I hate to say this, but I think it's time for your 55 year old son to move out of the house.
Please give me your unbiased opinions (I know everyone else's will be biased, but yours won't, of course). Are there appreciable technical differences - like much better graphics on any platform? Are multi platform games usually pretty indistinguishable on each, or do software issues go beyond exclusive games?
There are two special considerations: my wife still has not approved the idea, and the primary users will be our two sons, ages 9 and 5.5. They have both become especially mesmerized by the Spider-Man game, which does look pretty fun. We've made many trips to Best Buy just to play a demo machine (Xbox).
I think the best way to convince my wife is to aim for the best 'group' games. Spider-Man is 1 player only, which is bound to be somewhat of a problem. So far, I have heard the Nintendo 'Super Smash' (?) game is a blast with 4 players, and I saw there's also a Gauntlet game exclusive for GameCube. Cooperative type games (I assume the Gauntlet one is) would be extra cool.
This will be an upgrade from our Atari 2600. So, yeah, we'll probably be skipping the next 9 hardware generations too. We already have a DVD player, and probably would have no interest in enabling that feature in the near future. Multiple new systems will be out of the question for us, for quite a while at least.
Thank you for your guidance.
I hate to say this, but I think it's time for your 55 year old son to move out of the house.
I'd honestly have to say Xbox. Gamecube could eventually be a fun system for the whole family, but right now, I think the Xbox beats it hands-down.
I was going to post a similar question to the list. I am also looking to get a console system. My wife has not approved the purchase. The primary users will be myself and my 5 year old girl. I am leaning towards the PS2 or Gamecube, but don't have enough experience in any of the systems to choose right now (my last console was an Atari 2600).
I would also like recommendations of racing games. I have read that Gran Turismo is good on the PS2.
Recommend away please.
Dreamcast at $49 for the console has a TON of racing games (too many, one might say) that look just about as good as a PS2.
The PS2 has a huge selection of games. So if you go simply by quantity and variety, I believe the PS2 wins hands down.
If you plan to play the games with your children, the Gamecube is the best choice. There are already some great "party" games like Super Smash Brothers Melee, Super Monkey Ball, Sega Soccer Slam and Bomberman Generations. All support four players and are well-suited to family or solitary gaming.
Mr. Ohle is dead wrong that Xbox is the best choice. For a five year old, you'll have trouble finding games you're comfortable with him playing beyond sports and racing. Those genres are represented just fine on the Gamecube and you get all the great Nintendo exclusives to go with it. You cannot play Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Super Monkey Ball, F-Zero, and many other long-time console franchises on any system other than the Gamecube.
I would recommend against a PS2 simply because it only has two controller ports which is immediately limiting to family gaming. I have three children in my house and by the systems that get the most use are the Gamecube and Dreamcast. I cannot recommend the DC anymore simply because it will get harder and harder to find games for it and there are no more coming beside imports.
Hardware "power" means very little. Look at the games you want to play. Read some reviews and visit the kiosks in store. Spider-Man is available on all the systems. You're not limited by that game.
The Dreamcast is an excellant bargain with a great library; the only problem is that library is getting steadily harder to find as the games disappear from shelves. If there's a good second hand game store near by though, you may be set.
If you'd prefer to go with one of the main three, I'll try to break this down as fairly as I can (I own an Xbox and PS2 personally, previous systems being the N64 and the Dreamcast).
The first thing anyone will notice in a store is that the Gamecube is $50 cheaper. No getting around that, if price was your ultimate factor, the Gamecube's got a head start towards the top of your list. You could consider however that to play almost any game these days you'll need a memory card to save progress; for the Gamecube that's an extra $15* (Nintendo brand), for the PS2 that's an extra $25* (Sony brand), for the Xbox that's unnecessary because of the built in hard drive for saving games. The Gamecube still comes out cheapest, but it's mildly frustrating that you're not really getting everything you'll need to fully enjoy your games right out of the box with the PS2 and Gamecube.
*prices from ebgames.com
When it comes to multiplatform games and technical capabilities of these systems, the Xbox seems to win out. I say seems only because it's hard to ever be certain; I think a lot of the differences can be accounted for by the willingness of the programmers to take full advantage of a console's specific hardware, and the different architectures of the three consoles make direct hardware comparisons less informative than comparing two different speed PC's for example. When it comes to the comparisons that are available now though, I'd repeat that the Xbox generally seems to be the best of the three. PS2 tends to be more powerful than the Gamecube (higher framerates is what I mean by this), but the Gamecube tends to look "better" than the PS2 (crisper graphics, but not always as good a framerate), with the Xbox matching or beating the best of both. This holds true of what I know of Spider-Man for example (also a note with Spider-Man in particular is that the Xbox has an extra level).
