Ten years of the GameCube
When did you realise you were a fanboy? Was it the release of a particular game for a particular system? Was it in line at midnight waiting for a specific console? For me it was just over Ten years ago and there I was reading Digitiser on C4 Teletext. The British readers of this blog should have happy memories of that, but for me I shall remember reading about a “Project Dolphin” that was before Mr T. told me to stop playing with his bins.
By the 14th September 2001 when the console was released in Japan it had a new name: that of the “Nintendo GameCube” and what an enigma that console was. This week it marked it’s Tenth year anniversary and I saw little love for the console out there in cyberspace and when I asked on my Twitter account for thoughts on the Cube I got quite a staggering difference in viewpoints. Why was it an enigma? There were a few things that really mucked up the console:
- No DVD player when both the Xbox and the PS2 had.
- It used the dying mini disks making it hard for developers to make games
- Its unique selling point was a handle. A HANDLE
- It was up against the PS2 and Xbox, oh I’ve said that?
- Retailers were very quick to drop it with a price cut before UK launch to £129.99 it wasn’t long until the likes of Argos and Currys were dropping the console to £89.99
Too much tinkering?
On top of that there was the game side of things, can you remember that brilliant tech demo at Space world 2000 where we saw Ganon vs. Link in a sword battle? What about Super Mario 128? These look rather exciting, don’t they? One of the things with the GC was the main franchises tried too hard to be different, Fox got out of the airwing to help Tricky the dinosaur, Link shrunk and became cell shaded, Mario had F.L.U.D.D and Donkey Kong played bongo’s. Well at least we had Mario Kart, oh right there are now two people in the Kart? That’s just silly at least we can rely on Metroid? I know Samus is returning to the Nintendo consoles after her absence from the 64 it’s not like they’re going to change the genre to first person shooter or anything.
All joking aside, the GameCube was unconventional that at the time I hated but in retrospect I absolutely loved it. I hated Sunshine at the time, it was too easy to finish and really had no challenge, then I discovered the blue coins and it certainly made it into a more enjoyable game for me. Yeah I had my gripes like fricking F.L.U.D.D, the realistic nature of Delfino Island and how much of a pansy Yoshi was but it’s still fun to play to this day. Starfox, did I care he left the airwing? Nope. But a lot of people do. If this was released as Dinosaur Planet it would go down as a great game, I bought it on release and loved it. On a forum I frequent I made a thread about the Cube and I got a ton of replies about how great double dash was, as unconventional as it is I love it to this day. Then we have Wind Waker, ah yes good old Wind Waker a game that I think was rather rushed, there’s clearly an island missing but that may be me just being picky. In the recent Games Master Zelda 25th anniversary special they asked the writers what their favourite Zelda game was and half said Wind Waker, I disagree with that but it opened a great world and gave us Geordie Link or as he prefers to be called Toon Link.
The return of a hero
Samus Aran is renowned as gaming’s first female hero, I’m sure someone else will correct me on that and show me a hero from some Sinclair game but just humour me for a second. She braved Space Pirates from 1986 until 1994 and then she just vanished, she didn’t appear on the N64 so where on Earth was she? For me on the SNES the franchise that really got recognition in the west was Donkey Kong and it gave him a new lease of life, for the N64 that was Zelda which got a new lease of life and for the GameCube it was Samus. Released the same day as Fusion the GameCube received Prime which got glowing reviews, though didn’t sell well but in the long run sales didn’t really matter as our hero was back.
Speaking of returning heroes here’s a pop quiz question: “What is the only game on the GC to sell more than the equivalent game on the N64?” The answer was Smash Bros. Melee which took Smash Bros. and knocked it up a notch or two and with that we saw the likes of Ness from a game series we in Europe never got though the real intrigue lied with Roy and Marth. Thus gamers wanted a Fire Emblem game and we got it on the GBA and eventually we got it on the GC, and my word what a game. The character development is second to none and the strategy and overall gameplay is addicting to say the least.
I could mention how great Pikmin was or the likes of Doshin (sorry USA) or even Chibi-Robo. I could go onto how Nintendo had finally resolved its issue with third part developers. I could go into how many hidden gems are on it, or the rare in the EU Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes. I could mention how many games I’m still stumbling on such as Kirby’s Air ride. I could go on about the great array of Mario sports titles such as Strikers, Baseball, Tennis, Golf or even Party. I could smile that Luigi finally had his own game or that Wario had a console platform game. I could mention how hard Capcom worked with Mega Man, Viewtiful Joe and resident Evil. I could go on about Eternal Darkness and how it still freaks me out to this day. I could mention the controller and how I think it’s the best ever, or even Wavebird that brought wireless controllers to the masses. I could mention the likes of Tales of Symphonia and Phantasy Star Online. I could even mention Thousand Year door but I have a planned Paper Mario feature next week. The fact is it is a very under appreciated console.
I appreciate the GameCube more and more as time goes on, it’s just sad that it was released alongside the Xbox and a hard-drive and the PS2 and a DVD player (yes I know about Panasonic Q, shhh!). So Gamecube, happy Tenth birthday old boy, you may have had a hard time but there’s some of us who still love you.