By Marino 3 Comments
Come with me to good old days. The days of May 1999. It was the second day of E3 '99 in downtown Los Angeles. There were games to play, wrestlers to meet, and booth babe photo ops to be had. Here's the journal I wrote for my old PlayStation Underground website twelve years ago. I'm old!
E3 1999 - Day 2
Well, I woke up Friday morning ready for nine hours of walking the show floor. I got ready, caught a cab to the South Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center and, since I was a little early, I went up to the food court inside. I got a huge, kick-ass blueberry muffin. It was the best muffin ever. It had...wait a minute...I'm talking about a damn muffin?! Uhhh...let's get inside the show...
The first thing I did when I entered the show was go straight back to the Acclaim booth and play some more WWF Attitude. I couldn't get enough of this game. Playing four player hardcore matches is fun as hell. Then, after playing I had the oppurtunity to talk in length with one of the Acclaim representatives about the game. He was very informative and unbelievably nice to answer my questions. He said they were shooting for a July release on the PlayStation and an August release on the Nintendo 64. Disappointing to some are the late dates but once you play the game, you won't care anymore.
Then, still in the mood for wrestling stuff, I went across the walkway to the Electronic Arts booth. There still stood the WCW ring from the match from the day before, but now all around it were TV's setup to play WCW Mayhem . While I was playing the game I noticed a guy in a suit standing behind me. I asked if he wanted to join in and to my surprise he said "No thanks. I work here." He then asked me how I liked the game and other questions like if I'd played Attitude yet and what I thought of the gameplay. I knew exactly what he was doing, but I was glad to give him the feedback. He was actually really cool about it, and when I asked him what he was shooting for as a release date he told me they were hoping to make it out before Christmas. After all that wrestling talk, I wanted to move onto something new, something I hadn't seen yet.
I started wandering around the floor and ran into something odd. A full size prison bus was sticking straight up into the air at the Activision booth. That could mean only one thing...Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense. The speed and animation of the vehicles and projectiles just makes this game ten times more fun. When a game plays that smoothly, it makes for a better game, always. And that certainly is the case for V8 2. There's this one new motorcycle type vehicle that is bad ass. It's so short and low to the ground that it's hard to hit unless the enemy fires heat seekers. You gotta play this game. Behind me, I heard a loud uproar and yelling. I turned around and couldn't see what it was until I looked over the wall of Panasonic's booth and noticed the Eidos logo that rested above their jumbotron. Gee, I wonder where I went next...hmmm...I don't know.
Entering the Eidos booth, I realized what everyone was all excited about. Center stage, seated on the Harley, toting two shiny guns was Lara Croft in the flesh...if that's possible. Of course, I pushed through the massive crowd of men and took some pictures. Then, Don, an Eidos employee who got the lucky job of MC'ing the whole deal, said that it was Polaroid time. One of the Eidos booth babes made her way to the front of the stage with a camera and Don picked people from the crowd to come up onto the stage, sit on the bike with Lara, and get your very own picture with her. The Eidos booth was the loudest, most popular, and the most fun place to be at the show in my opinion. If you just wanted to come and have a good time, Eidos was it. Lara Weller, the model portraying Lara Croft, was really taking a lot of heckling from the crowd but seemed to be having fun anyways. When I got to go up there I asked if she was having fun doing all of this and she said "Are you kidding? I'm having a blast." She was really nice. One of the funniest things I saw at the show was when one guy called Don over and asked if he could sit in the front. Don said "So, you wanna sit on the front of the bike? Are you crazy? You wanna get your head shot off?" And the guy replied "Uh...YEAH!" So he sat on the front of the bike facing Lara and she put one of her guns to his head as they took the picture.
After that, I decided to make my way over to the West Hall but on my way through to the exit of the South Hall something caught my ear. Llllllllet's Get Ready RRRRRRRUMBLLLLLLLLE! That's right, Michael Buffer himself was standing in a mini boxing ring with two swimsuit models at the Midway booth. They were promoting Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, one of the surprise smash hits with the crowd at E3. The game is all out fun. After shaking Buffer's hand, I played R2R with one of the Midway guys. As we played, he told me that in the end there will be 20 fighters and even more combos and special punches different for every fighter. I think this is the game that really sold me on the Dreamcast. I had been a skeptic before E3 '99 but after seeing the differences between the N64 R2R and the DC R2R...the choice was simple. Nothing contends with Dreamcast's graphics capability and framerate...except if you include the PS2 demos that I'll get to later.
