Frankenstein's Console: How the GameCube's handle made games truly social


This week we’re stitching together our ideal console. 

Which console features from yesteryear are you super fond of? Given that there are new machines out soon – and given that it’s almost Halloween – we thought we would spend the week picking and choosing our favourite elements from our favourite consoles and stitching together our perfect Frankenstein’s Console. Inevitably it’s going to look a bit like that car Homer Simpson designed, and equally inevitably it’s going to say Giga Power Pro-Gear Spec when you boot it up. Anyway – join us! And have a think about what your own Frankenstein’s Console might look like. If you dare…

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It’s easy to forget, given how terrible the Switch’s online service currently is, that Nintendo was once at the forefront of social innovations in its consoles. The original DS’s Pictochat was a brilliant abstraction at a time when SMS was still the main way we communicated, forcing you to talk through the touchscreen, stylus and your own artistic skills. Or you could just send some sketchily pencilled grot to friends during dull lectures.

Later, we’d get Miiverse, which at times felt like Nintendo had reinvented the internet in its own curious way. It was a space that birthed a hundred memes and always had the warmth of community to it all – I always thought it was ahead of its time, and the PS5’s in-game guides that are part of its flash new AI, this might be one of the rare occasions when I’m right.

Nintendo’s most social console, though, was bolstered by nothing more than a few hardware quirks. The GameCube’s handle, combined with its four controller ports, invited you to grab the thing and take it around a friend’s, swinging the little lunchbox by your side as you go. There was something brilliantly toy-like in Nintendo’s console design of the era, the GameCube being the peak of all that – it looked like something that belonged in a bustling box of Tonka trucks and multi-coloured plastic bricks. The GameCube was a knockabout thing that demanded to be played.



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