Video Game Systems Ready to Duke It Out

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert McGinty, Times-Union staff writer

It's almost been too easy for Sony's PlayStation2. After a year of pummeling lesser video game systems around the marketplace, the real battle for the sacred spot beneath your television begins.

Nintendo's Game Cube and Microsoft's Xbox hit the shelves in the past week, just in time to give PS2 a run for your holiday dollars.

All three contenders are qualified. Sony has dominated the market since 1995, first with its original Play-Station and then with last year's upgrade. Nintendo was the force in the late '80s and early '90s with its powerhouse Mario franchises -- the original Nintendo Entertainment System solidified the backbone that the industry is built on. And though Microsoft is making its first foray into the home console wars, years of experience in PC gaming and a wealth of . . . er . . . wealth, make it a player for sure.

The Xbox and PS2 are $299; the GameCube is $199. The PS2 has a huge head start as far as games; well more than 100 titles are available. The Xbox launched with 19, the Game Cube six.

Many game titles are available on all three systems, but each console is leaning heavily on in-house developers to sway gamers. The Xbox launched with six original games, unique to the console; the GameCube with four. Even though some games, such as Madden 2002, will appear on all three systems, the software is not cross-compatible.

Around the area, the Xbox beat the GameCube to the punch, arriving Thursday. Most stores sold out within minutes.

"As soon as we opened, we handed out our 12 Xboxes to the first 12 people in line," said Kori Harpstrite at the Regency Target. "Then we got another shipment later in the day, and they sold immediately."

GameCubes went on sale Sunday but sat on shelves a bit longer in many stores.

"We've still got a few left," said William Cunsill of Best Buy at Orange Park Sunday night. "But they're selling very well."

"We sold our last [Game Cube] around 2 p.m. [Sunday]," Harpstrite said. "But we'll be getting more in soon, definitely before Christmas.

Software was just as hot, with many gamers buying three or four $49 titles with each system, according to Cunsill. The DVD remote for the Xbox, a necessity if you want to play movies on the console, was another big seller at $29. …