Play Blackpool 2015

Sorry for the lack of content recently. I’ve been a little under the weather due to some financial problems I’ve had. Because of this I’ve had to go back to full time working on my day job, and I won’t be blogging as much as I used to compared to how I was at the beginning of the year.

Receiving my pay cheque as a full timer again at my day job, I was able to afford to head over to Blackpool with the British IBM’s Adrian Killins, Mike and Scott from Retro Gaming Roundup, and forum members, Random Dave, UK Neil and Ben Jones.

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Play Blackpool is situated in Norbreck Castle. A pretty bad looking hotel shaped as a castle on the coast. Thing is, it’s not the looks, but it’s what’s in the venue that counts.

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The vendors as one would expect, not the cheapest in the world, but I wouldn’t call it a complete rip off as Ben “Vipp” Sterling put it at last year’s Retro Revival event at Wolverhampton. Though there are plenty of things I would love to get my hands such as this PAL version of the Tri-Star; but I’m sure not going to pay £120 for one! However I did eye up some reasonable boxed GameBoy games.

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There were plenty of Indie games being shown at the event, getting the interest of the event’s clientèle. A few caught my eye such as Horizontal Shift, Gunhilation, and Overcooked. Horizontal Shift is a take on Space Invaders and Asteroids, where you move a ship along a horizontal plane, you move left and right, but you can point the ship up and down to shoot at enemies and asteroids coming from above, or below you.

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Gunhilation is a twin stick sh’mup that’s just a bunch of violent fun as hordes and hordes of enemies appear on the screen, and you take them out Contra style, but unlike Contra, you can point the gun in any directional with a mouse, or a controller’s right analogue stick.

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Overcooked is a co-op cooking game where by you play with friends to run a kitchen serving burgers to customers. Each player can have roles such as preparing the burgers, cooking the burgers, washing dishes and dosing fires for when you overcook food. It was great fun, but it can get super hectic on harder levels!

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PlayEvents was holding a championship where people play three games, Circus Atari, Flicky, and Wave Race 64. I just randomly entered without expecting to go far, and well, for quite a while, I was tied for the first place with another person for a while! But after Four O’Clock at position was taken from us, and we took the tied second place. However, the prize to go on the grand final at Play Expo in Manchester was only going to be given to the top spot. So well done Gavin! I hope you win at Manchester!

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One of many things I was amazed with at the expo was a QBert arcade cabinet. I never never played QBert on real arcade hardware before. It was pretty good, even with it’s slightly dodgy monitor and joystick that really needed replacing. The first thing I did when I started playing it was throw QBert on the cubes to see if the famous, in-cab knocker, was working; and amazingly it was! This became the arcade I played the most at PlayBlackpool.

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A weird piece of kit I found at PlayBlackpool was this thing, the Commodore CDTV. Not to mistake this with Commodore’s CD32 console. This is a machine that was released before the ill-fated CD32 and was the company’s answer to the Philips CDi. It was playing a CD version of the awesome Xenon 2, but that wireless controller is bloody awful! It uses infra-red, so you can imagine what happens if you’re not pointing the controller directly at the CDTV console. Not to mention it has this odd round lump of hard plastic in the centre of the dpad that made using it uncomfortable.

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Mister Jeff Minter of Llamasoft had his booth set up in the upper left of the venue right up against a bar that wasn’t being used to serve drinks. What made things a little confusing was that to the left of the booth there was a couple selling these, monitor safety, glasses; and on the Llamasoft booth, there was a monitor that had these glasses sitting under it. I was really confused, thinking that Mister Minter finally made a joint-venture with another company to promote glasses that are made to stop your eyes from straining after long sessions in front of monitors. But I noticed that the glasses said Real3D, and it finally hit me, it was a demonstration of the Stereoscopic version of TXK, and it honestly looked like there was particles leaving the monitor and flying inches from my face, very impressive! But the main even was playing the awesome TXK on an Oculus Rift, and all I’m going to say is that Atari sucks! Playing TXK with an Oculus Rift was amazing, it honestly felt like I was travelling down a tube shooting bad guys and being sprayed in the face with pink leaf particles! It’s such a damn shame we’ll never be able to play this game on the Oculus Rift; I’m calling it the killer app for the machine, but sadly it’s not going to happen, and if you want to try it out, you’ll have to find Jeff to play it.

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On one trip returning to the Retro Gaming Roundup booth, I found a lone Game & Watch sitting next to the back lit Game Boy Pockets that Random Dave was selling. I noticed it instantly, it was the home made Game & Watch that someone posted on the Instructables website. Amazingly the man that made this was stand right next to me trying out James & Watch: Arm. Dave and I got to talk to him about his project, how he made it with an old Nokia phone screen and a PIC development board similar to that of the Arduino Micro. What’s awesome was that I got his email address and Twitter handle, I’m hoping to get an interview with him in a future episode of Super Podcast Land.

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I got to see and meet the Oliver Twins, the creators of the Dizzy games. They were at the event to promote their new game, SkySaga, a rival to Minecraft that offers more adventure over just making things. The game itself looks pretty, though I’m not too sure if it’s going to be a game that I would play. But I was honoured to receive a Dizzy Egg pin from Andrew Oliver, that was awesome!

If you want to see more photos from the expo, click here to see more! I have a few 360° panorama pictures you can see as if you were right there at the event!

What do you think of my little weekend trip to Blackpool? Did you go to PlayBlackpool? Did I miss anything out? Tell me in the comments below!