The only other differences of the consoles themselves worth pointing out are controllers (since you said DVD playing isn't important, PS2 has it, Xbox has it optional, Gamecube doesn't have it at all). Controllers will almost always come down to personal taste. For me, The PS2 controller is good enough, the Xbox controller (original version) is comfortable, and the newer smaller Xbox S controller is ideal. The Gamecube controller does not suit my tastes, but other people swear by it. Ultimately I doubt many console purchases come down to controllers alone, but it is something to think about (and easy to make your own opinions with demo kiosks in the stores). Oh, and the PS2 only has two controller ports, Xbox and GC have four.
The rest of your decision will come down to games. This is the hardest for someone to sum up because it's the most subjective. I could say objectively that the PS2 has the largest library and it feels like the GC has the smallest (though I haven't actually checked that against the Xbox), but the amount of those games in any of the system's libraries doesn't really matter if you don't like any of them.
My personal favorites for the Xbox are Halo, Tony Hawk*, Jet Set Radio Future, Cel Damage*, Dead or Alive 3, Amped, and Rallisport Challenge (roughly in that order). I don't know if Halo would be the best choice for a 9 and a 5 year old though. On the PS2, my favorites are Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance, Ico, Virtua Fighter, and Rez. Baldurs Gate has great 2 player action that's FAR better than the Gauntlet games by my measure, but it may be too advanced for a 5 year old (I really can't remember, I wasn't playing video games at 5 though). Ico is a beautiful experience, but doesn't lend itself to replay and is only for one player. For the Gamecube, Super Smash Brothers is definitely the game to own. In fact, I'd almost certainly say it's the best multiplayer game out of any of the consoles. It's a sort of fighting game with Nintendo mascots where the object is to knock your opponent from the level (not a conventional fighter) by damaging them to reduce their resistance to your attacks. It's great for four players, and seems very accessible. If you're the type of person who buys very few games (I know when I was young enough that I couldn't afford the games myself, the only time I got new ones was one game for Christmas and one game for my birthday each year), then this would probably be the one game that would entertain longest. Other fun games for the Gamecube are the really short Luigi's Mansion (not enough to hold my interest, but possibly great for a 5 or 9 year old) and the fun little strategy kind of game, Pikmin (hard to classify, see if you can find a demo at the store).
*available on other platforms as well. I bought them for the Xbox because I had the Xbox before I had the PS2
A final word on the game selection: With Nintendo more than any other company, you can always bank on many of their top titles being aimed right around your childrens' demographic. I'm sure someone won't let this comment slide without flaming me, but Nintendo do make the best kid oriented games. I love Nintendo, I respect most of their games that I don't actually like, but I can't tell myself they're not targeting kids. That's the main reason I've got a PS2 and an Xbox instead of having a Gamecube somewhere in the mix.
Anyway, I wish I could be more help but so much of this is going to come down to personal opinion. I'll elaborate on any of these ideas or games mentioned if you want, for now I'm sure I've already bored everyone to death.
As much as Long comes across like someone who owns a lot of Nintendo stock... he's absolutely right in this case. You guys are talking about gaming with 5 year olds? Nintendo is the clear choice. The games, what few there are, are good and cute. Like Disney movies. They have violence, sure, but there's a sunny cartoon quality that's appealing to kids and to grownups (who aren't named Wumpus) alike. If you're talking about 12 and up I'd go PS2 or Xbox.
Now, if you're just looking for a system for yourselves and just using your kids as leverage against your wife's better judgement.... :) at least you still have Rogue Leader, all the EA Sports games (like SSX Tricky), and some other stuff.
Coming from an Atari2600, the "power" of those franchises may mean very little in this situation :)Originally Posted by Dave Long
I guess as I think about it, I would tend to agree that the Xbox is not the way to go right now for a 5 and a 9 year old though. Unless Tim is just using his kids as an excuse and really wants to play some Halo :). It's hard for me to discount the Xbox (I find I'm usually the last one still defending it on other boards I visit), but in this situation I guess it really would come in at third place compared to Nintendo's younger target audience and PS2's sheer bulk of games (bound to be something for any age in that mess).
