Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, the video game industry has been a battlefront for many corporate gaming empires. In the early 1980s, it was Nintendo and Atari, and by the time the’90s rolled in, Sega, Nintendo, and Sony clashed head-to-head in a free-for-all technological race to see who could produce the best graphics and the best gameplay with the most efficient resources possible. The same sequence of events continued into the early 21st century with systems like Gamecube, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Now, as gamers are demanding more realism, more innovation and more online gameplay, the big giants known as Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are preparing to duke it out again for the 2005-06 season. So what’s up first for gamers? Microsoft has a jump start on the race with the Xbox 360, which will be hitting North American shelves just in time for the Christmas rush on Nov. 22. The DVD-rom drive will be able to read both DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW discs. Games themselves will be available on both single and dual-layer DVDs. However, word is spreading that future versions of Xbox 360 may include an HD DVD drive, provided by Microsoft’s partner, Toshiba. There will actually be two versions of the system sold: a “basic” version that includes the gaming essentials ($299.99), and a “premium edition” (399.99) that includes a detachable 20 GB hard drive, a wireless controller, an Xbox-Live Headset, a component HD-AV cable, an Xbox Live Silver membership, and Ethernet cable, a Bonus Media Remote (a limited time offer for the 2005 holiday season), and a free 30-day membership of Xbox Live Gold. The console itself can support four wireless controllers, in addition to three wired USB controllers. However, gamers willing to hold out until after Christmas may want to invest in a PlayStation 3. Although an exact release date has not yet been announced, the PS3 is slated to hit shelves on Mar. 20 in both North America and Japan simultaneously, with an estimated retail price of $300.
Although details are a bit sketchy, the PlayStation 3 is said to come bundled with the one USB controller, an additional USB “limited time” controller, free online service, standard and high definition cables, a wireless headset, 64 MB memory stick and a cleaning cloth. The PS3 will also be able to operate as a personal computer by way of Linux and will have connection capabilities with the PlayStation Portable. The major controversy plaguing the PS3 right now is that, while PlayStation and Play- Station 2 games will be compatible with the console, the old memory cards will not, so you might want to think twice before selling your PlayStation 2. True blue Nintendo fans may have to hold out even longer forthe eagerly-awaited successor to the Gamecube: The Nintendo Revolution. One rumor says that the system will launch in March 2006, yet another source claims that it will not be released until November 2006. As usual, Nintendo is pretty tight-lipped about their latest developments, but what is known is that the games use standard CD/DVD-sized discs, and, with an add-on, this will be the first Nintendo console that is able to play DVDs. The most interesting aspect about the Revolution that has been revealed is the new controller, which is shaped like a regular TV remote control. The effect is revolutionary: the game will be able to sense the controller’s exact position in space, and thus will add a new dimension to gameplay. Early demos showed players able to literally shoot a gun, sword fight, conduct an orchestra and interestingly enough perform dental surgery in the games.
Perhaps the greatest gift Nintendo will be giving its followers is that, in addition to being fully compatible with Gamecube hardware and games, players will have the ability to download old NES, SNES, Game Boy, and Nintendo 64 games online andstore them on the Revolution itself. The aging games themselves will be “re-designed” and “sleeker- looking” on the Revolution. As the latest battle in the gaming wars begin, be sure to invest your money wisely.
Whether you are all for online gameplay, or just love the classics, make sure you pick the console that fits your gaming needs. Otherwise, it could spell “Game Over” for your entertainment, and your wallet.