For long-time Nintendo fans and video game historians there have been few public events as memorable as Space World 2000, the show that first revealed the GameCube—and its library of games, and a divisive Zelda demo—to the world.
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Space World, which ran from 1989-2001, was basically a cross between E3 and Nintendo Directs. A live event held annually in Japan, it was home to all kinds of major reveals and announcements, and 2000 was one of the biggest, being the place Nintendo first showed off both the Game Boy Advance and the GameCube.
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Nintendo didn’t just reveal the console itself, they also showed off a number of games and concepts for the GameCube, some of which would later turn up as games, and others—like the notorious Zelda demo, which enraged some corners of the fanbase—would not.
For Nintendo fans this show was a big deal, and in terms of its impact and legacy it might be one of the company’s most important events ever, so you can understand folks have a certain level of attachment to everything associated with it. Which is why some people got every excited this week at the news that one of the GameCubes present at the show had been secured by a collector.
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Consolevariations’ Donny Fillerup—who you might remember from the Queen’s Golden Wii—was recently alerted to the sale of a very strange prototype GameCube, an object collectors had been trying for years to get hold of. It was one of the consoles present at Space World 2000, a machine so ahead of its time that it wasn’t even really a console at all.
Because Space World 2000 took place in August, and the console didn’t go on sale until late in 2001, the GameCubes present at the event were just shells. The actual demos being run were powered, like they often are at events like this, by development hardware.
The shells were there, though, and whether they actually worked or not didn’t matter, they were still the first look the world got at one of its weirdest and most beloved little consoles, and so for collectors they understandably hold a dear place in their hearts, even if they can’t actually play games.
Donny got hold of the console and took a ton of photos, which show it only has a few pieces of electronics inside, mostly there to power the LED lights that lit up as part of the presentation. But it’s still an interesting GameCube to behold, because its exterior is fully-realised, and gives us a chance to see the console during its gestation, when not everything was nailed down and set in stone.
While it looks identical to a retail unit at first glance, this Space World console actually has a ton of minor differences, the kind of stuff you would expect as engineers work through the process of turning a sketch and prototype into something mass-manufactured and sold. So the inside of the lid is a different design, the bottom of the console has everything at slightly different dimensions and the vents on the side are a different design.
Nothing earth-shattering, then, but that’s not the appeal here. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that an important piece of video game history is in good hands, and that we can all get a real good look at it to make minor (yet still interesting!) observations like this. If you’d like to see more photos, including a ton of comparisons between the Space World shell and a retail unit, you should check out Consolevariation’s gallery.