Here’s my GameCube, a little dusty at the time I took this photo, which probably tells you something. I actually like the GameCube a lot but felt it was underserved both by third party developers and by Nintendo itself – for such a large company, they sure don’t release many home games these days, and the games they do serve up are often not much more than rehashes of their past glory. Where has the creativity gone, Nintendo?
It’s a shame, because technically speaking I actually think this was the closest to what a game console should be of all of the systems of its generation (the PS2 and Xbox being the others). It is not quite as powerful as the Xbox, but then it was also not saddled by extraneous hardware, a gigantic and heavy casing, or a top-heavy price tag. It is more powerful and smaller than the PS2. Its memory architecture was designed to minimize bottlenecks, and I think that shows in the games. Most GameCube games run extremely smoothly, whereas even on the more powerful Xbox you will get unexpected choppiness at times. GameCube graphics are also sharp and clear, a big contrast to the N64’s blurriness, and better even than the Xbox’s somewhat muted, washed-out video output (on my A/V system, the Xbox never achieves true black). The controllers are comfortable, the system itself light and easy to deal with (I personally think top-loaders work better than tray designs in a console). It’s just everything you could want from a low-cost, proprietary game machine.
There was just not enough game support. What little existed was often pretty exceptional – Viewtiful Joe, Metroid Prime, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Animal Crossing, Beach Spikers, Super Monkey Ball, I mean these are all classics in their respective genres. And unlike the PS2 and Xbox, the GameCube’s heavy first-party Nintendo slant does give it a unique identity, and a feel that’s closer to playing a classic console than what the PS2 and Xbox offer. But maybe the world had moved on, as unfortunate as that sounds, because neither Nintendo nor much of anyone else had ever been all that enthusiastic about putting games out on the system. Oh well.
It’s a little surprising how well the Wii has done given that it’s suffering from a lot of the same problems – I guess Nintendo hit on just the right feature set that’s allowed the mass audience to overlook the dearth of games.Â I’ve never really thought that most average people need to buy a new game every week, so I guess it’s not actually too surprising that the less-than-hardcore Wii crowd is satisfied with owning the system and three or four games and pretty much leaving it at that.
Obligatory box shot – my system’s actually Japanese, modified to play games from both regions (hence the Japanese text):
The blue reflection on the right is just the light from my TV set, not a discoloration on the box.