Of all the juicy seductive secrets hidden in the Convention Center's concrete belly, the handing out of swag is its most publicized and its most tempting. After all, what E3 entrepreneur hasn't aired out their plushies and art books, their pins and shirts, and what personal friend in the industry hasn't grabbed them and then discreetly dropped them onto your desk surface? Considering the mad dash for Square Enix theater tickets every morning when the doors opened (they played trailers for upcoming Square Enix ventures and you were awarded a Dragon Quest slime doll for sitting through it), you'd think that swag was the only thing E3 was made for. I do see it, though. Hands-on experience and impressions are ephermeral, but a unique cup of coffee blasted from a Viewtiful Joe vending machine is forever.
But be sure: not all swag is manufactured free. I'm not talking about waiting in long lines, or holding your hands in the air and hoping someone will fling a mousepad into it, or even getting up on stage at Tecmo and start body-groovin' like Prince. Some things you gotta play games for, man.
Atlus room on the second floor is always a fun place to be, and it's not just because of the good games and their iPod Shuffle drawing. On the first Wednesday and Thrusday they held a DS Puyo Pop Fever twice a day and one last one on Friday.
I hadn't played Puyo Pop Fever before E3 but we did have an extra DS and it probably is the best Puyo game yet. It seems like Sonic Team actually bothered to make refinements to the core game while they made damn sure that whatever cog they turned didn't throw the whole thing out of whack, as opposed to when Compile was the reins and each sequel was totally bizarre and completely alienating. Not to speak ill of the dead (especially one that makes such a fine corpse), but was a dirt nap any surprise when Zanac X Zanac was their best game in ten years?
I don't bother bringing my DS on the first day so I miss out on the first two Puyo Pop Fever tournaments, not to mention sitting around at the Nintendo booth in PictoChat typing out how much E3 SUX and drawing flying roasted turkeys. On Thrusday, I enter the tournament and because of the high number of entrants, we're split off into two groups, one of which is sent outside of the Atlus room. I'm part of the first round and we spend ten minutes trying to figure out which of us that are connected to the game and should be, and which of us are impostors from outside of the room. It doesn't sound like a difficult task but you try to organize during something as loud and distracting as E3. It's like looking for lost brain cells at a concert sponsored by Vans.
Eventually, the mutlicolor blob-dropping festivities begin and I promptly get slaughtered by a dude with an Eisley sticker on his DS. It is a humiliating defeat. Atlus has a rule that a person can only particpate once a day though I don't know how enforced that is. Either way, I had no idea what the prize was so couldn't exactly lament over whatever was so far from these claw-like, n00bish fingers.