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Monday, October 02, 2006

Xbox Live Arcade vs. Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console

While is widely acknowledged that the software is an integral part of the success of a console, the other important factor cannot be neglected either – online service. In this special article, Powerplay pits the Xbox Live Arcade and Nintendo’s Wii Virtual Console together and gives a head-to-head comparison on which will ultimately be better.

Xbox Live Arcade

The Xbox Live Arcade service has been around for quite a long time now. Xbox Live Arcade provides Xbox 360 owners with an opportunity to download smaller games for their consoles, including some retro titles like the recently-released Doom and Defender. These games can be tried for free before players attempt to download them. At the same time, it also houses some interactive game titles that are made by small companies or individuals like Mutant Storm Reloaded and Crystal Quest. To further strengthen this point, Microsoft recently unveiled XNA Game Studio Express, a free software designed to help budding game developers develop their own games for Xbox Live Arcade. Through this, Microsoft hopes to achieve the aim of turning hard-core gamers into game developers. Okay, back to the point. As I say, Xbox Live Arcade is home to some of the best online games. This is demonstrated by Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved, a pure addictive fun game that people cannot seem to stop downloading. Xbox Live Arcade games feature leader boards, achievements, custom soundtracks and HD output among many other things. Even better is the existence of Microsoft Points. These points can be used to buy Xbox Live Arcade games in the place of cash – that is, if you have enough of these points. The Xbox Live Arcade library of games is ever-growing to expand to the many other tastes of players. While it is highly evident that Xbox Live Arcade has been a success, there are minor cracks. For example, some of the games at Xbox Live Arcade can be played over the Internet for free. As mentioned earlier, Doom was recently released for Xbox Live Arcade, but over at the Internet, Doom is available as a freeware program – if you look through carefully enough. Pac man is available on Xbox Live Arcade, but hordes of online games websites offer it over the Internet. But if you are looking for some creative, original game titles that will help you to ease the boredom of that afternoon, Xbox Live Arcade is still the place to be. It can only improve. I heard that the 1994 classic Sensible World of Soccer is heading over to Xbox Live Arcade next year. Players will even get to select whether they want to the original graphics to be displayed or the enhanced one.

Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console

Nintendo will offer this new download service as soon as the Wii is launched. Games will sell from US$5 to US$10, depending on the type and age of the game. As believed, the Virtual Console will have an unbeatable game library of some of the most impressive game titles of yesteryear, including those from NES, SNES, N64, Sega Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, Commodore 64, and MSX, some of these machines I myself have not heard of. Expect tons of classic games like Street Fighter 2, F-zero, some of those older Zelda and Mario games among many others in a fantastic mix. Retro games are just part of the Virtual Console, though. Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata, has indicated that new (and like Xbox Live Arcade, smaller) games can be developed and sold through the Virtual Console too. However, there is one downside. Do not expect to play those classic games using the Wii-mote. For them to be playable, you must get the Wii classic controller, which is sold separately. All in all, Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console looks like Xbox Live Arcade is almost every way possible. However, much of the details about the Virtual Console are still kept under wraps.

Based on all the current information available, Xbox Live Arcade is equally matched with Virtual Console. Both are set to have their own share of subscribers and fans. But will the Virtual Console be enough to topple Microsoft’s already long established Xbox Live Arcade? Okay, let’s just put it in this way: It is a tie – at least according to the current situation.


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