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E3 is Back — Big Time!



This year, the video-game trade show known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, got big again. The giant booths with giant projections of action-filled videos were there. And so was a lot of news about upcoming games.

It was also the most star-studded E3 in history. At Microsoft’s news conference, rock-and-roll legends Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr took the stage to promote Beatles Rock Band. Then Tony Hawk came out to talk about his new game. Finally, the great movie director Steven Spielberg emerged to talk about Project Natal.

e3-1LOOK, MA—NO CONTROLLER!

Project Natal is revolutionary. When it’s released, you’ll be able to play all kinds of Xbox 360 games without a controller. You’ll use your hands, fingers and feet to progress in soccer and golf games.

There’s more: Milo is a cool “kid” of about 10 years old who is part of one interactive Natal game. Not only are the game graphics amazing, you feel that Milo is real and that you have a new friend: one who throws you a ball and sometimes would rather fish than do his homework. And when you put your hands in the “lake,” it feels like you’re touching the water and the fish. We’ll have more on Natal in BL soon.

e3-2NINTENDO PLUS

At the Nintendo news conference, they showed off Wii Motion Plus, the Wii remote add-on that makes gaming more precise. I checked it out in an archery game that’s part of Wii Sports Resort. It really adds a lot to your gaming experience.

Also, you’ll get New Super Mario Bros. for the Wii this fall, along with The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks game for the DS. I got the chance to play both. I thought Zelda was a deeper experience that lets you engineer a locomotive in addition to dungeon crawling and boss battling. But you’re going to love Mario, too, especially the function that puts a propeller on your character’s head. And guess what? Late next year, you’ll see Super Mario Galaxy 2. And maybe a big new Zelda for the Wii, too.

e3-3SONY EXCITEMENT

Sony’s giant news had already been leaked just before their news briefing. It’s called the PSP Go! The sleek, slimmed-down handheld system will play downloadable games only. It’s smaller and lighter than the PSP, small enough to fit in your pocket. Check out the October 2009 issue of BL for more on Go.

There’s a great new Ratchet and Clank this fall for the PS3 called A Crack in Time. The weapons will be hilarious, and there might even be multiplayer functions with the game.

Another Sony highlight was Afrika, a PS3 game in which you play a photo-snapping journalist on safari on the plains and in jungles. You progress by taking pictures of zebras, lions and such in the wild. It sounds simple, but it’s very fun to play. For younger kids, there was World of Zoo, which lets you play zookeeper to scores of cute animals.

e3-4But the Sony game I wanted most won’t come out until next year. ModNationRacers is a mix of LittleBigPlanet and Mario Kart. Here’s what makes it unique: You can create your own tracks really easily with the Sixaxis controller. And you can add water features and mountains and towns, even animals to the environment. So cool.

STAR ATTRACTIONS

I got to sit down with skateboarding guru Tony Hawk at E3. We talked about his new Activision game, Tony Hawk RIDE. The skateboard add-on that comes with the game is wireless and, amazingly, really lets you feel the skateboarding experience. Says Tony, “If you’ve never tried skateboarding, this is a really safe way to check it out.” The music in the game is pretty cool, too. Much of it was chosen by Tony, who helps design all of his games. Check out our October issue for more.

e3-6On the convention floor, Sonic and Mario (well, guys in costumes) hung out at the Sega booth to promote the winter Olympic Games disk, coming next year. At the Warner Bros. booth, LEGO Rock Band looked like a lot of fun. It’s probably going to rock your world. Those cute, blocky characters strike essential rock ‘n’ roll poses as you play. It’s just as challenging as Rock Band, but a lot funnier.

Pele, the great soccer player, made an appearance at the Ubisoft booth to play and promote Academy of Champions Football for the Wii. It’s a challenging game that’s part adventure story and part arcade soccer. You meet the heroes of Ubisoft in the game like Rayman and the Rabbids, as well as Pele, who gives you tips and encouragement.

E3 was full of amazing games, great trailers on big screens and a terrific party atmosphere. But there was one thing that none of the companies talked about: The fact that economic times are tough for both parents and kids, too. It would have been great to see some price cuts on consoles and games, just to show that the big game makers understand that not everyone can buy any game he wants at any time.

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