From the May 29, 1995 issue of Smart

E3 Show Report

By David English

With more than 40,000 attending, the May 11-13 Electronic Entertainment Expo was the second-largest first-time trade show ever and the largest trade show ever held in Los Angeles. Almost every major software company that bought space at last year's Summer CES had a similar or larger space at E3. Even Electronic Arts, which has passed on both Summer and Winter CES for the past two years, was back in full force at E3.

But while the overall attendance figures were excellent—especially for a show dedicated almost exclusively to software—many vendors were disappointed that the number of attending retailers wasn't higher. One distributor commented that he was able to meet with the 10 major retailers that he needed to see, but hadn't seen many of the Mom-and-Pop retailers at the show.

Hooray for Hollywood
For the retailers who did attend, E3 offered new proof that computer software has become a full partner in the entertainment industry. Following up its popular Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive Technical Manual, Simon & Schuster Interactive provided several Klingons in full makeup to demonstrate the finer points of Klingon culture, which are available in both Star Trek Klingon (formerly titled Klingon Immersion Studies) and Star Trek Omnipedia (formerly titled Star Trek Interactive Encyclopedia). Knowledge Adventure privately showed Steven Spielberg's Moviemaker, which lets you direct Spielberg's "next movie," and Pyramid, which uses state-of-the-art visual effects from Dream Quest Images, one of Hollywood's leading effects houses.

Though he rarely speaks in public, George Lucas appeared with LucasArts Entertainment to introduce the company's first children's title, Mortimer and the Riddles of the Medallion. William Shatner drew a crowd that blocked the isles as he unveiled a new CD-ROM game based on his "TekWar" television series. Claudia Christian, from the television series "Babylon 5," was on hand to promote Crystal Dynamics new space adventure, Solar Eclipse. Access Software announced that its latest Tex Murphy adventure, called The Pandora Device, will star Barry Corbin, John Agar, Kevin McCarthy, and Tonya Roberts. Even John Wayne Bobbitt could be found in E3's adult entertainment section, reportedly revealing his scar to those that were interested.

Games People Play
To no one's surprise, much of the floor space at E3 was devoted to computer games. Microsoft revealed it will include a DOOM-like arcade game, called Hoover, with the CD-ROM version of Windows 95. According to Josh Davidson, a product manager with Microsoft's Entertainment Product Unit, many of the people who are buying multimedia PCs have no idea what a good arcade game looks and sounds like. Fortunately, Hoover looks and sounds very good and should help establish Windows 95 as a viable game platform. Microsoft also introduced Fury3, a fast-paced Windows 95 arcade game that uses state-of-the-art 3-D graphics and shadowing, and EasyBall, a colorful and oversized trackball for kids. It includes Microsoft Explorapedia: The World of Nature and has an estimated street price of $54.95.

Time Warner Interactive showed Primal Rage, which will be released on 11 different home computer and gaming platforms. It's based on the hit arcade game of the same name. According to Mark Beaumont, senior vice president for marketing and product development, TWI will support the launch with extensive TV and print advertising, as well as special events and online activities. Accolade offered a sneak peak at Star Control III, which will feature 24 different animated aliens created by Hollywood special effects artists. The game is scheduled for release in October, but will be preceded by a shareware sampler version in August. And Activision previewed its fast-scrolling Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, which should ship simultaneously with Windows 95.

Virgin Interactive Entertainment confirmed that its long-awaited title, The 11th Hour: The Sequel to The 7th Guest, won't be shipping until the third quarter. According to Virgin, it will offer full screen, full motion video without additional hardware. Virgin also showed Heart of Darkness in a private meeting room—away from the eyes and ears of curious competitors. It features natural-looking rendered backgrounds and a musical score from the film composer who scored "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid."

Electronic Arts and Colossal Pictures have teamed up to create Psychic Detective, an innovative comedy/thriller that lets users interact with the live footage at any point in the story. Inscape previewed The Resident's Bad Day on the Midway, which is the follow-up to the award-winning The Residents' Freak Show. Bad Day is being distributed by WEA Visual Entertainment, so this time, The Residents stand a good chance of having a commercial—as well as a critical—success. And Viacom showed Zoop, a simple but addicting game that should appeal to many of the same people that enjoy Tetris.

Live and Learn
Even though E3 was primarily an entertainment show, there were hundreds of education titles scattered throughout the three halls. DK Multimedia proved once again that it publishes only the highest-quality titles, when it previewed AMA Family Medical Guide, Eyewitness Virtual Reality: Bird, Eyewitness Virtual Reality: Cat, and Anne Hooper's Ultimate Sex Disc. The titles in The Eyewitness Virtual Reality series will function like floors in a museum that are connected by an common elevator.

Sanctuary Woods demonstrated Math Ace Grand Prix and Word City Grand Prix, which let kids hone their math and read skills in a race car driving environment. The company also previewed its newest wildlife simulation title, called Lion, which is the sequel to Wolf. Humongous Entertainment showed the latest installment in the Putt-Putt series of children's titles. This one is called Putt-Putt Saves the Zoo, and it features some of the liveliest computer animation around.

Living Books demonstrated Dr. Seuss's ABC, the first Dr. Seuss title for home computers. It should be a big winner at retail—especially in book stores. Houghton Mifflin Interactive's Create Your Own Adventures With Curious George is also impressive and should do very well if parents are able to see it demonstrated. Similarly, Mindscape's Beatrix Potter brings to life the classic children's book, "The Adventures of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny," with several innovative techniques. And MECC previewed Africa Trail, a multimedia simulation of an actual bicycle trek across Africa.

For CD-ROM bargain hunters, Essex Interactive Media announced it will release its new ESX Super 10 Pack with an SRP of $39.95 and an expected street price of $29.95. It includes children's, reference, utility (MPC Wizard), financial (Simply Money), and comedy (Dennis Miller's That's Geek to Me) titles.

Finally, Prodigy showed its new software program that gives its members the ability to create and maintain their own home pages on the World Wide Web—with no additional online charges. According to Ed Bennett, Prodigy's president, "Prodigy's Home Page Creator doesn't just give people access to the Web; it makes them part of it."

Clash of the Titans
This year, E3 and CES Interactive were about to go head to head on the same weekend, until the EIA canceled CES Interactive. Next year, the two trade shows are set to clash again—though they won't be the same week, and they'll be positioned differently.

The EIA has recast CES Interactive as CES Orlando: The Digital Destination. It will be in Orlando from May 23 through May 25 and will include software, hardware, and services. According to the EIA, the show will focus on "retailing of the new digital consumer products" and is expected to become "the central forum for retailers." It will include interactive television; online services; multimedia; cable; satellite; home office hardware and software; home automation products; digital video and audio hardware; and communications hardware, software, and services.

Just a week later, E3 will return to the Los Angeles Convention Center from May 30 through June 1. Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Electronic Arts, Viacom New Media, Disney Interactive, Virgin Interactive, and Mindscape are among the companies that have already agreed to exhibit at the show. Once again, the emphasis will be on entertainment and edutainment software.

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