Main Articles Stacks Links Contact
[ Title ] [ Read ] [ Information ] [ Quality ] [ Hate Mail ]
[ Writer ] = Headquarters
[ 07/16/03 ] = Headquarters At E3 2003

This year at E3 was an interesting one from the standpoint that companies that I thought would be stellar turned out for the most part sub-par, yet, like every E3, there was still plenty to astound. I absorbed as many booths as I could, but three days just isn't enough. I don't intend to cover every booth and every game I saw (I'll leave that to the magazines). I merely wish to give an
unbiased (yeah, right) gamers perspective on E3 2003.


[ Microsoft ] = Platformers
Platformers, platformers, platformers. Companies seem to be all about 3D action/adventure games on the Xbox, and rightfully so, as the Xbox's power seems to be best at creating lush, 3D environments that players can explore: Beyond Good and Evil, Voodoo Vince, and Conker Uncut just to name a few. Most prominently displayed was Brute Force, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and of course Bungie's Halo 2. Halo 2 was certainly impressive, but from the video I saw (Halo 2 was non-playable), the creatures were still quite reminescent of Turok 2. But what I found myself playing the most was Blizzard's Starcaft Ghost. Blizzard's return to the console was certainly a pleasant surprise; playing like Tenchu 3, with the style of Metal Gear Solid, but with the world and creativity that is Blizzard.

[ Wish ] = List
A quality RPG, shmup, or fighter.


[ Nintendo ] = Best Of The Show
Of the "Big Three", Nintendo stood out as best of the show. This is probably the first year that I saw Nintendo with more quality
third-party titles than first-party ones. Among other titles, Metroid Zero Mission stood out on the GBA. Using the Fusion engine, it was just as quality as the 2D goodness before. Nintendo also prominently displayed Mario Kart: Double Dash. I saw no new Mario or Kid Icarus (god forbid), but I did see a pseudo-sequel to the GBA's Zelda: Four Swords called Tetra's Trackers. Tetra yapping at me from the Gamecube the whole time was annoying; Navi annoying. Oh, I mentioned third-party titles. Well, here you go: Sega's F-Zero GX (and AX), Konami's Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, Treasure's Wario World, Factor 5's Rogue Squadron 3: Rebel Strike, Capcom's P.N.03, Viewtiful Joe, and Resident Evil 4, Namco's Soul Calibur 2, and SquareEnix's Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and Sword of Mana (GBA). Suffice it to say, I
spent a lot of time at Nintendo.

[ Wish ] = List
More quality third-party gam...oh, wait...


[ Sony ] = AKA Mainstream Productions
Sony announced that they're going to go into the portable business, challenging Nintendo's long-sustained throne. I got the impression that Sony isn't as interested in making quality games for their current system as they are in trying to invent future hardware. It was rough at times finding the really good PS2 games, but somehow I managed to navagate through the chaos. In terms of the games, I saw everything from the bland to the flavorful. I personally don't like bland (sorry Final Fantasy X-2), so I'll touch on the side of tasty. Games like Arc the Lad: Twilight of Spirits, although untouched by Working Designs, still looks and plays very well. Gran Turismo 4 was quality (if you're into that sorta thing), as was the new Castlevania. All in all, there was enough sports and multi-platform and variety of games to put the point home of quantity over quality. In the PS2's case, it was just a matter of digging through the recycled crap to find the quality third-party titles that lie underneath. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Gradius V were showstoppers for me at Konami's booth. And the masters of turn-based strategy, Atlus, intrigued me with Disgaea. I would like to see a Thousand Arms sequel, though...

[ Wish ] = List
A reliable PS2 system (I'm on my 4th). Seriously, its not as if Sony is some mom and pop organization that had to take out a third mortgage to make the prototype for the PS2. I refuse to believe that a multi-billion dollar global company does not have the necessary means to create solid hardware. At least Konami can make Solid software. Get it? Ha please, keep reading!


[ SNK Neo-Geo ] - [ Sammy ] = Surprises
There were, as usual, a plethora of quality titles all around at this year's E3 2003. The biggest surprise for me, however, was the return of SNK Neo Geo, courtesy of Playmore! King of Fighters 2002, Metal Slug 3, and SNK vs. Capcom Chaos (video only) all appear to be coming domestically to the PS2 ASAP. I was pleased to see a good crowd at Playmore as well. Seeing all the fans, I hope arcade-style games will continue to be published.
A nearly equal, but expected surprise was the quality that Sammy exhibited as well, following up Guilty Gear X2 with new titles like The Seven Samurai and Berserk (sequel to one of the many underrated Dreamcast games). Sammy and Playmore were without a doubt the most pleasant surprise at the show. Companies like these really add depth to a gamers experience, and the gaming world is a better place because of it.

[ Konami ] = The Resilient Air Of Quality
I'm always amazed at how many licenses and how many genres Konami can produce with a resilient air of quality. Castlevania: Lament of Innocence was the 3D Castlevania that I felt the N64 Castlevania wasn't. The cell-shaded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had arcade-style splashed all over the screen. Looking at Gradius V reminded me of how beautiful being frustrated can be. And I think Konami has the niche for stealth action with Cy Girls, MGS3: Snake Eater, and MGS The Twin Snakes. I do have initial issues with Kojima-san's decision to sway from the Sons of Liberty story in MGS3, though. To me, this change appears abrupt, uninspired, and mainstream-driven. I hope 2004 proves me wrong.

