So, as several of you know, I've been spending the last week or so replaying Super Mario Sunshine. And while my feelings about the game are that it's the worst 3D Mario game out there, I still feel it was a fun game overall. And I think it was unanimously decided that regardless of the quality of it *as a Mario game,* it still ended up being the best platformer from last gen.
After I finished the game (got all 120 Shine Sprites, baby!) I browsed my Gamecube collection, and realized there are a LOT of really great games that came out for it. Unfortunately for the 'Cube, it got the least respect (and least amount of sales) out of the three major consoles last gen. And I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe you guys can help me figure it out.
The system had a lot going for it. It had some of the most top-of-the-line tech behind it at the time. Four controller ports, standard. Not too long after launch, the Wavebird came out - the first wireless controller that actually worked. Dolby Digital Surround output, as well as Progressive Scan support. It could link up with the super-popular Gameboy Advance. It of course had the backing of Nintendo, inarguably one of the best game development companies in the world. Not only did we get old Nintendo standbys, but new franchises from them as well. And at least until 2003 or so, a ton of high-quality 3rd party support, including some really great exclusive stuff.
So what happened? Why didn't the machine sell like gangbusters and take the world by storm?
Well, okay. Yes. The PS2. Sony had an incredible amount of momentum coming off the original Playstation, and the hype train was unstoppable. But Gamecube was coming off the also-very-successful-N64, and had games like WaveRace: Blue Storm, Pikmin, Rogue Leader and Smash Brothers Melee at or near launch.
And yeah, there was the Xbox too. And even to this day, I'm still baffled as to how that system got the success it did. Everything about that system was wrong IMO. I'm not gonna dwell on how or why the Xbox became so successful, but I'm still just amazed/shocked at how a single FPS game could carry a system and let it live and THRIVE as it did.
But anyway, I kind of want to get down to the nitty-gritty stuff. There are a lot of dismissive things said about Gamecube, but one of the most prevailing ones (and one that still kind of haunts the GCN's successor) was the lack of online support. Some gamers believe it was a major sin that the Gamecube did not go online at all (well, outside of Phantasy Star, anyway). But I don't think that was as big of a deal as some make it out to be.
Last gen, online gaming with consoles wasn't as big of a deal overall. Some may say I'm crazy, but look at the games that sold last gen. The best-selling stuff on PS2 was Grand Theft Auto, Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy X, Metal Gear Solid 2, Jak & Daxter and DragonQuest VIII. The common theme among those games? None of them have online support. Not a single one. Oh, but that was PS2. Online gaming really took off on Xbox, right? Well, kinda. LIVE was a big selling feature sure. But the games? Well, not so much. The best-selling Xbox games were stuff like Halo, Halo 2, Grand Theft Auto Collection, Fable, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Morrowind, and the original Splinter Cell. With the exception of Halo 2, none of these games went online, either. So was it really that big of a deal? I'm not convinced.
But I'm just one guy. What do you guys think? Specifically in regards to online stuff. I wanna get into other aspects/features of the Gamecube at a different point. Let me hear your thoughts!
TL;DR VERSION: Did the lack of online support hurt Gamecube sales?
This particular thread-naming meme (that's really only relevant here on Negative World) started with Het_Nkik's thread from March 2010 which was intended to talk about old-school games. He used a pun in the subject line, hence "Lettuce talk about old school games in this thread."
This became a meme when other threads started popping up, replacing "lettuce" with other leafy vegetables in the subject line. There was one that used Cabbage, another that used Spinach, and I'm pretty sure there was at least one more that used the meme. I just chose parsley for this one because... well, I'm running out of salad vegetables to name threads after...
