The Gamecube Age

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Up until 2000, I was a pretty dedicated Nintendo fanboy. The typical Nintendo vs. Sega fights in the schoolyard normally saw me fighting the good fight for the Big N.

It wasn’t until the PlayStation brand became the gaming platform to own that my love for Nintendo began to diminish. I wouldn’t say it was out of market awareness for the Playstation 2 being stronger than any Nintendo platform, but rather because Nintendo was essentially non-existent down under in terms of marketing and presence.

The release of the Gamecube came and went in Australia with hardly any noise. I remember rather distinctively seeing Pikmin ads play on the big screen at the MCG before a footy match, but aside from that, Gamecube advertising was essentially non-existent in Australia.

The dominance of the PlayStation 2 in the year or so span before the Gamecube release didn’t help either. The PS2 absolutely dominated the video game market, and whilst the Xbox did a good job of attracting some dedicated PS2 gamers, the Gamecube was very much a console all on its own.

That was disappointing, because the Gamecube is a superb console. Its retail performance does not accurately represent its quality as a console. Its library is broad and deep and offers plenty for every type of gamer.

It just wasn’t a console that appealed all that much to Western gamers, much in the same way the Xbox brand doesn’t appeal to Japanese gamers. It’s rather unique yet childish design arguably turned away casual gamers looking to join the gaming fold, whilst the first-party titles that were typically aimed at a younger audience probably turned away the more hardcore, older gamers.

I did eventually invest in a Gamecube, some three years after its release. I traded in my PlayStation 2, only a few months before the release of Gran Turismo 4, and bought a brand-new Gamecube with Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime 2 and Pikmin.

To me, this purchase was a bit like picking up a console on launch. And to me, those three games were as good as you could get at a launch. They say first impressions last, and from the moment I started playing my Gamecube, I knew it would always be high up on my list of favourite consoles.

Is it better than the PlayStation 2? I think the PS2’s library is just too large to argue that it was, but the Gamecube is still a fantastic and accessible console in its own right.

When I look back over the past ten years, some of my most memorable gaming moments in that period come from playing my Gamecube.

Importing Resident Evil 4 a few months before it came out here is high up on the list, with its amazing gameplay and superb visuals blowing me away. It was also the first game I finished in full since the N64 era, which says a lot, especially considering how big my PS2 collection was.

But it’s unique and obscure titles that really attract me to the Gamecube. Games like Killer 7, Radio Allergy, Ikaruga and Geist are all high up on my favourite games of all-time list, because they were all fantastic, albeit very unique, games. In some cases, and especially in the case of Killer 7, they were ten times better on Gamecube than there PS2 counterparts, both on a visual and gameplay front.

I recently got back into Gamecube gaming and I’m starting to remember how much of an awesome console it is. My collection is slowly starting to build up again, with the likes of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Spider-Man 2, Metroid Prime and Timesplitters: Future Perfect all dictating my time more than any newly-released HD “blockbuster”.

The Gamecube is, just as Nintendo intended, the definitive video gaming console. It might not appeal to everyone, but it doesn’t really want to. Nintendo’s intention was never to make a console that could play DVD’s and have online accessibility, but rather to make a console that was simple but powerful, and had a kick-ass library to boot.

I dare anyone to prove that the final product was anything but.

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