The Cheapskate's Guide to the Next-Gen

So I never really planned on writing something like this. I'm much more content doing the easy things, like writing reviews, news articles, and the occasional preview. Until, that is, I started having a little discussion with fellow RPGSite Staffer Alex about the 360 and the PS3 and the Wii. Well, really it was just about the 360, but the PS3 and Wii were occasionally thrown into the discussion. That's when I decided I was going to write an article to see which next-gen console, if I was to buy one, would be my right pick.

Having said all of that, I think there's one thing you may want to notice. All but two of my reviews, and all but two or three of my news articles, have been about PC games. I'm just not a huge console person. I would rather spend my time on the computer playing games, where I can do other things at the same time. I don't know why PC games have generally always appealed to me more than console games. Maybe it's because I only own a Gamecube and a PS2, and I just can't find the right titles to suit myself. Maybe PC games just cater to my playing style more.

Regardless, I am here now to try and see what will suit me best. Our three competitors: the 360, PS3, or the Wii. Now here's some background information on me. I have no job, so money is fairly limited (hopefully I'll get one soon, though, so I'll put that into account). I have a busy schedule. I have limited space. I have a small TV screen. I still owe $400 on a guitar I bought a few weeks ago. I like competitive games. All of those will, of course, be put into consideration. So let's go ahead and bring up contender #1.

The Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 - beastly.

In the red corner, we have the Xbox 360! Weighing in at a mighty 7.7 pounds, just over a foot high, 10 inches deep, and about 3 inches wide, the 360 is a formidable foe for any flimsy stand. So, like I said, space is a problem for me. This thing isn't exactly compact or light, which may prove a problem if I want to fit it in the stand under my current TV.

The 360 isn't exactly cheap, either. While the core system runs at $300 (which isn't totally absurd), it also blows. No backwards compatibility, no way to save games, or anything like that. Already, that model is out of the question. So, okay, what's the real thing worth? $400? Eh. Not a huge fan of that price tag. With the guitar payments and having to attend to the ever-increasing cost of gas, that could set me back more than I want to be set back. Of course, we have to take into account the fact that there more than likely will be a price drop this Fall, so I at least have that to look forward to.

One thing that I do love about the Xbox 360 is, of course, Xbox Live. As I said, I'm a very competitive person, so being able to go online with games and beat people at games (even though that will probably happen once in a blue moon at best) really tends to my fierce side. I like this. Oh, but one problem -- connecting. My room and the TV are about 30 feet away from my computer, going through several doors and a hallway to get there. I'm not about to spend $150 on a WiFi setup, nor do I really want to take up my carpet to run a cable under it. And even then, I'm not a huge fan of paying monthly for something you've already bought, especially when just about every one of my friends has an Xbox or a 360, and if they don't have a 360 they're planning on getting one soon enough. Prospects are looking poor for the 360 so far.

I am, however, a fan of the partial backwards compatibility of the 360. I like the idea of being able to play games like GTA, KotOR, and Halo on my 360. While not every game runs flawlessly (Ninja Gaiden, for instance), the list is expansive enough to keep me happy if I were to want to play some older games. The other features of the system are rather appealing, too. The music storage and downloadable games sound like a good plan to me.

And, of course, there are a ton of games that will be coming out for the Xbox 360 that interest me. Halo 3 and Fable 2, just to name two of the more popular ones. I love PGR, too. So games are definitely not an issue on the 360. Even though they'll be bumped up $10 to $60 a game, that's nothing too terrible. It's above that when I start to get worried.

Okay, let's see here. The 360 gets a check on games, extra features, and competitive ability. It gets a minus, however, in the cost department.

Xbox 360:

:) :) :) :( = :) :)

So now we move onto competitor #2.

The PlayStation 3

The PS3 in all its glory.

I've been a pretty big fan of Sony all my life. Especially since Final Fantasy hit the PSOne back in '97. As I said, I own a PS2 now, and love it. My favorite things to do on it are play Time Crisis, Guitar Hero, DDR, and the occasional NBA Street (I'm balla enough.). The PS3, though, I'm not too excited about.

Since I'm lazy, I'll go ahead and quote this directly from the RPG Site PS3 file.

"Sony's upcoming Playstation 3 was first introduced to the gaming crowd at E3 2005. It is set to be released on November 11, 2006 (Japan) and November 17, 2006 (Everywhere else). The Playstation 3 has received a great number of complaints and accolades from the gaming world. Sony's most recent information, released at E3 2006, has caused an uproar in the community. Despite this, however, the Playstation 3 promises to be a new gaming juggernaught."

So, yeah. On November 17th, the terror that is the PS3 is scheduled to hit shelves everywhere. I almost don't want to even review this because I pretty well already know that I don't want it. Despite images that make it look sleek and slender enough compared to the 'stylish tank' 360 look, space might be a problem with the PS3 being marginally bigger than the 360.

Then again, Sony always has had a pretty decent selection of games, and PS3 looks to be no exception here. With games like Devil May Cry 4, more Sonic the Hedgehog, Unreal Tournament 2007, and Resident Evil 5, the line-up for the system is actually very promising. But, then again, while Sony hasn't confirmed just how much these games will initially cost, they have made a point to say that they will be more expensive than before. $50 is already a little hard on my wallet as it is, but I can't imagine $70 or $80 for a game once it comes out. I'll be going to the used rack far more often if that's the case.

