Sorry Nintendo, it's Xbox for X-mas this year

Dec. 20, 2001, midnight | By Alex Piazza | 19 years, 1 month ago

The screen's cold glow illuminates my focused face as my eyes struggle to stay open. With exhaustion setting in, my crackling fingers continue working into the wee hours of the night despite my aching joints, throbbing headache and the newly acquired twitch in my right eye. Isn't it amazing how taxing video games can be?

Fear Effect, the quest of Frogger, Batman Vengeance and Harry Potter—just some of the titles I played to become the ultimate expert in video games. After careful consideration of the hottest video game consoles—Xbox, Game Cube and Playstation 2—and hours upon hours of exhausting game play with the three, my suggestion is, and it's not just the $500 million of advertising talking, ask for Xbox this X-mas.

Just before the 2001 holiday season, it's do or die for the leading video game companies. Video game mogul Nintendo and rookie game-maker Microsoft both rush-released their new consoles, Game Cube and Xbox, respectively, in time for the start of the Christmas season. Playstation 2 (PS2), Sony's year-old follow up to Playstation 1 (PS1), will also be a hot contender in the heated battle for holiday season sales.

At $299, the Xbox isn't cheap, but it is arguably the most sophisticated platform on the market. Xbox is powered by a 733-megahertz Intel Pentium III processor, augmented with a 250-megahertz Nvidia NV2x graphics processor and has a 5x DVD-ROM drive, an eight gigabyte hard drive and a built-in 100-megabits per second Ethernet port.

Translation: it's a PC in a box. Compared to competing consoles, Xbox is light-years faster and has noticeably richer graphics.

Xbox has all the high-tech bells and whistles to go along with its internal supercomputer. It allows users to play DVDs with the purchase of a $30 DVD remote control, to copy music from their own CDs to the system's hard drive and to compete with other Xbox owners via the Internet.

But don't think that Nintendo doesn't have a few tricks up its sleeve too. Like Xbox, the $199 Game Cube can also connect to the Internet, and Nintendo is also in the midst of developing wireless controllers and a way to use Game Boy Advance as an actual controller. Unfortunately, Game Cube was foolishly designed for a non-standard sized disc, thereby making the system incompatible with all DVDs and music CDs.

PS2, with five million consoles already sold in North America, offers a well-designed system, but at $299, it's only capable of half of what Xbox can do. PS2 has 32 megabytes of RAM (used for memory), a 300-megahertz processor and two controller ports, compared to Xbox's 64 megabytes of RAM, a 733-megahertz processor and four controller ports.

Even with the most advanced processing system, the decisive blow for all of the competing companies, as history has proven, will be the success of their games.

Nintendo, with its century of experience—the company has been in existence since 1889—has already established a team of characters including the Mario Brothers, Banjo-Kazooie and the whole Pokémon crew. Similar to previous years, Nintendo promises to have quality games which are generally aimed towards a young audience, including Luigi's Mansion, which is Luigi's solo debut where he's armed only with a vacuum cleaner.

PS2 revisits previous successes with recent releases such as Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, Metal Gear Solid 2 and James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire. Along with a year's worth of games under its belt, PS2 can also play all of the games developed for the 88 million Playstation 1 consoles sold worldwide, a definite bonus.

It's hard to foresee the exact future of Microsoft's games, but with the financial backing and attention the Xbox is getting, it seems unlikely that the Xbox will be a repeat of the Dreamcast failure, a project which Sega abandoned altogether to focus on game-making.

Xbox already has the support of many video game developers such as Activision, Electronic Arts, Eidos, Midway and THQ. Shrek, Halo and Dead or Alive 3 all promise to be profitable hits for Xbox. Shrek's success will come from the popularity of the irresistible Disney satire, Halo's from its intense plot development and complex graphics and Dead or Alive 3's can be attributed to its hot, hot heroine—she really does kick high.

Tags: print

Alex Piazza. Alex Piazza is a junior page editor for Silver Chips, one of the better newspapers of the world. While participating in the CAP program, he also plays for the varsity soccer team and plays in an out-of-school band, playing an eclectic mix of styles. Alex … More »

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