Previously I spoke about how the available games for the GameCube contributed towards making it one of Nintendo’s best consoles. Now I want to talk about features.

Be advised, I am trying something new with this article to make sure it’s not too long by splitting it into 2 or 3 articles

Part 1 available here: https://thatukgamer.games/2021/08/27/why-the-gamecube-is-one-of-nintendos-best-consoles-part-1/

The GameCube had several interesting features that had either never really been seen on Nintendo consoles, or had not been seen for a while and were expanded with the system.

The Nintendo GameCube in Indigo (with a Japan exclusive Spice Orange in the background)

Interestingly it lacked most of the features seen on its direct competitors and although arguably this hit it hard when competing against the PS2, the GameCube possessed its own features which gave it its own unique selling point and legacy.

The Dreamcast played CDs, the Xbox could play CDs and DVDs and had an online marketplace for DLC and the PS2 had a CD and DVD player (but was before the Xbox and cheaper than buying a console and DVD separately) and had backward compatibility. The GameCube did none of this (if we focus on the Nintendo version – I’ll cover the Panasonic one another time). Of course, this doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great console.

Online Features

One feature that all the systems shared was online functionality. Made prominent in that era on the Dreamcast with games such as Phantasy Star Online, a modem was available for the GameCube that was plugged into the bottom of the console (unfortunately this is one accessory I don’t have).

Sure, the other consoles could play games online but none would let you play exciting big hitters such as Mario Kart Double Dash apart from the GameCube against players on another console.

The back of Mario Kart Double Dash highlighting its usage of the broadband adapter to play LAN games against other local systems

Bear in mind, this was the time that online play on consoles was only really starting to come into the public eye, and so wasn’t a feature that was used much, but it really was the catalyst for Nintendo relating to online gaming leading to modern day successes such as Tetris 99 on the Switch.

Interesting to note also is this wasn’t Nintendo’s first foray into online connectivity for their consoles. In Japan, the NES could be hooked to the internet for emails and the stock market, and one Nintendo 64 game had a modem connector built into the cartridge (get name and links!!!)

Portability

Ok, so technically the GameCube is not a portable console. It was designed to be a home console hooked up to a TV.

However, compared to all its competitors making the console portable was one of its strengths and differentiating features.

How was the console portable? Firstly, the system is small in physical size and not very heavy at all. This of course makes it easy to carry in bag, especially one designed to do so. Whereas the Xbox and original PS2 (not so much the slim and Dreamcast) were large and chunky making them hard and awkward to carry, the GameCube is a system which is very comfortable to hold and move around with.

This whole concept of portability and ease to move around was even built into the system with the addition of the handle at the back of the console. It is very comfortable to hold and makes a stylish fashion accessory.

A top down shot of the GameCube showing the small size of the console and the handle which made it more portable than other systems at the time.

Although, carrying the console around to play was not possible, taking it to a different room or a friends house was very doable and added to the social aspect of the system.

It’s also worth noting that that as GameCube discs are smaller, they were also easier to carry around if in specially designed disc wallets (they do exist, I got one with a magazine a long time ago 🤣)

Game Boy Advance

Now we get to where the console really stood out in terms of features: Game Boy Connectivity.

Don’t get me wrong, this is isn’t the first Nintendo console to facilitate connecting with a Game Boy. There were the Super Game Boy (and Super Game Boy 2 in Japan) for the SNES and the Transfer Pak for the Nintendo 64 but the GameCube took this connectivity one step further.

There were two main elements to this connectivity: one was the same as the Super Game Boy where you could play pretty much (if not every) GameBoy title on your TV from original Game Boy games to Game Boy Advance games (which at this point had not been a thing). The other was connectivity between a GameCube game and a Game Boy Advance game. In essence it took the respective features of both the Super Game Boy and Transfer Pak and put them both on one console. One could argue the N64 did this, but as far as I’m aware the only playable games were the Pokemon games through Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Stadium 2; the GameCube let you play way more than that.

These were done through two different accessories: one was a link cable which let you connect a Game Boy Advance to the GameCube to allow connectivity between selected GBA and GameCube titles. The other was the Game Boy Player which allowed the playing of Game Boy Games on the TV.

I must also note the exception of Pokemon a box which allowed connectivity between said title and GBA Pokemon games but featured the ability to play Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire on the TV (fun fact: I found 2 shiny Voltorb on my Ruby this way! Finding shinies is much better when done on a TV a screen!)

My third party Game Boy Advance to GameCube link lead (I have an official Nintendo one but not sure where I put it!)

There were a number of titles that allowed for connectivity between the two systems using the Game Boy to GameCube link lead. Pokemon was a big hitter with the aforementioned Pokemon Box joining Pokemon Colosseum, Pokemon XD and Pokemon Channel in providing connectivity of some variety (might do an article about Pokemon connectivity if people are interested?)

The Pokemon games allowed for the same connectivity seen in the handheld games, namely trading Pokemon between games (such as from Colosseum to Ruby and back) and for battles in the same manner as Pokemon Stadium. I believe the GBA was used to make battle decisions such as switching and attack choices. You could also use it to transfer Jirachi from the European version of Channel to Ruby and Sapphire.

Of course, it wasn’t just Pokemon. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle could connect to Sonic Advance to transfer Chao between the two games and The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker allowed you to find items on the Game Boy Advance (with the help of everyone’s favourite Zelda character Tingle).

The other method of connectivity was through the Game Boy Player as mentioned previously. This was an expansion that slotted onto the bottom of the GameCube console and was playable through using a specially provided game disc.

My Japanese Game Boy Player in my Japanese GameCube, featuring a Japanese copy of Pokemon Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance

What made this even more amazing was that there was no region locking in terms of the games that could be played. The expansion part could fit onto any region GameCube and could play any Game Boy game from around the world. The only region locking issue is the GameCube disc must be of the same region as the console.

My Japanese Game Boy Player disc. This is the only part that of the Game Boy Player setup that is region locked.

The setup you can see in the above image if of a Japanese Game Boy Player attached to a Japanese console. I have a Japanese disc but can play any Game Boy game. If I got hold of a PAL disc, I could use the player on my PAL system too and play any Game Boy game. I’m keeping it all on my Japanese system though as it looks amazing!!

This is good for playing games on a big screen, with better sound equipment and to be honest one of the best controllers ever designed (more of that in part 3!) It’s also worth noting that it also has a Game Boy Advance link cable slot to allow it to connect to other systems.

Thanks for reading, make sure to let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below or on my social media by using the links at the top of the page. Also make sure to follow to see when part 3 comes out!

Disclaimer: All photos are of my own collection and belong to me. The Nintendo GameCube logo used in the thumbnail is the legal property of Nintendo with no copyright or trademark infringement intended.