Thursday, 7 November 2013

Play Expo 2013

Retro games galore at this year’s Play Expo as I managed to pick up many rare and wonderful goodies. 

Being a game collector, it has taken me quite a while to open my sights to gaming expos across the UK. To be honest, the thought never really occurred to me as I didn't know they were, for one thing here in the UK as it seems like an American thing and I wouldn't have thought that retro games would be sold there to be honest. My ignorant self was very misled in this sense as I have come to learn there are a good number of expos and conventions on this side of the Atlantic as well. One of which is in Manchester called Play Expo.

I started my trip on Friday morning driving up the M1 to Manchester. After doing a bit of research the day before, I looked up a few gaming shops in the North West I could visit since I probably won't be attending these places anytime soon. My first stop was in Shewsbury to a shop called The Gamer. Not knowing where I was or where I was going in this Olde English Town, I had to rely on a not so reliable sat nav that took me up a one way street. When eventually stopping, I found a different Game shop called Totally Games. In here, they mostly sold new games so their prices weren't the best but next to the till was a bargain bucket. In there was two GameCube sports games that I needed, Tiger Woods 2003 & NBA Live 2003. Both were complete and 50p each so I more than willingly added them to the collection. After speaking to the store owner, he said that the shop I was looking for might be in the market above. After a quick scout above, I managed to find it snuck away. This store had some really good games at very good prices. I had to compose myself and make sure I didn't spend all of my money here. The one thing this guy loved getting for his stall was imports and he had a bunch for each console. It was really cool to see. I picked up all the complete GameCube games he had (Shrek 2, Spiderman, Madden 2003, Madden 2005, NBA Courtside 2 & NFL Street.) and 4 complete NES games (Spy Vs Spy, Silent Service, Blades Of Steel & Super Spike V Ball) for £30. Very happy with my purchase and I am sure I will contact him in the coming months to either trade off some of my doubles or buy some more games off him. Even though he is quite far in Shrewsbury, I am sure we can make a few deals with each other.

One game store down and it was off to the next in Stafford but this one was to be the first disappointment of the day. I got to what I thought was a gaming shop called Retro Gaming World but instead it was a laptop repair shop. What they do here is they have their stock in the loft and all of the items stored on their website. When someone purchases an item, they will search for the stock upstairs and send it off. Maybe they get most of their money from repairing laptops, nonetheless it was a bit of a tease to say on their website they had a store full of retro games but they only had a handful of consoles on show.

Onwards and upwards, off to Manchester I go. I heard of two games shops in the North part of the city so I headed there before the day was out. First I stopped in at the department store called Afflecks. As a Londoner going in here, it was like they stored Camden Market and Brick Lane into a 4 story building as it was filled with a lot of vintage clothes stores and tattoo parlours. In a hidden corner at the top of this building is a mini retro games shop and it’s filled with games from all eras. Sadly, the rent in this place must be high as all the games were overpriced. I was afraid by these prices and didn't want to spend anything here with the convention the next day. The last shop to sell retro games in this area was Entertainment Trader. They had a number of well sort after games but again some of the prices were off, one included a copy of Pac Man World 2 for the GameCube for £50!!! However, I did get a couple of things here, Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria 2 on the PS2 for £7 and Techmo Wrestling for £3.50. Across the road was Manchester’s main shopping centre, the Arndale centre. I stopped in there and visited the Computer Exchange here. I picked a couple of games here to, Pikmin on the Wii for £10 and Rocky on the Gamecube for £2.50. That was enough game hunting for one day, there was plenty more to come.

The next freezing cold day started with off with a huge queue outside the expo. Taking a good 45 minutes to get in (and is what probably resulted in getting the flu); I finally got in to see a bundle of gaming goodness. With only a few new games on show from Nintendo and Dark Souls on the PS3, this event featured mainly retro gaming, arcades and pinball machines, all available to play for free. There were also tournaments for various retro games across the two days including Mario Kart, Goldeneye and Street Fighter. But the main talking point was the Virtual Reality stand where you could play a couple of games in visors and an Xbox controller. I played a First Person Shooting game where you are fighting against machines. Though it was fun and unique, I got quite nauseated by the experience and the aiming mechanisms weren't the best. Definitely a step up from Nintendo's Virtual Boy though.

