Who Won E3? Think Small…

You know the good E3 presentations by the number of times you reach in vain for the rewind button. And, going in this year, it was hard to tell who would have us wishing for it most. Each of the big three seemed like they could have a trick or two up their sleeve. But, given recent history, we were most excited to see what Nintendo might reveal. Ooops!

Sadly, Nintendo’s big bang involved spending a good 15 minutes of Miyamoto prime time on Wii Fit, a balance board peripheral and exercise game that don’t seem to make fitness very fun. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the game isn’t even coming to the US this year (and it’s going to be expensive when it does). I might have wanted to rewind a little for Phantom Hourglass, but I desperately wanted to fast forward Miyamoto. And that’s sad. A fanboy friend sleeping off a cold put it this way:

I awoke from my nap . . . from a sweaty, feverish sleep and thought “oh, maybe the Nintendo press conference didn’t really happen!” But then I saddened as I remembered every last horrible detail about it.

Then there was Microsoft. After the hype of the mystery Xbox 360 SKU dissolved into a uninspired green case, Microsoft’s biggest surprise seemed to be Mass Effect FMV. More epic, more aliens, more testosterone from Microsoft? Who would have guessed? Even Peter Moore rocking out with Harmonix couldn’t get the rewind masher going. And I love those folks. Zero rewinds (but no fast forwards, either). Just what we expected and no more.

The really big surprise, then, was that Sony came out swinging with… downloads? That Home business might still wreak of Second Life ghost town, but their downloadable games are starting to rock. Most notably Echochrome, a lo-fi puzzler by way of MC Escher. You’re charged with getting a stick man from one end of a warped cubic landscape to another, the twist being that one can overcome obstacles (a pit, say) by rotating the camera to the point where that obstacle is occluded, essentially changing the nature of the illusion.

Echochrome, followed by Wipeout HD and Pain, made me ever so slightly less nauseated by Phil Harrison. And that’s saying something. Put those alongside Little Big Planet and I may end up buying a PS3 after all. Three rewinds, one fast forward (Chewbacca?!), and the best showing of E3.

Who would have guessed after all its recent cluelessness and consistent spec screaming that Sony would win E3 on a few small games with big ideas? But that’s just what happened.

Update: Parish says Wii Fit is actually good stuff in spite of Nintendo’s awful presentation. Let’s hope so. Better a botched press conference than a botched product.

images grabbed from joystiq, ign, and gamescore

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