I think for DavidCPA the choice is a bit tougher. PS2 will work for you with only really two committed game players in the house. Then it's a matter of looking at what games you want to play. I still think the Cube has a broader appeal than the PS2. There aren't enough games other than sports rated E to offset all the M rated titles on the PS2. However, depending what kind of games you want to play, and if Gran Turismo 3 is a factor, then the PS2 can fit the bill.
As for Gamecube, you'll get hardcore action adventure like Metroid and Zelda, one of which you can play yourself, the other for both of you. Resident Evil and Eternal Darkness are solid games for your own horror gaming. Then there's Super Mario Sunshine, Star Fox Adventures, F-Zero and more that fit the everyone bill... the list is long. The Cube is a solid purchase based on the Nintendo games alone for just about anyone. You've seen Chick's comments in the console threads. He's still playing Rogue Leader on the Cube eight months after launch. I'm still playing it myself and alternating between that, Eternal Darkness, Super Monkey Ball, Super Smash Brothers Melee and Pikmin.
One thing for PC gamers to consider is that you probably won't buy a lot of console games. So while there are those that bitch about Nintendo's lack of releases, when you only buy six games for that system in a year, it doesn't matter. You can get 12 games in 2002 for the Gamecube and of them, six or more are going to be AAA Nintendo produced titles like Mario, Eternal Darkness, Metroid, Star Fox, etc. The supposed lack of games really isn't that at all. It's the main reason the N64 was really not a failure. In fact, it was a great success for Nintendo because it solidified their franchises in 3D and while running second, still turned a profit.
I totally agree with you on the supposed "lack of games", and it goes for all the consoles. I think the Xbox actually catches the most flack from PC gamers though because it's going after their audience more than the Gamecube, so the "lack of games" is even more pronounced to a PC user who's getting (downloading likely) new games all the time. Incidentally, I just hooked up my N64 the other week and I've played it the most of any of my systems this month.
Not that I'm explicitly recommending them, but have you considered a pair of Gameboy Advances? Keeping kids occupied while on the road can be invaluable. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the GBA library, and they wouldn't readily allow you to incorporate family gaming time.
I have trouble recommending Xbox for a 5 year old. PS2 has a goodly amount of content, and there are ways around the 2 controller port problem (via a multitap). Of course, I don't think you can really go wrong with a Gamecube either.
The problem with the GBA and small children is it consumes them. You have a very hard time keeping it from them and they know damn well there's no good reason it can't go in the car with them everywhere they go. My wife put the kibosh on travelling game systems and I grudgingly agree with her on this one. When we travel, the youngsters should be looking around, taking in the sights, learning new things about passing places, etc. Once they've got that game system in their hands, the world is tuned out.
One thing I can suggest from experience, limit your kids play time. It definitely makes them irritable to play too much. My oldest acts completely differently from his normal personality after long gaming sessions. He loves playing so it's sometimes hard to make him stop, but in the end it's for the best. For the little guys, moderation is key IMO. We're not a big TV family either. That can be just as bad.
One thing that always fascinates me is how the little guys never get bored with one game they love. My oldest could play Klonoa 2 every day and he'd be fine.
Now that I've written like 1000 words on this, I'm going downstairs to play some Genesis games...Gunstar Heroes is calling me. ;)
Awww...Gunstar Heroes...one of the greatest games ever.Originally Posted by Dave Long
I remember playing through that with a friend using the "blue square of death" weapon (homing + blue laser), and just holding down the fire button while concentrating on dodging incoming fire. We tore through the whole game, then immediately started it up again using different weapon combinations.
Where's the update of Gunstar Heroes for today's consoles??
Thanks for all the great feedback.
Honest, I will probably play the game very little, though I hope to play some with the boys. I already have a stack of PC games I've yet to install and don't expect to get to all of them before the end of the year.
I forgot, we are already a 2 Gameboy (color) family. So the kids already know Mario and Donkey Kong. Both units had been confiscated for a long while but they've had them back for a few weeks now. The younger son really doesn't play with his much, but big brother got his first and ran a lemonade stand all summer to buy one for his brother's birthday.
Gamecube is definitely the way I'm leaning now. I hadn't realized that PS2 only had 2 controller ports. I would think that despite add-on options to work around this, that relatively few games would be designed with >2 players in mind.
And the 'lack of games' point is also very appropriate - I think about 6 per year will be the rate we buy them.
