Ah, memories. In this industry, there’s arguably no bigger show than the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3. With console reveals, huge surprises, tons of coverage, and an incalculable degree of hype, E3 has had more than its share of memorable moments that will stay with us for as long as we continue to be gaming fans.
For this week, we asked our writers to share with us what those unshakable memories were. The results ran the gamut from the moments that made us squirm with excitement to those that made us squirm with a mixture of shame and resentment.
Hit the break and check out those E3 moments that have stuck with us the most.
I have to admit, I’ve felt alienated in recent years watching Nintendo’s E3 press conferences. Their determination to remain a family friendly brand whose IPs stay behind for the next generation has me missing the days when Mario struck me as lovable, instead of creepy and hollow. And, as Nintendo clutches the WiiU and charges headlong into yet another hollow, gimmicky E3 this Tuesday, I think back on the last, glorious moment I had faith in Nintendo after an E3 conference.
“Blades will Bleed”. Can you imagine that written on the box for Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword? With its soft, cel-shaded graphics, adorable characters, and cartoony enemies, I’m surprised “Animated Blood” even came up in its E10+ ESRB rating. But back in 2004, the first words Nintendo used in the trailer to announce Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess were just that: “Blades will Bleed.”
The entire trailer, presented in front of an audience literally hollering “Oh shit!” focused solely on Link kicking ass, chopping down foes astride Epona, and facing down a fiery, hulking boss. The Hyrule presented to the audience was a dark and sinister one, with blazing sunsets and creepy forests assuring the audience this was going to be a far less lighthearted title than Wind Waker. As Shigeru Miyamoto stepped out into the receiving crowd wielding a replica Master Sword and Hylian Shield, people absolutely lost it.
Since then, Nintendo just hasn’t suckered me in anymore. My own experience with Skyward Sword is just another nail in the coffin, as the controls only mimicked the embarrassing stage demo in 2011, which allegedly flopped due to wireless interference. I think Nintendo’s conferences demonstrate their pride in all their well-aged IPs, but as I can’t stand yet another Mario game, and Nintendo seems keen on never getting the Master Sword bloody again, I don’t see myself hollering “oh shit” this year.
In E3 2010, Microsoft unveiled its Kinect officially with a lot of fanfare. I think that’s the right word for it. I’m not quite sure what you call it when you reveal a video game device with tons of flashy lights, circus performers and make your audience don ponchos that light up at key moments. Oh, and a drum that had been being beaten for 100 hours, apparently. It’s the one where children were brought in on elephants so they could climb rocks and play games at a 1:4 screen size so we could see how terrible controllers are or something. Seriously, just watch this. And then remember it’s for the freakin’ Kinect. You know, that thing that let a Star Wars-based DDR thing exist and makes you embarrassed just to have any of its games in your library.
My favorite part? The one revealed by Ryan Geddes for IGN during his report on the conference and all the weirditudity of it. Apparently the infamous creative force, Tomonobu Itagaki walked into the conference before it started, clad in his trademark leather jacket and sunglasses but with the Kinect conference poncho on top, looked around for a bit… and then walked right out. Itagaki’s never been the most agreeable person in the world and has come across as a bit of a jerk in the past, but this is one moment that we all shrugged our shoulders and said “that guy had it right the whole time.”
“Favorite” is a funny term. Is my favorite E3 memory where something I’d been pining for was announced? Or is it an event that, while not necessarily positive, entertained me for an extended amount of time? Well, as you can see by the header of this section, it’s the latter.
What started out as innocently as Shigeru Miyamoto taking the stage to conduct some music, quickly turned into what looked like a group of schizophrenics flailing at their mental demons. The worst part is, someone, at some point saw the rehearsal for this performance and thought “Yeah, that looks dignified enough to show to show a group of industry professionals.”
Fortunately, if the last couple E3 conferences are any indication, that person was fired, as Nintendo’s really stepped it up in terms of announcements, and, y’know, not making complete asses of themselves.
