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Speaking of controllers, you kids may not know this, but there was a time when controller wires were the bane of every suburban kid’s existence. Just through the act of playing a game with friends and passing around game pads, you’d always end up with a crow’s nest of wires, especially if you played enough four player games. Though third-party companies had sold middling wire-free controllers for years, Nintendo was the first hardware maker to finally figure out dependable wireless controls and set the standard for all that followed.
The WaveBird Wireless Controller was first introduced to the gaming world less than a year into the GameCube’s existence and once you picked it up, going back to wires was hard indeed. After using the WaveBird you realized just how trapped you had been with the old cords and how much they restricted your movement. It delivered on its promise of reliable controls and was so successful every system after it better have wireless controllers or not even bother showing up to the store.
On the NES Nintendo was the clear market king, the SNES was challenged but squeaked out a victory over the Genesis, and the N64 was successful enough that Nintendo could publically ignore the fact that it lost to Sony. But the GameCube was troubled from the get go, and Nintendo was faced with the very new proposition of being in third place (though they still were undeniable rulers of the handheld market). Being a loser taught Nintendo changes needed to be made or it would be in big trouble, and those lessons ultimately led the company to greatness.
Above: Don't forget the star of Nintendo's E3 2003 press conference
Nintendo started working more with third parties, including ending long feuds with Namco and Squaresoft. The publisher also worked hard to get exclusives from Capcom, EA, Sega and Acclaim, even sharing prized franchises like Star Fox, F-Zero and Zelda. Biggest of all, there was a transformation in management as very traditional Japanese bosses were replaced by colorful executives like Reggie Fils-Aime and Satoru Iwata, who both caused massive change in the company. In a strange way, the company’s massive success of the last five years can at least be partially attributed to GameCube, which we count as a win to the Cube.
In its heyday, the GameCube had some of the best graphics around. Games like Resident Evil 4 and Metroid Prime were stunning to behold, and Wind Waker’s visual style is timeless. Those graphics were ultimately good enough that even in this age of HD, 1080p, DX11 gaming, consumers still find those same graphics acceptable on the Wii.
Maybe it’s a trolling statement, but the Wii basically is a GameCube with waggle added to it, but that backhanded compliment also shows you how awesome the GC is. That games could still come out on the Wii that looked as good as Mario Galaxy or Skyward Sword, or that could be as artistically inventive as MadWorld and Muramasa, proved the GameCube was the only system in its generation with a real ten-year lifecycle, even though the PS2 claimed it had one. Nintendo somehow kept sqeezing good (or at least acceptable) graphics out of the Cube long after it should have. Would we rather have an HD Wii? Perhaps, but the GameCube was a great starting point for one of the most successful home gaming machines ever sold. And ultimately, doesn’t that make the GameCube a huge success too?
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