Video Game Systems Product Guide

Video Game Systems

You and your family don't have to run out to the arcade to enjoy the latest video games. There are several game systems for your home that offer superb action, excellent graphics and breathtaking effects.

A Video Game System is a computer that is dedicated to game play. Unlike most computers, it easily connects to any TV and offers superior graphics and action. A system usually consists of a game console that accepts video-game software in cartridge or disk form (depending on the system). When purchasing a console, you'll find that many include a game controller, a connecting cable to a TV and one game.

Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft are the three manufacturers dominating game system development. For the most part, game software and accessories are developed for use with a particular game system. Some systems allow some integration with a PC and have online Internet access capabilities.

Each brand has many games and accessories available for almost any age and every taste. There are special racing controllers that optimize performance in racing games. There are GameSticks for flying and shoot'em-up adventures. There are GamePad controllers that offer precise control over many types of games. There are also many third-party accessories.

Want to play video games away from home? Check out the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo GameBoy systems. Sony also has the PSP - Playstation Portable - which can also work as an MP3 audio and MP4 video player for extra entertainment.

Here's a review of the popular videogame systems that J&R carries:

Nintendo systems and games are known to be great for first-time video game players and children. Many of Nintendo's games are non-violent and use cartoon-based animations. Nintendo is also the only video game company with rights to Pokemon games. All Nintendo video game systems come with one console, one controller (with the ability to add three more). Games come on special cartages that must be purchased separately.

Nintendo DS

The Nintendo DS is the most recent portable game edition added to Nintendo's line, following the popularity of their Game Boy series. DS means Dual Screen. Two 3-inch (diagonal) screens offer dual perspectives for virtual 3D play. The lower of the two screens also offers touchscreen capability. You no longer have to rely on buttons to move characters around. Integrated stereo speakers and sound further enhance the natural game experience

You can, optionally, play with up to 16 players using the Nintendo DS Wireless gameplay mode.

Nintendo DS games use the dual-screen format found on the DS. You can also play your favorite Game Boy Advance games on a single screen mode.

Game Boy

Game Boy is a videogame for anywhere! It was designed for those seeking top game performance away from home. Considered the most popular hand-held game, it consists of one unit with one color LCD screen and a built-in control pad underneath the display. Games come on little cards that fit into a slot on the handheld unit. The best part about the new Game Boy Color is that all the old games that worked with the original Game Boy, will work with the new color.

Sound on a Game Boy comes from an integrated speaker. You can attach an optional stereo headphone for privacy and greater concentration. There is even an adapter that attaches to a Game Boy to let you listen to FM radio stations rather than game music. Options to turn sound off are available.

Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP)

Don't let the size (Approximately 6.7 in (W) x 2.9 in (H) x .9 in (D)) of the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) fool you. The PSP packs a powerful multimedia punch, enabling you to enjoy your favorite games, music, videos and photos instantly, anywhere. Factor in the PSP system's brilliant high-resolution screen, cutting-edge wireless connectivity, Internet Browser capability, while playing music, video, or viewing your digital photos - and you may just have a revolution in your hands. With 32MB main memory and 4MB embedded DRAM, the PSP is capable of delivering big-time performance from a device that practically fits in a pocket.

The PSP is the first portable game player to use a disc operating system, a small but high-capacity optical medium UMD (Universal Media Disc), enabling game software, rich with full-motion video and other forms of digital entertainment content, to be stored. It has a 1.GB capacity (compared to 4.7GB on a standard DVD) that can be used for downloading MP3 and ATRAC music files and MP4 video files. In addition, many commercial films are also being released on the UMD format. The UMD drive is currently a read-only format. Downloads can also efficiently be stored onto Memory Stick Pro DUO memory cards.

It also comes equipped with diverse input/output connectors such as USB 2.0, and 802.11b (WiFi) wireless LAN, providing connectivity to various devices in the home and to the wireless network outside. The world of gaming is further enhanced by enabling users to enjoy online gaming, or by connecting multiple PSPs to each other, directly via the wireless network.

The PSP has a 4.3-inch, 16:9 TFT LCD widescreen, with up to 480 x 272 pixel and capability to deliver up to 16.77 million colors. That's quite sophisticated for a pocketable unit that weighs less than 10 ounces (with battery). It has built-in stereo speakers but we suggest adding headphones for more realistic sound.

