I love and hate E3. The show is crowded, loud, hectic, and exhausting. You run from meeting to meeting trying to absorb as much knowledge as possible while trying to ignore your aching feet and hunger. But then you’ve got the games, of course. Every year, there are a handful (sometimes more than a handful) of titles you can’t wait to get your hands on at the show. Sure, I’m looking forward to Halo 4 and Black Ops II, but those aren’t the ones that have me truly drooling. Instead, I’m going for the games that bring out my inner geek and take me back to the time when every new game was a reason to celebrate.
1: Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (360, PS3, Wii, PC, Mac / Disney Interactive)
I am a Disney freak. No other way to put it—a dyed-in-the-wool, indoctrinated-from-birth Disneymaniac. So, for me, the first Epic Mickey was a joy to behold. It dug so deep in Disney obscura that my e-mail inbox was packed for weeks with friends asking me questions about the history of it all. For the sequel, Junction Point Studios president Warren Spector promises a fixed camera, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as a playable character, and musical numbers. A videogame with musical numbers! Even if it’s bad, it should be awesome! The best part is that you don’t have to be a freak like me to appreciate Spector’s vision. But be careful—you could turn into one.
2: Super Mario Bros. Wii U (Wii U / Nintendo)
I don’t know for sure that Nintendo’s going to show a new Mario game for the Wii U, but it certainly makes sense. Mario moves systems, and they want the Wii U to make the most of its head start on the next console generation. But where do you go from Super Mario Galaxy? I’m thinking the plumber’s next outing should feature dimension-hopping. Mario can jump into a pipe and come out in a different reality—maybe one where a monstrous Princess Peach kidnaps an innocent Bowser that Mario must save. Sure, it’s not likely, but Mario mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto never fails to surprise and amaze, so I can’t wait to see what he’s cooked up this time.
3: Dishonored (360, PS3, PC / Bethesda Softworks)
The trailers for Dishonored have me completely enthralled. The environments are strikingly beautiful, and the steampunk vibe makes me want to jump in and start swinging a sword. I’ve been waiting for someone to embrace the sort of skewed reality that made the BioShock games so much fun, and I think the team at Arkane Studios might have pulled it off. I’m particularly interested in the claims that you can navigate the whole game in a non-lethal fashion. Though I’m not opposed to dumping buckets of blood, playing a game like this with no kills sounds pretty cool to try.
4: Star Trek (360, PS3, PC / Namco Bandai)
J.J. Abrams somehow managed to revive the Star Trek franchise by going back to the beginning and reinventing the characters we already knew and loved. I haven’t heard much about Digital Extremes’ upcoming game, but the chance to enter Abrams’ take on the world and actually participate has me jazzed. It’s a third-person action game—which, to me, sounds perfect for showcasing some of the series’ classic characters. Does this mean I get to be Kirk or Spock? Or both? If so, then this game starts jumping up spaces on my list. It doesn’t drop until 2013, so anything we learn at this show, we’ll have to hold on to for a year. Hope it’s good!
5: The Elder Scrolls Online (PC, Mac / Bethesda Softworks)
Making an Elder Scrolls MMORPG is the next logical step for the series. After all, how much bigger can you make the single-player entries? And after Skyrim—a game I would’ve ranked No. 1 in 2011 had it not been for the bugs at launch—my brain quivers with anticipation at the online version’s potential size and scope. The bugs do worry me; I’m not gonna lie. If the online game ships in the same shape as Bethesda’s offline entries, I might wait for a year to join in. But once the game is stable. I’m expecting an experience that could finally be the long-prophesized WoW-killer.