If you’re a Nintendo fan, then from day one you’ve probably always had at least two consoles on the go: one for the TV and one for the car / bus / plane / bed. From the 1989 Game Boy to the hybrid Switch that blurs the boundaries of Nintendo, there has always been an option for gamers on the go.
But the Nintendo Switch isn’t your first foray into home console portability; the GameCube had a handle.
We all know what shooters mean. Briefcases have handles, because they are meant to be held by them and carried to important meetings and / or shady deals. Shopping bags have handles so you can carry your misguided purchases and easily fill your car with groceries without having tomatoes circling everywhere. And GameCube had a handle because Nintendo wanted us to carry it everywhere.
The now 20-year-old console launched in North America two months after its Japanese debut and had a lavish launch party. Celebrities took the lead, holding the little bucket like a bag or a plastic trick-or-treating pumpkin; I doubt that Paris Hilton ever started it (or maybe she did), but she certainly seemed to like it as an accessory. Then again, in the early 2000s frosted eyeshadow, curly hair, and layered tops and belts that don’t actually do anything were thought to be “fashion” too, so who knows.
As for my own experience (as someone who was no invited to the NGC launch party, either because he was a kid or because he wasn’t a celebrity, we’ll never really know), I had the ultimate accessory for my GameCube: the mini monitor that meant you could play it almost anywhere. :
Don’t think they were inviting me to awesome parties where we would all play Mario Kart: Double Dash !! together, or that I was the type of kid who always had the new devices at school. This monitor (and the power supply used by a car’s cigarette lighter) was the last attempt by my parents to solve the problem, who were tired of my brother and I fighting in the back of the car on trips long. We weren’t the closest siblings, unless it was about playing together, and then for a few hours there would be peace on Earth as we worked together to solve puzzles and defeat the bad guys.
And it totally worked. With the sturdy yet lightweight GameCube wedged between the seats and the car’s center console, we had something to occupy our horrible childish brains who didn’t argue about who was looking out of whose window. We played Luigi’s Mansion, Burnout, and Super Mario Sunshine, and every now and then we asked our parents if they could get out of the sun because the glare from the screen made it impossible to see what we were doing (sorry parents. We were awful).
But that big cube wasn’t really portable, at least not by relatively modern standards. It was bulky, the discs were brittle, and I’m pretty sure every speed bump and road gravel was a roll of the dice. It certainly wasn’t as convenient as the Game Boy Advance SP, or the DS, which came later, but was more portable than the Wii. Can you imagine balancing a Wiimote around a car? It would last about two minutes before breaking a window or your hand.
Arguably the best portable home console was the Wii U, Nintendo’s biggest step toward what would eventually become the Switch, which allowed you to play fully on the GamePad, as long as the console was plugged in. equitably I’m sure I played it on a train or plane at some point, but apparently it’s not as memorable as car rides with a GameCube.
Enough of me and my various car trips! I am writing to you, dear readers, to tell me what your idea of ”portability” is. Is it just a handle? Or is there something else? Have you ever carried your non-handheld consoles like the world’s greatest idiot or the world’s coolest Paris Hilton-adjacent fashionista? Come let me know what you think in the comments below and vote in these nifty polls!