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Stories From LA
05.09.2006

Matt Demers
STAFF COLUMNIST


Here I am, in the great city of Los Angeles! Yes, I thought that I might be able to get away with a week away from putting up daily columns, but surprise, surprise; as luck would have it, I have been delegated the duty of telling y'all what I've been up to every day! So, what can I say? If you were looking for a week off of me and Q&A, I'm sad to report that you're out of luck, unless you want to just forego this little space here.

Of course, E3 hasn't really started yet; the show opens to everyone tomorrow, and that's when the real excitement begins. My fun began late, late Sunday night (or early, early Monday morning, if you prefer), when my mom and sister drove me to the dark and in-the-middle-of-nowhere airbus pick-up location outside of my hometown. After a bit of a nervous goodbye, and a hug and kiss, I was on my own, in a vehicle full of other bleary-eyed travellers. I was really excited about the whole affair, but at the same time, I was scared to death, having never taken a plane by myself. Of note: On the way to the Detroit airport, one of the passengers, a gnomish hermitlike old man, caused a bit of a commotion when he made it known that he thought he was travelling to the Toronto airport (and had paid for an airbus ticket to Toronto, not Detroit, in advance), which would be in exactly the opposite direction. Idiot. Our chauffeur wasn't enthused either, as you might guess, and promptly threw him out on the side of the road- nah, I'm not kidding at all.

Back on topic, the border crossing went fairly smoothly, and I soon found myself at the big, poorly-designed Detroit Airport, where I checked my bags, bought a few random things to keep myself entertained, and then sat around trying to catch a couple of Zs unsuccessfully. Of course, by this time, I hadn't slept in about 24 hours, so I was definitely a sleepy man. Predictably, the plane wasn't much help in this regard, either, since I had the misfortune of winding up directly in front of a mother of two children under the age of five, both of whom seemed to enjoy kicking my seat incessantly (really). The mother was clearly unenthused with the idea of keeping any control over them, despite my backwards glances of increasing threateningness.

I arrived at the Los Angeles airport at about 2 pm Monday afternoon, Pacific Time, now pushing 35 hours without much more than a wink of sleep. I located my luggage (poor Aethelred/Bryan didn't have quite that much fortune... his airline managed to lose his). Now, think of my scenario: I was standing in a city I had never once visited, looking for people that I had never once met. This is definitely when I started thinking "Wow, this is the craziest thing I've ever done." In any case, I luckily met up with J_Sensei/Jordan (yeah, the Japandemonium guy!) very shortly thereafter, and we grabbed a taxi back to the hotel, where we met the rest of the RPGamer staff. The rest of the night was largely reserved for sitting back, getting to know each other, talking excitedly about Square Enix's new revelations, eating at Denny's, and myself whipping a few people (XeroZohar/Jerry, Lord Klaxor/Chris, and Jordan) at Mario Kart DS, thanks (well, at racing...battle modes not so much ^_^). Most welcome was the sleeping part, which came next and involved well over ten sweet consecutive hours with not a whiny child to speak of.

Tuesday got a lot more interesting, since it began with Nintendo's media briefing. Most of us decided to attend, and those of us who did were treated to quite the spectacle. It was neat, first of all, to see Beverly Hills up close; after taking several pictures of some random celebrities' stars on the Walk of Fame, we arrived at the Kodak Theater, where Nintendo's shindig was being held. There were -a lot- of people there (three thousand, or in that neighbourhood), and when we finally got in, we were treated to QUITE the exciting show. It began with Miyamoto, who conducted a virtual orchestra using a Wii controller to the tune of the great Legend of Zelda theme; this was met with great applause, and rightfully so. As more games were revealed, and more features were unveiled, the cheers just kept on coming and the voices kept getting hoarser. While some things were expected, others were not. Gamewise, the Zelda demo was very exciting, and the stuff shown for Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles for the Wii was pretty neat. Also shown that made me stir with happiness: About a three-second blip for Dragon Quest: Swords!! Bryan got really turned-on by what appears to be a Fire Emblem Wii game that seems to be up Nintendo's sleeve, too. RPGs, of course, were just the tip of the iceberg; Nintendo's line-up appears to be absolutely impressive, and left most of us salivating for the games, and for lunch as well, since none of us had eaten by that time. Other announcements, such as the news about the Wii controller's speaker and about the fact that the analog stick "Nunchaku" would also be sensitive to motion were great, too. Near the end of the show, we looked on as the first non-Nintendo-Staff and Sweepstakes-Winner Wii player stepped forward to play a tennis match with Iwata, the president of Nintendo himself, Miyamoto, and Reggie, Nintendo's infamous PR guy. Of course, the new guy beat them all, which was fun to see.

Soon after the show, we collected ourselves and headed to the Los Angeles Convention Center to pick up our Media Badges in order to get into the actual show, which we shall have the pleasure of actually attending tomorrow morning! A few of us- Bryan, Tyler, and Theo/Vigivalgus, went and got some Chinese food, which was much better than expected, and then sat down tonight to prepare for the big day tomorrow! Jordan, during dinner, told me to talk about the Microsoft press conference that was held right after the Nintendo one, which he went to and I did not; he said that it was mostly first-person shooters, first-person shooters, first-person shooters, first-person shooters... yeah, you get the picture. They had an open bar, though, from the sounds of it, and even Bill himself made an appearance, so bonus points to Microsoft for that.

I'll be updating again on Wednesday and Thursday to bring you more of my perspective, uncalled-for or not. Watch for more, in 24 hours! Tomorrow is looking to be a very big day in the world of video gaming, and I hope to give you all the inside view you all deserve to have... so stay tuned!







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