Monday, November 12, 2001 "it's 2 a.m., the fear is gone"     


The week of reckoning is upon us. Although I wasn't old enough to follow the NES and SNES launches, I awaited the release of the N64 with a desire that few others felt. Though there's no Mario game at launch, the GameCube release is no different. I've been reading about the system since the first glimmers of information were available on the 'net, and I've had my system preordered since March.

However, as excited as I am about the GC, I can't deny the power of the Xbox. Despite what most considered a lackluster showing at E3, Microsoft has presented a very formidable opponent to Sony and Nintendo. The Xbox is the most powerful console of the three, and the system's launch lineup is very solid. I got the chance to play Halo last week, and I was wowed. Though I certainly won't have the money for one this year, I will be buying an Xbox eventually, there's no doubt about it.

Though we've seen system wars before, we've never seen any two consoles come out so close to each other. I honestly don't want either system to fail, but what happens is ultimately up to the consumer. I've heard people talk as if the Xbox will go down in flames, and I've also heard similarly convincing arguments that the GameCube won't make it. I think, and I certainly hope, that both forecasts are wrong. Through today's letters we might get a better idea of the average RPGamer's contribution to the situation, and at the end of the column I'll tally the total number of votes I received for each system.

So, without further ado, let's get moving.

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    Guess the Quote Contest
    Try to guess (be specific) the quote towards the top of the page. If you're the first one to email me with the correct answer, I'll mention you in my next column. An individial may not win the contest twice in a row.

    The quote is from The Simpsons episode where they get a nanny (Sherry Bobbins), and Bart asks Homer if he can be a booze hound (after Barney), and Homer replies with "Not till you're 15" IIRC.


    Yep, "can I be a booze hound?" is from "The Simpsons." Great show, but sadly, I haven't seen any new episodes in years. That's what college can do to ya.

    the all-mighty dollar
    Hello, Aegis.

    I can't speak for everybody, but I have already decided that the GameCube will have my cash at the end of the week. In fact, I predict that the Cube will be the clear winner in the Next Clash of Systems.

    Why? Several reasons.

    Nintendo has a solid fan base, myself among them. Nintendo has a number of high-profile console-exclusive titles to appeal to a wide range of players. Nintendo's demo stations (scattered across America's Wal-Marts) feature three playable demos, all of which present an excellent taste of first-generation goodness. Nintendo's new controller is comfortable and versatile. On top of that, Nintendo has a brilliant future ahead concerning sure hits in their games, including games that are almost sure to be developed (even if no announcement has been made - after all, who doesn't think that a Cube F-Zero game is inevitable?), and an innovative control system that future games will invariably adopt.

    Microsoft has no console experience. Microsoft's console-exclusive titles, save for Halo (perhaps), are less than tantalizing. Current XBox demo stations feature one playable game (usually Munch's Oddysey, though Fuzion Frenzy has been seen as well), and those games are not real system-sellers. XBox's huge controller is uncomfortable to hold for any significant length of time. Microsoft's library of future titles holds only a marginal supply of heart-grabbers. Plus, XBox demo stations have already been reported to malfunction (and I have personally witnessed the movie of NFL Fever 2002 loop on itself until the machine had a heart attack).

    Other factors to consider: the lower price that Cube carries at launch (which will surely drive PS2 system prices down in a hurry). If a gamer has five hundred dollars to spend on games, will s/he buy two systems with no games, the one system and up to four games, or the other system and as many as six games?

    Personally, I view Cube as the winner, closely followed by PS2, and XBox at a distance. If I am biased, at least I add a little logic to my argument.
    Thank you.
    --Jax Mandrake.

    A fresh-baked batch of tildes, hyphens, semicolons and ampersands if you can place this closing quote:

    "She wanted it hard, she wanted it fast, she liked it done medium rare."

    You make some good points, and I'd like to touch upon your price point paragraph. Some readers who mailed in were confused as far as pricing went, so first let me clear this up (all prices in U.S. dollars, of course).
    • GameCube -- $200
    • GC games -- $50 each
    • GC official controllers -- $35 each
    • GC official memory cards -- $15 each
    • Xbox -- $300
    • Xbox games -- $50 each
    • Xbox official controllers -- $40 each
    • Xbox official memory cards -- $35 each
    As you pointed out, Jax, if you've got a good half grand or so, you can only pick one system or the other... unless of course, you don't want to play games on them. I'm purchasing a GameCube, 5 games total (I already have Rogue Leader and Super Monkey Ball), a memory card, and 3 extra controllers.

    By the prices I gave above, I'll be spending $570 before tax. If I were to buy the same amount of stuff for the Xbox, I'd be spending $705 before tax. Granted, I've got money, and if the GameCube were the more expensive I'd still be getting it first. The fact that it's the cheaper of the two just sweetens the deal, though, and I'm sure it will be the deciding factor for at least some people.

    Oh, and sorry, I don't know the quote. No cookie for me.

    patience is a virtue
    I'm not getting a GameCube or an Xbox this year.

    Why pay full price for a console now, instead of paying less next fall when more games, and better games, are out?
    Why get a broadband-enabled Xbox before Microsoft launches their network?
    Why get a GameCube before Mario and Zelda are out?
    Why get a new console at its launch, when it usually takes a year for good RPGs to show up?

    I don't get it.

    As for why I'll get an Xbox next year (and a PS2 when the US English FFX shows up), and not a GameCube, well, that's another letter.

