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Events: Nintendo Life at Play Expo 2013

Posted by Martin Watts

How retro can you go?

Last weekend, thousands of gamers descended upon EventCity in Manchester, UK to attend Play Expo 2013. Organised by Replay Events, the yearly expo focuses in four key areas of gaming: current gaming (, retro ( tournaments ( and activities for the ever-growing Cosplay scene ( Being the video game lovers that we are, we couldn't resist popping along and seeing what all the fuss was about.

And it was certainly worth us attending given that Nintendo was the only one out of the big three console manufacturers to have a significant presence in the section of the expo. While its Nintendo Unleashed stand was nowhere near as large as the one that featured at Eurogamer Expo 2013 at the end of last month, it nevertheless had a solid line-up of upcoming titles. Expo goers were able to try out Super Mario 3D World, Sonic Lost World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and even Mario Kart 8 ahead of their respective launches. Interestingly, the staff working on the stand were keen to identify non-Wii U owners and ensure that they got a chance to go hands-on with the GamePad; something which Nintendo has believed to be the key to enticing consumers since the very beginning. It was good to see the Big N operating with a clear strategy in mind, and we can only hope it results in more sales come Christmas time.

Aside from Nintendo's relatively strong showing, there wasn't much else to be found in the section. In fact, the only other big hitters were Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Dark Souls II and Oculus Rift. The main bulk of show floor space was instead reserved for retro gaming — something which has been Replay Events' core focus for some years now. The amount on offer here was pretty staggering, too; row after row of tables featured practically every system under the sun, ranging from mainstream classics to forgotten obscurities of yesteryear. This was further complemented by a wealth of arcade and pinball machines, the majority of which were configured for free play. Unfortunately, this area of the show wasn't as well-managed as we would have liked; there were quite a few machines which were out of order, not to mention that staff weren't always on hand to manage credit limits on some of the machines.

Nevertheless, these minor inconveniences were more than made for by the superb selection of arcade machines on offer. In particular, Nintendo fans were spoilt with a row of Donkey Kong arcade cabinets, featuring Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and even Donkey Kong 3. It was especially exciting to see the original Punch-Out!! in its glorious arcade form, not to mention that Mario Bros. was also playable.

For multiplayer fanatics, the retro area had a number of four-player console games set up, with Nintendo titles also proving rather popular. We personally enjoyed the chance to tear it up with a good ol' D5K Deutsche in GoldenEye 007 and blow each other to smithereens in Saturn Bomberman (which sadly wasn't set up for eight players). When it came to the former, it was interesting to see that many gamers — both young and old — still haven't quite managed to work out how you hold an N64 controller.

And of course, traders were at the expo in full force to cash in on our sudden overdose of nostalgia, selling everything from Goomba plushies to old systems and games. Prices were a little steep in some areas, but if you took the time to look around, it was possible to find a good deal — we certainly did!

All in all, Play Expo put on a fun couple of days for punters in the north, and was especially well-suited to families with children. It wasn't perfect — queue and stand management could have certainly been better — but the show did offer a lot of variety when it came to retro-related fun. It was also really good to see Nintendo there actively promoting the Wii U to the general public; let's just hope that it left a positive and lasting impression on some of the attendees.

Did you attend this year's Play Expo? Let us know what you thought below if so!

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User Comments (11)



ScorpionMG said:

Wow, no comments yet... why not be the first? That's what it said
Looks like you guys had fun at the expo



sikthvash said:

Wish I could have gone pouts - Mario Kart 64 is where it's at! I still break it out for lad's nights round mine. Awesome multiplayer fun!



Yipori said:

I was helping setup and didn't think to ask if Nintendo Life was going to be there. It was great to be able to finally get some time with the New Mario, Mario Kart and Zelda, all of which were of course excellent. What was so difficult for me was all the Nintendo stuff was setup the day before the show started but they wouldn't let anyone touch it. (Sooo painful!) Lucky for me I didn't have to queue to get in so what able to have a good play. Nintendo were also giving out little gifts such as Pikmin key chains and eShop vouchers which was a nice touch.
Aside from the Wii U it was great to see so many people walking around with the 3DS (vital for when queuing), I was finally able to finish off a few streetpass pictures.
On the retro stuff there were 3 amazing Donkey Kong arcade units that looked immaculate. Great show, just a shame it's so far away from me.



madthinker1984 said:

Oh my god! I'm in the top picture waiting to play Donkey Kong. The guy in front of me (playing it there) was terrible. He kept getting around 300 points, but kept on trying .

The highlight for me was Mario Kart 8. Super Mario 3d World and Zelda Link Between Worlds were also great fun.



MegaWatts said:

@madthinker1984 Haha! What an amazing coincidence! It's a shame we didn't know otherwise we could have met and had a good chat.

How did you fare on DK out of interest? We had a strange bloke come up to us when playing it assuming we didn't know how to play (I think because of our age) — it's hardly rocket science now, is it?



madthinker1984 said:

I only had a couple of goes and it was my first time playing the arcade cabinet, so I only managed aroubd 20000. I've clearly adjusted to playing the NES version on the vc which is far too easy.

We had a young child come up to us and tell us all abiut the Virtual Boy. I was impressed by his retro knowledge, but I sure did feel socially awkward!



bezerker99 said:

Wow, the original Punch-Out!! in all it's split screen glory!! "Body blow body blow, left right...KNOCKOUT!!"



WaveGhoul said:

I used to play the original Punch-Out!! here and there at my local Chuck E Cheese's. It didn't grab me at all like the NES version, but it was always a trip seeing Hulk-wire frame Little Mac in all of his glory.



unrandomsam said:

Was the original "Super Mario Brothers" there (Think that is also a 2 screen one - Not the NES Based VS Super Mario Bros that is basically the same with some levels swapped in from the Lost Levels and the harder versions earlier).

As far as I know it is the same sort of thing but totally different levels.

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