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1. Fun Online Games
As we said, Nintendo was slow to dive fully into online gaming. But they still had some awesome online gaming experiences for the Gamecube!
The primary online game was Phantasy Star Online. And they also used the internet functionality to add LAN support to popular titles like Kirby: Air Ride and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Finally, while it wasn’t Nintendo’s intention, the online functionality of the Gamecube, combined with third-party programs like Slippi, allowed you to play titles like Super Smash Bros. Melee without official Nintendo support.
2. Unexpected Exclusives
With Nintendo, it’s a given that you’re going to get some awesome first-party games. But you might be surprised to remember how many awesome third-party exclusives that Nintendo managed to land for the Gamecube.
The Rogue Squadron games remain some of the best Star Wars games ever made. And Eternal Darkness was bold, experimental, and unforgettable. And while it’s divisive, many people consider Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes as the ultimate way to experience this classic title.
3. Multiplayer Emphasis
There are a handful of Gamecube design aspects that come from the Nintendo 64. And this includes the ability to plug in four controllers at once for some real multiplayer madness.
Nowadays, most games no longer have a same-screen multiplayer option. But if you whip out your old Gamecube, you can play Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Kart: Double Dash, Mario Power Tennis, and plenty more with up to three of your friends.
4. Sweet Wireless Controller
Longtime gamers will remember that there were previous attempts at wireless controllers. But nothing had the solid connection and ease of use that the Gamecube WaveBird controller had.
This RF-based controller had an amazing range and sensitive control. It revolutionized how gamers played their systems and helped usher in the era of wireless controllers being a standard feature.
5. No Mario Game? No Problem
Nintendo is often accused of relying on nostalgia and doing the same thing over and over. But that wasn’t the case with the Gamecube launch lineup.
For the first time, Nintendo launched a major new system without a Mario game. Instead, players got Luigi’s Haunted Mansion. Nintendo basically grabbed gamers by the lapel and said “look, it’s time for you to try new things.”
And for a company powered by nostalgia, this was an unexpected and welcome change!
6. Crazy Ad Campaign
Nintendo was in something of a bind with the Gamecube. They had earned a real “kid-friendly” image. But when squaring off against Sony and Microsoft, they needed to prove they had adult appeal as well.
Some of this came through in the surprising game selection (including scary titles like Eternal Darkness and Resident Evil 4). But most of it came through in a bonkers ad campaign that included people fighting in cubes, a predatory goth girl, people going insane, etc.
If the goal was to convince us “this ain’t your dad’s Nintendo,” then mission accomplished!
7. Killer Graphics
It’s an open secret that Gamecube ultimately lost the console wars against Sony and Microsoft. But here’s a real secret: the Gamecube generally looked better than the competition.
We can see that with occasional ports: for example, the Gamecube version of Resident Evil 4 runs circles around the PS2 version. And Rogue Squadron II’s attack on the Death Star level (originally built as a tech demo) featured graphics that looked just as good as if you were watching the Special Editions of the Original Trilogy.
Long story short? Go back and play a few Gamecube games and you’ll be surprised at how good everything looks.
8. Focusing Entirely On Games
It doesn’t sound that special that a game system primarily focused on the games themselves. But when Nintendo launched the Gamecube, this was a bold move indeed!
The competition at the time was the PlayStation 2 (which could play DVDs out of the box) and the Xbox (which could play DVDs with a special Playback Kit). For those companies, this represented a shift into the systems being all-in-one entertainment boxes.
And there is a lot of convenience to watching movies on your console, but the busy dashboards of modern systems can be downright distracting. Nintendo’s commitment to staying focused on games began with the Gamecube and helped inform their later systems.
9. Reinventing Key Franchises
While Nintendo should be applauded for taking risks on some weirder titles, they also used the Gamecube to reinvent some key franchises. And along the way, they made these franchises better than ever.
For example, the Nintendo 64 gave us Smash Bros. But the series didn’t achieve its full potential until the Gamecube version. Likewise, the Gamecube version of Mario Kart helped show us the full potential of this series. And even third-party titles like the Rogue Squadron games looked and played better than ever on this system.
Ultimately, Nintendo reinvented enough franchises on the Gamecube that we can try to forgive them for how they ran the Star Fox franchise into the ground with terrible new games.
10. Compact and Colorful
While it was mostly an extension of their Game Boy and Nintendo 64 marketing, Nintendo should get credit for making their system small and colorful. And with the built-in handle, the Gamecube was technically a full game console you could take with you long before the Nintendo Switch.
The default purple color of the Gamecube made it a nice counterpoint to the endless sea of black and white systems (something that is still going on today). And a tiny box of a system felt downright refreshing compared to the original Xbox (which was obscenely large, ugly, and bulky).
11. Awesome Range of Colors
Nowadays, we only seem to get colorful systems from Microsoft or Sony as part of special promotions. However, Nintendo long ago learned that gamers loved to snag systems sporting their favorite colors!
Many years ago, this was how Nintendo marketed things like the Game Boy Pocket. But they extended the practice with the Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube. Instead of settling for a default color, you didn’t like, you could buy a system that better represented your personality.
12. Creatively Risky Games
It was shocking to many people when the Gamecube launched with Luigi’s Mansion instead of a new Mario game. But this signified the company’s commitment to taking some creative risks with the system.
Games like Pikmin, Cubivore, and Gotcha Force are compelling, but they seemed completely different from the kinds of games that were helping sell rival systems. While the Gamecube was a commercial failure, it represents the exact moment when Nintendo realized the value of leaning into unconventional games as a way to set themselves apart.
13. Fun Handheld Compatibility
In many ways, Nintendo the company is often stuck in the past. Sometimes, though, they predict the future in some unexpected ways.
For example, the GameCube could connect to a Game Boy Advance with the right link cable. Depending on the game, this might let you control the game with your GBA, unlock new content, download Pokemon, and more. On top of the ability to play Game Boy games on the TV with a separate adaptor, the Gamecube was Nintendo’s first real attempt to let all their different technologies interact with each other.
14. Controller: Bold But Comfortable
The Gamecube controller looked pretty weird when it first came out. It wasn’t as mind-boggling as the Nintendo 64 controller design, but it wasn’t as clean and intuitive as a PlayStation controller.
But looking back, this controller managed to be small and comfortable while still being optimized for some of Gamecube’s best titles. To this day, this controller is the only way that some gamers like to play Super Smash Bros., which means Nintendo definitely did something right with their design.
15. Experimental Controllers
Nintendo is never afraid to get weird with their designs. And this extends to some of the special controllers for the Gamecube.
Despite the short lifespan, this system had bongo controllers, a giant keyboard controller, and (for better or for worse) the Resident Evil 4 chainsaw controller. Love them or hate them, Nintendo’s controller design philosophy seems to be “anything but boring.”
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