The GameCube pad was an instant hit with me. No previous controller fitted as snugly in my hot little mitts. The buttons were where I wanted them, the sticks were responsive and distinctive, and the analogue triggers worked like a dream.
One thing was holding it back however, a little black cable tethered it to the cube. The stage was set for the grand-daddy of Nintendo controllers, the WaveBird. Once held untethered, all else felt cumbersome and tied down. (A similar experience to the first hold of the Wii-mote/nunchuck.)
The WaveBird continued Nintendo’s use of AA, rather than proprietary, batteries and still managed to last a good 100 hours. It supported up to 16 simultaneously players (if you could find a game and enough friends).
But now the Wii has arrived, are its days numbered? Not at all, it is in fact seeing a resurgence of both its popularity and its usefulness. Not only can you use it to play all those classic GameCube games, but it even works with NES, SNES and N64 virtual console titles.
Of course, it does have to compete with the Virtual Console (VC) controller. But for me there’s no competition. The WaveBird not only plays
more VC titles, but also continues to support GameCube games. And critically, it’s not tethered to a dangling Wii-mote.
The WaveBird has seen great fluctuations in price over its turbulent life. I recently put together the following list that shows the little fella’s popularity reflected in its price (in my local and on-line retailers):
- GameCube Launch Price £34.99 (Electronics Boutique)
- Mid GameCube £27.99
- Late GameCube £22.99 (Game)
- End of Gamecube life £5.99 (WH Smiths Sale)
- Wii Launch £17.99 (Play.com)
- Post Christmas price £24.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
I think we will see this price increase as its popularity goes up, and availability goes down. So it could well be a good time to buy into some of that WaveBird stock.
Let’s end by quoting from the IGN 9.5 review:
Nintendo’s wireless WaveBird controller is my father. It owns me — there is no doubting that. From the moment I first used it, I knew I would have to worship it for the rest of my life. Really, you’ve read our review — you know we love this thing.
— Update (12th March 2007) —