Cyril's E3 Adventure Day 4

Article

posted 6/19/2003 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
By day three you have had a chance to play just about every game you’ve come to see, talk to everybody you’ve wanted to talk to, and have done everything you you’ve wanted to do. You could probably go home today, but that would be silly, since there are so many games to revisit.

A few games weren’t in real prominent spots, like the new Star Fox game. Day three is built specifically for people to go back and see these forgotten games, or allow you to simply reconfirm your love for whatever game you felt was best in show. Day three may be short, but it’s important, no question about it.

Most people have their opinions formed by day three, though. So it’s important to go back and see if you’re first (or even second) thoughts were right. And better yet, to make sure you aren’t talking about things you haven’t fully explored. There’s nothing worse than to come back and sound like you haven’t played a game you really have.

All this brings us to our eighth rule; one that I think just about everybody could live by. Something that probably should have been added earlier in this article. Something that actually may just sound like common sense …

Rule Eight – Have a Plan

By day three, I bet you money there are at least five games you have completely forgotten about, but still want to see. You’d feel pretty stupid if in three days you didn’t have a chance to check it out, right? You’d feel like the money you spent to get yourself down to L.A. would be all for not. That’s why you need a plan!

In day one you should have played the titles you REALLY wanted to play. In day two you should have sat in line, or checked out the busy games that you wanted to see. And by day three, you should have a list of games you haven’t played yet, areas you haven’t been to, and questions you still need answered.

By simply reading some of the magazines you picked up on day one and two, you will be reminded of a number of games you were really looking forward to playing. Games like Super Mario Brothers 3: Super Mario Advance 4, which was on the show floors, but like Mario + Luigi, tucked in an area that was both hard to get to, and not fun to stand in.

Or Viewtiful Joe, a wacky little cel-shaded action game by Capcom for the GameCube. It looked amazing, had pretty good control, and always seemed to be busy. But because of all the other BIG titles, it was easy to completely forget about Joe. In fact, I found myself stuck in Capcom’s booth much of day three because I had completely forgotten about them in the first couple of days.

Day three is also a great time to search out titles that were downsized to having only one display. Worms 3D, the polygonal sequel to the extremely addictive European franchise, Worms, appeared only on one screen, even though it was looking and played great and was on all the major platforms.

At first I worried that Worms 3D wasn’t going to work, and perhaps that’s why Sega (who is planning on publishing it in the Fall) opted to put the game in the corner on one monitor. But as I started to experience the game, I found that it was just as much fun as the original Worms, and added an all-new element to the game.

But not every small display was as rewarding. As I wondered through E3 on the final day, I found myself stumbling onto things that perhaps shouldn’t have been unearthed. Like the new Eminem game, which reminded me of those old Sega CD games Make Your Own Music Video. This budget title for the PC and original PlayStation, allows you to, well, in not so many words, make your own Eminem videos.

Lest I remind everybody, the four bands who did those Sega CD Music Video games ten years ago were: Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch, C+C Music Factory, INXS, and Kriss Kross. I’m not going to imply anything about Eminem’s career, but just look where a Make Your Own Music Video game took those bands.


Day three is a perfect time to check out a few of those games that you wanted to play, but were afraid to be around. In the case of Backyard Wrestling, I wanted to see what the creators of Thrill Kill had in store for us, but every time I got around the booth (which was shaped as huge wrestling ring), there would be some sort of “wrestling” (and I use that in the loosest possible sense) event going on sucking the crowd in. By day three there isn’t all that commotion going on at the booth, and you are safe to play your savage wrestling game in peace and quiet.

Over the first two days of the event, Midway brought DJ’s and various bands to the stage to play music that would later appear in upcoming games. This would have been a great idea; if it didn’t clog up the booth so much people couldn’t actually play the games. Day three, though, the Midway booth was quiet, and I was able to check out games like ESPionage, Spy Hunter 2, and NFL Blitz Pro.

I’m not complaining about the music or anything, in fact, I wish more booths would offer things like bands and celebrities. I had never heard of the band Cold before, and wasn’t a huge fane of Vanessa Carlton, but they sounded good, and did a much better job than the bands in the past that have insulted us gamers. Everything being equal, this is a pretty good idea, and I’m hoping that more booths will adopt this idea in the future.

