This year has seen a revolution in game consoles, with a new focus on social gaming and cloud technology. The Nintendo Wii U has completely remodelled the classic controller, whilst the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 are gearing up to transform game titles from physical DVD discs to internet installations. But these brand new console releases come with a hefty price tag, and the accompanying games only add to the rocketing costs that players face nowadays.
So, whilst you wait for console costs to drop, here are some of the best alternatives that will make sure you don’t go without your gaming fix.
Online games and emulators:
There is a huge online market for instant games, with sites such as EA and MoneyGaming offering everything from action to casino classics. You may sometimes be required to sign up with a player account and make a small deposit, but you can usually take advantage of promotional offers and even turn a profit whilst playing (which will certainly help you afford that Xbox 720 by Christmas time.)
However, if you have your heart set on a specific rare or discontinued title then emulators are a great solution. These can be downloaded straight to your PC and all you require to play is a cheap, USB compatible controller, which is available online or from gadget shops.
Smartphones have advanced significantly over the years, offering players impressive graphics and a high quality gaming experience. However, tapping some buttons on your phone isn’t quite the same as playing from your favourite console. Well, that’s where mobile gaming accessories come into play.
Portable game controllers connect straight to mobiles to allow you to game from any location. iPhone users can play with the iControlPad from £45 and Android gamers will be impressed by the stylish PowerA Moga, which costs around £30. Although a little pricey, these accessories are a fantastic way to keep entertained and, with free and affordable mobile games, they are easy on the bank balance.
Stream games to your TV:
Mobile gaming is all well and good, but sometimes you want to see your favourite game titles blown up on the TV screen. For around £65 you can purchase the OnLive, which allows you to stream full console games to computers, phones and TVs without the need for big bulky hardware. A microconsole links the OnLive to the television and works impressively well.
Similarly, MHL can connect your smartphone to your TV screen and is much more affordable, at less than £10. The smartphone controller accessories even connect to some Android apps, to allow the use of PlayStation 3 and Wii remotes whilst playing.
Microconsoles give you all the fun of playing your favourite titles on the TV, but at a fraction of the cost.
The console taking the industry by storm at the moment is the Ouya. Priced at under £100, the Ouya will be released in June and will allow players to enjoy Android games with a physical controller. Its creators also promise that it will be open to hacking, meaning avid gamers can use the microconsole to play emulator apps on.
Image courtesy of Stratageme.com at Flickr
GameStick is another microconsole very similar to the Ouya, except that it is smaller in design and cheaper in price. PlayJam, the creators of the device, are a game developing company, meaning that the software support on the GameStick is likely to be better than that of its rival.