This past weekend I was back in Blackpool for this year’s PLAY Blackpool hosted by Replay Events. As with the previous year’s shows this was again held at the Norbreck Castle Hotel’s Norcalympia Exhibition Centre. It was a fairly grim day weather wise, so we were a little on the damp side by the time we arrived at the event and we got straight to some gaming to warm our spirits.

The generous selection of arcade cabinets was the first thing we encountered, so we spent time playing some classic and some not so classic titles. Light gun shooter Lethal Enforcers is still surprisingly fun despite a very obvious over use of the same enemy sprites (and just how many enemies can fit into a car, seriously?) and while we did have plans to play some Point Blank unfortunately the player 2 gun wasn’t working. I ended up playing Rolling Thunder for a while, which I’d never played before and while it’s not the most exciting game ever I did find the animation quite good for a game of its age. Nearby a small selection of pinball machines lined the wall, while there weren’t anywhere near as many as there were at the main PLAY Expo they were still drawing quite a crowd.

Elsewhere in the hall we found the now standard selection of retro consoles, though this time around there seemed to be quite a focus on fighting games. Remembering my sound defeat at last year’s PLAY Expo, I challenged Dave to some Dead or Alive 2 on the Dreamcast to regain my glory only to then lose it somewhat at Tekken a little later on.

The focus on fighting games continued throughout the exhibition, with several tournament games of Street Fighter and Guilty Gear going on, and it’s always quite impressive to see what the really experienced players of these games are capable of pulling off.

A handful of new indie titles were also being demoed, retro style beat em up Dead Pixels II in particular looked very cool and something I’ll be keeping an eye on for its release.

Also in the main hall were a selection of new and recent PlayStation 4 games, as well as a return of the formula 1 simulator from last year. The retro 90’s Virtuality VR machines were also back, looking even more old fashioned and clunky than ever now that modern VR headsets are starting to become available.

Off to one side of the hall we found a section of PCs running older first person shooters in multiplayer. Jedi Knight 2 was packed solid again, but we spent a while playing the original Doom multiplayer (for what must for me be the first time in over 15 years) and it’s still surprisingly good fun even without modern style aiming controls.

The other side of the event had the market area with various sellers. Numerous sellers with retro games gave us plenty to look through and both myself and Dave found some games that we’d been looking at add to our collections. There were various other kinds of memorabilia on sale including artwork and shirts from our friend and gaming event mainstay Retro GT and some really cool looking pixel bead artwork. Also present was 90’s Sega artist Duncan Gutteridge, who drew many of the well-known pieces of Sonic and other characters art used in a lot of merchandising, selling signed artwork.

While it’s one of Replay’s smaller shows and naturally has less on display than the bigger show in Manchester, Play Blackpool remains a fun day out and I’m sure I’ll be back again next year.

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