Comic courtesy of Fat Gamers.

Would you rather it end up like Wind Waker?

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It'll be worth waiting for

The final nail in the coffin for the GameCube, or its saving grace? This question, more than any other, hangs over the head of Nintendo's current game console like the grinning Grim Reaper, playfully toying with his scythe. On a whim he could behead the Cube, calling an end to its brief, sometimes brilliant, but mostly starved life. Or, perhaps, the Grim Reaper will show mercy?

When news filtered onto the Internet that Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess had been delayed from this Christmas to at least April 2006, Nintendo fanboys everywhere collectively shrieked. So strong was their pain that the screams could be heard reverberating across the vast plains of Hyrule. 'How could you do this to us?' they cried. 'We loved you!' and 'You were the chosen... (ahem)'.

Dry your eyes. I know Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma's explanation that they want the game to spend more time in development so it'll be a "more enjoyable gaming experience" has clichè written all over it, but, this time, I think they're right.

Look at Wind Waker. Would you rather it turned out like that half finished, boring sailing simulation? No. Would you have preferred it to be half the game Ocarina of Time was? Of course not. For me, the announcement reinforces the view that Twilight Princess will be the greatest Zelda game ever made. And that's worth waiting for.

GameCube shooter
This is what Cube owners are left with this Christmas

It's not all doom and gloom for Nintendo fans though. Soon after the Zelda announcement Nintendo released firm European release dates for its Christmas schedule, as if to appease fans distraught at the prospect of Turkey without Link.

DS owners can look forward to Mario Kart (Nov 11), Kirby (Nov 25) and Advance Wars (Sep 30) as well as Nintendogs (Oct 7) (definite chick magnet). The GBA isn't dead either. The Game Boy Micro will freshen up sales on Nov 4th. Supporting acts include Pokèmon Emerald (Oct 21) and Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones (Nov 4).

But the GameCube looks dead on its feet, which is a terrible shame. Look at this list and tell me if you can see a triple-A title:

  • Mario Superstar Baseball - November 11th
  • Mario Power Tennis - November 18th
  • Mario Smash Football - November 18th
  • Pokèmon XD: Gale of Darkness - November 18th
  • Mario Party 7 - November
  • Battalion Wars - December 9th
  • Odama - 2005
  • Geist - October 7th
  • Dancing Stage: Mario Mix - October 28th
  • Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - November 4th

There isn't one. I'm not saying Odama and Geist won't be good games, but none have the mainstream appeal to convince consumers to buy a Cube over a PS2, Xbox, 360, PSP and DS this Christmas. And that's the real test of a successful game - will you buy the console just to play it?

Traditionally, that's what Zelda games do. And I'm sure Twilight Princess will sell many Cubes when it's released next year, but it's too little too late to save the console. In this sense, Nintendo must be given all the praise in the world. Instead of short-changing loyal fans by rushing out a killer franchise in a futile attempt to revive a hopeless cause, they've postponed the release to give the Cube the best hardware send-off ever. At least then the GameCube's footnote in history will be a positive one.

How to spend £360:

Microsoft games
The price lives up to its name

When Microsoft revealed their next-generation console would be called 360, most, including myself, said it was because they wanted a revolution in gaming - a 360 degree turn in fact. After Microsoft's price plan announcement this week at Game Convention in Leipzig, I wonder if it actually meant 'the amount of pounds you'll have to spend to use it'.

£279 with a 20GB hard drive, wireless controller, headset and remote - £209 without. I assume most hardened gamers will save up the extra pennies and get the hard drive version (I'll have to since I want to play FFXI and any other MMOs that come out on the console). So for your reading pleasure, I've put together a guide on 'How to spend £360 on the 360'.

1. The 360 itself. Like I said, you'll need the hard drive to play FFXI and any other MMO released for it. So you'll immediately need the value pack (Microsoft aren't calling it this, but it's essentially what it is). This gets you a wireless controller (essential nowadays with so many consoles to fit under your TV) a headset (for co-ordinating particularly complicated online attacks), a HD video cable and a universal media remote. But the hard drive means so much more. You can save your games on it (so no need to get a £22.99 memory unit) and you'll be able to download game updates and media services Microsoft will develop throughout the 360's life-cycle. Add to this the fact that you're saving a tidy sum of money with the Value Pack, and there really isn't any choice to make. Cost: £279.99

2. Another wireless controller. I know Xbox Live is being touted as the biggest thing to hit multiplayer gaming since Nintendo put four controller ports on the N64, but right now and for the next few years at least, multiplayer gaming's still all about having a few friends over with some pizza and beer. Usually after Match of the Day has finished too. To this end, another wireless controller is a must have. Cost: £32.99

3. Play and Charge kit. This little beauty will recharge your controller while you're playing, thus avoiding annoying loss of control during a particularly intense Halo 3 rumble pit on Xbox Live. Instead, never worry about the ominous flashing of lights when power is on its last legs. You've got so much more to worry about, of course, like how you're going to pay your Mum back for lending you the cash for the damn thing. Cost: £14.99

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You'll want at least one game

4. A game or two. Which is what it's all about really. No good opening your brand spanking new 360 on Christmas morning without a game to play on it. Check our feature on the top ten most important 360 launch titles for more info. I'm most interested in Perfect Dark Zero, Rare's return from exile. Hopefully it will turn out to be the console seller Halo was for the Xbox. Most retailers will do some kind of bundle deal including a game or two. But with next-generation titles expected to be between a £5 and £10 more expensive than current games, deals won't be cheap. Taking a base amount, add at least £45 on for a game - £90 for two. I don't have much time this Christmas, so I'll just be getting PDZ, but feel free to disagree. Cost: £44.99

Total: £372.96. And that's only with one game. So maybe we're a few quid over, but we're close enough. You'll need a pretty penny to enjoy the first next-generation console to market. It starts getting silly when you sling in an HDTV (how much you got?) a Wireless Networking Adapter (£59.99) a 64MB Memory Unit (£22.99), an RGB Scart (If you're not going High-Def it'll cost you £17.99), surround sound speakers (£££s) and a butler (if you can afford all that you can afford a butler). In short, the next-generation looks like providing the most amazing gaming experience ever - albeit an expensive one. Still, the last generation was hardly cheap, with both the Xbox and PlayStation 2 costing about the same as the Xbox 360. At least you've got some time to save up for the other consoles due next year, but with the much talked about high price of the PlayStation 3, perhaps it's time to re-mortgage the house...

This week's new releases

This section has hardly been worth it this month, with August's release schedule being more embarrassing than England's performance against Denmark. As with the last few weeks, we suggest you save your money. Not only is the PSP due out on September 1st, with a decent selection of games and a larger memory stick setting you back somewhere in the region of £300, but there's also the Xbox 360 to consider now. That'll cost you the equivalent of about ten games when it's released this November, so cutting your spending this month isn't really a bad thing.

  • Chrome: Specforce (PC)
  • Conspiracy: Weapons of Mass Destruction (Xbox)
  • Neuro Hunter (PC)
  • Pac-Man World 2 (GBA)
  • Sprint Car Challenge (PS2)

Next week on Pro-G

Expect coverage of the PSP's launch line-up, a Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks preview and more.