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The Most Surreal Moments From Video Game Events

Some of the coolest and most interesting moments can be found in the video game space. Many game titles are well-conceived pieces of fiction that contain engaging dialogue, and highly organized sequences. The same can't be said for video game events. Consoles that house landmark titles are subject to bizarre reveals. Meanwhile, certain conferences with worthwhile announcements will be hosted by random personalities.

These presentations and showings come off as tone deaf and mismanaged affairs that give companies a bad reputation. This can come in the form of joke-filled demonstrations and strange drawn-out magic shows — it's almost as if industry leaders sometimes forget that fans just want to see the games!

E3, Blizzcon, and The Game Awards are just a few times when fans clamor in anticipation for the next new thing. Most notably are Zelda announcements during a Nintendo Direct. But at times, these events can instead have surreal segments that couldn't have been predicted. What exacerbates the embarrassment is the internet itself. Gaming events have been and still are live-streamed and recorded for everyone to see. Because of this, they have the ability to hurt a company or project for years to come. 

Such is the case with these very odd and sometimes traumatic bits in gaming history.

Skyward Sword's Problematic Motion Controls

It's no secret that the Wii's greatest gimmick was its motion controls. Even non-gamers, like the occasional grandparents, were cognizant of the innovation with hard hitters such as "Wii Sports." Nevertheless, the control scheme was difficult to perfect with some games, as was the case with Nintendo's "Skyward Sword," among other problems. And if it's any game a presenter doesn't want failing onstage, its "Skyward Sword," with its required Wiimote and Nunchuk controllers.

Both Nintendo legend, Shigeru Miyamoto, and translator, Bill Trinen appeared at E3 2010 to showcase "Skyward Sword." Hot on the tail of "Twilight Princess," "Skyward Sword" was Nintendo's continuation of "Zelda" on the Wii. Let's just say things didn't go to plan. Many mechanics in "Skyward Sword" were based in the players movements. Archery, sword swings, and items all incorporated motion, so it's crucial to show off the mechanic in working condition.

Nintendo had a rough go of things, though, as Miyamoto struggled to catch objects with the Link's Beetle item. Similarly, the drifting bow and arrow was largely inactive. Lastly, mistimed sword thrusts were aplenty, making combat look like a drag. 

It's painful to watch to say the least. Miyamoto and Trinen were dumbfounded and even exclaimed "Is somebody out there using wireless?" The snippet is very reminiscent of Steve Jobs hilariously requesting audience members to turn off Wi-Fi on their devices. Luckily, Nintendo was able to recuperate from the mess with the finished game's polished controls. Years later, many gamers still saw the motion controls as a problem in need of fixing.

Jamie Kennedy Hosts Activision E3

Nobody was ready for Activision's 2007 E3, which actor/comedian Jamie Kennedy hosted. To many reviewers and journalists, seeing one of the faces of MTV presenting video games didn't exactly make sense. But who knows? Maybe it could work! The exact opposite rung true. Kennedy couldn't find any footing during the conference, with a whole slew of problems arising throughout.

For starters, Jamie looked confused in the beginning as he asked questions to the staff and gave confused remarks. Further, Kennedy implanted some jokes at the expense of developers and their projects. The quips weren't received favorably by audiences, who only gave light laughs and groans. Finally, Kennedy had run ins with Tony Hawk, as well as a game developer. Surprisingly, an audience member shouted that the developer was "funnier" than Kennedy. The entire event was inexplicable.

At long last, however, Jamie Kennedy published a video on his YouTube channel in 2021, explaining what happened at the Activision gig. He clarified that his confusion and stumbling was due to filming back-to-back commercials for Activision beforehand. On the joke side of things, Activision initially just wanted Kennedy introduce people and move the show along. It was Kennedy's idea to throw in some jabs in the middle. Funnily enough, Kennedy had some statements to make about the audience heckling, too.

Kennedy explained that he was not allowed to talk back at hecklers. Kennedy's inclusion in the event is still mystifying, but it certainly made Activision's 2007 E3 more entertaining.

