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A video game console system is a large investment of your money. With prices in the $150-$200 range these days, and the average game price at about $45, you could be spending up to a thousand dollars if you want to own at least ten games throughout the system’s lifetime. Of course, many of the hardcore gamers have in excess of thirty games. Video games just aren’t something you can buy with your lunch money anymore, so before you venture in on a system, consider the following categories of comparison.
The XBOX wins this hands down with superior hardware that can render graphics that are on par with the low-end computers out there. Having played on all three systems I can say with confidence that nothing beats the smooth, beautiful, and vibrant graphics of the XBOX. In second place I would say I prefer the Gamecube. Why? Two things: the developers for the Gamecube always seem to deliver smooth, crisp graphics. I can’t put my finger on it exactly because the PS2 and GC are about the same when you look at the specs in the graphics department. I think it’s Nintendo’s emphasis on a more ’cartoon’ look that works really well with most of its franchises. Not to knock the PS2 of course because it does look really good. My only complaints about it is that I experience a bit of choppiness more often than on the other two systems.
I honestly don’t hear a difference between any of these systems in terms of performance. I’m sure the XBOX has some sort of technology advantage simply because of its computer system origins. However, having played the same games (like GTA) across different platforms I’d be hard pressed to tell you exactly which one sounds better. In terms of music arrangement, I’d like to give a nod to Nintendo’s Gamecube. Nothing beats Nintendo music. It’s bubbly, exciting, and gets your blood pumping despite its cheery nature. Nintendo music is so great, in fact, that a band called ”The Advantage” exists solely to cover original NES music!
The Gamecube has my favorite controller. It’s light, compact, brightly colored, and fits perfectly in the hands. Its button arrangement is slightly different and better, in my opinion. The big green A button is where your right thumb naturally rests. The smaller red B button is just below to the left. The Y and X buttons (of SNES fame) are crescent shaped buttons above and to the right of the A button, respectively. Up top there are two shoulder buttons L and R. They click down with a satisfying tactile response. A strange Z button is nestled in at the top of the controller just above the R button. Despite the strange placement it turns out to be rather useful in many game situations. The left thumbstick is placed exactly where your left thumb would rest. An optional 8-way directional pad is located below it. Another thumbstick is across from the d-pad for the right side. There’s no select button. Just a small white start button right in the middle! Just take one look at it and tell me it’s not the most beautiful controller you’ve ever seen!
The PS2 and XBOX controllers are a bit boring if you ask me. The PS2 controller offers nothing new if you used the similar one for PS1. Of course, with the Playstation you get four shoulder buttons at the top, giving one more button than either XBOX or GC. Annoyingly enough, the thumbsticks for the PS2 are both located on the lower portion of the controller unlike XBOX and GC where the left thumbstick (traditionally used for movement) is located where the left thumb rests. The XBOX controller is quite heavy and the buttons are oddly placed. The only thing I like about it is the cool shoulder buttons that are more like triggers than buttons. They give a sense of satisfaction when you’re blowing people away in Halo.
Oh, one thing I forgot to mention in all my rambling is that the XBOX and GC both come with four controller ports, while the PS2 is frustratingly restricted to two ports!
Ok this is a bit of a touchy subject to some people. Each system has its own ’unique’ games that are not released across all platforms, while at other times a certain game (like X-Men Legends, or Soul Calibur 2) will receive complete cross-platform treatment. In terms of sheer numbers, you can’t beat Sony’s Playstation 2. The XBOX and Gamecube have much smaller libraries, though the XBOX is quickly gaining a number of key titles like Fable. The Gamecube remains a bit of a child’s system with a large number of kiddie games. It still receives major ports of games like X-Men Legends.
Having spent many hours playing each system I am torn between choosing one as the best. There are obvious advantages for each system. PS2 offers the best balance between available games, pricing, and performance. The XBOX is definitely on the high end of performance though plagued with controller issues and a library that has not yet matured. The Gamecube is something of a guilty pleasure to me. I grew up playing Nintendo and I simply LOVE what they’ve done with the cube. It’s just so cute and captivating, and Nintendo games have an endearing feel unlike anything else! So what’s it going to be for you? My suggestion is that you try all three before you buy. If you’re new to the whole video game idea (can’t imagine that) or looking for something your kids will want… The Gamecube is best for the young’uns, the PS2 for the teens, and the XBOX for the adults.