X-Box/Game Cube/Playstation 2

It's the 'extras' on video games that manufacturers use to sell their product. But do they work? We asked some 'experts' to try them out - to see if they're all they're cracked up to be.We turned to 7th graders at Shultz Middle School in Cape Girardeau. And thanks to Toys R Us for letting us use their demo models.

We asked two boys and two girls to test the new Nintendo Gamecube, and Microsoft X-Box, and compare them to returning champion, Playstation Two. They didn't think about the price - much to many parent's chagrin! - but they did think about the graphics, the available games, and the all-important controllers.

We start with Nintendo's Gamecube and Eli Flood. He wants one for Christmas. "I think it's a lot like Nintendo 64," Eli summarized. "It's mostly the same games, and the same graphics."

Eli says the Gamecube gives him more control over the characters, but at a price. "It's kind of a challenge, too, but i like it."

Let's switch now - same game, different player. "It's a different controller than Dreamcast," says Sean Braxton. "It looks bigger."

The girls like it, too, especially Jamie Wilson. "I like the game!" she enthusiastically says. "It has really cool graphics." And Cara McElmurry notices the controller right away. "It's cute, but it's small!" exclaims Cara.

The general consensus so far on Nintendo's Gamecube is great graphics, but a more difficult controller.

Now let's take a look at Microsoft's X-Box. "It's fun to play," says Cara. "I really like the game. It's really cool!" But they all have a few stumbles as they get used to the controller. "The controller is harder to use," explains Eli. "The buttons are small."

However, the others like the X-Box controller. "You have a big choice to choose from, so you're not using the same ones all the time," says Cara.

And they all admit the X-Box has the best graphics. "This one does have better graphics, but not enough to make me want to use one over the other," says Eli. "The Gamecube is still easier to control."

So we're down to Sony's Playstation Two. It hit the market in a big way last year, and it has a built-in DVD player, just like the X-Box. "The controller is simpler than both of the others, but you still get the same control," says Eli. The girls like the updated games available for Playstation Two, but say they're almost too familiar with it. "With the X-Box , I'm not as familiar with it so it's more of a challenge," says Cara.

After trying all three, the $300 Playstation Two is Sean's favorite, because he says it's more user friendly. "It's really good," he summarizes. "I like it. And I like the games. It's easier, but not boring."

The girls still favor the $300 X-Box. "I seriously want the X-Box for Christmas!" says Cara.

And Eli still prefers the $200 Gamecube, even though he admits the X-Box has the best graphics. "Before I started playing I wanted the Gamecube," says Eli. "I still like the Cube."

The bottom line - they all earn 'A's. Gamecube, X-Box, and Playstation Two are all so advanced, and come with so many different game options, that it simply comes down to user preference which in large part is decided by the controller.