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E3 2003 Impressions
Impressions Gallery


Nicole Kirk's Impressions

Another E3, another edition of Nicole's anecdotes.  While the show this year was less than spectacular, I did my best to make it a blast.  If I don't mention a company or game, it doesn't mean I didn't see it...it probably just didn't make enough of an impression on me to remember.  As always I'll give a page to the game's themselves, then a few pages to all the cool industry people I met and who hit on me.

Capcom: In spite of sending a company rep to talk to Liz and I who knew nothing about their games other than Resident Evil, Capcom's latest line up of rehashes looked interesting to say the least.  For some reason though Resident Evil Online (or whatever they're calling it..Outbreak or something) doesn't seem half as fun as the infinitely creepier Zero.  Chaos Legion, on the other hand, is gorgeous and plays similarly to the original Devil May Cry.  My only gripe is that it's very easy to move ahead of your characters and wind up getting ganged pummeled.

Konami: I successfully avoid my stalker this year.  Yay!  The PR rep we got sent was pretty decent as far as knowledge went, though there's still that feeling that everything he knew was being read and memorized off a press release sheet.  The new TMNT theme song sucks, but the game itself is tight, very reminiscent of the old school side scrollers.  The visuals are a little flat though; Konami are definitely not up on their cel-shading techniques.  MGS is...MGS.  That's all I can really say.  You know it, love it, here's some more of it.  There was only a demo video running of Boktai at the show.  It's Konami's goal of getting people to do their gaming outdoors.  Might work in Japan, doubtful here.  Silent Hill 3 was so beyond creepy in what little I got to play before I died.  There seems to be a lot more action in this installment too.  No pyramid head butcher guy though.  Castlevania is amazing to see, but you just get the feeling from looking at it that there's some of layer missing.  The game's not quite as pretty and detailed compared to its contemporaries.  I just expect more from a third generation PS2 game I suppose.

Square Enix (or as I like to call them, SquEnix): Square's line-up for the next year is just huge, though one of their biggest titles won't even be published by them.  Final Fantasy XI is amazing looking, but I got bogged down by the copious menus.  Probably one of those things that works when you get used to it.  The PC version is absolutely gorgeous; I'm interested in seeing how SquEnix will handle the release, since they've never published a PC game.  Final Fantasy X-2 scares the hell out of me, at least for the first half hour of the game.  The trailers do show a more serious story; hopefully once you get past the game's ultra campy intro the real story kicks in.  I do like the revamped battle engine.  Encounters are so quick now, and the job classes are a neat little twist.  Too bad everyone is referring to Rikku as Christina Aguilera and calling Paine a lesbian.  I really hated Sword of Mana's visuals; the character design is hideous.  Final Fantasy Tactics Advance suffers from a lot of the same problems the original did (buying things is even more of an ordeal), but strategy fans should eat it up.  Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is a cute, fun multi-player game.  Unlimited SaGa was being shown also...it's, um, pretty.  Drakengard is godly...oh my God this game combines Panzer Dragoon-esque shooter segments, Dynasty Warriors inspired melee battles with this amazingly cool and dark story.  Star Ocean 3 was playable for the first time at a US show, but still all in Japan.  Too bad all the Enix titles won't be out till next year...they're by far the most innovative and interesting of Square's roster.

Bandai: They're still promoting the next few volumes of .hack.  Neat concept...boring gameplay.  Yawn.

Sony: They made an incredibly smart move by picking up Final Fantasy XI.  They've also picked up Arc the Lad: Twilight of Spirits.  And the game won't be in a $75 set.

Agetec: Sorry David, I like to play RPGs, not make them.  I didn't mean to look that bored during RPG Maker 2.  For those that are interested though, you can now make a new Dragon Warrior.  Yay.  On the other side of the spectrum is Magic Pengel, which is incredibly fresh and opens up possibilities for all sorts of deviancy.  Ever see The Overfiend?  He's going to be in my party, fully jiggly and pulsating.

Sony Online: EverQuest 2 is really pretty...and still manages to put me to sleep, two hours of sleep besides.  And can they PLEASE make a version of EverQuest Online Adventures that actually looks good?  The PS2 is capable of more than shoddy ports.

Sega: Oh my GOD, Vectorman looks horrible.  Usually Sega has a good line up every year, but this year's was miserable.  Sonic Heroes looks like more of the same, mileage varying.  And whoever decided to make Phantasy Star Online Episode III into a card battle game need to be taken out in the street and shot, execution style.