I really think and agree that Nintendo's marketing with the GameCube is what did them in. The console itself was more than capable of holding its own with the PS2 and Xbox, but Nintendo, I think, was trying to be too different for their own good. Now, I personally had no problem with the purple color, heck I still have my launch Cube in all its purple lunchbox glory. :-P However, even with that and the enjoyment I got from the console there were some definite problems that hurt Nintendo with it:
1. Lack of Marketing - Compared to the PS2 and XBox, I didn't much marketing on TV or other places for the Cube. Nintendo was relying a bit too much on word of mouth to get its console known. As said before, the launch of the console with its flagship title and controller really did set its image in stone (as someone else said) and even with the black and silver models released, they didn't help much. To be fair, the controller was very comfortable to hold and I liked it, but I know others didn't, which leads me to sorta reiterate what I said above.
2. Different...Too Different - Nintendo tried too hard to set their console apart and while it's nice to have something that stands out, the decisions made were too much. The color scheme, the type of physical disc media used, and again, the controller design lent themselves to making the console too 'unique'. I also remember hearing that developers didn't like the disc media Nintendo chose because it was different and possibly harder to work with. the controller buttons were also very unusual, and while I personally got used to them, I can fully understand why people would be put off by it. The 'jelly bean' and big A-Button designs did look very much like something you'd find on a child's toy, and while it does seem like a petty issue...image sells. Which leads right into the next point.
3. Teh Kiddies Image - Ties back into marketing, but Nintendo really did shoot themselves rather hard in the foot with this. Look back at the SNES and N64 generation and Nintendo marketed themselves in trying to look cool and have impressive games on their systems, and pushed those. It gave them an image and played to the 'cool crowd'. This same crows was still very much around during the Cube era and when people saw commercials for Super Mario Sunshine, and perhaps even Super Smash Bros. Melee and others...well...those didn't help. They really did help cement that 'kiddie' image along with the other things mentioned already and while the Cube did have its fair share of solid, non-kiddy games, it didn't get things like GTA and other more 'mature' games that were very popular. That image stuck with them, even when games like RE4, Metroid Prime, and the Prince of Persia games came out (to name a few), and it hurt.
There are other things I could say, but I'm sure others have said them already. Though the funniest thing I find looking back on it is that Nintendo did so something 'different' that they never seem to get credit for in making the Gamecube:
They made it small and kept it powerful
Gamecube was smaller than both that PS2 and XBox (Slim line PS2 notwithstanding), and I find it funny that nowadays people are always clamoring for maing things smaller, more efficient, and better. Nintendo did that, and sadly it didn't help them that much...
The Gamecube controller is one of my favorites, actually (N64 is the worst, hands down). Its so rad! That said, I always opt for the Classic when playing Wii. Hmm. Anyways, everything that you pointed out that most people disliked, I liked. I thought the A button being so big was a GREAT choice. You need to use it the most, why NOT make it the biggest? The little secondary B button to the left was great, and the kidney/jellybean buttons were great, too. Good all around. I had a Black Cube at launch and got a Silver one after the Wii launched (my Black one had disc read errors for the last few months of its life, right in the middle of playing a game. Thumbs down.).
You mentioned the word of mouth thing; I don't remember the advertising then so I'll have to take your word for it (not that I don't believe you), but isn't it goofy that they'd hope for word of mouth then and then do the exact same thing for the Wii, and it worked exponentially? Weirdarama.
It worked better for the Wii, because the Wii was offering a much different way of playing games. Hype for sure, and nothing wrong with that, but the Gamecube wasn't bringing anything new to the table, just an 'upgrade' whereas with the Wii there were talks of the motion controls, or what it could potentially do in the future, etc, etc. Not really 'weirdarama' as you put it ( ), it's just that the Wii was offering something unique and promised a lot of potential, so of course word of mouth would spread that and gain more interest rather than just 'an upgrade' so to say.
Anything ending in "-arama" is on the track to being extra cool.
Their "no advertising" campaign blew me away this time around. I didn't see a TV spot until a day or two before release, and if I wasn't coming on the internet at all, I would've known next to nothing about it. The limited supply was unbelievable as well (could a shortage increase sales and interest? Probably not....). Everyone wanted one and nobody could get one.
