People stop me on the street all the time and ask, “Steve, my kid wants one of those damn Mimtendos or whatever. What is all this video game crap?”
Not to worry, imaginary passerby, I have your back. Below is a thumbnail guide to what’s current with all the major gaming systems and what will be out by Christmas, so if your kid asks for a PlayStation, you won’t put a PlayStation 3 under the tree.
A buyer’s guide to gaming consoles for clueless Christmas shoppers
Microsoft: The current Microsoft system is the Xbox One, but this week, Microsoft announced the release date for two next generation Xbox models: Both the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S should hit stores on November 10. The Series X is the more-powerful, more-expensive Xbox. It will retail for $499. The Series S is physically smaller, less powerful, and will cost you $299. All games for Series X will play on the Series S (and vice-versa) but at a lower resolution with lower quality textures than the more expensive machine. The series S does not have a disc drive, so all games for it must be downloaded online.
PlayStation: Sony’s current system is the PlayStation 4, but a new console with a couple of variations are coming this year. The PlayStation 5 still doesn’t have a firm drop date or price, but the company says it will hit retail in “late 2020.” (Bet it’s in time for Christmas.) Along with the PlayStation 5, Sony is also releasing the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition. Like the Xbox Series S it lacks a hard-drive/blu-ray player, and will presumably be less expensive than the “real” PS5.
Nintendo: There is no major new Nintendo hardware release this year. The company’s current console, The Nintendo Switch, is still chugging along three years after its launch. The Switch retails for $299. The other Nintendo option is the Nintendo Switch Lite. It runs almost every game for the Switch, but has a slightly smaller screen and is a strictly handheld system, so you can’t slap it on a dock to play on your TV. It will set you back $199.
Viral Video of The Week: Ultimate Basketball Robot
Shane, the engineer and inventor behind the YouTube channel Stuff Made Here, dropped an amazing video this week detailing his quest to build a robotic basketball hoop that will ensure that every shot is a basket.
“Making the ultimate basketball robot” is what makes the internet great: A totally ridiculous project that is labored over extensively and ultimately ends in something the world has never seen before. Check it out here.
This Week in Music and Marketing: Fast Food Rappers
This has been a big month for crossover promotions between rappers and gigantic international fast food corporations.
If your kid was pointing his or her phone at the TV during the 2020 Video Music Awards, it might have been because of team-up between Burger King and rapper Lil’ Yachty. The eccentric Atlanta rapper, Yachty, and Burger King’s eccentric corporate mascot, The Burger King, appeared during the broadcast in commercials asking viewers to scan a QR code with their smartphones to activate an augmented reality experience featuring the duo on the red carpet and at other parts of the show. Rock n’ Roll, am I right?
In more comprehensible cross-promotion news, rapper/songwriter Travis Scott teamed up with McDonalds to debut the “Travis Scott Meal.“ Supposedly Scott’s favorite McMeal, the $6 combo includes a quarter pounder with cheese and bacon, French fries with barbecue sauce, and a Sprite. Scott stars as a happy meal-size version of himself in a charming commercial you can watch here. The meal deal runs through October 4.
This Week In TV: ‘Woke’ and ‘Julie and the Phantoms’
A couple of interesting new shows are coming to streaming this week, and they couldn’t be more different in tone and intent.
If your teen is starting to explore issues of racial justice in America, maybe they’d like Hulu’s Woke. The series tells the story of African American cartoonist Keef, who is teetering on the edge of mainstream success with a lighthearted comic strip until an unfortunate run-in with racist police upends his world. The show’s magical-realist style sees inanimate objects talking to Keef—including a trashcan barber and talking bottles of malt liquor—voiced by stars like Cedric the Entertainer and Eddie Griffin.
On the other side of the spectrum: Julie and the Phantoms is a kid-friendly series that premiered on Netflix on September 10. It tells the story of Julie, a young musician who teams up with a group of ghosts to form a band. It’s the kind of frothy, musical concoction that might hit kids right in the sweet spot. Of course, they might think it’s totally ass, too. You never really know.
The Week in Video Games: ‘Call of Duty: Cold War’ Multiplayer Trailer
There weren’t any super notable game releases this week, but there was a ton of excitement over a certain game trailer. If your kid is into gaming, there’s no doubt they’ve watched the new trailer for Call of Duty: Cold War at least a dozen times. The trailer contains a metric crap-ton of multiplayer footage, including urban combat, lots of neon, a ship invasion, and a soundtrack featuring “new romantic” kings Duran Duran mashed with Biggie. Call of Duty: Cold War is going to be massive when it comes out on November 13. Check out the trailer here, to see what your gamer kid will be playing for eight billion hours.