Entry 0031

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the

State of the Game Address

Please be seated.

As many (can all four readers be called a “many”?) of you know, I’m an avid gamer. Or, rather, I like to think of myself as an avid gamer, but in reality I’m more of an avid gadget whore who focused his skill points on games.

Either way you split it, I enjoy video games and talking about them, and as such I think it’s time to once again update on what I think of the current System Wars situation.

Handheld

I figure this time I’m going to actually delve into some thoughts on the fairly quiet handheld formats, an area that I’m really not overly I familiar with. While I know – and own – the major handheld systems, I don’t actually play them as often as their home-console counterparts. That may make my views slightly less informed than others, but that’s never stopped me from spouting whatever was on my mind before, so it sure as hell won’t now.

First up, the Nintendo DS, which is currently in its second iteration, the DS Lite. The DS is the one that folds up and has the touch screen, right? The one for small children?

I kid, I kid. Please, put down the torches.

I’ve had the DS since launch (DS “Phat”), and the Lite is a good system. It’s not too big, is fairly comfortable for short gaming sessions (waiting for car repairs, using the restroom, passing the time at an All Hands meeting), and the games normally fun. As they should be, seeing as the majority of the ones I own are mostly scaled down counterparts of existing console franchises. You’ve got at least two Mario games (the shitty one and the not shitty one), a Zelda game (kinda fun, if frustrating) and Tetris.

It’s a good, solid system (literally) with good, solid games.

But, I rarely play it anymore. Mine has been sitting on the table by my bed for the past two months, unused and unloved. The Phat has been sitting in the living room for at least four months now, and the last time it was turned on was to verify that it actually worked.

I have nothing against the system, and do recommend that others pick one up if so inclined, but portable gaming isn’t something I’m into anymore.

That brings me to the Sony PSP, which is also in its second iteration. The only major differences being a bump in system memory and making it slimmer. It is very uncomfortable for long-term play, but it makes up for this in not having much worth playing in the first place. It also provides many scaled down versions of normal console titles, but where the DS does it with new gimmicks and hoobajoos, the the PSP tries to get by with a more “standard” approach to porting. Which is to say, they play like traditional games, screw the innovation.

That said, of the two I prefer the PSP. The games it does have I find more fun and entertaining over the long haul, and they fit my normal play-style, which is analogous to that of a mildly retarded autistic trying to count toothpicks while they are still inside the box. More simply put: I’m not very good but I keep trying anyway, much to the mirth of others.

I am also captivated by the many half-baked features it packs in, such as video playback and internet streaming of content on my PS3/home network, including games and pr— Movie trailers.

Of the two, for the more serious “gamer” I would have to recommend a DS over a PSP. For everyone else, those who just like shiny gadgets what do neat things, I’d suggest a PSP instead. For idiots with too much money? Both.

Home Consoles

Alphabetically, the Microsoft XBox 360 comes in first place amongst the three current generation home console systems. One could also argue that this is the only way in which it comes first, unless one were inclined to make puerile jokes or maybe point out that it is also first in epic fails.

I, however, am above such mockery.

Statistically speaking, three out of four people in the world own at least one 360, and a further 2 out of five have at some point purchased a second 360 due to reasons of Red Ring, and/or Death. Quite honestly, the Epic Failure rate of the 360 is the only thing I have against it, but it is such an overwhelming issue that it taints all other aspects of the console.

For my money, many of the best games of this generation of available for the 360 – exclusively or not. Bioshock, Oblivion, Crackdown, Halo 3, Lego Star Wars… The list goes on and on. The online experience as provided by Xbox Live is unparalleled by either of its competitors, and fully integrates into the system in such a way as to make not having it almost crippling. Quite honestly why one would own a 360, and then play it exclusively offline is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard of.

With the latest system update, the 360 is also a major media hub, allowing it to play divx files over your home network easily, as well as the pre-existing music streaming. There’s also the pretty decent video download service.

Yet, with all this in favor of it, I hardly use mine, and have no plans to buy more games. It is, in all honesty, something with a near perfect feature set, and yet I’m so scared of it crapping out that I refuse to actually use it anymore, and cannot bring myself to further invest in the system through software purchases.

Which brings me to the closest competitor, the Sony Playstation 3, or PS3 for short.

With the latest software update, the PS3 also does a great job handling the majority of divix files you throw at it, and does a far superior job of sorting the media. It does the standard music playback, as well as image slideshows and other such random media features.

It does the Blu-Ray playback, and since BR is the de-facto HD format for home use, this is probably a good thing.

The drive is user replaceable, and the system itself seems a bit more logically laid out and easier to use than the 360.

However, when it comes to games, the library is a bit lacking. There are good games on the system, to be sure, but nothing exclusive that is a Must Own. There is no Halo-killer on the PS3, no matter how much Resistance wants to be that game.

The Playstation Network (PSN) is free to use, but… It’s pretty crappy. It works, when it works, but it has a very last-generation feel to it when compared to XBox Live.

That said, I do much prefer the PS3 to the 360, and it has become the system of choice at the Dunny Cave.

Finally, I come to the Nintendo Wii.

For many in my age group, Nintendo is pretty much where it all started. Oh, sure, we may have had an Atari or a Commodore, but it wasn’t until at least the NES that we realized just Games were Serious Business. It can be argued that the NES is where the current iteration of gaming subculture got its start. Although, this being the internet, anything can be argued, no matter how faulty the logic. I could, for example, attempt to provide an argument showing how Star Wars is an elaborate metaphor of the sexual practices of the lemur, and no one would really care.

But, I digress. The NES is where it started, and now we have the Wii, which through the power of it’s Virtual Console (Wii-NES), we get to experience the glory days of the NES all over again.

For five bucks a game.

Really, the games on the Wii aren’t for you or me: They are for your mom, your grandmother, the crazy guy down the street who talks to trees and small infants. The Wii was designed, and marketed, for those who don’t like games, who are confused by games, and who find games to be scary and/or evil.

The flailing about, the soft colors and not too great graphics, the short playtime and abundance of mini-games… It’s all created for someone other than you or I, someone with a short attention span, too much energy and an overwhelming fear of technology. Hyperactive Alzheimer patients, for example. Or small children.

Yes, it brings a few good, meaty games to the table. There is a Zelda game, although it’s rather rubbish. There is No More Heroes… But mostly it’s mini-games, and sports games, and games that aren’t quite sports games but really aren’t mini-games but more something one might play while in the pub watching a match… And not a whole hell of a lot else.

While this makes the Wii indispensable at parties, as stand alone system, even the nostalgia factor of playing twenty year old games on your 42″ LCD just doesn’t cut it.

At least for me.

That said, I love the Wii and I recommend that anyone who can find it, and who has at least two friends, pick one up. I’m starting to learn more towards a PS3 over the 360, but I still can’t fully discount the number of games there are for the 360. At this point, though, I’d suggest getting a used 360 – the odds on it working long term are about the same as those of a brand new one – and the coin you save can eventually be put towards a PS3. For while I consider the PS3 to be the superior system at this time, and in future, currently it hasn’t got the software library to beat a 360.

I guess I’m becoming a Sony Fanbot after all.