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E3: The good stuff

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.

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