I am contemplating buying an Xbox 360. This is not because I particularly want an Xbox 360, though they do hold more appeal to me now than the original Xbox ever did. No, the reason I’m contemplating this is due to a process of elimination: aside from handhelds, the X360 might be the only console I can both buy and use, and I find that mildly upsetting.
Let’s start with what I want. What I want is simple enough — a Gamecube. I do also want a Wii, but until we go through the awkward launch period that blights the first year of any console, I’d be happy enough working my way through the Gamecube’s back catalogue and replaying my favourite games. I am aware that the Wii plays Gamecube games, but I’m not going to spend £200 on that when I can spend £20 on a cube. Momma didn’t raise no fool.
So, easy enough? No, because I don’t have a TV. I do have a 19″ LCD monitor though, which would do the job quite nicely — my Dreamcast, unearthed recently during my move from Oxford to London, is plugged into it right now. Unfortunately, whilst Sega were very forward-thinking with their final console so playing via VGA was all peachy-keen, Nintendo, bless them, were not so prescient.
When I first wrote this, there followed several very boring paragraphs where I made several references to the sort of terms AV geeks use with gusto — composite, component, RGB, that sort of thing. I’m going to save you all some time and just summarise: I can’t use a Gamecube on an LCD monitor without the end result looking awful. This idea is a non-starter.
Ok then, so, second choice? I think a PS2 would be nice to have. Cheap on ebay, a massive back catalogue, games I actually want…but it has the same problem as the Gamecube: I’m not going to be able to play it on an LCD monitor. For both the Gamecube and the PS2, I need a TV, or I need to not care about all the crappy lines and jagged edges I’ll end up seeing on screen.
Alright then, but what about the PS3? I can play that on my monitor, because it has an HDMI output that I can convert to DVI! Am I willing to spend £400 just so I can play the PS2 back catalogue? Of course! But…to cut down on production costs, Sony removed the hardware emulation from the PS3 in Europe, and the software emulation is not great — most of the games I actually want to play have ‘issues’.
But that’s ok; I didn’t really want a PS3, anyway, largely due to Sony being a bunch of utter cockfaces.
And the X360?
The X360? You can buy a VGA cable for it. Works fine. Better than fine, in fact. No issues whatsoever. It doesn’t really enthuse me, but I guess there’s Viva Pinata…there’s Lego Star Wars II…there’s…probably others. Maybe Tomb Raider, or something. What is it that normal gamers play, anyway? Games with guns, I imagine. Or skateboards.
Yes, you can see my heart isn’t really in it, and considering that after the initial £300 or so comes the extra costs of Live membership and wireless adaptors and such, my wallet isn’t overly happy about the idea either.
What’s needed, of course, is a TV. An actual TV — no more of this dicking around with VGA. But…I watch films as well. A lot of films. So if I buy a TV, it has to be a really good TV, with a hefty screen. This one, for instance, would probably suit my purposes — with one RF, one component, two SCART, one S-Video, one composite, one HDMI and one PC D-sub, whatever that is, it has enough ports at the back to plug in every console I could ever want. I could even plug in a Spectrum, should I be so inclined.
Only, yeah, £550. That’s a lot of money, isn’t it? And then I’d need a stand to put it on. And a DVD player, which would, in turn, have to be a good one with a decent upscaler (so I’m told). Then some speakers — need a good surround-sound setup…
My wallet protests once more, and rightly so. I just wanted to replay The Wind Waker again, yet by the end of the thought process I seem to have a bill of at least £1,000 and a console that doesn’t play what I want anyway. Like I said at the start, I find that mildly upsetting.
All this HDTV nonsense…it’s all just so tedious, isn’t it? I want to go back to the days when you just had ‘a TV’, and you just plugged a console in with whatever cables came in the box. I don’t want to have to think about resolutions, hertz, and the mind-numbing conversations about 480i, 480p, 576i, 720p, 1080i and, let’s not forget, 1080p.
I crave simplicity. So, for now, I think I’ll stick to the DS and Dreamcast. At least I know they work.