Welcome back to AVQ&A (Gameological edition), where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our diverse lives all led us to convene here together. Got a question you’d like us and the readers to answer? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This installment’s question comes from Gameological editor Matt Gerardi:
The importance of E3 continues to wane, but as last year’s litany of unthinkable announcements goes to show you, the game industry’s biggest gathering still carries a certain magical luster and potential for surprise. With this year’s conference right around the corner (June 14-16), I want to know what E3 announcement would be your wildest dream come true?
Anthony John Agnello
Every year since 2013, I dream a very specific dream during Sony’s press conferences. Even last year’s cavalcade of impossibilities doesn’t quite touch it. My dream goes back to a promise made by original PlayStation engineer Ken Kutaragi when the PlayStation 2 was unveiled back in the late ’90s. He said that every PlayStation, no matter how distant into the future, will be backward compatible with all previous PlayStations at a hardware level. Not software emulation like the backward compatibility bringing Xbox games to Xbox 360, but exact chip sets Frankensteined into the modern box to run the old software. That’s my greatest E3 wish: a PlayStation to run all PlayStation games regardless of console or the region it was released in, including portables. I’m talking about a PlayStation 4 that will let me play a Japanese PS1 game like Jingle Cats and then swap it out for a PSP UMD version of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, a PlayStation 4 that will rock both PSVR and PS Vita cartridges. Such a machine would be an absolute nightmare to manufacture, but hot damn would I want it—until a PlayStation 5 with the same feature rolled around.
My wildest fantasies can get pretty out there—I’ve frittered away more than a few afternoons daydreaming about living in a flying mansion and having a different-colored velvet suit for each day of the week. But my most unattainable dream of all involves Konami atoning for its past year’s worth of screwups by unveiling Suikoden VI. Fans aggressively champion the Suikoden series, but its development history has been tumultuous, and it’s never reached a particularly wide audience. The last title in the series to have any notable presence at E3 was the disappointing Suikoden IV way back in 2004. That game’s mediocrity tanked the series’ sales, and barring a few side stories, it’s been dead in the water for over 10 years now. It’s a shame, because Suikoden V—the series’ last hurrah and a no-show at E3 the year of its release—demonstrated that there was still plenty of life left in these games. I honestly believe we’re more likely to see UNICEF take the stage at E3 to declare that it’s ended world hunger than we are to see Konami announcing a new Suikoden, but if you’re going to dream, you might as well dream big.
In recent years, the fringes of the industry have circled around the idea of games with true, permanent death. Roguelike and squad-based strategy games have acclimatized us to the idea of progress deletion and character loss, and there have been attempts at more extreme implementations, like The Flock, which offer a limited number of respawns before shutting down its servers. But these are all half-baked approaches. What I’d love to see at my imaginary E3 is an industry heavyweight known for its single-character, narrative-driven games, say Naughty Dog or CD Projekt RED, announce the first-ever big-budget game where you only get one life and cannot restart, reinstall, or repurchase it. Imagine the tension of knowing that your story may come to an end at any given moment due to a hasty decision or momentary lapse in concentration. “But how will it be implemented?” Don’t know. “Would it make sense financially?” Don’t care. “Who would pay their hard-earned money for this?” I would, and I’d be deliciously terrified at every step of my single, doomed play-through.
Here’s my stupid, impossible E3 dream: I want everybody—Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, Valve, Apple, everybody—to get on board the VR train together. A lot of really cool ideas have died over the years because somebody decided to cut their losses and abandon them before they could really come to fruition. I don’t want that to happen to a device that creates imaginary worlds in which I can walk and fly around to my stupid, lazy heart’s content. I want virtual reality, and I want it from everybody—an industry standard, taking the best aspects of all the hardware on the market right now. More than that, I want all those companies to agree to adopt and refine it, together, with no regard for their bottom lines. Would that make me a protocommunist dictator for VR prototypes? Absolutely. But you’ll all thank me when you’re playing Super Mario 360, running around Peach’s Castle in gorgeous real time and giving yourself beautiful, full-color motion sickness.