[ Wish ] = List
Contra Shattered Soldier was just too good. Can I have another?


[ Blizzard ] = Consistent
Yes, Blizzard only has two series (generally) to their name. Yes, Blizzard creates sequels and extensions of these series. Yes, they are not very diverse in genres. And yes, they consistently create some of the most creative worlds with some of the most addicting gameplay. This year is no exception. Blizzard never (yes, never) has released a game that was even associated with trash
(Warcraft Adventures was abruptly cancelled). Slap the mainstream label on them if you will, but no other gaming company has batted 1.000. Their stout, unorthodox practice with regards to release dates have allowed them to create best-seller after best-seller. Do they do it with violence? No Grand Theft Auto filth here. Do they do it with lush 3D "grafix" and cinematic experiences as their main attraction? Not on Square EA's life. Blizzard's games are best-sellers every time for one reason: gameplay. Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne and Worlds of Warcraft will force me to upgrade, while Starcraft Ghost has a spot waiting for it on my shelf. Quality over quantity indeed.

[ Wish ] = List
Diablo III


[ Sega ] = Cherished Sub-Par
I mentioned sub-par earlier, and I regret to say that Sega was one of those companies this year. Without a doubt, Sega has given 110% since the birth of the Dreamcast through their entrance into third-party development. But this year showed Phantasy Star Online's metamorphasis from an action MMORPG to a card battle/battle network MMORPG. Altered Beast is returning, but seemed to pale in comparison to other beat em ups at the show. And Virtua Fighter 4 Evolution is a sucker punch to those of us who purchased VF4, who are now left without the features in VF4 Evo which should have been in the original VF4. Also, I have to
admit that I am not a big platforming fan, so Sonic and Billy Hatcher didn't do it for me. However, Sega did have the pleasant surprise of a new Virtual On coming to the PS2, breathing new life into the already great series, and hopefully gathering a whole new audience. Regardless of the disappointments (Virtual On being the exception), I still cherish Sega as one of the finest companies in the business and I can appreciate how difficult it is to produce so much quality and creativity all the time. In all honestly, a sub-par Sega is still leaps and bounds better than most other companies at their best.

[ Wish ] = List
Let's see: Toe Jam and Earl sequel; check...Panzer Dragoon sequel; check. How about Shining Force III Collection?


[ SquareEnix ] = RPG Games
Very few companies can recover from the venerable Electronic Arts virus; hence, Square's current track record on the PS2 ranges from disappointing to nauseating and beyond. Hmmm, let me see...The Bouncer: as long as a J-Lo romantic comedy and about as deep. Driving Emotion Type-S: <cough> Final Fantasy X (people, the 'X' means ten): Compare character designs from FFVIII to FFX - it reeks of originality! What's this? The prettiest guy and the prettiest girl are falling in love?!? That never happens! I'll pass. Kingdom Hearts: Square's best next-gen effort to date once again looks better than it performs...much like sorority girls. It would take a vaccine of miraculous proportions to overcome such a debilitating disease. But they found one. And its name is Enix. With Enix, I am beginning to see the originality and creativity from the Squaresoft of old surface from its dormant, formerly repressed state. While FFX-2 and FFXI still look disappointingly poor, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Sword of Mana, Unlimited Saga, and Star Ocean: Till the End of Time sparkle with artistic innovation and varied gameplay that reminds me of why I started liking Square in the first place. I see Square and Enix creating a symbiotic union, where Enix is helping Square recover their recently lost magic, and Square is helping take production levels of Enix to the next level with the hope of achieving the sales in America that Enix deserves. Lastly, I find no coincidence in Square's development with Nintendo. When Square was with EA, they were isolated on the PS2. So now that Square is with Enix, they all of the sudden are non-exclusive? The defeated will fall, Electronic Arts. You can take your Sims and fuck off. Welcome back Squaresoft. Thank you Enix.

[ Wish ] = List
Ogre Battle sequel.


[ Capcom ] = Last But Not Least
Viewtiful Joe, Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil Outbreak, P.N.03, Onimusha Warlords, and six (six!) Mega Man games. Year after year, Capcom has given us the sequels we demand, new titles we love, and this year, a celebration of the little blue guy's 15th birthday with six new titles, all to be released by the end of the year. I don't need to talk them up, for there is a reason why every year at E3, I go to Capcom's booth last: I don't leave.

[ Wish ] = List
Alien vs. Predator arcade port to GBA.

[ Conclusion ] = End
Overall, E3 2003 was another year of potential achievements and forthcoming failures. I am disappointed that Working Designs did not have a booth. Mystical Ninja and Growlancer seemed to be coming along well at least year's show, and I wouldn't mind seeing another Silpheed or Lunar either. I am disturbed that mainstream gaming is focused so much on violence. And how many war games do we really need? A homage to war is one thing; an obsession with its existence is another thing entirely. Fortunately, I saw something I did not expect: mainstream players weren't playing Tomb Raider. Oh, so huge breasts in a video game can only take a series so far before even the mainstream audience demands gameplay? I see a similar fate with violence. It is only a matter of time before gamers become super-saturated with gore and leave to find a new gaming venue. Until next year...