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Play Expo 2012: re.play

Play Expo 2012

Play Expo originally began as re.play – a retro gaming roadshow. Over the past two years, the organisers Replay Events had delivered their annual Replay Expo to over 7,000 gamers, including a presence at Eurogamer Expo.

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This first Play Expo event sees them venture out into the latest technology and competitive gaming (I refuse to call it ‘e-sports’) this year and they made sure that the re.play event continued to have a large presence.

The retro section covered nearly half of the expo floor. It was a dominating force, in a good way.

Whilst queuing up in the morning I began chatting with an older gentleman. He’d previously visited the expo in its younger years and had rekindled his love for pinball gaming. So much so, that he’d gone and bought several pinball machines as part of his personal collection and taken part in Northern championships. When asked where he’d stored them he replied with a wry smile, ‘in the living room’. Clearly he has a very patient and understanding wife.

Inside the expo this level of enthusiasm and love for gaming past continued. There was a Mario Kart tournament on the SNES, an original Crazy Taxi arcade machine, plenty of other cabinets with a range of fighting games and shumps, and then rows of individual systems, from C64s to a Neo Geo and everything in-between.

As I strolled around taking in flashes of old titles it became an interactive photo album of my younger years. I spotted two guys booting something up on the Amiga. The loading credits and font looked familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Then the logo appeared with the prehistoric rock band displayed below: it was Chuck Rock.

This was the most comprehensive retro setup I’d seen. It appeared that many attendees had solely gone for this collection, with the option to try out upcoming games once the queues died down. The atmosphere was welcoming and the quantity of systems meant there was always a space somewhere to sit down and play.

There were also stalls with a abundant back catalogue of retro goods at realistic prices, selling original PC Engine’s, Commodore 64’s, Jaguar’s and more. Shelves of Japanese PC Engine titles were displayed across from well kept NES and Master System games. If I’d brought some extra cash this could have become a little dangerous.

Within the re.play area of Play Expo 2012 was a dedicated Homebrew section. This was a space dedicated to brand new development on old systems. Usually an idea ran to its natural conclusion by a handful of people if not a team of one, the homebrew community continues to live and breathe. This area was lead by two sponsors: RGCD and Oldschool Gaming.

Oldschool Gaming I was told had showcased a working Twitter app for the Sinclair the previous year. For 2012 they’d be using a custom built Ethernet cable and port that would enable competitive gaming across multiple Sinclairs. They’d also set up some older systems for anyone to come over and play. Unfortunately I was unable to witness this due to time constraints.

RGCD dedicated their space to the Commodore 64 and brand new titles, of which I’ll be discussing in more detail soon.

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The re.play section was an absolute victory and a must for those out there who understand the importance of videogame history and wish to dive back into it. Here you don’t talk about history – you get to play it.

The author of this fine article

is the Deputy Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in December 2010. Get in touch on Twitter @shaneryantb.

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