The Nerdy Casual Gamer
Let’s begin our tale with the Playstation 2. Now, this system is a juggernaut. Sony has yet to stop releasing games for this system. Why? Because it had sold more units than any of the new generation systems (source). I still use my PS2. However, the only reason I use it is to play my favorite video game series (Kingdom Hearts). We have a few games for the console and we’ve owned it since March of 2003. We have yet had to replace it (*knock on wood*). Why on earth would Sony stop making the PS2 when they’re still selling consoles?
However, should the Kingdom Hearts series make its way to PS3, then this will be the title that will be a system buyer in our household. It’s unfortunate but true. There are many fun games on the PS3, but to me – it’s more about the Blu-Ray player than it is about the graphics. If you want a good Blu-Ray player, and wouldn’t mind playing some video games, then the PS3 is your ticket. The Playstation Network (comparable to Xbox Live’s network) is ok. You can download games, as well as stream movies from Netflix. However, when it comes to networks, I actually prefer Xbox to Sony. I know that I don’t own a PS3, but you can use the Playstation Network with the Playstation Portable (PSP). I would say that the Xbox interface is more user friendly.
Which brings us to the Xbox. The Xbox 360 is a great console. I love having one. I don’t play a lot of games, but the games that I do play, I have a ton of fun. Being able to talk with your friends via “party”, or just sending voice and/or text messages via the console is great. There are many games on that system that are meant for a casual gamer – such as, Castle Crashers and Peggle. I have spent many a night playing those two games with my friends. What’s great about Castle Crashers is that it is 4 person co-op game – you can play with up to 4 friends at the same time. This is one of the main reasons I love our Xbox. Xbox also has made it extremely easy to intergrate your “social network” through the console. When you have a Gold account (an Xbox Live account, essentially), you can access both Twitter and Facebook. You can tweet from you console, as well as update your FB status. For someone as directly connected to the social media network, I loved this integration. M$ gets points from me for this feature. Plus, with the Gold account, you can download trials for games that you may or may not want to play. It’s like a test drive for a car, but for video games. I’m sure we’ve all bought some pretty terrible games in our past. How great is that option? I mean, ‘Family Feud’ sounds fun and all, but is it really? Let’s download it and find out!
I’d like to take a minute and direct our attention to the handheld devices before I move on to the third and final console. I really don’t know what I would do when I go to the doctor’s office if I didn’t have my handheld devices. My DS saved my sanity when my mother was in the CCU a few years ago – but that’s neither here nor there.
As stated previously, I have both a DS (actually, I have a DS, a DS Lite and a DS XL) and a Sony PSP. Both are two very different machines. We purchased the DS a few months after launch (we have both the Gameboy SP and Gameboy Micro). I had gone to e3 in 2003 and played Mario Kart and then realized what a fun system it really was. Eventually, we bought two DS’. And that was a blessing in disguise because a game called “Animal Crossing” came out. I wish I was joking when I tell you that I played that game every single day for 3 years. That’s devotion. Or insanity. Or a little bit of both. There are a TON of games for the DS – my personal favorites are Super Mario 64 DS and then Kingdom Hearts 358/2 (surprised? i didn’t think so). Another great game for the DS – if you like role playing games – is ‘The World Ends With You’. There are Zelda titles, as well as fun games like ‘Scribblenauts’ – where you write a word and then a picture is drawn of that word. So, you write ‘elephant’ and an elephant appears. It’s fantastic! The DS also has the capability of going online – being able to play with players, as long as you have a friend code, for certain games. My love for the DS is never ending. The battery life is about 9-10 hours, give or take. I love the DS so much that when they release the new 3DS, we will be purchasing it for our household. I’d like to say we’ll be able to buy 2 at launch, but at a $300 (as of right now), that’s a little steep. But for sure our household will have one.
Now on to Sony’s Playstation Portable. I really like this system a lot. The graphics are far superior to that of Nintendo’s, however – it is a UMD system. A UMD is like a very small DVD (non technical term). Because it is a disc-driven system, the noise that it produces while trying to load is beyond ridiculous. There was one game I was playing and all I could think was “I think I can, I think I can” as I heard the UMD spinning. One game that I played ‘Final Fantasy VII:Crisis Core’ had cinematic cut-scenes that looked as if I was watching a DVD. Amazing. However, the noise of the UMD spinning is a bit distracting and makes it rather difficult to play the console in bed when your spouse is trying to sleep. Graphics – A+. Functionality – C. But, you can access the web with the PSP. So, there is that. And, you can use the PS Network, downloading games to your memory card (the DS has an internal memory, the PSP requires a memory card). The battery life for the PSP is about 5-7 hours, depending on if the game you’re playing requires a lot of juice (cue The Little Engine That Could).
Now, this casual gamer’s favorite console – the Nintendo Wii. I love my Wii. We’ve had it since launch, and we only just had to replace the hard drive this past summer (that was heartbreaking – losing all of my saved games? I held a funeral for them). The Wii is a perfect machine if you like to entertain. There are plenty of games that you can pick up while having friends over, and anyone can play. We’ve had quite a few parties where we end up playing ‘WarioWare’, basically throwing the Wiimote around like ‘hot potato’. And of course there’s Wii Sports. Who doesn’t love playing 4 person Mii Bowling? I think Nintendo finally found a niche – market to the casual gamers, or people who really had never played video games before. That’s not to say that there aren’t games on the Wii that are meant specifically for gamers (i.e. Red Steel, Goldeneye, etc). However, Nintendo is known for their heavy hitters – ‘Legend of Zelda’, ‘Mario’ and ‘Metroid’. ‘Mario Galaxy’ – both 1 and 2 – are fantastic games. They are easy enough for anyone to pick them up, but as the stages progress, you then find yourself feeling more like a gamer due to the difficulty level raising up quite a bit. If Nintendo were to only make those three games, I’d still be a fangirl. I love those characters that much.
This concludes our casual gamers’ look at the “console wars”. If you have a lot of friends that play the Xbox, buy an Xbox. If you are a person who loves technology and loves to have everything be crystal-clear images, buy a PS3. If you just like to entertain and have friends over, buy the Wii. And hand-held wise, prettier graphics – PSP. Hours and hours of entertainment without worrying if the battery is going to die – DS. I hope that what I’ve told you about may help sway you to purchase that particular console you’ve been eyeing.
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