Which game console is right for your family?

Paul Eisenberg

 If you want a home video game console, three major systems vie for your time and money. Each has its own selling points, but deciding which system is best for your family can still be a confusing process.

Nate Mitchell, 9, of Homewood, Ill., saved money to buy a new Xbox 360 system. Why? He said the Xbox had more games he was interested in playing than the Wii, and more of his friends had the Xbox than the PlayStation 3, which would allow him to share games back and forth.

Some personal factors such as that will weigh into customers’ decisions, says Nick Giles, a sales associate at Best Buy in Matteson, Ill. But there are other, more general “lifestyle questions” that can help people decide what system is best for them, he said.

“If you have younger kids, and more of them, then a Wii is probably more suited for you. It’s more of a family game-night system,” he said. “Teenagers and kids who will be playing by themselves will probably like a PlayStation or Xbox more.”

Even though Xbox and PlayStation systems have now implemented technology that incorporates body movement, the systems and games are not interchangeable with the Wii, he said. Each system has its own benefits and drawbacks.

Nintendo Wii

Benefits: The original motion gaming system, it’s well-suited for groups of up to four players participating in the same game. Simple, easy-to-learn games such as bowling appeal to young and old players, and games featuring Nintendo’s classic characters Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong and others are only available on the Wii. Generally less expensive than other systems.

Drawbacks: Not as graphically intense as other systems. Games available tend to target more family-oriented play rather than such genres as first-person shooters or epic adventures.

Xbox 360

Benefits: “Xbox has put their stamp on motion gaming with the Kinect,” Giles says. No controller is needed, which allows for more interactive gameplay than is possible with the Wii or PlayStation 3 Move. Graphically better than Nintendo Wii, with more action games available. Online gaming network is more reliable than that offered by PlayStation, according to Giles.

Drawbacks: Unlike PlayStation 3, there is no Blu-Ray player included on the Xbox. Not as powerful as PlayStation 3 – what you see is what you’re going to get. “Xbox has probably reached its limits,” Giles says.

PlayStation 3

Benefits: Includes a Blu-Ray player for watching high-def movies. Most powerful gaming system available, with built-in Web browser. “They haven’t even started delving into all the power there is in the PlayStation3,” Giles says. PlayStation Move motion game add-ons make for better first-person shooter action.

Drawbacks: Unreliable network for online gaming, Giles said. Added costs of Move add-ons can build up. Not as popular among game developers. Move add-on not as interactive as Kinect.