Slightly larger than Nintendo's DS and Game Boy models, the PSP offers superior graphics and sound. It's the closest performer that can deliver near-console video game quality.

For more information on the PlayStation Portable, click here.

These are designed to easily connect to any TV set. Games are generally dedicated to each game systems format. Software is on disc form but is not compatible with PC or Macintosh. The Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and the Sony Playstation 3 also offer online Internet capabilities that enable access to a very wide variety of games. Performance is generally superior to many PC games with outstanding control and speed.

Software marketers actively compete to release games for each of these console game systems

Microsoft Xbox 360

Like all video game consoles, the Xbox 360 depends on its variety of software and accessories. With virtually more power than some of the most advanced PC models, the 360 is a venerable powerhouse of high-performance entertainment. Unlike a PC, you don't need to hook up to a computer monitor. The Xbox 360 simply connects to a TV. Regardless of the television Xbox 360 connects to, gamers will experience smooth, cinematic experiences that far exceed anything they've seen or felt in games before especially with new high-definition, wide-screen televisions.

The Xbox 360 is an Internet connected console that makes multiplayer gaming simpler and brings high definition gaming and entertainment to a whole new level. These and other great features are packed into a stylish console packed with impressive power. At the heart of the system, three processing-cores running at 3.2GHz each provide the computing power for next generation artificial intelligence and physics. A 20GB hard drive makes it possible to download demos of games and bonus game content and entertainment from the Xbox Live Marketplace, an Internet-based service that extends the game experience well past the traditional game disc. With endless amounts of additional content, and an ever-growing library of games old and new, the Xbox 360 has an obvious edge over other game systems.

For more information on the Xbox 360, click here.

Nintendo Wii

The Wii is the latest home gaming console from Nintendo. It's a more affordable system than its competitors, due to the fact that the design doesn't center around the fastest processors or HD quality graphics. What it does focus on, is providing fun and social video games, coupled with a one-of-a-kind control system that makes playing Wii games an extremely immersive experience. If there is a system that you'll want to have when a bunch of people are over the house, this is it!

It's backwards compatible with Nintendo GameCube games, controllers and memory cards, and wireless access to the Internet allows for the downloading of older games, multiplayer gaming, and more.

For more information on the Nintendo Wii, click here.

Sony PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Play B3YOND. One of the taglines to the Sony Playstation 3 that simply and accurately describes the fact that this gaming console far surpasses anything else on the market today, in terms of raw power and graphical capability. Features that translate into near photo-realistic images (when coupled with a high-end HDTV) and a life-like environment that reacts realistically to your actions.

Like its competitors, Sony also offers multiplayer gaming and backwards compatibility with older consoles. With Sony supporting both the Playstation 1 and Playstation 2, it has a massive back catalog of games for you to enjoy right out of the box.

In addition to providing games that are more complex and better looking, the PS3 also provides truly unique gaming options. Whether it's from the integration of the PSP (Sony's portable game device) into certain games, or with the included SIXAXIS wireless controller, which controls the action on screen via the typical buttons, pads and sticks, but also has the ability of controlling things via the physical tilting of the controller. So now all of the flopping and twisting you do during a game can actually be useful now!

While the PS3's abilities regarding video games is its main selling point, it has been created from the ground up to be the centerpiece of your living room, with playback of high-definition movies via Blu-ray Disc, standard-quality DVD movies, Audio CDs, digital files (music, video, and photos) - as well as text and video instant messaging.

For more information on the Playstation 3, click here.

ESRB Ratings

Just like our eyes wander to the back of a video cassette movie box to check the rating before buying or renting, there is a similar rating system that applies to video games as well. The ratings, put fourth by the Entertainment Software Rating Board are designed to give consumers information about the content of an interactive video or computer entertainment title and for which ages it's appropriate. Three independent, trained raters rate each product.

When shopping online, it's a good idea to look at both the description and ESRB ratings. From the description alone, you can normally tell whether the game will be violent or not or whether it would be appropriate content for children.

For more information on ESRB Ratings, click here.

