Nintendo GameCube: Feelings
I'm sure many of you remember my initial editorial on the GameCube. During the time of its revelation, I'll admit that I wasn't too enthused to go out and buy one. My gripe with the console was that Nintendo had decided to do things their way once again and deprive developers the choice of developing on a larger medium, per se -- the DVD-Rom. The mini-DVD storage medium raised a few eyebrows, as fears of "cartridge syndrome" had surfaced. Is 1.5GB enough, when a standard DVD-Rom holds nearly 5GB? Not only that, but will companies have to pay expensive royalty and proprietary fees like they did with N64 cartridges? Nintendo claimed 'no', which spelled relief for many developers eager to tinker with the console's belly. At first I didn't enjoy the design of the console or the controller, but the more I looked at them, the more they grew on me. Sometime before E3 began, I had a sudden change of emotion, I felt like buying a GameCube when it launched it the US. I noticed some of the future kick-ass first party software for it, and decided that I'd be missing out if I hadn't purchased one. So after posting a retraction, E3 rolled along and Nintendo showed off some great software. What particularly got me interested was Super Smash Bros. Melee, Star Wars: Rogue Leader, and being the Star Fox fan that I am, Star Fox Adventures; not to mention some of the projects Nintendo is working on, such as Metroid Prime and an all-new Mario Kart game. Soon after, Nintendo's Spaceworld was in full swing, and for the first time, Nintendo revealed both Zelda and Mario games. Neither of the games have finalized US titles, so I'll just refer to each by their initial calling.
Zelda was arguably the most controversial game at the show, I for one was pretty disappointed with what Shigeru Miyamoto displayed -- in contrast to the tech demo shown two years ago. Zelda retains its SNES roots, which is quite obvious just by looking at the game. The atmosphere seems to be quite similar as Link is once again a child, and very cartoony. I would've much rather preferred a realistic Zelda: Ocarina of Time-like setting where throughout the whole game Link is an adult, and not a short little cartoon character. Then again, who knows, maybe that was only a segment of the game (i.e. a painting that Link enters as a portal). Mario on the other hand looks very good. Nintendo has dropped the whole castle scenario, but that's about all I can tell from this title. The visuals are faithful to Super Mario 64, as they represent an extreme amount of freedom for the gamer. I was pretty P.O.-ed about Zelda being turned into a cartoon, I lost my anticipation for the GC and not until the last second did I actually decide to purchase the GC (which I'll take about soon). If worst comes to worst I'll just have to avoid the whole game altogether, and not the GameCube.
It wasn't until the last week that I finally said to myself, "hell for $200 I think the GameCube is pretty damn worth it". Even though all pre-orders were absolutely gone, I decided to call up a near by Circuit City and see if they'll be getting their GCs on launch. 'Indeed', I was told so by the salesperson. Then came that Saturday, just one day left until the GC launches; do I pull an all-nighter and camp out in front of Circuit City from 6:30 to 9AM? Or do I sleep and go one hour before it opens. Hoping to avoid a PS2-fiasco, I went with choice A. When I got to the store at 6:45AM, I was the first one there and I was pretty darn relieved. Luckily for me, I brought my Sony Discman and GameBoy Advance with me, along with a copy of Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Revival. The CDs I brought were some of my faves, including: System of a Down, Alien Ant Farm, American Hi-Fi and The Beatles 1. Twenty minutes or so after my arrival, a couple of employees showed up (they arrived early for a conference). I asked them when they'd put the GC out for sale and they said 11AM. All this time, I thought that the store would open at 9AM because the sales-rep whom I talked to told me so...
