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Another year, another grueling E3 experience for all involved. As press, we have to be in constant motion, reading, writing and presenting all the information that's blasted at our eyes and ears. As readers, you're tasked with digesting an ocean of content in 72 constantly updated hours. It's a hell of a ride and we're glad to be at the end, especially given the rather dismal nature of this year's show.
Instead of wasting your weekend on numerous sites in an effort to discern the best, worst and terribly awful moments of the show, you can check this one catchall list that we spent a disturbingly long time debating.
Capcom was the tiny sliver of hope after three yawn-worthy press conferences from the hardware barons. We wanted something cool, something new or at least an amazing announcement out of their hour-long event Tuesday afternoon. Sadly, what we got was a massive back-patting ceremony about the Lost Planet movie coming in 2011... and that's it.
Even a panel of such interesting, captivating people as David Hayter, Avi Arad and Keiji Inafune can become intensely boring when they all say the same thing: "it's a priveledge and honor to be making a movie of such an awesome, cinematic game." Repeat five times, add 100 degrees of body heat and abruptly end with no game-related announcement. Garrrrr...
Even though Capcom lured us into a non-game announcement under false pretenses, this one’s hard for some of us to even talk about. Nintendo, the legendary company that drove most of us into this business, threw a big old to-do for itself that amounted to little more than an hour and a half of bragging, peppered with titles the audience they’ve spent twenty years building couldn’t care less about.
We figured this was just the process you have to endure in order to finally get that rumored Kid Icarus, Pilotwings, or Punch-out!! game we desperately wanted to be a reality. One more announcement.
The lights go down.
Smoke begins to billow.
The lights slowly ebb back into effect.
It’s... it’s a set of drums. In-game drums we saw at E3 two years ago. We knew it was coming, but it appeared Nintendo was finally breaking up with us. “Sorry Nintendo fans, we’ve had some good times, but we’ve met a younger, more attractive demographic.”
Hey guys, remember the EyeToy? Yeah, that shit totally didn’t catch on! Oh, what’s that? You’re a bunch of nitwits who think that making a bunch of EyeToy games that insert videos of us into completely unironic short films is going to work? You actually made this game and it’s called You’re in the Movies? Try to make us volunteer to play at a demo again, and we’ll stab ourselves with flashing Lips microphones.
Ever get the polar opposite of what you wanted? Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Bart really wants a copy of Bonestorm, but the well-meaning yet naïve Marge buys him Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge instead? Well, we’d rather play that game than WiiMusic. Alas, Mr. Miyamoto is on record stating games aren’t as interesting as gimmicky tech demos (read on) so let’s all get in line like good little consumers and have a big fat pantomime parade through the goddamned living room.
Oh wait! We’re not all five-year olds or housewives trying kill 20 minutes during a rerun of Two and a Half Men. Some of us have been playing games our whole lives, so bending a digital octave, with nary a goal, reward, or chance of failure, isn’t going to amount to more than five minutes of mild bemusement. Evidenced by this and WiiSports Resort, Nintendo’s basically figured out a way to charge full price for free Flash games that play with a motion controller they’ve indirectly admitted doesn’t work (Wii Motion Plus, baby!)
Dammit, is this really what’s passing for virtual reality? The Lawnmower Man would be f***ing ashamed of you, WiiMusic.
Remember that major title Nintendo was supposed to announce this year, the one heavily rumored to the point of total confirmation? Yeah, it wasn't there. At all. What the capital eff word is up, Nintendo? All we wanted was one gamer-oriented title announced and it didn't come. WiiMusic... well we won't even go there. Animal Crossing is great and we'll be chopping apple trees with the best of them, but uh, yeah, if Pit doesn't show at the Tokyo Game Show we're going to absolutely lose our minds.
Sony’s press conference was a spectacular sight, but 60 giant TV screens mean SIXASS without anything compelling on them. We were already pretty sure we’d get a God of War III announcement, we just expected to see more than a documentary on lightning storms and cliffs. Show us some damn gameplay and get us excited, because we really don’t give a shit about the 130 new PS2 titles oozing their way out the Sony trash chute.
Guitar Hero may not be the darling of plastic shredage anymore, but you can’t say they’re not trying to win people back with some exclusive heavy hitters. At Microsoft’s press conference it was announced Van Halen, The Eagles and that entire Metallica album that keeps slipping through Rock Band’s fingers are headed to Activision’s million-selling music title.
They go on: “And we’re proud to announce...” an already excited crowd leaned forward in sincere anticipation. Egads! Could it be AC/DC? The Zep? The f***ing Beatles?! No. Whether it was the name “REM” or the term “from their new album,” a hush fell over the crowd as if they’d announced an exclusive deal with Beethoven and Carrot Top while strangling a kitten.
Microsoft chucked several acres of dry California foliage into the flames of the console war the instant they exposed the new 360 dashboard at their press conference on Monday. Sure, we kind of already knew about their avatarded new approach, but actually seeing it made the internet conference attendees explode with accusations of Mii copying and a strategy of ugly, ugly casualization. Plenty loved it as well, and we must admit that features like Netflix streaming got us shitting with excitement. Of course, there was also a certain stolen exclusive, but we’ll get to that later.
David Reeves, the boss of Sony Entertainment Europe made an absolute fool of his mouth during a conference for European press. When he got to Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty, he first managed to call it “Request for Booty,” and then attempted to correct himself with “Quest for Beauty.” Not only are we embarrassed for him, but we’d probably be more interested in playing “Request for Booty.”
The name of this award doesn't quite do it justice; we need a poet to accurately summarize the feeling of all hope being ripped from your soul. After the ultimate letdown that was the Nintendo press conference we expected a "real" game to be announced during its private Wednesday meeting. We were there and heard firsthand this exchange between Miyamoto and a deservedly curios journalist:
"Since WiiMusic has no score, direction or goal, isn't it more of a toy than a game?"
"Yes, and that's why it's more interesting than a game."
To which everyone applauded Miyamoto's next "genius" sound bite. Look, we're in awe of the man too, he's given us so much over the years, and that's why it hurts to hear him elevate a toy above a medium that's spent 30 years trying to prove it's more than a toy. It's like Hitchcock telling everyone to read books instead of wasting their time watching movies just as movies were being elevated to high art. Our Nintendo editor was visibly distraught for the rest of the day. Quote: "I think my new hobby is going to be killing myself."
Yes, we know what Miyamoto means by the statement, but after that dreadful conference we needed something to pick us up, and a simple "We're working on Pikmin" isn't going to cut it.
Right. With that unpleasantness behind us, let's focus on the handful of things that made us stand up and cheer, from off-the-record photos of Cliffy B (Mr. Bleszinski to you) to a rug that will literally kick your ass.