First of all I just need to throw in that my brain is absolutely fried, I seem to have gotten the yearly post-expo lurgy so I apologise that this will probably be an incoherent mess
Having attended all of the Manchester events and the organisers seemingly listening to all criticism over the years, my expectations this year were set high. I found very little to complain about last year bar the terrible Saturday queuing so how did this year fair?
We arrived at Event City for about 10:10am (after a quick Boost stop in the Trafford Centre
) and despite the large queues, we were both pleasantly surprised to see the queue moving, I think we were in the building for 10:25am at the latest. Well done for finally getting the queuing sorted!
Upon entering we both made our way up to the arcade section but were quickly distracted by my highlight of this year... the board games! First stop Hungry Hungry Hippos!
I don't recall seeing this last year so this was a great addition and we both returned to this section many times for some Screwball Scramble time attack, I seem to have lost of skill at it but it was still fun.
Now to the arcades, we both split up at this point so this is all from my perspective. I was amazed by the sheer number of Arcade and Pinball machines and the layout worked perfectly, there was never any crushing as there has been in previous years and the selection overall was great. I spent way too much time on Midnight Resistance as normal
I'm not a huge pinball fan but I do enjoy a quick game every now and again, the amount of machines available meant there was very little wait for a game which is always a positive.
Whilst I'm talking about this section, initially I felt that the Retro Collect booth was some what pushed into a corner this year with many people not knowing they were there. In hindsight though this actually worked pretty well as it worked as a good section to go to escape from the hustle and bustle and just to sit and chill with a beer, chat and play some of the challenges available. I found myself returning here quite often just to relax a bit (Also playing Ridge Racer with a DDR mat never got old
Retro consoles... hmm... This is where things seemed to slip a bit for me, whilst there was a good mix of systems to play, I just felt a lot of the staple games were missing. It was great seeing Micro Machines reappearing as per usual but where was Smash Bros Melee (I'm not counting the Pro section as I want a chilled game) and Mashed? The sections dedicated to particular games series were a nice touch and better laid out than last year so well done on that
Shopping... A great selection of items available but the layout was atrocious! I felt like I was at a cattle market, everything was so cramped this year! Regarding games prices, although I didn't pick up much this year I was always able to haggle a bargain from many of the stores so I kinda feel the people complaining about prices didn't attempt any haggling...
Although I never attended any of the talks this year, I did notice in passing all of the stages that there was very little in the way of sound clash between them so again congratulations on that! The Cosplay was fun as ever with some fantastic costumes on show! I did see DPrinny in his superb Judge costume but never got the chance to chat with him this year (Sorry dude!)
Atmosphere... This is a funny one, I can see where some are coming from in regards to the atmosphere or the seemingly lack of. My initial impressions were not good but as the Saturday afternoon went on it seemed to pick up, It doesn't help that nearly everyone is like a rabbit in the headlights upon entering these sort of events, they are always over whelming. So erm yeah, I'm saying the initial rabbit in the headlights that people suffer was to blame for this.
Food/Drink... I found the bar location odd initially and would have preferred it in the old location (at the back with the arcades) but again this made a lot of sense as it meant the machines would be spread out well with plenty of passing space. Drinks prices were typical of events like this at £4 a pint which I couldn't really complain about. Food prices again seemed reasonable but I decided to eat at the Trafford Centre instead, the few people I spoke to regarding food seemed happy with the prices.
As per normal though with all of these events, the highlights were the people, it was great meeting up with (albeit briefly) flatapex and various other people I chat with via Twitter.
I need to apologise to flatapex though as I seemed to completely lose track of him during the fighting tournament I hope I didn't appear rude at that point, it was just that bloomin' hectic!
So to quickly summarise.
- Entry queue issues have seemingly been fixed!
- Arcade and Pinball quantity and layout
- Classic board games!
- Retro Collect stand and subsequent competitions
- Drink prices reasonable for an event of this kind (and cheaper than some pubs!)
- Themed console game setups (good choice on Sonic 1 for MS over MD)
- Shop layout too cramped
- No Rock Band!! (I didn't mention this above as I forgot and can't be arsed to write about it now)
- Retro console selection just didn't seem right, can't completely put my finger on what didn't feel right though...
That's about it really, a few more things will probably come back to me later but... yeah... I'll leave it at that for now.
That is a lot of text! Sorry!