Today marks the 20th anniversary of Nintendo’s little console that changed gaming everywhere. The Nintendo GameCube released on September 14, 2001 in Japan; it released in the U.S. in November of the same year, and Europe and Australia in May 2002. In December 2001, Panasonic, with its deal with Nintendo, released the Panasonic Q, a GameCube and DVD hybrid exclusive to Japan. With its original purple known as Indigo, the GameCube later released a black version known as Jet Black and a silver one known as Platinum.
The GameCube consists of four ports like its predecessor, the Nintendo 64. The controller is mostly known for its big A-button and small B-button, along with its legendary comfortable grip. The springs clicking in the L- and R-buttons on top are very notable. It also has a handle in the back so gamers can carry it over friends’ houses to game with the tremendous number of titles that appeared on the system.
Let’s not forget the accessories that its known for as well. The Wavebird with its wireless capabilities allow play at long distances and even in the bathroom while on the–well–royal seat. There’s also the Game Boy Advance Player to play GBA games just like the Super Game Boy allowed on the Super Nintendo. Of course, Nintendo’s own memory card held a lot of the Minidisc data at a surprisingly cheap price ($19.99 (USD) for the 32 GB).
ArtX, which launched in 1997 and was later bought by ATI, worked on the graphics hardware for the GameCube in 1998. IBM also contributed by designing their CPU, simply titled Dolphin. In 1999, the system was revealed with its code-name “Project Dolphin.” Later, the official name GameCube was announced in Japan on August 25, 2000. GameCube stayed front and center for six years before the Wii came along. During those years, the GameCube, with its low sales, produced some all time favorites and Game Of The Year nominations and winners.
With regard to its launch-day lineup, the GameCube surprisingly didn’t come with a Mario title. It launched with Luigi’s Mansion, which was a first for Nintendo and Luigi himself. It also released with Wave Race: Blue Storm and Super Monkey Ball in Japan. The U.S. added nine more titles. Games like Crazy Taxi, Madden NFL 2002, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, and Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 graced the system. Europe received more titles due to the late release.
It was the games though that set the console apart from the others. Metroid Prime took the franchise’s 2-D exploration and placed it in a 3-D environment with its little touches and a new gameplay mechanics for the FPS genre. The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker caused a humongous controversy with its cel-shade graphic style, but it won hearts, awards, and praise from around the world. Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes changed the future design on the Metal Gear series. Eternal Dark broke a lot of controllers with its psychological effects in the game. Tales Of Symphonia truly was the first Tales game that brought many players to the franchise making it one of the best known RPGs on the console. Who can forget Resident Evil 4? There is no denying what that game did for action games, the series itself, with its use of over-the-shoulder and Quick Time Events gameplay.
Of course, it did have some online titles with games like Phantasy Star Online. Not much was used with its online service, but it was a first for Nintendo to learn about that style of gaming. There’s also the use of the GBA with The Legend Of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. A baffling yet unique decision to use the GBA to control other characters rather than a second GameCube controller. Same thing with Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.
It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention THE game on the console. Super Smash Bros. Melee–the game you could not get away from. Even with hot titles like Burnout Takedown, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and Skies Of Arcadia on the GameCube, it is Super Smash Bros. Melee that is still being played today.
Other creative and celebrated titles include Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time, Ikaruga, and Odama (a strategy and pinball mixture). You can’t count out its casual output either with titles like Pikman, Animal Crossing, Mario Party 4, The Sims, and Kirby’s Air Ride.
The Mario titles, though, defined the GameCube’s quality when it came to games. Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Kart: Double Dash, Mario Tennis and Golf all had something new and fun that gave us long nights, exciting level design, and challenges we never expected.
GameCube was Nintendo’s sixth generation console, and with Sega going third party, it was a strange era in gaming in which you could find gems like Alien Hominid along side Sonic Heroes. You got the superior version of Soulcalibur II that led to Nintendo’s continuous work with Bandai Namco (it was just Namco at the time).
So happy 20th anniversary GameCube. Thank you for bringing us years of entertainment, memories, and wacky and excellent titles across the globe.
Did you play on the GameCube? What are your memories with the console? Let us know in the comments or on our Discord.