Jonny explains which past E3 was most like the one coming up, and why that is so exciting even to a jaded veteran of these events.
This year's E3 will be my seventh trip out to Los Angeles to play and write about video games. When you've been as many times as I have, some years blend together and just aren't as memorable. Some were special because of fun times spent with the staff, even though the show itself was rather bland. Of all the shows I've been to, the one that stands out the most is E3 2001, which was my second year in attendance but the first as a member of the PGC staff. Of course, hanging out with a large group of colleagues for the first time was enough to make that trip special, but the show itself was also momentous.
Prior to E3 2001, Nintendo had shown the GameCube system and its controller, along with the infamous Space World 2000 videos. But no real, confirmed games were shown until right before E3, at the yearly media briefing. Now, I have to explain something about the media briefing. It's always a highlight of the E3 experience, and Nintendo usually holds a surprise or two for this event, but it's generally just a chance to hear the big wigs talk up some numbers and show new video footage of games we've known about for weeks, if not months or years. At a typical Nintendo media briefing, we may see one major game that we hadn't seen before (Twilight Princess was one of these rare delights), plus a few minor titles. Most of the big games are shown well before the briefing. That was the case with Super Mario Sunshine, Wind Waker, Mario Kart: Double Dash, etc.
The amazing thing about 2001's media briefing is that we would be shown a full range of GameCube projects, but not a single one was announced prior to that day. Sure, we all expected Luigi's Mansion to be one of the first games, but it could have been just another test video (like Rebirth), and we certainly had no idea of how it would be played. Actually, the very first true, 100% confirmed GameCube game shown to the world was Super Smash Bros. Melee, and I was in the room when it happened. Everyone was stunned and ecstatic, and of course the game eventually delivered in spades. One by one, Nintendo rolled out the first salvo of GameCube titles, some seen previously in video (Wave Race: Blue Storm) or on N64 (Eternal Darkness), some shockingly new (Pikmin). I remember that about an hour after the media briefing, it suddenly hit me that we would actually get to play all of those games, less than 24 hours later.
My point in retelling this story for the hundredth time is that now, with E3 2006 approaching, the cycle has finally begun anew. For the first time in five years, we'll be walking into that media briefing with no f'n clue what to expect. It's even more exciting this time, because we still don't really know what Revolution can do…or more importantly, what it will do. Once again, Nintendo has shown the system and controller, and we've all read about the test demos, but thus far the only real game we've seen, or really know anything about, is Metroid Prime 3, and that teaser was developed on a GameCube dev kit and showed no actual gameplay footage.
For now, Revolution is a blank slate. That slate is huge, new, and very exciting…but completely devoid of real game information. In May, Nintendo and other companies will start to fill in the blanks, and that's when we transition from talking (mostly speculating) about hardware to discussing the actual games. And the games are what I really care about; that's why I go to E3 instead of CES. The hardware is fascinating and all, but it's worthless unless Nintendo and its licensees can follow through on promises to develop amazing new games to use these amazing new features. The fulfillment of those promises will begin in May. It may be another five years before this kind of situation happens again, and I don't plan to be running a gaming site by that time, so I'm going to relish the opportunity to squeal like a little girl one more time.