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Phreak Out 3 - Neopolitan Ice Cream
by Phreak 17/02/02

Well bless my little vitriol filled cotton socks and pack me off to Bellvue. I'm so enraged, I could do a very convincing impression of a complete mentalist. But why so psychotic you ask? The single format debate, the most pointlessly destructive suggestion since Einstein decided to go ultra-violent with plutonium.

Games and more games
Look at the market today. Massive it is, and full of goodly choice for comely gamers (and wenches). In the next few months, there will be three major formats vying for a slice of the joypad pie. That's a lot of games. Add to that handhelds, PC gaming, peripherals, merchandise, retro-gaming and the odd bargain basement console (our glorious champion of underdogs, the DC), what do you get? Even more games. One might even be inclined to say a 'fuckload' of games. So why tear all that down?

Icecream
The argument that software is all is a noble one, yet it is founded in the belief that hardware doesn't count for shit, which I find hard to swallow. Y'see, every piece of hardware has a different flavour, a fresh perspective on gaming, a cosmic rhythm which allows the planet to spin and keeps us from flying off into the black stuff like they did in Space 1999, all slow and silly. Well, maybe not that second one. Anyway, I like flavours, don't you? Why have vanilla when you can have Neapolitan?

I own a sizable amount of consoles...

http://www.geocities.com/thephreakuk/mystuffofwonder.html (that's not all of it mind)

...and I think it's fair to say that each one has its peculiarities. Therein lies the charm. I'm a lover of hardware. I like the fact that every Sega console in existence features D-shaped pad ports. I like that every Nintendo console since the NES features a completely useless (unless you want to import a 64DD or gasp use a piracy device, but who wants to do that?) interface port at the bottom. I like the way Sony hardware feels clinical and precise, in spite of the notorious unreliability (whoops, there go my lens brackets). I love my Atari's, large as life, yet emptier than Kelly Brook's head. I love it, I really do.

Unique Flavour
But do you know what the best thing is? That every consoles unique flavour is infused with the software, creating a deliciously gamely experience. Now, lets get a little example going. Why do DC originals feel superior to PS2 ports in everyway, despite being nigh on identical most of the time? It's because the originals were built for that specific machine in mind. They absorb the weaknesses and the strengths of the host format, creating a symbiotic unity between hardware and software. Shift the game to another format and that is lost, resulting in uneasy 'improvements' at best, altering the pure vision, and compromise at worst.

I'll break your legs
I have no doubt that THPS3 will sit uncomfortably in the GC's library when the time comes, just as Super Monkey Ball will when it gets ported to PS2. These two games epitomise the PS2 and GC respectively, but everyone wants to play them, resulting in charmless technically competent games, not groundbreaking benchmarks which define a format. So, is a single unified format rather than multiplatform toss the answer? Suggest that again and I'll break your legs.

Fat-ass pad
A console is remembered by the games that push its technical limitations. A platform with no defining characteristics, good and bad, is a platform with no pressure and that's where the problem lies. With no hurdles to leap, the only outcome is apathetic development. Even X-Box has its disadvantages, despite the brute strength encased in that ugly exterior. Devco's will have to find a way of making that fat-ass pad seem instinctive; a bastard of a quirk if ever there was one. I don't envy Angel Studios one bit.

Badly spelt rants or back pats to: Phreak@phreaquency.freeserve.co.uk

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