RoyBoy's Retro Rewind: The Nintendo Game Cube

Hello Aussie Gamers, and welcome to the first edition of 'RoyBoy’s Retro Rewind'. A cool and interesting place to look back on the huge catalogue of all things gaming from the early 80’s through to today. These news pieces will be coming to you twice a month, and please feel free to like, comment and interact on the Facebook page letting me know what you’d like to see included in RoyBoy’s Retro Rewind.

In the late 90’s Nintendo’s large grasp on the gaming market was beginning to decrease, much to the success of the PlayStation One, but also due to the increased cost and lead time to produce game cartridges compared to the competition. Across the globe the Nintendo 64, after an initial successful launch year was behind in sales and in late 2001 Nintendo released its successor the “GAME CUBE”, a console designed to go head to head with Sony’s PlayStation 2 and the newcomer of the gaming market “Microsoft’s Xbox”, and was an attempt to reclaim Nintendo’s market share in what was becoming a highly competitive gaming industry. The Game Cube would go on to sell just 21.74 million units during production and was eventually discontinued in 2007 after the release of the Nintendo Wii.

Nintendo Game Cube
When you think of Nintendo, I always think back to the early days of the NES and SNES with their huge game cartridges, but for the first time in nearly 15 years the Game Cube would see Nintendo move away from the expensive production costs of cartridges, to the cheaper alternative of optical discs used by Sony and Microsoft. However rather than utilising DVD’s the Game Cube used the miniDVD, a smaller than the normal CD / DVD of the day. The console could only be used to play games, and wasn’t designed to play standard DVD’s or audio CD’s.  This reason alone, was one reason behind the criticism of the console, which lacked the features of it competition; however the Game Cube had a substantial library of high quality games. 

Below is 100 Game Cube games in 10 minutes

Nintendo’s Game Cube was at the forefront of technology during its time and here are a few cool facts about some cool features:

Online Gaming: The Game Cube supported online gaming for 9 games via its modem adaptor

Second Screen: The Game Cube could be connected to a Game Boy Advance via a link cable, which would allow access to exclusive in-game features using the handheld Game Boy as a second screen and controller.
Second screen functions using Game Boy Advance
Wireless Controller: The Game Cube was the first console to use wireless controllers. Named the Wavebird Wireless Controller, it was RF based and communicated with the console via a dongle which would connect to the console controller port. The controller was powered by two AA batteries, and had all the features of the standard controller minus the vibration functionality.

Interesting Facts on the Game Cube
  • The Game Cube’s codename during development was 'Dolphin', and is referenced in several titles. In Pikmin, Olimar’s spaceship is called the Dolphin, and in Super Mario Sunshine the island in which the game takes place is called Isle Delfino. The chip inside the Game Cube also refers to the codename Dolphin as it was called the Flipper A chip.
Isle Dolfino
  • Before its release, Nintendo showcased demos demonstrating the graphical capabilities of the Game Cube. One of which was a Meowth wielding an electric guitar in a 3D music video.
  • Usually Nintendo launches a console with a Mario title, however the Game Cube didn’t and for the first time Luigi took the spotlight with “Luigi’s Mansion”
  • In early episodes of the Aussie Gamers Express Podcast the intro music of the Game Cube could be heard at the very end of the podcast. There were two alternate intro screens for the Game Cube, one could be accessed by holding the Z button on the controller, the other by plugging in three other controllers and holding down the Z button on all of them
  • The original Wii supports backward compatibility with all Game Cube controllers, memory cards and games, however this was dropped in later versions of the Wii.
 The Panasonic Q
Panasonic Q
Released exclusively in Japan, Panasonic and Nintendo came together to produce the Panasonic Q, this was a hybrid Game Cube with a DVD player. This was part of a deal in which Panasonic developed the optical drive for the original Game Cube hardware. The Q sadly only lasted 2 years and was discontinued in 2003.
In the end the Game Cube failed to reclaim the market share that was lost previously with the N64, and throughout is lifespan remained well behind in sales to the PlayStation 2, but only just behind Microsoft’s Xbox. The Game Cube was considered a family friendly console in a market that was shifting towards a more mature demographic which saw third party developers move further and further away from Nintendo. First Person Shooters and most notably the GTA series of games skipped the Game Cube altogether in favour of the PS2 and Xbox and what was once originally exclusive titles for the Game Cube began to be developed across other platforms like Resident Evil. 
Although all these things worked against Nintendo, you have to tip your hat to them as the Game Cube was a cool console, with features that were a little before their time, but have now been developed  and integrated into our normal everyday gaming. As we end the first edition of RoyBoy's Retro Rewind, I'll leave you with a cool trailer to Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II.

Until next time......

Happy Gaming!

Aussie Gamers Express

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