The Casual Gamer’s after-holiday list

Playstation 2 Playstation 2 console

Granted, my Playstation 3 has quickly become the essential attachment to my TV, acting as game system, Blu-ray/DVD movie player, and—through a Netflix streaming video subscription—even a replacement for the cable box. (It’s my understanding that an Xbox 360 serves a similar role in many households.) But if you’re looking for just one console to own, especially if you’re relatively new to gaming, and/or you’re looking for the best gameplay on a budget, the PS2 is the way to go. You can pick up a new system for $100, and a used one for $50 or less. New copies of PS2 games are still available, and the used market is excellent, plentiful, and cheap. Furthermore, the PS2 system is notoriously tricky to emulate, which is why that PS3 you’re considering will play PS1 games but not PS2 games, and many PS3 owners—like myself—still have their old PS2s still proudly working in their living rooms. (The PS2 will play PS1 games, too.) Pick up the console, Final Fantasy X, Katamari Damacy, and Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for a grand total of $160, new, and you’ll be set for months. Months.

Honorable mention: Nintendo Wii

It starts at $200, it won’t play DVDs, but it’ll do streaming Netflix, and through Nintendo’s Virtual Console emulation software, it’ll let you play a host of old NES, SNES, N64, as well as Sega, Neo Geo, and Commodore 64 games, many of which are available for $5.


Other than Red Dead Redemption, which seems to be an Idler consensus favorite from 2010, my practice is normally to wait until I can pay $20-$30 to pick up a game rather than the $50-$60+ you’ll pay for a title in the first few months after its release. There’s such a wealth of older games available right now, however, that there would be an unavoidable randomness in any list I could put together. In the next year, however, I’d like to play Beyond Good & Evil and Shadow of the Colossus, both of which are expected to be re-released in PS3 versions in 2011. I’d also like to make my way through The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which is getting a 3-D re-release on the upcoming Nintendo 3DS. Finally, my wife bought me Bully and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune as stocking stuffers, both of which I’m very much looking forward to.


Finally, I’m going to break character from “the Casual Gamer” a bit and note a couple of print magazines that are up on my radar. Delayed Gratification is a UK quarterly getting its start in January which aims to distill “three months of political, cultural, scientific and sporting life into a witty magazine of record.” According to their press release, Delayed Gratification will “measure news in months not minutes, returning to stories after the dust has settled.” As a writer for a publication which staunchly disregards timeliness, this sounds right up my alley, and I’ll let you know more after I get my hands on a review copy. Second, I’m a bit behind a curve on this one too, but I’ve been more and more intrigued by the snippets available on n+1’s web page, and if anyone wanted to buy me a subscription, I wouldn’t turn it down.

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  1. […] Last year, the PS2 was my console recommendation, based on the assumption that “Casual Gamer” readers are either relative non-gamers, or already own whatever console(s) they really want. This year, coming to the end of the lifespan of the current generation of consoles, prices are down, game libraries are deep, and there’s really no reason not to pick up a Playstation 3 or an XBox 360. As a game system, Blu-ray player, and Netflix streaming hub, my own PS3 is the most important device hooked up to my TV. For the entry-level gamer, or the advanced gamer looking for something different, I’d recommend the Kinect. I’m still not totally sure that motion control will ever take over gaming, but it really doesn’t need to. Having had the chance to (finally) try the Wii, the Playstation Move, and the Kinect, I’m willing to say that if motion control has a future, it’s the Kinect. The Move is a genuine advancement over the Wii (to be fair, so is the Wii Motion Plus), but only the Kinect is able in a single device to let players use hands, feet, body, and head as inputs. I’m not one much for dance games, but I’d argue that only games using the Kinect are even worth the name. Microsoft is selling a bundle with a 4 GB hard drive for $299, but installing the Kinect takes up nearly that much space by itself, so spending the extra $100 for the 250 GB bundle is really worth it. […]

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