LOS ANGELES -- When we left E3 after Day 1, Sony had just finished giving Microsoft an atomic wedgie. As the official first day of the show commenced, the opening news conferences -- and Sony's clear victory -- were all people were talking about.
Amid all the hubbub the big two created Monday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, both Electronic Arts and Ubisoft also held their news conferences. And, as with the console makers, the emphasis was clearly on next-generation games.
Electronic Arts, one of the largest software publishers in the world, seemed excited to be entering the next-gen arena, unveiling what I consider to be some of the most exciting titles at the show.
Debuting at Microsoft's event was "TitanFall" from developer Respawn, which was founded by the ousted founders of Activision-owned Infinity Ward. Anyone who has played the "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" series will be familiar with their work.
Given the bad blood between Respawn and Activision, it made perfect sense for the company's first project to go to Electronic Arts.
"TitanFall" is a first-person shooter featuring both infantry combat and giant mechanized suits (mechs) into which said infantry can crawl to rain down serious destruction.
The graphics are gorgeous and the gameplay looks smooth and fluid, even when moving in and out of the mechs. If the Respawn team still has some of that "Modern Warfare" magic left in them, this Xbox One exclusive could be a real system seller.
EA also showed a spinoff of its multimillion-selling "Plants vs. Zombies" franchise. "Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare" gives the cartoon-like combatants a new style of gameplay -- that of a third-person shooter.
Players can choose to play through a hectic co-op campaign on the side of the plants, with four players each assuming a different type of flora fighter. Sunflower, cactus, pea-shooter or chomper (picture a Venus flytrap with an attitude) each has its own abilities and role to play in the big battle.
Those choosing to play on the zombie side won't be disappointed either, as the game will support 64-player online matches.
The series signature humor remains intact, making this a bloodless shooter for fans of all ages.
Look for both "TitanFall" and "Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare" in spring 2014.
EA also displayed a number of previously announced titles, including "Dragon's Age: Inquisition," now coming for next-gen systems, as well as "Need for Speed: Rivals" coming this year to both current and next-gen systems.
From EA Sports, fans received a glimpse of "Madden 25," "FIFA 14," "NBA Live 14" and "UFC." All except "UFC" will release this year on both current and next-gen systems. "UFC" will release in spring 2014.
Finally, if the promise of "Star Wars: Battlefront" weren't enough, EA teased one more long-demanded game: "Mirror's Edge 2."
A spectacular-looking action/adventure game for next-gen systems, the only release information was "when it's ready."
Add in the much-talked about "Battlefield 4," and EA has plenty of games coming for any taste.
Ubisoft's news conference also was filled with next-gen love and a few surprises.
Much of the information concerned games we already knew about. "Assassin's Creed IV," coming out in October, continues to shape up nicely, making me wonder why someone didn't combine assassins and pirates a long time ago.
Also looking good are "Rayman: Legends" and "South Park: The Stick of Truth." Though intended for wildly different audiences, both games show there is plenty of life left in our current, beloved consoles.
With "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist (August) and "Watch_Dogs" (November) and this year's installment of the "Just Dance" franchise, the company already had an extremely strong lineup.
But there was more.
Ubisoft also announced its intention to enter the racing game again. Past attempts were lower-budget titles that never managed to impress, but "The Crew" could be different.
Similar in look and feel to arcade-style racers such as "Burnout" and "Need for Speed," "The Crew" aims to take the action further by creating a massively multiplayer-persistent world.
MMO racing has been tried before ("Trackmaina," "Need for Speed World" and others) but not been successful. Perhaps the time has finally come.
The other big announcement, "Tom Clancy's The Division," comes in place of a game I was expecting to see, the previously announced "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Patriots."
It would appear the beleaguered "Patriots" project has finally died and been replaced by a combination tactical shooter/action role-playing game that crosses multiple boundaries. It is the first Clancy game to venture into the RPG space and the first to flirt with a massive number of online players.
Plus, it looks really pretty running on next-gen hardware.
"Tom Clancy's The Division" won't even be out until 2014, so eager fans will be awaiting every update. Let's just hope it doesn't disappear like "Patriots."
After an exhausting round of pre-show news conferences, I stumbled into Nintendo's "Software Showcase" Tuesday morning hoping for some of Shigeru Miyamoto's magic to keep me going.
And while the presentation itself was nothing short of abysmal, the games actually looked good.
