Farewell Sweet Cube

by James Nicholls - Date: 2006-12-27 - Word Count: 1191 Share This!

So here is the mass exodus, the final crescendo, the terminal moment in Gamecube's lifespan. The Wii has come out. For the verdict on Wii, you will have to wait a moment, because first we must pause and look back at where the Gamecube has left us. I'm not going to draw out a timeline or select a few of the choicest games, you know them all already and what instead I am going to do is tell you my opinion on Nintendo's box of tricks.

Gamecube followed the N64, a chaotic and turbulent period of Nintendo's history. Unlike the N64, there was no talk of newness. Nintendo instead decided to build on what they had done before. What resulted was a torrent of sequels which almost all failed to impress the fan boys. Me though? Well that's a different matter entirely.

A History of Non-Violence

I've been with Nintendo since the SNES era, although only properly since the N64 era. I loved the N64. Even now, my green and grey box-o-tricks still sits snugly under the Gamecube in my games room, or sometimes next to the SNES in another room. I still get it out and play it from time to time, Goldeneye being my latest retro game of choice.

Even though I was playing those games, I had no idea what they really meant to other people. Super Mario 64 was even more a revolution in game play then the new Super Mario Galaxy will be when it finally arrives. Adding a whole dimension to a game and still making it work is more complicated then it sounds. Many a game fell at the hurdles, but most of Nintendo's stock made the jump smoothly.

However with the Gamecube there was no jump. It was more of a nervous shuffle forward with only a few meaningless numbers to quote to passers by. No-one really cares about the number of bits a machine has any more, no-one gives a stuff at how many lines of pixels a console can push out, especially when your TV is only about 2 inches across and can easily fit inside a match box. If you do know what those stats mean you have more problems then me - and I get my kicks out of running a website on video games and can actually type out HTML from scratch.

With nothing to impress the punters, Gamecube looked like it would be a shambles from the start. There wasn't even a Mario game on sale at the start; we had to make do with Luigi. Sure, the same thing has happened with the Wii, but this time round we have a Zelda game. They're even better then the Mario series.

No revolution, no games, no hope - it looked like Gamecube was way off, and there was no ray of hope in the distance.

External Forces

Nintendo was saved. Somehow. And it wasn't by Pokemon. You see, while Nintendo had been working away on its own titles, it had also done something considerably cleverer (and something it had notably failed to do with previous consoles). By working with third-party games manufacturers, it had begun to create relationships and secure new exclusive games for the Gamecube. The Gamecube arguably saw more third party games then any of the previous Nintendo consoles, with the likes of Square-Enix returning to the fold and even SEGA, Nintendo's arch rivals at every previous console war, providing a few brilliant titles for the launch.

With the launch featuring only a handful of good games, it would have been seen as sadly lacking were it not for the support from Nintendo's new friends. After Super Monkey Ball launched it instantly became a classic and its sequel has also been a prominent launch game for the Wii. Lastly Monkey Ball remains almost the only launch game that has lost nothing with age.

After the launch the trend continued. Sega continued to develop more games for the Gamecube and EA delivered a full raft of games each year1. The Gamecube's line-up was studded with both the exclusive classics such as Zelda: Wind Waker and 1080 Avalanche and the third-party titles such as Burnout, Timesplitters and Conflict: Desert Storm, to name a few.

And you know what, maybe the Gamecube won't be remembered as Nintendo's greatest, but that's fine. Because if this was merely the stepping platform for the Wii, forging relationships and getting developers to take Nintendo seriously, then it will be worth it. Yes, Nintendo did make a few mistakes this generation, but as the old comedian's joke goes, "you have to bomb 100 times to be considered an amateur". Doubtless at Nintendo's age, five generations into the industry, they should be at the top of their game. You're never too old to learn, and by that same logic you're never too old to make mistakes.

The Moral of the Tale

And Mistakes is just what Nintendo made. GBA-GC Link? Crap. Wind Waker? Poor, by Zelda's standards anyway. Mario Kart? Rubbish Battle mode. But at the end of that we have ended up with a large selection of quality titles.

What's more Nintendo have made famous a few of their old brands and also made a few new ones. It's fair to say Animal Crossing has really come in to its own on the DS, but that may have never happened if it was not for the quality work done on the Gamecube version, which itself was almost a remake of the N64 incarnation. Likewise, Donkey Konga also found a home in Gamecube's drive. However the biggest arrival was undoubtedly Metroid Prime. Many believe it to be Gamecube's Halo, and even though the multi-player may not be able to compete, the single-player experience is simply amazing.

Ironically Metroid Prime (and its sequel), while being one of the best games on Gamecube, did not adequately represent Nintendo's fourth on the multi-player front. And what a front. The third party games aside, Super Smash Bros Melee has to get a mention. If someone's made a better fighting game then this I don't want to know about it. Fantastic, fast and frenzied2 fighting, and five points for that example of alliteration. Elsewhere the Japanese showed signs of craziness in Wario Ware and we know have 7 too many Mario parties. Ah well.

Then turning to the old third party titles, I'll just name some names. Timesplitters: Future Perfect. Conflict: Desert Storm. Super Monkey Ball. FIFA 2005 (yes, it is quite good. Sequels get worse and worse though). Worms 3D. The list really goes on and on. And on and on. And on. Then a bit further.

End GC

So even though the Gamecube may not be the best console ever made, it will still be remember fondly by those who played it. If not for the quality single-player games, the horrendously rubbish (except Zelda: Four Swords Adventures) GBA - GC link or the return of many third party developers, then for the multi-player. I've wasted weeks of my life on my old Gamecube, and you know what? If the devil offered me them back, I wouldn't take them. That was time well spent.

2 - Which has nothing to do with meat or sex 1 - And I mean every sodding year

Related Tags: games, video, nintendo, prime, wind, gamecube, zelda, mario, donkey, kong, metroid, waker, super, sunshine

Article taken from GL Magazine at: http://www.gaminglegends.co.uk

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