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This time next week we’ll be buried under an avalanche of E3 news. Every outlet (including GR) will be tripping over itself to get news posted first, to be a part of the biggest announcements of the world’s premier videogame show. But in just a few weeks, all that hustle and bustle will fade away, and all that breaking news will be replaced by even newer headlines. The cutting edge reports, the reveal trailers, all of it will be commonplace and old.
With that in mind, we thought it’d be (moderately) entertaining to look back five years and recall those moments from E3 2006. Back then, these stories lit up the internet and fueled speculation for months – today, they’re ancient relics most of us barely remember.
Rumors had already essentially confirmed Halo 3’s existence by the time E3 2006 began, but Bungie’s ominous trailer helped turn expectation into genuine excitement. Cortana’s defeatist narration, closing with “This is the way the world ends” was probably the highlight of Microsoft’s entire show. Pity the grand tale teased by this video didn’t make it into the final Halo 3 game; great combat, stellar multiplayer for sure, but a patchwork story through and through.
The fact GTA IV was in development was not news. The fact it would launch simultaneously on PS3 and 360 was kinda-sorta news. Announcing it via a GTA tattoo etched into the arm of Microsoft’s Peter Moore… well that’s so newsworthy it trumps the announcement itself.
Theatrics aside, this was quite important at the time. Ever since the revolutionary GTA III carried the series to the top of the charts, it had always launched on PlayStation 2 first, and would come to Xbox months later. This time, the impossibly popular sequel would appear on both platforms together. Furthermore, Moore announced the 360-exclusive “episodic content” that would go on to become The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. But did you really need to get a second tattoo to announce a multiplatform game? At least the GTA one is probably fake…
Nintendo renamed its mysterious Revolution console “Wii” two full weeks before E3 2006, but there’s no denying Wii jokes were the bread and butter of the entire show. For months we’d wondered what Nintendo had up its sleeve and how the bizarre remote control device would replace a traditional controller… now we knew motion control was the driving force, and “Wii” were all invited to join in.
Above: Wii Remotes at the show. What happened to that sky blue?
The actual press release had this to say: “Wii sounds like 'we,' which emphasizes this console is for everyone. Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii.”
As for Wii’s actual E3 debut, it all kicked off with this energetic piece of mimery from Shigeru Miyamoto. He wildly waived his arms, directing a swath of musical Mii characters, all set to the classic Zelda music; it was cute initially, then dragged on too long, then disappeared into a typical sizzle reel of upcoming games.
Above: I snapped this picture during the event. Seems silly now, but at the time it was pretty damn magical to see
So yeah, it IS easy to laugh at this today, but remember, at the time Wii was a true unknown; we’d barely played any games at all, and all the stereotypes associated with the system today (tacked-on waggle, dingy visuals, awful online support, third-rate ports etc) had not yet manifested. In this moment, the whole room was hopeful, not cynical. Cut to today and this happy go lucky moment is a dreadful harbinger of Wii Music. Ick.
As Nintendo unveiled the Wii to a live audience, this crap started hitting us over the head almost immediately. Within a day it was pretty clear Nintendo wasn’t targeting the enthusiast press or so-called “hardcore” gamers with this presentation. Instead, the company wanted to court people who’d long given on games or who’d never played in their lives. Not a bad idea, but the imagery and concept contrasted with everything “videogames” meant to the aforementioned hardcore gamers.
The admittedly shrewd tactic worked wonders. The Wii jokes quickly made way for record sales numbers and regular mainstream media coverage; Wii became the biggest console of the current generation despite an inarguable lack of games we’d consider “traditional.” It paid off so well that Microsoft and Sony both adopted similar strategies with Kinect and Move, both of which are selling well to this day.
Less than 24 hours after confusing/dazzling/surprising the world with the Wii reveal, Nintendo held a separate, less-publicized roundtable with select outlets and top Nintendo talent. Wii was discussed, of course, but the real story was Super Smash Bros Brawl, sequel to the GameCube’s most popular game and one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises.
This alone was major news. But as the meeting wrapped up, Nintendo had one final tease… a trailer that revealed fuggin’ SOLID SNAKE as a playable character. Megaton reveal followed by megaton reveal? Incredible! I was in the room to see this, and I believe my text to GR editors was something like “omfg fcking snape is in smah bros brawl” which made no goddamn sense to anyone.
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