I love E3 time. I’ve been to more than my fair share of the shows (’96-’00, ’02-’04 and ’06). It’s changed a lot from those days of huge booths, booth babes, parking lot parties with midgets, and just that general feeling of “Disneyland For Gamers”.

This year looks to be no different, despite the fact that it’s smaller and more subdued (but at least not that “experiment” they attempted last year). But it’s certainly started out strong, especially for Microsoft.

Let me just say: “Holy crap” for the Final Fantasy XIII announcement for the 360. Square leaves Nintendo for greener pastures way back when, and while completely not cutting the umbilical cord this time, the fact that a proper Final Fantasy game is going somewhere else other than a Playstation certainly draws for a fair comparison. Color me happy, and hopeful that the same will happen for the Kingdom Hearts series.

And then there’s the revamping of the Dashboard, the linking the 360 to one’s Netflix account, the Mii-like Avatars and hints of motion control peripherals (you knew it would happen with the other systems eventually), the Gameshow offerings with chance to win real, tangible prizes, the original Banjo-Kazooie for XBLA, as well as Geometry Wars 2, an updated Galaga: Legion, and of course, Gears of War 2 and Fable 2…. Microsoft has done very well for an opener this year. No complaints from this gamer, but it makes you wonder what Sony and Nintendo are going to offer to even attempt to counter this.

Nintendo so far has offered an attachment to the Wii Remote that now offers 1:1 motion control. I have a bad feeling that Force Unleashed is not going to benefit from this, but hopefully the out-of-the-blue Clone Wars will (hence its out-of-the-blue status). I’ve also been hearing reports that the hoped for update to Kid Icarus is a no-show, which dashes my hopes for the Punch-Out!! update I had wanted (It’s only been over 20 years for both, Nintendo, why give us hope now?). Still, there’s talk of a new Zelda game, but we’ll see. It would make sense to go with the new motion sensor.

Hopefully this motion sensor add-on isn’t Nintendo’s way of placating their “core” audience. I’m not going to comment until I see what they offer tomorrow, but I’m not exactly optimistic anymore. Perhaps Nintendo will unveil a version of the Wii that has no online capability, and has Wii Sports already built into the system. I wonder how many of those systems they’d sell just configured like that? Something tells me a lot. I’d also like to see more games and less wacky accessories at this point past dance pads, band sets, wheels, Zappers, Fit Boards, controller attachments. There hasn’t been this much add-on stuff since the NES days.

At any rate, I just want Strong Bad’s Cool Game For Attractive People to hit WiiWare already, because I need my Strong Bad like sweet air in my lungs!

Sony has already started out with their usual crazy comments, but who knows what they’ll bring to this year’s table? I like the PSP stuff offered so far (more LocoRoco? Yes, please), and God of War 3 would make a lot of sense, but I bet they’re reeling from losing yet another of their exclusives, and one of their “big” titles, no less.

If the rest of the show is (dare I say) as “epic” as the first day of announcements, it’s going to be a great show all-around. Things I’m waiting to hear (in no particular order):

1.) Nintendo’s “Core Cure” of these titles they promise will put at ease all of the loyalists who want less mini games.
2.) Will Nintendo address the storage issue or still pretend they aren’t aware of any real issue (my bet’s on the latter).
3.) Ghostbusters footage. I want to see this game badly.
4.) Square-Enix’s plans for the DS and PSP.
5.) What Sony is going to counter-offer for this year, as well as any further standard ludicrous statements.
6.) Is there anything more to the new Banjo-Kazooie than just building and racing cars.
7.) Any chance for a Guitar Hero: Beatles Edition?
8.) Any updates on the “Coming Soon” titles announced from earlier this year: Earthworm Jim, Splatterhouse, Mortal Kombat Vs. DC (it’s the sentimentalist in me for this one).

It’s going to be an interesting E3 this year, and I’ll be curious to see how each of the “Big Three” handles their praises, comments and criticisms throghout the rest of the year.

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