E3 2006: Picks and Pans

Mobile Games Take Flight: Just like the casual hop-in, hop-out games seemed to have a lot of buzz (especially as part of Microsoft Xbox Live Arcade program), so too did mobile games. That Nokia was exhibiting on the show floor with N-Gage titles wasn't surprising. However, even heavyweights Electronic Arts and Vivendi Universal had mobile divisions showcasing quick-hit games, including Flying Toaster, Eragon, and Tetris. And Microsoft's Live Anywhere initiative will be compatible across hundreds of handsets--not just Windows Mobile. --Melissa J. Perenson

Sign of the Times: Frogger Turns 25. Sigh. Where did the time go? --Melissa J. Perenson

Console Wars: At every E3, much of the buzz around the show involves one basic question: How are Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo doing? The consensus among people I talked to seemed to be that Nintendo's Wii has everyone intrigued, that Microsoft had a good show (as it would, given it has the only next-generation console that's actually available), and that the PlayStation 3 has a bit of a me-too feel about it. --Harry McCracken

Booth Babes: Exhibitors faced $5000 fines this year if their promotional models were deemed too skimpy by the convention organizers. I'm told this E3 wasn't quite as crazy as some in years gone by, but it is still definitely a trade show for those 18 years and over. --Danny Allen

Microsoft to Gamers: We're Sorry: The behemoth of Redmond isn't known for its manners, but its launch of a new "Games for Windows" marketing campaign was built around the notion that the company hasn't taking Windows seriously enough as a gaming platform, and will try to do better from now on. In meetings with multiple Microsoft executives, we heard them issue abject apologies to the gaming community again and again. And again. --Harry McCracken

Long Lines Everywhere: At the Sony booth, there were rows of PlayStation 3 game demos as far as the eye could see, and you could play to your heart's content. But Nintendo hid the Wii console in a private area, and even before E3 officially opened, the wait to get in was more than an hour long. (I never made it into the demo, but my colleague Danny Allen did and blogged about it. Long, snaking lines of attendees were also seen waiting for demos of Spore (a new game from Will Wright, creator of the Sims) and Stranglehold (an action game whose creative personnel include Chow Yun Fat and John Woo)...and at every Starbucks on the premises. --Harry McCracken

Holy Celebrity Spotting, Batman!: Another extremely long line of attendees formed to get autographs from none other than the Caped Crusader himself, Adam West. Actually, Batman references are inappropriate here: West appeared in his capacity of the voice of the Mayor on Family Guy, which 2K is turning into a game. And given the age of many of the signature-seekers, I'm not even sure if all of them know that West once wore a cape and utility belt. --Harry McCracken

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