Trying to Translate Suda51

Suda51 appeared at the Nintendo Switch Event, a conference that elaborated on the console and its games prior to launch, to announce that "No More Heroes" would be coming to the platform. In the presentation, people saw that Suda is as animated as the projects he creates. Nintendo was ready to bounce back from one of the biggest console flops, the Wii U. In striving to do so, the company attempted to deliver a straightforward and professional presentation for the Switch. That is, until Suda 51 showed up.

Throwing up rock and roll hand signs and screaming "YEAH!" is quite an opener. Suda exuded confidence and captivated the room, but the same couldn't be said for the poor translator. Long awkward silences, and constant stuttering permeated the stream. It was such a mess that outlets reported more accurate translations of Suda's speech. 

At first viewing, it seems that the translator was inept in his abilities. The truth couldn't be more different, though, with the reveal of Suda being mostly to blame. In an interview with Dualshockers, Suda elaborated on the predicament, stating that he only "stuck to about 80% of the script!" Thus, the translator wasn't prepared for his improvisation. Suda felt bad about the whole ordeal and stated how he wanted to make it up to the translator with dinner.

Typically, game showings are very structured, but when working with Suda, it's a coin toss. There is a happy ending, as it seems everything worked out with the "No More Heroes" creator claiming that "Nintendo praised" him for the presentation.

Konami's Unforgettable Show

Viewer discretion is advised with this one. No really, it's bad. Konami has gradually become the enemy of gamers across the globe due to its notorious shady side. With its complete failure of "Metal Gear Survive," the company remains in a state of limbo. Looking back on it now, the community should have seen it coming, as is apparent when reflecting on its 2010 E3 show.

Now, nothing against "Glee Karaoke," but having it be the opener for a company that owns "Metal Gear" and "Castlevania" is pretty bold. In a quick turn of events, "Glee's" opening crashed. A video program error popped up while the Daft Punk sample for "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" played awkwardly. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Cut to the producer for "Ninety-Nine Nights" who tried desperately to interact with the audience. Crowd responses and reactions ended up being nonexistent. It probably didn't help when Konami, at the start of the show, told the crowd to be mindful of any noise they make since it will end up on the internet. What? 

There is so much to unpack with this trainwreck. Oddly placed luchadores, weird physical comedy, death stares, and unusual political comments all occurred in this rollercoaster of a performance. It's something that needs to be seen to be believed, because there aren't many companies that could put on a show like Konami did back in 2010. This presentation is the epitome of surreal. 

Backlash aside, Konami Fans are still hopeful for the 2022 Tokyo Game Show.

Ubisoft Gets Caffeinated

Jamie Kennedy is just one instance where the host was a make or break factor for game events. Kennedy was a lethargic figure at E3 who found trouble keeping the energy in the room. Enter Mr. Caffeine: an excited host who proved to be the opposite of Kennedy. 

Mr. Caffeine, or rather Aaron Priceman, was perhaps a bit too energetic, as he strutted around stage. In an early part of the show, Mr. Caffeine presented PowerPoint slides to depict how gaming changed over the years. It was a strange change of pace that mimicked something like a Ted Talk. The eerie transitional jokes he incorporated didn't help.

The famed "Doodly Doodly Doop" sound was Mr. Caffeine's attempt at going back in time. A dated referential joke to "Wayne's World" couldn't save the already plummeting show. It's most evident when Priceman asks the audience to do the action with him, which many rejected. Attendants just weren't having it, but then again who could meet the same vibes as Mr. Caffeine himself?

Other notable moments included Priceman's pronunciation of "Tom Clancy" as "Tom Cuh-lancy." Alongside this was the strange remark of "Poop on your toothpaste" as well as some innuendo jokes that didn't fit the bill. Somehow, Mr. Caffeine was able to make Ubisoft's E3 weirder and weirder as things went along.

Though a very different personality than Jamie Kennedy, Mr. Caffeine is just as memorable. Suffice it to say he did not return to host another Ubisoft show.