And, sadly enough, the PS3 does have "extra features." I put that in quotations because I think it was a blatant rip-off of Nintendo and Microsoft, what they did. While it is almost vital that they put the online-gaming feature and their new "Entitlements" (a.k.a. Sony's gamerscore), it is such an obvious steal. And even the whole gyro-scope-ama-whatever controllers that seem to be taken right from the Wii remote's capabilities. So, I'll have to give them the check for extra features, but if I really wanted those things, I would go to the other consoles where they do it better.

Last one -- price. Well, PS2 was only $300 new, right? PS3 can't be that b--WHOJAMAWHAT? $600? You've gotta be joking me! No way am I shelling out $600 for the PS3. Man, and I thought the 360's price was a little cuckoo. Like I said, I'm not rich. I don't even have a job, for crying out loud. While people that do have jobs may look at this and say, "Bah, I use $20s for toilet paper, this is nothing!" I say it is something. Parents with half a brain aren't going to spend $600 for their kids' entertainment, especially since they seem to think it's all bad.

And while there is a $500 package available, it provides very little memory card support, no wifi compatibility to be heard of, a third of the memory to store media, and all for only $100 less. If I'm getting a third of the stuff, I would like it to be a third of the price, thank you very much. And all of that junk is still $100 more expensive than the good version of the 360. Even for fanboys there just isn't much to back this up.

So, recap. The PS3 gets a check for games, "extra features," and online ability. But just because it's so absolutely ridiculous, I'm going to give it two minuses for costing an absurd $600. Good luck on selling your product Sony, especially when I could get a 360 and a Wii for the same price.

PlayStation 3:

:) :) :) :( :( = :)

And onto our final debutante:

The Nintendo Wii

The Nintendo Wii, lookin' sharp.

I honestly think it's amazing how much of a laughingstock the Wii was when the name was first announced a few months ago. Even I was turned off by it. Nikki Rieth puts it well in her article fabout this year's E3. But now, the Wii is obviously a huge deal in the gaming world and will take the world by storm on its release. Ha-ha. Wii. It still makes me laugh.

Shortly after I got my PSOne, I got my N64. I loved that thing. Kirby, Mario, Starfox, and Link, all in one nice package with a bunch of their friends. I used to play Super Mario 64 and Super Smash Bros. non-stop (used to, because my N64 recently stopped working. :(). As soon as the Gamecube debuted, I had one. I still love playing games like Super Mario Sunshine and Mario Kart: Double Dash to this day. One thing I love about Nintendo is their lovable characters and the games they're in. Which, for the most part, are good.

But after that, the Gamecube loses momentum in the game department. First Person Shooters are almost non-existent, and RPGs are scarce. While I am very, very excited for the release of LoZ: Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy, there just isn't a whole lot of game options available on the Wii at this point. Maybe in the future Nintendo will scrape up more titles and it will be a huge thing again, but at this point, it isn't.

Of course everyone knows about the Wii's extra features. Swinging your controller madly to make Link do a spin-attack, hearing the string go taut as you fire the bow, your arms looking like they're holding an invisible one. That makes me excited. If nothing else, that was what made me pee my pants during E3. Seeing the demo for Twilight Princess and the use of the Wii remote. The possibilities for this are near limitless. Nintendo has always been good at innovating, and I applaud them once again.

The Wii having online capabilities also makes me giddy. Unfortunately, we fall into the same problem as the 360 for me. Inability to connect easily and cost to get around that. So while other people may easily do that, it'll be harder for me. But honestly, Super Smash Bros. Brawl online? Hell yes.

The cost isn't confirmed yet for the Wii. Here's what has to say:

"Nintendo has revealed to, at the company's recent press conference unveiling its financial results, that Wii would arrive in Japanese stores with a maximum price tag of 25,000 yen. After taking in account various factors, the conversion to other currencies comes down to a launch price of: 225 dollars, 225 euros, and 150 pounds."

While nothing is set in stone, that's a good outlook. The Wii probably won't debut for more than $300 or so, which makes it at the most the same price as the "retard-version" (thanks Alex) of the 360.

So for a final recap of the Wii, here we go. It gets a check for extra features, cost, and online ability. It's going to get a check and a minus for games, because what it has is great, but it could use more.

Nintendo Wii:

:) :) :) :) :( = :) :) :)

By looking at the scores across the board, it looks like the Wii has it for me. We love the Wii! So if I do, in fact, decide to get a next-gen console, I'll head for the Wii first. But this is all my opinion. This is all based on my needs and my limits. Everyone else may have different limits and needs than myself, so just to help you out, I've made a fairly short quiz to help you decide what system will be best for you! This generation is all based around one thing!

Select the answer that fits you best.

How much are you willing to spend?
A) I have gobs of money and am willing to blow said money.
B) I have enough money and will spend it.
C) I can save up money and will spend it.
D) I don't have much money and don't want to spend it.

If you answered A, the PS3 is right for you. If you answered B, the 360 is right for you. If you answered C, the Wii is right for you. If you answered D, why are you even reading this article?