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Gaming: Twitter’s ‘breathtaking’ E3 winners; Monopoly gets a smarter banker; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Zelda and Link in Breath of the Wild Sequel from Nintendo

Everyone loves to spend their post-E3 days engaged in a fun internet debate over which game, company, or just plain offbeat moment “won” the world’s biggest gaming expo. But if you’re Twitter, you don’t have to debate which E3 highlights got the most buzz — you can just count up the retweets.

Using that standard, it’s pretty clear which E3 moments dominated social media as this year’s expo unfolded. Zelda, Keanu, and Final Fantasy VII — in that order — reportedly ruled over all the rest.

Nintendo’s late-E3 press conference, capped by the surprise reveal that a follow-up is on the way for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, was “the biggest moment of the event,” according to data Twitter shared with The Hollywood Reporter. Stacked at the end of a Nintendo presentation that also featured a remake announcement for Link’s Awakening and new gameplay for Luigi’s Mansion 3, Nintendo reportedly managed to elicit more tweets (is that a Rito term?) than any other game publisher at the conference.

That’s a pretty breathtaking feat, considering how amped social media was over Keanu Reeves’ surprise showing at Microsoft’s earlier event, where he debuted his new character for Cyberpunk 2077 in an instantly meme-able moment that reverberated for days even beyond the web’s gaming circles.

Reeves’ impromptu “You’re breathtaking!” response to a fan shout-out from the audience not only came in as the second-most-tweeted highlight from all of E3; it’s even inspired a new fan petition begging developer CD Projekt RED to whip up a “You’re Breathtaking” achievement for anyone who achieves 100 completion for the futuristic RPG.

Rounding out Twitter’s top three from E3 was Square Enix, which rolled out a ton of new Final Fantasy VII Remake info after months of near silence, about how it’s approaching its rework of one of the most beloved role-playing games of all time. In fact, if you strip away all the background buzz, no game — not even Zelda — got as many tweets as Cloud and Barret’s FF VII re-reveal. Square Enix’s upcoming return trip to Midgar reportedly led a top five most-tweeted games list, followed (in order) by Cyberpunk 2077, the BOTW sequel, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Marvel’s Avengers.

Except for Link’s spooky-looking new Breath of the Wild game (which doesn’t have a release date yet), all of the games in the top five will release sometime next spring — undoubtedly giving this year’s E3 watchers something to chirp about all over again.

Who says you have to take your Monopoly rage out on your fellow players? In a move that drags one of board gaming’s ageless classics into the era of ‘bot-mediated AI, Hasbro is introducing the Monopoly Voice Banking edition, which saddles a new voice-activated smart assistant with the thankless task of telling you that all your cash is gone.

Monopoly Voice Banking edition

Shaped like a top hat (what else?) and designed to sit dead center on your Monopoly board, Hasbro’s new ‘bot banker has a limited hatful of voice-activated rabbit tricks — though it’s not capable of Siri levels of responsiveness, according to Gizmodo. While your friendly neighborhood bank teller can’t distinguish which aspiring tycoon in your group is doing the talking, it reportedly can track each player’s funds and respond to game-specific voice commands like “Buy Boardwalk.”

After that, the magic hat sidesteps the honor system entirely, counting out your money and keeping a real-time tally of all your disastrous financial moves. So if cheating is one of your time-honored Monopoly traditions, you’ll definitely want to stay out of jail for this edition and just stick with the old board. At least the new tech-savvy AI version doesn’t try to gouge you on price, though: It’s expected to cost around $30 when the Monopoly Voice Banking edition passes Go starting July 1.

Finally, the increasingly crowded retro gaming market is getting a new and pretty killer-looking entrant in the often-overlooked realm of portable handhelds. U.K.-based Evercade has nailed down licensing deals with Atari, Namco, and more classic game makers to breathe life into its new battery-powered handheld — and judging from the looks of this thing, we’ve gotta say — it may just hit the sweet spot when it’s time to take a casual stroll down memory lane:

The Evercade Retro Gaming Console

Especially fitting is the way you’ll be firing up your old-school dinner date with BurgerTime, Pac-Man, and more: You whip out a game cartridge and plug it right into the device, just like you (or your parents) remember from the 1980s. Game cartridges will go for around $20 apiece, and come free and clear for use from the rightsholders over the original titles — a nice bit of peace of mind for anyone who’s got ethical and legal worries when it comes to getting these games out in the ROM website wild.

Capable of connecting with your HDMI TV or displaying the action on the onboard 4.3-inch screen, and equipped to handle a growing library of both 8- and 16-bit throwback titles, the Evercade Retro Gaming Console is slated to blast out of the past sometime late this year.