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A Wii Tale of E3 2006: The Year Nintendo Shone on Stage and Sony Flopped Hard

STARTING SCREEN | E3 2006 is still an infamous show, and I was there. It was something.

Feature by Nadia Oxford, .

We're about a week away from E3. I imagine this is the time of year when ex-industry people are jolted awake at 3 a.m., drenched in cold sweat from a nightmare they can't quite grab onto. Meanwhile, those of us who still work here are counting down the days while we suit up to face the bE3ast.

E3 is a challenge, physically and mentally. It's exhausting. It's draining. Sometimes all your anticipated game announcements come out to bupkus, and you take home a vicious, crusty cold with a bunch of swag you don't need. At the same time, E3 charges you with an energy that has no equal. You get to see friends you only see once a year. You get to chat about the hits-and-misses of each press conference with your co-workers. You also somehow manage to complete 5 interviews in a row without stopping to eat or drink. Well, I managed that in 2006. I doubt it's happening again next time I attend.

Me covering E3 2019.

I won't be physically present at E3 2018; Caty and I are forming the all-important home team. I'm a little bummed I won't be there in the flesh (only a little), but I can't feel too disappointed. I had the privilege of attending E3 2006, the show that turned Nintendo's Wii into a golden child, and the Sony PlayStation 3 into a pariah. It was an entertaining show that demonstrated how even a beloved favorite (Sony was riding high on the success of the PlayStation 2) can be hamstrung by a poor E3 performance.

In my estimation, E3 2006 is worth 10 E3's. It was my first show, and certainly my favorite. It might remain my favorite until I find a way to go back in time to 1995 and insert myself in the audience for Sony's infamous "$299" response to the surprise release of the $399 Sega Saturn.

I suppose that succinct, Saturn-killing "$299" is one reason Sony bombed so hard on-stage at E3 2006: Once hailed as an E3 conqueror, Sony's clownish PlayStation 3 pitch brought the company's momentum to a screeching halt.

Sony's PR problems weren't a big surprise, either. The PlayStation 3's troubles started at E3 2005, when the system's infamous "Boomerang" controller prompted smart-asses to parody the weird piece of hardware on the popular primordial meme aggregation site You're the Man Now, Dog (YTMND). YTMND and other proto-social media platforms were handed lots more material after Sony's E3 2016 press conference dished out quotes like "Here's this giant enemy crab" (after pitching Genji: Days of the Blade as a game that re-creates famous battles from Japanese history) and CEO Kazuo Hirai's still-infamous "$599 US dollars" (the price of the PlayStation 3). Kaz Hirai also showed off Ridge Racer for the PSP with a hearty "Riiiiiidge Racer!" that is still very quotable, but honestly kind of endearing.

Meanwhile in Nintendo territory, we saw the reveal for Super Mario Galaxy (charming and highly unique at the time of its reveal, and still one of the greatest 3D Mario games of all time), a playable version of Metroid Prime 3, and the incredibly crowd-pleasing trailer for Super Smash Bros Brawl. I still smile a bit at that Snake reveal at the very end: It set a standard for the surprise Smash character reveals that have evolved into tiny, potent packages of fan-crack. The Mega Man reveal for Smash Bros on the Wii U and 3DS at E3 2013 set a fire under a property that was nothing but cooling ashes at that point, and I don't think I'll ever be over the Cloud reveal.

Nintendo was the industry's god-child at E3 2006, to say the least. One morning I stood with my back against the wall and used my Nokia flip-phone (no smartphones back then) to record a literal stampede of people tearing through the convention center shoulder-to-shoulder in hopes of getting a chance to play Nintendo's weird little system. I lined up for my own chance to play Metroid Prime 3 and was bumped at the last second so the area could be cleared for a celebrity who wanted to play. Nice.

Still, what a wild E3 to attend. I learned a lot about how fickle system loyalties can be (often not without reason) and observed how the Internet was seriously beginning to influence how Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft conducted themselves at these big events.

