Today Marks 20 Years Since the GameCube Launched in Australia

Today Marks 20 Years Since the GameCube Launched in Australia
Image: CRT Photos/Getty/Nintendo

Though the GameCube had its 20th birthday last year, it still had one remaining date around its platinum anniversary to celebrate. That day is today, May 17, 2022. Today marks 20 years since the GameCube first launched in Australia.

The Nintendo GameCube launched in Australia on Friday, May 17, 2002. It arrived in Australia two weeks after the European launch on May 3rd, six months after the US, and eight months after it had first launched in Japan.

This was an era when Nintendo still ranked the Oceanic market somewhere below an afterthought. Games and hardware alike would arrive months late, and importers did a roaring trade bringing US and Japanese games into the country for resale. Thankfully, things have improved in the two decades that followed.

If you’ll allow me to reminisce for a second

I was incredibly hype for the GameCube at the time of its launch. It was the first console I ever bought with my own money, and I picked it up from a Toyworld at my local shopping centre. An EB Games store at a competing shopping centre had been sent a playable demo model in the weeks ahead of launch. I’d been wagging school every other day to bus into Tweed Heads and play it. The demo disc they’d been sent had a playable build of Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II – Rogue Leader on it. I had to crane my neck upward toward a CRT TV that was mounted on the ceiling in a fluorescent-lit store to play it and it was still the most amazing thing I’d ever seen.

When I got back to school (the trip to EB was often a convenient excuse to duck maths but I’d learned if I returned, I wouldn’t get a mark against my name), I would tell a Nintendo-obsessed friend that I’d played the GameCube and watched his eyes go as round as dinner plates. I think we went back in the afternoon to confirm it hadn’t been a beautiful dream.

I became such a regular at the store during this period that I’d eventually end up with a job there. Thanks, demo GameCube.

The controller told the whole story

Picking up the controller for the first time was, in my memory, a revelatory experience. After 20 years, I have yet to use another video game controller that sits as comfortably in my hands as the GameCube controller. You have to understand: we were coming out of the Nintendo 64 era. The GameCube controller felt like pure, blissful ergonomics compared to The Homer that was the N64 controller.

Though Xbox would eventually nail controller design such that everyone, even Nintendo, now uses that blueprint, the GameCube controller was pure ergonomics. The central, large A button with kidney-shaped X and Y meant you only had to roll your thumb upwards to hit them. The smaller button was a small roll to the left. Each button felt distinct, giving you tactile feedback on where your hands were without looking at them. The large and clicky shoulder buttons are still my favourite trigger buttons ever. For me, as they are for many, they are inexorably linked to Super Smash Bros Melee, where they were used for dodging.

You knew right away how you felt about the GameCube controller. I still love it, and I love that Nintendo remains dedicated to that Weird Controller Life today (Pro Controller notwithstanding).

Happy birthday, buddy

Anyway, happy Australian birthday, GameCube. You were a divisive little thing, but your games were top shelf, and your controller was beautiful. May you enjoy your retirement on shelves and display cases in collections everywhere.

And a final plea to Nintendo before I go: bring back Mario Kart: Double Dash, you cowards. It was the best one you’ve ever made and we both know it.