People will call me a hippy when I say this but I’ve always felt a resonance with Nintendo consoles. They speak to me through channels I can’t describe. This isn’t some delusional fanboy shit – this is real hippy waves of energy that you just gotta feel, man. When Project Dolphin was announced I was living on a tropical island in the Pacific; when Project Revolution was announced I was a political activist; and for the past year or so I’ve worked as a barista.
Today I was working and thinking a lot about E3 and how it was going to change my life and give me new meaning and direction, man. I looked down at the latte I was making and there I saw it: everything I needed to know about Project Cafe. I was just like Agent Morgan from Deadly Premonition, ciphering messages from the milk and coffee. I stared at it in a trance and it all came to me. This is how it will take place at E3…
Journalists file into the Club Nokia to find it completely renovated to make it look just like a real café with alfresco tables. Everyone is excited and confused. There are no assigned seats, so the journalists must buddy up and share tables. This is awkward as no-one dares sit near Jeff Gerstmann, lest he shit himself during any Zelda demonstration. Furthermore, nobody wants a seat facing away from the closest thing to a stage: a corner counter and fancy coffee machine near a large video screen. Above the coffee machine hangs a sign that reads ‘Mario’s Café.’
Miyamoto makes his way announced across the stage. The crowd gets excited, many turning their chairs to face the stage. Miyamoto pays them no attention, though, and instead busies himself checking the coffee grinder and water temperature before beginning to make an alarming number of coffees. Attractive waitresses appear to deliver coffees to any journalists waiting patiently and not clamouring over the table, shouting, like most of them are. Reggie appears on stage and promptly announces that with Café, they’re only catering to the mature in the audience. Many of the rude journalists are oblivious to this and continue acting in a childish manner towards the waitresses delivering coffee, their behaviour getting worse when they notice that the coffees are served on top of a tablet/wii remote hybrid, Café’s controller.
Reggie swaggers over to the counter, says hello to Miyamoto, and formally welcomes the press to Mario’s Café. He encourages those who’ve received their “menu”, Café’s controller, to freely browse the trailers and screenshots of upcoming games they didn’t have time to feature in today’s presentation. “And I encourage those of you who haven’t received your coffee and controller yet to continue acting the way you are if you want to experience what I’m known best for.” Reggie states dryly. Sure enough, some obnoxious AOL sellout from Joystiq is arrogantly laughing at Reggie’s threat and turns away from the stage back towards his table. Reggie immediately adopts his business face, steps out from the counter, strides over and kicks the back of the reporter’s chair so hard it breaks, sending the clown sprawling across his table. Reggie calmly makes his way back through the now silenced crowd to the stage.
“Reggie we have a customer!” Miyamoto remarks. Reggie excuses himself and turns to the other side of the counter that faces off stage.
“Welcome to Mario’s Café! What can I get you this morning?” Reggie asks a figure obscured by the darkness on his side of the stage.
“Triple shot latte please, two sugars,” the mystery guest replies.
“And what name was that under?”
A female voice plays over the PA as the screen lights up, breaking the facade of Reggie actually running a Café, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage the Director of Shin’en Multimedia; Manfred Linzner.” He walks to centre stage to polite applause.
Linzner begins to talk about his company’s new game for Café launch: F-Zero Nebula. An online focused racing title where players create their hovercraft to compete in the F-Zero racing leagues. No distinction is made between single or multiplayer; every race you compete in is against online opponents and your success and failure affects your sponsorship deals, ranking, and parts to upgrade and modify your craft with. It’s an ambitious title and Nintendo hope the upper ranks will be a highly competitive racing community.
“Your latte is ready!” Miyamoto calls out. Linzner collects his coffee and finds himself an empty seat amongst the throng of journalists.
