Which system should I buy?
This is a question I get asked regulary. Sadly, there is no easy answer
to it, because it depends on the individual. The following set of questions
may help you to make up your mind:
Things that I donīt deem relevant are technical specs like a systemīs
"bit-ness", MIPS ratings for the CPU(s) used and other
technobabble. Why? Because it isnīt the hardware that makes the difference,
itīs the software. Fancy hardware may enable designers to produce startling
eye candy, but if they screw up the game design, their product will flop
- How big is the software library of the system? Does it have the games
you want to play right now? What use is the best system if thereīs
no software for it? Counting on future releases for a particular system
isn't a wise move when you consider the reliability of the industry.
Announcements are cheap, and hype is the way to talk about software that
isnīt released yet.
- Is there a way to get RGB output from the system? If you want the
sharpest graphics possible, you donīt use RF or S-Video - you want an
RGB signal that can be fed to a monitor or a TVīs SCART (Euro A/V)
input. RGB output is also a prerequisite if you want to be able to
use a 50/60Hz switch (see below).
- Is there an easy way to switch the display mode? Does the software
allow the display mode to be changed? Systems destined
for the european market use the PAL video standard which offers a higher
resolution, but a lower refresh frequency than the NTSC standard that
is used in the US and Japan. Since most games are developed to run on
NTSC displays, youīll get letterboxed game screens on PAL systems - even
when the game is a domestic release. With 2D games like shooters, there
is the added drawback what the games will run slower, since the animation
is tied to the screen refresh. A 50/60Hz switch will enable you to play
even domestic software at the intended speed - or slow an import down
a bit to make it easier.
- How is the territorial lockout handled? Is there an easy way around
it? Judging from my experience there comes a time when you want to play
a game that isnīt released domestically yet. The distributors often
decide that there are games that "we will not like" and thus
such software is only available as import. I wouldnīt consider buying
a system that canīt play japanese imports.
- How expensive is the software? Is there already a good market for
second-hand games? What use is a console if you canīt afford to buy
software for it? If it's a well established system, the chances are good
that you can pick up good sofware used at great prices.
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