Play Expo Manchester 2016 Show Report

The weekend of the 8th and 9th of October 2016 saw Replay Events' huge Play Expo gaming event return to the north west of England, with Play Expo Manchester. The event has been a staple of the gaming calendar for many people in the UK and European gaming communities for the last few years as it blends retro, current, PC, console and board gaming; and supplements them with cosplay competitions, indie game showcases and more arcade and pinball machines than you can shake a stick at - all set to free play. Oh, and there are hundreds of sellers on hand to offer event goers the opportunity to pick up all kinds of gaming paraphernalia, should their budgets stretch to it.
Naturally, The Dreamcast Junkyard was there and our booth in the community zone was the biggest one we've put on yet, featuring 8 Dreamcast systems of all different flavours and a whole range of games and peripherals for the public to experience. The turn out at Play Expo was stunning and was quite possibly the largest and busiest to date, with thousands upon thousands of gamers and collectors flooding the Event City venue over the course of the two days.
As exhibitors, it was amazing to see so much appreciation and love for the Dreamcast, and our little corner of the event hall was barely ever empty and on more than one occasion it was absolutely teeming with people keen to play on the games we had on offer.

Once again, Rez (complete with the prototype Dream Trance unit) was a major draw and other oddities such as The Typing of the Dead attracted quite a lot of attention. Likewise, the Virtual On Oratorio Tangram twin sticks and the arcade stick-enabled fighters got a lot of love. One thing that we weren't expecting to get so much attention was the 'exploded Dreamcast' wall display which we had to show how easy the Dreamcast is to take apart and repair...and speaking of repairing, I took the opportunity to temporarily open a 'Dreamcast clinic' where I swapped out a dodgy GD Drive for a visiting friend while he waited. Anything to keep the knackered Dreamcast consoles of the world turning and burning!
It wasn't all about the Dreamcast though. There were so many YouTubers, Twitch streamers, gaming industry legends (we bumped into Jeff Minter in Asda on the Saturday morning before investigating his new PS VR title Polybius, for example!), and numerous gaming websites and podcasts were in attendance. I was joined by my DCJY colleagues Rob and Martin for the weekend and between us we managed to sample a glut of new games, including WRC 6, Tekken 7, Pro Evo Soccer 2017, Sumo Digital's new snake 'em up Snake Pass (a brilliant Yooka Laylee-esque platformer where you play as a snake called Noodle) and some old classics such as LAN Doom and arcade Power Drift, complete with fully articulated sit down cab.
As mentioned above, there were lots of traders in attendance and the selection of games consoles, software and other merchandise was pretty amazing. Naturally, I managed to pick up a few items for the Dreamcast. First up, I got the totally useless but quite intriguing DreamFlyer from Console Passion for £6. It was intended to be used as (as the name suggests) an online flyer creation tool where you could send business cards or event flyers to friends or colleagues using the Dreamcast's online component. Sadly, these are no longer online so (much like the karaoke unit) DreamFlyer is pretty redundant. Still, a nice thing to have in the collection.
Next, I got King of Fighters 2002 from Sore Thumb Games for a bargain price of £10 - thanks to Lee who runs the store for this. I did spot a rather nice Sakura Wars Dreamcast on his stall but it was a little out of my price range...maybe when I win the lottery I'll hit him up and see if it's still available! To be fair, Sore Thumbs always have a great selection of Dreamcast (and other) stuff on sale for decent prices and if you ever happen to be up in York, UK you should check out his shop.
Later, I came across a stall being run by Dreamcast Junkyard Facebook group member Allan McCluskey, a man whom I'd previously only dealt with online (I bought a mint condition Yukawa Dreamcast from him earlier this year). He's known on Facebook for his fair prices and unbelievable range of titles for a number of different NTSC-J consoles...and his stall didn't disappoint. He had boxes and boxes of Japanese Dreamcast, Saturn, PlayStation and Neo Geo games and tonnes of boxed Japanese hardware (including a boxed, mint condition Dreamcast VGA box).

His stall was understandably mobbed for pretty much the whole weekend but I managed to nab some great games from him: the Sonic Adventure 2 Anniversary box set, Project Justice Rival Schools 2, Tetris 4D and Samba de Amigo version 2000. I paid a grand total of £60 for the lot, and Allan was a really friendly guy. I'll certainly be buying more from his Facebook page when I can spare the cash.
The final Dreamcast purchase I made will make the acquisition of Samba de Amigo version 2000 more understandable:
Yep, I finally got my hands on the PAL version of Samba de Amigo thanks to a friend who brought the maraca boxset to the event for me. Massive thanks go to Archaic Koala (that's his Twitter name, not his actual name, obviously) for this - and an added bit of trivia about this particular set is that it came from Sega Europe directly as it was won in a Dreamarena competition back during the Dreamcast's natural lifespan. Which is pretty cool, especially since Koala only charged me £60 for it!

Finally for the Dreamcast stuff, thanks to another Twitter friend James who brought a couple of burned games to the event; and of particular note was Hellgate, the bike-based shooter that was cancelled many moons ago. I've personally never played this one, so it was very nice of him to go to the trouble to bring it.
Overall, the event was a massive success and we got to meet hundreds of people who knew about this very blog, or listen to the podcast. Lots of people knew about the whole In Search Of The Barber story and everyone was really friendly and appreciative of the work we do here at the 'Yard. We put together a short(ish) video just showing our little section and also a bit of a walk around the event hall to give you a feel for the scale of the show.

There are more images on our Facebook page here, and I'd like to thank my comrades in arms Rob and Martin for their help and professionalism (and the laughs) representing the Junkyard. It was also great to meet/catch up with Lord Arse!, James Peak, Miggybaz, Retro Rich, Rob Visser, Jake Smith, Rich King Retro, Katsu, the RGDS guys, Retro Joe, Shaun from Ten Pence Arcade, Gaming Guys, Ben Lancaster, Games You Loved (and be interviewed by them!), Paul and Phil from the Maximum Power Up podcast, all the guys from RetroCollect, Matt from Sega Mags...and everyone else I've probably forgotten (sorry!). Finally I would like to thank the team at Replay Events for another great Play Expo. They put in a phenomenal amount of effort to get this show up and running and once again it couldn't have gone any better.

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