Reviewed by John Hussey
Guess how I spent my day? I went to a gaming convention! And not just any gaming convention, I went to the “biggest” retro gaming fair in the UK! Or at least that’s what it states. Anyway, I went to Doncaster to attend the Video Game Market. And for those of you who haven’t heard of it, or don’t live in the UK, it’s basically a massive market selling all kinds of retro gaming appliances, from video games, consoles, merchandise, art-work, and even accessories. If you’re a gamer, this is the closet to Heaven you’ll get whilst walking on this Earth!
Basically this day-out came about when my wonderful, and beautiful, partner asked me if I was interested in going a couple of days ago. Now, I’ll admit I’m a bit funny when it comes to people suddenly throwing an idea in my face without pre-warning, and this can lead to me freaking out a little bit. “Oh shit. I didn’t prepare myself for this. Have I already got arrangements? Do I really want to venture into the wide open world, filled with strangers, away from my comfort zone and television?” Yeah, I’m weird. Don’t judge!
In the end I obviously humoured her because I’m good like that. I like to think I do my best to be a good fiancé (and hopefully one day a good husband) by caring for my fiancée, showing my support, and overall making her feel special. And because we’re both massive nerds, and big gamers, we were pretty much in love with the Video Game Market. I was worried that the Doncaster Dome wasn’t going to be a very good venue (on the account we went to a small comic-con convention there a few years back, and it wasn’t very good – mostly due to its size) but this time round they moved the event into the back – a gigantic hall filled with stalls.
If you’re a modern gamer that has little, to no, prior knowledge to console generals before the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS era, this event might be a bit lost on you. This convention was filled with stuff for the Sega Mega Drive, Dreamcast, Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Gameboy, Gameboy Advance, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and Xbox. It was beautiful. I think I’m still recovering from the amount of nostalgia trips I went on today just by being in the presence of these legendary devices and reading out the endless lists of classic games they possessed.
Now before I continue to showcase my enjoyment of this event, allow me to point out the flaws, which kind of nearly ruined the entire experience and our fun day out together. The first being the lack of transport! Now, me and my partner aren’t local to Doncaster and had to travel there by train, which then meant that we had to somehow get from the station to the outskirts of Doncaster (where the Doncaster Dome resides). We were promised free shuttles going to and from the station. Maybe there were pigs flying in the sky, but there certainly wasn’t any so-called free transportation.
So it was clearly a massive pain-in-the-arse getting there (or should I say getting back because we had to go to a nearby Asda (Walmart for Americans) and ask staff members for taxi info, which was certainly a massive annoyance and a little embarrassing). In future Video Game Market, give relevant information! Specify how the so-called free shuttles work and where you go to use them. This information would be most appreciated, thank you!
The second issue was the lack of breathing space. Now, I can get a little claustrophobic, and I do sometimes feel a little uncomfortable in public places (maybe I have a fear of society, who knows?), and so combine these lovely elements together and you get, “Holy shit I’m about to have a panic attack because there’s too many fucking people within a tight fucking space! God just help me fucking breath before I pass out from shock and die!” It became unbearable on occasions travelling down the tight aisles, and when it came to looking at stuff you often found it hard to even get close to the stalls, let alone grab the item you wished to purchase.
Now this didn’t happen all the time. A lot of the time me and my partner could freely browse the items we wanted to look at. But on other occasions I was literally hanging onto my partner’s bag for dear life, praying we didn’t get separated. This sadly put a lot of the pressure onto my strong-minded partner to persevere and guide us through the crowd, whilst I was cowering behind her. Shame on me, I know, but this really goes to show that she’s the stronger person in this relationship, and I respect that. So, yeah, maybe in future guys consider widening your aisles, or have some kind of one way system to control the crowds.
Also maybe consider having the cash-machines closer to the venue, rather than having them outside and past the long-arse queue to get in. Literally, I went to buy an item and was told we had to pay with cash. I mean it was partly stupid of me to go into this great hall without a penny in my pocket, but considering my partner had already bought something and that particular seller allowed payment by card, it made things rather confusing as to how you could, or couldn’t, pay for merchandise within the different market stalls.
And this led to my partner being brave enough to manoeuvre through the crowd, out the entrance, and back towards the cash-machines, whilst I stood near the stall like a complete jackass. Unfortunately I’m quick to get stressed within stressful situations (something I’m not particularly proud of, nor do I enjoy) and so my partner is left with the heavy lifting of this demanding task. In the meantime I begin to really panic as I quickly realise I’m stood on my own in this crowded, and extremely hot, environment, and I literally thought I was going to have a panic attack. And this wasn’t helped by the cash-machines being miles away, meaning it took my partner ages to come back. Naturally she comforted me upon her return and we finally got the item I eyed up.