Nintendo has always played by its own rules. While Sony and Microsoft are introducing expensive hardware offering major technical advances, Nintendo is concentrating on providing great games for its Wii U console and Nintendo 3DS handheld.
There were no announcements involving the 3DS, but Nintendo showed off four previously announced games, all destined for greatness.
"Mario & Luigi: Dream Team" comes first, on Aug. 11. This continuation of the Mario RPG series, "Dream Team" features action both in the Mushroom Kingdom and inside Luigi's dreams. A wild and wacky time will be had by all.
Pokemon fans will appreciate the first 3D games featuring everyone's favorite Pocket Monsters, "Pokemon X" and "Pokemon Y." In addition to the upgraded graphics and new species of Pokemon, Nintendo promises the games will feature a new interaction system that allows "a deeper connection" with the creatures.
Coming this holiday season: two popular series with two of Nintendo's legendary characters, "Yoshi's New Island" and "The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds."
The "Zelda" game in particular should interest old-school Nintendo fans, as it is a direct sequel to "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past." Considered by many to be the greatest of all Link's adventures, this followup looks spectacular in its own right.
The real action, however, was on the Wii U side. It's no secret that Nintendo's new system has struggled mightily since its introduction last November. Both sales and support have been tepid, to say the least.
Even Electronic Arts has pulled back some of its sports franchises: At this time, "FIFA 14" is not scheduled for release on Wii U, even though it is still receiving a PS2 version.
Therefore, it was nice to see some good third-party support for Wii U through the end of 2013, including "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag," "Batman: Arkham Origins," "Disney Infinity," "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist," "Watch_Dogs" and the Wii U-exclusive 3D Sonic the Hedghog title, "Sonic Lost World."
But, as Nintendo fans are well aware, the real love comes from Nintendo's first-party studios, and these are set to release a steady stream of games that should keep even the most active gamers busy.
The fun starts in August with "Pikmin 3." Miyamoto's real-time strategy title features a more flexible game path for gamers of all skill levels. No longer do you have to beat the game in 30 days of game time. Now, you can take up to 100 days to get through the many tricky puzzles and tasks.
There are new Pikmin types to command, and with three commanders working at any one time, it offers many, many more possibilities for multitasking.
Add in the beautiful graphics and new gameplay possibilities offered by the second screen on the GamePad, and "Pikmin 3" should effectively end the drought Wii U owners have been suffering since Christmas.
In September comes last year's big E3 hit, "The Wonderful 101," with its twisted take on superheroes and space aliens. From the warped minds at Platinum Games, "The Wonderful 101" should appeal to hardcore gamers who complain about how mainstream most Nintendo games are.
Some will complain that the game coming in October is nothing more than a remake, but "The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD" gives gamers an opportunity to try an often-maligned installment of the legendary series. Wii U owners out there should take a chance and find out how good the "cartoony Zelda game" really is.
For the holidays, the house that Mario built cooked up two new titles, "Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze" and "Super Mario 3D World."
"Tropical Freeze" represents the first completely original "Donkey Kong Country" installment in years. From developer Retro Studios, this gorgeous side-scrolling platform game features the return of underwater sequences, as well as a new camera system that flips around with the action. Due in November, this adventure will please the whole family.
"Super Mario 3D World" combines, for the first time, the amazing gameplay of "Super Mario Galaxy" with the four-player action of "New Super Mario Bros." Play as Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach or Toad, either competitively or cooperatively through a huge new world within the Mushroom Kingdom.
New clear warp pipes allow for some nicely different puzzles, and the new cat suit gives players cat-like abilities such as climbing and scratching. Although there is something very wrong about thinking of Princess Peach in a cat suit, this game will still be appropriate for all ages. Look for it when it caps off Wii U's year in December.
Nintendo didn't stop there. Coming in 2014, fans get their first glimpses of "Mario Kart 8," which features racing without the constraints of gravity; "Bayonetta 2," another whacked-out action title from Platinum Games; "Super Smash Bros. for Wii U," perhaps the most requested title from Nintendo's many franchises (this one includes a guest appearance from Capcom's Mega Man as well as some other surprises; also look for the 3DS version releasing at the same time), and a new but unnamed open-world adventure/RPG coming from the team behind "Xenoblade Chronicles," Monolith Software.
As long as Nintendo can keep quality software flowing at this rate, it should have no problem moving Wii U consoles off of store shelves.