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And Onto the Floor!

Matt Demers

E3 is going to kill me, but at least I'll die a very happy man. The show was absolutely amazing today, and I didn't even get to see the good parts! What happened today to share? Well, let's start from the beginning...

The floor opened to certain special media personalities today a few hours before general media access was permitted, and while those special people did not include myself, I did manage to get a couple of extra hours of precious sleep out of it. I was up and ready to go with the rest of the RPGamer crew in our hotel by 9:00 this morning, and after waiting what seemed like an eternity for the E3 shuttle, we found our way to the great Los Angeles Convention Center by 10:30; the floor opened at 11:00.

The free stuff started coming immediately; I managed to snag a free breakfast Mountain Dew at the display set up near the entrance to the Convention Center, and promptly won another free item after peeling back the label to discover that "I was a winner!" (as if there was any doubt). I claimed a Mountain Dew backpack as my own and went inside with the rest of the staff to await the official opening, obtaining magazines, promotions, and other items of questionable usefulness along the way.

Of course, there were people everywhere. The lights were flashy, the colours were flashier, and the sounds were both thunderous and exciting. The size of the expo really isn't apparent until you actually see it in person; when we were finally allowed in, and we took our first E3 steps, I was absolutely dumbfounded by the overwhelming scope of the whole affair. Familiar and not-so-familiar game companies had vivid displays set up for literally acres in just a single section of the massive exhibition. A few of us travelled together towards the Square Enix booth, where I played through some Children of Mana (very good!) before winding up at the Namco display, where Bryan/Aethelred, Tyler, and myself had an appointment scheduled to ask about games such as Tales of the Abyss, .hack//G.U. Volume 1, and my personal favourite, Xenosaga: Episode III. I was a little bit intimidated at first, but the representatives were friendly and tried their best to answer the questions that we had. Unfortunately, only .hack was playable out of the three titles, though the guy that showed it off to us was certainly enthusiastic about it, which was fun to see. Oh, and big news for Xenosaga fans: They're apparently putting back some of the features they ripped from Episode II, like the Database and the "good" skill system; that alone made me a happy man. Disappointments? No information at all about .hack//fragment or the DS Xenosaga game for North American gamers.

From there, I travelled around with Tyler quite a bit, and we found ourselves back in Square Enix land, where I managed to get my paws on some amazingly sweet slime keychains (I might put a couple up for sale in the Q&A SOCK shop, for people who read my regular column!!) Additionally, I spent some time playing through what looks like a phenomenal Final Fantasy III remake.

After that, we did a whole lot of wandering around; there was just so much to see, and it was becoming quite evident that more than just one day would be necessary to take it all in. I managed to see demonstrations of several other games including a DS game, Lunar Knights, Enchanted Arms for the XBox 360, and Star Wars Galaxies. It was a lot to take in, but the experience was like nothing else.

This was about the time that I realized that it was getting fairly late into the afternoon, and I hadn't even laid a finger on either the PS3 or the amazing-looking Wii. I had vowed to myself earlier in the day to make sure that I got my chance at Nintendo's newest console before the end of the day, and so Tyler and I eventually found our way to Nintendo's immense booth.

I've never seen so many DSes in my entire life. They had to have at least thirty playable games on the floor, and possibly fifty or more handhelds set up and ready to go, featuring games such as The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Children of Mana, Starfox DS, the New Super Mario Brothers, Yoshi's Story 2, and all sorts of others. The lines were enormous, but no line compared to the incredible lineup for the Wii. After a failed attempt to jump the queue, we learned that the lineup was a stunning two and a half hours in length. Dismayed and slightly disheartened, we made a new vow--to make it to the Wii display first thing Thursday morning instead. Instead, I wound up the day by trying out Pokemon Mysterious Dungeon, which was all right, Rogue Galaxy, which was surprisingly fun, and Final Fantasy XII, which was actually pretty disappointing, unfortunately. Oh, and I even became photographer extraordinaire whenever Tyler wanted me to take a picture of himself with the nearest bunny girl. Most unfortunately, I couldn't find myself a bunny boy, but I shan't give up that quest just yet.

After eight hours almost continuously on my feet and without a single blip of food in my system outside of that Mountain Dew, Tyler and I met back up with some other RPGamer staff members before heading to Bethesda's back room, where I tried my hand at the oft-mentioned Oblivion, which wasn't really my thing, and where free brownies and cookies were available, which really WERE my thing. Trust me when I say that when you don't eat anything decent for that long, chocolate is most yummerrific. Between the hunger, and the ever-stiffening joints, I decided soon thereafter to head back to the hotel with Bryan, where we started writing up the day's discoveries and ate pizza with the gang.

It has truly been an extraordinary day for me, and it's really too bad that everyone doesn't get the chance to see this spectacle for themselves, because website coverage just doesn't really do it justice at all. At the very least, though, I hope that this gives you a neat sort of window into what's going on at the show this year!

I shall be back tomorrow night to hopefully give a report on my take of the Wii, so please stay tuned to see the newest details, and give Theo's journal a look too. If I manage to survive this show (and even if I don't, I suppose) there's going to be so much to talk about in the weeks to come!

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