The Top 7... Cringeworthy moments from the E3 2011 press conferences

Regardless of what’s revealed at E3, you can always count on the annual show for one sure thing –  the excruciating, embarrassing, exasperating press conference. When a bunch of clueless corporate businessmen and obviously uncomfortable game developers share the stage, trying to relate to gamers while simultaneously trying to hit all the necessary boardroom bullet points, the results can be agonizingly awkward.

Here are the seven moments from last week’s press conferences that had us burying our faces in our palms the fastest. Laugh. Cringe. Just be grateful you weren't actually there...

7) Zelda orchestra messes up Zelda (Nintendo)

Nintendo's E3 press conference got off to a promising start with a Legend of Zelda video montage that spanned the series' history, all set to a live orchestra playing a medley of poignant Zelda melodies. As the music ended and we wiped the tears of nostalgia from our eyes, Shigeru Miyamoto entered the stage to begin the show.

It's not every day that you have, A) a professional live orchestra at your disposal,  B) specifically hired to play songs from a hugely popular and enduring franchise of which you are the creator, and C) a massive audience both live and online hanging on your every word. So it's understandable that Miyamoto, drunk with power, assumed the conductor seat to command the musicians to play various sound effects and themes so that he could live out his Link-roleplaying fantasies live onstage.

This indulgence seemed to be going well enough as Miyamoto pantomimed Link reaching into a treasure chest as the orchestra played the chime for getting an item, and then as the Zelda-auteur basked in the healing glow of the fairy fountain theme. But things went awry when he got greedy and requested the item chime again, but with full orchestra. Poised to mime his imaginary item acquirement with extended flourish, Miyamoto freezes as half the musicians confusedly begin playing the fairy fountain theme again, then snaps out of it only to repeat "item get!" after the item chime had already begun, and an awkward cacophony of musicians finally transitions to the correct request.

6) Need for Speed replaced by the Need to Walk (EA)

With so many great games in a row that publisher Electronic Arts is trying to split the series in half (Shift vs Hot Pursuit/everything else), the Need for Speed franchise has clearly been on a roll. And early buzz on the latest entry, Need for Speed: The Run, was thrilling: it’s basically Cannonball Run, a pedal-to-the-metal blast across the entire US. But when EA demoed the game for the first time at its press conference, all that early hype came to a tire-screeching halt. The constantly-innovating racing series has finally added the one thing absolutely nobody wants: out-of-the-car quicktime events in which you get to watch the game play itself while you tap a button now and then.

Nobody has ever purchased an FPS because it added in a great puzzle mode. So why would we want to run around in our sneakers when the entire point of the game is stomping the pedal on exotic sports cars we can’t afford? During our demo, the developers apologetically swore the on-foot bits were only 10% of the game – but that just leads us to conclude that A) these moments aren’t that important and B) even the devs know it’s a bad idea. Yet it remains. License revoked.

5) Awkward Move presentations are awkward (Sony)

As Sony’s E3 press conferences go, this year’s was pretty amazing. It began with a sincere apology to PSN users, was refreshingly short on self-aggrandizement and vague sales talk, and mainly focused on showing off upcoming games, which is all most of us really want from a press conference. There were still a few low points, however, and one of the biggest was the way Sony presented Move this year.

Those who’ve followed Sony’s pressers over the last two years may remember the way Move’s imitation Wii remote was held up as some kind of revolutionary new thing that nobody had ever seen before. That was annoying, but it was at least more exciting than Sony’s message this year: Move is for making games accessible to people who are terrified of controllers.

That was the thrust of Kobe Bryant’s appearance, anyway. During a demo for NBA 2K11, the NBA star was trotted out to prove that “anyone” can play the game using Move.

It wasn’t clear if the point was that Bryant is normally incapable of playing NBA videogames, or if the Move controls were so just so easy to pick up that even an NBA star (who’d almost certainly played during rehearsals) could do well using them. Either way, Bryant’s appearance wasn’t quite as cringe-inducing as the rather sheepish presentation from Bioshock creator Ken Levine.

After nervously recanting some of the “uncharitable” things he’d said about motion controls, Levine went on to say that shoehorning Move into Bioshock Infinite would “remove this barrier of entry” that supposedly keeps people unfamiliar with controllers from enjoying his game. Because, you know, it’s totally plausible that non-gamers would invest $300 in a console just so they could play games using its $99 add-on motion controller, and that the only thing preventing those non-gamers from appreciating a franchise like Bioshock is the lack of Move support.

Levine’s nervous onstage demeanor didn’t do much to sell us on the concept, either, even when he started talking about the “other ways to interact with the world” that Move could enable. Sadly, he didn’t give any examples, so for now it looks as if Move’s potential will be confined to “family” games and purportedly making “core” games less intimidating to grandmothers.