Jesse Wellens Can't Catch a Break

Known primarily for his YouTube content, Jesse Wellens was asked to assist EA during its demonstration of "Need for Speed." It was a by the books segment that immediately drove off course, and viewers were quick to see that something was wrong. An awkward turn in transitions to Jesse tripping over every word and even going completely silent at times. Just another ordinary day at E3.

Setting aside the announcement itself for a moment, Pewdiepie noted the mismatched collaboration in his overview video. He praised how EA brings in influencers to help promotion but asked "isn't Jesse a prank channel?" Pewdiepie went on to find out that Polygon echoed the sentiment by saying that misunderstood talent can lead to awkward interactions.

In response to internet reactions, Jesse cleared the air with his video titled "I Really Messed Up..." He revealed problem number 1: he didn't read the script the night before. After finally going through the script just before rehearsal, Jesse then stated how it was different than what was on the teleprompter – a sign of worse things to come at the live show.

Jesse then explained how everything went wrong at the actual showing. He was told there would be another trailer and speaker before him, but these were suddenly skipped. Unfortunately the madness continued with a wrong teleprompter. Jesse just couldn't catch a break here.

Nintendo Breaks Out in Song

Since the Wii utilized motion controls, Nintendo and other developers had a go at creating inventive experiences. Bowling and tennis were early interpretations of the control scheme, and it was only a matter of time before instruments were replicated on the console. Nintendo decided the best time to unveil its revolutionary take on music was at E3 2008.

Usually, attendees and online viewers participate in E3 in hopes of a brand new "Mario" or "Zelda" title. However, in 2008 they were treated to something else. "Wii Music" was an attempt at giving players a chance to try out musical instruments with zero barriers to entry. It was hot on the heels of the acclaimed "Wii Sports" and the enjoyable "Wii Play."

Shigeru Miyamoto helped the other presenters break out in song, each participant representing a different instrument that could be seen on screen with respective Mii characters. The performance left more to be desired, since it was just a meager rendition of the "Super Mario Bros." theme. The "music" was the only thing heard as audiences remained silent throughout.

Nintendo's 2008 E3 was a bummer all around. Scott the Woz concluded that having "Wii Music" be the closer "sealed the deal" for a lackluster presentation. It's definitely not as bad as other industry events, but it did leave a bad taste in the mouth. Sorry to those expecting Nintendo's next big game.

Bill Gates Gets Some Help from The Rock

At the time, The Rock was a pretty big deal, even if he wasn't the action movie star he is today. His WWF days were still infamous and it showed, since he was asked to help unveil Microsoft's first Xbox. There aren't any cringe-inducing parts or weird mishaps in the presentation. It's just Bill Gates and The Rock in an unpredictable crossover.

During Gates' overview of the console, The Rock suddenly appeared. The two did a quick rundown of each other's accomplishments, making the collaboration even more insane. The Rock then spoke in third-person, comparing the black box to himself. It all worked, with the crowd cracking up after every word. He then said his legendary "Can you smell what The Rock is cooking" quote and left.

After seeing so many celebrity gaming disasters, it's still surprising how Microsoft's trick worked. If companies are to continue the trend of celebrity participation, then they should probably take a look back at Microsoft's presentation. The Rock came in the middle of the reveal, cracked some jokes, kept the energy up, then left. It was short and sweet. Nothing ever dragged; there were no technical difficulties or awkward silences, and it was apparent that rehearsal and preparations were made.

Randy Pitchford Has a Trick Up His Sleeve

Gearbox and 2K Games developed a winner in the "Borderlands" franchise. "Borderlands 2" was a juggernaut of a game and the ball kept rolling with "The Pre-Sequel." As a result, excitement for "Borderlands 3" was at an all time in high in 2019 during PAX West. So why did Gearbox decide to throw in a magic show beforehand?

After showing off a neat board game based off the franchise, Gearbox Software CEO Randy Pitchford decided to spice things up. Cut to one of the longest card tricks on camera. Using a "Borderlands" deck of cards, Pitchford went through a nearly 15 minute routine before at last showing off some of "Borderlands 3."