Anyways, enough about what was available to play and let's get to the stuff that was available to buy. The first big stall was Console Passion, boasting a lot of stock and mostly fair prices, I had to be careful not to get over excited and buy too much. For instance, there were a couple boxed Atari Jaguars for £60. That seemed very reasonable to me but unfortunately, before I could decide what I wanted, they were gone. What I did managed to pick up was McDonaldsland on the NES Complete, Mario Golf on the N64 complete, Doshin The Giant, Beyblade VForce & 1080 Avalanche on the Gamecube complete all for the discounted price of £40. The only one I spent more than I wanted to was Doshin The Giant but because I have been looking out for it on eBay and missing out by the odd big and seeing that it is treading at the moment, but it was one of the main games I wanted for the GameCube and am happy to get it. Next I went to some of the smaller stalls across the expo and the others seemed keen on trading. So with one of them, I picked a couple of GameCube games, Puyo Puyo Fever and The Italian Job which came to about £13. Instead of buying them, I traded 4 games including Silent Hill & Heart Of Darkness on the PS1 and Sonic 2 & Mario Party 5 disc only on the GameCube. I know I could have got a bit more for them on eBay but not too much I don't think. The next stall mostly had cartridges and loose PS1 games. A couple loose games caught my eye. One of which was Mystical Ninja 2 for the N64 and Magic Sword for the SNES. I've heard good thing from both of these games and the total cost came to £45. I spoke to the guy to organise another trade. I got some of my PS2 games out including Kingdom Hearts 2, Final Fantasy X, X-2 & XII which gave me the trade value of £20, not bad considering I got each for a pound. Next I got my loose SNES carts out. Here I traded Plok with the manual, Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country & Starwing. This put my trade value up to £50 but the guy said I could grab something with the value of £10 extra, so £55 in total. I picked up a couple more GameCube game, Second Sight and Black & Bruised. That was all I picked up on the Saturday. I had my eye on a few more items but I didn't want to spend all my money on the first day. I was also hoping to do a couple more trades as I didn't want to spend all of my spending money,
unfortunately that were not meant to be.

On the Sunday, I decided to take in a few of the sights in Manchester before going to the Expo as this would be the last time I was going to be here for the unforeseeable future. Most noticeably, I went to the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. A great footballing stadium I must say. Getting to the Expo later than planned on the final day would normally mean the items I had my eye on were gone, but fortunately for me, the stalls still had these items. I started at Console Passion again and gathered up the games that I wanted to add to the collection. There were so many games that tempted me but I whittled my selection down quite considerably. In the end, I grabbed, Mario Baseball, Superman Shadow Of Apokolips & Asterix & Obelix XXL on the GameCube, Ghosts & Goblins on the NES and the guide books for Final Fantasy 12 and Breath Of Fire Dragons Quarter. Altogether, that came to £120 which seems a lot but Mario baseball is a really rare game and Ghosts & Goblins complete for the NES is, well, extremely rare. With this deal, I managed to get an extra £10 off as I traded two copies of Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast and Dissidia Final Fantasy on the PSP so all in all, got this bundle for £110. Next I picked up a bundle of 5 Gamecube games for £15 and then I traded Splatterhouse 2 boxed and a cartridge of Streets Of Rage 3 for a sealed copy of Okami on the PS2. My last deal of the day was a simple trade for the NES game To The Earth for my Donkey Kong Land 3 for the Gameboy.

All in all, I think I had a pretty successful time at Play. So many sellers that I am not used to and am hoping to be going to plenty more of these events in the future. In terms of getting the right deals for my money was at times hit and miss. I think I could have got better deals if maybe I was more ruthless and patient but that comes with experience when I continue to build my collection and try and score a few deals. Next on the agenda is MCN Comic Con at the Excel centre. Hopefully there will be a few deals there for me to snag under the radar.

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