Friday, September 24

GameCube, the last traditional Nintendo console | Digital Trends Spanish

On September 14, 2001, exactly 20 years ago, there was a milestone in the history of Nintendo. The Japanese company launched a new console for sale in Japan and the United States: the Nintendo GameCube.

The GameCube would be the first platform to leave behind cartridges, or cartridges that Nintendo consoles had used to date, to make the leap to a type of optical storage. The GameCube came with a mini DVD type disc player, which used a proprietary Nintendo format.

Nintendo’s flirtation with optical discs was not new. For the Super NES a device had been planned and designed that would allow to connect CD-ROMd to the console; This device even had a name, it was called the Super Nintendo PlayStation and, even before its cancellation, it had been developed in conjunction with Sony.

The story of what happened next with that platform is known to all and its lineage lives on on the PlayStation 5.

But let’s go back to the GameCube, the star of this important date. After the Nintendo 64, the Japanese company realized that the proprietary cartridge format was a stopping stone, both due to manufacturing costs and the technical limitations of a system that had been, in part, an important factor for the Nintendo 64 lagged behind its competition.

At the beginning of the 2000s, and with the PlayStation 2 already on the street, Nintendo had to make the leap to a technology that was becoming widespread. Although, unlike Sony, it would do so on its own terms, using a miniature DVD system that stored up to 1.5GB of data. The GameCube was not a multimedia console, like its contemporaries PlayStation 2 or Xbox; Nintendo designed it exclusively for gaming.

Beyond the disc format, the GameCube involved an important technical leap compared to its predecessor, the Nintendo 64. If this console was the uncomfortable genesis of three-dimensional graphics, the GameCube came to completely refine that staging. And that was already evident with the first games: Luigi’s Mansion, Besides being very good, it looked much sharper and finer than any Nintendo 64 game.

Luigi’s Mansion

Because the GameCube was certainly a powerful console. Next to the PlayStation 2, its technical superiority was evident and an example of this was the differences that were seen in Resident Evil 4, game that was released first in GameCube thanks to the partnership between Nintendo and Capcom.

On the other hand, some of Nintendo’s own games for the GameCube achieved a status important. Sagas such as Metroid Prime or the same Luigi’s Mansion. In addition, Super Mario Sunshine It was at least an interesting experiment, such as the renewed staging of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker.

However, what the GameCube had left over in one section, it lacked in another. Nintendo’s games turned out to be of the highest quality, but in return, the biggest third-party titles of that generation simply bypassed the GameCube. Games like Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City or San Andreas They were flagships of the PlayStation 2 (and that also appeared on the Xbox) and that, due to their more adult cut, were conspicuous by their absence on the Nintendo console.

Instead, titles that were originally going to be exclusive to GameCube like the aforementioned Resident Evil 4 or Viewtiful Joe, both from Capcom, also ended up on other platforms for a simple reason: sales on the GameCube were very poor.

Resident Evil 4

The Nintendo GameCube was the last Nintendo console to compete with the rest in terms of cutting edge technology. While most of the games had a better audiovisual presentation than those on the PlayStation 2, audiences flocked to the Sony console simply because the catalog was so much broader and more diverse. In that sense, the GameCube was a console only for the most staunch nintenderos, while the general public preferred other options.

By the end of 2006, the GameCube had sold just 21 million units, well below the 50 million projected by Nintendo. And this failure explains why the company almost completely changed the paradigm with the Nintendo Wii, the successor to the GameCube that opted directly for the mass public with products such as Wii Sports or Wii Fit, which were a total success.

Interestingly, the guts of the Wii were basically a revving up GameCube – not for nothing, all games on the latter were backward compatible. Nintendo went sane and used the GameCube as the technological base for the Wii, which only needed a new name and a controller like the Wiimote to become one of the most successful consoles in all of history.

(Paweł Durczok / Unsplash)

Instead, the GameCube was something like Nintendo’s last attempt to produce a console appealing to the public that had been playing with them since the NES. But with the perspective of time, you can see that the company did not understand that that same audience was growing and saw the PS2 or the Xbox as consoles made by and for them, while the GameCube, in a way, continued to be seen as a toy.

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