Nintendo GameCube Turns 10

Nintendo GameCube Turns 10

Happy 10th birthday, Nintendo GameCube. No one threw you a party. The GameCube is, I believe, the most wrongly disrespected console in gaming history. People laughed at it because it was a purple box that played a Luigi game in an era when more people wanted to play Grand Theft Auto III on a black PlayStation 2.

People thought, back in the day, that it was stupid that the GameCube was going to have Zelda that looked like a cartoon, though Metroid being a first-person shooter? That sounded like an even worse idea. (I’m blaming “people”, because, of course I didn’t think these things. Never!)

Oh, the GameCube. It is the sigh of the console wars. It contributed to a cultural moment of Nintendo gaming irrelevance, an era that made Nintendo’s top game creator “very sad“.

Stupid, PlayStation wannabe with your tiny discs and memory cards. You just had to ruin everything.

Except, here’s the thing: the GameCube was secretly awesome. That dorky Zelda? In retrospect, people loved it (except maybe for the sailing and the Triforce quest). That first-person Metroid? Uh, Game of the Year. Last June Nintendo showed people they were going to have Luigi’s Mansion 2 on the 3DS and suddenly people were all nostalgic for Luigi’s Mansion 1, that GameCube launch title that, well, actually it wasn’t that good.

The GameCube launched with an amazing Star Wars game called Rogue Leader (the Battle of Endor, people!) and it had Eternal Darkness and Resident Evil 4 which are the favourite survival games of people who don’t worship Silent Hill 2. It was so full of quality that I almost forgot it also eventually had Viewtiful Joe.

The GameCube wasn’t always awesome. It was plagued by software droughts and bad Star Fox games. It had an inferior Mario Kart (or is that no longer hated, either?) and its very own follow-up to Super Mario 64 was as disappointing as any Super Mario 64 follow-up ever could be.

The GameCube’s biggest problem, though, was that it wasn’t as cool as the PlayStation 2, as it missed a ton of great games while being steered by a Nintendo nutty enough to try to sell people a multiplayer Zelda game that could be connected to four Game Boy Advances and a Pac-Man game that could be connected to just one (this latter game being Nintendo’s show-piece game of their E3 one year… what a disaster!)

The PlayStation 2, however, is dead now — just about — so the GameCube no longer has to suffer comparisons to it. (Except in the above paragraph). Instead, we can celebrate that, today, it has been 10 years since I picked up a purple GameCube. Nintendo made a darn good console back then that had some stellar games. It made the last (and the first) game console that was designed to be an object worth looking at rather than hiding. Forget if games are art, that whole console was a piece of art.

One of the GameCube’s stellar games was Pikmin, a game about controlling a Mario-like space-man who could run around with 100 little vegetable men who could beat up giant bugs and tug yogurt lids back to their broken space-ship. It was awesome, and Pikmin 2 was better.

Pikmin came out a few weeks after the GameCube, in December 2001. After that, Nintendo, the creative powerhouse behind Super Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Yoshi, Wario, Luigi, Waluigi, all of those Toads, Donkey Kong, Kid Icarus and Tingle stopped making new characters. Clarification: for all the great success of the DS and Wii in the post-GameCube not-sad Shigeru Miyamoto years, Nintendo has answered charges that they don’t create good, new characters anymore by claiming that the Wii’s Miis are their new characters. Remember that island in Wii Sports Resort? They said that was a new character. And that thing in Fling Smash last year? New character. None of these counts because they don’t seem like they’d ever be in a Smash Bros. or headline their own game. Does Midna count from 2006’s The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess? Maybe… maybe not. She wasn’t a headliner.

OK. I’ll state it again. In December 2001, with the GameCube a mere infant, Nintendo released its last big new headline characters: the Pikmin. That was 10 years ago. Damn, GameCube, I always suspected you were are a hard act to follow! Good going, and don’t let anyone ever tell you that Spore was a better evolution game than Cubivore. It wasn’t. Plus, Chibi Robo was the best game about the decay of the modern family (that starred a small cleaning robot) that I’ve ever played.

Happy 10th, GameCube. May you finally get the respect your tubby little self deserves.


  • How can something turn 10 when it’s dead.

    My grandmother died at 96.. she wont be turning 97 next year.
    Because dead people don’t have anymore birthdays.

    Let go man… it’s time to move on.

    • What are you talking about? Every wii (expect those new ones) has backward compatibility so gamecube isn’t dead and they celbrated the xbox originals 10th birthday about a week ago and it’s doing about as good as the cube is right now.

  • I loved my little purple box, it had great graphics and a nice controller and it was cheap when I bought it at the time of resident evil 4 release.I remember I paid $70 for a pre-owned model with a wireless wavebird controller and $100 for resi 4.Having paid so little for it I did’nt care about the lack of good games for it but if I had invested $400 at launch like one of my friend I think I would have been bitter.
    I still can’t believe how Nintendo bounced back with the Wii.

    • Did people actually buy the purple one! I bought a black one (remember there were two colours for the Australian launch) still have it incidentally and apart from some minor hiccups (It still won’t play my Monkey Ball disc and the slightest scratch on a game sends it bonkers) it’s a great machine, but if you bought a PS2 or Xbox instead that gen – don’t worry – you made the right choice.

