If you're a Nintendo fan, then since 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 1989's Game Boy to Nintendo's boundary-blurring hybrid Switch, there has always been an option for players on-the-go.
But the Nintendo Switch isn't their first foray into home console portability; the GameCube had a handle.
We all know what handles mean. Briefcases have handles, because they're meant to be held by them, and carried into important meetings and/or shady deals. Shopping bags have handles so that you can lug around your ill-advised purchases, and easily fill up your car with groceries without having tomatoes tumbling around everywhere. And the GameCube had a handle because Nintendo wanted us to carry it around.
The console, now 20 years old, released in North America two months after its Japanese debut and had a lavish launch party. Celebrities took the initiative, holding the lil 'Cube like a handbag or a plastic trick-or-treat pumpkin; I doubt that Paris Hilton ever actually booted it up (or maybe she did), but she certainly seemed to like it as an accessory. Then again, the early 2000s thought that frosted eyeshadow, crimped hair, and layered tops and belts that don't actually do anything were also "fashion", so who knows.
As for my own experience (as someone who was not invited to the NGC launch party, either because I was a child or because I wasn't a celebrity — we'll never truly know), I had the ultimate accessory for my GameCube: the mini monitor that meant you could play it almost anywhere:
Don't go thinking that I was being invited to amazing parties where we'd all play Mario Kart: Double Dash!! together, or that I was the kind of kid who always had the new gadgets at school. This monitor (and the power supply that used a car's cigarette lighter) were a last straw attempt at problem-solving by my parents, who were tired of me and my brother squabbling in the back of the car on long drives. We were not the closest of siblings, unless it involved playing games together — and then, for a few hours, there would be peace on Earth as we worked together to solve puzzles and defeat bad guys.
And it totally worked. With the sturdy-but-light GameCube wedged in-between the seats and the car's central console, we had something to occupy our horrible child-brains that wasn't arguing over who was looking out of whose window. We played Luigi's Mansion, Burnout, and Super Mario Sunshine, occasionally asking our parents if they could maybe drive out of the sun because the screen glare was making it impossible to see what we were doing (sorry, parents. We were awful).
But that large cube wasn't really portable — at least, not by relatively modern standards. It was bulky, the discs were fragile, and I'm pretty sure that every speed bump and road pebble was a toss of the dice. It certainly wasn't anywhere near as convenient as the Game Boy Advance SP, or the DS, which came afterwards, but it was more portable than the Wii. Can you imagine swinging a Wiimote around a car? You'd last about two minutes before either breaking a window or your hand.
Arguably, the best portable home console was the Wii U — Nintendo's biggest step towards what would eventually become the Switch — which allowed you to play entirely on the GamePad, as long as the console was plugged in. I'm fairly sure that I played it on a train, or a plane, at some point, but it's apparently not as memorable as the car rides with a GameCube.
Enough about me and my various car journeys! I turn to you, dear readers, to tell me what your idea of "portability" is. Is it just a handle? Or is there something more to it? Did you ever actually carry your non-handheld consoles around like either the world's biggest dork, or the world's coolest Paris Hilton-adjacent fashionista? Come, tell me your thoughts in the comments below, and vote in these nifty polls!
- Further reading: Best GameCube Games