#tbt: The Good, the Bad, and the Memes
from E3 2006
The gaming extravaganza E3 commenced on Sunday and with it came absolute insanity, excitement, and, sometimes, immense disappointment. For those who aren’t familiar, E3 is where the big wigs and major players of the video game industry show off their shiny new games and hardware that are in development or soon to be released. These shows often have a ton of announcements, news, and big time surprises meant to get people stoked for the upcoming year in gaming.
Now with the 2016’s show happening this past week, it’s amusing to remember how far the show’s come. 10 years ago featured one of the most memorable E3 conference in history with huge proclamations, unexpected turns, and some damn funny moments. It kicked off a new generation of consoles, making it one of the bigger moments in gaming history, so lest we forget, here’s the good, the bad, and the hilarious of E3 2006.
Though it had been going on since 1995, 2006 was only the second year the show was actually televised so it really signified how large the industry was becoming. With that publicity in mind, many prominent game studios brought their A-game. Microsoft, fresh off the PR nightmare that was the “red ring of death,” had to find a way to ensure people believed in their Xbox 360, which is easier said than done. So instead of panicking, they flew right in with what people wanted to see… HALO 3 MUTHAF*CKAS. Ok a little less enthusiasm, but just uttering “Halo” got people right the hell up and shelling out cash. Also churning out new titles that would become gaming staple helps people believe in a console. Dead Rising helped people realize how fun it is to kill a zombie with a milk carton and Gears of War got people thinking, “A chainsaw on a gun sure does sound like fun!” which, of course, seems so obvious now.
Then another big hitter, Nintendo, decided that they wanted to take everyone’s money with the Wii, which was an unmitigated mystery at that point. People had seen what the controller looked like and were crazy intrigued. Sure enough Nintendo didn’t disappoint with the gimmicky control to end all gimmicky controls. Okay, so in hindsight motion controls weren’t too wise, but at the time the Wii made people lose their frackin minds. “I SWING THIS REMOTE AND IT PLAYS TENNIS?!? WITCHCRAFT!” Team that with one of the greatest Mario games ever in Super Mario Galaxy, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Metroid Prime 3, and a new Fire Emblem and you get one of the big N’s best conferences ever. That’s without mentioning their Super Smash Bros. announcement that broke the internet with Solid Snake entering the game.
All in all, Nintendo and Microsoft had conferences that affected gaming forever with industry, for better or worse. It’s still gives me a bit of goosebumps to watch the conferences.
There’s not nearly as much bad, but there’s always disappointments at every E3 and with the superpower of “hindsight” at our disposal, we know precisely how f*cked up some of 2006 would be. First, the easiest thing to pick on is the prominence of Sonic the Hedgehog. I realize that badgering Sonic at this point is like pouring salt into a shotgun wound, but a lot of that stems from the sheer putridity of Sonic 06 which was touted at E3 as a game-changer. As if that wasn’t enough, Sonic and the Secret Rings was also showed off, which is the game mainly known for being “not as bad Sonic 06.”
Another game that warrants mentioning is Red Steel for the Wii, which should have served as everyone’s first indication that this motion gaming thing might not be the future. A common trend of E3 over the years, Red Steel proved that something that seems good in theory and even looks decent doesn’t really mean shit at flashy expo. Also things that should be included in the “bad” category are any games that were never released, which there were only a few here like Project H.A.M.M.E.R.
Overall, not a ton of totally bad things with this E3, but you can’t call it perfect. In fact, the majority of bad stuff is found in our next category.
Reading through this you might have noticed a distinct lack of Sony/Playstation portions, and there’s good reason for that. This whole section might as well be renamed “Sony” because they sure as hell made fools of themselves. Remaining as bipartisan as possible, it’s simply hard not to look at Sony’s conference and burst into laughter. Probably the funniest, for many reasons, was Kaz Hirai, the ringleader of Sony’s circus of 06 shittiness, telling the audience with a straight face that the PS3 would “retail for 599 US dollars,” a statement that sounded like a joke at the time. That’s some people rent! What the hell? The Wii was launched at $249.99 that year which is less than half of the PS3. Great move there guys!
And then to make the joke complete, the presentation of Genji: Days of the Blade happened. A completely forgettable hack-and-slash game, its moment at E3 is truly something to behold. Presented by the game’s producer Bill Ritch, a man with the self-awareness of a soggy potato chip, Genji never stood a chance. Ritch opens by talking about how the game was based on “famous battles which actually took place in ancient Japan.” He then proceeds, just minutes later, to talk about a “giant enemy crab” boss. Because, y’know, Japan’s history is so rich with those giant enemy crabs. Continuing to shoot his game in the foot, Ritch talked about the innovation of the game like weak points on enemies and “real-time weapon change,” game-changing innovations that have been around since the 1980s.
Any other faux pas by the other companies were practically ignored because of Sony’s inability to understand how human beings think; The company did everything with seriousness, as if they were making perfect sense. Also Hirai really loves him some Ridge Racer. Wait, I meant “RIIIIIIIDGE RACER!”
So ten years removed one of the best (or worst if you work for Playstation) E3’s of all time, we’ll have to wait and see how this year’s E3 will be remembered. All that is known, is that it’s got quite the legacy to live up to.