If you need help picking between the X-Box and the Gamecube (long)

Emil Stoica

Second Unit
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As I am looking for this board, I have not seen any threads that compare the 2 new systems on the block. I was fortunate to receive both the Nintendo Gamecube and the Microsoft Xbox on Friday so I decided to take a break and let people know my impressions of both of the new guys.
First, a little background. I am 30 years old. My first video game system was a wood grain Atari 2600. Through the years, I have owned almost all the major systems. The 8 bit systems live fondly in my memory. Although I enjoyed computer games (Star Raiders on my Atari 400 is still a fav), I primarily have enjoyed consoles more. I own 6 different ones from the 5200 all the way to the Playstation 2. Frankly, before I received the new guys, I was more excited about the Gamecube. I had preordered from ebgames.com the first day they were available (Jet Black). However, as the days came up to the Xbox launch, some of the games (Halo, DOA3, PGR) looked so good I searched around and preordered a bundle from Amazon on 10/13. So with 2 big boxes in my living room, I opened them both and hooked them up to my Toshiba widescreen tv (HD 40’) and my Denon receiver. I have played them non stop for the last couple days and here are my thoughts.
The Consoles:
Nintendo GamesCube: Small. Despite reading up and hearing this from others, it is still shocking the first time you hold the cube. I had expected something like the Dreamcast, but it seems even smaller. Yep, the handle is useless (except when you take it out of the box). The machine comes with 1 controller and composite cables. No demo disc. The unit is very quiet. Unless you are sitting on top of it, you will hear no noise at all from the little guy. In black, the Cube looks sharp and different. The LED is top (orange). The whole design is simple and elegant. The controller ports are very small as well. After playing all night, could not feel any heat from the Cube. Rating: 5/5
Microsoft Xbox: The exact opposite of the Cube. Large is the right word. It is bigger than my VCR. It is heavy. It feels solid. The top is X shaped with a green jewel (does not glow). The front is a tad boring, although it does look right at home in the entertainment center. The LED is around the bigger button (glows green) which is used to open the tray. The machine is also fairly quiet (again unless you are sitting right on it). After playing all day, it also did not get warm to the touch. Rating: 4/5
The Controllers:
Nintendo GameCube: Since I am 6’4” with big hands, I was worried before I picked up the controller. I had heard they were small and similar to the Playstation’s. Well, he controller is very comfortable to me. I like the joystick placement and the pad is very easy to get to. The camera joystick is also easy to use and all the face buttons feel natural. The triggers on the back are nice and big and very easy to use. The force feedback is okay although it feels weaker than any other consoles. The Z button is the weakness. Difficult to get to and difficult to press in. Frankly, the Playstation’s dual triggers work better. Also, the purple color of the button makes it stick out like a soar thumb. This one flaw makes the rating 4/5
Microsoft Xbox: I must be one of the few that like the Dreamcast controller. The Xbox has controllers similar. I really like them. They fit my hands well. Again, my hands are big so keep that in mind. The buttons work well and I love the joysticks. The triggers are direct copies of the Dreamcast, so it was an easy transition for me. The D-pad is fine and the controller feels expensive. The feedback is solid and strong. I could see how people could complain, but I rate them 5/5.
Other Aspects
Nintendo GameCube: This guy has hardly any load times. That is the biggest positive of the Cube experience. In the games I played, everything was fast. Near the N64 and faster than any other disc console I have ever used. The Main Menu Screen, where you set the time and settings, is functional. Nothing great. One thing I do not like is how it handles games. When you turn it on without a disc in the machine, it loads this Main Menu Screen. When I insert a disc, there is an area to see the disc and load it. However, for me, either it does not recognize the disc (need to turn off and on to load, even Reset button did not get them to load) or the machine takes like 5-10 seconds and then recognizes the disc.This is nothing big but feels cheap. 3.5/5
Microsoft Xbox: The Dashboard is beautiful. This is the XBox version of the Main Menu Screen. Black and green colored, it just blows the GameCube away. It is very intuitive and frankly is beautiful. When you insert a game disc, the machine automatically loads it. Very nice. The load times are better than the PS2 but slower than the Cube. Still, the product just exudes style. 4.5/5
Games
So far, I have only played 2 games on each system. I picked the AAA game on each machine and a racing game since I enjoy these the most. So the Cube was Star Wars: Rouge Leader : Rouge Squadron 2 and WaveRace. For the Xbox, it was Halo and Project Gotham Racing. All these titles are amazing. However, as much as this surprised me, I enjoyed the Xbox games more. I may go into more detail in other thread since this one is getting very long, but the quality of the 2 Xbox games just leave me stunned. One advantage is the component setup for the Xbox. Since I am still waiting on the component cables from Nintendo, I do not wish to do direct comparisions. But, if you have a HDTV, make sure you get the Advanced Hi-Def pack if you buy the Box. The difference is amazing. The custom soundtrack in PGR is also amazing. The 5.1 audio of Halo is stunning. If people ask for it, I will post more details about all these great games. However, after only 2 days, the Xbox games just grab me more.
So which one?
Frankly, I think they both are good and have a ton of potential. They both deserve to be successful and make the PS2 look a little old. If I had to pick one, I would take the Xbox. It just has a certain quality that makes me enjoy it more. And that verdict shocks me because I had thought I would not even buy one until Shenmue 2 arrives. Not to take anything away from the Cube or the PS2 but the Xbox is the most compelling experience of the three. Your mileage may vary….
 