So let's strike an extra 2 hours on my waiting time, which totals nearly 5 hours of waiting. YUP! 5 hours. Luckily another person arrived, also waiting to pick up his GameCube. He was a gamer himself and knew pretty much everything that was going around, so I had someone to talk to as well. About an hour and a half later, someone else arrived and he joined the conversation. Soon enough, around 9 o' clock, people began to arrive all asking for the GameCube. The clock was ticking, and I was the first in line with the #1 sticker in my hand. By the time 11AM came around, roughly 30 people crowded up, and when the store opened people rushed in. A couple of jerks thought they would pay up first by the counter, but I flashed my #1 sticker and waved them to the end of the line. 3 minutes and 27 seconds later...I walked away with a Jet Black Nintendo GameCube, a copy of Star Wars Rogue Leader and a memory card. I literally held the GameCube in a cradled position, pressing it fiendishly against my chest. As I made it back home, I took it out, marveled at its elegance and plugged it in. I unwrapped Rogue Leader, opened the case and then marveled at the elegance of the mini-DVD; it was damn near the size of a Pringles chip. I popped in the game, and watched as the traditional Star Wars intro opened the game up for me. I would begin my mission on the Death Star with the X-Wing (just like "A New Hope"!). I was baffled by the visuals, they surpassed those of Star Wars: Starfighter and looked to good to be true. Already, after regaining my trust in Nintendo I was thrilled with the results. The Nintendo GameCube "rockz". Soon after I'd check out Super Monkey Ball, and once again I was not only enthralled, but also dangerously addicted to the funniest puzzle game I can think of (it's because of those damn monkeys!). While I didn't enjoy Luigi's Mansion as much and thought that WaveRace: Blue Storm just doesn't hold up to Splashdown, I began to wait for two incredible games: Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Pikmin.
In the meantime, Activision was kind enough to provide me with a GC copy of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3. I knew from the start that I'd have an incredibly hard time getting used to the game, because of the GameCube's controller. Indeed I did. Although I think that the GC pad is extremely comfortable and extremely suitable for adventure games, racing games, flight games, fighting games, and whatnot, I don't believe that a game like Tony Hawk 3 would really benefit from the controller. For one, the button layout just isn't made for it. I constantly forgot which button was which, and eventually it became too frustrating. The GameCube's shoulder buttons are also very analog sensitive, as they require to be pressed all the way down to respond in THPS3 for a revert. Then again, maybe it's just me; I've heard from many people who got used to the GameCube version of THPS3, but I'll take my Dual Shock 2 any day. Well, after waiting for about two weeks, the time had come. Nintendo dropped two big bombs, that's right, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Pikmin.
I was a big fan of the original Super Smash Bros., so I knew that I'd love the GameCube sequel. After playing it thoroughly and beating it with half of the cast, I can safely say that Melee is an exceptional product all-around. The character detail was fantastic, as were the visuals in general, despite the lackluster backdrops. There were little details everywhere in the game, including decals on the F-Zero vehicles (which can be seen by pausing the game), which pass by quickly on the screen. The gameplay was full of fun stuff, such as side-scrolling areas that'll take you through the Mushroom Kingdom, Hyrule Sewers and even an F-Zero track. Characters such as Bowser, Falco Lombardi (of Star Fox), Gannondorf, Princess Zelda/Sheik, and even Dr. Mario are available for selection in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Altogether, Smash Bros. is a fantastic game and is utterly addictive. Now we come to Pikmin, a puzzle/strategy game with adventure qualities that is one of Miyamoto's strangest and yet most clever creations to date. While it may not be the longest game out there, Pikmin retains various qualities of replayability.
While it doesn't play DVDs, CDs or toast your bread, for the $200 a Nintendo GameCube is a very worthy investment for gamers of all kind. While the Playstation 2 remains to be my console of choice for the next-generation, I believe the GameCube will pose as a worthy opponent for the PS2. It's a quality game console that is designed to do one thing; play games. And indeed, it does that very well. In the meantime, my hopes for the GameCube run high. I'm expecting to have good times with Star Fox Adventures, Super Mario, Metroid Prime, and maybe even the Zelda game. The GC definitely gets a thumbs up from yours truly.