DavidCPA - one of my primary tools is a great deal of outdoor physical activity. The boys and I play catch in the backyard at least a few days a week, and are also spending time upgrading biking skills. It's the zoning out/couch potato factor that is my wife's biggest objection.
Maybe we could take a cue from the kids. I'll tell her your wife said it was OK, and you tell your wife mine said it was OK, and hopefully they won't compare notes.
I don't formally represent your children, but please, please let them have the GBAs during the drive. :) I agree with taking them away once you have arrived at your destination, but the drive itself is tedious to a kid. Why limit yourself to boring games like License Plate Bingo to pass the time when Nintendo offers a compelling electronic alternative?Originally Posted by Dave Long
My parents loved car trips - at least two a month to somewhere. My brother and I quickly learned to despise those trips. When you are a kid, scenery is boring. When we finally got a Mattel Electronic Football (and a few similar games), it made the trips a lot more bearable. Well, my Dad hated the constant beeping, so we learned to crack them open and pad the speakers. We marveled at the earphone jack when the original GameBoy came out - genius!
Maybe it is a girl thing, but my oldest has a GameBoy Color that she ignores. She never really found any games she likes, so she just reads & draws in the van instead.
I have 3 kids, ages 9, 6, and 3. Got a cube. It does seem to be a bit more kid friendly with its titles. Smash Bros, Bomberman, and Monkeyball are 3 of the best multiplayer console titles period right now.
The other nice thing for kids is the mini discs. My kids have smudged up many a CD and DVD where I had to clean it to work, but not one minidisc has ever had a misread even with a lot of use. Easier for small hands I guess.
Xbox has a slight tech edge, PS2 has the library of titles. My second choice would be a PS2 for kids, the Xbox seems to be going for the teenagers pretty hard.
"One thing I can suggest from experience, limit your kids play time."
Kind of funny to read this advice on a site named "Quarter to Three." Unless that's quarter to three PM...
"I don't formally represent your children, but please, please let them have the GBAs during the drive. I agree with taking them away once you have arrived at your destination, but the drive itself is tedious to a kid. Why limit yourself to boring games like License Plate Bingo to pass the time when Nintendo offers a compelling electronic alternative?"
Heh. I was thinking the same thing. I never learned a damn thing from car trips as a kid except that spending all day in a car was boring as hell. When the most exciting moment of the ride is spotting some cows or horses, that's pretty lame. The best moments of a car trip were falling asleep and waking up a few hours later, knowing that you're three hours closer to arriving at your destination. I would have slept the entire drive if I was able.
You can always alert your kids when something interesting is coming up. Just use the dad voice and make them stop playing for a minute.
I dunno, there's something kinda creepy about these van commercials where every kid has a different set of headphones on, off in a separate world, and the parents are blissed out because they don't actually have to converse with the family they've generated.
Call me old fashioned, but books and magnetic checkers and conversation (not just SHADDUP!) work.
Maybe I'm just grumpy because I saw 2 pudgy boys kicked out of their house onto the playground to get some fresh air, and they both plopped down on the treehouse fort thing with their GBA's.
Yeah...that's basically what I was saying. My kids are good in the car normally so it's not like they're back there wishing they weren't driving in the first place. They're only 4, 2 and 1 so we're not anywhere near a stage where they're bored with Mom and Dad yet. When they get older, then it makes a little more sense, but my wife just doesn't dig it. She's inundated with game playing requests all week (stay at home Mom), so I think it's just a product of the kids wanting to play and Dad being an avid gamer/writer that makes trips sacred for her. (I did manage to get the PS2 to travel to the beach this year...that DVD movie watching capability came in handy as a bartering chip.)
We're going to drive to Disney World next year and I might break down for that trip. That's a little different though at 16 hours in total (split into two days). We drove to Bar Harbor, Maine last year without any grousing, though. That was another two day drive. They slept a lot, read some books, looked at all the cool scenery and we stopped for a snack, lunch, etc. when they got really antsy. I love it up there. I'd go back every year if we could.
Not everyone can read books or magazines in cars. The last thing you want on a roadtrip is the smell of puke in the car. It's also hard to get kids to read if they don't want to.
To me, the handhelds are a godsend for long drives. It keeps the kids happy. It's not like they don't converse or look around, but they do have something that takes up a big chunk of their time at least. Most of the time, there just isn't much to look at.
We got the Harry Potter book on tape for our big road trip...gee, just last summer, I guess. Seems like it was longer ago. Our oldest son (8 then) was already an excellent reader but hadn't been able to get interested in the book (which gets off to a fairly slow start). The audio tape is unabridged - about 12 hours, I think, and the narrator is fantastic.
