XBOX: Exercises in Mediocrity Nintendo. XBOX. It's come down to this, has it? We've taken sides. We've declared loyalty. We've even had a chance to play some games. And after I got my paws on both consoles and my eyes on both game screens, only one rocked my world. The other - well, the other was the XBOX. XBOX may be the biggest gaming disappointment on this entire earth. Let me tell you why. The Science of the Load Time Seems a small thing, doesn't it? But any Playstation owner will tell you otherwise. It's bad enough that we can blame hours of our day waiting for games to start. The worst part is it's compounded by gamer's itch - that maddening, extreme, bowel-dejunking anticipation you get waiting for that SSX Tricky level to boot up. You'd think Microsoft would have taken care to address an issue that was rated in the Top 10 by gamers at a recent website poll. The load time postpones our gameplay, worsens our anticipation, and in these day and times, seems unecessary. There is really no excuse for it anymore. Nintendo has been side-stepping it for two decades now. Why can't Microsoft? Controllers Are As To Rocks Hey, I like to think I have the hands of a gamer - especially a console gamer. Wide palms, long fingers, and calloused thumbs can get me all the way from Up C to letter B. Every morning I thank my lucky stars I was born with hands to put any Mario Kart fanatic to crying shame. Then I put the XBOX controller in my hands. Yeah, that's how I had to do it. I wish I'd have had a crane to lower it into my palms. Because the thing is big. And stupid. And feels like my biggest most favoritest rock in my rock collection. Have you seen pictures of it? I think it resembles a Boeing 747 with full cargo load. And after I undocked the thing from my hand I decided if I ever touched the XBOX again I'd do it with mittens - and duct tape my hand to the monster - but I realized at that point my controller agility would be seriously impaired. As if it wasn't already by this Design from the Seventh Circle of Hell. Mine Has a DVD. Or Something. Yeah and then they included the low-grade DVD player. You know - the kind you bought for your little brother because he wanted to freeze frame the Episode I lightsaber scene again. I went downstairs and threw together a shameless contraption of light, smoke and mirrors that can play a DVD too. It was fun. But did I start selling it for $100 at your local WalMart? You can bet your GameBoy I didn't. Basically, some Microsoft PR champ played games with the XBOX controller too long because he made a marketing mistake - bundling in the First DVD Player Ever Built with the XBOX system probably won't entice gamers to shell out that extra hundred the Gamecube isn't asking for. And besides, aren't we here to play games? The Specifications I shan't bore you with technical figures and statistics. I don't need to. If you want hardware specs, study them over at www.ign.com. While the Gamecube is shown to be a step behind in graphical prowess, we know that both systems can do things the other can't. Each company, no doubt, weighed the pros and cons of enhancing everything from fill rate, pixelization, and anti-aliasing. But the fact here is that real gamers don't need to sort through the tech specs. To be sure, it's interesting as Mario Bro. Lost Levels, but a true gamer simply needs to be transfixed by what's on screen - be it entrancing gameplay or jaw-dropping graphics. Am I right? Or are you perhaps forgetting the first time you fired up Super Mario 3? If all gamers were only fools for graphics, the video game industry would have never seen the light of this most glorious day. And when the consoles are this close, I don't give a Sega. I don't. At this point, it's all about the games. Liken it to a stadium. The XBOX stadium may be a little prettier. Think two cupholders to every seat. Gold-gilded foam fingers. Pepsi and Cola products that you smack your lips after each gulp. Cotton footstools. Voice activated reclining chairs. But the game is boring. You'd rather break your own arms than come back and watch those two teams play ever again. Enter Nintendo. The stadium isn't quite so nice in comparison. But you have never seen a game like it. And fire from the sky wouldn't move you from your seat. You'd pay any amount of money to see these teams play again. And that's why the final subject can only be The Blessed Science of the Game I'm certainly a selfish bastige. I have to say that because when I buy games, especially console games, I want something no one else has. Be it a high score, a secret level, or the gold cartridge, I want something I can at least believe I have the pleasure of singular ownership. When I bought a Nintendo, you can bet I was the first kid on my block turning Goombas into fireballs. When I purchased the SNES, absolutely believe no one was hacking through the Lost Woods and making a name for himself in Hyrule with Legend of Zelda like I was. The day I purchased my N64, don't doubt for an instant that no one else was showing the Bomb King the fastest way off a mountain like I was. And when I buy a Gamecube, be assured the neighborhood will be over to watch me take the Death Star with Rogue Squadron II. These games are exclusive to Nintendo. They have been called dynasties, and for good reason. They have always been for Nintendo. Even the XBOX's flagship title, Halo, will be seen on the PC in a matter of months after the console's release. Malice? See it on the Gamecube next year. Almost every developer for XBOX can be seen setting up camp with every other console - from PC to PS2. How many XBOX games, worth buying at launch, can you play only on XBOX. Perhaps DOA 3 is enough to get your gaming juices flowing, but then again, Soul Calibur II is exclusive to Gamecube. Give me my Mitsurugi any day. But I digress. The point here is Nintendo has been making consoles for two decades. But more importantly, they make their own games. Find me a first-party XBOX launch title worth mowing a few extra lawns for and I'll find you a Nintendo Gamecube. That's why XBOX is just not worth it. And that's also why I'm born to play.