Today's post comes from Joseph, author of the blog Paragoomba Shift, and creator of amusing voiceover videos.
Most everyone who is interested in gaming will be able to tell you what their first home system was. For those from the start of household gaming, they may tell you that they first owned an Atari 2600, an NES, an SNES, a Genisis, or maybe even an N64. Now there’s a new generation who are growing up playing on the Xbox, Playstation 3, and the Wii and subsequent Wii U.
Me? I had a GameCube.
The Nintendo GameCube, or GCN (NGC in Japan, they got the order of the letters right) was the 4th home console Nintendo developed and part of what is considered The Sixth Generation. The GameCube uses discs instead of cartridges and uses memory cards that can store mega blocks of information and can be interchanged to give you even more memory. But that’s not why I got the GameCube. I got the GameCube because it was and had been the current Nintendo system for a while. The Nintendo GameCube was released in 2001, about 2 or 3 years before I was exposed to the amazing world of video games.
Although, I didn’t actually buy it. You see there’s this thing where most 8-year-olds don’t get to buy expensive stuff. Crazy right?
But anyways, I had a GameCube now, so what would I get to play? The GameCube had been around for a while, so there would be a great amount of great games to start with. Super Mario Sunshine? Super Smash Bros.? Super Luigi’s Mansion? Nope. I got Pac-Man.
Okay so not actual arcade, “put a quarter in to play,” Pac-Man; Pac-Man World 2, the sequel to a game I had never played.
My reasons for buying this game were, well not really plural. I saw my 2nd cousin playing it, so when we were going to get a GameCube, I asked for that game. Turned out to be a pretty fun game, though the concept of saving seemed to be beyond me or something, because I swear I played those first levels at least 30 times. The game was fun, though. Get from point A to point B, eat dots and ghosts, find all the fruit, and all that good stuff. There were some good platforming sections as well as some cool powerups that led to pretty good puzzles even in the early levels.
Also, Pac-Man can apparently Spin Dash like Sonic the Hedgehog--where was THAT ability in the arcade? So many quarters would still be with us today…
So that was Pac-Man. All in all, above average, but still not nearly the quality the GameCube library had to offer. Now that I had experience with this box of might, I should probably have gotten something better, more mainstream, maybe even 1st-party-developed!
Three words: Monkeys In Balls.
I have no idea what possessed me to say, “I want that one,” but whatever it was, I’m grateful. Super Monkey Ball was one of the most fun games I have ever played, second only to Yoshi’s Island. It’s got a simple concept, there is a monkey in a ball, now get him to the goal in under a minute. There were 3 difficulties, beginning, advanced, and expert, with 10, 30, and 50 unique stages, respectively. That’s a total of 90 different levels, some of which to this day I still haven’t even seen. But I did play enough to be able to beat beginner with no deaths and speed-running tactics.
There were also minigames. The first three, in my opinion the best, are unlocked from the very start, while the other 3 require you to earn points by beating levels in the main game. These minigames were great for me and my family to play. And I enjoyed even playing them just by myself. And the main game was a great experience to play over and over again.
But the minigames were just as much a part of the fun as the main game. Target Test was by far the favorite among my brother, my dad, and myself. You could play with powerups, with pure skill, with bombs, with random effects, and with a wide selection of turn amounts. We played that minigame so much we found all sorts of silly tricks, like if you have the sticky-glue powerup you can land on the overhanging bars on the ramp and still get 5 points, and if you go out far enough and have a lot of luck, you may just be able to land 500 points by hitting a tiny little target.
Next was Race. Get around the track as fast as you can before the others do. Hit speed strips to go faster. Don’t fall off. Simple and fun, except that purple space stage. That one was hard…
Last and, well, least was Fight. I seemed to be the only one who liked this game, but maybe that was just because I OWN ALL NOOBZ AT MONKEY BALL FIGHTING! BWAHAHAHA!
