It’s time to talk about the console side of the gaming canon. While games, like last week’s Final Fantasy VII, can secure their place in The Canon on their own merits, a console relies on their catalog of games and overall enjoyability. The Gamecube is successful in both of these categories. Their catalog was filled with great first and third party games, with old and new franchises covering numerous genres, and the system itself was a solid little brick that made up for it’s lack of DVD player with portability, and a very comfy controller (at least for my hands). To break it down, I’ll discuss the game catalog, the controller, design, and legacy of the Gamecube.
The Gamecube had a great first party catalog with genre diversity. In it’s first year, Nintendo released Metroid Prime, Luigi’s Mansion, Star Fox Adventures, Animal Crossing, Super Mario Sunshine, Mario Party 4, Pikmin, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. That doesn’t include the third party games which included some exclusives like Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader and Resident Evil: Zero. The quality games didn’t end there. 2003-2006 showed the release of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, a personal favorite, and The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, a new look for the classic franchise. The Gamecube was supported through the end of 2006, the last Nintendo game being The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, which was also published for the Wii. For the sake of length I can’t go in depth with each one of these titles, or the ones I didn’t mention, but if you are unfamiliar with these, check them out. It was a good period for quality games, along with plenty of licensed junk, and Gamecube had the benefit of new and innovative Nintendo titles that made the Gamecube a wonderful system.
The Gamecube controller is one that I will always love using. It has a distinct look and it feels good to hold (L & R are grooved for fingers). Compared to the DualShock, it does lack a couple of buttons, but it could handle any modern gameplay with its design. Finally, the controller did add to the aesthetic of the Gamecube. It was clever, garish, and very memorable. Thanks to the Wii’s backwards compatibility, and the popularity of Super Smash Bros. the Gamecube controller has lasted throughout the years in some forms, a feat not common among other controllers.
It is what it says it is, a cube that plays games. The PS2 was a DVD player, the Xbox was enormous, but the Gamecube was a lunchbox. It was designed to be toted around to friends houses. It was the only system of that generation with a semi-modular design allowing for limited attachments, like the gameboy player, underneath. It supported 4 player multiplayer, unlike the PS2, and was dedicated solely to gaming, using mini disks instead of DVDs. Looking forward, I hope that the Gamecube is remembered for its unique design.
At the moment, the Gamecube is probably as popular as it ever was, considering it was in last place of its generation. Old consoles are not very expensive for the retro enthusiast, though certain games can cost quite a lot. Nintendo has not done much to make certain favorites of the generation available on the Wii U. There have been a few remastered games, like Windwaker HD, the Metroid Prime Trilogy, and the upcoming Twilight Princess HD. However, unless they become more widely available one the NX version of the eShop, the Gamecube’s legacy may not last very long.