There can be many complications that arise to mess up your well thought out plan, though. You may just have to settle for not seeing all the displays you intended to, or maybe that you won’t see the demo of Half-Life 2 or Halo 2 because of the line. Some things just cannot be avoided. But there are roadblocks that you can do something about, and it’s all about knowing where to see them, and what to do about them. This brings us right to our ninth rule …


Rule Nine – Know Your Enemy

Now that you have a list of whom you want to talk to, and what games you want to see, it’s time to muscle your way through the crowd to get all this stuff done! Achieving this goal, however, can only be done by knowing your friends and understanding your enemies.

The halls of E3 are filled with numerous locations that suck large amounts of people in, and won’t let them go. These booths tend to be busy, and hard to navigate through. If you ever hope to find that game you’ve been waiting to play, you will need to avoid these large crowds, meaning you will need to understand your environment.

You will have to understand that where there is loud music, there is probably a crowd. Where there is a light show going on, a crowd. If you see a big screen way over your head … that’s right, a crowd. And if you’re standing in line to watch Half-Life 2, you may be in a crowd (sorry, I had a good Jeff Foxworthy-thing going there, I didn’t want to just end it).

Sometimes large crowds are easy to just walk into without being aware of it. Located snuggly in the Sony booth, Metal Gear Solid 3 wowed audiences with a ten-minute long trailer. But you probably wouldn’t know this just by looking around. Instead of having it on a huge monitor in the sky, or in a theater room of some kind, Solid Snake’s exploits were shown at eye level, which made navigating around people hard, and through them almost impossible.

By now, though, you should have figured out where all the crowded areas are, so you won’t get caught up in traffic. What you should be worried about right now is a brand new type of E3 visitor. People that aren’t affiliated with a “crowd,” but are just as hard to steer around.

People like the folks that just stand there in the middle of the hallway talking about what they liked at the show. Or the booth workers who are starting to play the games themselves. Or even the booth babes, which don’t look as good now that you’re in a mad dash to try out that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.

The worst offenders, though, are the kids. Those cute, cuddly, innocent little kids. In just about every location of E3 there are signs clearly stating that there is to be no one under the age of 18 permitted anytime, anyhow. Even on the badges, website, literature, and phone hotline … everywhere it says NO ONE UNDER 18. But still there are always a few. Always getting between you and that game you have really been dying to play.


Where do these kids come from? Why are they the chosen few who get past the guards?? And where are their parents?? E3 is no place for children, especially the ones that get in your way when you’re trying to experience Vectorman for the first time in three days!! I hate to editorialize about E3, especially on the final day of E3, but it seems like real relaxed security if children can run amok through the halls. Where’s the humanity?

If you fear that most of the media has left, and you will never get on camera, it is your job to make it happen! I don’t care if you have to sway back and forth behind the guy being interviewed, or just be really enthusiastic about something they haven’t covered yet (read: Crash Nitro Racing or the Simpson’s Road Rage), if you want to be on TV, you are going to have to make it happen.

It is recommended you wear something extremely bright and noticeable. And then try to hit the prestigious media organizations, like CNN, or ABC News, or Tech TV. And if that fails, you can try to buddy up against the folks at G4. If you can’t get on G4, then I fear it’s a lost cause.

Of course, none of your friends will see it if you are only on G4. So maybe you should look for some TV crews that aren’t really from a news outlet. For example, you could try to hide behind the family Jimmy Kimmel sent to report from E3 for his ABC show “Jimmy Kimmel Live”.

No matter what day you try to get on TV, make sure it’s on a channel your friends actually have, so you will have some sort of bragging rights when you get home. If you live in Houston Texas, it’s not a good idea to try to get on British television. So make sure you pay attention, and don’t just blindly follow every camera man you see … you don’t want to look like a reality TV star, after all.

One of the worst aspects of E3 is just how physically taxing the whole event is on you. The event wouldn’t be nearly as grueling, though, if it weren’t for the fact that the water is very, very expensive. The venders selling food, water, and sodas are your enemy, and you should only use them if you are absolutely in a pinch. Back at my motel the same bottle of water cost ¼ the price it was at E3, so make sure and weigh your financial means accordingly.

After you’ve understood your enemies, and taken on their challenge, there is still one more thing to do. That’s right, it’s time to get out the checklist, and figure out if you’ve done everything you were supposed to do at E3. All of which brings us to our tenth, and final E3 rule …


Rule Ten – Don’t Forget to visit the Lost Hall!

