The games business is like the high-stakes table at a Vegas casino – for every big winner, there are some spectacular failures. And E3 2010 was no different. However, it wasn’t the first E3 to have us slapping our foreheads in disbelief. The following is a quick trip down memory lane, to revisit our favorite hubris-and-ignorance-fueled gaffes, goofs, and blunders from E3s gone by. You know – for science.
1. Nintendo sucks so badly it officially apologizes (2008)
Nintendo is known to be about as hardcore as a My Little Pony Day Care Center, but if the company’s 2008 presentation had been any more casual the presenters would have been arrested for public indecency. In 2008, Nintendo decided that people wanted Wii Music more than Mario, and then worked out ways to make things even worse.
Above: Not pictured: Mario, Zelda, Samus, or anything anyone sane would actually want to do
Wii Music was the most worrying game presented at Nintendo’s 2008 E3 event, but it wasn’t the first. The conference had started with an Animal Crossing presentation, and if you're leading off with a dubbed video of a Japanese man discussing how he invented talking animals you'd damn well better be presenting at Cannes or putting your toddler down for a nap. The orchestra swelled to the grandiose announcement "Animal Crossing is coming to the Wii", on par with "Our dog likes to lick its own genitals." The first reaction is "duh," the second is "Why are you telling us this?" Sure, Animal Crossing is a fine series, but we needed more than the one pole to hold up the tent.
2. Activision hires an insult comic to harass the audience (2007)
You're working for Activision, you're in charge of the biggest game presentation of the year, and you think "I know! I'll harness the star-power of Dr. Dolittle 2's supporting cast to insult my audience!"
You are also now fired.
Above: We have something for everyone, including masochists or people whose parents were murdered by comedy
Jaime Kennedy stumbled on stage like he'd just lost a drunken bet that landed him there, and his very first line was insulting the audience by comparing them negatively to the manly Comic-con crowd. The Icelandic volcano announced itself to the world better than that - at least it hadn't been paid to become a disaster. His second line was telling the audience to take a minute to understand the first one, an act which we’ve actually titled "Shit the Worst Open Mic Comedian in the World Might Do Before Going Back to Teaching Geography,” and his third was to cry "Oh God!" and rub his face. At this point it was obvious that someone backstage had told him bongs are great for curing hangovers. There are serial killers who got off to funnier starts than this.
Did we mention that Jaime helped "Son of the Mask", a terrible idea, lose thirty million dollars on release? Congratulations, you now know more than Activision apparently did in 2007.
3. The N-Gage girl (2003)
We want you to imagine an innocent time, a tender, rainbow-speckled childhood when side-talkin’ hadn’t yet become an internet meme and people didn’t yet realize the N-Gage would suck like a leech with a tapeworm. In 2003, the Game Boy Advance SP was $99 and only slightly less popular than free oral sex. The N-Gage entered the handheld market against Nintendo, the electronic equivalent of starting a “Who’s More Crazy?” contest with Kim Jong Il, and then found ways to make that even stupider. Which is like travelling back in time to make Anne Frank even more miserable: scientifically impossible and why would you do that?
The N-Gage presentation started off with a squad of hip-hop dancers looking about as comfortable at E3 as they would have been at an osteoporotic flower-arranging class. Nokia then made two serious mistakes in unveiling the N-Gage's price. The first was actually doing it: if you ever find yourself unveiling a portable product which costs three times as much as Nintendo's, go back to your engineers and start slapping them until it doesn't. The second was the method of the reveal, a marketing strategy that evoked mental images of prostitution and slavery.
Above: You're nerds, right? Seeing a quarter-naked girl makes you like things, that's how this work?
After that, we actually can't say anything worse about the N-Gage than market forces already have.
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