GameCube was the first console I ever owned as an adult. Way back in 2000 I emerged from college and forayed into the working world. I had no consoles to my name. My parents had purchased various consoles over the years for my three siblings and I, including (at the time) Nintendo 64 and PlayStation 2. In college I would come home to play GoldenEye with my brothers, and post-college I drifted in to play Kingdom Hearts with my sister, but my family lived two states away and those reunions were relatively infrequent.
After a few years, I decided I wanted a system to call my own. I had a PC but was tired of spending hours in front of my home desktop after spending hours in front of a desktop at work. This was the heyday of the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube… and the Cube was definitely the runt of the litter. It was purple and used proprietary discs that looked like something out of a kid’s toy. The controller was eclectic, to say the least, and the stream of third party games to the system was hardly a flood.
Nintendo compensated by slashing prices. By my recollection the GameCube was trending at least $50 (and perhaps as much as $100) less than its competitors, and while that wasn’t exactly leading to burning Cube sales, it certainly made things interesting from a buyer’s perspective. In my own deliberations I was well aware of the price point, and while I knew the system had weaknesses, I also knew it had a few first party gems I couldn’t play anywhere else. (The fact that I could play the family’s PlayStation 2 when I came in for holidays also was a consideration.)
In the fall of 2003, my eyes laid hold of the Walmart (known then as “Wal-Mart”) Black Friday ad. One of the doorbusters was a black– black!– GameCube for just $80. Along with the system came a couple of extra goodies: a Collector’s Edition Zelda anthology with the two NES and the two N64 installments plus a small carrying case for those tiny Cube discs. Over Thanksgiving I was in town to visit the folks, and I told my mom I was going to hit up Walmart to try and score one of those GameCubes. She said she’d like to come along, too, saying there were a few other items on the doorbuster list she was interested in.
This was back when Black Friday was slightly less ridiculous than it is now: the store opened at 6 a.m. I say slightly because when mom and I got there at 6:15 a.m. the place was an absolute zoo. The scene was a Walmart Supercenter in the town of Danville, Kentucky (population 16,000), and I’m pretty sure the whole county (and possibly the surrounding ones) was there. Mom and I weaved our way into the store, past people standing jammed up with their carts like Chicago at rush hour. I planted myself in line in electronics, where associates were grabbing Cubes off stacks atop giant pallets. I waited, I waited, a teenage girl in line collapsed and was taken off in a stretcher, and I waited some more. As I reached the front of the line mom rejoined me, thwarted in her quest to acquire a $33 Eureka vacuum. At that point the associate handed me my new Nintendo console; mom, out of the blue, said she would pay for it, and I was to think of it as an early Christmas present.
It proved a great present with years of memories. I slowly amassed a collection of GameCube titles over the next few years, some average, some good, some awesome. I threatened to throw my controller at Metroid Prime and wished Skies of Arcadia would never end. I willed my way to the end of Geist and played through Tales of Symphonia three times. I experienced the sorrows of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem and the joys of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. I reveled when third parties gave me Beyond Good and Evil and X-Men Legends; I watched with sorrow as Square-Enix’s sole contribution to my system was a bizarro game that required four Game Boy Advances to play properly. The swan song of my GameCube was the unheralded Baten Kaitos Origins… one of my favorite RPGs of all time.
The little black box and I parted in 2006. That fall, I took advantage of a GameStop trade-in offer to get $45 for my console (not bad considering what my mom paid for it) and put that money toward a new Wii in November. It was sad to say goodbye to the little GameCube, but I took comfort in knowing that backwards compatibility ensured my whole amassed library of tiny discs was still at my disposal. GameStop’s offer required both the console and a controller; I gave them a third-party model.
A black first-party GameCube controller is still plugged into my Wii.