Which Video Game Will You Buy?

October 15th, 2006 at 2:51 pm by Mark
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     I can remember, back in 1970-something, seeing the first video game console — the Magnavox Odyssey — coming to a twelve or twenty-five inch black and white television near you.
     The fugly, black-white-and-woodgrain behemoth came complete with the most clunky controllers you’ve ever attempted to use.  And talk about GRAPHICS — the included set of plastic overlays attached to the television screen (thus the twelve or twenty-five inch requirement) so you could get COLOR!  But God forbid that your mother used one of those overlays as a place mat during one of your younger sibling’s episodes of projectile-spitting carrot puree — Why, then you’d never be able to find the secret treasure in the Haunted House!
     That’s right — and we had to walk ten miles to school, in four feet of snow!  Uphill — BOTH WAYS!

     It’s truly magnificent to see how much progress has been made over the last thirty-five years.  Now, we’re seeing video games with completely destructible environments.  If you’re not sure what that means, check out this Video of Crytek’s upcoming game, Crysis:

     Although several other manufacturers have now released PC games with similar features, such as Relic’s Company of Heroes or HD Publishing’s Joint Task Force, Crysis looks like plenty of fun.

     Having a reasonably well-spec’d PC, I tend to stay away from video game consoles and the like, but the Xbox 360 has really pushed the technology envelope — especially if you have a Windows Media Center Edition PC in your home (or even a Windows Vista with Media capability).  In that case, the Xbox 360 not only serves as one of the most advanced video game consoles you can buy, but also acts as a DVD/CD/MP3 Player, DVR and a Media Player for all the music and photos you’ve downloaded onto your PC — maybe even wirelessly if you’re set up for that.  It’s less a video game console, and a more a Digital Convergence appliance, giving you a pretty full range of functionality to complement your home theater.
     The downside is that it’s damned expensive.  Even the old Magnavox Odyssey only retailed for $100, while the Xbox can run you four times that easily.   (Ok, truthfully, that $100 in 1972 was as hard to come by as $2500 these days, but still…)
     Of course, you still have Sony out there trying to beat out the Xbox 360 with their Playstation 3, but seeing as how they’ve had an additional year to release the unit, it won’t be much wonder if they did manage to cram some extra functionality it.  I suppose when it’s released in the second half of November 2006, we’ll know whether or not all the hype was for real.

     And, then, of course, Nintendo is still at it, skipping all the cutting-edge technology and just making a Video Game console that is simply that.  The Nintendo Wii (pronounced “we”) has focused on keeping games “fun” and “playable,” something that seems to be a bit lacking with their more expensive counterparts who’ve focused on cutting edge confusion and overly complex gameplay.
     And their television advertising surely drives that nail home with a sledgehammer:

     Of course, given the choice between Rosie O’Donnel and Paris Hilton, I’d still choose neither… 😉

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