Apart from these couple of annoying aspects the convention was fantastic. There were many stalls selling all kinds of cool stuff, particularly games, and I swear you could spend thousands in this place because there’s so much cool shit to buy. For instants, there was the awesome stall “Soul Funk Retro” which sold the most amazing artwork ever, which would’ve gone lovely on my wall and showed off my gaming spirt. They did these amazing Sonic the Hedgehog pictures in which it cleverly showcased his journey through his iconic levels within the classic games.
There was a cool one for Sonic the Hedgehog depicting his journey through “Greenhill Zone”. There was even a cool one for Streets of Rage, showing the characters beating the shit out of the bad guys in the iconic opening level. Sadly, they were quite expansive. Now had I brought a lot money with me then I would’ve gladly bought them and they’d be up on my wall as we speak. But sadly it wasn’t meant to be, which is a huge shame because they were awesome.
My experience with the Video Game Market was concluded by our successful shopping trip, in which we got everything we went in for (except Klonoa, which my partner wanted for the PlayStation – luckily she can get it dirt-cheap from the PlayStation Store). I think I jinxed myself when I stated we probably wouldn’t spend long at the event, and that I probably wouldn’t spend much, if anything. Between the two of us we must have spent nearly £200. Now I now that’s not too much, but it is when you’re on a tight budget and haven’t particularly got the money to spend right now. Damn you video games and you’re tedious nature to empty my wallet with your promoted delights.
One of the things I wanted to look for were four Gameboy Advance games that were stolen from me when I was a kid (that day still weighs heavily on my happiness). And as luck would have it I found the first one, Crash Bandicoot XS (which lead to me standing around like a wet-lemon in the middle of a claustrophobic aisle, as mentioned above). Then another stall gave me the remaining three games, Crash Bandicoot 2: N-Trance, Crash Fusion, and Spyro Fusion. A piece of my childhood was returned to me today.
And for a bit of fun I bought Theme Park World for the PlayStation (because we’ve all played that game at some point in our lives and have a sweet memories of causing customers to crash on your outstanding death-trap rollercoaster). I also decided to buy Resident Evil: Survivor (don’t judge me) because it holds a special place in my heart because it was the first Resident Evil game I managed to complete, on my own, as a kid. I also have fond memories playing it, thus holding my thoughts in a tight nostalgic grip (again, don’t judge me).
Finally I delved into the PlayStation 2 era and bought three classic games that I failed to play (back in the day) and so now as an adult want to finally discover what all the fuss was about. These were of course Shadow of the Colossus, Kingdom Heart, and Kingdom Heart II. I look forward to sticking my teeth into these games, and if everything goes well I may just review these games in the near future.
As for my partner, she bought herself Pokémon Emerald for the Gameboy, with Micro Machines, and Bugs & Taz: Time Busters for the PlayStation, along with a Five Nights At Freddy’s t-shirt and some Pokémon slippers. Sadly, it would seem, that all the games that she excitedly bought have all turned out to be duds. Pokémon Emerald was sold to her broken, but was assured it still worked, only to discover it was an imported copy of the game that was dubbed in English very poorly. The other games have either crashed on her several times or aren’t what she remembered them to be, meaning all her hard work in tracking down her old favourite classics ended in disappointment.
I have yet to check my games, so naturally I’m dreading that they will all be broken, meaning that I’ve wasted £70 on shoddy merchandise. But, then again, it does serve me right buying second-hand copies of really old games I suppose. I guess, since this is a review, I would like to give some sort of conclusion from my analyse. The prices of some of the merchandise at the Video Game Market were really overpriced. I mean my copy of Shadow of the Colossus cost me £30 (rare, or not rare, you’re still charging me full-whack for an old pre-owned game).
I would also expect that the merchandise be in good condition, and at least tested before being sold, especially when being charged a high price. It’s very hard to get your money back for events like this as it is so a little bit of professionalism would be much appreciated when it came down to the selling of the items on display.
So to round things off, yes, it was an enjoyable day out and the Video Game Market had a great atmosphere but unfortunately these three MAJOR! issues caused the day to feel slightly ruined, which no amount of atmosphere can shake off. So for future reference guys, better organisation, both with the convention’s layout and transportation, more reasonable pricing, and a better assurance that the items bought are in good condition. If any of you reading this attended this event then please feel free to share your experience and tell me what you thought.
Also, I finally received my Sega Megadrive Ultimate Portable Game Player (which I’m currently charging) and so you can expect a review of this console in the next few days, along with some other neat extra content that will follow.