1999: Back in sunny LA
A permanent return to the LA Convention Center marked a big year for the big three. Sega launched a mammoth E3 assault and had an incredible 43 Dreamcast games on display, making its stand one of the most popular hangouts. Namco's Soul Calibur was arguably game of the show and was cleverly positioned near arcade versions of the fighter to show just how much better it looked on Sega's new machine.
Sega also showed off Dreamcast's online capabilities by hooking up four consoles running Sega Rally 2 using the machine's modem. And with games like Metropolis Street Racer, Shenmue, Power Stone and Resident Evil: Code Veronica all turning heads, Sega fans felt confident that - when it was released later in the year - Dreamcast would be able to hold its own against the competition.
Of course, by the time E3 rolled around, Sony had already announced its own new console - PlayStation 2. An 8ft high pyramid (that seemed to be clad in tin foil) at the front of Sony's stand was implanted with screens that showed PS2 tech demos and also offered a one-track playable glimpse of Gran Turismo. The super shiny cars impressed and the PS2 pyramid was constantly swarmed.
Above: The PS2 pyramid at the front of the Sony stand featured a playable Gran Turismo
The presence of Sony's next-gen machine didn't distract too much from its still-strong PlayStation, however. Huge inflatable icons of Sony gaming - among them Crash Bandicoot, PaRappa and Lara Croft - towered over pad handlers as they lapped up the opportunity to play Gran Turismo 2 (always preceded by stamina-sapping queues), Wipeout 3, Resident Evil 2 and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.
Nintendo used the show to announce its N64 successor, Dolphin (which would eventually become GameCube.) There was nothing on Nintendo's stand, however, to prove that the fishy-titled machine actually existed. All that was offered was a 2000 release date, some PS2-beating specs and an assurance from Nintendo boss Howard Lincoln that Nintendo was "absolutely confident that Dolphin will equal or exceed anything our friends at Sony can come up with for PlayStation 2."
Despite Dolphin-friendly gaming missing from its stand, Nintendo still had plenty to shout about. Revealed at the show, Donkey Kong 64 had its own mini-mountain replete with mine carts, and Pokemon was designated a huge area complete with a Pikachu-styled VW Beetle stuffed with plush Pikachus.
2000: Big, green and mean
The first show in the new millennium saw a new console contender put in its first E3 appearance. Yup, Microsoft gave the masses its first look at Xbox, although all it had to show were behind-closed-doors demos and nothing in the way of games. Needless to say, it didn't manage to steal many gazes away from the show's regular players.
Without doubt, this E3 belonged to Sega. Dreamcast may already have been dead in Japan and on life support in the UK, but the US was still hot for the box with the swirl and Sega's machine boasted some of the most impressive games. Being shown alongside Sega's new online service, SegaNet, were such titles as Jet Grind Radio, Samba de Amigo, Space Channel 5, Half-Life, Skies of Arcadia, Quake III Arena (Metropolis Street Racer and Shenmue were also still kicking about), all of which delighted the crowds and offered some hope that it wasn't game over for the console just yet.
As ever, Nintendo also enjoyed a decent show, putting out several top titles for scrutiny: Dinosaur Planet (which would become Star Fox Adventures), Conker's Bad Fur Day (previously attending as Conker's Quest and Twelve Tales: Conker 64), Banjo-Tooie, Mario Tennis and Pokemon Gold and Silver. Detracting from this potent line-up, however, was the disappointing no-show of Dolphin.
Above: Dreamcast ruled the show floor in 2000 with an excellent line-up of games
Sony had a lackluster show and, after the impressive PS2 demos of the previous year, there were disquiet grumbles at the quality of games for the new console. Luckily for Sony, Solid Snake rode to the rescue with Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. It was - again - considered game of the show, despite the fact that it did - again - only appear in movie form. It looked so good that Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima had to guarantee that he was showing "100% in-game footage".
It was depressingly apparent that the original PlayStation was going to be in dire shortage of new, decent titles and only Dino Crisis 2 and Final Fantasy IX gave cause to be excited about future gaming on the console that had not so long ago been overwhelmed with new and exciting games.
While PC gamers were well served, it was easy to pick Black & White and Return to Castle Wolfenstein - which was being hailed as the best looking first-person shooter on the planet - as the highlights.
E3 2000 was also the year that Bungie showed off behind closed doors a previously obscure first-person shooter called Halo.