Friday, 18 August 2017

Video Game Market - Doncaster Dome

It’s a long ol' drive from London to Doncaster but the promise of an entire hall stacked high with retro gaming goodies makes the 7-hour round trip worth it.
On arrival to Doncaster Dome last weekend, I marvelled at the notable queue patiently waiting to gain entry into the market. Observing that it wasn’t just 40-somethings like me attempting to buy back the games and consoles that defined my generation, but a queue made up of younger folk too, waiting excitedly to get their hands on pieces of gaming history. 
If your aim is to procure retro games from yester-year then you’re garenteed to find them at a good price here. Stall after stall offer jam-packed creates of games, ranging from the Atari VCS starting from £3 to SNES and Mega Drive classics for not much more. 
Both mint with manual or lovingly repackaged cart-only’s for a little less. 
In contrast serious collectors have a welcomed place at the Video Game Market too. 
I spotted some great rarities; a boxed Neo Geo with three games, the collectable Sony Bravia TV complete with built in PS2 and a stunning N64 Disk Drive which I was rather tempted by had I not already exceeded the spend limit I had set myself.

If merch is more your thing then you’re also catered for too; anime and manga toys make a minor appearance alongside video game related clothing and prints by talented artists. 
There’s also vinyl toys and figurines displayed amongst the pile-em-high boxes of 80’s/90’s pop-culture toys, board games and trinkets. 
Admittedly I did find the lack of private sellers this time around to be a bit of a loss to the market in comparison to my previous visit. 

There were a lot more for-profit traders this time around - although I completely understand the attraction for them to sell here. Whilst always present, sadly I felt the now obvious majority of professional resellers tainted the community feel that had made the previous incarnation of the Video Game Market special.  
There was something endearing about buying an item from a personal collection, with the seller safe in the knowledge that their once prized possession was going to a good home. 
Since changing hands the Video Game Market is soon to become a three-times-a-year occurrence, rather than it’s previous annual gathering which I fear will further corporatise it. 
I appreciate that retro gaming has become a lucrative market, but fear the new frequency of the event could effect its previous endearing assemble of the like-minded originally curated from a love of gaming, to being a soulless money-making enterprise. 
I also fear the quality and availability of stock suffering from it’s new regularity, making it no longer worth any significant commute unless you’re already local. 

I really hope I’m wrong!
Having said that, in it’s present state it’s still currently worth the trip if you’re thinking of attending. 
  • If you're looking for collectables, then arriving early is a must. You snooze, you lose!
  • Bring cash. Understandably few stalls accept card payments. One positive to this is that it helps you stick to a budget!
  • If you don't ask you don't get! Haggling politely knocked £10 off of a Dreamcast and Gamecube consoles I purchased from the same seller. I heard others haggle too. They can only say no, right!?
  • If you see something you really want, it's best not to umm and ahh. Chances are it'll be gone by the time you return and there's nothing worse than spotting that coveted item in the arms of another!
  • ...having said that, some stalls are extortionately overpriced. Namely the ones by the entrance taking advantage of the first footfall. Shop around if the items you're after aren't all that rare. 
  • If you have a prepared a shopping list, it's worth checking out what the items sell for on eBay to ensure you're getting a good deal. Most sellers are competitive, but its best to attend knowledgeable so you don't pay over the odds.  
  • And finally, take your time to soak up the atmosphere, make like-minded friends and nose around at least twice - you'll be surprised by how much you missed the first walk around!
It's not everyday you get to attend a market dedicate to the glue that binds us all together and for that I'm grateful. 
I just hope it remembers it's jeans and gamer tee roots and doesn't get too carried away in it's seemingly new found corporate suit and tie. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

PS4 Superhot VR Review

Hands up (in bullet time please!) if you remember Stranglehold or Enter the Matrix on PS3 and Xbox 360? 
Both of these games promised visions of playing within an action movie, with abilities to bend time to your advantage, using athleticism to enhance gameplay with your character becoming its very own weapon. Not to mention the ability to shoot people in the face in really cool ways! 
To some extent this niche genre was successful but the bullet time bubble quickly burst and the love affair with slo-mo gun ballet wavered …well, until now...
Superhot was originally released to high acclaim back in 2016 on the PC and Xbox 360 after a very successful Kickstarter campaign. This was a new type of FPS with a new aesthetic and gaming mechanic that differentiated it from it’s predecessors.
Now a year in the developers at Superhot have brought the indie darling over to the PlayStation VR, finally giving good reason to dust off Sony's virtual reality headset of wonder.
The game at its core is closer to a good old fashioned light gun game than a FPS, like a duck shot at the funfair - but with bright red menacing agents replacing yellow painted waterfowl as the target. 
The clean white, minimal Scandi-style ascetic which makes up the games backdrop adds to it’s ascetically pleasing no-nonsense gameplay. Although don’t let the clean lines fool you, the semiautomatic wielding enemy will happily attack in a no-holds-barred onslaught given half the chance.
Which leads to it’s USP of how to actually stop the enemy. Accomplished by the player physically moving left or right to avoid shots fired. The main game mechanic is so beautifully simple but amazingly well executed that it elevates it beyond a simple shooter to an interactive, immersive environmental puzzle with some physical effort required - but not enough to be off-putting. 
Time is in motion when you move; so only when moving your head, arms or firing a bullet. Presented in front of you can be four or more bad guys in various states of menace and this is when you need the foresight to plan your counter-attack. 
All items visible can be interacted with; be it an ashtray, throwing star or a gun. Remaining still bides you time to quickly distinguish between whats trying to kill you and what you can use to fight back. 
Do you grab the ashtray with one hand and use it to shield yourself against a bullet that’s about to leave the chamber of the gun that’s been drawn towards you? Or instead contemplate the merits of reaching for a gun sat illustriously on the table? Remembering at all-times that each little movement progresses time forward with the enemies trigger being squeezed slowly, an attack always imminent. 
Instead you perhaps opt into using the ashtray to disarm the gunman? Throwing it towards him in hope your aim is true and that he’ll drop his weapon ready for you to grab mid-air (which is a kick-ass, smile inducing all-powerful moment if executed correctly, I can tell you!) 
Using his gun to then shoot the other assailants who were moving ever closer forward with every passing moment of your previous assault, all whilst continuing to contemplate further the cause and effect of your actions.
Superhot - as with most titles on the VR - is a game that you must experience first hand to fully appreciate its genius. Simply reading articles or watching trailers on YouTube can never do it justice. 
The exciting, revisited but technologically advanced slo-mo action genre can only be fully appreciated when you're in control ...and you're bending time for yourself.