I'm proud to say that I was actually prepared for this year's E3 shoes wise - my feet didn't start hurting until the third day, and even then it was only a little. As for the show itself, it's impossible not to have a good time at E3, although, I admit that last year was the best show I'd been to, partially thanks to Metroid Prime. Still, E3 2003 had lots to offer me and I enjoyed it all... mostly.
While five of us finding each other at the Los Angeles airport proved all too easy, the wait and trip back to the hotel wasn't quite so. We managed to squeeze eight people into five seats (and a hell of a lot of luggage in the back) for a 45 minute ride through Los Angeles traffic. While me sitting on Mike's lap isn't a big surprise, Chris sitting on Rob's lap is what I'm sure started it all for those two. :P Probably my favorite first impression of staffers who were at E3 for their first time had to be John though. Famous (mostly in IRC) for his Mountain Dew hat, which has gotten him awesome scores on HotOrNot.com, the first thing he did when he walked into the hotel room was put an empty Coke box on his head and proclaim: 'I'M HERE!'
Naturally, our first meal together was Crack Chicken ™, also known as Pollo Campero. Thankfully, the lines were nowhere near as long as last year. I ate five pieces, which I'd thought was pretty bad, until I noticed Rob eating piece after piece after piece... until he had nine pieces.
It seems like I saved myself time at E3 by playing Stephen's import copy of Final Fantasy X-2. I found out all too quickly that I DO NOT like this game, or the beginning of it at least. The battles aren't so bad, but all the story bits, as well as the villain LeBlanc and her two cronies, just seem like one big joke to me. After hearing how bad Unlimited: SaGa is from about half the staffers already there, I avoided that at the show as well.
The first area I went to after the show doors (finally) opened, was head to Nintendo's booth. Since I'd missed the press conference, I had no idea what Nintendo's surprise announcements were, but I'd had a feeling that Fire Emblem was one of them. Sure enough, it was. The first game I laid my hands on was Sword of Mana though, which, while really nice looking, had rather awkward movement while the main character attacked. Not only that, but the demo was much too short. I tried Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, but got bored quickly since there wasn't a battle going on. We also saw video footage of Metroid Zero Mission for the GBA, which looks awesome, with Metroid Fusion/Super Metroid graphics. Not much is known about the game though, leaving me all too curious. Unfortunately, we kept missing the few-second footage of the Metroid Prime sequel that was also playing. Zelda: Four Swords for the GameCube was also tons of fun, perhaps moreso than the GBA one. I didn't do too well of course, but everyone got a GBA SP carrying case for playing. Awesome timing, as I'd just gotten a brand spanking new GBA SP was a gift the day before, bundled nicely with Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow.
I naturally ventured back later to try Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and Fire Emblem, among others. I managed to play the entire Fire Emblem demo from start to finish while talking to a Nintendo rep about the game. The demo was in English, and by far the easiest five chapters I'd ever played in any Fire Emblem game. Much of what I have to say is in my hands-on impressions though, so let's move on. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Myself and the two guys playing were all rather clueless, so we didn't last very long. The game's really fun if you have any idea of what you're doing though. I died first and was revived, then I died again and so did one of the others. The third had no life spells, so he died at a boss.
Simply passing by Konami's booth turned me into a drooling Metal Gear fangirl all over again. Between MGS3 and Twin Snakes, I'm not sure which I want more. The 12-minute MGS3 trailer showed our beloved Solid Snake to be very Rambo-like as he fought soldiers in a jungle setting, not to mention eating fish and snakes. I then tried Twin Snakes, which is like a dream come true to me - an MGS1 remake on the 'Cube. Unfortunately, I'd forgotten what to do despite beating the original a few times, and died quickly. Ouch. I didn't get to play Castlevania: Lament of Innocence, but I watched a LOT of the game, and it looks sweet as hell. It's sure to rival Symphony of the Night as the best Castlevania title, too. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game was also a lot of fun, especially in two player mode. The Xbox version looked a lot nicer than the PS2 one though. Oh, and we kept snickering, as whenever you pick up an item, you see 'GET!' on the screen.
Ah yes, Square. Who can possibly stay away? They had lots of playable stuff this year, which is a huge relief compared to last year and their two games then. I'd already played three of the games at Nintendo's booth though, and one at the hotel, and one I safely avoided completely. So what was left? Well, there was Drakengard, which looks really sweet, and is very action based, which I always like (despite one of my favorite RPG series ever being turn based strategy). Star Ocean: Til The End of Time.. man, I thought this game got me excited last year when Enix only had it on video.. I was so wrong. The game looked better than I'd remembered, and after about 20 minutes of fighting, the battle system was a whole lot of fun even though it was in Japanese and I was still a bit confused. A Square rep eventually told me that, since it was a Japanese copy of the whole game (I think), the part I was at was about 2/3 into the game or something like that, and that was why it was that difficult. The big downside to Star Ocean and Drakengard though, is that they won't be out til next year. Sigh. Final Fantasy XI though, still failed to impress me, because even in English, the many menus were confusing, and MMORPGs are still not my bag.
I didn't get to spend much time at Capcom's booth this year, though I did watch a bit of Chaos Legion at the hotel, and it still looks really good. You can't do much at the beginning of course, but the game could potentially be really good. We also tried the demo of Arc The Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, which, while very nice, music included, doesn't stand out for me for some reason. I also headed back to Nintendo's booth on the last day to play Mario Kart: Double Dash!! They had eight GCs hooked up for LAN play, and everyone got a t-shirt for playing while a few more GBA SP carrying cases were handed out. While waiting, a Nintendo rep let me play Mario and Luigi (the RPG), which was both fun and kind of amusing, and something I really want to see more of. Once again I didn't do to well in Mario Kart, but it was still a lot of fun. I wish I had time to try more of the options though.
Then, of course, there's all the amusing antics some of our co-editors pulled off, but I'm sure someone else will write about those. Plus this has gotten long enough anyway.