Ibrahim Yucel – Steam on PS3 (2010)
One of my favorite moments from recent E3s is the announcement of Steam for the PS3. Right now, Gaming is fairly separated between console and PC experiences. Consoles for the longest time could not keep up with PC games in terms of hardware and interface requirements, but with this hardware generation we have started seeing those lines being crossed.
We had some cross platform connectivity in the past, most notably Games for Windows Live which allows users to chat with Xbox live users and in one case (Shadowrun) allowed PC and Xbox clients to play with another. But despite Microsoft owning both platforms, GFWL just didn’t work all that well, and for many not at all. Steam had the reputation of being reliable and provides more benefits than hindrances when talking about DRM. In addition, buying the PS3 version of Portal 2 also meant you got the PC version, which is a step in the right direction in non-platform dependent software. Imagine a world when you could not worry about which system to get a cross platform third party game, that your licence for a game worked across all your hardware!
We have to face the fact that we are not going to have physical media for very much longer. Digital distribution saves way too much time and money to ignore it. The reason the steam announcement was so cool was that is sets the standard of how to do distribution on console that is more akin to PC games. where you are not tied to only one machine, and once you buy a piece of software, you are allowed to have as many downloads of that software as you need. If games are going to continually be distributed digitally, the Steam model is one of the best to follow. In essence, its the start of finally unifying the two largest camps of gamers, and like mixing peanut butter and chocolate, it has the potential to be awesome.
There’s a reason why Sony’s 2006 Press Conference has become an internet trope, spawning a plethora of overused memes. It’s not every day that you get to see a company at the top of their game go down in flames so extravagantly. Watching the conference was akin to watching a train wreck, and for that reason, Sony’s fabled 2006 press conference is one of my favorite E3 moments of all time.
While most people fixate on Kaz Hirai’s attempts to get the crowd hyped about “RIIIIIDGE RACER!”, to me the highlight of the conference will always be the PS3′s price announcement. $599! The fact that they could announce such a humongous-big price tag with a straight face and then go on to act like it was a bargain? It’s almost as if they realized they were going down in flames and decided to see how far they could go before the audience walked out.
Not to mention what happened next, when Genji: Days of the Blade Producer Bill Ritch came on stage to demo the game. During his introduction, Ritch assured the crowd that Genji was historically accurate, that the events and battles detailed in the game “actually took place in ancient Japan.” He then proceeded to hit start, and almost immediately entered into battle with a gigantic crab. Ancient Japan must have been a terrifying place.
It’s hard to pick just a single part of the Konami 2010 conference. The whole thing was such a hilarious disaster, you had to think that they pulled a Bill O’Reilly and decided to just do it live. You have Tak Fujii talking about his game Ninety-Nine Nights II, trying in vain in awkward English to get the audience excited about the newly included “one million troobs”. He also makes a point to say that it’s an “extreeeeeme” hack and slash title, but just mashing buttons won’t get you anywhere. In fact, “you will be sucked.”
But at least you can understand what he’s saying, which unfortunately isn’t the case for Naoki Maeda (producer of Dance Dance Revolution) and his awkward friend Thomas Nagaro, who are introducing Dance Masters. It seems as if Maeda’s jaw won’t allow him to properly form words, and both he and Nagaro keep their eyes glued to the teleprompter, even for “off the cuff” remarks like “All right, Naoki, I guess so. Better to show than explain. So we’re going to try this out, but don’t expect us to be great.” They then go on to execute the most awkward dance demo ever to have disgraced the E3 conference stage, complete with awkward directions like, “So I see these ripples on screen, so that’s where I put my hands and feet right?”
Neither of these is as awkwardly disastrous as the Silent Hill conference, however. It starts off normally enough, you can even understand what they’re saying. Sure, they don’t sound very excited, maybe even kind of bored. But when Devin Shatsky (producer) steps out of the way to allow Ryan to speak, he doesn’t quite step out of the way at all. In fact, he stands uncomfortably close to Ryan and stares so unwaveringly at the back of his head, you can’t help but thing there’s murderous and/or cannibalistic tendencies lying in the brain behind those intense eyes. It’s distracting and awkward and uncomfortable to the point of losing track of what Ryan is trying to say.