October has been a busy month for Pinball Heaven, kicking off with our display at the north’s biggest video gaming event: PLAY Expo at Manchester’s EventCity. The award-nominated show, which is now in its fifth year running, played host to hundreds of major exhibitors showcasing everything from virtual reality and next-gen gaming to indie developers and arcade games. EventCity was transformed not only into a fantastic meeting place for gamers, but also into a serious battleground complete with competitions, tournaments and even the chance to beat the developers at their own games!
Although the event was a celebration of all things gaming and pop culture, the beating heart of PLAY Expo Manchester was undoubtedly the retro zone which featured a record-breaking display, including 13 of Pinball Heaven’s own machines. Visitors to PLAY Expo were given the chance not only to play, but also to connect with other collectors and fellow fanatics, buy new machines and mostly enjoy a great experience alongside other members of the UK pinball community.
It is this community who helped to ensure that there was a range of over 100 pinball machines on display at the show. Spanning over 55 years from 1958 (Gottlieb’s Roto Pool) right up to 2016 (Stern’s Ghostbusters) both game supplied by Pinball Heaven, the wildly varying collection of old and new machines alike was enough to excite almost every pinball fan and allowed many attendees to relive their all-time favourite pinball moments once again.
With over 300 playable consoles, computers and pinball machines, the show really did come alive with the retro gaming spirit and our corner of the Northern Lights Pinball Show had queues all weekend! Thanks to almost 20,000 visitors, Northern Lights is now the largest pinball show in the UK and we loved being a part of it, showcasing some of our classic pinball machines and brand new games.
Throughout both days, we saw a wide range of players from pinball collectors and seasoned pros to new and curious members of the general public who played pinball for the very first time at the show. All proceeds generated were donated directly to the Teenage Cancer Trust, who Northern Lights have been supporting since the show started back in 2011. Over the last five years, the show has managed to raise £15,000 in donations for the highly worthwhile charity and this year we were proud to help that total rise.
Pinball aside, the retro zone at PLAY Expo was home to a gaming library of over 100 arcade machines for the weekend, as well as over 250 games from the last 25 years, including family favourites like Donkey Kong, Pacman and Super Mario Bros, as well as vintages classics such as Mortal Kombat, Asteroids and Space Invaders. Throw over 100 classic PC games into that mix and you’re looking at the biggest collection of retro games at any gaming show in Europe. There really was something for everyone, evidenced by the colourful variety of visitors. We saw members of Team Nintendo, Sega, Sony, EA and even Xbox!
As if all of that weren’t enough, the event also played host to Tomb Raider’s 20th Anniversary celebration and a Sonic Super Sunday special in honour of Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th birthday. Alongside seminars, interviews, live music and the official Northern UK qualifier of the Red Bull 5G eSports Tournament, a walk around the huge exhibition centre also showed us tabletop gaming, a dedicated Minecraft area, drawing masterclasses and even a cosplay masquerade!