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Subject Line - GameCube's 10th anniversary

Subject Line - GameCube's 10th anniversary
That's a GameCube cake in the header image there. Which is a bit weird really ... to have a cake of the thing for which the celebrations are occurring. Imagine if your birthday cake every year was a life-size replica of your own body. Anyway, listen, here's me and Ger having a little talk about our second-favourite magical box full of secrets and delights.

In its entirety.

Ger - do you think we should do an article on how good the gamecube was? a subject line maybe? since its 10 years old and everything ok bye
Al - hello. sure okay i guess? i don't know what to say though really that is particularly interesting. not that that usually stops me or anything but you know
Ger - yes i just thought memories of good games? that people dont remember. like fire emblem.
Al - okay let's just do a talk and see what happens. talk mode activate? capital letters mode engage? that it always quite painful. But there we go I did it. GC had stupid loads of good RPGs on it. Now they're all rare and expensive though, so if you missed out then you're boned. I think I might have traded a few in for games some years ago cos it was such a good deal but ... regrets ... collection. No it's fine. I dunno if I've still got Fire Emblem kicking around but I definitely never finished it - I got to some point where I couldn't do a level without someone dying and I couldn't handle it. Unbearable sacrifices. Just turn everything off, everyone is alive still on my memory card.
Ger - I like how we go immediately to RPGs, the defining console genre. If it has good RPGs I'm in. More specifically, RPGs with great music. RPGs.

Fire Emblem was incredible, to see those little Game Boy sprites brought to life with this full colour art. You have all these epic overtones, wonderful writing and charming artwork, and the game is just this grid turn based affair. Like a sort of persistent chess, mixing puzzles with story, but it works so well. So if you go in a house on the board you find an innkeeper hiding from the war and talk to him and he gives you a spear maybe.

It had an art style that was so suited to the Gamecube too, hand drawn and simple. If you look at the Tales game on the GC, Symphonia, it had a similar cartoon-style. But when they tried to do the overworld open- landscape it was just empty desert and weird blobs that were enemies. The main character was called Lloyd too. I always like that in a game, when the characters have really bland names. Whenever I get the chance to name a character I call them Brian, I think for that same reason. Brian and Frank and Dave, saving the world.
Al - Yes RPGs, all the RPGs give them to me. You always seem to remember music better than me ... it doesn't really seem to stick in my head unless it's magnificent, and then I just remember it being great rather than the actual tune most of the time. But anyway yes. I guess it's just cos of the time investment that RPGs tend to stick in the mind so much, but all the systems can take root too, and the cast of characters and the world - lots of potential hooks they can latch into you.

Gamecube had a bunch of greats though, Tales and Fire Emblem, Baten
Kaitos and Skies of Arcadia. Well that was a port but never you mind. Shh. They've all kind of sunk into the same kind of brain space though, a pleasant hazy part where everything looks very pretty and you want to hug it. Something that has just popped out though - Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door, did you play that? Don't think I've heard mention of it for years, but that was an absolute stunner of a game. I'd say Nintendo at their best, where it's so enjoyable and welcoming and also cheekily self-aware, with this rock-solid but playful understanding of mechanics and design underpinning everything. I must replay it as soon as possible.
Ger - Paper Mario was magnificent, light hearted and playful and filled with that endless sense of discovery and delight that is Nintendo's hallmark. It was also unashamedly gamey, full of floating numbers and systems and jumps. The Wii paper mario was similarly gleeful. They have that Pikmin-esque charm, half of which comes from the animation itself.

I think its something that is lost when you mo-cap and push constantly for simulation - that animation has an incredible power to beguile. It's why I think all those cartoony, cel-shaded games worked so well on the Gamecube, because they demanded an artist to hand draw that animation. Look at Viewtiful Joe, for instance.

That was the best thing about the GC, all these nichey little games that you could so easily have missed. I guess it was a good console to just experiment on.
Al - Beguile? Are you okay dude, do you want a lie down? Damn I had almost forgotten about Viewtiful Joe ... I'll have to dig that one out as well. I got it for Christmas one year but then we went to visit my grandmother for far too long, so I took my GC as well and played it on this tiny TV upstairs hiding away from all social interaction with my relatives. Victory.

Trying to think just why the GC had so many cool games like that ... wouldn't think it was any better than any other piece of hardware to experiment on, but maybe because of all the other slightly odd games on it (and a lot of them from Nintendo themselves) it became this environment where neat stuff was welcome and publishers knew there was a market for it? Something like that perhaps. I'd say the DS has done the same kind of thing ... the Wii much less so, and maybe that's the problem. GC games seem to have stood the test of time really well too because of the styles adopted as you said ... some things may be a bit simplistic but they are also really solid and stylish, whereas shots at realism tend to seem outdated much more quickly.