Then, again something kept me inside the South Hall as I attempted to make my way out. Randall Cunningham was signing autographs at the Acclaim booth to promote NFL QuarterBack Club 2000. The line was really long so I didn't get an autograph but I got picture of him. He seemed really nice as he talked with the fans and was laughing all the time. Anyway, I was finally on my way to the home of the "big 3," the West Hall.The main entrance of the West Hall brings you right in front of the THQ booth. Their booth had plenty of WWF posters and periphinalia but no game on show. THQ is picking up the WWF license in November when Acclaim drops it. Since no game was showing, I decided to ask one of the THQ representatives. The guy said that it wasn't ready for showing yet but he had seen it and it's looking great. The new WWF game is running on a souped up version of the Revenge engine. Just thinking about it makes me wanna see it more. That's all the info he could give me though.
Then, I walked around the corner to the PlayStation booth and right in front of a huge Um Jammer Lammy display. I had played this game the day before in the scavenger hunt thing that Sony had going and I couldn't resist playing it again. The game's captivating element is its sound, and Sony capitalized on that by equipping every Lammy station with a set of headphones to wear so you could really hear it well.
After that, I walked up the ramp to the catwalk and into a little room up there. It was entirely dedicated to Final Fantasy VIII. There was one giant screen running the intro video to the game. I watched it twice it was so good. Then, to the left of that video wall were about four stations set up to play FF8. I really don't have to say that it's a must buy...but I just did anyway. Final Fantasy needs no explanation. I could know nothing about the next one and see it in a store one day and not think twice before buying it.
When I came down the stairs, I noticed a woman holding a mic up to a guy and they were both staring at some type of screen. I got closer and joined the onlooking crowd to see what was going on. On the screen was Crash Bandicoot and you could actually talk to him and ask him questions as he moved around. He even made the right facial expressions and stuff. There was a guy in the back room with a motion-capture type mask on who could see you on a screen and he would talk back to you. Really cool technology and the guy was pretty funny too. Later in the day when I passed by, it was Spyro the Dragon on the screen. Someone asked if he and Crash were friends. Spyro joked that he wasn't included in Crash Team Racing because Crash knew Spyro would "toast" him.
Well, the Nintendo booth was right behind me at that point, so I decided to go back in and check things out again. Of course, I had to go right back to Donkey Kong 64. This game is going to be a best seller no doubt. If an original title like Banjo Kazooie can sell so well, imagine what a title that everyone's already familiar with can do. The graphics are simply amazing with the 4MB Expansion Pak, which will packed in the game. It looks a lot like Banjo but once you play it you'll notice the differences. While walking around the area I spotted something I'd wished for and never thought it actually happen. Excitebike 64! I couldn't believe it. I know it'll be nothing like the old NES classic, but it just brings back so many memories...knocking over other racers with your back tire, creating your own tracks, and even the music still sticks in my head. Okay, okay. Back to 1999 now. Excitebike 64 is fully 3D of course but sadly you couldn't play it yet, only a video demo.
Then I remembered, I hadn't played the PlayStation 2 yet. I skipped it because the line was so long on Day 1 but when I walked over there it was pretty small but many onlookers. There were 3 different demos on display in the big silver pyramid. One was Gran Turismo. If you thought GT looked good now, wait til you see it in action on the PS2. Words don't describe the realism of the graphics. Even the smoke from the burning rubber of an out of control tire looks real as it drifts off into the wind...it's perfect! The second demo was the Rubber Ducky. Sounds pretty dumb but it was simply put up to show you the graphical capabilities of the system. You controlled a rubber duck in a small swimming pool. The camera never moved but you could dive down and knock around the intertube and other toys in the pool. The whole point was to awe you with the realism of the water and the ripple effects. And guess what...it worked. It looks amazingly real. The final demo shown was the Facial Animation demo. Some old dude's head was show on the TV. On the right side was a menu to use and you torque this guys face to any expression you desired. It's not a cartoony face, it looks like a real person and you could make him look any way you wanted. It was quite impressive.
