30th Apr2015

Top 5: Reasons to attend Play Blackpool 2015

by Phil Wheat


With Play Blackpool only a day or so away, we’re getting excited for our second trip to a Play convention (we attended last years Manchester event, which was a fantastic success) but, of course, there are some folks who’ll need a little more persuading as to just why they should attend such an event – if not for the experience alone…

1) The Games (of course)

Play Blackpool 2015 features an exclusive first UK hands on preview of SkySaga: Infinite Isles. Which, for retro-gaming fans, is the welcome return of the ‘The Oliver Twins’ who, in the 1980s, developed several hugely successful franchises including the ‘Dizzy’ adventures and the ‘Simulator’ series. Chief Technical Officer Andrew Oliver will also give a developer talk and take part in a Q&A session about the game and its progress.

Also at Play will be a PS4 Zone, featuring loads of cool PSN titles such as the brilliant multiplayer Towerfall Ascension and AAA-titles including Little Big Planet 3, Dive Club and Pro Evo 2015; a dedicated Minecraft Zone; a Xbox One zone, with indie games such as Goat Simulator, Flockers, The Escapists and the amazing Wulverblade (which debuted at Play Manchester last year).

Of course then there’s the classic consoles and computers: including the Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Megadrive, Saturn etc., plus the myriad of classic arcade machines, with promised titles (technical hitches aside) such as 1942, Afterburner, Super Hang-On, Virtua Fighter, Paperboy, Star Wars, and many more!

2) The Tournaments

As with every Play event, there are always plenty of gaming tournaments to enter – and this year is no exception. The folks from RetroCollect will be on hand with a number of retro-game based challenges including Sonic 2 Time Trials, Starfox Challenge, a Donkey Kong Country challenge, Sonic Robotnik Boss Rush and many others. Check out this link for more on RetroCollect’s challenge line-up.

Following the success of the Smash Bros tournaments at Play Manchester last year, 8BitPlanet will be holding tournaments for Super Smash Bros Melee, Project M and Smash Bros for Wii-U at Play Blackpool. All will be free to enter (on the Saturday and Monday) with 8BitPlanet merchandise as prizes. Then there’s Blackpool heat of the UK’s first and only national Classic Gaming Championships (CGC) – a biggie for those truly competitive gamers. Plus Dark Cleo Productions will be running tournaments on Halo (Master Chief Collection), FIFA, PES, Street Fighter IV, Drive Club and Forza 5, running each day from 12pm AND they’ll be hosting this years Cosplay Masquerade too.

But… the big tournament for me personally is RetrogradeGamer’s Random Fighting Championships. Which is exactly as is sounds. A test of fighter-fans gaming skills in a championship comprised on random fighting games. As I said on Twitter earlier today, count me in!

3) The Guests

Conventions are often about the guests; and whilst Play is more about trying and enjoying games from every generation, that doesn’t stop there from being some cracking guests at the event. 2015 sees not only the aforementioned Andrew Oliver (Fantastic Adventures of Dizzy) in attendance but also the Llamasoft duo of Jeff Minter and Ivan Zorzin will be there, showing off some cool new VR-based stuff and bringing with them 3 Oculus Rift setups AND a Samsung Gear VR. Then there’s Hewson Consultants, responsible for some classic games of the early 80s, who will – according to the Play Blackpool website be involved with one of the many panels during the weekend.

4) The Screening

This years Play Blackpool features the very first European public screening of a brand new documentary telling the story of Atari called World 1-1: The Pioneers. Featuring industry legends such as Nolan Bushnell, David Crane, Al Alcorn and Owen Rubin, the documentary by Jeanette Garcia and Daryl Rodriguez combines interviews, archival footage, and reflection that retells the story of how the US video games industry was created.

The film will screen on Saturday and Sunday nights in the Norbreck Castle onsite cinema, with ticket sales benefiting GamesAid, the UK games industry charity supporting young and vulnerable people in the UK. For more info and to buy tickets, check out this page.

5) The “Stuff”

No Play event is worth anything without the mountain of merchandise and games to buy. Play Manchester was absolutely rammed with people clamouring to snap up games old and new and check out the ton of merchandise that traders from across the UK bring to the event. I’m hoping to pick up a number of beat-em ups on the PS2 and shmups on Xbox 360 – so don’t you dare be after the same thing, I’ll fight you for em I swear!

Play Blackpool 2015 takes place at Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool on May 2nd-4th. Hopefully see some of you there!


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