Oh, and I also attended a party whereat I saw a (maybe inebriated) developer of some notoriety dancing to rave music like they'd die if they stopped. I won't say who.

This Week's Notable Releases

It's pre-E3 week, but that doesn't mean that there aren't games releasing! In fact, quite a few games are coming out this week.

  • Vampyr [June 5]: Dontnod's latest game seems to have more in common with their action-adventure game Remember Me than with their widely beloved episodic series Life Is Strange. It's a game about being a newly christened vampire in 1918 London. It's a slightly open-ended game, with each chosen victim to your bloodthirst having its own unique consequences. Reviews drop later today (ours included), so look forward to reading our thoughts!
  • Onrush [June 5]: Car combat games rule, there's no doubt about that. Onrush, the latest from Codemasters and some former Evolution Studios devs, is shaping up to be no exception. The game's already garnered comparisons to the likes of Motorstorm to, uh, Overwatch. If you need a speedy game to kill time before the hustle and bustle of E3 kicks off on Saturday, Onrush is sure to be a good time.
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle [June 5]: Arc System Works never get to chill out. After the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ earlier this year, it's already back with another eye-catching game. And fancy this: it's the most ambitious crossover event in history! Sorry Avengers: Infinity War. In Blazblue: Cross Tag Battle, you can play as BlazBlue characters, RWBY characters, or even Persona 4 Arena characters (and more too).
  • Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn [June 5]: Remember Shaq-Fu? Well, it's crowdfunded sequel is out this week, four years later. Its Wii U, PS3, and Xbox 360 versions have been canceled, obviously, but you can expect it on Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam.
  • Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset [June 5]: Summerset's been available on PC and Mac for a few weeks now, but on Tuesday it will finally venture into PS4 and Xbox One. It's the first ESO expansion that isn't leaning completely on Elder Scrolls-related nostalgia, and that's a very exciting thing!
  • Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido [June 8]: This adorable puzzle-adventure game was first revealed only for the Nintendo 3DS. Then, a Switch version was announced too. Awhile ago when Kat demoed it, she enjoyed it quite a bit. Here's to hoping the charming sushi-focused antics hold up in the full release.

Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Sealed Time from Ys: The Oath in Felghana

I guess it's been a while since I first picked up a Ys game on Steam and said to myself, "Oh hell, this game is really good, actually (it was Ark of Napishtim), but I still think of myself as a Ys newcomer. Maybe it's penance; I should've been evangelizing about the Ys series' incredible soundtrack years ago, but I sat on my rear and watched time to by.

Time. Yes, let's talk about time. Sealed Time from the excellent Ys: The Oath in Felghana has a special place on my iPhone's playlist even though I usually don't listen to game music when I'm not writing (when I'm at my computer, I stream game tunes from online radio). Just listen to Sealed Time's beautiful synth opening, though. I want to go back in time and become a DJ just so I can spin this track at clubs. Man, Ys tracks are just engineered to grab you right at the start, aren't they? Sunshine Coast from Ys VIII still perks me up every single time I hear it.

Mike's Media Minute

If you were expecting Solo to crest higher after its disappointing opening weekend, it did not. The film made $29 million domestic, keeping it at #1, but with a marked 65 percent drop week-over-week. Those are not number that point to good legs domestically and unlike Disney's other offerings, the film isn't performing internationally either. Sitting at $264 million worldwide, Solo: A Star Wars Story will have a rough crawl just to get to even $400 million. It's a flop, folks.

Deadpool 2 also looks like it'll come in a bit softer than the first entry. The film currently sits at $598 million worldwide after this weekend, and it's tapped out on the big numbers at this point. Still, that total makes Deadpool 2 solidly profitable: domestically it's Fox's second-best performing X-Men film, behind only the first Deadpool. Worldwide, it's #4 behind Deadpool, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Logan, but it'll likely pass Logan. Fox is already building on what it has with a planned X-Force film, while Deadpool 3 is a ways away.