Max Leung

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Thanks for the well-written and informative post, Emil!

I would've thought the GCN and Xbox would be very close...the Xbox has the sexy look and feel, while the GCN should have the fun-factor cranked with their unique lineup of games.
If I had the cash, I would've done what you did...get both!

I'm glad you enjoyed both systems though. I envy you!
Personnally, I LOVE the Xbox controller. Being of Asian descent, I would've expected the controller to be too large for my hands, yet somehow it fits like a glove for me. After 7 hours of playing Halo, they only felt slightly tired, and not a blistering mess I'd get with the other console controllers. Time will tell with Project Gotham and the controller though...I swear I use a Jedi-grip on the poor thing.
 

Michael Hudson

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I picked up both as well. Right along with my PS2, DC and GBA.

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James St

Supporting Actor
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Great post, Emil. I really like the X-Box controller too. It's big but fits in my hand great. I'm broke now but hope to have a Gamecube for Christmas. I'm looking forward to Rogue Leader II but Halo and company will keep me busy til then.
 

Romier S

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Excellent post!!
After having experienced the Gamecube and Rogue Leader for a good 4 hours straight now (Great game) I have to agree that the X-box appeals to me a bit more now (Also a shock as I didn't even plan on getting an X-box at all until they announced Silent Hill 2 Restless Dreams). I finally got the AV pack today and hooked the X-box up to my 5.1 system. MY GOD! The 5.1 sound is exceptional. Its made even more exceptional by the fact that it is in a game!
I'll have to reserve full judgement until I play more games for both systems (getting luigis mansion and PGR tommorrow). I own both the cube and the box now and I think they are both worthy but I am a little more satisfied with the Black and Green Behemoth
thus far.
 

Lou Sytsma

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Great post Emil!
The Cube will have to wait awhile for me. Too much going on with the XBox & PS2 for me now.
If I had DPL2 capabilities RS2 would be home already.
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Every man is my superior, in that I may learn from him.
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Morgan Jolley

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Nice review.
I still think people should look back at the two consoles at the end of December when they get more games for each. At that time, I think the GameCube will probably be slightly ahead of the X-Box. But as of right now, the X-Box is ahead.
I can't wait to see how all 3 consoles compare next year.
 