Console Adapters and Accessories

Obviously game systems rely on software (the games themselves) but there are many accessories that optimize your gaming experiences. Choosing the best video game console accessories for your game system can be almost as important to your gaming experience as choosing the right games. Video game console accessories can make your game play more enjoyable and can also improve the performance of your gaming system.

Portables could use carrying cases, power supplies, connect cables, and memory.

Consoles accessories could include Wii and Microsoft Points, special game controllers, connect cables, computer bridges, and others.

From gamepads to flight sticks to steering wheels, there are wide varieties of controllers for different games. Getting the right one can affect your overall success. The Xbox 360 supports wireless controllers out of the box (there are only two USB ports on the front for wired controllers, but support for four wireless ones) and the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii support wireless controllers by default as well. Wireless controllers eat batteries quickly. There are various power supply options available to extend game play.

Using Component Video or HDMI cables can improve visual performance on new high-definition televisions. These, too, are worthy options.

There are a wide variety of cases and storage units available for use with portable handheld models as well as consoles. They serve to protect. Many also have designs to reflect your personality and tastes.

To make your gaming experience more realistic, added peripherals could include Light Guns, Steering Wheels for racing, Fishing Rods, Dance Pads and even Maracas. There are also adapters that expand flexibility and compatibility. Not all adapters are made for all systems.

Here are a few and their functions.

Multitap Adapter

This adapter connects to PlayStation units to allow for the addition of up to 4 more players when you get three more controllers. Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast consoles do not need this adapter as they have the ability to add 4 players already. This adapter connects to the controller slot.


If you're one of those players that tends to get stuck in a particular level, or runs out of ammunition too quickly while playing a video game, Gameshark is for you. Some people call it cheating and others call it beating the game. Every video game console can accept Gameshark, which is essentially a CD (or cartridge, depending on which console you have) that you use to skip levels and go beyond where you've played. There is one Gameshark for each console and games are given codes to use with the Gameshark.


Some systems, like Sega Dreamcast, have built-in modems and can connect to the Internet for multiplayer gaming online. There are attachable keyboards where you can chat with other online players.

Extension Cables

PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast have extension cables for gamepads so you don't have to sit close to the console - you can sit on the couch or anywhere in the room.

RFU Adapters

You can use this adapter with many consoles - they allow you to connect your video game system via RF wire rather than standard RCA wire. Sometimes your television, (usually older models) will not accept RCA connections, or the RCA connections may already be used up with another device.

Memory Cards

Almost all consoles and even Game Boy Color units have the ability to accept memory card attachments. Memory cards themselves are used to store where you left off in a game. Most of these cards attach to slots on consoles. For Dreamcast systems this is called a VMU or Virtual Memory Unit, which come in either 200 or 400 blocks. Some memory cards have small LCD memory games where you could play mini-games. Sports games are known to use up the most memory.

Force Feedback and Rumble Packs

All PlayStation models have a force feedback element to their console joysticks or game controllers. Force feedback is what allows a controller to shake and vibrate, extending the video game experience not only visually but sensually. Dreamcast and Nintendo consoles need additional cards that fit into controllers. Dreamcast terms it a Tremor Pack, and Nintendo calls it a Rumble Pack. On some games you'll feel heartbeats of ghouls that attack you or even feel the terrain while racing.

Transfer Packets

This adapter is specifically made for Nintendo Game Boy Color devices. It allows you to play Game Boy Color games on Nintendo 64. Currently only a game called Pokemon Stadium is compatible with this adapter.


Whether you choose handheld or console video games, all models can deliver excellent and challenging games. The differences, of course, are that videogame consoles mimic (and often outperform) professional arcade systems. Sony's handheld PSP (Playstation Portable) is the closest thing to having near console-grade quality performance to take virtually anywhere.

Whatever videogame system you're considering, examine the list of available games. Though most games are released in a variety of platforms, some titles may be exclusive to one system or another. Remember, despite all the excellent features, the primary purpose of a videogame is to play the games you want.

Apart from entertainment, research has demonstrated evidence that game play offers benefits for coordination and cognitive development. Though there has been considerable controversy about the content of certain games, empirical research has been inconclusive about its relationship of inciting negative behaviors. Please check the ESRB rating of each game to determine if it's appropriate for you or your child.

Ultimately, have fun!

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