I reserve everything and get in line for stuff so that didn't really matter to me. 'Cube was the first system I ever got on launch day, and that was pretty B.A. I even hard my one arm in a sling from a wrestling injury a few days prior. Dedication, baby.
At the time, my parents waited in line to get me a Gamecube and apparently they ended up getting 2 of them...purple and black. They sold the black one to someone else and I got the purple one, but I actually never knew they did that until a week or so after Christmas when I woke up and found I had gotten me the system.
Although the third party support started strong, it really died hard later in the generation. Franchises like Grand Theft Auto caused the PS2 to dominate, and the Cube didn't have an answer to that. Halo took the FPS baton from the Rare FPS's, and that type of game started to become popular at the time as well. The Cube controller did not lend itself very well to FPS games.
Didn't the Cube even start losing games like Madden toward the end? I'm not sure on that one, but it seems like it might have.
It was tough to rake in console sales back then without GTA, Halo, or the EA sports games. Once a "cool" console is established, you're not going to get many casuals to go another route.
However, all that said and the Cube has a library that screams replay me even in today's lineup of games. REmake, Paper Mario, Metroid, Melee and Wind Waker are all amazing titles.
The 'Cube was my main console last gen, and definitely my favorite of the generation. I think I'm alone on this, but I was never a huge fan of the PS2. I loved Metal Gear Solid 2/3 and Shadow of the Colossus, and Kingdom Hearts was pretty cool, but that's most of my list of favorite PS2 games. I played my GC a lot more at the time, and I still play the games a lot through the Wii's backwards compatibility. First party games like Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, Melee, and Paper Mario TTYD, and even some awesome third-party games like Resident Evil 4, TimeSplitters 2, Beyond Good & Evil, and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. The GameCube pretty much had it all for me.
Oh, and it's probably got the best controller of all time in the WaveBird.
I agree with the sentiment that the 'Cube was too different for its own good, but the lack of marketing and image in the beginning of the generation wasn't an issue. Check out the original Gamecube commercial, which I remember seeing quite often on TV back in 2001:
Definitely not so "teh kiddie" eh? If I didn't know any better, I would have assumed it was a Playstation ad.
Yeah, third parties really started dropping off in 2004, and nearly completely abandoned the system by 2005. Madden NFL was not a series that was dropped though - heck, that was one of the few series that kept on getting pumped out on GCN. That, and Need for Speed. EA knew what franchises were cash cows.
Speaking of third party games, I'm not even really sure why companies started dropping support that late in the generation. Multiplatform games were not *that* difficult or expensive to do, and it's not like Gamecube sales were terrible. As pointed out earlier in the thread, the Xbox barely sold more than Gamecube, and that system kept on getting support well into 2004. (of course, that was dropped like a bad habit the following year when 360 came out, but hey)
The Gamecube certainly did not have the intangible "cool" mindshare. And in a related note, didn't really have an exclusive answer to the behemoth that was Grand Theft Auto. Maybe that was why the GCN was never seen as cool?
Yeah, the WaveBird ruled. The only thing that was kinda wonky about the GCN controller was that it was not conducive to fighting games. It took some time to get used to it in games like Bloody Roar, Capcom vs SNK 2, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, and Soulcalibur II. The only fighting game it really worked well with was Melee.
But with pretty much every other genre, the controller was great. I loved it for racing games!
I never owned a Wavebird and I never had any desire to own one. So I lose rumble AND I have to supply batteries? Why would I buy one of those? It was cool if you did a lot of multi-player gaming, but other than that I didn't understand what the big deal was.
My biggest gripe with the Gamecube typically came from hearing compressed audio that wasn't present on other systems. Maybe it was the fault of certain developers, but man, I LOVED Sands of Time, and it was a travesty to hear how shitty some of the voices sounded in that game.