E3 may be over and finished, but fresh perspectives keep pouring in from around the web– including those from folks who were a direct part of the show itself. Enter our esteemed Nintendo 3DS “organic kiosk,” codename “Agent N,” who generously offers up her experiences both behind-the-scenes and on the show floor! Take it away, Agent…
— What was your job behind-the-scenes at Nintendo’s E3 Press event?
Technically, my title was “brand ambassador,” but, really, it was more like “organic kiosk.” I held two 3DSes that were tethered to me and attached to a belt that was subsequently padlocked to my waist, on the offhand chance that a member of the press or something wanted to walk away with a sweet new handheld. I was to answer basic questions about the game I was demoing, and then ward off all questions with “I’m just here to provide you with the game experience. If you’ve got any more questions, feel free to visit us at Nintendo’s booth in the West Hall.”
— What was training like? What did they do to prepare you as an official Nintendo representative?
Most of the training the first day was just an overview of what our following day was going to be like. They gave us our shirts, and had us line up in groups at around 8 am outside the back entrance to the Nokia Theatre. I had to get up at about 6:30 to make it there on time, and of course I was too excited to get much sleep the night before. It was worth it to be there that early, though. While we were all lined up with our t-shirts, waiting to get in, we saw a black escalade pull up with the Nintendo logo on the side. Out comes Iwata and his son, followed by a few more Nintendo higher-ups. Last to come out of the escalade was Miyamoto himself. He looked like he could have been my grandfather with his slightly graying hair, and, really, the more I think about it, the more I realize that in a way, he is. I waved at him, bright-eyed like a child, and he looked at me and smiled, then continued to make his way inside. I guess it was then that I really realized what he and the history of his creations really meant to me. How most, if not all, of my fondest childhood memories poured out of the imagination of one man. I cried (with joy) like a little girl right on the spot.
— What machine or game did you display?
I was displaying Super Mario for the 3DS. Other games that were displayed outside after the press conference were Ocarina of Time 3D, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Mario Kart, and StarFox 64.
Most people really looked like they were having a good time playing. As with anything new, there was a lot of curiosity towards the game, but not a lot of questions were being asked around. I thought that was kinda weird. I’m always curious about new games from Nintendo’s big franchises. I’m one of those gamers who doesn’t care that we’ve had 8,237,493,208 Mario games, 4,779,058 Zelda titles, or whatever. We, as gamers, obviously still enjoy playing games in those franchises, otherwise there wouldn’t be so much buzz about them when they come out. This Mario game was no different. People seemed to inherently know what the criteria for a ‘good Mario game’ was, and were satisfied.
— What did you think of the game?
I really enjoyed the demo that I played of Super Mario. It was very easy to get used to, and the controls were smooth. It was also really fun to use the tanooki suit in the levels that they had. For me, the demos were all very easy, but some of my fellow coworkers had problems with the demo boss level. Everyone who played really seemed to enjoy themselves none the less, which was great.
— Was it annoying to be strapped to a piece of technology while people tried the same demo right in front of you over and over?
Only a little. The demo had the choice of four different levels, and some people thought that meant they were supposed to play all four of them. Lines were long in the beginning, so it was kinda annoying to start with, especially because I saw some people leaving the line without getting a chance to play. But as the event went on, there were less people coming to the tent, so there was less pressure to give up the system. I had ample time to play the demo levels beforehand, and I got through them all very quickly without dying. I guess I had more frustration towards the speed at which people were playing more than the repetitiveness of it. It wasn’t unbearable, though.
— What other Nintendo products did you get a chance to see or demonstrate during the event?
I didn’t demonstrate anything past Super Mario on the 3DS, but I did go to Nintendo’s booth and waited in the three-and-a-half hour line to play the Wii U. The game I played on it was a pirate-themed rhythm game. I could turn the Wii U’s controller to the left and right of the screen, and even up and down. It did a good job of using the distance from the tv screen, as the ship on the TV screen was large, but when I held the Wii U controller in front of me, the same ship looked small. The controller could even tell where it was in relation to the tv screen. Everything moved seamlessly; it felt like the screen was a little window into this huge world around the television picture. It felt immersive, and for the first time in a while, I really did feel like I was somewhere else in a video game.
I also really enjoyed the demo of Kid Icarus that I played, as well as its 3D card battling system, which– as a YuGiOh fan– blew my mind out of the water. I can’t wait for the game to come out, and I can see the alternative benefit of the cards as 3D character models – really useful as a cosplayer.
One game I had high hopes for was Metal Gear Solid 3D: Snake Eater. I’ve recently begun to get into the Metal Gear series this summer (very late, I know,) so I was particularly excited about this title. Maybe it was because I had just picked the game up, but the aiming/looking around controls were nowhere near as smooth and fluid as I felt they should be. It was difficult to aim and fire my gun, and it resulted in setting off alerts and me getting Snake killed multiple times. When my friend tried to play, though, he was more successful than I was, as someone showed him how to switch into first-person mode. I had asked, but even the Nintendo representatives who were demoing the copies of Snake Eater, didn’t know how to switch into first-person. That was disappointing, to say the least.
— How do you think the general reception to Nintendo was after their event this year? Was it mainly positive or negative?