Joseph W

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A question for x-box/cube/ps2 comparison. Do any of them play in a 16:9 format for widescreen TVs. Which games? Thanks, Joe
 

Morgan Jolley

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Each console since the N64 has had 16:9 games. Its a development thing, not a hardware thing.
The X-Box can output HD up to 1080i. The GameCube can do up to 480p, I think. The PlayStation 2 does nothing special.
PS2 has a few 16:9 games, a lot of which are sports games, I think. Gran Turismo 3 does 16:9. Can't think of any others right now.
 

Kelley_B

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I feel the same way Emil.

I thought the GameCube would blow the Xbox out of the water, but man I find my 'Cube collecting dust while I can't quit playing Halo and DoA3.
 
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Very good post!
I also picked up Xbox last thursday and have spent most of my weekend playing Halo and DOA3. They are both stunning beyond belief in 480p. When playing Halo in 56' HDTV and Dolby Digital, you would feel like you are getting sucked into the game. PS2 does not even compare to XBox in this department. I cant wait when games are done in 1080i. They must look insane as they already look incredible now. On Sunday, I also went to local Bestbuy and looked at the gamecube demo. As good as they are, I dont feel the excitement in graphics like I did when I first looked at the game in Xbox. Load time is fast, that's true, but so is XBox with games like DOA3. Halo takes a bit more time to load the level, but when you think about the size of the level, it makes sense. I used to play PC games and it takes much longer to load level that size in PC. Xbox also cached some memory in its hard drive so that loading between level is optimized. Xbox has shown what the next generation gaming is all about.
 

Morgan Jolley

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The X-Box, IMHO, is not what next-gen gaming is, but what it will become. It is very powerful and is very high-tech, so much so that only a few people will be able to take full advantage of it. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, so long as those extra features don't raise the price and are properly supported.
 

Kelly Scott Rickards

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Well, perhaps then, morgan, you need to go post on a forum that caters to those people..

You say "only a few people will be able to take full advantage" of the 5.1 sound and high-def abilities, yet you post on at the HOME THEATER FORUM where a majority of its members own high-def home theaters with 6,7 or even 8 channel sound systems!

Who the hell do you think you are preaching to when you always bring up your "oh 5.1 sound/HD isn't that important in games" nonsense?

Do you think we will suddenly "see the light" and tear down our surround systems and throw away our widescreen TVs???

Go to the IGN forums, you'll fit in much better there!
 

James D S

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Kelly,

Check out the new ignore list. You can get to it by editing you preferences on the main page. It works like a charm.
 

Emil Stoica

Second Unit
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Dec 20, 1998
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Well thanks everyone. After playing for the rest of the weekend, the XBox amazes more and more. Yep, my Cube is collecting dust too. You know, it is the details. One example is in Project Gotham Racing. When listening to the radio, you will get interference when you drive under a tunnel. All 3 games I have played (Project, DOA3 and Halo) are all stunning. The Star Wars games is great, as is Super Monkey Ball but both Luigi Mansion and Waveracer are both disappointing.
 

Morgan Jolley

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Kelley-

No offense, but you have to stop thinking everything I say is anti-X-Box. I said that it is what consoles will be become. I would rather have a console that has all the abilities of the X-Box than one that does crap (like how the PS2 barely has DTS in real-time). I never said power was bad, but I was pointing out that not many people will be able to take advantage of the power.

I want more powerful consoles with more abilities, whether I can actually use the abilities or not.
 

Romier S

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Emil,
Give Oddworld a shot if you get a chance. I never played any of the originals on PS1 but this game suprised the hell out of me. Its a nice laid back platformer that will have you busting out laughing. What a suprise this game was!!
 

DaveF

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I'm opening a Cube Storage Facility, guaranteed to keep your Nintendo GameCube free of dust for at least one year. Incredibly, this is a free service, and I'll pay for shipping. Just send your poor, neglected GameCube to me.
If only I had a GameCube to ignore...
 

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