Reggie turns back to the audience. Reggie says that F-Zero symbolises Nintendo’s new commitment to online gaming. He acknowledges missteps made in the past, but points out that at least their network was secure and even if it was breached, only friend codes could possibly be stolen. “There’s more to that Sony story actually…” Reggie pauses. “You didn’t hear about it in the media, but with my history of taking names, I was named as a prime suspect in the Playstation Network breach.” The audience becomes even more quiet; could Reggie have broken through Sony’s security through sheer force of will? This was the man who had demolished their E3 conference set before and raped an intern, after all. Reggie continues: “Now my name hasn’t been entirely cleared because the breaches continue and no one has been brought to justice; as a precaution, Interpol have prevented me or anyone connected to me to create any kind of online infrastructure. I don’t blame them either, my name taking habit sees me taking people’s names without even meaning to sometimes, this is why we’ve had to use friend codes up to now and this is why we’ve had to contract others to make our network for Café.”
At last online details were about to be revealed! Journalists had stopped playing around the Pikmin 3 demo on their controller and paid attention instead to Reggie. “Here at Nintendo we’re proud to announce our online partner as Facebook!” The crowd immediately become uncomfortable and their personal insecurity at having to use the same service as girls doesn’t ease as Reggie goes into details. When you take your Café online, you log into Facebook. Your friends list is already there and you can message friends or barge your way into an online game. Gaming events can be planned ahead of time with Facebook’s event system and clans can form on Facebook groups. Reggie suggests that Nintendo may hold special promotions through the service or invite people to exclusive gaming tournaments with prizes, all through Facebook. “By using Facebook, we already have the mobile infrastructure in place to ensure that even if you are forgetful enough to not have your 3DS or Café Menu on you at all times, you can access it through your smartphone or public internet terminal.” Reggie continues, “there is no escape. But before I tell you more about why you’ll never want to be without your Café Menu, I have another customer to serve…”
“Hello! How may I serve you?”
“I’d like a flat white please, no sugar.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, please make welcome, Will Wright.”
Will Wright, the creator of hit games SimRefinery and Streets of SimCity takes the stage to demo his new game. Bold and visionary, Wright’s untitled game sees players work either competitively or co-operatively to bring about positive outcomes for our environment. Always the Republican though, Wright promises to let players pollute the shit out of the planet too, because “it’s our sacred American prerogative.” Will spends fifteen minutes talking us step by step through negotiating a rainforest preservation treaty with animal smugglers while making snide remarks about having creative freedom now that he’s left EA. Tragically, no mention of the game where he teams up with Mr. T to fight Nazis will be made, resulting in the one guy who remembered it’s existence to cry.
“Your flat white is ready!” Miyamoto calls out. Wright takes it and finds a seat amongst the rabble.
Reggie returns to the centre stage to talk more about Café. Café isn’t just a console to Nintendo. As they see it, the entire consumer technology world is converging, Nintendo used to compete against Sega, now they compete against Google and Apple despite not having any comparable product. Café is a games console, but the controller, or ‘menu’ as Reggie keeps referring to it as, represents a tablet. A tablet that is cheaper, lighter and more portable than any other on the market due to the guts of it being the console itself, strapped to the wall, broadcasting information out to it. Reggie says that Facebook integration is just the start: people will use their menus for reading the news, checking e-mail, and leaving notices for other people in the house. Nintendo envisions tablets becoming the focus of the family home, replacing the uses previous occupied by the pin up board, kitchen bench, newspaper, photo album, coffee table, and any accidentally purchased iPads.
“Reggie can you serve please!” Miyamoto calls out. Reggie returns to the counter facing off stage.
“Hi! Welcome to Mario Café, what can I get you.”
The man offstage replies in japanese.
“And can I have a name?”
“Ladies and gentlemen, please make welcome, Satoshi Tajiri!”
