I was better prepared for this year's E3, although I had to stay up all night the day before to finish my unfinished translations and found myself struck by a migraine fit in the middle of the airport on the next day...
Although my good resolution for this year's show was to not kill my back with more useless free stuff than I'll ever need, I still ended up grabbing a LOT of free things this time around, though much cooler and better stuff than last year: a media cap I'm never going to wear (1), a handheld game system (2), Goemon playing cards (3), a Konami pen holder (4), Shrek ears I can give to someone I want to embarrass (5), Growlanser and Panzer Dragoon badges (6), a twinkling GBA pendant I found lying on the floor (7), a slime plush (8), a GBA screen cover (9) aaaand a Kirby figure (10). Among other things :P
Most of the time I was stayed at Nintendo's booth, so I'll talk mostly about that. After that and attending the Nintendo press conference, I guess I could say I'm back to being a Nintendo fangirl. Did you know Nintendo sold over 275 million consoles? Anyway, Nintendo's lineup and announcements were much more impressive things than last year's (Luigi's Mansion... Well). The new Zelda looks very good to me. Some progress has been made on the character animation, and it seems fun and lovable as always. I love the Asian art-looking clouds. I can understand it doesn't look very appealing on stills, but seeing it in motion is a totally different thing, and I find it very promising. I spent a lot of time playing it (or rather queuing to play it) and I quite enjoyed myself.
And then there's The Legend of Zelda GBA... I loved Link to the Past back then, and can't wait to play it again, although I wish they would've upgraded the sprite animation. The Four Swords game is a lot of fun too. Apparently different stages were playable at the Nintendo booth depending on what day you tried it, but I only got to play two (or were there only 2? I'll never know).
I spent some time playing the new GBA remakes - Magical Quest, Super Metroid, and Yoshi's Island. Not a whole lot of people seemed very interested by these, but being the Super Famicom fan I am, I'm definitely looking forward to playing them again. In fact, if Nintendo ever chose to stop releasing new games for the GBA and to only release remakes instead, I'm not sure I'd mind! Now I just wish Nintendo would've chosen Super Mario 3 instead of Yoshi's Island for the next Mario Advance game...
I also got to play some Animal Forest in English! This game is going to have a hard time finding an audience in the US, but I have a good number of friends who got addicted to the original version. Definitely a game I'll want when I buy a GC. Mario Sunshine looks interesting too, but you've probably heard all ebout it already.
Another highlight of the Nintendo booth was Mario Party 4! Not having played the first three at all, I can't really make any comparisons but the game sure was fun. At some point, I joined a party of three people who turned out to be French like me. We swore in French while playing, and tried to pretend we didn't understand English when the lady told us we needed to get moving because the show was closing. Favorite minigame was the one with a book's pages falling and crushing the characters.
Nintendo also had this e-reader game... You could get sample e-reader cards, and if you were lucky, you could win prizes, first prize being a cool-looking LE Pokemon Center GBA. I tried my luck several times the first, second and last days, and just when I was thinking I'd play one last time before I had to go, I actually won a GBA! Yay!
Castlevania: White Night Concerto was one my personal disappointments. The graphics didn't look very good to me (despite the beautiful chara-design), I didn't like the way it played... Guess I'm not going to be a fan of the GBA Castlevania games, since I already didn't like Circle of the Moon much. Or maybe I was biased because the monitor was hurting my eyes. Despite all the bad impressions I've read on Suikoden III, I still think it looks very interesting. I had already played a demo, and didn't really think there were major issues with the game like some seem to think. I got to play it some more at E3, and I had a pretty good impression of it, the story and character interaction especially. I didn't like the first two too much from what I played of them, so maybe III will be the one that will get me into the series.
It was sad to see Sega without the Dreamcast, but at least they're still hanging in there and making great games. The new Shinobi game looked very good, although the controls could be improved IMO.
Enix's booth was somewhat disappointing. They only had a some video footage of Star Ocean 3, and their booth wasn't as well located or as visually appealing as last year's. Not enough giant slimes I guess. R.A.D. failed to impress me much, and I still don't get why this game had to be announced at E3.
Square's booth was a huge disappointment as well. I was expecting them to come up with a new game or maybe some things on FFXII... And all they had is Kingdom Hearts, which has been out for 2 months... Oh well.
Dark Chronicle (Dark Cloud 2) seemed surprisingly good to me; I had absolutely no interest for the first one and wasn't particularly eager to see the sequel, yet I found the graphics to be very good, the gameplay was decent, and the environment, character and menu designs all looked very good to me. Definitely an RPG I'll be looking forward to now.