E3 Top 7 WTF

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  • Mr.blackopz - June 22, 2011 1:22 a.m.

    Mr. Caffeine what a big douche-bag of E3 and the world
  • Collymilad - June 20, 2011 12:26 a.m.

    Urgh. Cringeworthy doesn't even begin to describe number 4. Awful, truly awful.
  • keklar - June 19, 2011 5:31 a.m.

    Mr. Caffeine is the worst
  • Apocalypse265 - June 16, 2011 4:39 a.m.

    For some strange reason, i just imagined Billy Mays as an annoucer for a video game. How awesome would that be? Shame it'll never come to pass...
  • BigWillis - June 15, 2011 2:57 p.m.

    That's so bizarre with Need for Speed. It's like EA finally got the series on track (pardon the pun) after releasing crap after crap, but then they add an on foot QTE sequence? What the hell?
  • EnragedTortoise1 - June 15, 2011 2:49 p.m.

    How about the most meme-worthy things from the press conference?
  • Koolkat23 - June 15, 2011 9:03 a.m.

    Wait a minute...Resistance 3(drab, brown and indistinguishable from the first two)???!!! Seriously?!!! Care to explain please, last preview I recall you were praising the game, what happened now?
  • minimaxi - June 15, 2011 5:33 a.m.

    I've just remembered, Tomb Raider demo was also one of the most cringeworthy not because it sucked but rather because it totally sounds like porn :D
  • Yeager1122 - June 15, 2011 1:05 a.m.

    Oh god Mr.Caffeine he was indeed horrible barely able to watch it although doodly doodly doodly followed by complete silence was amusing but not like he meant it to be.
  • brickman409 - June 15, 2011 12:59 a.m.

    "Nobody has ever purchased an FPS because it added in a great puzzle mode." ummm metroid prime?
  • PopularBluesMagicianSandyCabbage - June 14, 2011 11:52 p.m.

    Did anyone else notice that when Kobe was using the move, the reticle on-screen was not moving at all? That means that HE HAD NO IDEA HOW TO USE IT. I bet he wasn't embarrassed because he got a huge burlap sack with a dollar sign on it. But I was embarrassed for him. And the developer. They coulda paid me 5 bucks to demo that shit better.
  • e1337prodigy - June 14, 2011 10:24 p.m.

    I have to say the kids for the Kinect were awful. Do they seriously think we would fool for that? Also "At this point, we’re all on the edge of our seats – all of us, all around the world. We’re curious, engaged, teased, hell maybe even a little aroused in a bizarre kind of way, all waiting for OH MY GOD JUST TELL US WHAT IT’S CALLED! Iwata follows all this with a calm, almost dismissive “we’re going to leave the full details for a little later this morning,” causing a communal exhale that probably blew his hair back. " funniest thing I have read all week, but it is only Tuesday
  • e1337prodigy - June 14, 2011 10:10 p.m.

    I think you are being to hard on NFS the run. Think of it as a glorified loading screen. Where instead of waiting for the next race to begin you do a bit of quick time events and it also keeps you involved in the story. or everyone will just moan about it not having a story.
  • DeifiedData - June 14, 2011 9:38 p.m.

    I love how everyone forgets how horrible E3 is until they actually sit down and watch it every year.
  • tiben36 - June 14, 2011 9:27 p.m.

    HEY! Paulie Shore isn't THAT bad
  • batmanboy11 - June 14, 2011 8:49 p.m.

    Mr. Caffeine definitely deserves his spot at #1. Good God, what a terrible person...
  • wadesmit - June 14, 2011 8:31 p.m.

    I've never laughed as hard as I did when Mr. Caffeine said "doodle doodly doodly."
  • FauxFurry - June 14, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    Mr. Caffeine really was a worse host than Jamie Kennedy and that's quite a feat in itself right there. Caffeine isn't a drug very conducive to hilarious burn-outs the way that alcohol (or whatever Jamie Kennedy was on at E3)is and shall likely ever be. His ineffectual tomfoolery should have made the all-time worst/best E3 moments list for sure. There should be a Kinect exclusive game where one plays someone using a Move wand/Three-mote to control someone using a Wii-mote to control Mr. Caffeine at E3 desperately trying not to die a thousand deaths on stage in front of thousands of people. Of course, there would be no way to win, only being able to delay the inevitable for mere moments at a time.
  • OliBailey - June 14, 2011 7:45 p.m.

    Mr Caffine, was sooo bad but that what made him so funny!
  • lppriestman96 - June 14, 2011 7:09 p.m.

    lol I watched it live with mr caffeine and i did it with him :)