E3's History Of Surprises

by Dan Ryckert on Jun 08, 2010 at 12:04 PM

For the last fifteen years, the Electronic Entertainment Expo has been the place for gaming's biggest news, reveals, and announcements. With E3 2010 less than a week away, we take a look back at the biggest surprises from years past.

1995: Sega drops a Saturn bombshell

For months, Sega had touted September 2nd, 1995 as "Saturnday," claiming it would mark the date that they dropped their newest console on the gaming public. This would give it a week's head start before Sony launched the Playstation on the 9th . However, it was announced at the first E3 in 1995 that Saturnday had been a ruse all along. Surprising the press in attendance, Sega stated that the system would be available for sale immediately. While the surprise certainly carried some shock value, many games weren't yet ready for release, meaning its launch lineup was meager at best.

1996: Sony lowers their price, competition follows

When it launched in the U.S. in 1995, the original Playstation retailed for $299 ($100 less than the Saturn's launch). At 1996's E3, Nintendo announced that the Nintendo 64 would be released at the $249 price point. However, Sony stole their thunder by announcing that the Playstation would be dropping to $199. Within two days, both Nintendo and Sega had announced that they would be following suit by lowering the prices of their respective systems to compete with the Playstation.

2000: Metal Gear Solid 2 wows the crowd

Konami showed off the upcoming MGS2: Sons of Liberty via a five-minute video clip that played every hour outside their booth. As the Playstation 2 had not yet launched, it was one of the first titles to really show off what the console was capable of. Hundreds gathered to watch this clip, and the crowd was amazed at the level of visual detail. Snake traversed the tanker in the rain, shot up watermelons, and held up soldiers in a trailer showcasing graphics that wouldn't be remotely possible on the previous generation. Even more impressive was the fact that every second of footage was made up of in-game graphics.

2004: Twilight Princess brings fans to tears

It had been years before Zelda fans saw a realistically-rendered adult version of Link. Majora's Mask kept Ocarina of Time's art style, but forced gamers to control a young version of the protagonist. Wind Waker introduced an entirely new cel-shaded art style that proved polarizing to fans. With the amount of reverence and praise given to Ocarina of Time, gamers wanted a look that reminded them of the N64 classic. At Nintendo's 2004 press conference, they brought down the house with a trailer showcasing a much more mature version of Link. Some especially enthusiastic Nintendo faithful were famously brought to tears by the teaser.

2004: Peter Moore inks Halo 2's release date

The huge success of the original Halo unsurprisingly left fans hungry for more. However, they had to endure a three-year wait before they'd assume control of Master Chief once again. Knowing that Xbox owners would want a solid release date, Peter Moore showed how serious he was about Halo 2's launch by getting a "November 9th" tattoo on his right arm. Sure enough, the game shipped on time. It's a move Moore would repeat only two years later with...

2006: GTA IV comes to Xbox 360

Grand Theft Auto games had historically launched on Playstation first, with Xbox versions releasing months (and even years) afterwards. Peter Moore announced the end of that tradition when he revealed yet another tattoo. Saying he reserved "the big guns for the big guns," he rolled up his left sleeve to reveal the GTA IV logo. Not only would it release alongside its Playstation 3 counterpart, Moore also revealed that it would feature (timed) exclusive DLC.

2008: Microsoft gets its first Final Fantasy

While the GTA series always appeared on Microsoft systems after their initial release, the long-running Final Fantasy series had never appeared on one of the company's consoles (outside of the multiplayer-only FFXI). That changed with the 2008 bombshell that the 360 would be one of the homes of Final Fantasy XIII. Many Sony fans cried foul, with some (troubled) gamers even making message board posts featuring subjects like "I'm actually contemplating suicide."

2009: New Metroid developed by...Team Ninja?

In an announcement no one could have seen coming, Nintendo announced during their conference that Metroid: Other M was being helmed by none other than Team Ninja. No one expected the team behind the ultra-gory Ninja Gaiden series to take control of a beloved Nintendo franchise, but the bold move was revealed last year to the surprise of the gaming industry.

2009: Valve puts out a sequel in record time

Valve is known for putting out fantastic games, but they've never had a reputation for spitting them out with a speedy frequency. That changed last year when they announced that Left 4 Dead 2 would be releasing only one year after the original. Some fans felt betrayed, believing that it would be better served as DLC. However, those in the "L4D2 Boycott" group were quickly silenced when the game released to positive reviews and enough content to justify the sequel.