PS3, N5, Xbox 2, Phantom, ApeXtreme, PSP, GBA 2...
Life's about marketing and systems galore. Every time I turn around it's more systems galore. Corporations go to war over systems galore. Either the cash, the raw, or the systems galore...
There are just too damn many video game systems and consoles on the market, or coming to the market, these days. How do we keep up with them all! Well here is a quick rundown of what is expected to hit the streets over the next couple years so you can compare, contrast, pro/con, "vs.", digest, spit out, and increase your video game IQ. They include Sony's PlayStation 3 and PSP, Microsoft's Xbox 2, Nintendo's "N5", Infinium Labs's Phantom, and Apex Digital's ApeXtreme. You also can't forget the PSX, N-Gage, "GBA 2", iQue, and a totally new product from Nintendo.
Apex Digital (yes, it's not Ape Xtreme, the console for dirty little monkeys) figures if they can outsell Sony in the DVD market, why not try the video game market too? Who cares if Apex Digital sells "budget" DVD players, maybe they do stand a chance? Most consoles (sans Atari, Sega, and Nintendo) are from major electronic/software corporations afterall. Let's look at what their plans are (in partnership with Via Technologies and S3).
There will be two versions of the ApeXtreme, a $399 (dedicated DeltaChrome graphics by Via Graphics) and a $299 (integrated Via CN400 chipset) version, with higher-end models possible in the future (the ApeXtreme is an 'entry-level' gaming device). Already the price doesn't sound promising. It runs on Windows XP (keeps getting worse) powered by a 1.4-GHz C3 processor with a built in harddrive (the amount of DDR RAM is unknown as of yet). It will contain 6 USB ports (they are used for a keyboard, mouse, and 4 controllers) and a 10/100 Ethernet/modem card. The pack-in controller though is pretty sad, it doesn't even have an analog stick.
The key though is that this system is designed to play PC (DVD-Rom) games, rather than having games licensed specifically for the ApeXtreme (like Xbox/PS2/GC do). It uses the "DISCover technology" that basically allows for PC games to be played in a console environment (i.e. pop-in and play). So for those without a PC it might be interesting, but PCs are pretty cheap these days. Oh, and of course it plays DVD movies right out of the box. But no release date has been set yet.
Infinium Labs brings this interesting device to the market. The Phantom Gaming Service is something completely different. It is described as an "always-on broadband device". You won't buy games in the conventional way, there are no disc drives of any kind, rather you will download games "on-demand". This will also allow for easy game rentals, demos, and upgrades and add-ons. It will come with several games pre-loaded when it ships though.
The Phantom will run on a custom Windows XPe kernal and will have up to a 3.0GHz CPU, 256MB RAM (upgradable), nVidia video card, Dolby Digital 7.1 output, Intel motherboard, 100GB+ hard drive, 10/100 Ethernet, Wireless controller/keyboard/mouse, 2 USB ports, and 4 controller ports. When it launches it will be the most powerful system on the market. But will it's "unique" style catch on? It will depend on the games made available, but even then, the Phantom may be too ambitious for its own good.
What is the iQue? It is Nintendo's first foray into the pirate-laden Chinese market. It is basically a device that plays SNES and N64 games that you download onto special cards at local stores. Why do I bring this up...
"New Nintendo Hardware Unlike Current Systems"
No one knows what this is, but Nintendo plans to unveil a new "unique" product at E3 this year (they need to somehow steal PSP's thunder, heh), and plan for a worldwide release hopefully in late 2004. Nintendo has stated that it is not the follow-up to either the GameCube nor the GBA. It is an entirely new product line that will coexist with their GameCube and GBA lines of the future. First reports said it was a "toy like" device that will sell for $100. Since then some claim it will have wireless abilities (via radio signals), and reports continue to say Nintendo is looking at how 'it' can be used with current titles.
"Insiders" claim it will be a worldwide form of the iQue. With the popularity of playing old Nintendo games on the GBA and in some GC games, I can see where this is coming from. But I still can't help but ask myself, "Do I care?" No. But no one has said this is in fact what it is. Another rumor has it being a device that plays old NES, SNES, and N64 game carts on your GC or via a separate device. But I don't see how Nintendo can make money off this unless they make these old, expensive, cartridges again. Not likely. Plus Nintendo keeps hinting that this is a "new line" of products, and that just doesn't fit a continuing line of systems.
Maybe with Nintendo's insistence that "connectivity" is a good thing (sure it is), it's a GBA/GC controller combo (maybe Wavebird style to explain the wireless aspect). Well it does seem like it will be a 'new' way to interact with games. Via your movments? Aimed at non-gamers? Again, who knows yet.
We'll have to wait and see if this is anything interesting, or just another Virtual Boy.
(Warning: John Tork provided some of this information, via stolen links.)
(Update: Well, it is a new way to interact with games. See, Nintendo DS.)
The code-name for the original PlayStation was "PlayStation X", hence why so many used to call it the PSX. But no more now that Sony has taken the name for another device it will sell on the market. Essentially, it is a set-top box with one of it's features being able to play PS2 games. It will also have a TV tuner, DVD recording capability, a 120 gigabyte hard disk, Ethernet adapter, and of course USB 2.0 and memory stick support. It's what they always envisioned doing with the PS2, and might be an early look at what they plan on doing with the PS3. Also of note is that this is a product directly from Sony. The PlayStation is technically from SCE (Sony Computer Entertainment).
