Gamers unite in anticipation of Nintendo, PS upgrades 

Gamers unite in anticipation of Nintendo, PS upgrades

Video gamers who talk only of high scores and magic points have something new to obsess about this summer.

PlayStation and Nintendo are about to answer Microsoft's Xbox 360 with their own next-gen consoles. The big three boost their platforms only once every five or so years, so it's worth hitting the pause button to ponder the effect of better graphics, more games and cool gadgets.

Briana Wohlart, 18, is eyeing the Nintendo Wii, pronounced "we."

"I'm definitely going to be saving for it," the Lansing gamer said. "I've always been a Nintendo freak."

Adding to the hype are the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo - or E3 - in Los Angeles and the fact that, for weeks, players have been encouraged to reserve copies of next-gen games, such as "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" for Nintendo.

The system doesn't launch until October at the earliest, but E3 gave gamers a taste of Wii's motion- sensitive game controller, which has the potential to make gaming physical.

Lansing brothers John and Marc Turner, ages 15 and 11, respectively, are holding out hope for a PlayStation 3. Marc is convinced his mother will pay the $499 base price for one. John isn't so sure.

Gamers are a diverse group. There are hard-core Xboxers, who don't care what Nintendo or PlayStation do. There are avid PSers, who are still snapping up PS2 games, even though the PS3 is due Nov. 17. And there are Nintendo-ites, who revere Mario and Zelda the way their grandparents did Donald and Mickey.

Many gamers, though, own consoles from two of the three makers. Their purchasing decisions often are driven by a desire to play a particular game, say "Halo 2" for Xbox 360, or by the promise of high- powered graphics, or by cost.

Much of the talk is about the latter.

"The buzz is about the price," said Joe Wuorinen, co-owner of Live Wire Games gaming arcade on Lake Lansing Road in Lansing Township.

Nintendo said the Wii will cost $250, significantly less than the other major consoles. The upgraded PS3 - one with a 60- gigabyte drive - will cost $599.

"I'm not forking out $600 for something," said Chris Wickham, 17, of Delta Township. "It better be guaranteed enjoyment for life."

Price is important for parents, as well.

Gamer mom Debra Iteen isn't necessarily looking forward to the release of next-gen consoles. Her 13-year-old son has an Xbox 360 and PS2, and it's only a matter of time before he's jonesing for an upgrade.

"I'm sure it will come up around Christmas, and I'm not happy about that," said Iteen, 38, of DeWitt Township.

The drive to have the latest and greatest often wins out, but in a gamer world dominated by cool graphics, cool game play and cool characters, some gamers wonder what's with Nintendo calling its system Wii.

Nintendo Co. explained that it chose it because it sounds like "we" and gets across the corporation's intention to put the console in homes everywhere.

"I could get used to it," said 19-year-old Kevin Foster of Holland. "At first I was outraged."


He imagines moms having to say: "My son sits all day in his bedroom playing with his Wii."

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Christine Rook at 377-1261 or
Video Game Tester

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