  • I still have mine, sticky eject button and all. It had some awesome games. I actually choose a Gamecube after Dreamcast and then moved straight to original Xbox. I never owned a PS2 not sure why, think I was some sort of fanboy. I

  • I’ve still got my launch-day Cube, and all the crazy peripherals that came along for it too. Three sets of DK Bongos, three (or possibly four?) GBA cables, a Game Boy Player, even a pair of broadband adapters. And a Logitech Speed Force! Only way to play Burnout 2 and F-Zero.

    Absolutely loved the Cube to death, all its life. It was the first console that I really went crazy collecting games for, ending up with over 30 by the time it was superseded (absolutely huge for a schoolkid who had never had a job, and was no longer receiving games as presents since before the thing even came out :P) and had grown to 50 not long after. Now its closer to around 80, and I’m still yet to play or finish maybe half of them >_>

    • You know… seeing as PS2 was in many ways less powered in terms of processor and graphics compared to GC and Xbox and that won last round..

      and Wii has sold millions this round fore being the most underpowered console.

      I’m somewhat scratching my head everytime a graphics/processer fan screams out comments like this. I mean a lot of “core” gamers deride sub par graphics and bit counts and whatnot and yet the console w/ the biggest oomph in power seems to rarely come out on top. =P

        • *yawn*

          And did u know how much Sony LOST during the first few years of PS3 and how Sony was “finished”? =P

          Or how RROD would destroy 360’s cred and it would be a dead console soon?

          This market has its up and downs and if the market has shown us anything gamers are one of the most fickle bunch of consumers ever.

      • Yeah I always wonder about this as well – I think the PS2 eventually captured the family audience in a big way with all those peripheral games (Singstar, Buzz, Guitar Hero, Eyetoy) but it did that off a big core install base and it got that because of (a) PS1 and (2) Big exclusives like MGS2 and GTAIII.

        Wii tapped into the same fly-by-night plastic toy market – most people I know that had a PS2 as “casual gamers” seemed to also have a Wii go figure! The Wii’s problem though is there wasn’t much of a core aud to back them up – probably less than the core aud that was around for the Gamecube (that entire 20million userbase would have been hardcore gamers)

        • True.. but you have to remember those “casual” games only came out near the end of the PS2’s lifespan about 1-2 years before PS3 started coming into the picture. Before that the closest to “casual” games you would get would be the cheapskate shovelware or DDR (which was pretty much a niche game anyway)

          I think it really was a combination of having a decent install base from PSX and the “Dvd player” sell. You could play older PS1 games and have a relatively cheap DVD player at the time.

          Of course it still doesn’t explain the whole graphics whoring phenomenon though…

  • The GCN was amazing and it probably one of my favourite consoles of all time. I’m not even a massive Nintendo fan either.

  • Looking back at some of Nintendo’s Titles from the Gamecube Era – Melee, Wind Waker, Double Dash, Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin, Sunshine, Colosseum, Prime – it was a time where Nintendo were willing to take risks with their IPs, and did so with most of them. In fact, looking back at it, I think most of Nintendo’s Gamecube games were so vastly different from previous iterations that it drew people away from them.

    Which is a shame, really, because now Nintendo’s slightly afraid of going back to that – The DS/Wii era was mainly going back to before the gamecube, and very little new ideas were brought forth. Sure, Nintendo released a few different games (Pokemon Rumble was good fun, Galaxy was amazing, Super Paper Mario stands out from being very different to its predecessors, and that was an amazing game, Epic Yarn) but for the most part their IPs haven’t been terribly adventurous, instead preferring to tap into nostalgia.

    In a sense, I’m kinda sad I didn’t embrace the Gamecube Era as much as I did – it surely would’ve been an exciting time to be a gamer. Now, it looks like Nintendo’s veeery careful with new stuff (Look at their 3DS games – Rumble Blast’s a sequel, Mario Land 3D is a mix of every mario game ever made, and Mario Kart 7 is MKDS+MKWii.) and that makes me sad. I hope that Nintendo goes back into a stage of experimentation – they’ve proven that they can make it work. And imo, that’s the sign of an amazing company.

  • The GameCube era was so depressing. It was like living in a world where Arkham Asylum only sold 100 copies and nobody would believe it was a good game.

    • I agree it was depressing – for me the worst thing is when you could walk into Big W or Kmart – see mountains of PS2 games, a healthy Xbox selection, an absolute megaton of GBA games and not one single Gamecube game – about 2 years in (so about 2003-04) I remember the Gamecube disappeared from department stores altogether – it was only EB games/Gametraders where you could find the cube.

  • IMO, Considering how back then the Gamecube had alot more emphasis and attention on games and the gameplay as opposed to the Wii/Wii U which only seems to focus on making the most technologically advanced piece of machinery to ever sit near your television than actually making games that were worth buying said consoles in the first place, it certainly was a good if unappreciated era for Nintendo. I remember playing SBBM almost every waking moment i had before i traded the purple box in for a big black and green one.

    Less sad about the Fox games tho, goddammit they sucked ass.

  • Purple Cube at launch. Still plays like a dream. Still the second best console ever made. The Dreamcast and the Gamecube sat next to each other under my TV and they will always have that same place in my heart.

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