After putting my eyes back in the sockets, I decided to go over to the Sega booth. Games like Soul Calibur and Sega Rally really look great. But as I was playing Sonic Adventure, someone says "Hey, did you see Booker T over at Tiger?" Overhearing this I asked when and the guy said now. You know what that means...I going back to the South Hall.
I got back into the South Hall and raced to the Tiger booth where I found a line of people and could see Booker T, five time WCW Television Champion, signing at their front desk. There was a Tiger employee standing next to me when I got there and he said "You're the last guy." I was feeling lucky then. Everyone that showed up after me was turned away. But then they told me that they might not have enough pictures for him to sign. Even though I'd have loved to have an 8x10 signed, I told them I'd just like to shake his and get my picture with him if I could. Me and three others didn't get an 8x10 but he was really nice and signed my Polaroid. I asked him when he was getting his belt back and he said "I'm looking for bigger and better things bro. It's US Title time now." I said thanks and walked off...that was cool.
I looked down at my watch and saw it was almost 3:00. Hey, time for more wrestling stuff! Jerry "The King" Lawler was to appear at the Acclaim booth from 3-5pm. So I walked over there to find a huge, long ass line but I had to get into it. The line took about fifteen minutes but that was okay because I met a cool guy from PlayStationInteractive.com, Jason Rivera. We talked about the WWF and other stuff going on at E3. I took his picture with Lawler as he got his 8x10 and he gave me his card. When it was my turn I asked Lawler "When are you guys ever going to come to Georgia?" He shrugged and said that they had one scheduled at the Georgia Dome but got cancelled. I had known about this so I then asked him if he had finished the movie Man on the Moon with Jim Carrey. It's a movie on the life of comedian Andy Kauffman. Lawler said they had finished and it'd be out on November 5th. I shook his hand and said thanks and walked off.
After all that standing in line, I stopped by the Eidos booth again. They were starting to do polaroids with the Eidos booth babes. I yelled with the rest of the crowd to be picked and eventually I was lucky enough to get up there. After they stopped the photo ops, they brought Lara back out and that kept the crowd going.I'd seen enough Eidos for the day so and didn't want to miss other stuff at the show so I left.
I walked down the aisles and found myself at the Fox Interactive booth and that's where something really freaky happened. As I walked by looking at their sports wall, someone walked straight into my shoulder. I look at him as he goes by and he turns and says "Sorry." Then I pulled a double take and realized that it was one of those friggin' Hanson kids, the middle one I think. I thought it was just a look-a-like or something at first but then when I sat down to play Fox's NHL game (not good) I look to my left at the next station and there's the youngest Hanson kid. What in the hell is going on here I thought to myself. So I got up to go try Croc 2 and as I walked by, two Fox guys were talking to each other and one said "So did you see those Hanson kids running around here?" Well, that proved it to myself that I wasn't having a nightmare, they were actually there. Some of those Fox sports games are pretty bad if you ask me and with that and Hanson in the same area I had to get out of there.
It was getting closer to closing time so I headed over to one of my favorite booths of the show, Midway. They had a really cool simulator set up for Hydro Thunder. The line wasn't long since it was the end of the day so got in line. Once inside, they closed the side door and the video screen came on. The ride was pretty cool. The twists and turns almost made you fall out of your seat. After getting out of that thing I played Ready 2 Rumble Boxing with these other guys in a winner stays type deal. It was cool. That's one of my favorite things about being at E3, interacting with other gamers that you would never meet otherwise. The whole experience is really different than you'd ever expect.
Well, once again, the lights came on in the LACC signaling everyone to pack up and go home. So we did. And I caught a shuttle back to the Bonaventure.Day 2 was history and only one day remained. Gotta make the best of it. It's my last chance for an another entire year. So what if my feet hurt and my back is about to give out? This is E3 dammit and I'm gonna keep going.