Making his E3 debut, Satoshi Tajiri strides onto the stage in full Pokémon catching costume. What exactly happens next is anyone’s guess. Satoshi breaks into a dance performance, pausing ownly to scream in Japanese and strike dramatic poses. Behind him though, on the screen, amazing footage plays. It’s certainly a Pokémon game, but gone is Pokémon’s high tech, near-future world. In it’s place is untamed wilderness and Pokémon trainers, if you could call them that, setting out on this frontier dressed in clothes reminiscent of 1100’s religious pilgrims. Aerial footage shows what appears to be a settlement slowly growing overtime with the efforts of Pokémon and humans, pushing back the wilderness. It’s theorised that Satoshi could be clarifying features of the game with his bizarre outbursts, but no one will ever be sure.
“Here’s your triple shot soy mocha,” says Miyamoto. Satoshi snatches it and leaps into the nearest empty chair, immediately spilling it all over Eurogamer’s Fred Dutton, who was convinced this action confirmed a Zelda MMO.
Another customer arrives.
“Good morning, good sir! I would like a strong black coffee and a slice of your finest berry pie.”
“Certainly! May I have your name?”
“Ladies and gentlemen, please make welcome, Agent Dale Cooper!”
Looking like as he did in the black lodge dream sequence, Kyle MacLachlan comes out on stage as Agent Dale Cooper. He excitedly talks about what a great town Los Angeles is and how he’s looking forward to meeting Laura Palmer again in 3 years time. As Agent Cooper rambles on, the video screen reveals a new game developed by Access Games and published by Nintendo: an episodic open world adventure game set in the town of Twin Peaks. Hidetaka Suehiro is returning as lead designer on the project with David Lynch on board as a writing consultant.
“Your long black, agent.”
“Hold it!” Agent Cooper stops Miyamoto and carefully takes his first mouthful of coffee. “That is, a damn fine cup’o’joe! Thank you!”
Cooper makes his way to a table and sits down next to some young game journalist, completely oblivious to what all the fuss was just about.
Reggie returns to the stage and begins to talk about the 3DS, but before he can get anywhere, Miyamoto interrupts him, “REGGIE! There’s a masked maniac trying to climb the counter! Help!” Reggie rushes over to subdue to assailant. “Listen! is there anything I can do for you?” Reggie asks sternly but the masked madman only laughs. Frustrated, Reggie rips off the mask offstage. From offstage we hear his voice suddenly change. “Sir! I’m so sorry! I didn’t recognise you what with the mask and-
*BAAAAAMM BAAAMMM BAAAMM BAAAAAMM BAAAMMM BAAAMM*
A siren starts playing and the screen is flashing “IWATA TIME IWATA TIME!”
Iwata rushes onto the stage and immediately bursts out laughing. On screen, various sales figures and piecharts are displayed. Each one causing Iwata to laugh even harder. Some are hard sales data like Mario Kart sales compared to ModNation Racers, others are entirely subjective like ‘average smartphone game quality’. By now, though, Iwata has climbed the Mario Café sign and is swinging on it, still laughing. Reggie decides to wrap up the conference.
“I think we’re going to have to end it here, but there’s still time left and I want to open the floor to questions, but we will only answer the proper questions,” Reggie explains. The floor immediately erupts into shouting. Reggie glares them all down but few journalists have thought to politely raise their hand.
“WHAT ABOUT ZELDA?” One voice cries over the crowd.
“What, about Zelda?” Reggie replies.
“It’s the 25th anniversary!” The journalist says, exasperated.
“Well congratulations then.”
“YESH HAP-HAPPY BIRFDAY!” Iwata yells.
The crowd, stunned and confused by this answer, pauses for thought.
“What’s Café’s name?”
“Can’t you see the sign? Mario’s Café!”
“I mean the new console.”
“Oh we’re currently referring to it internally as Project Café, but if you like you can call it the Super WiiHDsp if you like.”
“Can I?… Can I have a cappuccino?”
Miyamoto makes the journalist a cappuccino.
And that’s where my premonition of Tuesday’s press conference ends. Some details are a bit hazy but I wrote them all down as best I could. Sorry for spoiling it all.