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Roundtable: GameCube's Most Important Lessons
The GameCube will be remembered as a transitional console.
Roundtable: GameCube's Most Important Lessons

Aaron Roberts
I think the most important thing Nintendo has learned from the GameCube is that it isn't a good idea to make a console look like a toy. Even though the controller is pretty accessible, it's fair to say that many gamers were turned off by the Romper Room-inspired color scheme and jellybean-shaped buttons. The GameCube is a compact, reliable, powerful system, but the packaging doesn't scream that.

Instead, it puts one in mind of nothing so much as a lunchbox. Unlike the Xbox or PS2, even the platinum model doesn't look very comfortable in an entertainment center.

It's just as clear that Nintendo has already taken this lesson to heart, first with the original DS, whose silver-and-black motif was a step in the right direction, and even more so with DS Lite and Wii, both of which are looking like sharp, high-tech products. Nintendo wants to appeal to a broader market, and making its systems look like fancy consumer electronics is a good way to do that.

Brendan Kerr
Nintendo said many times during the GameCube's peak that it was not interested in implementing internet support in its consoles. Now, its latest batch of systems are taking strides to completely trump the competition. Lesson learned.

Currently, DS is way over the head of its Sony rival, with an online plan that is easily accessible, utilizes a consistent interface from title to title, and made public through a thorough advertising campaign. I wonder if many of the people contemplating purchasing a PSP know about its online capabilities...?

Though little is known about Wii's online plan, we have at least seen some of the fruits of Nintendo's labor with a plethora of patents and copyrights recently taken out by the company. WiiCulture? !!M, an alleged instant messaging service that goes hand in hand with a buddy list style diagram recently patented by the company? Even if Nintendo hasn't confirmed these things yet, we at least know they're trying!

If Nintendo continues down this path, you’ll be boppin’ Koopas over the head with a friend in Cairo next year!

Abraham Walters
First and foremost, Nintendo learned it had irrevocably lost to Sony. No matter how good and innovative the games, all the Japanese really wanted was another copy of Dragon Quest, and all America wanted was something cool enough to make them forget what childish nerds they were. Secondly, Nintendo learned it needed America. Third, the N64 was no fluke: swallow your pride and let the crappy third parties in. Fourth, online was the future (and is now affordable-- why, oh why did they ever apologize?).

Fortunately, Nintendo realized this during the first half of the GC's career, leading to many moves (bongos, mic, connectivity, etc.)-- which felt like research on its part-- to discover what may or may not work in the future. The company also realized, most importantly, that what happened to them could also happen to Sony. Another 80s crash seemed inevitable, or at least marketable; so why not learn from your mistakes, buck the trends and come back firing? Enter the revolution: enter Wii. It's game time for the masses.

Aaron Steinfeld
What has Nintendo learned? Being creative is a wonderful idea-- but if you put an idea out into the public and expect people to purchase it, it might be wise to actually support it. What am I talking about? Game Boy Advance coupled with GameCube connectivity. Sure, there was a little title known as Four Swords-- there was even a title (that shall retain anonymous) which allowed players to control a flamboyant wanna-be elf who went by the name of Tingle. But in all seriousness, did this "connectivity" truly connect gamers to a more engrossing experience? Did people wake up in the morning and think "I'm totally all over that Tingle action today!"

Come on Nintendo. Come. On. Don't alienate developers and gamers with hardware, accessories and/or games that have no niche to call home. Don't throw the public another stale bone with infinite potential, only to have people's wallets preach a different story. Show us you listen to our needs. Dare to be different, but double dare to take a good consumer idea or dream and bring it to live. We want Kid Icarus. We want colors other than purple. We want third party support. If you build for us, we will come-- and I ain't talking about no field of dreamy corn here. Dare to be different, but don't forget your roots.

Abhinay Sawant
In my opinion, the most valuable lesson that Nintendo learned during the GameCube generation was what became the inspiration for Nintendo Wii. That is, hardware companies cannot just simply add on expanded graphical and sound features and expect it to provide a new gaming experience. When we look forward to Nintendo's upcoming console, we hold high expectations because we see a vision; however, that vision was lacking for the GameCube. When news of it game out, I was hyped mainly over the graphics but even that began to fade after I purchased the console. Gaining this new vision for the company helped them to become the innovative company that would bring the successful Nintendo DS midway through the generation.

The GameCube will instead be remembered mainly as a transitional console. It was during this time that Nintendo strengthened relationships with third party developers and saw some of its benefits, such as an increased library of games, and some acclaimed titles, such as Resident Evil 4. The transitional period gave the company time to develop features to keep it competitive, such as preparing for online gaming through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Nintendo also used this period to experiment with the handheld-console connectivity which proved to be a short-term failure. It seems for now, their transition is done and now the company will use the knowledge they've learned to move into the right direction.

Paul Starke
I majored in art in school and so can speak with some authority on color. Indigo is a dangerous flagship color choice for one reason: it's a color open to interpretation. Ask the average person what color indigo is and most will answer in blank stare. ROY G BIV says it's right smack dab in between blue and violet. This is indigo, this isn't. Indigo has more blue in it than the purple skinning those first, hapless 'Cubes.

Even if purple was only in our minds and the system really was indigo, the battle has already been lost. Don't make anything that could be misconstrued as purple your flagship color and be surprised when people say your console is a toy for children. Jet black was solid, timeless. Platinum was also a good move. Even curried Spice would have been preferable to the purple that was Indigo.

Chad Margetts
I remember when Nintendo announced the GameCube: it apologized for many mistakes during the N64 era, and it positioned the GameCube as an anti-N64, complete with an optical drive, connectivity, expandability, compact design and a more traditional controller. In hindsight, it looks like Nintendo did not go far enough, as Nintendo shipped about 11 million fewer Cubes than N64s.

The problem that plagued the GameCube is it did not differentiate itself enough from PS2 and Xbox. Nintendo did not do enough to make the Cube a direct console competitor, and the differences that were there were perceived as inferior. In order to compete, Nintendo played the value card, knocking the system to the consumer-friendly US$99 dollar MSRP, earlier in the product cycle than in any previous generation. While that did temporarily boost sales, it further positioned the Cube as the cheap system for your little brother. Mainstream gamers went with Sony. Hardcore gamers went with Microsoft. Frugal gamers went with Nintendo.

When you take a look at Wii, Nintendo is not making the system an anti-GameCube; but Wii already has more to differentiate itself from the competition than the Cube ever did. Wii is the anti-next-gen system. What Wii lacks in horsepower, it makes up in innovation. Wii is anti-PS3. Wii is anti-Xbox 360. Wii is Nintendo's attempt to take 20 years of lessons learned over four console generations, and it shows.

Staff Avatar M. Noah Ward
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"Death narrowly avoided, thanks to another friendly NPC."

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