Now I'll talk a little bit more about what happened before and after. If you're not interested, just scroll down to the lists!
The first few days, I was staying at Citan's place along with Rudo. Rudo and I had conversations in French with Eric's parents (they're from Quebec, I'm French) and everyone was amazed by the fact I had never had Macaroni and Cheese. We then went to Mike and Liz's and spent a lot of time playing Smash Bros Melee... I'm still not sure I understand the point of the game, that must be why I kept losing. Oh well, I still kicked everyone's ass at Puyo Puyo!
A couple of days before the show started, we went to see Star Wars Episode 2 at Universal City, which I hadn't seen, since I was on the plane when it started showing. Having just seen Episode 1 the day before, I quite enjoyed it (though they should work on that 'acting' thing :P). We went to see it especially in a digital theater, though I have to admit I didn't quite see the difference. I was also surprised to hear that fellow editors Rudo, Citan and Tenchi had never heard of the short George Lucas in Love, and I thought I'd give it a little plug, since it's a very funny movie.
On the first day, I arrived with my roommates Rudo and Ken and started looking around the show with them, though it turned out pretty fast that they were more interested in drooling over the booth girls than playing games. :P
A strong moment of the show was when I got to meet... Yuji Naka! I happened to run into him in one of the main alleys near the end of the last day. I got to talk to him a little bit, he said he was enjoying the show; he complimented me on my Japanese and signed me an autograph, all very courteously (too bad he's supposedly not really into women). I was too excited to ask about anything else, and I must've said a hundred times "Damn, I should've asked him this and that" on the same day, but I was really thrilled to still have been able to talk to him. Damn, I should've asked for an interview! :)
On our last day together, we drove to Santa Monica. We had a lot of fun there, even though only Nicole and myself had the guts to get into the water. I had never seen the Pacific before (not from that close anyway), and it's true its waves are huge. At some point a big wave came and I didn't realize soon enough... Basically my underwear was wet for the rest of the evening...
The last day, we had to get up at 5 to go to the airport... The hotel forgot our wakeup call, and we got up an hour later than what we had planned...
We also went to Little Tokyo - at last! We ate in a delicious Japanese restaurant - well, except for the couple of people who can't stand non-McDonald food - and some of us spent a lot of money (Woojin winning with $550+ spent on anime and manga). Myself, I found a few nice, cheap j-pop CDs...
Crack chickeeeen! That country chicken is certainly going to stay in our memories. You can read the full story on one of the impressions somewhere. The boys were nice enough to share some of it with me, and I have to say it was very good! Despite my reluctance to eat with my fingers :P
After maybe 14 hours of plane, I got home eventually, although I missed the class I had. I got home at 9 am, thought I'd take a nap before I went to class at 12... But I didn't hear my alarm clock and slept straight to 7 pm!
Overall, this year was much better than last year. We're starting to see how the various systems are evolving, and while there's still a few rounds to fight in the system war, we're starting to see which one is not going to hang in there very long. On the more personal side, we at RPGFan had a lot of fun all, and managed to have good coverage of the show up on the site... I'm already looking forward to going next year, as it will probably be even better in terms of RPGs. I'll definitely do everything I can to be able to come and hang out with everyone again. Hopefully the Tokyo-LA jetlag will be easier than the Paris-LA one!
- Zelda (GC)
- Zelda (GBA)
- Dark Cloud 2 (PS2)
- Suikoden III (PS2)
- Wild Arms 3 (PS2)
- Mario Party 4 (GC)
- DDR Max (PS2)
- Animal Forest + (GC)
- Mario Sunshine (GC)
- Shinobi (PS2)
Best of Show:
- Getting to hang out with everyone. We had so much fun!
- I won a Pokémon GBA!
- Getting to talk to Yuji Naka!
- Little Tokyo restaurants.
Worst of Show:
- Being terribly jetlag challenged. I just didn't handle the jetlag well at all this year... I was in zombie mode after 3 pm, and would fall asleep in front of everyone like a drunkard. Maybe talking with fellow staffers until 3 in the morning didn't help either...
- Parn didn't get to go at the last minute.
- Horribly overpriced, not even good Convention center food. Ugh. And not knowing a few booths were offering free food till after the show...
- Inflatable Growlanser swords. I just don't like my RPG merchandise THAT way.
- Crappy pizza place that didn't have oregano, mozzarella or ham!!? What's wrong with them?
- Not getting to meet my friend who was attending the show, and running into his boss who didn't remember me, instead... ("You don't remember me? We met when you were drunk at that wedding...")
- Not being able to play the PS2 imports I'd brought because of some people's PS2s not being able to play original imports... That's what I get for buying the games, I guess 9_9.