[REVIEW] Play Expo 2016 Saturday 8th October

Sunday, 11 February 2018

This is my second time attending Play Expo, an event hosted by Replay Events

This year, I came prepared as Event city is a popular venue for conventions in the North West as Manchester Film and Comic Con is also held at this exact same building. The downside for this location is that while it’s located right behind the Trafford centre unless you live local or have a car, transportation can be time consuming and awkward as you need to get a 30+ minute bus ride once you enter Manchester city centre.

Getting home at night with the surge of people leaving the venue can be even more difficult as buses tend to drive past after a few stops crammed to the brim with passengers also heading home a day of shopping at the Trafford Centre.


The stalls are probably one of the best aspects of Play Expo. With lots of sellers bringing old games for people to find hidden gems in terms of nostalgic titles or games which have a high aftermarket price, which is especially true for titles sold on the Gamecube console.
Some can sell for over £50+ whereas PS2 consoles range from as little as £3. Once you understand the reasoning’s behind such supply and demand, the prices for a lot of the games being sold by the vendors were quite actually quite reasonable.
Some stalls also sold Japanese imports, which is pretty neat to see the variety of packaging designs in person printed on cardboard boxes which we all probably regret throwing away as kids. You can find people selling these game cardboard boxes for £10!

Something that I noticed was an absence of anime-related merchandise compared to last year, along with card gaming merchandise. 
Whilst some stalls had folders with collections of Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokémon cards, there didn’t seem to be any card tournaments taking place today.
This event is more aimed towards an older audience with the bar being quite popular throughout the day.


With the Trafford Centre a few minutes’ walk away, you can have a wider selection of food choices beyond the typical hot dog and ice cream vendor at most conventions.

The layout this year had changed to include more emphasis on the gaming area. This arrangement was much more organised with rows of seats in one large block rather than fragmented around the venue. With more consoles placed together, it was certainly fascinating to see the development of technology in terms of consoles and gameplay.


Retro Gaming

Older consoles such as Commodore 64, were more difficult for me to grasp the basics of control.
Coincidentally, consoles such as Sega Saturn and famicon were easier to learn.
Playing older games such as Diablo II was a surprise for me as I instantly recognised that there were similar elements more current games  to Path of Exile. Once again, this event shows how gaming has changed over the years, yet certain parts of gameplay will never change. Older attendees seemed to stay focused on one title for longer which I imagined being due to them having prior knowledge of playing as a kid.


It’s the 20th anniversary of both franchises Lara Croft and Sonic and so Play Expo, along with the attendees held a nifty tribute to both these series, once again you can see the development of these two series over the years with this dedicated exhibition for Lara Croft organised by fansite, Tomb of Ash. I saw a number of Lara Croft cosplayers but this family stole the show for me.

Modern Gaming

The section dedicated towards current gaming releases was a bit more disappointing compared to last year, where there were a queue and pre-order bonuses for Dark Souls III and it seemed to be one of the main show events. One of the current games that I wanted to try out the most was Tekken 7 yet there was just a hurry of people crowded over 4 consoles at every opportunity.

Video game cosplays tend to be more popular for this event, whilst the number of cosplayers is mostly skewed towards those wearing a geek-themed shirt. For these reasons, along with the weather change making me ill, I decided on a more simple garb for the day, Rinoa and Squall from Final Fantasy VIII, a video game cosplay for a day filled with trying out a variety of games and meeting both  Jabba the hut and R2D2.

Overall, Play Expo 2016 improved in aspects, however, there was a more noticeable shift towards gaming as a core focus this year, especially in terms of retro gaming in which Play Expo always delivers, and the main highlight for me.
Thank you for reading!
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