E3 is interesting in that you don’t tend to associate any of the particular halls with anything once the show ends. Despite being there last year, I kept confusing South and West halls, given their size and how much stuff was in both of them.
Kentia, however, is special. Special in the “Special Olympics” sense, perhaps. I used to claim that Kentia was essentially a maze of cubicles. This is actually rather inaccurate - Petrie Hall is the cubicle land, where companies such as Mythic and Funcom celebrated their time out of the office by going into…well, another office. Kentia is more of E3’s refugee camp, populated by foreign developers, distributors, and a bunch of guys who look like they’re missing their staplers. There's even Scotsmen and Canadians, though I didn't see any kilts or flannel.
Still, we kid because we care. Everyone loves Kentia, the little hall that could. There’s something amusing about wandering down there, away from the noise and the crowds, into a group of people who look like they’d perform illegal deeds to you just to get you to listen to them. There’s a lot to like about Kentia.
For the most part, the developers seem excited to be at E3. This is likely disregarding the fact that they’re promoting products that nobody cares about. For the souls of Kentia hall, it doesn’t matter that they’re essentially in the same boat as some sites, producing nothing original; they’re living a dream. After all, they might get that exclusive publishing contract in the US, despite the fact that they’re publishing a Korean MMORPG.
Not that there’s anything wrong with Korean MMORPGs. They’ve taken the “whack a monster” formula and perfected it. They’ve also added copious amounts of such fun things as kill stealing and ninja-looting. If you’re feeling antisocial and don’t want to screw up your position in your MMOG of choice, go play a Korean MMORPG for a little while, and you’ll have ample opportunity to fulfill all those urges. The problem is they’re all fundamentally the same, and that’s not even counting the travesty of Lineage’s emasculation of Lord British.
Nevertheless, Kentia has some fun stuff. There’s the swag. Sure, there’s E3 swag everywhere, including t-shirts, posters, demos, and more extravagant things like free systems. Kentia has some bizarre swag, though. There’s the stuffed penguin I got that looks like the mutant love child of the Bud Ice penguin and Funzo. I can only hope that little Funzie won’t wake up one night and hurt me (or worse yet, drink my beer). There’s the one group that handed out oversized flyswatters (“Bugs? We can help!”), little plastic ladybugs (presumably to mercilessly attack with the flyswatters)…and balsa wood gliders. I’m not sure what sort of connection we’re supposed to make between the three, except perhaps a re-enactment of King Kong’s climax, with the ladybug flying the balsa wood glider, and you using the flyswatter to destroy the “airplane”. The downside is that this game only works once, but it would probably prove more entertaining than Ragnarok’s level treadmill.
Of special note for Kentia swag was Foul magazine (“Videogame Subculture”), which gave away some sort of skating DVD and 4 of their 8 current issues. Of special note was the article in one of these issues about how to get laid at E3. No, I’m not kidding, the first paragraph was about how to spot the hooker, and what precautions to take (hide your cash). Upon further reading, that particular issue had a bored looking centerfold in a Sailor Moon outfit that was far more disturbing than erotic. Foul also uses “foulness” as one of their ratings criteria. (There’s an old saying that you could put Wookiee crap in a box with the Star Wars logo and sell thousands of copies. I have to wonder how high Star Wars: Chewie’s Colon would rank on the foulness scale, though I can conjecture that it would have better dialogue than Episode 2.)
Kentia also featured some of the basic necessities - alcohol and food. Standing somewhat in the center of the hall, with no fanfare, was a booth with margarita and mai tai slushies. Knowing of the bounty of free liquor elsewhere at the show, and refusing to pay convention center prices for anything, Nathan and I passed up on these. There was also a booth that featured various chocolate items, and they had free samples of chocolate covered peanuts that weren’t half bad. If they’d been positioned outside the media hospitality room (whose “free lunches” went faster than prime grazing grounds during the Oklahoma land rush), they could have made a killing. I didn’t end up seeing any condoms available, but using Foul’s expert tips, I failed to spot any hookers in Kentia anyway (though there was some sort of dating-service looking booth that appeared to be staffed by amazons).
