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Buried Treasures

WEEKEND TICKET:

December 20, 2001|By JASON ZARA, Special to this newspaper

Technology has created a whole range of collectibles — videos, CDs, DVDs and more. But while most collectibles become more valuable with age, technological collectibles become obsolete.

I remember in high school I had a huge collection of audio tapes. Because of this, I fought the transition to CD for a long time. Now I find myself looking at my video collection and contemplating a new DVD player and having the same debate all over again.

Even without transitioning to DVD, videos make a difficult collection sometimes. Sure, everyone has a copy of "Star Wars" somewhere in their video library, but then the deluxe edition comes out. And the director's cut. And then the deluxe trilogy boxed set.

It's bad enough having to replace old favorites when a new medium takes over, but having to buy copy after copy of essentially the same thing, with just enough of a difference to make you want the new one, is a difficult pursuit. I find myself wondering if television game consoles will ever reach a universal standard like personal computers. Computing it is pretty much just a choice between PC or Macintosh and people rarely cross the line. Game consoles, however, are still very much in competition and are either non-compatible or only compatible with adapters and additions.

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The first of the new wave of game machines was the Sega Dreamcast — a very hot item for its entire brief lifespan. But the Sony Playstation II and the Nintendo Game Cube are both must haves — in other words you must have them both if you want access to the full range of games out there, since the systems are non-compatible and the selection of programs for each varies.

I'm hoping the next new wave of game consoles will run interchangeable discs. Sega dropped out of the hardware competition (leaving its Dreamcast available cheap, though the supply of games for it will likely dry up very quickly) and is now focusing on making games only. I hope this portends something more universal. I have long postponed buying one console or another because I'm not sure which to get.

Perhaps the most amazing gimmick to come out for game consoles was for the Nintendo Game Boy. The hand-held version of a Nintendo system, the Game Boys were made linkable via cables. Then came the idea of releasing multiple versions of the same game (Pokemon, of course) in which you couldn't reach all of the objectives in any single game, but had to have multiple copies and link with multiple players. I must say I chose to pass on that insanity, but many people were lured into the expensive hunt in an effort to "catch 'em all."

Personally, I'm kind of hoping that in a few more years I can just buy a single DVD/CD/VHS/PC/game console that washes windows and does dishes. But short of that, I'm at least holding out for a single system that will still be worthwhile in a few years, and that I only have to buy once.

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