Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

Play Expo Cosplay Stage

Play Expo Manchester has always been right around the corner for me, so it always tends to feel like I’m cheating when attending, especially when the NEC in Birmingham hosts other larger events which we frequent. However, these other larger events, have a rather small retro-gaming section, if any at all, so Play always feels a little different to most other expo’s.

Now one of the things I have noticed over the years, is that Play Manchester has had it’s hits and misses when it comes to the size of the event, however, I never knew why this was until a recent press release essentially told me I had attended every single event. I had absolutely no idea that was the case, so it’s easy to see why it had taken the organisers a few years to balance out the event into a sustainable size. In 2014, we saw a huge rise in the sections displayed in Play, with the introduction of film and TV being present. I thought it was totally awesome that they had diversified to get possibly either a larger crowd, a greater offering of choices or both, so I was quite shocked to see that it had taken rather a back seat (if there was any there whatsoever).

Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

Various iterations of Lara plus Steph’s signed shirt

 

2016 was the year of Tomb-raider feat. Lara Croft at Play, quite simply due to it having it’s 20th Anniversary since Eidos released the game onto the first Playstation and there was quite a buzz that a lot of the original development team along with Nathalie Cook (one of the 4 original Lara Croft models) would be attending. The buzz was brought about due to a lot of the staff having not seen each other in the majority of time since the game’s initial release, due to some moving on to new projects with other teams. Also, there was a gaming section dedicated to every iteration of the game which was great to see, along with a photo-shoot area with Nathalie herself adjacent.

Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

Classic Popeye Pinball

With a huge selection of pin-ball and original arcade machines, as well as a huge sit-down area full of some of the first consoles and PC’s, there was plenty for the retro-gaming community to sink their teeth into. As well as an area for the retro, there was also a Minecraft area, a board-game area and plenty of gaming and memorabilia stands to peruse at your leisure, which has become quite the accepted norm towards the back of the facility in recent years. Towards the front we had some great indie titles (most notably ‘Snake Pass’ by Sumo Digital) along with several photo booth’s and VR area’s to test out the latest games and concepts. There was even a Redbull stage running a competition near the bar area. The only bar area actually, which was a little strange compared to recent years, as the queues did get a little silly in the early afternoon. Then of course there was Cosplay which was just left of the entrance and it seemed there was some extra-ordinary effort put into some of the costumes this year and way more technical than it’s predecessors.

Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

Part of the queue day 1

 

Now I haven’t really met a great deal of people at Play Manchester in the past, however this year due to making more and more similar minded Twitter friends, we had an awesome time hooking up on a social level. Some years I have wondered about on my own or with just 1 friend but this year, there were between six and ten people at times (mainly at the bar haha) but a lot of these I had never met before and had only chatted with, so I would have to say that it was my favourite year just for that reason alone. Bashing some retro classics is all fair and well but it’s pretty cool when others send you some pictures of yourself actually playing a game or having fun, rather than being behind the camera all the time. It also raised spirits as we meandered between our favourite section with more eyes than they have camera’s in a supermarket.

What really topped off the event, apart from listening to the Tomb-raider developers in a stage session, was nipping out of the press area where they sat catching up as a full team and grabbing a pretty good looking copy of the game and dashing back in to see if I could get it signed whilst they remained together. Yes they all signed it and here is the proof.

 

Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

The team sign my Tomb Raider Game

As usual it was all over too soon for us gamer types but I came away feeling we had achieved what the event was created for. I’m just never a fan of those Monday morning reality blues. Play Expo Manchester 2016 was a great event and I’m proud to have both attended every year from it’s birth and to have met such a great amount of truly solid gamers. I am sure it will not be our last and expect an even larger group from Twitter to form next year.

A truly solid performance and a 9/10 for the event. Check out our highlight pictures here.

Play Expo Manchester 2016 Review

Maybe next year we can get the floor painted for pleasant pics, maybe some Wi-fi, a layout and schedule guide and more bars for a 10/10?

 

Owner of GaminGuys.com I collect retro games, consoles and accessories and play all era's of games from old to latest. Found on eBaY as 'MCRTrading'

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