A look back at Xbox: The Next Generation Revealed.

The next Xbox has been revealed. It’s called the Xbox One, it’s heavy on fancy media features and Kinect stuff, and maybe plays games too. But let’s go back, shall we? Before the Xbox One, there was the Xbox 360. Eight years and one week ago, Microsoft along with MTV announced the unveiling of the 360 on TV, with Xbox: The Next Generation Revealed. Which later gets changed to Xbox 360 Revealed, but that title isn’t as catchy.

Our host for this evening is Elijah Wood, which you may know from some series of movies about Hobbits. Along with Wood, our co-host is MTV2’s Jim Scherer joining along in the festivities, being the primary interviewer for most of the special.

Before they show off what the new Xbox looks like, they start out with the typical “video game history” video that talks about what’s happened in gaming. It seems every major video game-related TV special has to mention the history of video games, and they always mention Pong as the first video game. Guess that doesn’t ring a bell as much as Spacewar! or the Magnavox Odyssey to the average yutz. I mention this because me and a friend watched Cybermania ’94 a while back, and even though it’s almost 20 years old it’s just as ridiculous as this event, even Cybermania said Pong was the first video game.

Why do we even need this video game history montage? It’s as if it’s pleading to a judge to not give them the death penalty. Yeah, we get it. Video games are a big fucking deal, you don’t need to remind us. Then again, this is on MTV, so they’re pandering to the goofy teen to twenty-something crowd that thinks video games started with the PlayStation 2.

After the system’s reveal, we segue to The Killers performing “Mr. Brightside.” Elijah Wood announces it as “the first time you’ll see The Killers like this!” Which is just the band in a digital music video that transitions to the band performing the same song live on stage. I don’t even know what the producers were going for with this, if you wanted a “digital band that performs on stage,” you should’ve gone for the obvious and went for Gorillaz.

As I watched this performance, it certainly didn’t make me want to listen to The Killers. Then again, neither did “When You Were Young” in Guitar Hero III and Rock Band. They just seem so dull and lifeless as a band. Sorry, Killers fans.

During the event, Wood interviews famous celebrities like Lil Jon, who hopes “to get a free one tonight” (Not for another six months, buddy), Ryan Cabrera, and Tony Hawk, who was shilling Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland, which was one of the system’s launch titles. Speaking of launch titles, it’s time for a montage of games coming out for the new system!

Of course, it’s a montage full of bull shots, low frame rates and target CG renders! Remember the 3D rendered Madden NFL 06 video that EA made to hype that title? If not, reminisce at its fakeness right here! (To be fair, Ubisoft did the same thing with Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. It seems to be common practice in the gaming industry.)

After that brief glimpse of smoke and digital mirrors, rapper Sway interviews the guys from Pimp My Ride. Remember Pimp My Ride? That goofy little show where X-to-the-Z Xzibit would take hoopties and make them fly rides? Well, they decided to pimp an original Xbox with a screen and LCD mods. Because hell, why not?

We then cut to Sway going to Microsoft’s headquarters and showing all the various 360 prototypes before showing off the final build, emphasizing the “ring of light” and the goofy face plates idea. I’m glad they showed the green ring of light, because that ring became the butt of many jokes for several years thanks to the constant hardware failures the 360 had over those first few years. (I refuse to call that the “red ring of death.”)

Afterwards, we see three “pro gamers” – Amy “AthenaPMS” Brady, Matt “Xyos” Leto and Delroy “D-Mega” Palmer – go to England and see Rare show off their hot new game… Perfect Dark Zero. Three questions arise: Did these guys even know of Perfect Dark before going to this? Why Perfect Dark Zero and not something people actually gave a shit about, like Halo 3? Finally, do these three people still play games professionally? I wouldn’t be surprised if D-Mega abandoned his pro gaming career to become a lawyer or something.

After that brief glimpse of Rare, which included Xyos talking about polygons and destructible environments and D-Mega putting on a mocap suit; we play a tournament of Perfect Dark Zero. They play a bog standard Team Deathmatch game. One team consisted of AthenaPMS, D-Mega, R&B singer Omarion, and Joseph Hahn of Linkin Park. The other has Xyos, Amber Dalton (a pro gamer, but her gamertag is not mentioned on air), Japanese hip hop star Uzi, and Wilmer Valderrama, that guy who played Fez on That ’70s Show.

Naturally since the producers think the average MTV viewer has the attention span of a gnat, the “tournament” is filled with various quick cuts of celebrities, Jim Scherer chatting with all the players, and maybe a total of 20 seconds of Perfect Dark Zero footage. The game ends with AthenaPMS’s team winning the first (and only) Perfect Dark Zero tournament by one frag.

Elijah Wood ends the show by saying the 360 is gonna be amazing and hopes to see everyone in the “Xbox Live Universe.” Afterwards, The Killers performs “Smile Like You Mean It” over the credits, and the credits roll.

I remember watching this live back in 2005. This was back when my Nintendo loyalty had unraveled, when I started getting back into PC gaming, and began being more platform-agnostic when it came to video games. This got me mildly interested in the 360, but I didn’t get it until three years later as a Christmas gift. Clearly this special was not made for me, or the average video gaming audience. This was Microsoft and MTV pandering to the average dude who doesn’t follow video games religiously, and I can applaud them despite how goofy it all looks in retrospect. It sure beats mocking the dull E3 conferences every year, that’s for certain. No, Giant Enemy Crabs are not funny anymore, stop saying it.


B.J. Brown

B.J. Brown is the creator and sole writer on You Found a Secret Area. Casually writing since 2010, Fascinated by dumb things like game shows, music, and of course, video games. Also on Twitter. You can support their work on Ko-Fi or Patreon.

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