    -- Dave Rothgery

    You ask valid questions, and at least for me, the answer is this: I want the latest and greatest as soon as I can get it, whether or not it's cost-effective. Heck, I even imported my Game Boy Advance when it launched in Japan in March.

    To those who might buy the Xbox only for the online capability, I can understand your question about waiting due to that, but I honestly doubt it's a priority to most people. Heck, I could be dead wrong, though.

    And sure, Mario and Zelda are the cream of the crop, but I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't extremely excited about the GameCube games to come out between now and Christmas. You mention the lack-o'-RPGs, and although I realize that is an issue for some people, it's not for me. I am a gamer before an RPGamer. I know there are others like me, too.

    Hey Aegis. Thought I'd share my thoughts as per your request.

    Me, I'm going with the GameCube. In my opinion, it's got far more going for it. Cheapest new console by far at $200, a blessing to a college gamer like me. With the Big N behind it and the track record they carry, I know the games released for the Cube will be fun. Rogue Leader is gorgeous. Resident Evil looks better than ever. Admittedly, I'm a bit biased against Microsoft--truthfully, I don't think Bill Gates belongs anywhere near video games. Besides, it's not like he needs the money. But the X-Box just doesn't look that impressive right now; maybe down the road if it happens to get a title like Metal Gear Solid, but a $300 paperweight is not what I need right now.

    Okay, forget that I said all that. I just want my copy of Super Smash Bros. Melee. Sue me.

    ~Jason, who can't wait to see Kirby try to suck Bowser into his mouth and choke doing so.

    Although I certainly don't have a problem with Microsoft coming into the game industry, I can accept and respect the fact that others do. I'm similarly biased against Sony when it comes down to it.

    You hit the nail on the head in mentioning Super Smash Bros. Melee, Jason. Did you all know that the original sold over 2 million copies in the U.S.? Yeah, I didn't either until very recently. I'm one of the many who love the original, and truth be told, I'd buy a GameCube for the sequel, even if that was the only game to ever come out for it.

    no time
    I'm getting neither an X-Box nor a GameCube. Two reasons: time and money. (Or, if time is money, just one reason.) The bigger one is, admittedly, time. I can pretty much appreciate a good game of any genre, so between the Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec I'm only 50% of the way through now, the Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty I won't have until two weekends from now, the Devil May Cry I won't have until 25 December, and the Final Fantasy X I won't have until 2 January, my free time, as an activist college student, is more than adequately covered.

    Similarly, my spare funds, as an activist college student, are equally covered with all these games.

    Of course, I may be cheating, since my sister likely will be getting a GameCube, so I'll have a chance to play all the neat games there when the time comes. Even if she weren't, though, I wouldn't be getting one myself. So I think my answer still holds.

    -- Brett Smith

    I'm in college too, Brett, and I know exactly what you mean. My game playing time has dropped probably 75 percent compared to back when I was in high school. I'm going to force myself to make time again, though, as within a week I'll have a new library of games to play.

    equal opportunity gamer
    Hey, Aegis,

    Alright, let's talk Next-Generation! First, let me get off mah chest my hatred of all this prejudice/biasedness (is that a word?) against the next-gens.. it's driving me crazy! "omg! yur getting an {X-Box/Gamecube}?! the {X-Box/Gamecube{ sux0rz!"

    That's getting old, fast. Personally, I'm buying both the Gamecube and the X-Box though, sadly, not on their release days. I'm getting my Gamecube for Christmas via my mom (and a PS2 from my dad but we're not talking about that) and I'm snagging the delicious-looking X-Box in February, on my birthday.

    So why am I getting both? Simple. They both are good systems. Great specs. A few okay launch titles. Both have potential. The X-Box has one of my favorite series, Shenmue, coming out for it, and Gamecube is sporting the Cel-graphiced Zelda (yes, I LIKE the graphics) and according to an e-mail I got in reply to a letter from Working Designs, they are also interested in the Gamecube. We can't judge a book by it's company, so we can't judge a console by it's creator (or launch titles).

    I'll ask you a question now, (because I care so much), what Next-Gens are you getting, if any?

    Fun Fact of the Day: Gameboy Advance has outdone every other console's release, sporting over a million in 6 weeks, outdoing even the Playstation 2. BOO-YAH!

    .... Can I ask another question? Why is your nickname Aegis? Did you get that from Aegis from Final Fantasy Tactics?

    Until next time!
    Majin Paul, of Roleplay
    "Personally, I still prefer my Dreamcast... don't look at me like that!"

    I know I seem very GameCube biased, and, admittedly, I am to an extent; if I had to choose between Microsoft or Nintendo failing in this console war, I'd pick Microsoft without a second thought. However, after playing Halo, I really want an Xbox. Not enough to get it instead of my GameCube, but I want an Xbox nonetheless. As I mentioned above, after tax is added I should be spending over $600 on GameCube stuffs. Were I to buy an Xbox, memory card, and Halo in addition to that, I'd be spending over $1000... within a span of 3 days. I just don't have that much money to throw around. However, come January, when new scholarship money comes in, it may very well be Xbox time.

    End of the Road:

    Today's printed letters seemed very pro-GameCube, and trust me, it's not me just printing what I want you to see. The letters here accurately represent what I received. Here's the tally from all my mail of what people plan to buy.
    • GameCube only: 6
    • Xbox only: 1
    • Both systems: 2
    • Neither: 5
    I hope everyone who wants a new system will be able to pick one up, and I'll see you again next Monday.

    Andrew P. Bilyk is going to see the Harry Potter movie on Friday. Joy!

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