Sony’s Insane E3 2015 Conference May Never Be Beaten

June 16, 2015 Written by Heath Hindman

First, get this going for celebration music:

So ah, did that just happen?

As a big fan of me, I love my own words. This applies also when eating them!

Could you blame me for being doubtful about Shenmue III, The Last Guardian, and the Final Fantasy VII PS4 remake? Could you blame anyone for that? These were the video game equivalents of Bigfoot, The Loch Ness Monster, and a big-headed space man. Finding them not only be confirmed real was huge. To have it done on the same day was a megaton. To have it done at the same conference was unprecedented.

It also might never be topped. Of course, that sounds like the kind of thing a kid says after every birthday party. He/she looks at all the shiny presents and declares that it’s “the best birthday ever!” and that title endures one to two years. Good run. Sony’s phenomenal E3 conference , however, is a different story due to the crazy circumstances behind its three biggest revelations.

the-last-guardian-ps4-screenshot

FFVII PS4, Shenmue III, and The Last Guardian are enormous announcements, but they didn’t come in typical fashion. The cycle of rumors and eternity spent in wanting had the anticipation levels for these games practically in another realm — and that’s just talking about an individual level.

Usually, a new game is revealed, then we get a somewhat steady flow of info and media until it arrives on shelves a year or three later. But the games named above were rare cases, and taken together, formed a sort of holy trinity of desperately wanted games that seemed like they might never happen.

Until Monday, questions about any of them would’ve resulted in dodges or denials. We hadn’t seen signs of life from any in years, if not a decade.

Missing So Long, it Became a Joke

The Last Guardian‘s history of E3 absences had become an internet meme.

last-guardian-e3-future

Every year, we went through a cycle of expectation and disappointment. We had predictions…that missed. We had promises that things were moving along, but absolutely no evidence, no substance, not even a description of what kind of progress was being made. We spent half a decade knowing nothing. I kinda thought maybe we’d see TLG come back some day, but didn’t think this would finally be the E3 when it happened.

But then it did, and you can color me pleasantly surprised. But this shocking bomb wasn’t the end of it.

Phoenix Down

They played with us. They showed us that chibi Final Fantasy thing to make us think it was another fake out like the one in December, when Final Fantasy VII got announced for the PS4…as a port. Effing trolls, man. And then, what’s up, they’ve got a CG trailer confirming the existence of a full PS4 remake of probably the most popular Japanese RPG of all time. Yeah, no gameplay, but I’ll settle for simple confirmation for now, thanks.

RPGs are kinda my bread and butter, so to see this actually exist has sent me through all kinds of emotional hoops, no doubt in part because it comes at the end of a decade of wondering if it would.

ff7-ps3-remake

Will they include the choice between “Aeris” and “Aerith?”

 E3 2005 showcased PS3 power with Final Fantasy VII. Similar to the FFVI tech demo for the N64, it wasn’t meant to be an announcement. Fans, however, thought, hey, if that existed for real, it might be a hell of a game. So, despite it never officially being revealed to be a game in production, fans desperately asked about it for years and years. We’ve spent every E3 and Tokyo Game Show since 2005 wondering if we’d see Final Fantasy VII being remade up to the standards of the time.

A full 10 years later and here we are, seeing Final Fantasy VII once again brought up to current console standard, but this time for an actual game instead of just a tech demo.

This is going to be in HD now!

This is going to be in HD now!

Even before that, credible sources were saying that the whole PSOne trilogy of Final Fantasy games would see upgraded re-releases on PlayStation 2. I’ve been waiting to play an updated FFVII for like 13 years. Enjoying its original form all the while, but still wondering if a new version would finally some day arrive.

Have You Seen a Black Car? Also Sailors?

It’s been 14 years since Shenmue II. Fourteen. If you’d had an infant when Shenmue II first went to stores, mini Ryo would now be asking junior high school teachers if they’d seen black cars on the day the snow fell.

Sega showed no interest in Shenmue. There was a failed MMORPG idea like a decade ago, and there was the mobile Shenmue City, but MMOs and mobile were supposed to be the money printing machines. If those didn’t light their bank accounts on fire, why would Shenmue III do so on a console? Why indeed. That thing wasn’t going to get publisher backing.

shenmue-black-car

The idea of crowdfunding comes quickly to gamers’ minds these days, but you can understand why an industry professional with a very long career — during most of which, Kickstarter didn’t even exist — would hesitate to make the leap.

I was impressed that Sony invited creator Yu Suzuki onto the stage and announce a Kickstarter project. I don’t think anyone would have predicted that it would be both a Kickstarter and on Sony’s conference stage. The combination was strange, but that’s the new world we’re in, and I’ve got no problem with that.

shenmue-3-screenshot

To see Shenmue III come right out of nowhere was the biggest shock of the show for me. And that it happened after those other two things? Holy crap.

To recap, we just saw a single press conference deliver…

  • A hugely hyped exclusive that had been absent for several consecutive E3s. Years of total silence, suddenly broken.
  • A remake of one of — if not the — most popular RPGs of all time, after 10 years (or more) of hot anticipation.
  • The sequel to a game that seemed super dead for super long — a sequel to a game from 14 years earlier.

We saw all of those get confirmed within the same conference. Think about that. The circumstances make that nearly impossible to ever top. I suppose maybe if Agent, Half-Life 3, Skies of Arcadia 2, and maybe some kind of Last of Us-related game all get revealed at the same singular press conference some day. Yes, I’m aware that there are four games there instead of three. I originally had three, but it didn’t seem like a fair comparison; 2015 was still totally winning.

The odd circumstances of these three games being rumored and desired (in one case, announced; in another, shown as a tech demo), but in limbo for so long made this triple-reveal even more special.

Now, we still have to be cautious. One, two, or all of these still might be bad or kinda so-so. Let’s be realistic. Cautious optimism, everyone — caution with our optimism. Additionally, all of these went silent for a while, and they could easily do it again. We have no idea.

Snnnnnoooooooooore

My interest in E3 had deflated over the years.

But all of that can wait. For now, I’m over the moon. E3, for me, had become a festival of shit I didn’t care about. So much emphasis placed on the newest Call of Duty, Madden, and Grand Theft Auto every year. While each of those can be fun, they’re not the games I rush out to play or list among my favorites of all time. Final Fantasy games? Yeah. ICO and Shadow of the Colossus? You bet. Shenmue? Shen-you’re-damn-right-mue.

Hell, if I could have chosen three things to suddenly become real, it would have been those things. How often does that happen?

Oh and the supporting cast was all very nice too. Horizon and No Man’s Sky look cool. So there’s that.

It was a perfect storm. Sony’s E3 2015 conference wasn’t just the best of all time, it might never be topped.

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