Konami’s Pre-E3 2011 Show: Huh?

FOR YEARS, I always wondered why videogame publishers were content to battle it out with each other for attention during E3. On any given day during the week, the headlines are limited to a small number of games, so if you’ve got a decent title that’s going to get lost in the shuffle (assuming your hands aren’t tied by announcements from other partners), why not get a head start and issue your press release, trailers and previews the week before?

While publishers occasionally do set early embargoes for lesser titles shown off at pre-E3 events, Konami went full-out this year, releasing a prerecorded video presentation similar to what we’ll see next week from Microsoft, EA and others. Aside from the relative lack of competition for headlines, this also allowed Konami to avoid the kind of gaffes that often accompany live demos (like when they tried to show Rock Revolution at E3 2008 but their demo band kept failing the song).

What Konami didn’t avoid, unfortunately, were uninteresting trailers and awkward presentations. While there were some mildly newsworthy announcements, none were earth-shattering, and most of the presentations were marred by odd English translators. Then things seriously went off the deep end, during an extended interview with Hideo Kojima about his latest “lifestyle idea.” Here’s my take on the various games shown, along with links to the Konami presentations if you want to see the bigger car wrecks in action.

Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D. Not much to say about this. It’ll make a nice addition to the 3DS roster, but it’s far from a killer app that will send the 3DS flying off shelves.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2012. Again, this should be a solid title, as the PES games have always provided a solid alternative to EA’s FIFA series. But it’s like, soccer, y’know? More for the international crowd.

NeverDead. This is where things started getting weird. Initially, it looked like a mildly interesting third-person action title where the lead character can’t die, even if he has limbs chopped off. Cute. There’s an original theme song from Megadeth. Then the project lead is wandering through a graveyard, and we get a trailer showing a villain who appears to be some kind of alien hyperchicken in medieval garb. I’m not kidding.

Silent Hill. This covered a number of developments from the franchise, including interviews from the set of the upcoming feature film (“Revelation 3D”), the announcements of Silent Hill 2 and 3 being redone in HD, the new Book of Memories for Sony’s next-gen portable, and a trailer for the next installment in the series, Silent Hill: Downpour.

The Kojima Productions video. This is where everything goes off the rails in spectacular fashion. It starts with an interviewer supposedly accompanying Hideo Kojima into a secret underground development facility, and then, via a completely unfunny Mega 64-produced skit, we’re introduced to the concept of “transfarring,” as well announcements of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (featuring MGS 2, 3 and Peace Walker), the Zone of the Enders HD collection, which will be available on the Xbox 360 as well as the PS3.

Wait, what, you say? “Transfarring?” As Kojima-san explains through the most awkward-sounding translator of all time, it’s his new “lifestyle idea” where you can save a game in progress on a console, continue it on a handheld, and vice versa. It’s an interesting concept for the HD remakes, but wouldn’t seem to applicable to newer titles, such as the next Metal Gear game, about which Kojima-san had nothing to offer other than a brief look at some new engine tech. Really just a bizarre production from start to finish.

The presentation finished with a short teaser of a fiery “C” from the Contra logo, so maybe Konami is holding some bigger news back for E3 after all. But it seems the tradition of goofy presentations is off to a flying start.