Atlus: Finally, somebody picked up Shining Soul.  Bout damn time.  Disgaea is cool as hell, and I don't think I'm the only one who thinks it's refreshing to have some punk in an RPG, even though in this case it's only one song.  I'd love to play a game with a more contemporary setting and soundtrack.  Persona fits the bill, though the music they feature is mostly techno.  Go Go Hypergrind was pretty neat as far as skating boarding games though, and also featured a totally infectious song.

Namco: A video of Tales of Symphonia, which is so incredibly pretty and features character designs by Kosuke Fujishima (Sakura Taisen).  Too bad it was only video.  And where's Tales of Destiny 2?  Is Namco not picking it up because they'd have to call it Tales of Destiny 3 and since it's a direct sequel for ToD, that would make absolutely no sense?  There was also a playable of Xenosaga...a game that came out three months ago.

Some peripherals booth: The sushi game.  Best game ever.  Tetris style puzzle game...but with sushi!  Mmm...tuna roll combo.  Powerful, yet tasty.

All in all, on the game's side of things, this year's show was pretty boring, at least from what I saw.  No surprises, no developments other than the PSP (PlayStation Portable).  PC games reigned king at this year's show, as since I'm not much of a PC gamer, I really didn't see much.  But as always, I manage to make my own fun at E3...be sure to read the next few pages.

This year I was the only international staffer.  I actually only found out I could even go to the show like a week before it occurred.  Since Guam is a day ahead of the rest of the US, I left Tuesday morning from the island...and arrived Tuesday morning in Los Angeles.  Going back in time rules.  Flying international is so the way to go.  I had a smoother trip traveling something like 6,000 miles than the usual 2,000 it was from Tennessee to LA. So Stephen picked me up the airport Tuesday morning at like 5 AM in his behemoth SUV he rented for the show.  Mike S. and he were the only staffers in LA then, and I figured I'd sleep in the hotel for a few hours before the Sony press conference at 9.  Nope, didn't happen, was way too excited to see these guys after the last year.  Now after living on a tropical island for the past two months, I'm pretty used to just wearing mini skirts and tank tops all the time...so I froze my ass off in LA.  Wearing a denim mini, a wife beater, and a black blazer with heels wasn't exactly the most practical idea...but damn it looked good.

As usual, the Sony Press Conference was hella boring.  Numbers number numbers, blah blah blah.  EA was still the most entertaining portion...and I hate sports games.  Someone needs to dress their president for him...he has the most foppish hair I think I've ever seen and no clue of a good suit.  Sony still insists on seating us in the most uncomfortable chairs ever...but thankfully Red Bull could be found in plentiful amounts.  I did manage to meet up with my friend Sam Bishop (EiC for http://www.psx2.com), who barely even recognized me.  Actually, that was a running theme at this year's show, who could actually recognize me.  After the press conference, we were going to catch the bus over to the Nintendo one, but then we remembered we had left Mike in the car.  See, Mike has this thing against Sony where he refuses to go to the press conference, but he wanted to go to Nintendo.  So we let the valets take the car...but he insisted on staying inside.  So we went to pick up the car and waited...and waited...and waited.  And here comes Mike, with the car keys.  All we could do was stammer out that the only way the valets could find the car was if they had the keys.  Eventually though we did find it and set out for Hollywood, since the Nintendo press conference had been moved from the Biltmore Millennium (where I stayed this year, actually) to some place in Hollywood.  Which we all agreed was a retarded move after we showed up ½ an hour late for the conference and got no swag.  It all sucked this year from Nintendo though...just a press kit and a t-shirt.  Sony gave out a swank leather binder after their conference.  Nintendo's press conference was almost as lame as Sony's (I think I cracked jokes the entire time to Sam during the Pac Man demo).  And I reminded myself the only reason I go to them was for the swag...and I was sad.

Afterwards we parted with Sam and headed to LAX to pick up the rest of the RPGFan crew, minus Justin and John.  Somehow we all managed to fit even with luggage, though Rob had to sit on Chris' lap.  A lot of that went on during the week though.  There seems to be a lot of latent pent-up homosexuality among the staffers. No, Liz and I did not make out during the show. Just after.

