GameCube ROMs

Console History: Gamecube

The Gamecube was Nintendo's entry into the 128-bit generation, and it established a pattern for their console launches that would continue for more than a decade: it would have less overall horsepower and features than their major competitors, but would boast a lower price point, a heavy emphasis on family-friendly multiplayer as a core experience, and premium console-exclusive titles that were among the best games of their generation.

When the Gamecube was released in 2001, the PlayStation 2 had already been on the market for over a year. Nintendo attempted to make up the ground they lost to Sony by purpose-building their console for gaming and gaming alone; no DVD player or USB/Firewire ports, but four controller ports were standard. The Gamecube was also slightly more powerful than the PS2 in terms of hardware capability, but that advantage was mitigated by the more limited storage capacity of its mini-disc format (each disc held about 1.5 GB of data as compared to over 4 GB on a standard PS2 disc and over 8 GB on a dual-layer disc). The smaller discs combined with the purpose-driven architecture did help to seriously reduce load times in games, however, giving the console a reputation for quick and smooth operation that got you straight into the action.

While the emphasis on putting gaming first was admirable, from a marketing standpoint it also turned out to not be the right call. The Gamecube would sell only about 22 million units worldwide, as compared to the staggering 155 million units sold by the PS2 -- a number bolstered to a great degree by its ability to pull double duty as a DVD player.

Nevertheless, gamers remember the Gamecube very fondly, mostly due to Nintendo's stellar first-party lineup of titles: The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Twilight Princess, the Metroid Prime games, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Kart: Double Dash and Animal Crossing just for a few of the biggest names. Third-party development was also greatly improved from the situation on the Nintendo 64, with a good amount of quality exclusives like Eternal Darkness and superior versions of multiplatform releases like Resident Evil 4.

The Gamecube debuted with its iconic "purple lunchbox" design, and this form factor was never really tinkered with aside from adding more color options over time. While some people have criticized the design for making it look too childish or like a toy, the purpose of the handle and the light compact case was to make it easy to carry to LAN parties. The N64's awkward controller was also completely redesigned to fit the hand more naturally, and while it may look a little odd at first (like the console), the genius of the button and stick placement becomes apparent after long sessions of a competitive multiplayer game.

The previous console generation had seen form factors become virtually identical in their global releases. As with the Nintendo 64, however, the Gamecube is region locked by onboard hardware.

Though the Gamecube definitely lost the sales and popularity battle to the PS2, you could make the argument that it's the most enjoyable of its generation to play, lacking the load times and noisy disc grinding of its competition as well as having a more comfortable standard controller than most. It's also definitely worth the attention of retro emulation enthusiasts today for its very strong lineup of exclusive titles if nothing else.