Better Gaming For Less Money

| October 07, 2002

WORK AS PLAY

18 Wheeler American Pro Trucker, which made its mark as a truck stop arcade game, is now available for Sony PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube.

The game features arcade and two-player split-screen modes, six mini-games and four raceways. You can select long-nosed, high-torque trucks or speedy aerodynamic models and the type of trailer. Multiple camera angles show what’s happening as you try to avoid obstacles. There’s even a parking challenge. And you can taunt other drivers via CB.

Robert Dubonnette, an owner-operator from Lemoore, Calif., plays games a couple of hours a week on his Sony PlayStation 2. But his PS2, unlike older gaming systems, also plays DVDs, so Dubonette can watch movies on the system, too, when he parks his rig.

Although new systems like the PS2 and Microsoft’s Xbox offer a versatility that makes them ideal for an in-truck entertainment system, they also came into the market for several months with a steep fixed price. Dubonnette paid $299 for his PS2. “But I have no bills, so it’s okay to splurge on myself now and then,” he says.

That’s changed. The PS2 and the Xbox, which also doubles as a DVD and CD player, have been cut to $200. Nintendo’s GameCube, which plays games and CDs, can now be purchased for $150.

For truckers who already own a television and VCR in their truck, adding a gaming system should be easy. Dubonnette, for instance, runs his 13-inch television and PS2 off a 300-watt inverter. Smaller inverters may work, depending on the system. Sony also offers a portable version of its original PlayStation, which does not play PS2 games or DVDs. It has a built-in screen and can be plugged into a DC lighter outlet.

Pawn shops and game exchange stores offer used video games at a discount. Some gamers buy from discount stores or on Internet auction sites. “I have friends who also have the PlayStation system, so we trade games as well,” Dubonnette says. If you’re not sure about a game, test it as a rental before you pay $50 for it.

Even at their reduced prices, these systems are by no means the only route to great gaming. Many of the best games are available in computer versions, and the graphics tend to be better, say game experts. If you have a PC or laptop with plenty of memory, you might want to invest in some games. Many are also available to download or play live over the Internet.

Lance Tucker, an owner-operator from Riverside, Calif., says he isn’t interested in a game system because he plays computer golf on his laptop – when he finds the time. “Sleep comes first,” he says, “but if I have a couple of hours I might break out the laptop.”

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