Let’s be honest, though. People go to Kentia for one reason, assuming they don’t want to overpay for games and anime they can get elsewhere: press kits. I’m aware that English is a very complex language. I’m aware that companies want to reach a broader audience regardless of the language barrier.
Much as I feel vaguely guilty about laughing at these press releases, it’s just too hard not to. Some other sites have uncovered some gems that I missed. Unknown Player found a press kit for Fun Bowling. The concept of throwing gas balls frightens me on some base level, but this is the same corner of the globe that brought us Boong Ga Boong Ga. There’s also Priston Tale (yet another Korean MMORPG); the folks at Corpnews attempted to translate the manual with the help of Babelfish:
“It says 'khay lik It will sprout and it will be an item to indicate information of information green onion mote colleagues khay lik it will sprout and and it will show correspondence khay lik it will sprout HP it will be indicated and and and and and the condition of the field even in the colleague window and and and and and and in down and and and and a name and a level and and and the angle khay lik it will sprout it will be able to confirm.'. What the fuck does that mean?”
There’s “The I of the Dragon”, which actually has a rather well translated press release. Primal Software is a Russian company, which might explain it. The name of the game, though…it’s like a horrible play on words, or something.
Wizardsoft has a wide portfolio here. There’s Religio of Jurassic, with the Sensation Level System (“Creates a character with its own personality and immunity without being the strongest stalwart as it applies hit ratings and defensive strength to change according to probability, condition, and the state of attribute”). We have King Juki, the fighting dinosaur (“High impact of graphics for full 3D game”). Let’s not forgot KoKoLook, the Fashion Management Simulation Others (“Dreamy love story of KoKo”). There’s Jurassic Era Primitive War 2 (“Set in the Jurassic Age, there are fierce survival battles between the humans, dragons, mutants And hypids, all unfolding in real time strategy of the quarter-view method!”). Perhaps the most frightening is “Ducky the Perky”, an edutainment title that has quite possibly the most disturbing character render I have ever seen - this is a kids title, folks. I swear, I’m not making any of this up.
From a variety standpoint, it’s hard to beat ESoftnet, who brought us not one, not two, but fifteen different press flyers, most with some sort of amusing explanation of their games.
Dragon Rajah Online (“For honor and patriotic duty towards the individual’s nation, all heroes are to take part in Nation Wars”
Corum Zero Online (“R U A Savior Or The Destroyer?” - I swear I did not abbreviate that.)
Battle Marine Plus Online (“Background music tracks compliment this underwater warfare.” - We need to be told there’s music?)
Monster/Monstor Rancer 2 Online (“Numerous events through disciplinary educational practices.” - eww!)
N-Age Online (“…What other 2D Online Games can’t show, N-Age’s perspective can be controlled.”)
1000 Years (“There are stores that provide the necessities, resource and equipment to your soldiers for battles.”)
Scarred Gem (“The Love Simulation Game That The Surrounding Love of Destiny Seeks.”)
Elixir (“The New Style of RTS Presents to You ‘Magnificient Magic’”)
Mirror War Advanced (“Fast with numerous movements and intense and heart biting game.” - MWA also has “Magnificent Magic”)
Fidex (“Perfected Internet Multi-Play With Full 3D Fantasy Background.”)
Corum 3 (“Aggressive Role Playing Action With Unpredictable Events”)
Zaphie (Perhaps my favorite, with “The Weight of the Bloody Horror is on Your Shoulders”, and “New Sensational Horror That Combines Western and Oriental Horror”)
Corum Side Story (“Tactical Battle System is an additional strategic requisite in battles.”)
Chaos (“The One And Only RTS System Run By 2 Different Races!!”)
Last but not least, Uniminipet ("Traditional horizontal scrolling action game for sense of speed.”)
Trust me, folks, I left a lot of them out.
In all seriousness, Kentia was a nice place to tour around, if for no other reason than to get away from the excessive noise and crowds of the other halls. I wish all the companies who made the long trek to E3 to demo their products the best, even if most of them aren’t really my cup of tea. I still haven’t seen their staplers, though.
Oh, and would someone get Ducky a room?