We’ve reached the second leg of September, Retronauts, and today we’re wishing a Happy (belated) Birthday to our often overlooked friend, the Nintendo GameCube! Released in Japan on September 14th, 2001, this week the multicolored box of wonders turned a whopping 15 years old! And even though it sometimes gets overlooked when compared to its Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 counterparts, the GameCube played an integral part in gaming culture and brought us some classic titles that we all came to know and love.
The Nintendo GameCube was the first console in Nintendo’s history to move away from the bulky cartridges of yesteryear and into optical discs, even though it was mini in size compared to the discs of its Sony and Microsoft competition. And for gamers today, it is often praised as having one of the best controllers designed for gaming (especially if you are a Smash Bros. fan). [* In fact, the controller (being 15 years old as it is), was re-released on November 21, 2014 in a special edition bundle for Super Smash Bros. Wii U. The Smash Bros. game was also compatible with original GameCube remotes via the adapter, as well as the ever-awesome wireless WaveBird GameCube remote.]
The GameCube, with the Game Boy Player attachment, made it possible to play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance titles (via link cable as well).
In the seven years up until its unfortunate demise, the Nintendo GameCube was home to more than 600 games! Quite a feat for a tiny contender. Before closing, we’ll look at my personal list of favorite games for the GameCube, which you may or may not agree upon as being the soul of the Nintendo GameCube.
- SONIC ADVENTURE 2: BATTLE
Sonic has had it hard in the 00’s and 10’s. He can’t quite seem to find his niche in gaming anymore, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a time where his visits in to 3D land weren’t abysmal. Released initially for the Sega Dreamcast, the Nintendo GameCube hosted a port with a new title name (adding “Battle”), and added new content for players. Divided in to three gameplay styles: traditional platforming, exploration, and multi-directional shooting, it was considered at the time one of Sonic’s best titles. Some would say it hasn’t aged well, but the Nintendo GameCube and a once rivaled mascot were a match made in heaven.
- MARIO KART: DOUBLE DASH
People often forget this title exists in the Mario Kart realm, and I can’t imagine why! This was, and is, probably within the top 5 (or 3, if you want to risk criticism) Mario Kart games ever released! The mechanics, the introduction to new characters (Birdo, Toadette, Baby Bowser, etc), and the speed was perfect, bar-none. Being able to switch between Kart partners, acquiring signature items to use against opponents on the track, and tracks full of twists and turns … in personal opinion, it’s one of Nintendo’s strongest Mario Kart titles to date.
- TALES OF SYMPHONIA
If you’ve been around for my articles in the past, you would know that I am obsessed with Tales of Symphonia for the GameCube. A JRPG, it was a game about saving not only one but (spoiler alert!) two worlds. Different from turn-based RPG’s in the past, it featured a Multi-Line Linear Motion Battle System that enabled the character to be controlled anywhere within the given plane. It featured memorable protagonists, an almost endless amount of sidequests, and beautiful cel-shaded graphics. If you beat the game and reloaded a new one on the same GameCube memory card, you could unlock some neat features (and carry over some old ones) when you start a new file. It’s one of my favorite games, ever, and always a recommendation for retro-RPG players,
- SUPER MARIO SUNSHINE
Fun fact: the Nintendo GameCube was the first Nintendo console to not have a Mario title that was playable at launch. Mario’s green-machine brother, Luigi, was released with the GameCube in “Luigi’s Mansion,” and it wouldn’t be until 2002 that Mario would present himself on GameCube screens. And what a glorious wait that was! It was a beautiful, vibrant game filled with funny dialogue, challenging platforming, and fun music. It was also our first introduction to what would be Bowser Jr. (taking over Baby Bowser from Nintendo 64 Mario Party days). With added functions for Mario such as F.L.U.D.D, it was memorable and a joy to play.
- SUPER SMASH BROS. MELEE
Can we take a minute and talk about how HUGE this game was? There was no question that everyone loved Super Smash Bros. when it was released for the Nintendo 64, and fans were anxiously awaiting the next installment. That’s where the Nintendo GameCube swooped in and handed us Super Smash Bros. Melee. Better graphics, better speed, better mechanics, more characters than before, dozens of feats to accomplish; I mean, the list goes on! For hardcore/competitive players of the Smash Bros. series, Melee still remains the go-to installment for tournaments, and is herald as one of the best of the four.
Now I can go on and on about my favorite titles, but I’d have you here all day. Windwaker, Luigi’s Mansion, Twilight Princess, Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door, Pokémon Colosseum, and Soul Calibur II are all worth noting as well. There wasn’t anything that the Nintendo GameCube could do wrong, it seemed.
We’re sad that it’s not around anymore, and after the original Wii, backwards compatibility was suspended for GameCube games. But if you still hold one of those clunky little boxes at home, give it a hug, and pop in your favorite game for turning 15.
What’s your favorite GameCube memory? Do you still have yours? I do! Until next week, Retronauts — have a wonderful Throwback Thursday!