Console of the Month (July 2018) – Nintendo Gamecube

Nintendo’s 4th console, the Gamecube, was supposed to help Nintendo regain market share lost during the late 90s after the N64 failed to overtake Sony’s PlayStation as the top selling console. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the Gamecube not only failed again to overtake Sony in terms of sales, but they lost further share to Microsoft’s upstart, the Xbox. The concept of Nintendo having the third place console on the market may have seemed like a ludicrous notion in the early 90s, but 10 years later, it was a reality. Gamecube sales were lower than anticipated, but as a fan of the Sega Dreamcast, Turbografx-16 and Vectrex, sales numbers mean nothing to me when discussing playability and enjoyment from a console.

After owning a NES and SNES during their peak popularity, I skipped out on the Nintendo 64 era, only picking up a console years after it was discontinued. I jumped back on the Nintendo bandwagon with the Gamecube, picking one up in 2002 after the release of “Super Mario Sunshine” and its subsequent bundling with the console. I liked the look of the console, its compact, cube-like device that came in multiple colors was visually appealing. I also liked the look and feel of the Gamecube controller, which may have been an unpopular opinion. I thought they were a drastic improvement over the N64’s awkward controller and never had any issue with their design. The handlebar design felt extremely comfortable and the controllers were sturdy and reliable. The overall aesthetic of the Gamecube was a winner.

Where Nintendo may have lost some market share was due to their decision to not utilize the DVD format for their games like the PS2 and Xbox systems. Instead of making the Gamecube a all-in-one gaming and DVD device, they chose to use smaller, optical discs that were still packaged in normal DVD-like plastic cases. The decision to not incorporate DVD technology was a clear statement that Nintendo wasn’t going to follow trends and they wanted to make it clear that their console was indeed a gaming console, first and foremost. That may have backfired a bit as DVD technology was brand new and the thought of having a two in one system was very appealing to consumers. As I had already owned a PS2 by the time I bought my Gamecube, the lack of DVD was not a factor or concern but I can see how this might have been a deal breaker for some who were looking to only buy one console from this generation.

As the Gamecube was Nintendo’s first console to no longer use cartridges, they did not make the system backward compatible with N64 carts. What they did provide was a means to add a Gameboy player to the bottom of the console, insert the accompanying disc and that opened up the ability to not only play Gameboy Advance games through the Gamecube but the entire original Gameboy & Gameboy Color libraries. I never took advantage of this option as I had a Gameboy Adapter for my SNES and the need to play GBA games on anything but my GBA SP wasn’t much of a thought.

I played quite a bit of Gamecube during it’s lifespan, buying both Nintendo exclusives and multi-platform titles. I do know there are quite a few excellent titles I missed out on as well so I’ll be on the look-out for games that I missed the first time around.

Currently in my collection: indigo console w/ manual, indigo controller, AC adapter, composite cable, box; additionally I own a back-up console in black w/ AC adapter and black controller; also own 2 third party controllers and several memory cards, both official Nintendo brand and 3rd party

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