Being my second year at the show, I basically knew what to expect - the show to be as fun as my first. So I came more prepared, except for the shoes department, and it went even better, game-wise and overall. I even took home less junk than last year, and a bigger ratio of neat swag!
After failing to make it into the Sony press conference, I later only regretted it because of the swag Sony gave away. It also gave some of us a chance to try and make it to Nintendo's press conference early - but after we let someone decide that we should WALK there, the early thing didn't quite happen. But we were still able to get in, and I was glad because Nintendo's conference was all about games and showing them off, as opposed to droning on about future plans and very business-like talk. The rest of the day was spent with my feet killing me, doing updates and debating on a dinner option, as did happen every other night we were there.
On the first big day, I (as well as Mike S, Cameron and Nathan) made a beeline for the Nintendo booth as I'd planned for weeks. After constantly getting shoved off cliffs in Four Swords, the four-player game in the GBA port of Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past, we finally completed the demo and went on to drool over Nintendo's other demo offerings, such as Metroid Fusion, Zelda GC, Metroid Prime and Star Fox Adventures. After a late morning appointment, much of the first day was spent picking up press kits, playing (or at least seeing) anticipated games, and stumbling upon a big screen at Konami's booth as it played a trailer for Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. So what if it's the same game with extras and an option to play as Snake instead of Raiden?! It's a new MGS!
Much of the show for me consisted of stalking Nintendo's booth for possible prizes, checking out the major halls for games that might surprisingly impress me, trying to get as much play time as I could on single demos so I could get a true impression of them, avoiding buying the convention center's ridiculously overpriced food and getting free grub at Apple's booth, seeking out and acquiring press kits, resting my feet in the media center, and trying to play as many games as I possibly could in the Nintendo booth. Again and again. In the end, Mike S and I acquired lots of neat Nintendo swag, which you'll see in our E3 gallery. But, just as an example of how big of Metroid fans we both are, we each bribed a different winner out of their Metroid Prime t-shirt for $20 each.
As far as RPGs go, I rather liked the selection there. I enjoyed most of what I played, especially .hack. I was already intrigued by the game's 'offline MMORPG' concept, but the story, character design, music, and more details of the game's concept drew me in more. Even if the graphics aren't exactly top notch, they still fit the character designs. Suikoden III seemed to go somewhere with a pretty good story, and as usual, the same familiar character design as that of I and II, as well as seeing a storyline from three different viewpoints. Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance is a Castlevania, need I say more? Thankfully, the background colors are much brighter than that of Circle of the Moon, which is a huge plus for any GBA game. Kingdom Hearts' battle system, despite the fact that you only control Sora, is a lot of fun, with its action RPG style. I would have also liked to heard a sample of KH's final voice acting, but hey, you can't have everything. I particularly loved the Western style of the battle music in Wild Arms 3, not to mention the western theme of the game overall. Of course, it's not a new thing to the WA series, though I have yet to play either of the previous installments, I think I really want this title. The cel-shading really seems to fit as well. I hope the rest of the music is just as good. And finally, as many of us probably guessed, Grandia Xtreme is very similar to Grandia II, at least battle-wise, unfortunately, I saw no sample of story. One can't forget Phantasy Star Online either, though I didn't play the game for too long, I saw (and used) some really cool weapons.
There are the exceptions of course, being Star Ocean 3 and Xenosaga, both of which look like awesome games but only existed in a rather limited video form. Even though I beat the Japanese import of Xenosaga, I would have liked to see an English translation of the game, but all I saw was translations of names of characters and places, of which one was MIStranslated. As for playables, there was the sometimes tediously slow pace of Suikoden III's battles, Kingdom Hearts' graphics being nowhere near close to that of FFX or XI, and Dual Hearts' failure to capture my interest. Final Fantasy XI also failed to keep my interest, but I guess it doesn't help matters much that my Japanese knowledge is rather limited and I only knew basic controls. I suppose that Legend of Zelda GC would be tons of fun if I didn't have motion sickness, but at least there's that A Link To The Past GBA port. I love that game, but never finished it. I really wish I could say one way or another about Growlanser II, but it was still in Japanese form, as well, I avoided WD's booth like the plague, what with that insanely long line wrapping around the booth to win prizes.
