To borrow a metaphor...
Episode IV: Atari 2600 vs The World Winner: Atari 2600
Episode V: NES vs SMS Winner: NES
Episode VI: SNES vs Genesis Winner: SNES
Episode I: Saturn vs N64 vs PSX Winner: PSX
Episode II: Dreamcast vs PS2 vs Gamecube vs Xbox: Winner: PS2
E3 starts tuesday. This is when we finally get some idea of how Episode III may shape up.
Microsoft has finally come clean with some actual detail about their system, and it looks pretty good. They've realized that the best way to make a gaming console actually isn't to pretend that it's a really cheap PC (though they persist with their "vision" of a unified "media center"). The hardware is impressive. The idea of everyone getting online access would be a world-beater, but they only mean everyone gets chatting and downloadables, etc. You still have to pay for multiplayer stuffs. Gameplay on the few titles they've shown looks...well, it looks like you'd expect. Better. Smoother. The big question in my mind is: will the XBOX2 have any games worth playing? The original finally gained about 5 titles which weren't first-person shooters, fighters, or racing games; can this iteration do better? The controllers still look sucky though. Little tiny glossy buttons is still not the way to make a good controller, and making the gigantic logo in the middle light up doesn't change this.
Sony hasn't gone public with the PS3 yet. There's been rumors and conference whitepapers on its processors (note the non-use of "CPU"), but no hard data on the actual configuration of the system. There are screenshots of games coming out now, and they look...they look like renders. I've read several people's statements that screenshots no longer do games justice, and I believe it. I'm gonna need to see this stuff in motion. I'm not worried about games for the PS3 -- it has all the Japanese developers behind it, and with the runaway success of Katamari Damacy, I am hoping that more of them will be willing to release more of their "quirky" games to the North American market. I'm also sure that the PS3 will have built-in networking capabilities (any whitepaper on the Cell processor makes this clear) but no one knows what Sony is going to do with this. I'll also be pretty disappointed if there's no hard drive...memory cards suck balls, and you're gonna want to do something with that ethernet jack, right?
Nintendo isn't showing the Revolution at E3, and personally, I'm having a hard time caring. In recent years they've done nothing but take a "we know what you want better than you do" attitude and make promises which haven't even vaguely been kept. They're not showing the R because if they did "people wouls steal [their] ideas". You may remember that this is the reason Mario 128 didn't show at the LAST E3. Remember Mario 128? Remember how Mario Sunshine was a stopgap side-story and not the tru successor to Mario 64? Remember how Mario 128 would be out real soon now? In 2002? This behavior sounds strangely familiar somehow...can't quite put my finger on it...hmm. Anyhow, I'm really thinking Nintendo needs to be reborn as a software-only company, like Sega has. Then I won't need to buy a whole freakin' console just to play the next Zelda game.