A magic trick is bad enough, but when someone is intentionally drawing it out, there's a problem. The trick included counting the cards multiple times, and unwrapping a whole new deck from the box — not to mention walking back and forth between two different participants. Jokes were forced in between the trick to make matters worse.

The magic show one of the most tone-deaf and ill-conceived additions to a show in recent memory. What should also be highlighted are the real heroes: the attendees. Despite the delay for a highly anticipated game, the audience was pleasant during Pitchford's zany attempt to entertain. The real magic was that "Borderlands 3" was actually shown after this disaster.

Battle Tag Doesn't Impress

While Joel McHale (of "Community" fame) was hosting E3 for Ubisoft, the show took an unprecedented turn. A gaming conference transitioned into a laser tag demo. Participants ran around the room shooting at each other, with some hopping on obstacles and dodging imaginary blasts. The audience was bewildered and sat with blank stares while developers and models "played" this brand new "game."

After, McHale spoke with exhausted developer Gael Seydoux about the game, titled "Battle Tag." It was a spin on laser tag that would simulate ammo reloading and competitive play. Seydoux and Mchale then had a little 1v1 action, with McHale being the victor. 

The "Battle Tag" sequence is completely forgettable. The only real saving grace is McHale, who channeled his persona from "Community." He delivered sarcastic reactions to the "Battle Tag" game with uninterested "woahs" and "wows." 

He also delivered some zings at the developer. Seydoux apologized to the female competitors for winning, to which McHale replied with "Way to go, you beat models." His other remarks helped downplay the game and were statements that everyone else was likely thinking.

Since then, "Battle Tag" was given a test release in the U.S. and Canada. There's been no news since. Seems Ubisoft learned that laser tag doesn't exactly fit the mold of a gaming press conference.

Elon Musk Meets Todd Howard

If people thought The Rock and Bill Gates was a weird combination, then they hadn't seen anything yet. For some unknown reason, The Game Awards organizer Geoff Keighley set up a discussion between Bethesda's Todd Howard and Tesla billionaire, Elon Musk. This occurred at the E3 Coliseum in 2019 and it's still confusing as to how it came about.

When announced, publications like Kotaku reported on it. They went as far as to predict "Skyrim" would appear on Tesla since it was on every other device. They weren't too far from the mark, as Howard and Musk announced that "Fallout Shelter" would soon make its way on Tesla.

The conversation itself contained general topics, such as innovation and failure. Before it ended, a fan Q&A was held for the two individuals. One person asked what each thought was their greatest failure. Howard didn't have an immediate answer, but Musk quickly said he regretted blowing up three rockets.

Odd how Howard didn't have an immediate answer considering the recent Bethesda bomb. The elephant in the room was "Fallout 76" and what a dismal project it was, so that not being Howard's biggest failure was a bit comical. Regardless, the talk was an amicable time, albeit a crossover that nobody was really asking for.

$299

Console wars are still present today, with Nintendo, Xbox, and PlayStation, but years before, Sega and PlayStation were feuding. Sega was on a high with the Genesis and all hands were on deck with the coming Sega Saturn. At its Keynote, Sega abruptly decided to announce that Saturn consoles were available that day in stores with a price tag between $399 and $449 (per Polygon).

Polygon went into detail about Sega's push for the Saturn, describing all the downsides to the reveal. Consumers would still be saving for the console, a steep price tag was discouraging, and console shipments and stock would be difficult for retailers. All of these problems were important, but PlayStation was the final hit.

During its 1995 Keynote address, the company stated that there would be a brief presentation discussing the new PlayStation. A single executive walked up to the podium, shuffled his papers, leaned into the mic and said, "$299." The crowd gasped as the executive walked off nonchalantly. This was unprecedented for the industry and defined that console generation.

Since then, PlayStation has repeated the tactic. Microsoft unveiled the Xbox One with a listed price of $499. PlayStation then showed off its PS4 and told audiences that it would be $399, to which cheers and roars were heard everywhere. The $299 speech is a defining moment for video games that has left an impact on the current landscape.