For all the trumpeting, there’s precious little to tempt a gamer on Friday. Various consoles see releases such as ariel racer Freaky Flyers and stateside tinted sports sim NHL 2004 , minnows one and all, and the Club Soccer myriad which failed to materialize last week should put in an appearance this time round. That aside, of the thirty or so big push console titles due before Christmas, none have spotted this weekend for the clear run it would have been.

Only PC owners have any joy, with Friday giving them their version of Halo – Combat Evolved, a game touted as the best shooter of all time by too many people to ignore. For long the centerpiece of Microsoft’s console line-up, its emergence elsewhere was supposed to have been mitigated by the concurrent release of its sequel, and now that’s been postponed until spring or later, exclusivity relies on much smaller fry such as Project Gotham Racing – not likely to be a sufficient temptation. Microsoft might take a small consolation from the fact that the port will be running on their own operating system – the game was originally destined for the Mac.

So instead, why not a brand new console? Or rather, Nintendo’s seventeen month old console, slashed as hoped to barely half its already puny launch price. And be sure that the Gamecube has gems aplenty, some of which may soon be yours for twenty pounds. Platfomer Mario Sunshine, the innovative Pikmin, and glory of all, Metroid Prime are all due for a repositioning before Christmas – only Zelda’s cell drawn adventure is missing from the list of mini-priced must haves. Take care though – the Gamecube is certianly something special, but for better or worse its not the VHS of gaming, and may disappoint as big titles pass it by. And don’t spend more than seventy pounds, whatever HMV says.

Sony, meanwhile, have torn up the marketing rule book and increased the price of a PS2 by a tenner. For this it is painted a strangely unnamable plastic silver colour and another contoller is thown in, the better to please alloy wheeled gadget freaks out to impress their mates. Sony know selling alright.

Its time, then, to catch your breath. Next week is going to be an absolute bunfight.