As George Cole reports, the Christmas rush will be for PlayStation 2. but it is worth looking at other options
This Christmas, many children (and adults too) will be hoping that nestling among their presents is a Sony PlayStation 2 (PS2) games console. The PS2 is the eagerly-awaited successor to the highly successful PlayStation console which has sold almost six million units since its launch in the UK five years ago.
The PS2 represents the next generation of games consoles offering superb arcade-style graphics, animation and sound. When it was launched in Japan, it sold almost one million units in the first weekend, and demand is high in the UK too. So much so that anyone hoping to buy a PS2 for Christmas had to pre-order one in early September - and even then there is no guarantee that it will arrive in time for Christmas.
The PS2 uses DVD discs, and can also play audio CDs and DVD video discs. And PS2 will even play most of today's PlayStation games and can be used with existing PlayStation joypads and other hardware. PS2 will also link up to the Internet for online gaming. At pound;299, the PS2 is not cheap, although its games are expected to sell for around the same prices as standard PlayStation games, at pound;40 each.
If you can't get your hands on a PS2, there are still plenty of good games to tempt joy-pad users. Sony is still promoting the older PlayStation and has launched a new version, PS One (pound;80), which is smaller than the standard PlayStation, although it offers the same features. PlayStation Games to look out for include Tomb Raider Chronicles (pound;39.99 from Eidos), the latest adventure featuring the iconic games character Lara Croft.
WWF Smackdown 2 (pound;39.99, Jakks) follows the massive success of the previous wrestling game and is bound to be just as popular. Final Fantasy XI (pound;39.99, Squaresoft) is the sequel to the role playing game series. Formula One 2000 (pound;34.99, Sony) let you put the pedal to the metal and compete against the games console or other players. Sony's Super Platinum range of lower-priced games also offers plenty of good titles including Command and Conquer, Red Alert and Street Skater at just pound;9.99 each.
Nintendo's N64 games console offers Banjo Tooie (pound;40-pound;50, THE), a bizarre platform adventure game featuring a cute bear and bird characters that will delight boys and girls alike. Zelda Gaiden (around pound;50, Nintendo) is the massive sequel to the original 3D Zelda games, a gaming classic, and the last but not least, the Pokemon characters that have probably driven many parents and teachers to distraction, are back with Pokemon Attack (pound;40-pound;50, Nintendo). And there's no escape if your child owns a Nintendo's Game Boy handheld games console, as the Pokemon Trading Card Game (pound;20, Nintendo) is bound to be a sought-after title.
You have to feel sorry for Sega, which saw its last games console, Saturn, go down the tubes, and its latest offering, DreamCast, is also flagging. It's a shame because the DreamCast is a great console with some excellent games. This autumn, Sega is selling a DreamCast console and a DVD player together for pound;299, and has launched SegaNet (www.sega.net), an online gaming service for PC and DreamCast owners (DreamCast has a modem and can be connected to the Internet).
Hot games include Jet Set Radio (pound;39.99, Sega), which involves skating around Manhattan painting street art and avoiding street gangs and the police. FI Racing Championship (pound;39.99, Sega) allows up to four players to compete on the racing track and has amazing graphics. WWF Royal Rumble (pound;40, Sega) is an exclusive DreamCast title that wrestling fans will flock to buy. Note all games and consoles (with the exception of PS2) can be found in high street or most online stores.
Special thanks to Tom Cole (15, George junior) for many of the games suggestions.