Mister Raroo Being Silly at E3[We sent regular GameSetWatch columnist Mister Raroo to E3 to report on the experiences of being there. For this first day he details his travel to Los Angeles, the games he saw, the people he met, and even the food he ate, all with his usual intimate style. Look forward to Mister Raroo’s updates over the next couple days as well.]

I stayed up until almost 2:00 am Monday night, haphazardly preparing for my short drive up the California coast to attend E3. This is only the second year I’ve taken part in the conference, with 2006 (the year Nintendo unveiled the Wii) being the other time. That year I was able to enjoy E3 with Missus Raroo by my side, but this time she stayed home with our kids.

I definitely feel funny about being away from my family. This is the first time I’ve taken a trip by myself, and I feel more than a little lost. Whenever we travel, Missus Raroo always takes on the role of our family’s navigator and coordinator. She is so reliable and prepared! I never take this fact for granted, but I also have come to rely on it a bit too much. Without her, I’m kind of a mess.

And yet, I still made it. Amazingly!

I must admit that I called her a couple times on my drive to Los Angeles for some navigation assistance. She also filled me in on what had been happening at Nintendo’s media conference since it was taking place while I was on the road. What would I do without her?

Traffic

The traffic wasn’t all that bad save for certain stretches of the road as I came closer to Los Angeles. No accident! Although I had something of a narrow miss when I slowed down to make a turn into my motel's parking lot, with the impatient driver who almost rear-ended me giving an exceptionally long honk and vicious glare as she passed by.

My Humble Little Motel Room

My motel! I suppose it’s not the swankiest place, but it’s kind of cute (and the price is definitely right). The clerk at the check-in desk was really nice and said that all “the other people” had already checked in the day before and had already made their way to the Convention Center. I think she was worried that I was a sheep who had become separated from his flock. The only problem is some of the other guests are smokers and sit outside their rooms as they enjoy their cigarettes. I hate smoke!

After puttering in my room for a few minutes, I make sure my shoelaces were tied nice and tight then hoofed it over to the Convention Center. It felt wonderful to get in a good walk, even though I knew I’d be on my feet all day. It took about 30 minutes to arrive at my destination, and I even managed to snag a couple StreetPasses on the way.

StreetPass Time With Mister Raroo

E3 is turning out to be exceptionally bountiful when it comes to exchanging 3DS data with other people. In fact, it’s almost too much at times! The 3DS apparently puts a cap on the amount of StreetPasses one can receive at any given time, so I had to keep checking it regularly in order to continue swapping data with other attendees. But my efforts paid off, and before long I was defeating ghosts in Find Mii and completed a couple panels in Puzzle Swap.

Tanks in Front of the Convention Center

Just like it was when I went in 2006, E3 is quite the spectacle this year, with some companies really going all out to promote their games. This was apparent from the moment the convention center came into view. I was greeted by tanks advertising some military game I have zero interest in, so I passed them by and went to pick up my badge. Then it was time to hit the show floor.

My first stop was the Nintendo booth. I was too late to line up for an opportunity to try out the Wii U, but I was at least able to give many of the upcoming 3DS software titles a whirl. I'm someone who bought a 3DS on day one, but I'll admit I've had slight feelings of buyer's remorse from time to time. After seeing the games on display today, though, I'm feeling very enthusiastic about the 3DS.

I particularly enjoyed Luigi’s Mansion 2 and had fun exploring all the nooks and crannies of the game's new haunted abode. A few other players were complaining about the game's control scheme, but I thought it felt fine. Mario Kart features some cool features not found in series’ previous titles, like the ability to hang glide through some sections of the tracks. I thought that was neat. And Super Mario is chock full of creative level design as well as throwbacks to aspects that made older games like Super Mario Bros. 3 so great. I can't wait to dig into it.

That said, I overheard an attendee angrily ask “What the hell is the Tanooki Suit?!” to a Nintendo representative, so maybe not everyone has warm fuzzy feelings for the Mario games of yore. I also was in earshot of a woman who asked when the 3DS is going to be released. To his credit, the Nintendo staff member fielded the question with a smile.

