Nick D. takes a look at the wonderful times where E3 didn’t work the way it was supposed to.
For some, E3 is a sacred place where dreams are made and broken on a neon-lit stage. To these people, E3 is more than just an event where too many people are stuffed into a convention hall for hours at end. For others, however, E3 is more than just announcements and general gaming-related excitement. To these people, watching E3 is like watching a race, eyes ever shifting between cars – begging for a crash. As exciting as E3 is, sometimes the gaffs, the embarrassments, are longer-lasting. It’s bound to happen when you attempt to have a spectacular, but often budgeted, live event every year, especially when the actors are executives and not, you know, actors. These companies try so hard to turn what should be a dry presentation into a show that you have to give them credit for trying, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out. So, let’s take a look at some of E3’s biggest gaffs and try to make sense of the madness.
Wii Music (E3 2008)
You want to look away, but you can’t. In 2008, Nintendo was sitting pretty high. The Wii was a phenomenon, outselling the competition by ridiculous numbers, and Wii Sports was heralded by many non-gamers as their gateway drug of choice. As such, Nintendo was looking for the next big thing they could use to entice casuals to jump on the Wii bandwagon. Keeping it simple with ideas such as Play, Fit, and Music, the Wii brand was hard to escape. Unfortunately, they were perhaps a little too proud of Wii Music.
What we have is legendary game developer Shigeru Miyamoto making a strong case for retirement. At first, he shakes his Wiimote and Nunchuk to make various unappealing sounds. That’s bad, but when him and three other men decide to jam together, this E3 segment became legendary. You can see that everyone on board is trying their best, somehow unaware of how ridiculous the entire set up is. Perhaps all would be forgiven if it looked like the game even worked as a music creation, or playing platform. Instead, it was basically a flailing simulator – something people had been saying about the Wii itself since its release.
Jamie Kennedy (E3 2007)
Only a year before Nintendo shoved its corporate foot in its mouth, there was Jamie Kennedy. Activision, in its complete lack of common sense, decided that having a drunken, never really popular comedian emcee its event would be a good idea. And boy was it spectacular. If you were watching E3 and thought to yourself “Boy, I sure do love my popular and ever-growing hobby. I wish someone would remind me about how much of a loser I am,” then you were in luck. Jamie begins the presentation by barely managing to slur out that everyone in E3 is so neck-bearded that Comic Con attendees look good by comparison. It was a nice double-whammy of insults to both audiences. Jamie, in his drunken haze, probably didn’t know that E3 attendees are mostly employees in the industry and not random fans, but I suppose I’m just proud that he knew how to button his own pants.
I understand what Activision was going for. It’s a dry presentation so why not bring some levity to the whole thing and attach a household name in the process. This kind of idea has worked in the past. Unfortunately, Jamie Kennedy showed up stinking drunk and clearly had no interest in what he was doing. There are many ways to insult gamers (we’re touchy people by nature), and Jamie seemed to be playing a game to see how many toes he could stumble across before someone hauled him to the drunk tank to sleep it off.
Giant Enemy Crabs (E3 2006)
Continuing to move chronologically backwards, we have probably the most famous E3 gaff of all time. With Sony riding so high on the success of the PS4, it’s especially fun to watch the disaster that was the PS3 launch. The $599 price tag was enough to send shudders down most gamer’s spines, but Sony really dropped the ball by showing absolutely nothing worth buying on the system. While I could harp on the glory of Riiiidge Racer, I feel that aiming at the meme-inducing Genji: Day of the Blade increases my chance of scoring massive damage. The game itself is a collection of the most generic, most boring hack and slash possible, but that isn’t what made this game a classic.
In describing the game, the presenter moves seamlessly between describing how the game will involve historical Japanese battles, and that he now has to defeat a giant enemy crab by striking its weak point for massive damage. He probably didn’t realize his words would still be remembered today. It was such a phenomenon that the early PS3 game Heavenly Sword made fun of it. What’s sad is that the gaff resulted from him trying his hardest to say something interesting about an otherwise incredibly boring game, and that watching him do so was more entertaining than the game itself.
One might be inclined to think that E3 has become a better, more civilized event since 2008. Sure the Cirque du Soleil Kinect presentation was cheesy as hell and a massive waste of money, but it was certainly no giant enemy crab. Same goes with the various technical mistakes, not showing the Wii U, or smug Microsoft executives. For those of you thinking that, I’m just going to leave a highlight reel of Ubisoft’s 2010 event for you to watch at your convenience.