Once we reached the safety of the ghetto fabulous Quality Inn, the next order on our agenda was acquiring some famous Pollo Campero, aka crack chicken (read E3 memoirs from last year to figure out what the hell I'm talking about).  Then we experienced the wonder that is Final Fantasy X-2.  YuRiPa makes me shudder like nothing else, even Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 3.  Get the j-pop out of my RPGs...except for Kingdom Hearts, since it kinda fits.  Then I tried to fit in a nap, but Rob and Chris kept harassing me...or trying to look up my skirt.  Something like that.  Then the person I was staying with came to pick me up and I got settled in at the Millennium Biltmore...which is so pretty.  I fit in a quick bath and went back over to the Quality Inn, since my host had to go to a sales meeting for their company (don't you love that indeterminate identifier?)  Stephen had left to pick up Justin and John from the airport, so Rob and I went out drinking.  Two white kids, walking through the middle of downtown LA around 8:30 at night...not exactly the best idea.  We ended up at the Westin, which makes pretty decent $10 cosmopolitans and Rob didn't even have to whip out his fake id.  And he ended up spending about $120 to get him and I both drunk.  I'm probably the most expensive “date" Rob's ever had.  Once Stephen found out the two of us had gone out drinking though, he kept trying to find us.  But when the only descriptor Rob could give for our location was that the buildings were really tall, Stephen decided to let us deal with our own fate.  We actually managed to get back to the hotel in one piece, all the while dodging all the bums asking us for money.  I met John when I was pretty drunk...I'm sure his first impression of me was great.  I headed back over to the Millennium Biltmore to get a decent night's sleep before the next day's activities.

The days during E3 weren't really all that exciting, but the parties I went to were pretty fun.  I spent so much time at Atlus' booth this year with my friend Gail that not only did they just start telling me to come on back, but Atlus' president was asking him if I was his new girlfriend.  The Atlus guys are all really cool though...the bukkake conversation will be a few paragraphs down.

Some other noteworthy or just plain weird events or observations on the show:

- Interviewing the creators of .hack was pretty neat...but being interrogated by Japanese tv was just weird.  But oh my God that interviewer was hot.
- Being stopped on the show floor and asked to wave and blow a kiss to the camera.  I'm still wondering if that guy thought I was a booth babe.
- Me playing DDR is not an excuse to check out my ass.  But shoving Rob while I'm playing is so much fun.
- The reactions from game companies when they find out their appointments are with me.  The look on the Konami PR's guy's face was hilarious...especially considering they had a dual appointment with these typical greasy, fat losers.
- How many companies this year that would send reps that would know jack shit about the games.  Capcom was the worst...the guy was totally nice but knew nothing.  “So what can you tell us about Onimusha Tactics?"  “Uh...nothing.  But don't you guys cover Resident Evil?"  “...."
- Sorry SquEnix guys, didn't mean to blow you off...just never could find you on Friday!  I totally wanted to see the Matrix Reloaded with you guys though. - Falling asleep during the EverQuest 2 demo was just too appropriate.
- Some guy taking a picture of my thong sticking out of the back of my low riders in the media center while I was trying to take a bit of a nap.  I flipped out but never caught him.  I'm sure it's on some guy's site by now.
- Tidwell, where were you Friday night?  No lap dance at the Spearmint Rhino this year?

The Parties:

Ziff Davis: I went as Gail Salamanca's (from Atlus) date and the party was actually non-suck this year.  My friend James (GMR) was djing; so glad his hair grew back, it looked horrible shaved.  The party was in the Figeuroa and the food sucked and the only beer they had was Corona and Heineken...but it still managed to be fun.  But why the hell was the bathroom so far away?  I'm a little chick...about 15 minutes after I finish a beer I need to pee.  I had to go all the way up to the first floor, and then take the elevator to the second floor just for the friggin bathroom.  The hell?!  Afterwards, the group of us (which consisted of me, Gail, Justin Lucas and David...something from Agetec, Akibo from Atlus, and June-Mai from some packaging company) headed to Denny's in a total drunken stupor.  Gail and Akibo were just there the night before and had the same waitress.  Thankfully she was really cool...because boy were we drunk and obnoxious.  Then somehow the subject of bukkake came up...and...well, this is kinda how it went:

June-Mai:  Bukkake?  What's that?
Everybody just kinda looks at each other and laughs.  Then they realize she's serious.
Akibo: Bukkake means fun.  Like, “You're just covered in fun.  We're having so much fun we're covered in it.  We're just spurting out fun."

