We had a plan as a number of the Two Beard crew to go to this year’s kickoff event. Alas, it was not to be and without going into the gory details the lazy good for nothing theflamey (wasteman), Lopez and theJohn couldn’t go. So I had a last minute excursion with my boy to the Play Expo London Gaming Market on Sunday the 17th of March.
We set off on the train and it was easy enough to find, being held at the Royal National Hotel in Russell Square London. We queued up for what seemed to be a fairly big queue and after a couple of quid and a hand stamp we were in. It was very reasonable £2 for an adult to get in, and free for a child.
As much as my son enjoyed it, I do not feel the market is too suited as a family-friendly event. It was way too packed and I would imagine it would be pretty difficult for any parents to keep really young children close to them. At nine, I was able to keep him in sight, and as I say my boy still enjoyed the day. He was more than happy with his Pokemon magnets, Charizard soft toy and some Yu-Gi-Oh cards.
As for me, I felt fascinated walking around the stalls having my nostalgia glands engorged by seeing so many retro games and consoles, certainly ones I had previously owned, played and enjoyed hours with. There was pretty much any console you could think of. Panasonic 3DO, Amiga CD32, Phillips CDI, Turbo Grafx and even more sort after consoles like a modded Sega Nomad, Virtual Boy, Gameboy Micro’s and various Neo Geo’s.
There were a couple items I was really tempted with. A PlayStation One (smaller model) a Sega Saturn and Virtua Cop with the light gun – which in itself presents a problem as light guns will not work on a modern standard LED type television. A Dreamcast and Powerstone. One stall even had Samba da Amigo. I am pretty sure I saw Steel Battalion, not that I enjoyed that one too much the first time around.
It also amazed me that games I had previously sold/traded for a pittance were being sold for a king’s ransom. Sunset Riders on the Mega Drive for £85, Final Fight 2 on the SNES £140. I get demand drives price, but really? Who is paying these prices! Some of the folk at the event had clearly sacrificed the use of a shower and deodorant in a bid to afford that sort after title they have craved. I do think some of the pricing could have been better, and a lot of the traders must be up against eBay, & (dare say many run their own eBay stores anyway) and that means most titles or consoles are available most of the time.
Also in a time where so many of these classics are available to play on today’s consoles or on “mini’s” and if they are not, the homebrew scene may be something to consider? Whilst I am guessing the nostalgia must be too strong for some, unpopular opinion coming; at some of these prices, the hassle of connecting an old console up, and many may disagree, I do think retro gaming is a bit of a hassle and really good value in its original form.
I did mention earlier about how packed the event was, which shows it must be a success, but a word to the organisers, I felt the venue could have done with being a bit bigger. It really felt at capacity, which at times made viewing items near impossible. Even for someone at 6’7”.
I won’t finish on a negative, I recommend to anyone who likes video games to take a look, you really do not know what you might find. You’ll find that good old gaming memories come to the forefront. There certainly are bargains to be had, and I will look forward to attending another event in the near future.
You can visit the official website here and who knows maybe we’ll see you at the next event which is currently planned for July 21st.