Regarded as something of a failure relatively to the sales precedents set by Nintendo’s other consoles (the Virtual Boy an exception), the Nintendo GameCube actually has a lot in common with the company’s more recent Wii U. Both are faced with stiff competition against consoles that are regarded as better and stronger for ‘hardcore’ gamers, and both include unusual control schemes that might take a bit of getting used to. Despite some players finding the GameCube’s controller lacking since it didn’t feature dual analogue sticks like its competitors, it ultimately garnered cult status (like its odd three-pronged N64 predecessor did) that Nintendo would surely like the Wii U’s GamePad to achieve in the future. In fact, for the Nintendo purist, it’s very much considered the only way to play classic GameCube franchises so with Super Smash Bros. set to launch later this year Nintendo has announced a Wii U compatible GameCube controller to commemorate the game’s release.
Priced at $19.99, the GameCube controller adapter is the first (and cheapest) of Nintendo’s three compatible options and will presumably allow for the use of any dusty GameCube controllers that you already have lying around. Secondly, there’s the brand new $29.99 GameCube controller which will be branded with Super Smash Bros. markers “to honor devoted loyalty to a classic way to play,” according to Nintendo. Alternatively, dedicated Smash Bros. fans can get all three parts to the puzzle in a bundle of the GameCube controller, the adapter and a copy of Super Smash Bros. too (the game is currently the only announced title to work with the controller) for the price of $99.99.
However, despite Nintendo’s decision to bring back the GameCube’s controller, that doesn’t mean GamePad support is being reduced. In fact it’s quite the opposite with Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto announcing two GamePad enabled products (along with the new Star Fox game) at a pre-E3 event earlier this week.
The GamePad controls in Miyamoto’s new Star Fox are reportedly a bit fiddly to use and that has been an on-going gripe with the controller thus far, but since it provides a cockpit view of Fox’s Arwing starfighter and allows players to use motion control to tilt, aim and shoot, it could actually be quite useful too. However, as the game is regarded as unpolished and far from finished, these things can be alleviated before the game’s release.
The first of Miyamoto’s other games, Project Giant Robot, is comical in nature as players take control of a painfully slow, customizable robot who is as tall as a skyscraper. The analogue sticks control the robot’s arms and tilting the GamePad moves its torso in that direction while the screen displays the view from the robot’s eyes, allowing players to shoot lasers and missiles at robot opponents or explosive objects in order to defeat them.
Project Guard, the final of Miyamoto’s GamePad projects is also robot related. Putting the player in charge of 12 security cameras and a base to defend from waves of robots which you can do by looking from GamePad to TV screen for oncoming threats to shoot at and thwart. Again, Project Guard’s implementation of the GamePad does sound slightly uncomfortable and even Miyamoto himself says that the games “started off as an experiment” so they’re still very much works in progress. Works in progress aren’t going to sell the GamePad and its uses though, especially not when smartphones and their tilt-supporting accelerometers and touchscreens are already offering us gameplay akin to what the GamePad, in theory, could do. Neither are unfamiliar gameplay experiences such as encouraging backseat gamers (Project Guard is said to work best when other players help you out) and consistently having to switch viewpoints between screens.
Miyamoto is one of the most well respected names in game development (he’s responsible for Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros. and Wii Sports) but his next projects will certainly have to be some of his best if Nintendo want to prove that the GamePad is a worthy reason to shell out on the poorly selling Wii U. Super Smash Bros. on 3DS will arrive on the Nintendo 3DS on October 3, 2014, while the Wii U version will arrive in Winter 2014.