Play Expo 2014 : Look Back

Having never been to a video game convention before, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at Manchester’s Event City on a sunny Sunday morning last October. With my 2 excited young sons at my side and a good friend in tow, we waited patiently in a long line of people for what seemed like an eternity ( around 40 mins) before we could enter.

As soon as I entered the HUGE vicinity of Event city, my Inner child came out. On entry there was a SNES set up with a brilliant Super Mario Kart mod that allowed player to play as Kirby. The newer consoles made a cameo with several PS4 and XBOX 1 systems running the latest versions of PES and FIFA. All well and good, but this event isn’t about the modern systems, it’s about the older systems.

If your over 30 or just love gaming in general then this event is a must attend. For fans of franchise gaming, at treat was in store. Franchises like Star Wars, Terminator, Robocop and WWE all had their own separate stalls with SNES, Megadrive, Xbox, PS1 and NES ports of games from these franchises all set up on retro TV’s and all just crying out to be played.

After checking these delights out, I met up with the ever charming Craig Charles ( Red Dwarf, Corrie) who happily posed with my kids for a photo. Dave Prowse ( Darth Vader) was also on hand for photo opportunities.

Fans of Film and TV were also well catered for with the DeLorean from Back to the future, A ghostbusters set and the chair from Game of Thrones also making an showing. The prices to actually have your photo taken sat on the chair and in the famous car were a tad steep though so I made do with taking a few photos on my phone.

Aside from the many stalls selling gaming goodies, ( I really must get my hands on an emulator handheld) celebrities from the coding world of the 80’s and 90’s were on hand to give talks.On the saturday ( which I sadly missed) was a fierce and fun C64 v Spectrum debate. Everyone knew the C64 was king though.

A little farther on from the stalls and debating area was another collection of antiques. 8 bit heaven. Scores of system from the stone age of gaming from the well known systems such as ATARI ST and Amstrad CPC to the lesser no joys of Vectrex and BBC micro, All of these systems had a joystick plugged in and a game to try out.

Then finally, after making my way to the top end of the venue, like Indiana Jones finding a lost artefact, it was there. One of the BIGGEST collections of free play retro arcade games and classic pinball tables quite possible available to witness in this country. Classics like MK2, Q-Bert, Street Fighter, Chase HQ, Bubble Bobble and many, many more were there, just screaming to be played.

Over to the left of the Venue were quite a few PC’s playing host to old school shooters like Doom and Quake. A Cos-Play event was also held for people in the mood for a bit of fancy dress, something I might try out this year when I revisit.

Thankfully I live only around 4 miles from the venue so getting home for me wasn’t a problem, ( I did have the wife to thank for the lifts) If you plan on travelling from outside of Manchester to the event, then make sure you book yourself a hotel early as prices can be pretty steep.

There is SO much more I could add to this review but this is only scratching the surface on what PlayExpo has to offer. The only way to experience the event is to spend a day there. It truly is the pinnacle of the British retrogaming calendar.

Play Expo 2015 is again being held at Event City this October on the 10th/11th. Don’t miss it.

Post Author: Anthony Walker