Nobody needs more than one game console…


Well, that’s what one of my brothers wrote me.

I don’t agree.

Nobody needs even one game console.

But some want one. Some want more than one. I did.

Sure, I bought a Nintendo Wii last spring. But, well, I knew this was coming. In fact, I’ve been planning to purchase one since before they were released last year. I fully intended to purchase Halo 3 when its release date arrived, but I needed two things: an HDTV, and an X-Box 360.

Well, the HDTV was taken care of a couple of months ago. But a few weeks ago I didn’t have a 360 (I still had a first-generation X-Box that was getting used less and less each month). For a while I thought I wouldn’t buy one until December but I ended up with slightly more disposable income this month and the release date of Halo 3 was fast approaching (September 25 of this year).

So, in my typical fashion, I bought an X-Box 360 to prepare for Halo 3.

Why would I want another game console? My most relevant answer is simply that each console provides different games. The Halo series isn’t available on any system but the X-Box series. The Burnout games are sometimes available on Nintendo systems but are much better on X-Box and Playstation systems.

I still enjoy many of the Super Mario based games, especially the Mario Kart series.

So, in order to play my favorite series of games I need an X-Box 360 and a Nintendo Wii (Halo 3 will only be available for X-Box 360 but not the first-generation X-Box). In essence, switching from one console to another is somewhat like switching between Windows and OS X. Neither is necessarily better than the other but each one may be better suited to certain tasks.

When I play Nintendo Wii I’m often swinging the controller in the air and playing a game that is simple and fun. But then I have the option of powering up the X-Box 360, sitting down to play, and moving through virtual worlds that are far more detailed than the Wii can produce.

And, like all three of the major consoles, accessories will cost more out of pocket than just the console. I often play multi-player games, and with the 360 that meant purchasing another controller. Of course, I didn’t want to settle for a wired controller so I paid more for the wireless. I also grabbed a Play-and-Charge Kit for one controller (I still plan to purchase another).

While it’s possible to control DVD playback with an X-Box controller it’s not as simple as using a remote with standard playback buttons. I looked at a couple of different 360 remotes and in the end purchased a used remote that was originally packaged with a 360. It worked great, until I purchased a Logitech Harmony Universal Remote (which is another story itself) and gave the 360 remote to a friend who also has a system.

I bought the Pro package, which included the 20 GB hard drive. The drive is essential (and the less expensive package doesn’t include it, which negates any savings on the cheaper package). For the past few weeks I’ve tried out various aspects of X-Box Live and have come to the conclusion that a Gold subscription for Live is essential if you have any intention of playing friends online or using the full power of the 360.

Movie rentals are reasonably priced, though with Microsoft Points costing $12.50 per 1,000 points and each 480p definition movie costing 320 points to rent its not really any better than walking into a movie rental place. The advantages I’ve found with this service is the ability to rent a movie without leaving home and also the ability to download HD quality movies (though I suspect the quality isn’t actually as good as a true HD-DVD or BlueRay movie). On the downside movie downloads can take a long time, you need to have space on your hard drive to store the movies, and you don’t get any of the extras that DVDs typically have. Standard/480p movies are usually around 1 GB in size and can be downloaded in less than a day. However, my single experience with renting an HD movie with this service was anything but ideal. It took four days to download the movie and that includes leaving the console on some nights.

The movies are available for 14 days after renting them, or 24 hours after pressing play for the first time. I found that reasonable but I did think it was unreasonable that the download time is also included. After spending four days to download the movie I had 10 days to watch it. Granted, most movies are watched in less time but it seems unfair to penalize the end-user in a situation in which the problem is not one the consumer’s end. Video game demos, video clips, and other content download much faster so the slow download speeds appear to be a problem with the movie rental service (servers).

The Live experience has been great. I’ve purchased two Live Arcade games (the original Doom and a mini-golf game) and have spent many hours playing those games with friends at my home and over the Internet via Live. I’ve also been playing other games over Live such as Burnout Revenge and Gears of War (the only two 360 disc-based games I own). We’ve also played Halo 2 with a mix of two 360 systems and one first-generation X-Box participating.

In the end, it’s been fun and I cannot wait for Halo 3 to be released, which I have reserved. I’ve also reserved Burnout Paradise, but it won’t be released until January of next year…

The graphics on the 360 are excellent, especially on an HDTV. Nintendo nailed the next step of interaction with the Wii Remote and various accessories, but so far Microsoft has an excellent on-line community with its Live service.

I haven’t played on a Playstation 3 very many times so I can’t really compare it to the other systems. Actually, comparing it is probably a futile effort any way. There isn’t really a console war going on. The media wants there to be one. The gamers who insist there is one are typically the ones who only own and play a single system.  If you’re thinking about which console to purchase you should consider the games that you want to play.

I wanted to play Mario Kart and many of the classic Super Mario games so I bought a Nintendo Wii. I wanted to play Halo 3 and the next Burnout game so I bought an X-Box 360. Those are my reasons for purchasing two consoles and there’s nothing more. It’s not about processing power and better graphics. It’s about playing the games that I enjoy.


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