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ClassicRadar: The best history of E3 on the internet

1997: The tide turns towards Sony

Held in Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia Dome, the third E3 not only marked a change of venue but also a power shift in terms of who dominated the show floor. While Nintendo had pretty much hogged the attention at the two previous events, the overwhelming number of PlayStation titles meant that Sony well and truly stole the show.

With no new hardware in the offing, it really was all about the games and Sony's impressive lineup of console war-winning exclusives simply couldn't be avoided: real-life Lara Croft model, Rhona Mitra, was on display to pimp Tomb Raider II, Konami's Metal Gear Solid was voted game of the show despite only being present in the form of a 12 minute video, and Final Fantasy VII (then traditionally a Nintendo series) convinced many that Sony's box was the only choice.

Nintendo's much talked-about 64DD expansion system was nowhere to be seen and the line-up of N64 titles looked positively skinny compared to PlayStation's glut of games. Though it's now now owned by Microsoft, developer Rare then flew the Nintendo flag high with Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Quest (which would eventually become Twelve Tales: Conker 64), while Nintendo's own Star Fox 64 demonstrated the vibrating delights of the N64 Rumble Pak.

Above: Only two years since its launch and Sega's Saturn was showing signs of fatigue in the console war

Sega looked more fragile than ever and - besides Panzer Dragoon Saga and one playable level of the ultimately doomed Sonic X-Treme - had very little to counter the Sony assault. In the run-up to the show it announced further price cuts for Saturn. Sega also used the show to push its new line of PC titles, although many saw this new focus as an indication that the disappointing sales of Saturn were taking their toll.

The 1997 show should also be remembered as the first time Grand Theft Auto appeared, with attendees being proudly told that to drive from one side of the game's city to the other would take players around three minutes.

Good old PC Quake-beater, Prey, also put in its E3 debut this year. The release date was, of course, up in the air.

1998: A dream of the future

Despite announcing the existence of its Saturn successor well ahead of the show, Sega was only showing its new Dreamcast console to select members of the press behind closed doors and at its pre-show press conference. However, anyone who saw the new 128-bit powerhouse in action was mighty impressed and predicted that Sega had a world-beating console on its hands.

However, with Saturn on its last legs and Dreamcast completely absent from the show floor, Sega had another tepid E3, which left Sony and Nintendo to go head-to-head.

The PlayStation maker's next big thing came in the shape of Spyro the Dragon, which it confidently touted as a Mario -beater and was heralded as one of the most polished titles at the show. Metal Gear Solid was the outstanding game of the show - again - and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto was even spotted taking time out from the Nintendo stand to play it.

The announcements of Syphon Filter and Silent Hill helped to bolster the appeal of PlayStation even more, but Nintendo had a few gems of its own on parade. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which was being talked up by Nintendo as "the biggest game release in history", wowed anyone that battled the congregated hordes hoping to play Miyamoto's masterpiece-in-the-making.

Above: PlayStation was going strong with Metal Gear Solid leading the charge

Rare also had a triple N64 whammy that looked extremely tasty - Perfect Dark got an airing in video form, Jet Force Gemini was seen for the first time, and Conker's Quest resurfaced as Twelve Tales: Conker 64 (which would eventually be released in 2001 as Conker's Bad Fur Day).

It was also a big E3 for Game Boy: not only did Nintendo lift the lid on Game Boy Color but it also showed off its monster collecting title, Pokemon. Despite creating a minor buzz at the show (largely because of the game's success in Japan), no one predicted the Pokemon phenomenon that would erupt when the game was released later in the year.

Other notable games that showed up at E3 '98 included PC titles Thief, Half-Life and the still-in-development-even-now Duke Nukem Forever. Interestingly, Duke Nukem Forever's publisher, GT Interactive, was the show's biggest exhibitor with 36 titles on show, including Oddworld 2, Unreal and Prey.

In comparison, current titan EA had half that number and its line-up featured World Cup '98, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit.