Ryan Chartrand

I can’t quite claim the original Nintendo Entertainment System as the system that got me hooked.

You know, the gray and red box in which 8-bit game cartridges got stuck, froze and you had to blow on them to get them to work.

I wish I could. But being born the year it came out (1985), it was my older friends who ditched homework to clutch that awkward, blocky controller.

Instead, I became addicted to video games after playing Madden ’96 on Sega Genesis, racing pixilated football players up and down a pixilated gridiron into the wee hours of the night.

Those were the good old days – when a video game console didn’t cost a month’s rent.

Plenty of things can be bought for $600 – a bucket sort of used car, a 30-inch, flat-screen TV or even a few spanking new textbooks.

Now, you can add a video game system to that list.

Indeed, the loaded version of Sony’s PlayStation 3 will cost gamers $600 – about $641 with sales tax – upon its release Nov. 17. That’s without games.

A watered-down version of the system can be had for $500. The difference, however, is that the $500 version has 40 gigabytes less hard-drive space, no Wi-Fi Internet support and no flash-card readers.

In the other corner, Microsoft’s comparable Xbox 360 can be bought for exactly $200 less. The loaded version of the Xbox 360, which came out in November 2005, is $400 and the basic version is $300.

Consider that those prices are before a price drop around the Christmas season that many analysts are predicting.

Granted, the PS3 might be better equipped for the future of gaming because of its provocative Blu-Ray disc drive, among other features.

However, skeptics comparing Xbox 360 to the short-lived Sega Dreamcast are grasping for straws. Dreamcast, for those who don’t remember – who can blame you – was the solid but overmatched console that got crushed by PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox.

Trust me. I let one game – NFL 2K – sucker me into choosing Dreamcast over the PS2. Then, when the NFL 2K series became available on PS2, the Dreamcast went out the window. The PS2 took its rightful throne on top of the VCR.

Xbox 360 has ensured it will not join the Dreamcast in the doldrums of forgotten systems. You know the kind – Saturn, 3DO, Jaguar, Lynx and so on.

The reason?

Games will be better. Not necessarily better than everything the PS3 has to offer, but certainly good enough to keep the Xbox 360 on par.

At the top of that list is Halo 3, which is due out in early 2007. A movie-like teaser trailer shown at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo can be found on any recent Xbox 360 demo disc. The trailer itself is only a remote microcosm of the system’s awesome capabilities, which are still in their infancy.

Not only will the next Grand Theft Auto game, due out in the fall of 2007, be released on Xbox 360 at the same time as PS3, it will also feature exclusive downloadable content on Xbox Live.

Exclusive Xbox 360 titles include Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo, Project Gotham Racing 3, Call of Duty 2, Quake 4 and the upcoming Gears of War.

The Xbox 360 game I especially can’t wait for that will not be found on PS3 is Star Trek: Legacy, which is due out Nov. 7. The epic space combat game will span the entire Star Trek history and features voiceovers from actors William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, Avery Brooks, Kate Mulgrew and Scott Bakula.

The truth is that games will keep the Xbox 360 afloat in a way that the Dreamcast’s library did not.

Sure, the PS3 might be better from a hardware standpoint than the Xbox 360.

But is it $200 better?

Tristan Aird is a journalism junior, Mustang Daily staff writer and sports editor.

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