What was your first game or favourite game on the thing anyway? I got my GC fairly late on, it was going stupid cheap at Argos for some reason so I pestered my mum to drive me into town one day to get one. It came with Pikmin but they'd run out of memory cards, so I just played Pikmin for days on end without being able to save it. And I didn't mind one bit because it was so interesting and fun.
Ger - I got my Gamecube on launch yo may 3rd it was. I remember it well, what a day. I had ordered it from somewhere online, Gameplay maybe, and got up early and waited for the postman, but he didn't arrive before I had to leave for school. Our postman used to come really early - I remember getting Perfect Dark on launch and it arrived as I was eating my cereal. I took the manual to school and we all sat around reading it. So I suppose I was hoping for that sort of thing.

It didn't get there, obviously, so I had a horrible day at school that lasted forever. I mean it was sunny and the afternoon class just went on forever. I ran home and I can't really convey the disappointment of finding out that there was no Gamecube in my house. My heart actually dropped in my chest I think. Oh to be young again. I mean I wasn't that young, 16 or something, but whatever, shut up.

And as I sat there looking at a wall with my head in my hands, there's a knock at the door. We had a glass door so when I ran up expecting to see a delivery man, and it was just one of the snotty kids from next door, that was pretty awful too. My heart was probably below my kidneys at this point.

The kid said something had been dropped off with them, did I want to come and get it? Yes. Yes I did. It was a little black Gamecube, with Rogue Leader and Super Monkey Ball. And Rogue Leader blew my mind. It looked incredible, controlled immaculately, and it's Star Wars too for goodness sake. I honestly could not believe how good it was. That pristine little controller with its tight, low strung analog stick. It was such a departure from long, loose N64 controller with the weird white powder that builds up and grinds about. It was a joy to play. That game still looks amazing. The Battle of Endor level is still one of the most breathtaking and coolest things to ever be in a video game.

And Super Monkey Ball, of course. Completely off its rocker, joyfully designed and hard as rocks. We still play Monkey Target multiplayer, I don't think many things can beat it. It was way better in the first game too, I won't hear any chat about Monkey Target 2. Never existed, as far as I'm concerned.
Al - I'm glad that kid had your console or your heart would have dropped straight out of your butt. That can lead to all kinds of trouble later in life you know, like not having a suitable receptacle for all your agony and woe and bleak, broken love.

My postie was exactly the same, always a chance he'd show up right before I left for school. The worst thing was he'd walk up the opposite side of the road first and then down our side, so you could watch him pass and try and guess if he'd have anything for you - which was of course impossible - and then have to wait for him to come back again. And usually the wait would make me late. But all worth it just to cut off that awful anticipation, the whole day spent agonising and wondering and hoping unbearably. Poor kids these days who won't have a manual to take in and stare at all day though.

Anyway. Yes. Gamecube. Little cube of joy. I haven't played Perfect Dark or Rogue Squadron I'm afraid ... or maybe I did play RS but on someone else's machine, I seem to remember a bunch of Star Wars games coming out round then? Maybe? And I only had Monkey Ball 2 but I can attest to the flaccid tedium of Monkey Target 2 though, as amazing as some of the other mini-games were. Probably spent more time playing all of those than the actual game, some of them stupidly in-depth as well. So that's me shutting down all your talking points here really. Get out of my face.

Apart from the controller i guess, which I really love too. Maybe the c-stick is a bit too much of a nubbin, but the face button layout is great, nice triggers and d-pad and other stick as good as always. Did you know Nintendo have even got a patent on the little octagonal ring that goes around their analogue sticks? The devious bastards.

Anything else? I don't know, I just want to talk about the best console some more or maybe that's enough I don't know. I guess I have already written things about Chibi-Robo and Wind Waker but you know. And Double Dash was a cornerstone of university for me, even if the GC was on its last legs then. You've got your Metroids and yer Marios and yer Animal Crossing and this is all before you get onto all the multi-platform games. I want to play everything again help.
Ger - halp. ok publish button GO
Al - You are the worst at ending conversations and saying goodbye. I guess I'll handle it.
Bye everyone!

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Posted by Matt at 19:35 on 25/05/12
Imagine if this had been a podcast. JUST IMAGINE