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Why the Wii U Can Be The Gamecube’s Comeback
What a wonderful time it was to own a Gamecube. Whether it was Metroid, Pikmin, or Windwaker that tickled your fancy, there always seemed to have been something for everyone, or at least the few that did have one under their roof. Games or not, there’s little denying it was the way we played it that left the most lasting impression, and that was the controller itself. You’ll be hard-pressed not to find a Gamecube gamer waxing poetic about it (and maybe for good reason), but it seems all too long ago that Nintendo let go of what solid grip it had on its most serious gaming machine.
At least it looks like someone at Nintendo’s listening. Just recently, the company unveiled a bonafide Wii U adapter that’ll allow players to use original Gamecube controllers to play the new Super Smash Bros. for the system right when it debuts live at its fighter invitational this E3. That’s definitely good news for all of those daydreamers of old; maybe even better for the rest of us.
There’s probably few games more associated with the controller than the fighting scene, namely those of the Smash Bros. kind. It was the Gamecube that saw the rise of the series’ competitive nature with Super Smash Bros. Melee, and many might still deem it the “golden age” of the game in the pro scene. Its shape, its button configuration, everything lent itself to being the most comfortable way to play the series, and it couldn’t be more of a perfect fit for Nintendo’s own tournament players onstage this E3. That’s certainly not to discount the plentiful amount of options to casual converts looking for a simpler time than with a Wii-mote or gamepad.
It’s a curiously timed announcement nonetheless, especially given Nintendo’s partnership with Performance design products to create a Gamecube-style “Fight Pad” in tandem with the Wii U’s Super Smash Bros, but it’s one that certainly resonates with fans of the Big N of old. There are few controllers that can endure more abuse than the Gamecube’s, and only better still to have a weightier one to match a hopefully weightier feeling gameplay than Brawl’s floaty mechanics. Still, it seems like a sad fate for any other controller to contend with. Unless PDP’s fight pad is a real revolution, it looks like that’s one peripheral that’s going to collect dust if it’s up against it’s original inspiration.
We can note that Nintendo’s not yet responded to queries about when and if the controller and its adapter will be available at retail (much less what it’ll cost), but it’d be difficult to expect this much of a boon to the ever growing retro gaming crowd would go unpackaged with the game itself at launch. Nevertheless, the E3 season is always companies’ favorite time to play coy, so we’ll just have to wait on that confirmation.
Even more interesting is what the Gamecube’s sudden reappearance may very well mean to a few of our wish-lists. It’s probably no secret that the Wii U’s virtual console’s library has been a tad barebones since its unceremonious debut. We certainly do love playing Earthbound and Super Metroid again in an off-screen fashion, but there’s little more to entertain folks in between Mario Karts. Maybe the Gamecube’s that console to fill in those empty slots in full.
More important still could be the use of virtual console itself. What began with the first Wii was arguably the most ambitious attempt at back-compatibility to date. All of our memories from every console in Nintendo’s stables had the hope of being preserved in the most accessible platforms possible at little to no charge. Like the PS4’s own indie push, nostalgia wasn’t something to pay the bills so much as maintain player engagement in between the next AAA release. Yet much like Playstation Now, it only seems that stockpile’s been selectively random and far short of a console’s pickings, virtual or otherwise. A fully stocked virtual library may not print money for Nintendo at this rate, but it’s certainly a selling point to veterans not worth ignoring or making at least a few dollars off of at the checkout counter. If the Gamecube does unleash it’s library, it ought to do exactly that and not a whimper.
An avid fan of the Gamecube controller myself, I won’t deny my selfish fantasies of playing every game I own with it in hand, especially the originals I grew up with. Maybe most of you could agree that finding a Gamecube game on Amazon for anything less than a fortune is a rare feat indeed, and that’s more the case than ever for some of us whose systems are either broke, gone, or lacking what entries you happened to miss out on. I can’t help but shake the feeling that the drove of Nintendo fans standing by the sidelines for a Wii U wouldn’t be won over by a chance to experience a generation they may not have been a part of.
What’s to say we should only be playing old games with our Gamecube gadgets? It’s long been theorized that the console’s not been as easily and emulated as its Gameboy Advance games via the Ambassador Program onto the Wii U, and it’s also been a speculated challenge to port Super Mario Sunshine to any system without its original pressure-sensitive shoulder-buttons to control FLUDD. Apparently now you can. Mixing up the ways you play long been the banner that the Wii U’s championed with Super Mario 3D World, and there’s no reason at all why you shouldn’t be playing the next Zelda or Metroid without a Gamecube controller when the gamepad’s been mostly, if not entirely optional so up to this point. Maybe it’s high time Nintendo give us back what they did best.
In the end, it seems like there’s an exhaustive battle being fought on two fronts for Nintendo: fight for the mainstream audiences (hopefully) buying Mario Kart 8 or gift an olive branch to its traditional base. Either it’s sheer numbers or consumer loyalty, and either crowd’s as valuable now as ever before when there are still veteran Nintendo fans to be won.
Nintendo’s always been a company known for looking to their past successes for present day offerings, and that couldn’t be more the case with this news. If anything, it just goes to show that it’s smart to listen to your fans, no matter how small the request. If celebrating the Gamecube’s strengths means better realizing the Wii U’s, than by all means, let’s play some more games like it’s 2001.