Although the GameCube celebrated its 20th-anniversary last year, it still had one more date around its platinum anniversary to celebrate. That day is today, May 17, 2022. Today marks 20 years since GameCube was first launched in Australia.
The Nintendo GameCube was launched in Australia on Friday, May 17, 2002. It arrived in Australia two weeks after its European launch on May 3, six months after the US, and eight months after it was first launched in Japan.
This was an era when Nintendo still ranked the Oceanic market somewhere under an afterthought. Both games and hardware would arrive months late, and importers made a roaring trade bringing American and Japanese games into the country for resale. Fortunately, things have improved in the two decades that have followed.
If you allow me to reminisce for a moment
I was incredibly hyped for the GameCube at the time of its launch. It was the first console I bought with money, and I picked it up from Toyworld at my local mall. An EB Games store in a competing mall had been given a playable demo model in the weeks leading up to launch. I was wagging my tail every other day with the school to take the bus to Tweed Heads and play it. The demo CD they had received contained a playable version of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II – Rogue Leader. I had to stretch my neck to a ceiling-mounted CRT TV in a fluorescent-lit shop to play on it, and it was still the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.
When I went back to school (the trip to EB was often a useful excuse to dodge math, but I’d learned that coming back, I wouldn’t get a grade on my name), I’d tell a Nintendo-obsessed friend that I had played the GameCube and saw his eyes go round like plates. We returned in the afternoon to confirm it wasn’t a pretty dream.
I became a regular at the store during this period, eventually getting a job there. Thanks, Demo GameCube.
The controller told the whole story.
Picking up the controller for the first time was, in my memory, a revealing experience. After 20 years, I have yet to use another video game controller that feels just as comfortable in my hands as the GameCube controller. You have to understand: we came from the Nintendo 64 era. The GameCube controller felt like pure blissful ergonomics compared to The Homer, the N64 controller.
While Xbox would eventually nail the controller design to the point where everyone, even Nintendo, now uses that blueprint, the GameCube controller was pure ergonomics. The central, large A button with kidney-shaped X and Y meant all you had to do was roll your thumb up to hit them. The smaller button was a small roll to the left. Each button felt separate and gave you tactile feedback about where your hands were without even looking. The big and clicking shoulder buttons are still my favorite trigger buttons ever. For me, as for many, they are inexorably linked to Super Smash Bros Melee, where they were used for dodging.
You immediately knew what you felt about the GameCube controller. I still love it, and I love that Nintendo remains committed to that Weird Controller Life today (despite the Pro Controller).
Anyway, happy Australian birthday, GameCube. You were a divisive little thing, but your games were top-notch, and your controller was beautiful. May you enjoy your retirement on shelves and display cases in collections everywhere.
And one last plea to Nintendo before I go: bring back Mario Kart: Double Dash, you cowards. It was the best you ever made, and we both know it.