I’m gonna come at this from a bias: I love Nintendo. All my friends love Nintendo. Do I think that they won E3 again? Yes, I would say so. From what I saw, more people seemed to care about trying out the Wii U than the Sony Vita. I didn’t even see anyone else miffed about the whole Snake Eater thing, either. Everyone goes to Nintendo’s booth to be wowed, and the company always delivers. I didn’t get a chance to see their keynote address (I have yet to watch it online,) but I’ve heard from friends that it, too, beat out all the competitors’ addresses by a landslide.
On the day I was working, I was lined up much like the way I was when I saw Miyamoto one day prior. When the same black Nintendo escalade rolled up that morning, I saw Reggie pop out and eat a banana as he was going in. That man was making sure his body would be ready for what he had to share with us gamers. I think that ‘nanner did the trick.
— Did you make it to the actual E3 show floor eventually?
I did. After I got off of work, I tried many different tactics in order to get on the show floor. After many failed attempts (including showing my work wristband, wearing my work shirt, and telling them that I did, in fact, work for Nintendo at some point during the show), I was prepared to just go home. On the way to the metro, I met a guy who was asking people for their badges, if they weren’t going to return. He had been successful at this for the past 10 years, and was more than willing to help me get a pass in a similar fashion. A few hours, and $20 later, I had a pass to the show floor.
— What was your favorite thing on the E3 show floor?
I’m a Nintendo girl at heart, and always will be, but my #1 pick for E3 was definitely El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. I demoed it twice, and I already want to preorder the hell out of it (no pun intended.) The best way to describe this game is through a DeviantArt journal that looks a little something like this:
You play as Enoch, who is charged by God to go round up seven fallen angels (who all look like different celebrities), each whose level is designed to be that angel’s idea of “utopia.” An angel is sent to go with you and monitor your progress. It’s Lucifel (suprise surprise), who contacts God via a cell phone. The game is super artsy, and there are no menus, bars, or prompts on the screen when you play. Not even a health bar.
You can tell when Enoch takes damage because more of his armor continues to break off the more he gets hit. This clever way around bars and menus makes for a more enjoyable playing experience, as you really get to appreciate the gorgeous imagery of the game.
Do you know what this image is? It’s Fumito Ueda, creator of ICO and Shadow of the Colossus, saying that Metal Gear Solid 2 greatly inspired SotC and that it (MGS2) is one of his favorite games. Hearing this was definitely in my top moments of E3. I am now unable to imagine Wander without thinking about Raiden. Now, you won’t be able to either.
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— What was the most recurring flirt or pick-up line you received, if any?
- “Can I touch your backpack?”
- “You have *really* blue eyes.”
- “Do you want to keep playing? Cause I could stay and flirt with you a little more.”
This last one only came from one person. I really wasn’t paying complete attention to him. In fact, I was a little offended that he was consistently trying to hit on me and carry on a “flirtatious” conversation as I was demoing El Shaddai, a game I was utterly absorbed in. But those first two lines need a little justification– see, I wear blue contacts. Like, really blue, Crayola crayon, obviously-fake-if-you-know-anything-about-eye-colours blue. I was also wearing a spiny shell-esque spiky pleather backpack. In the guys’ defense, though, it was super cute. There was also that one guy who implied he could get me drunk so he could sleep with me, but I won’t go into that one…
— Any final E3-related words for our readers?
E3 is not like the gamer community. I realized this somewhere in the middle of my trip, probably when I was walking back to the metro to go home, my feet blistered and sore, but my head held high with joy and pride as to where I’d just come from. I realized that the video games industry is more tightly knit of a community, and is more supportive of its members than the gamer community that surrounds it. Whereas I would be quick to disagree with any number of my gamer peers on any number of platform-dick-wagging opinions, all the industry wants to do is promote creativity and help make for a positive atmosphere. When I was a little girl, I fiercely supported the “pick a side” mentality I saw in the gamer culture. You were either for Nintendo, Sega, or (later on) Playstation. I would shun my Sega-loving friends, but forgave the Playstation fans on account of coming into the game late. This bigotry continued on into my adulthood (well, the not liking Sega part, at least) and I feel like this big rival-mentality is a perfect example of what can be seen in gamer culture even today. Just look at /v/.
‘But wait’, you say, ‘I played both Nintendo and Sega as a kid, and I like both companies.’ Well, congratulations. You saw a lot earlier what it took me a longer time to learn. But this rivalry mentality of the gaming community still persists. And it’s not just with companies: genres, titles, or even the PC vs Console gamers thing that I’ve had the experience of being on the receiving end of are all at its mercy.
Going to E3 is not like that.
Going to E3 is a celebration of the industry and the creative forces behind it. Developer teams go in groups, sometimes wearing matching shirts (by choice!), and everyone is smiling. There are afterparties and special events, and no one is afraid to give compliments to developers from other companies that they admire. Everyone wants to share what they’ve created, and wants to see what’s on the horizon for their industry. E3’s motto is “exceeding imagination,” and I feel like the developers really take that motto to heart. It’s kind of like the Olympics, in a way; every company is represented and, while there is competition for attention on the show floor, it is done in the spirit of sportsmanship and respect for the craft. The fans, the gaming community, can stand to learn a lot from the industry show they care so much about.