving talks, a Forza motorsport tournament….. Gamers from all areas of the spectrum just doing what they love!
There were one or two areas I really enjoyed, though. One was set up by a group called “Games that Weren’t” and showcased some demos, prototypes and games that, for some reason, were never released to the public! I had great fun playing an N64 title, called Mini Racers, and after a great chat with the guy running the display, I’m adding their site to my links page!
The other area was actually educational! Shock. Horror! Ran by Artronix, a sci-fi inspired brand that curate creative art, science and technology. (According to the Play website anyway.) These guys were teaching kids how to use soldering Irons! What a good idea. They all seemed to be enjoying it too.
Another tour round the stalls netted me some new controllers (£5 for a PS3 pad???) and a brand new Long box game Corpse Killer for the 3DO – Expect a video soon! I also got to try a brand new Indie game called The Mystery of Wooley Mountain – a Point and Click adventure game with bags of humour, it reminded me of Monkey Island, and it’s definitely getting a pre-order!
I could go on, but this entry is getting pretty long. What followed was more retro gaming, including a good blast on Duck Hunt and my obligatory Vectrex session…. the love affair continues! I completed one more lap of the entire place (had to make sure I’d seen everything, right?) and decided to call it a day.
Play Expo was a ton of fun, and I’ll continue to attend these events. Some of the shine was definitely taken away by Arcade queues, but I can hardly blame the organisers for that! I can definitely recommend the convention as a great day out, for children and adults alike. Play Expo lets you get your hands on consoles and games you never knew existed, and it opens my eyes to new things every time I visit!
Now I’m home, it’s time to rest and have fun with some of these!
I’ll throw the rest of the pictures in a gallery below. Thanks for reading (if you’ve made it this far!) More posts to come, including a Halloween special! Please like, comment and share. Load/Error continues to grow, but only with your support! See ya soon.