Today, May 17, marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of the Nintendo GameCube in Australia.
The Australian launch took place some eight months after the Japanese launch, much to the chagrin of local Nintendo fans. In fact, Nintendo Australia didn’t even have a planned launch date until some three months after the American launch.
The successor to the Nintendo 64, the GameCube had strong pre-release buzz in Australia, helped along by a nice pre-launch price drop from $AU399 to $329. It had a varied launch lineup, although it was the first Nintendo home console to launch without a Mario game.
Twenty games were there on day one: 2002 FIFA World Cup, Batman Vengeance, Bloody Roar: Primal Fury, Burnout, Cel Damage, Crazy Taxi, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2, Disney’s Tarzan Freeride, Donald Duck: Quack Attack, Driven, ESPN International Winter Sports, International Superstar Soccer 2, Luigi’s Mansion, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, Super Monkey Ball, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure, Wave Race: Blue Storm and XG3: Extreme G Racing. Many were disappointed that launch window titles for the US and Japan like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Pikmin were not there on day one, but they were available within two months.
Nintendo expected to sell 50,000 consoles in the launch window, and although it had a strong first week, Microsoft’s dramatic price slash of the Xbox just two weeks after its launch took the wind out of Nintendo’s sails. Despite a great lineup of software, the GameCube never really gained traction in Australia, with barely 150,000 consoles sold over the system’s life.
The system was home to some fantastic games, so we took the opportunity to highlight a few of our favourites.
Animal Crossing (Nintendo, 2002)
Animal Crossing sees players living in a small town inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. Daily life involves running errands, catching bugs, fishing, collecting items, upgrading your house, building relationships with your animal neighbours and more. The game uses the GameCube’s internal clock and calendar, so time passes and players experience seasons and holidays.
This life simulation is both adorable and incredibly addictive. I played Animal Crossing daily for almost a year and it remains one of my favourite games to this day.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (Nintendo, 2003)
While people were caught off guard, and even outraged by the cel-shaded vision for The Legend of Zelda, the final result was easily one of the finest games of all time.
The cartoony look makes for a much more timeless game – it looks great, even nine years later, but the best part of the game is that everything oozes character.
Luigi’s Mansion (Nintendo, 2001)
Time has been friendly to Luigi’s Mansion – the disappointment that it wasn’t a Mario game at launch subsided, and people began to realise that it’s a really great game.
Catching ghosts is really fun, the Poltergust 3000 (think Proton pack meets vacuum) makes short work of the charming but dead inhabitants of the mansion . One can’t help but love the increasingly frightened Luigi’s mannerisms in the game – like the different ways he’ll call out Mario’s name. Mario? Mario? Maaaarrrrriiiiiioooooo?
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (Nintendo, 2003)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is the fourth instalment in the Mario Kart series, and my personal favourite.
Like other Mario Kart titles, Double Dash!! has players race various characters from the Mario series on a range of Mario-themed tracks. What separated this title from the pack was the introduction of two racers per kart – too fun!
Skies of Acadia: Legends (Overworks, 2003)
It was one of the best RPGs on the Dreamcast, and the same holds true for Skies of Arcadia‘s GameCube appearance, which adds a number of minor enhancements such as improved load times and a few extra sidequests.
Tales of Symphonia (Namco, 2004)
The Tales series’ return to Nintendo hardware proved to be one of the best RPGs on the system, combining fantastic graphics with a great combat system, a compelling story and an amazing soundtrack into one lovely package.
Metroid Prime (Retro Studios, 2002)
Samus’ triumphant return after some eight years on the sideline proved to be one of the most atmospheric games of the era. It has everything – great graphics, a phenomenal soundtrack, and highly refined gameplay. One of the best.
F-Zero GX (Amusement Vision, 2003)
Sega showed Nintendo a thing or two about arcade racing when it struck a deal to develop F-Zero. GX has an absolutely ludicrous sense of speed, yet manages to combine that with perfectly tight controls to make one of the most exhilirating racing games to date. It’s arguably one of the best looking games on the system, too.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (Konami/Silicon Knights, 2004)
Some would argue that Twin Snakes is something of a travesty – those people are fools. Twin Snakes is a reimagining of Metal Gear Solid using the engine technology and advanced visuals of Metal Gear Solid 2 and the delightfully over-the-top direction of Japanese filmmaker Ryuhei Kitamura. People might complain about Snake running over the top of missiles, but this is a series with characters who shoot bees at you.
Resident Evil 4 (Capcom, 2005)
I think we can all agree that Resident Evil 4 is one of the finest action games of all time. Sure, it abandons the series’ defining survival horror for a far greater emphasis on action, but the sheer quality of that action makes it all worthwhile. The sheer level of refinement and detail in the game is still amazing, which is why people keep demanding Capcom put it on every system out there.
Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat (Nintendo, 2005)
Upon first impression, the concept for Jungle Beat seems utterly ludicrous – c’mon, a platformer that uses the bongo controller? EAD Tokyo manages to pull it off – it’s a high energy, combo based platformer that’s supremely addictive and polished.
What were your memories of the GameCube’s launch? What about your favourite games? Let us know in the comments!