So, the Nintendo Gamecube is ten years young.
Whilst many will obviously lambast the Gamecube as a bit of a kids toy, there is much to be said about a machine that gave us Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin, Killer 7 and Resident Evil 4. The Gamecube was a hits machine – like most Nintendo consoles, many of the defining games of the generation were found to be within its safe, square walls.
The Gamecube era saw the sad moment that Rare was thrown to the wolves of Microsoft, but looking at it the romance between the two had come to an end – Starfox Adventures demonstrated that the spark and chemistry the two had once enjoyed had vanished into the night. But it also saw a time that Nintendo and Capcom drew closer together, and made some amazing titles that invariably Capcom then proceeded to port everywhere it was able to.
And it was not just the obvious games – I’ve oft professed my love for Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, for good reason too. As a genre, it re-focused survival horror on a narrative that was strong enough to carry a whole game on its shoulders, rather than seem to be a weak thread hemming patches together. You saw Nintendo and Retro Studio’s revive the Metroid series – giving us the amazing Metroid Prime. Pikmin was a quaint and addictive little experimental idea that blossomed the more love you put into it. Baten Kaitos was a strong and enjoyable RPG.
And then the big ones – The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker received much criticism for its style, but in the last decade I think we can all sit down and nod as we accept it as one of the finest Zelda games produced; style and substance, whimsical and yet deep. Resident Evil 4 – a game that shouldn’t have worked for ANY console, and yet Nintendo let it come out on its little box, and it was good. Coupled with the Resident Evil remake and Resident Evil Zero, the dying days of the old Resident Evil style were celebrated, and the rebirth of the franchise was able to be constructed on that framework.
And my Gamecube still works. People can talk about reliability until the cows come home, but if there is one thing to be said about the Gamecube, its chunky and resistant design made it a durable and safe system when the PS2 and X-Box were themselves having design flaws. I’ve only ever had to send one Nintendo machine back for repair – and that was the Wii.
It’s lovely to look back at the Gamecube and realise that, strangely, the Wii-U feels more like the true successor to it than the Wii could ever have hoped to be. Many games birthed on the Gamecube are returning for a new run on the Wii-U and 3DS, sequels long asked for. Capcom are once again cuddling up to Nintendo, and many others are too.
The Gamecube, despite a shorter lifespan than expected, was a glorious machine with some true gems. Let us not forget that, we’re always keen to mock Nintendo but looking back, there were very few games for it that I actually remember truly hating…
Surely that’s a good thing, right?