My Favourite Nintendo Console Wasn't Even Made By Nintendo

We're going to get a little personal today on Total Recall, and take a look at my favourite Nintendo console of all time. Not the best, not the biggest-selling, just...my favourite.

And that console is the Panasonic Q, a machine sadly never made commercially available in the West.

The Q, a very fancy version of the GameCube, was released in Japan in December 2001, the latest in a long line of Japanese consoles licensed for manufacture by a company other than the actual platform holder (the original console being made not by Nintendo, but by Panasonic).

It was something Nintendo fans in other parts of the world are still waiting for: a home console that doubled as a multimedia centre. Not only was the machine a GameCube, complete with all the controller ports and memory card slots of a regular console, but it was also a DVD player.

Why? Well, Nintendo feared - rightly so, it turns out - that the competing PlayStation 2's DVD player would be a major selling-point for the console, and since the GameCube lacked this feature, that its sales would suffer as a result. So it struck a deal with the company manufacturing the GameCube's optical disc drives, Matsushita (who own Panasonic), to produce a variant model of the console, which would be capable of playing DVDs.

The Panasonic Q in all its glory

That variant was the Q, which in addition to its regular GameCube components also boasted more advanced features like an optical out port (for true 5.1 surround sound support), a swish front-loading disc tray, a neat little LCD display panel at the top, a separate subwoofer output for the Q's "Bass Plus" feature and, best and most badass of all, a polished glass front with a stainless steel chassis.

Despite this more advanced feature set, and a price tag of around USD$450 (which wasn't that expensive), the Q remained something of an oddity, an ugly stepsister, and sadly never really took off in Japan. It was discontinued only two years later, in December 2003, and was never officially released outside Japan.

Because of its unique appearance and capabilities, though, the Q remains a favourite of hardware collectors, and can be had quite easily online for anywhere between $US300-$600.

Why, then, is the Q my favourite? Well, I've always had a very soft spot for the GameCube, because of its catalogue of amazing games, cute form factor and its innovative wireless control pads, so a heavily modified GameCube with a steel chassis is right up my alley. As a lover of the last generation's clear loser, it also acts as a sort of beacon of alternate history, which continually makes me wonder what kind of gaming industry we'd be wading through today if this more feature-packed console had somehow won out over Sony's PlayStation 2.

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Comments

    I've never heard of the Q until this article but I'm surprised it failed. In comparison to mini hi-fi systems and such from that era it's looks are very normal so god knows how it was considered ugly by anyone plus the feature set is very cool.

    I want one now.

    Much like Dissection, I've never heard of this before...

    ...but now I want one.

    Did you take this from my journal?
    The Gamecube is my personal favourite console of all time, and I always wanted on of these babies!

    Got one ;) Imported it through Lik-Sang back in the day. One of my most prized possessions

      You bastard!

    Game consoles should do just that - PLAY GAMES! I don't need my consoles to stream netflix and read me the news or all this kind of rubbish, that's why i have a PC and a media centre!

    On another note, Gamecube + impressive catalogue of games? Surley you jest.

      The Gamecube Library had some serious quality. The PS2 had about a million games, but roughly 60% of the library was utter grabage.

      I don't agree entirely with this list, but it starts to scratch the surface: http://au.cube.ign.com/articles/772/772300p5.html

      "On another note, Gamecube + impressive catalogue of games? Surley you jest."

      Speaking as one who still owns own, Steven, that claim is very valid. A few of games in point:
      * Metroid Prime (and its sequel)
      * Twilight Princess (the version on the Wii is actually a port)
      * Tales of Symphonia

      There are many other games but I mostly kept RPGs. Despite having a good set of games and most of them high quality, the GameCube is also a lesson to Nintendo on how to not treat third party developers.

      Metroid Prime 1 + 2
      Mario Sunshine
      Pikmin 1 + 2
      Zelda Wind Waker
      Resident Evil 4
      Eternal Darkness
      Super Smash Melee
      Double Dash
      F-Zero GX
      Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes

      Now that I think of it - I loved the Gamecube.

        Oh wow, F-Zero GX. The perfect collaboration between Nintendo and Sega. I forgot just how much I love that game!

          That game was maddeningly underrated.

            How come sometimes your name links back to Kot and sometimes it doesn't?

            It's freaking me out.

              Sometimes he replies, and sometimes he comments.

              It's different for admins.

                Or, 2 Mark Serrels actually exist. Somehow, the space time continuum has ruptured on kotaku causing 2 dimensions to collide. Perhaps the MS that links back to Kotaku is actually warning us of some sort of impending robot apocalypse?

