Play Expo 2014 is now in its the third year of this event, which is held at EventCity, next to the Trafford Centre (M60 J9 and J10), but it was my first time, with my only previous gaming expo experience being in Wolverhampton at Revival 2013 and Revival 2014.
Play Expo 2014 is a larger event, and I took well in excess of 200 pictures, from arcade titles to retro games and machines, virtual reality, some incredible cosplay costumes, pinball machines, plenty of PS4s and even the DeLorean from Back To The Future!
It’s one of my all-time favourite film series and, yes, you could have a professional picture taken while sat in the car, for a mere fiver. It didn’t go back in time, but you can’t have everything 😉
In each of the different sections to come – each given its own separate page (9! Count ’em!) – I don’t know the names of all the companies and organisations who brought these joys to us, so if I’ve missed you out, feel free to get in touch (dom @ dvdfever.co.uk) and I’ll add a link back to your site and/or Facebook page.
First up, I’ll take a look at the arcade machines. A lot of these I can remember playing from the early 1980s, and you can find the full album of my arcade pictures on Facebook here.
After Burner is Sega’s 1987 combat flight simulator game, and was available in both sit-down and stand-up versions. Naturally, the classic sit-down cabinet is the one everyone wanted to play, as it lurches about all over the place while you try to shoot down enemy planes. Word of advice: although queues were forming from both sides, and people would adhere to knowing whose turn was next, make sure you get in from the right-hand side. I got in from the left, but you have to climb over the gear stick and, since I’m slightly bigger all round than I was 30 years ago, I nearly said goodbye to my innocence in the process, constricting myself to get in. Worth the pain, though, for the immense pleasure which followed.
Donkey Kong (1981, Nintendo) – four screens. Maximum enjoyment. Mario was introduced as “Jumpman”, before later being renamed. Your girlfriend has been kidnapped by the big ape and you have to climb to rescue her. It’s still as engaging as it was back then.
And I always thought the game was originally meant to be “Monkey Kong”, misspelled along the way, but this is apparently a false urban myth. It’s also claimed that game designer Shigeru Miyamoto looked in a Japanese-English dictionary for something that would translate as “stubborn gorilla”, or “Donkey” meant “silly” or “stubborn”.
Hot Rod (1988, Sega). A four-player game, I thought this one came out from earlier in the ’80s, but then there were similar single-player games around back then. I didn’t get to play on this as it was always too busy, but I do remember it from back in the day.
Hang-On (1985, Sega). This showed Sega were ahead of the curve as it was the world’s first full-body-experience video game. Climb aboard (no gearstick to negotiate), zoom down the road and turn with the bike to go round the course and from checkpoint to checkpoint. Having not played it for a while, it took a little getting used to, but I soon did, and just like back in the day, I didn’t get through too many checkpoints.
Out Run (1986, Sega) – another sit-down arcade game, driving instead of flying or riding a bike. Like Hang-On, you had to get from A to B, and through all the checkpoints inbetween. Again, I wasn’t very good at it beyond the first 2 or 3 checkpoints, but the feeling you get as you drive in a cabinet that twists and turns is still as immense as ever. It certainly has some of the most memorable tunes ever from a game and I still sometimes play them in my head, today, while I’m driving.
Pacland (1984, Namco) – Pac-Man is a game that everyone knows, but Pacland feels rather less known, yet still being very entertaining in a left-to-right side-scrolling title which was the first to feature parallax scrolling, as you’ll see some background items scroll at an independent speed. You’re chased by ghosts, some of them come at you – floating, flying or driving, there are power pills and a jump over some water which I’ve never managed to accomplish!
And, finally, The Legend of Zelda‘s Link looks on at a bank of arcade games…
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.