GameCube to Xbox: Got Spam?

A high-stakes Xbox competition and a GameCube done in Spam, cat food and chocolate syrup are part of Microsoft's and Nintendo's chest-thumping promotions for their upcoming consoles.

The game-console marketing race kicks into high gear Thursday with dueling promotional events from Microsoft and Nintendo that include someone eating a life-size GameCube replica made of Spam, cat food and chocolate syrup.

Microsoft will launch Xbox Odyssey, a traveling tent show in which the software maker will offer one of the biggest public demonstrations yet of its upcoming Xbox game console. Open to all, the event will be held in a giant inflatable tent outfitted with more than 50 Xbox units, allowing players to try out games such as "Halo" and "Dead or Alive 3."

The Odyssey tent will be pitched in San Francisco through the weekend, after which it moves on to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix and other cities. The console is scheduled to go on sale Nov. 15.

Meanwhile, Nintendo is pulling out some tricks of its own for its GameCube console, which goes on sale Nov. 18.

The Japanese game giant has been giving players a chance to try out the new system and its games in a series of Cube Club events in major American cities. The San Francisco Cube Club location will play host Thursday to the five finalists in the "What would YOU do for a Nintendo GameCube?" contest, launched last month via Nintendo's Web site.

According to Nintendo, the entrants include "Lizzy," who will eat the GameCube made of Spam, cat food and chocolate syrup; "Mathew," who will paint several Nintendo logos onto a tapestry using only his tongue; and "Jeffrey," who will juggle three generations worth of Nintendo consoles--the NES, the SNES and the N64--while dressed as game character Mario and whistling Mario's theme.

The big winner gets a GameCube, a GameBoy Advance, a load of software and $5,000.

Also this weekend, Microsoft will host Xbox Unleashed, a 48-hour event in which game players in Los Angeles and New York can try out Xbox games and compete for a new car in the "Ultimate Xbox Gamer" contest.

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