I would love to see Sony renew support for the PlayStation Vita. I want the whole force of E3 pageantry and excess brought to bear in a display of penitence for Sony’s sore mistreatment of its own handheld. A line of executives should come onto the stage ritualistically beating their heads against Vitas like flagellant monks. One steps forward to announce their sincerity with the release of the Mea Culpa collection: a group of games that were either speculated to be released on the Vita or are a good fit for the system, including Final Fantasy Type-O, Resident Evil: Revelations, Deus Ex: The Fall, and Adventures Of Mana, all delivered together on one reasonably priced 64-GB memory card. And as long as I’m righting past wrongs, throw in BioShock: Wish Fulfillment, or whatever they would have called the Vita-exclusive game Ken Levine promised during E3 2011 and recanted almost immediately afterward.
Nintendo has already announced that it’s bringing the new Zelda to E3—and nothing else. But if I had my wish, it’d be lying to cover for the reveal we actually want: a brand new Metroid game. It’s been six years since the last official installment in the series, and that was 2010’s miserable Other M. Samus Aran deserves a better send-off than a clunky action game with crummy writing, and in some ways, the Wii U seems like the ideal system to provide it. The dual screens could’ve been used to help players map their environments or maybe with puzzle solving or—look, I don’t know. The Wii U is ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have another Metroid. The console has been hurting for non-Mario games, and it would be nice to have one last thing to look forward to before Nintendo asks us to pay out hundreds of dollars for its next experiment in gradual disappointment: “Hey, we know the last system never took off, and the Wii never really lived up to its potential, but we’ll get it right this time, definitely!”
I’ve spent the past couple weeks curiously hooked on Pocket Card Jockey, the solitaire-meets-horse-racing oddity on the 3DS from Game Freak, the studio best known for the Pokémon games. While I appreciate the worldwide adoration of Pokémon, I’ve always had a soft spot for Game Freak’s other releases, from Mendel Palace and Pulseman in my youth right on up to HarmoKnight and Tembo The Badass Elephant in recent years. While it’s best known for its Nintendo support, it is a third-party studio that’s free to explore any platform it chooses, and I’d love to see Game Freak develop something new for Sony. The PlayStation family has long been welcoming to oddballs, and with Q Games no longer focusing on the PixelJunk series, the system is sorely in need of a reliable studio for quirky bite-sized treats. As long as we’re dreaming, it’d be great if these hypothetical Game Freak titles were on PlayStation Vita, since they’ve demonstrated a good handle on touch-screen interfaces with the 3DS. Whatever brightly colored genre-mashup game it comes up with next, I know I’ll be there, so let’s bring it to a platform desperately in need of love.
I was 9 when I saw the 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie, and when it ended on a cliff-hanger, my brother and I were immediately buzzed about all the sequel potential. Apparently, we were the only ones who really wanted to see more plumbers fighting dinosaur men, but I can dream that Nintendo is ready to announce another Mario movie. There were rumors, revealed through the Sony hacks, that one was in the works, and since the most improbable thing divulged from that mess—the 21 Jump Street/Men In Black crossover—is actually happening and Nintendo is talking about getting back into the movie business, a sequel doesn’t seem that unlikely. And while we’re in fantasyland, I’d like to imagine that this new Mario film avoids the original’s attempt to ground the series in reality and instead takes advantage of the breadth of games the series has to offer. Perhaps a Death Race-style Mario Kart short followed by a surrealist sequence inspired by Super Mario Sunshine and a dystopian trip to Wario World.
The one thing I look forward to every E3 is getting a glimpse of whatever Hideo Kojima is working on. Metal Gear is my all-time favorite video game series, and nobody working in the industry can hope to match the level of hype that a totally bananas, unnecessarily long trailer for a Kojima game can generate—at least for me. Kojima left Konami last year, which probably means there’ll be no more Metal Gear games, but since then, he’s been visiting every famous game developer in the world and documenting his travels on Twitter. Supposedly, he’s researching tech for his next project, but I don’t want to see his new game at E3. I want to see him put his spin on the games that all of those studios are working on. In other words, I want every single trailer at E3 to be directed by Hideo Kojima. Every. Single. One. I want a totally serious Call Of Duty teaser that interrupts the drama for some lowbrow poop joke. I want to see characters in Mario Kart have an impossibly melodramatic debate about nuclear war. I want cyborg ninjas to show up… well, everywhere. It would probably be the stupidest E3 ever but in the best possible way.