But to supplement my lack of fist-attached-to-a-ball fodder, you could always play with computer players. The powerups in Fight were also cool too, like making the giant fist even more giant, making the spring attaching your fist to the ball go further, or being able to have the fist swing around and around you like a tornado. The best part was that these powerups could be added upon themselves and each other. I always figured it was infinite, because the time would eventually stop you from having a colossal fist that was attached to a 40-ft. spring that swirled around you. But it would be interesting to know.
Then there will be minigames that you unlock. Several times, for me. I guess the idea of “saving” was still lost to me. It might have helped if I had a memory card. In fact, the reason I got so good at the beginner stages in the main game was because I would play them repeatedly to get the points to unlock a minigame I wanted to play. I don’t know what I was excited about though, because Monkey Golf, Monkey Billiards, –coughpoolcough- and Monkey Bowling might have just as well been called Generic Golf, Pool, and Bowling. Beyond a few creative golf holes there’s not much to look forward to.
Okay, now back to the GameCube itself. No more game reviews within a discussion of a system. Enough monkeying around.
Anypun, the GameCube itself seems to be like the commercials between your favorite shows, you rarely talk about them and if you do it’s not often positive. I’m not sure that makes sense to you all but it does in my head and that’s good enough for me! I generally only hear about it when people call the Wii the “GameCube 1.5” when referring to the Wii’s graphics. And if 50% better is an insult, then that means that these people think very highly of the GameCubes capabilities.
So the GameCube is seldom spoken of, why? Is it a bad system? No, at least as far as I can tell.
The graphics, while definitely not up to today’s standards, can still produce some pretty impressive and cool-looking stuff, especially towards the end of the system’s run. The controls work fine, and the controller is a nice restyling of an N64 controller, and is in fact generally preferred among those who play Virtual Console games on the Wii.
Is it because it isn’t innovative? Well, it seems that its main quality is being a cube, but it does have much more to offer than that. It uses memory cards, allowing potential for unlimited memory that could be saved separate from your hard copy of the game, meaning if you rented the game again you could start right where you left off.
It's nice and compact, easy to move around, as we often took it on long road trips.
Does it have a bad library? Not in my opinion. Monkey Ball, Mario Sunshine, Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Baseball, Pokémon Laughing Face (XD), LEGO Star Wars, and even some cool collections of Zelda and Mega Man, to name a few.
Does it not have cool accessories? No dice, the Mic is one of the best additions the Mario Party franchise could have had, and being able to connect your Game Boy to the GameCube had to be pretty cool too.
Is there something wrong with the hardware? Well, it does have this problem where if you leave it on for 24-hour periods. after only turning off the TV when you were playing baseball and football video games all night, and your kids don’t check to turn it off before school, and so they come home and find the thing still running. Then the GameCube breaks.
Or so I’m told.
I did get a GameCube with a Pokémon on it as a result, though, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss. More like 90%.
But why do I like the GameCube so much? Well, it has to do mainly with nostalgia. Nostalgia plays a large part in what many of us like and dislike. I liked the GameCube in childhood, I like it now. I loved Yoshi’s Island as a child, too, and it remains to be my favorite game. If you need an example other than myself, Nathaniel’s favorite Mega Man game was the first one he played, and I bet Alex read some of The Goon series early on in his comic reading days as well. The GameCube also represents the best that Nintendo could do with the standard home console design at the time.
After, wii got a We. I mean, we got a Wii. I insisted that we should keep the GameCube. Sure, the Wii can play GameCube games, but it is much more fragile and complicated to move around. However, the GameCube did fade into obscurity for a while as we grew more fond of the Wii.
Nowadays the GameCube sits in my room. It gets a little more love now that I have a TV to play it on, and also has a few old classics like Mario Baseball and the Mega Man Anniversary Collection to have fun with. And I always have a satisfying feeling that I’m using an excellent piece of hardware when I turn it on and hear that title theme.