To begin I wanted to delve into Nintendo because honestly the NES and Super Nintendo were our first legitimate systems. When I was a wee southern lad I loved going to friends houses, not to play outside because I was a social recluse, but because I wanted to play video games. Video games fueled my need to get out of school as soon as possible so I could marinate in one of our lazy boys and indulge in some sweet digital relief. Thinking back my earliest gaming days started back in 1990 with the small hand held black and white movie themed games that you bought at the Revco which is now CVS. In a home movie I watched I was visiting my Mama in the hospital after she had birthed forth my sweet little sister from her loins and I spent my time locked into a bat mobile speeding through Gotham in the Tim Burton Batman game. There were others like Aladdin and Jurrassic Park. But when I discovered my friends has these crazy TV connected boxes that allow you to play on the old boob tube It was love, never ending love. One of the earliest memories I had was when my grandmama brought me a addiction inducing present. My very own Super Nintendo. Now I wouldn't need the company of my so called "friends" to enjoy my fantasies. Not only did she bring me a SNES but in the bottom of the bag was a Sega Super Genisis. What a haul! I was hooked...for life.
That brings me to my first point with Nintendo, my first gaming love. Since the SNES I've owned an insane amount of Nintendo products and literally everyone. From the old giant gray Gameboy through all the Gameboy models into the Advance and into the DS and 3DS. I've had my grubby paws on the iconic 64 up to the Wii and that is where my fondness tapered off. Make no mistake that Nintendo will always have my heart and probably yours as well with its adorable characters and stories. I mean who on this worse for the wear planet has no inclination of who Mario, Luigi, Peach and Bowser are? That's right, nobody. But to hardcore gamers the Nintendo franchise has been dead. Today they appeal to a much younger audience and wo can blame them? That's where their money is at. They cash in on short, charming stories which I must say I still enjoy. But the aspect where Nintendo loses customers of a more mature attitude is the longevity of the game and the pure simplicity of the titles. The big N has short easy games. Perfect for their market but for people that want to walk down memory Hyrule lane the fun stroll is far to short and to easy to navigate the trail to the end. Us gamers on the XBox and Plsystation have become accustomed to long grueling games which are a blast from start to delicious finish and the limited Nintendo titles aren't worth the money or minuscule time to complete.
What shocks me most about Nintendo isn't their style and difficulty but their unwillingness to get on the mobile phone bandwagon. I've read some interviews with Nintendo and various gaming sites and magazines and they ask the exact same question. Who in their right mind would not download a new Super Mario game on iPhone and Android for a dollar? Hell I would pay any amount, including my soul to squash some goombas on my iPhone, officially mind you. The issue with this is that Nintendo is too prideful. Yup the original gaming God is selfish. Investors have said that profits would blow through the roof and they would literally be swimming in money if the made the jump to mobile. But nooooo their samurai honor will not allow them to sway. They stated that as long as Nintendo is around their original games and characters will only be available on Nintendo systems. I get it I really do. I know I don't want my future children saying that they remember Samus from the iPadXXL 63 S. So Nintendo I do understand. I love you. Even though we don't agree you will always be my first.
So the long overdue wait for the big deuce is nearing. Like seriously it's right around the corner. And I'm pretty excited. The XBox 360 slammed into shelves in 2005 with the Playstation 3 crushing into second with a launch of 2006. That is a long ass time and I think that this short lap by the Playstation gave Microsoft a foothold in the next gen gaming war for the US. Historically systems have come out every five years. So this Christmas is going to be a nightmare. Luckily Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have learned over the past to build appropriate units. I remember I had to search for weeks to find a GameCube. Prolonging my misery.
To be honest Sony and Microsoft have never been closer with their consoles. Nothing really sets them apart other than the built in Kinect for the XBox One. And in an interview with Sony IGN was told that they are the underdog in the US market. I myself am an XBox fan. I have played both systems and prefer the box. The only differences I see between the two is the controller and the online services. A lot of people bitch and moan about XBox Live not being free, but the payment for the service allows it to grow and evolve. Playstation network seems bogged down and cluttered and then there is the competition difference when gaming online. When Call of Duty World at War came out I was playing it on XBox. Usually I went in the 20s and my deaths were in the teens and lower on standard team death match. I went over to my buddies who had a Playstation and I decided to hop on and get a little gunfire started. He was the same level as me and I went 40 and 5. What I'm trying to explain is that even though the XBox crowd can be bro like and complete assholes they also play the hardest. Your online competitions will have much stiffer competitors in them on Live. Second is the controller ergonomics. I find the Playstation controller to be too much. Four triggers and square, circle, triangle, hexagon and quadratic ellipse are just too much, at least to me. The XBox controller shines in simplicity and for those of us who grew up with the A button we feel at home on the Microsoft grip.
Other than the online aspect the brand new baby consoles are practically identical hardware wise. So in actuality your choice for the holidays will be strictly out of preference for a brand. The most exciting thing for the next generation is growth. The companies are preparing for the long haul with these systems. I wouldn't be surprised to see add ons that improve function and extend the power of your console. Both systems have second screen experiences. Using your smartphones and tablets you can control games in new ways and get extra content in the game on your handheld device. I rarely use XBox Smartglass because I'd rather be playing a game than viewing map info about my current COD match. One game that I feel is making good use of the second screen is Battlefield 4. It allows one person on your team to assume a tactical role on the field. They are able to navigate the entire battlefield from an overhead map view. The player can guide troops to objectives and mark enemies, hard targets, etc. a very cool feature of this is that the player can actually use weapons, such as ATG missiles and other offensive measures from the tablet or phone that show up directly in game. By far this is the smartest form of the second screen feature that I would remotely consider using.
Another thing to note before I wrap this up is the willingness of Microsoft to change undesirable features on their system that the gaming community despised. For example, previously you would have to be online almost constantly to play any game. To keep yourself logged in to your account you would have to "check in" to stay online. More a less a feature and more of a hassle, so Microsoft quickly changed that and a butt load of other things that were not digested well by the community.
So I can barely wait to see what the future holds for the next (way overdue) gen systems. Competition should be heated between the big green and blue this holiday but that is what breeds improvement and forces the others to grow. So whether your DNA is encoded in squares and circles or you bleed green, this is an exciting time for us as consumers and most of all...gamers.