PS3 - PlayStation 3
The PS3 is not slated for release until late 2005, possibly 2006. It's a no-brainer it will be backwards compatible with PS2 games, but it seems PS1 games might not be. It's not known yet if it will use Blu-ray media. The core of the PS3 will be the "cell" processor, which really is nothing more than a name (like PS2's Emotion Engine). Where this gets confusing is that the PS3 will be more than "just" a gaming system. For better or worse, it will be a "set top box" with many functions. That may, or may not, include the ability to record television shows, download movies on-demand, and record DVDs. So obviously it will have a built-in harddrive like the Xbox. Though it is possible a cheaper version without all these extras may be available too. Plus the "cell" processor might find it's way into other Sony electronics, so beware!
As for the games, a next-gen Grand Theft Auto is guaranteed for the PlayStation 3.
Also known as "Xbox Next" and code-named "Xenon", not much is known. The earliest we will see it is late 2005, but more signs point to 2006, so it's still a ways off. Microsoft is working with IBM on this project it seems. The latest rumors have the GPU based on the R500 ATI chipset, but who knows. Oddly, it seems it will not be backwards compatible with Xbox. But expect online play to play an even bigger role.
Like the PS3, it will function as much more than just a gaming device. Some rumors have it launching without a built-in harddrive and instead you network it with your home PC and use that HDD if you wish. That could turn off a lot of people. So I'd expect a built-in HDD, but since most blame it for MS's loses, you never know. At the very least, a high capacity storage device will be available in some form. Microsoft has high hopes for the Xbox 2/Next. But they promise the 'box' itself won't be as big this time (to help reduce household "accidents").
Gamewise, not much is known of course. But expect Rare to have a huge showing. Possibly including Perfect Dark Zero, Battletoads, and Killer Instinct. Oh, and bet on Bungie to make a Halo 3.
Nintendo's "N5" Revolution
The sequel to GameCube, "GC2", is code-named "N5" since it will be Nintendo's 5th console (or is their Apple side showing again... G5?). Like Xbox 2 and PS3, don't expect GC2 till at least late 2005. Nintendo has gone on record as saying they plan on being first to market this time. We'll see. About all we know is that Nintendo does plan on making the "N5" backwards compatible with the GameCube. And Nintendo is again working with IBM, just like Microsoft?
Don't expect though the N5 to be the "hub" of your entertainment system like Sony and Microsoft plan on doing with their next systems. It's sole focus will be games. Add in the huge jump in sales they saw with GC's price drop, you can be sure Nintendo will be cost conscious with their next system (their comments about graphics not being that important scare me though). That said, to stay competitive, GameCube 2 may have non-gaming features afterall. We just don't know.
A number of games have already been rumored to have been moved to development on N5. Including "Mario 128" and Factor 5's Pilotwings. And maybe Silicon Knights long delayed True Human will finally show.
PSP - PlayStation Portable
Much like with their PS3, Sony hopes to make this handheld more than just a gaming device. It will be used for music and even movies on the go, and may even have PDA-like features. It is still planned for a worldwide release sometime in November of this year (2004). Even though we have yet to see one (wait for E3).
The PSP will use mini-CD 'minidiscs' (UMD with 1.8 gigs storage), backlit, widescreen (480x232), 4.5" unit, USB port to hook-up with PS2 and other devices, Memory Stick compatible, rechargable battery, and wireless communication. Even though there have been rumors saying otherwise, Sony says the PSP won't function as a cel-phone like the N-Gage. No price yet. Though signs point to somewhere in the $200-250 range with games at $40. The PlayStation name will certainly help the PSP sell, but it's price will be a big factor too. So will the games, but expect some major 3rd party support (this is Sony afterall). Do not write this off as another pretender.
The N-Gage has already been released, to a luke-warm response. It has already seen multiple price drops, it has already been hacked, and an updated 'QD' version is already coming soon. But if you want to read more, see: Nokia N-Gage (Article 83).
"Game Boy Advance 2"
Nothing has been announced yet, but with the threat of the PSP, you can be sure Nintendo is working on the sequel to their bread-and-butter. With PSP out this year, we may see a GBA SP 2 as early as the summer of 2005. Maybe it will be based off the GC hardwarre and play GC games, along with GB games (or maybe Nintendo's new hardware will play both...). We'll have to wait and see.
The NBrid (aka Bad Ass Mother 4000)
- Controller Ports: 5 (because being odd is in)
- Game Format: Floppy Disc
- Harddrive: 2gb
- Desktop background support
- Emoticon support
- Specs: A bit higher than the best thing on the market.
- Memory Saved on memory cards shaped as coins thus coining (no pun intended) the name memory coins.
- Online support via 2 56k modems internally installed, to equal 112k.
- Controllers: 8 buttons - Q,W,R,T,Z,C,P, and D. 3 analog sticks, and 1 D-pad.
- NBRID plays all NBRID floppy games as well as Atari Jaguar games with the optional JaguarX connector (each sold separately).
- Comes in 2 colors: White & Black
- Pack In Game: Mr.Bot's Adventure
If we market this puppy as a machine for infants and then BAM!, release games like True Crime, Manhunt, and Mr. Bot's Adventure Uncut, we could sell these babies like hotcakes to the off-guarded public. BRILLIAAANT!
By the way, Mr. Bot's Adventure is NBRID exclusive till the year 2025.
(Thanks go to ConnDestn for supplying this exclusive.)
I didn't mention the current systems, or even regular cell-phone mobile games. The PS2, GC, and Xbox all have at least two years left in them. Heck, Sony still produces the PS1! And I'd be surprised if Microsoft stays out of the mobile gaming market, especially if the PSP does well. Xpocket? There is just no way the market can support all of these systems. It could dilute the market and flood us gamers with so much garbage. Some will be left behind. Just don't expect any of them to be Sony or Microsoft, or even Nintendo. Then again, competition could only help in the long run.
(Pussy Galore parody used without permission from the Roots. What? Are they going to sue us? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.... sigh.)