And as many of you know, I'm into much more than RPGs. As previously mentioned, I morphed into Drooling MGS Fangirl Mode when I saw that trailer. And seeing Snake on a skateboard is just amusing, you have to admit. I think the show had more appealing titles than last year, especially in Nintendo's booth, and also because Sega's booth wasn't closed to the public like it was last year. Shinobi, while I never got my hands on the demo, looked like a lot of fun, but honestly, who can wear a bandana that long and not trip on it? I also heard nothing but good things about Panzer Dragoon Orta, but I was trying to rest my feet at the time, so I didn't see much. Being the (also) Metroid fangirl that I am, you know I couldn't stay away from Metroid Fusion, or Metroid Prime. I'm still disappointed that Devil May Cry 2 wasn't playable, nor was there an impressive video showing, though neither changes the fact that the game still looks damn good. It was weird seeing a 3D Megaman X (X7), and I hope for Capcom's sake that it works. Though I would have liked to play Megaman Zero, Mike S said the demo was pretty hard anyway, and the gameplay and controls in most Megaman games are usually similar. Unfortunately, between Nintendo's booth, appointments, long trial runs on RPGs, and my feet hurting, I didn't get to test out as many non RPGs as I wanted to. I guess my obligatory visit to the DDR section didn't help matters much. :P
While getting to play games won't be out for months is fine and dandy, I had the most fun before and after the show. Who wouldn't have fun hanging around 10+ other editors? Other than the fact that the majority of the crowd's main addiction, food-wise, was McDonalds, crack chicken and sushi, I personally enjoyed owning everybody else in Super Smash Bros. Melee with my purple Samus character. Despite me falling asleep during Star Wars Ep II (It was my second time seeing it, give me a break!), that whole night was fun, in terms of seeing some eds again and meeting others for the first time. That also counts for the second day too, when Ken and Evan arrived. As you can imagine, our four hotel rooms, at any given time, looked like college dorms - alcohol bottles, empty pizza boxes, systems and games (but those were obligatory :P), soda cans, candy and all. Going out was always a blast - even if it took us forever to decide where to go and how to get there. My favorite part had to be Santa Monica beach, where everyone was awed by the Pacific Ocean (except me, but hey, I lived by it for years!), we walked on the beach and went on a few tame rides out on the pier. There were some awesome (Abercrombie and Fitch doth not count) yet expensive stores along a strip, but for a late evening, was the strip ever lively. Some stores didn't close til 10 PM, which is a totally different concept to me. Well, at least I got to eat at a Fatburger's again, a really good burger chain (which only exists in the Southwest, mind you) which I hadn't been to in almost nine years.
I'm thankful I get along with, well, everyone in person, and wish we could do this kind of thing more often rather than once a year. Problem is, we're scattered all over North Am- well, the world. :P I missed seeing everyone leave, than leaving myself... since we left LA last. Can't wait to do it again next year, hopefully with just as many staffers, and maybe I'll get to meet even more. I'm not a huge fan of the LA area myself, or at least the area we usually stay in, cuz much of it's so ghetto-like, but you can always escape to Little Tokyo and spend tons of cash, like Woo and myself did. Ouch.
Back to the subject of the show, I, like everyone else, have my top three favorites and... well, not-so-favorites. Read on.
RPGs That Managed To Impress Me:
- .hack. I want this game now. See reasons waaay above.
- Kingdom Hearts. Despite its slightly dated graphics, the music's good, and the action-based battle system is just fun. And I'd like to see those Disney summons. :P
- Wild Arms 3. Not having played the first two, I find the Western theme... rather intriguing for an RPG. The music's good, too.
RPGs That Made Me Go "Boo!":
- Dual Hearts. It just failed to hold my interest for too long.
- Growlanser II. It was in Japanese! How am I supposed to know what kind of odd WD humor to expect in the translation?! :P
- Any given MMORPG. Sorry, but I'm too impatient and I like story and character development.
Non RPG's I Drooled Over:
- Metroid Prime. Duh.
- Metroid Fusion. Duh.
- MGS2: Substance. So what if it wasn't playable?!
Other Games That Appalled Me:
- Dead To Rights. Yawn...
- Any Given Sports Game. Yaaawn...
- Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball. Or whatever. I mean, come on. Talk about milking it...
Best of Show... Err... Week:
- Little Tokyo. Gotta love finding long-wanted goodies there.
- Lots of eating Japanese food. Not to mention the chickeeen...
- Free Swag. Good free swag. Lots of good free swag.
- All those booth babes. Not that Ken or Eric F. are complaining...
- Little Tokyo. Thanks to this place, I'm flat broke.
- A tie between the ludicrous convention center food and drink prices, and the long walks everywhere. Ever heard of a cab? :P