Avengers: Infinity War is still sucking up the oxygen in the room, sitting at #4 this weekend with a take of $10.5 million. It won't beat its little brother Black Panther in domestic take—that film is sitting at $699 million in the United States—but it will cross $2 billion worldwide. It's close to knocking Star Wars: The Force Awakens from the #3 spot on the All-Time Box Office chart.

This Friday is a lighter release week, with Ocean's 8, Hotel Artemis, and Hereditary. The next potential blockbuster comes a week later with The Incredibles 2, which has two weeks to prove itself until Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hits.

This Week's News and Notes

  • Last week, a ROM of an old Pokemon Gold and Silver beta surfaced, along with a lot of unused Pokemon designs. Some are super cute, some less so.
  • We recently published a feature from freelance contributor Carli Velocci on Overwatch's past and future, and the things that have to change for the popular team shooter in Year 3.
  • Assassin's Creed Odyssey got leaked and then confirmed by Ubisoft. We can expect to see more of the game at E3, but in the meantime Mike did a big breakdown of the series' lore and the events of Origins that might point to where the new game takes place.
  • E3 may not truly kick off until EA's conference on Saturday, but there's already a bunch of pre-E3 teasers lined up this week. Sony's hosting some announcements starting on Wednesday at 8am PT, continuing "each morning." Bungie has a Destiny 2 expansion and Year 2 stream set for tomorrow at 9am PT. WB Games is hosting a reveal at 10am PT on Thursday. Hitman might finally have that Season 2 announced on Thursday at some point, according to a tease on Twitter. Busy busy!
  • It's crazy that E3's already here isn't it? It kicks off officially this weekend on Saturday with EA Play at 11am PT. On Sunday is when things really kick into gear, with Microsoft's big showing at 1pm PT and Bethesda's at 6:30 PT. Kat, Mike, and Matt will be covering the show from the floor, while Nadia and Caty will be covering from home.
  • Axe of the Blood God: On this week's episode, Kat and Nadia talk some shit on why the original Kanto region of Pokemon are overrated, and gets too much of the love. Subscribe here!

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Comments 5

  • Avatar for sunotenko #1 sunotenko 2 months ago
    I am now wondering how stressful E3 should be to game press, especially today on the internet age. That should be a lot of info to cover in very little time.
    As someone who didn't followed these events since maybe some 6 years ago, I can only imagine how wild these announcements were back in the day. Even so, I always watch E3 presentations, because it feels so exciting. On E3 2016, for example, I was on vacation, so I watched any and every presentation, specially Nintendo and their Breath of the Wild presentation. I had never felt so hyped, even if Nintendo did a simple show on that year.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #2 SatelliteOfLove 2 months ago
    Sealed Time is SO DAMN GOOD and SO DAMN MID-AUGHTS and SO DAMN GOOD for it.
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  • Avatar for LBD_Nytetrayn #3 LBD_Nytetrayn 2 months ago
    @otenko Nightmarish, particularly if you're on the home team.
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #4 WiIIyTheAntelope 2 months ago
    Giant enemy crabs lol.
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  • Avatar for DoorCurtain #5 DoorCurtain 2 months ago
    "YTMND and other proto-social media platforms were handed lots more material after Sony's E3 2016 press conference dished out quotes like "Here's this giant enemy crab" (***after pitching Genji: Days of the Blade as a game that re-creates famous battles from Japanese history***)"

    So THAT'S why that line is a meme! I've always asked for an explanation but have never gotten one, now I finally get it.

    Imagine if we got a civil war video game or whatever that was pitched as a historical piece that recreates famous fights, and at one point in the trailer we fight a super huge golden bear that we have to flank and then go for a "melee kill" or something. Nobody would ever let any of that game's developers live it down (in a non harassing way of course).
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