He got so hooked on the tapes that we bought him a cheap walkman while we were there because everyone else was sick of the story. But now he's read all the books about 6 times each. And he's moved on to lots of 'older kid' books by EB White, CS Lewis, Tolkien, etc. We have to negotiate with him to alternate 'other' books with rereading the Harry Potter ones.
The biggest lesson my kids have learned from our usual summer road trips is "Kansas smells bad". Lots of livestock along I-70.
Tim, I had to decide on a console too, and I picked the PS2. Partially for game writing reasons, but also because my home DVD player died. The PS2 and I think Xbox will give you that extra feature (DVD playback) if you need it. The price drop to $199 sealed it for me, and I made the purchase.
The DVD play quality is probably sub-par to that of higher end DVD players, but it does the job, and supports sound and S-video (but be ready to buy special S-video cable to connect the console to your tv or receiver because the consoles don't come with one in the box).
I think someone else mentioned that the PS2 has a huge library of games...it also can play PS1 games, so you've got a good bargain libary out there too. I agree that Nintendo has a great price and great kids games, but you can find kids games on all the platforms if you look around. It will cost more, but the PS2 and probably the other consoles can be configured with add-ons that support additional players.
I don't think your kids will care which one you get though, and really they are all nice systems.
The PS2 has a multiplayer adapter, but no one develops for it. Why should they? You'll see maybe one per 100,000 PS2s sold if that. If you want to play with four players, Gamecube or Xbox are the only real choice.It will cost more, but the PS2 and probably the other consoles can be configured with add-ons that support additional players.
I wasn't making the suggestion of the Xbox based on the fact that the majority of the gaming would be done by said 5-year-old--I was assuming that it would mainly be Tim playing the games. For children's games and party games--at least at the moment--Gamecube is the obvious choice. Xbox doesn't have too many--Mad Dash Racing is a blast, and is fairly simple to play; Fuzion Frenzy is fun; Blinx looks like it might be one of the coolest platformers ever, along with Psychonauts; and Kung Fu Chaos was my personal pick for Best of Show at E3. But yeah, that's really not the system to go for if you're looking for current party/family games.Originally Posted by Dave Long
I just haven't been convinced that the Gamecube is going to have all that many good games. Cel-shaded Zelda makes me sick...
You probably will never see one from Treasure, the makers of the original. They don't make sequels. Even Ikaruga, the upcoming shooter on Dreamcast, is only loosely associated with Radiant Silvergun. They've committed the company to a no sequels policy and state that in the press every time they're interviewed.Where's the update of Gunstar Heroes for today's consoles??
I wouldn't be surprised to see them revisit that style of game again, though. It'll just be a completely different setting and have really no ties to the original other than the gameplay-style similarity. Their next original game (not an arcade port) is a Tiny Toons game for the PS2. It looks pretty damn cool too. You throw objects at each other. Tiny Toons: Defenders of the Looniverse is the title. I can't wait to play it...
BTW, there was a rumor floating around that Treasure is the developer of Wario World for the Gamecube. That's never been confirmed that I'm aware of...but if so, the early showing at E3 may have been far too early to see where that game is heading.
Just to chime in, probably too late, I'd have to echo the suggestions that Tim get a Gamecube.
In terms of quality and quantity of time spent, I spend the most time on my Gamecube. I, too, was concerned that it would be too kiddie oriented, but Nintendo has a penchant for creating gameplay that transcends its own cutseyness. Super Smash Brothers has an amazing amount of depth and breadth. Rogue Squadron is a superlative way to get a quick Star Wars fix from the pre-Fuck Star Wars days. Bomberman is a great tactical puzzle game, especially multiplayer. I'm not as enamoured with Super Monkey Ball as Dave Long is, but it goes over very well at Shoot Club.
Personally, I really enjoyed Agent under Fire on the Gamecube, but it's also available on other platforms. Same with Gauntlet Dark Legacy. The Gamecube version of one of my favorite driving games, Smuggler's Run 2, will be available later this summer, with 4-player support (the PS2 version only supported two players).
So, Tim, get a Gamecube. For the sake of the children.
Let us know what you decide!
Do different systems look better or worse on certain TVs. I have an 8 year old Sony 53" widescreen and a similar vintage Sony 31" normal TV. Big screen console gaming sounds good but does it look like crap?