                I think my theory makes a lot more sense than yours. Which, may I add, is full of holes.

                  That's because Tad's not thinking Fourth Dimensionly.

                  He's got a real problem with that.

        Agree with all these. I wasn't lucky enough to own the last three.(Double dash / F-Zero / Twin Snakes).
        There were some pretty good cross platforms, which stacked up pretty well against the Xbox / PS2
        POP Sands of Time, Beyond Good and Evil and
        Soul Calibre 2.
        The Cube had a small library, but there was quality there.

    Looking at that controller, it looks a lot like the cafe controller from that video that came out last night (sans the screen, obviously).

    Some of the best games of last generation were exclusively on GC. Metroid Prime? Eternal Darkness? Zelda? Mario Sunshine? (yes, Sunshine. Bollocks to you.) Not to mention the initial release of Resident Evil 4, even if it later went cross-platform. Having owned all consoles of the last gen I can say without hesitation that in my opinion, the 'cube was the best of the lot.

      I dunnoooooooooo, love my Cube was was forever changing back and forth between it and the PS2.
      Ps2 ended up having many more buyable games.

      Would also like to add to your list
      MarioKart Double Dash
      StarFox Adventures!

      Mario Sunshine rocks. Also the most challenging of all the 3D Marios (the hidden world stages ouch, just one more go). I think thats why its so underated. It was just so inventive and I loved just exploring the worlds. Its good to hear the next 3D Mario is gona be cross betweenthe classic 3D and the planetoids (which were a stroke of genius). Its funny to think, when I first saw pictures of Mario Galaxy before the Wii was released, I actually thought that each levelwas just 1 planetoid!!! It didnt occur to me that you'd be flying through space - boy was I surprised, and relieved...

        I find it Maddening that no one has mentioned Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance... I know it wasnt that big over here but a pure gem regardless... Gamecube is the most under-rated console in my opinion... second to none...

    I couldn't tell from the article but do you actually own one?

    Gamecube had the only gimped Mario (Sunshine -the worst Mario game of all time!) and Zelda (WindWaker -NOONE wanted cell shaded Zelda, but Nintendo arrogantly persisted)games of any Nintendo hardware. The rest of the catalogue was pretty much all garbage, sadly. There was very little quality 3rd party support, except for a couple of decent Capcom games, and even Nintendo itself seemed lost in the wilderness with shitty ideas that turned out to be ok games that noone was particulary excited about (Pikmin, Mario Strikers, -who the hell was excited when they heard Miyamoto was making a gardening sim?!? That's why I sold my Q system off years ago. Ikaruga, RE4, and perhaps F-Zero were very good, but that was it for me. Since the first two were ported I thought do I really need another console? No.

      Wasn't a sunshine fan, but worst? You ever play Dr. Mario??
      I love Wind Waker, I love the cell shaded graphics and thought apart from the end game fetch quest it was one of the best, probably third.

      There was plenty of GREAT games, they are listed above!
      I thought it blew the original Xbox out of the water, it only had 6 games I liked.

        Super Mario Sunshine was awesome (to hard for you eh), and Windwaker was an amazing game, so many secrets and I love the graphics style, as it wasnt just straight "cell-shaded." Cell shadings great when its done right (Jet Set Radio 1 & 2, Windwaker, Tales of Vesperia) its only gotten a bad name from cheepo developers adding it as a feature instead of a function of the game.

          It was boring wandering around and I admit I did get stuck fairly early (im guessing) in the game and just gave up. Its the only mario game I haven't finished. maybe im too old and just like mario to play like a real platformer.

          I didnt love dr mario but i still thought it was simple & fun and plays really well on the tiny gba micro screen.

    Donkey Kong Jungle Beat >>> any game listed so far.

    Oh how I loved F-Zero GX... Though the difficultly curve seriously owned me. I bet that looks marvellous emulated in 1080p...

    Man I went through two Gamecubes last gen. I bought one at launch & another when the limited edition zelda collectors edition pack was released.
    I really loved the Gamecube, playing Wind Waker with a Wavebird controller was pure bliss:)

    Don't forget that the Cube also had one of the better handheld - tv linkages with the GBA Player adaptor!

    Now it's got me wondering whether there was a high-def AV cable for the cube, s-AV doesn't cut it on modern tv's anymore...

      There was a RGB cable for GameCube. It came with no sound out, so you still had to use the old red/white cables from the original video lead :)

      I'll put it up on eBay soon (along with my GameBoy addon!)

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