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Battle of the Launch: GameCube vs Xbox

The following is a conversation between Ryan Schaefer and Kaleb Rutherford about the GameCube and Xbox launches.

Who had a better launch?

Ryan: I would say Microsoft had a better launch. I'm not sure what the statistics are for either system's launch, but I think the Xbox had much better stuff available.

Kaleb: Ryan, lets get realistic. The name of the game is sales and Microsoft only had about 300,000 systems available at launch--while Nintendo had 700,000 GameCube units waiting to be sold. That doesn't mean that the Xbox is not as powerful--but Microsoft really dropped the ball by not having more units at retail. However, I did notice that at every retail store I visited, the available games and accessories for the Xbox were the same--while the availability of games and accessories for the GameCube greatly varied store by store.

What is the most disappointing thing about the Xbox?

Ryan: Easily the controller. It's so big! I'm thinking about importing a Japanese controller, they're supposed to be smaller. Of course, the button placement is also questionable, they're too close together and hitting the wrong one in a heated gaming session can spell disaster.

Kaleb: Forget the controller, it is one of the greatest things about the Xbox. What disturbs me is the lack of Role Playing Games. Sure the graphics on the Xbox look great, but where are the RPGs? Looking to the future, I only see one RPG coming out between now and the Spring of 2002... However, that one RPG is Might & Magic. How many of you are excited about Might & Magic coming out for the Xbox?

What is the most disappointing thing about the GameCube?

Ryan: It may be the machine's technical limitations. Obviously, Nintendo was able to keep the Cube's cost lower, but at what price? If developers can continue to dig deeper and deeper into the power of the PS2 and Xbox, and the GameCube has already reached its limits, then Nintendo may be in big trouble.

Kaleb: Lets compare the specs here. Okay, so we all know the Xbox is the world's most powerful videogame console. However, is the GameCube some underpowered toy? Not at all. It runs on a custom 485 MHz chip from IBM and has a custom ATI video card. True it can't compare with the Xbox's 750 MHz and custom NVIDIA video card-but the GCN can outperform the PS2's weak 300 MHz. I find it amazing that Nintendo was able to cram all that technology into such a little cube. In terms of space, they are small and powerful compared to the massively large Xbox.

Is there room for Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony in the game industry?

Ryan: I don't think there should be a problem. Sega, Nintendo, and Sony were all in there at one point, and I don't see any reason why these three should be any different.

Kaleb: I disagree with you yet again, Ryan. It is true that Sega, Nintendo, and Sony were all involved in the last videogame race. However, were all of these companies making money? No--Sega bailed out of the game industry because they were going broke. Lets go back further in time... There was once a SNES, Genesis, and Turbo Duo on the market. Guess what happened to the third place console? Turbo bailed out of the game industry faster than a hedgehog! While it is true that the game industry has grown and there is more money involved now--unless Microsoft and Nintendo can get a strong presence in the Japanese, American, and European markets--somebody else may leave the hardware industry too!

How do the controllers compare?

Ryan: There is no comparison, Nintendo wins this one hands down. The Xbox controller is just to big.

Kaleb: If you want a comfortable controller that fits in your hands perfectly, has a nine foot cord that allows you to play across the room in your easy chair, and has a safety mechanism that will snap the cord in half so your system won't fall to the ground in the event someone trips, the Xbox controller wins hands down. I like the GameCube controller and it is much nicer than the N64 controller. However, the Z button is awkwardly placed and fighting games will be hard to play on it.

Who has better launch titles?

Ryan: I've gotta go with the Xbox on this one. Just look at the big three for each system, GameCube: Wave Race, Rogue Leader, Luigi's Mansion; Xbox: DOA3, Halo, Munch's Oddysee. I don't even see an arguement on this one. The Xbox games outclass Nintendo's in just about every way possible. Perhaps you disagree?

Kaleb: I agree with Ryan. Halo, Munch, DOA3, and Project Gotham Racing are all great launch titles. If only Nintendo launched with Sunshine Mario, Zelda, or even Pikmin...

Which new system has more promise between now and the end of the year?

Ryan: The Xbox may have had a better start, but the GameCube has Super Smash Brothers and Pikmin coming out soon. The only Xbox game I'm looking forward to in December is Obi-Wan.

Kaleb: Both of these systems show about the same promise between now and the end of the year. Nintendo has Pikmin coming, while Xbox has the awesome Obi-Wan on the way... However, if Nintendo can actually release their titles and quit delaying them then they will win this console war hands down. But don't expect Microsoft and Sony to give up without a fight.

What is the best launch title for the GameCube?

Ryan: Heh, I'm sure Kaleb agrees with me here; it's Super Monkey Ball!

Kaleb: Don't make me sick! Super Monkey Ball is a good rental title at best. The best title on the GCN would have to be either Luigi's Mansion or Rogue Squadron II. I can't get enough of either of these titles!

What is the best launch title for the Xbox?

Ryan: I'm definitely somewhat of a DOA fanboy, so naturally it's Dead or Alive 3. However, I believe there is sufficient evidence to back up my choice; the game looks gorgeous and the gameplay has been significantly improved over 2.

Kaleb: Both Halo and Munch are two of the best games I have played this year. If you have an Xbox you have to own these two titles!

If you could change one thing about the Xbox, what would you change?

Ryan: The controller. Make it smaller and spread the buttons out more.

Kaleb: GIVE ME RPGS!!!! Also, why can't you include the DVD Movie Playback kit with the system? They are impossible to find in the stores!

If you could change one thing about the GameCube, what would you change?

Ryan: I would change Zelda back to how it used to be. That or I'd give it a bit more horsepower.

Kaleb: The GameCube lacks space on their custom DVD's. Sure the disks are tiny... but why would Square develop for the GameCube if it would take 12 of those darn disks to create a Final Fantasy game?

Any final comments on either system?

Ryan: Yeah, the Xbox is off to a great start, but it still needs to prove itself for the long haul. Games like Dino Crisis 3 and Project Ego should help it, but we'll just have to wait and see. As for GameCube, the really good games will hopefully hit next year with no delays, but come on, what are the chances of that? Nintendo better not keep fans waiting like they did with the N64 or they'll lose more of the market to the other consoles, and I don't think they can afford to do that.

Kaleb: *begin sarcasm* I am not sure if I have mentioned this before... but the Xbox needs more RPGs! *end sarcasm* Besides this, the Xbox is off to a great start and is poised to take a run at Sony in the US. However, can they get enough Japanese support to win a chunk of the market share in Japan? As far as Nintendo is concerned... they needs to release their games on time and make sure that they are just as fun and polished as they were on the Nintendo 64. Hopefully they will have lots of developer support and many RPGs in the near future...

By Kaleb Rutherford - 12/05/01

Screenshots for Battle of the Launch: GameCube vs Xbox

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