After a very rough night’s sleep, I just wanted to get out of my hotel after rolling out of bed and taking a quick shower. After brushing my teeth I dropped my toothbrush on the floor, and this would be a big mistake, which I’ll explain later. Rather than wait for the E3 shuttle to arrive, I took the cab parked outside of the hotel. This turned out to be a big mistake, as it was nearly $15 to get to the Expo, even though it was only about 2 miles away. The slow pace of LA traffic makes that taxi ticker roll up big bucks faster than you’d think.
Just outside of Club Nokia, where the Nintendo conference had taken place the day before, I remembered having seen a Starbucks. I ran in real quick and picked up an overpriced muffin and a protein drink that tasted like ground up chalk, salty water, and a touch of fruit juice. Not a good way to get going in the morning. After choking down the drink, I hustled over to the show, as I had a 9:00am meeting with Splitfish. I did take a moment to buy another drink to kill the lingering aftertaste from the protein sludge. As I tried to enter the South Hall, security stopped me and told me that nobody was allowed in until 10:00. Great. I looked around and noticed that a bunch of journalists were getting turned away, so I decided not to sweat it and made the walk over to the media room where I could bang out a handful of articles.
Right at 10:00 I decided to try and get over to Nintendo to get some more hands-on time with The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, as it was one of my favorites that I played on the first day. Well, I wasn’t alone, and despite getting into the hall only about a minute after the doors opened, I noticed the line to play Zelda was at least an hour long. With a ton of time on my hands due to giving up half my meetings for the day to a fellow Kombo writer who needed more appointments, I really got a chance to check out some of the lesser-hyped games.
One title that I found particularly interesting was Real Heroes: Firefighter. This won’t be the next big hit, but I have to respect what they were doing here. The title will be published by Crave, and it’s basically a FPS without any killing, any real violence, or any harsh language. You play as a firefighter, and your enemies are nothing more than flames. The project is being handled by former Call of Duty developers, so its mechanics were solid. The devs said that this game was one that was safe for families to enjoy while still providing hardcore gameplay. Again, it’s not the next big franchise in the making, but I do respect what they’re trying to do there.
As I’m a sucker for pinball and arcade games, I had to check out Crave’s pinball collection titles. Both the Williams and Gottlieb collections were great, but the real treat in the booth was an actual Medieval Madness pinball machine! I was probably one of a very small number of show attendees that managed to get excited about the machine, but I had to take an opportunity to play the game. For the next 30 minutes I played and grinned like a little kid before moving on. Fun fact: Tina Fey did voice work for Medieval Madness.
As I wandered around I noticed that day 2 was plagued with people causing traffic jams all over the place to take pictures of and with the booth babes. I found this to be more annoying than in past years for some reason, but I guess I should accept it as it’ll never go away.
After some random wanderings I needed to get to my appointment with TOMY. I’m not the biggest Naruto fan, but I did enjoy what they had to show me, especially the Naruto fighting game for the Wii. The TOMY booth was comfortable and the PR and presenters were great to sit down and speak with. Before leaving they hooked me up with some nice swag, including a copy of their latest DS release. Again, I had a few minutes to check things out before my next appointment, so I took some pictures in the South Hall between playing random demos.
The real highlight of my day came next. I had a meeting with Harmonix to see The Beatles: Rock Band. After a short performance and presentation of the game by some Harmonix team members, we were let loose to play the game for ourselves. After getting a chance to try the game, which was EXCELLENT, I noticed Jeff Castaneda walking around from MTV Games. Having met Jeff before at a private party at Sundance, I went over to see how things have been for him. We talked family, Rock Band, E3, and just did some general catching up. Before leaving, Jeff hooked me up with an invite card to the MTV Games/Rock Band private lounge at the O Hotel. That was pretty awesome, and it drew some jealous reactions from my fellow staff writers. Thanks again, Jeff!
After the time spent with Harmonix I was feeling pretty tired from another long day at the expo and I decided to head back to the hotel. I wanted to replace my toothbrush that I dropped, because I was fully convinced that it was beyond contaminated after hitting that dingy hotel tile. I asked the front desk where I could get one, and the concierge told me that it was a short walk to a Rite Aide store. We drew it up on a map, and I was on my way. Short?! Since when is a 45 minute walk short? Not only was the walk long, but it took me into a really crappy area of LA. Everything was shutting down in the area, and it was only 6:00. By the time I got to the store, everything else was closed and the only people on the street were either homeless, sporting gang colors, or people hustling out of there. The store was depressing. Even the toothbrushes were under lock and key. I was in a bad part of town. After buying my toothbrush I asked where I could get a cab and the cashier said, “look, honey, cabs don’t come in here, ‘cuz cabs don’t got no reason. Ain’t nobody here got money and ain’t nobody got nowhere to go. If you are going walking, you just keep to yourself and you’ll be fine.” Great. So the next 45 minutes consisted of me walking with my head down and a whole lot of hoping that my nice shoes and clothes wouldn’t get me into trouble. When I finally made it out of that neighborhood, I was elated.
After my long walk, I picked up a Subway sandwich near the hotel and headed up to my room. I watched the US get pounded by Costa Rica in soccer on TV, got a few articles written, and tried to get to bed early. As you’ll see in the day 3 summary, sleep would prove impossible for another night.