Console Wars: Upgraded consoles, throwbacks & the very weird Nintendo Switch

As the holiday season approaches, gamers and the average consumer alike are on high alert for new gaming tech, a big draw on the US’s black Friday. While you might not be planning to fight the hoards of holiday shoppers and storm a big box store at daybreak, you can still hope for one as a gift for the holidays.nov8-spec-consoles-2

XBOX ONES

Microsoft has thrown gamers something new to buy, but it’s slightly less new than some would have hoped. The Xbox One S is an amped up version of the Xbox One that came out in November of 2013. This new version is 40 per cent smaller than its predecessor, and comes in a sleek white that will surely be covered in Dorito dust by the new year. In addition to its smaller size, the new console offers Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray and Streaming, and High Dynamic Range technology, which promises sharper contrasts and more luminous colours, assuming you’ve got a TV that can keep up. All these high-end graphics are bound to make you want to buy more games, so the new console also comes with up to two terabytes of storage and a vertical stand to help with air flow. The new console will play all Xbox One games and a limited but growing list of Xbox 360 games, the same as the Xbox One.

If you were already thinking about upgrading your 360 to the One, you couldn’t find a better time to trade up. The Xbox One S is $499, the same price as a new Xbox One was on initial release, so that money you’ve been saving up will take you a little bit further. And if you still aren’t ready for the One S, the original Xbox One is sure to be on sale for much lower prices. If you’re happy with the graphics capabilities of your Xbox One, there’s no need to rush out for the upgrade just yet.

The Xbox One S was released this summer and shipped with the brand new Xbox wireless controller.

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PLAYSTATION 4 PRO

In similar fashion to Microsoft, Sony isn’t releasing an entirely new console, but rather a shinier version of their November 2013 release, the Playstation 4. The new version comes in at $399, again, the same as its predecessor. While the case certainly looks a lot sleeker, the PS4 Pro is actually a couple of inches bigger and a bit heavier than the PS4 or the new skinnier version of the PS4, dubbed the PS4 Slim, unofficially. It packs that Ultra HD Blu-ray consumers are looking for, and includes High Dynamic Range Technology which will, again, only help you out if you’ve got a TV that can support it. However, you might notice the power the Pro consumes. Polygon.com reported that the PS4 Pro sucks up 310 watts at its highest, almost double what the slim version consumes.

If you’re looking for a more powerful processor, graphics that can keep up with your brand new TV, or slightly more storage space, the Playstation 4 Pro is for you, but don’t feel obligated to rush out for this new version. Again, this is not really a new console. It’s a fancier version of the old one and all games released for it will still work on the regular PS4. Some games will be enhanced for the new version, but you won’t miss it if you don’t want to spend money on a new system. But if you were planning on upgrading your PS3 to the 4, you might consider shelling out for this upgrade. Even if you don’t have a 4K TV, the extra power of the Pro will make even your unenhanced games look and play at least a little better.

The Playstation 4 Pro will be released on November 10 and ships with the new DualShock 4 controller.

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NINTENDO SWITCH

Nintendo is breaking with their competitors and instead of updating an old system, they’re launching a completely new one. The reception of the Wii U in 2013 was not what Nintendo was hoping for and nothing compared to the launches of the Xbox One and Playstation 4. Enter the Nintendo Switch, a very complicated-looking but intriguing game system. The word console is not really the right way to describe it.

“The mobility of a handheld is now added to the power of a home gaming system to enable unprecedented new video game play styles,” said Nintendo in a release. The strange thing about this system is its hybrid capabilities. It ‘switches’ from a powerful console to a handheld gaming system, allowing users to play the same games on the go as they do at home. The controller splits and attaches to either side of a tablet-like main console unit when it is removed from it’s dock. The controller is also a strange piece of tech. It comes apart, allows multiple users, allows you to use the entire thing for your game, or even connect several others to join in. The range of controller set-ups seems to point to the potential for a wide variety of different games to be played on the system. No word yet on what battery life will be like for the tablet portion, but it will have a USB to charge it, giving users a wider range of charging options.

The price for the Switch is not yet set, though Forbes is suggesting a launch price of around $300. The biggest disappointment? The Switch is not going to launch until at least March 2017. The actual release date will be announced sometime in January. As far as Black Friday goes, the Switch will not be one of the items you’ll be waiting in line for. As for whether you should upgrade when the time comes, the Wii U was not great so maybe let someone else with deep pockets take a crack at this one before you commit.

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NINTENDO NES CLASSIC EDITION

One of the most highly anticipated consoles of the year is not those listed above. Presumably to make up for the seemingly late release of the Switch, Nintendo is launching the pint-size throwback to the 80s, the NES Classic Edition. Preloaded with 30 retro games, the classic edition connects to your TV with an HDMI cable, which is included in the package, and even has a new version of the classic NES controller and an optional CRT TV filter that makes the games look just like they did when originally released.

While it is not nearly as cool as owning an original NES and blowing the dust out of your cartridges to make them play better, it is certainly cheaper. Unless you still have your console packed up from 1985, an NES will cost you something in the range of $100 for a well used system and over $800 for a ‘new’ one. The cartridges come in a range of prices from reasonable to ridiculous depending on the collectability of the game. To get all of your 80s nostalgia in a tiny, adorable package, you’ll only have to pay $79.99. This is the one console on the list that is a must buy. It’s cheap, the games are awesome, and nothing beats the technology that came out before you were even born. Games that come preloaded onto the system include Dr. Mario, Donkey Kong, and Final Fantasy.

The Nintendo NES Classic Edition launches Nov. 11 with one controller. You can pick up another one to play two-player games for $12.99. Here’s hoping Nintendo does the same thing with the Super NES next year. Can we include Chrono Trigger and Mortal Kombat?

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