02nd Oct2019

PLAY Expo Blackpool is turning Japanese in 2019!

by Phil Wheat

PLAY Expo Blackpool, the much-loved retro gaming event born in the resort eight years ago, is returning on October 12 and 13 and rewarding the loyal support of its local visitors, by including wow-factor, never-before-seen Japanese arcade cabinets – a show-first to the Norcalympia Exhibition Centre, whilst evoking memories of the seaside arcade game’s heyday and times when the resort was the number one place to go for arcade game aficionados.


Whilst other attractions have pushed arcade games out of the limelight in Blackpool, the arcade game is very much in-vogue in Japan and PLAY Expo Blackpool visitors will be able to fully appreciate why. By working with Japanese partner, Japanarama, the expo organisers have secured a range of large-scale, modern-day rhythm, shooting and fighting cabinets that will bring back fond memories of arcade games of old, but with a modern twist. The Japanese arcade games will have their own area within the arcade zone at the expo and will include Darius Burst EX, Taiko No Tatsujin 14, Project Diva and Ju Beat.

The rest of the arcade area will be home to Reflec Beat, Pop n Music and Viewlux C Cabs running various games, including head-to-head Street Fighter. There will also be three Astro City cabs and two Blast City Cabs running various shmups and bullet-hells and two Sega Lindberg cabs running head-to-head Virtua Fighter 5. In total, there will be close to 150 cabinets to choose from.

Nostalgia is very much the watchword of PLAY Expo Blackpool – an event crammed with retro games, of all types, launched by the world’s very best gaming-wizards. By enabling visitors to relive their childhoods and share memories with their own children, the event has a truly unique vibe, full of positivity and emotional wellbeing too, if the work of the psychologists who have commented on the powerful impacts of nostalgia are to be believed. Of course more recent and bang-up-to-date games are also in the mix, whilst opportunities to challenge friends and family are built around classic games such as Fortnite.

Industry legends, who pioneered some of the most beloved retro games of their generation, will also be at PLAY Expo Blackpool, where a talks programme has been curated by Retro Unlim, including:

  • The stage will feature Magnetic Fields, who have been making computer games since 1982, when their output included Trailblazer and Kickstart. They are probably best known for the Super Cars and Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge game, launched in 1990 and other 16-bit racing games.
  • The team from Playtonic Games, founded in 2014, will be explaining how Kickstarter funding enabled them to create a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie – a huge Nintendo gaming hit from 1998. Their game, Yooka-Laylee, launched in 2017 to evoke the essence of Banjo-Kazooie. Great news for gamers is the fact its sequel – Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair – is being released just a few days before PLAY Expo Blackpool. Learning all about the game from its creators is an unmissable opportunity.
  • Additionally, there will be a chance to quiz father and son game developers Andrew and Rob Hewson, associated between them with games such as Nebulus, Exolon, Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies, LEGO Lord of the Rings, LEGO Batman 3 and Higher Sentinel.

With areas of the Expo featuring indie gaming, rhythm games, pinball machines (all set to free-play), Minecraft, Lan Gaming, retro gaming and Cosplay, plus the arcade zone with its new Japanese intake, this value-for-money, retro-game-packed, all-weather event is likely to attract thousands of people over its two days of controls-commanding, fun and family focus. With a shopping hall selling many retro classics and much more, organisers urge visitors to make sure their game plan allocates enough time for all they wish to do, as the choice is almost endless.h

Andy Brown from PLAY Expo Blackpool says:

Our expo really is an extravaganza when it comes to retro gaming, allowing visitors to relive the joy they originally gained from playing games they may no longer own, but which hold special memories for them. There is nothing quite like watching visitors get into what we call the ‘nostalgia zone’ – a state of mind that is totally focused on a combination of past and present and one filled with emotion and joy in equal measure. When we see folk transfixed on a game that was once an old favourite, with a certain, unique expression on their face, we know they have reached the gaming world’s version of Nirvana.

Best-value Weekend tickets, offering early entry at 10am, for an event that runs to 6pm both days, cost £28 for an adult, £16 for a child (under 16) and £68 for a family of two adults and two children. Individual daily entry, for either Saturday October 12 or Sunday October 13, costs £16 for an adult, £10 for a child and £42 for a family ticket. Tickets can be bought at www.playexpoblackpool.com


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