I really hope June-Mai got the meaning after all that...but somehow I doubt it.

Then we crashed the Matrix Reloaded party, hosted by Warner Bros, which was at the...LA Public Library.  This was the absolutely lamest party I've ever been to...and I've been to some lame ones.  I had the worst cosmopolitan ever.  But the heaters felt good, because I was freezing.

Sony: The party everyone wants to go to...and I was the only person from staff who went.  I went over there with the Agetec crew and ended up meeting up with Atlus...and got introduced to like a million other people.  My significant other introduced me to a bunch of guys from Square Enix Japan, who were all drunk and making these totally exaggerated bows to me.  They kept asking if I was the girlfriend...pretty funny stuff.  Gail introduced me to some guy who writes the car section for IGN and he kept coming on to me, even touching me.  He had no chance though...didn't find him attractive.  Then I met up with my friend Wade, formerly of Silicon Magazine, now with http://www.gamesarefun.com.  Also talked to their EiC, who seems like a pretty cool cat.  Gail and I somehow ended up grabbing James' ass (he liked it.  :P) and Sonia from Square claimed me as her girlfriend.  Sorry ladies, I'm taken.  I always love getting a response from people at companies though that I actually do write about games...most of the time they're like, “No, really, who do you do PR for?"  About the most noteworthy events at the Sony party was the fact the Foo Fighters played, the half naked chicks swimming in a pool on video (I was the first one to see a nipple), and a really drunk Hideo Kojima having to be led around.  Dude, he was tanked.  After the party a bunch of us (like some higher up Japanese guys from some company...I have no idea who they were but one put his arm around my waist), Gail, Justin, Graham Markay from Natsume (who didn't even recognize me at first...but such a total sweetheart), a distributor for Tommo and his fiancée all went out for ramen afterwards.  Mmm...bomb gyoza.  I think I want some now actually.  Then the two guys who were hitting on me earlier from the day from Square Enix showed up and I hung out with them for a while...then the IGN guy also showed up.  And then I shook his friend's hand and he didn't want to let go.  Is it like I'm the only girl these guys have ever met or something?  By the end of the night I literally ended up punching someone in the jaw (not going to say who), so it was all good.

Last night in the hotel:  Honestly though, I had a blast hanging out with RPGFan at the Quality Inn the night before I left to go back to Guam.  Rob, Chris, and I were all drinking SoCo and iced tea then some Coronas.  Rob and I got blitzed...again and the rest of the night Chris, Mike and Eric had to take care of us.  I ended up doing handstands in the hotel hallway and fell on my head, Rob was feeding Solid Snake pieces of paper through the a/c vent...and then there are some nice pics of the Chris/Nicole/Rob sandwich.

My only regret for this E3: Still not meeting Yoji Shinkawa.  Sigh...someday.  Someday.


Best RPGs of Show:
  1. Drakengard (PS2)
  2. Disgaea (PS2)
  3. Star Ocean 3 (PS2)
  4. Castlevania (PS2)
  5. Magic Pengel (PS2)
Best Non-RPGs of Show:
  1. The Sushi Game!
  2. Chaos Legion (PS2)
  3. Silent Hill 3 (PS2)
  4. Metal Gear Solid 3 (PS2)
Five Best E3 Memories:
  1. Hanging out with Gail, who's now my second boyfriend.
  2. Hanging out with RPGFan staffers, because we're the least dysfunctional website staff out there.  And the best looking.
  3. My hair...it was awesome.  And just to explain, I have pretty out of control naturally curly hair, so to get it straight is an ordeal.
  4. The ramen place after the Sony party...being the center of attention rules.
  5. Rob spending $120...just to get me drunk.  :)
Worst things about E3:
  1. Idiotic company reps.
  2. Drunken assholes.
  3. No amaretto at parties...meaning no amaretto sours for me.
  4. Getting hit on by old Hispanic guys in the hotel lobby.
  5. Forgetting a ton of stuff over at Gail's room...and then my makeup bag in Eric's room.


More Impressions
John McCarroll Nicole Kirk Robert Bogdanowicz Liz Maas
Mike Salbato Eric Farand Stephen Harris Ken Chu
Christopher Holzworth      


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