Wednesday, June 11, 2014

SC On Sony's E3 Experience and Nintendo's Smashfest

The odds of someone like me, from a financial and geographical standpoint, ever getting the chance to go to E3 are slim to none.  Actually, get rid of the "slim" part.  That makes events like these, even though they're such a small sample of what E3 presents, increasingly important for console companies trying to reach as much of their audience as possible, including and especially people who can't be at E3.  Two such events happened recently; Sony's E3 Experience, Nintendo Smash Fest and Microsoft's E3 Hands-On Demo.

Sony's E3 Experience

This event was a special screening of Sony's E3 conference which took place at select movie theaters across the country.  The one I attended was at a local (as in 'I drove half an hour on the freeway to get there.') Regal movie theater.  I printed off a wait list e-mail after registering for the event earlier in the week and got there around 80 minutes before the conference started, finding myself about 12 people deep in a wait list line that was on the other side of the theater.  Only people who got tickets could wait at the check-in area.

We were the "have nots" that evening.
So I'd have something to do I brought along my 3DS with Fire Emblem Awakening.  After a while I started to notice something.  Even considering that people might not have them out, there seemed to be a lot more people with a 3DS in attendance than a Vita or a PSP.  I counted four or five people with a Sony handheld versus the 14 or so 3DS users.  I wound up with 18 StreetPass tags before the night was through.

The line for attendees with tickets was steadily growing, stretching back to the theater entrance while I and the other have nots sweated it out.  After a long wait and several slain Risen, the ticket attendees were taken care of and we were moved into the check-in line.

Chuck it out.  You're che-cking-iiiiiin!
The guy at the front of the line handing out passes with "VIP" printed on them warned us that there would be limited entry to the event, reminding everyone several times that being on the wait list didn't guarantee us entry.  After getting to the point where I stood eight people from the front of the line, that same guy held up his arm so we could see it, pointing to the four passes left hanging on it, and said "This is all I have left."  Shortly after that an attendee with a ticket who got his pass walked out of the screening room to get some popcorn, but not before turning to the wait list line and saying "They've still got a TON of seats left in there."
That's when the whispers started.  Were we really going to be left out of the event despite the number of open seats?  Hell, were we going to miss the conference entirely?

Then the guy handing out passes got on his phone and gestured to the woman checking off names to look under the desk.  She pulled out a box and dumped out a few bags, each having at least 30 passes in them.

The guy smiled as half the line gave him a stare that said both "Oh thank God" and "You motherfucker."

The audience is now hype.

The screening itself got off to a strange start.  The lights in the theater weren't turned down until a few minutes in, which prompted someone to yell "CLAPPER!" and clap a couple times.  Then at around the 50-minute mark the bottom half of the video started to glitch out.  Ten minutes later the video began flickering and, about a minute later, the video and audio froze before cutting out entirely.  This happened a few times over the course of about fifteen minutes.

Aside from that, there wasn't too much noteworthy.  Someone in the crowd yelled "Last Guardian?!" at the start of a trailer for The Order: 1886 and someone else yelled "Sly Cooper crossover!" when they saw Ratchet & Clank on screen.
The best part came after the conference ended (and some interviews by Geoff Keighley after the conference started airing).  Upon leaving the theater the same people handling the line earlier were handing out a poster of some games presented at the conference and reminding people to check their badges when they got home.  Each badge had a web address and a code printed on the back.  Redeeming the code got a person access to the Battlefield: Hardline Beta on June 16th, the Destiny Alpha on June 12th, 30 free days of Music Unlimited and a $5 PSN voucher.  Thanks, Sony!  I can't use half of this, but thanks!

Nintendo Smash Fest
Smash Fest is similar to an event Nintendo ran last year.  At Best Buy stores across the nation they took over a demo station and used it to show off a series of upcoming WiiU titles.  This time they did the same thing, but exclusively for the new Smash Bros. game... or so we thought.
Best Buy wasn't quite ready for the coming storm.
I got to a local Best Buy (fifteen minute drive on the highway) and found myself sitting around 29th in line, getting there an hour and a half before they let people inside.  I don't know if it was just due to the specific people in line, but they seemed way more social than the people at the Sony event did.  Carrying on with random people helped the wait go by much faster.  Well, that and the few dozen StreetPass tags.

Somewhere between that pillar and the highway a half-mile away
is the end of the line.
 Then the moment came where they tried letting the whole line into the store at once.  Oh, those poor Best Buy bastards trying to keep the line organized.  It became pretty clear they'd have to improvise a bit when the initial roped off line was completely filled, people were piling up at the appliance section (a little over halfway into the store grounds) and there were still a lot of people in line who hadn't even entered the building yet.

 My name is Smash.  For we are many.

They took chunks of the line and started winding them through the aisles of the appliances section.  My section wound up waiting next to some stoves and coffee makers.  

For we are many!

People were still filing into the building as they took the line and extended it into the home theater section of the store (read: the back wall of the store) as well as the main aisle in front of it.  Finally they got everyone into the building, but not without ensuring no one would be able to shop in about one-sixth of the store.

My wait was not just relatively quick, but also well-positioned.  I wound up at the end of an aisle right before the main line and could see the first couple groups playing.  Everyone in line got to play two four-person, two-minute rounds.  The idea was to have a round where people could adapt to the controls, since they only had pro controllers to play with.

And of course, thanks to D1's commentary during the Smash Bros. Invitational, the first round of the first group of people wound up being Mega Man vs. Mega Man vs. Mega Man vs. Mega Man.  And yes, someone did scream the Mega Man theme when one of them did their final smash.

You can't unhear it.
Then the damndest thing happened.  The line was progressing at a good pace and people were having a lot of fun with the Smash demo, but in addition to the WiiU demo there was also a person in line with a 3DS tethered to her belt letting people try out the Smash Run mode in the 3DS version.  It was a fairly quick demo, what with having to keep the line moving and all, but nice nonetheless.  There was another person doing the same thing at a table after people played the WiiU version as well.
 I can only imagine how much she got dragged around the line as the event went on.

Then the moment of truth came and I got to test run the WiiU version.  I wound up picking the person I was most interested in testing out, which was Little Mac.  Apparently I wasn't alone, because there were about six other guys in line watching and rooting for him.
The round ended with Sudden Death between me and a Donkey Kong player which went on for almost a full minute of us dodging each others' attacks.  I didn't expect to do nearly that well considering I haven't touched any of the Smash games in a long, long time.  By sheer luck I wound up getting the win and eliciting some cheers from the peanut gallery before playing as Samus and getting third in round two.  
 According to an anonymous source, the hype is real.
Everyone got to take home one thing from a prize table they had set up off to the side.  I wound up grabbing a pack of Mario Party AR cards purely because Toad was on the front and I didn't want a Yoshi's New Island sticker sheet.  The Smash logo button was tempting, though.

Overall, a very fun event to go to.  The demos were fun, it was nice that they had a 3DS demo of sorts, and the people there made the atmosphere a blast to play in.

Oh, and it's happening again this Saturday.  As such, don't try to contact me at all this Saturday.

Toad Awaits.