You have a lot of things on your mind, a lot of games to play, and a lot of reporting to do. That’s just the business of E3, plain and simple. There’s probably no way you will ever see or play everything this expo has to offer, but at least you can try!

There are a few things that most people forget, or just don’t seem to care about, that probably should be included if you’re going to get the “full” E3 experience. Things that may not have a lot to do with games, per se, but will warrant the investigation, if only so you will have stories to tell to your friends back home.

One of the first places you will want to find is the tucked away, and very hidden “lost hall”, or as it’s really known, the Kentia Hall. You see, most E3 goers tend to find themselves stuck in the South Hall (with Microsoft, Capcom, and Konami) or the West Hall (with Nintendo, Sony, and Sega), rarely venturing off the beaten path. But if you were to look around, you’d find another hall, the Kentia Hall, filled with a very strange assortment of booths.

Generally speaking, this area is where the international companies are located, but there’s much more than that there. It’s also where the “strange” inventions go (though Sony and Microsoft seemed to do a good job themselves in this department), or the magazines that don’t exactly fit in go. You’ll even find small booths set up for companies that just couldn’t afford much more than what they brought, and are hoping this E3 is their stepping stone for bigger and better things. This hall isn’t the most exciting, and you won’t snag a whole lot of cool mementos, but it’s worth seeing just to contrast it with the other halls.

There are also the booth babes. In a sad, yet comical sense, these women are as important to E3 as spinach is to a Happy Meal. Yet, every single year people look forward to strolling by a girl in nothing more than her panties and a tight shirt. In fact, they don’t just look forward to it, they save enough film or memory so they can make collections for their websites.

But many of these women don’t even know where they are; let alone what they are talking about. It’s almost as if they were kept in a holding cage with nothing but super mellow Michael Bolton anthems to keep them busy. I got the feeling while talking to a few especially attractive ladies that they barely had a grasp on what year it was.

But there was one quote I heard from the booth babes more than any other. In fact, I started searching them out with the intention of testing their knowledge of game systems. Nothing harsh, I simply asked what “console” the game they were pitching was on. And more than fifty percent of the time they said one of two phrases:

“Xcube” and “GameBox”

It’s probably worth noting that many of them actually got the PlayStation 2 right … even if they had a tendency to say “Nintendo PlayStation 2” or “Microsoft PlayStation 2”.

But it’s not really an issue of getting rid of the booth babes. While everybody knows they are completely useless to the show, they do add an Easter egg hunt-like atmosphere to the festivities, which gives us just one more thing to do in the fleeting hours of E3.

One should also make sure they have collected every cool freebee they can find. The true testament to E3 isn’t really how good the games are, but whether or not the booth gave out a cool item. Capcom was handing out Resident Evil Online (errr, Outbreak, man, I’m never going to get that straight) pins that flashed bright lights. Gotham Games had a stress releasing ball that looks an awful lot like a bomb (complete with rope coming from the top to make a fuse). Sony had their usual bag of goodies, which included a playable demo of Jak II, a SOCOM II dog tag, and a product guide so old, it might as well been handed out at last year’s E3.

Among the coolest items I would find, though, would be the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Postcard book. It seems like such a simple thing, but for months the Kent Paul postcards were the only pictures Rockstar had slipped out. This postcard book is a great homage to a unique style of advertising, and really is one of those little things I’ll treasure for years to come.

There is so much stuff to grab; is it any wonder you brought a second suitcase? You’ll need all that extra room to pack those free magazines, pens, cards, bags, discs, books, and other goodies away. It’s a sorting job like no other, and one that will likely take you several weeks to fully get everything the way you want it. This E3, it can be a real messy proposition.

If you’ve seen all the booth babes, visited every game you’ve wanted to play, watched the demos of the unplayable games, and asked all the questions you needed to ask, then it’s time to find the exit, and get your butt back to the motel. There you will find a nice place to relax, eat your final dinner, and get ready for the exciting trip back to home.

This can actually be a really depressing time for some people. After all, you’ve spent the last three days of your life giving everything you have to the idea that video games are something worth knowing about. The anxiety builds as you worry about whether you actually played every game, or if you missed something that you will eventually read about in a magazine (or online). The doubts run through your head, but that’s nothing alcohol can’t settle.

Once passed out, you will have nothing but good memories of your time at the biggest video game convention in the United States. Of course, when you wake up, you won’t really care about that, the alcohol from the night before will be catching up with you. No matter, it’s time to get packed and jet off to wherever the hell it is you came from.