I was born in the autumn of 1998, meaning my earliest memories of gaming as a whole was dominated by my two older brothers playing the Nintendo 64. The familiar, mesmerising glow the screen would give when they played Rainbow Road for the umpteenth time is something that will be forever imprinted into my brain—and perhaps the reason why I'm so short-sighted today. But I am not alone. Nintendo was immensely popular at this time for all types of gamers, and had barrels of momentum rolling into the new millennium. Being able to easily compete and thrive with the rival consoles such as the Sony's Playstation and Microsoft's XBox, looking back now, it makes no sense how their newest console, the GameCube, didn't attract the same following. By the time the Playstation 2 was released, our family's N64 was shoved swiftly up onto the shelf, never to be seen (until one of us fancied going back to the OG first person shooter, GoldenEye 007) as there was so much more fun to be had with a more diverse idea of gaming. The revolutionary Grand Theft Auto III bought out the dangerous side of gaming on a wider scale, and despite accusations of this franchise creating monsters and serial killers, it will still remain as one of the games that changed the game itself. Just it wasn't available on GameCube.
However, a four-year-old me wanted nothing more than a GameCube. After seeing a picture in one of my brother's generic 'Cheats and Tips!' magazine, I begged and pleaded for what seemed like forever, and by the Christmas of 2003, I finally had my very own console—one that was mine; one that I didn't have to share. It was all mine. Being only five years old, I wasn't looking at the pros and cons of the console itself, the way it worked, the way it handled...I just wanted to waste the day away on Super Mario Sunshine. Now almost 15 years on, I realise why I still go back to play my GameCube and why it takes pride of place under my television.
- Firstly, the unique gameplay that was featured in many titles but very much so in the title I previously mentioned, Super Mario Sunshine. Not many people realise, but the sheer uniqueness of the game was, in a way, revolutionary as well as captivating. The fact that the characters actually spoke, rather than a text bubble, was something that was rarely seen within games—especially on a Nintendo console. This, to me, offered a more in depth belief in the story itself, and definitely helped a 5-year-old me keep invested and understand without having to read each word at least four times in order to comprehend. Sunshine also offered a diverse platforming idea, with the small addition of water. In the game, Mario had a little water-powered jet pack friend that could assist you in reaching high points of the map, as well as a weapon to battle foes in order to clean up the island for the resident Piantas. Video game logic suggests that water is a huge no no, and the moment a character merely touches it, it's game over, but with Sunshine, water was literally your best friend, an extremely unique thing to see if you think about it.
- Nintendo is seemingly fearless when taking risks within a series. This is proven in the GameCube exclusive, Luigi's Mansion. Although playing as Luigi had been an option in almost every previous game in the Super Mario series, Luigi's Mansion was literally built around Luigi being the hero, with not-so-Super Mario now becoming the one needing to be rescued. As well as offering a different perspective to the player, this idea definitely breathed a new essence into the Super Mario series as a whole, and offered a way for other characters in the series such as Yoshi and Princess Peach to take the front seat.
- Being young, I can remember handling the PS2 controller and having great difficulty even keeping it between my hands, let alone using the analogue sticks or hitting buttons, the bumpers and triggers were completely out of the question. The GameCube controller, however, fit right in my hands, the A button being big enough for me to hit without having to release my grip from the handle, the analogue stick in line with my thumb, everything seemed reachable. Another honourable mention includes the fact that the GameCube was the first console to feature a wireless controller, which set the course for the next generation of consoles.
- It's obvious Nintendo care about their players, and it was seen with their cross-console links within the GameCube. Nintendo offered a GameBoy Advance Link Cable, which allowed players to link data from your handheld to your GameCube. By doing this, you would unlock new features that could enhance the respective game further. For example, by linking your Metroid Prime data, you'd unlock cool customisable suits, in Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, you could transfer your 'chao' pets over from your GameBoy Advance to play and interact with on your GameCube file game. Although this came with an additional cost, it was a fun little additional extra that offered perks for being a loyal player.
Looking back on the Gamecube and all its perks, it's clear to me that it will forever go down as one of the—if not the—most underrated game consoles in history. Despite being labelled as a failure for focussing on the extension of their classic series rather than welcoming the new, this nifty little cube is responsible for being able to offer me an easier way to familiarise myself with playing games, and investing myself in a game in more depth than just simply "winning." Not to mention the way we now view mass volumes of water in games.
All in all, I will never have the heart to bin my GameCube, or even put it away somewhere. It will remain where it always has. Under my TV in my room.