I felt sorry for the unfortunate staff member stationed to assist people with the new Mario & Sonic at the Olympics Games 3DS title. People kept passing it by in favor of the likes of Kid Icarus and Resident Evil Revelations, leaving her looking bored out of her mind. I actually saw her yawn!

The Wii U Controller Being Displayed

Before moving on to see other companies’ booths, I considered the prospect of “accidentally” cutting in line to see the Wii U, but I decided that probably wasn’t a good idea. I did manage to see the controller up close and personal, though, and it seems pretty nifty. I’m looking forward to seeing what the more creative developers are able to do with it.

Lunch Time!

After seeing the 3DS games, I started to feel really hungry. This feeling intensified after I spent a few minutes slashing delicious-looking fruit while playing the super-fun Fruit Ninja Kinect at Halfbrick’s meeting room. Luckily for me, they had tons of yummy food at the ready, and I walked out with a lunch fit for a king. I took it with me to the Media Hospitality room and scarfed it down with the quickness.

While there I ran into Mathew Kumar, who I’ve actually “known” through the magic of the Internet for years. We’re both regulars on a fairly out-of-the-way message board, so it was nice to finally put a name with the face after all this time. Plus, I have been kind of jerky to poor Mathew online recently over petty things, so I was glad to be able to apologize to him in person!

Natsume's Cute Booth

After my meal I went out to explore some more. Some of the booths are really adorably decorated, such as Natsume’s, which featured a charming display of stuffed animals in honor of the upcoming Harvest Moon game for 3DS. They also gave me an adorable plush alpaca, and I will take it home to my kids. One of the staff members listed off all of the plush critters Natsume has given away over the years at E3, which made me kind of sad I haven’t been attending and building a complete collection!

I was pleasantly surprised when a representative at the Sega booth was not only familiar with GameSetWatch, but showed a genuine look of recognition when I handed him my business card and he saw a drawing of Mister Raroo on it. I also felt rather important (and a little guilty!) when I went to visit Autumn Games to have a look at Skullgirls because the staff members had to ask a couple non-media attendees to step aside so I could check out the game. Sorry!

Now, I’m a pretty terrible player when it comes to most fighting games, but I can still make the prediction that Skullgirls is going to be something special. The game's 2D graphics are certainly a sight to behold, and I was told some of the characters have as many as 15,000 frames of animation! It’s pretty awesome when a development team puts in that type of effort, even if the smallest details might go unappreciated or unnoticed by the majority of players.

Once Upon a Monster

While I was watching people play Once Upon a Monster, I crossed paths with Frank Cifaldi (who is not dead) and he smuggled me into an exclusive media-only look at some of Batman: Arkham City's content that wasn’t being displayed on the show floor. I was impressed at the level of detail in the environments. It was quite an interesting juxtaposition to 2D elements in Skullgirls, but I admire that both games demonstrate what is possible when true artistry is integral in their creation.

By this point it was starting to get late, so after looking at a few more games it was time to leave the hall for the day. I exited on the opposite side of the Convention Center than I had entered and was totally turned around. After panicking for a minute or two I found my bearings and started my walk back to the motel. It is scary to feel lost in an unfamiliar place, so I'm glad I was able to get back on track.

Salad for Dinner

I worked up quite an appetite walking around all day, so for nostalgia’s sake I ducked into a Denny’s that Missus Raroo and I had eaten at during E3 in 2006. I didn’t want to eat junk and cancel out all the healthy exercise I racked up during the day, so I ordered myself a salad, which turned out to be pretty darn tasty. There were a lot of fellow E3 attendees sitting at other booths, and they all looked tired. I didn't see any of them ordering salads, though. It was nothing but burgers and Grand Slams for them.

When I finally got back to my motel room, I yanked off my shoes and flopped down onto the bed for a couple minutes. It felt so good to be off my feet! After writing up my report for the day (which took much longer than expected!), I enjoyed some bad television, took a shower, and climbed into bed to rest up for another full day at E3.

[Mister Raroo is a happy husband, proud father, full-time public library employee, and active gamer. He currently lives in El Cajon, CA with his family and pets. You may reach Mister Raroo at mister.raroo@gmail.com. For all your Game Time With Mister Raroo needs, visit Club Raroo!]