From now on, the GameCube controller has its final, retail shape. But it is not over for the prototypes, some things are still in the work…
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2001
- Convention held on May 17th to 19th 2001 in the United States.
- The final shape of the wired GameCube controller was shown for the first time.
- A functional prototype WaveBird was also shown, while a Panasonic Q console was on display with an early rendition of the Panasonic GameCube controller.
- Three prototype controllers were shown.
- Standard plug / Grey receiver
The demo controller is a full body indigo shell with matching plug and a white “Nintendo GameCube” logo. The Panasonic Q controller is a full body grey shell with matching plug and a white “Panasonic” logo.
WaveBird wireless controller prototype, full body silver painted shell and a white “Nintendo GameCube” logo. It also has a carved “Nintendo” logo on the top of the controller, and has extra markings around the on/off switch.
- The Indigo shown and used during the presentation is very similar to the retail unit, although the shell looks shiny, rough and untextured.
- The Panasonic Q GameCube controller is missing the white “SH-TGC10” writing under the “Panasonic” logo.
- The WaveBird prototype controller was used to play a demo of Pikmin during the presentation. You can see it here.
- The WaveBird has a carved “Nintendo” logo and some extra markings around the on/off switch that are not present on the final version of the controller.
- A promotional picture of the WaveBird prototype controller was released a few days before the event.
Space World 2001
- The last Space World event was held on August 24th to 26th 2001 in Japan.
- The final versions of the GameCube controllers were shown, four different colours.
- Four pre-release controllers were shown.
- Standard plug
Full body indigo, Black, Orange and an Indigo top and transparent bottom shell with matching plug and a white “Nintendo GameCube” logo. Those controllers would be released on the market (near) worldwide in the upcoming months.
- Those controllers contain hardware, and are basically the same as the retail versions.
- The Indigo was released less than a month later, on September 14th in Japan, while the other three would see their earliest releases in the US, on November 21st.
- The mass production of those controllers began in July of 2001, so those are not necessarily pre-production units, but they are still notable. They most likely couldn’t be differentiated from retail units.
Fall Tokyo Game Show 2001
- Convention held on October 12th to 14th 2001 in Japan.
- The early prototype for the ASCII Keyboard GameCube controller was shown to the public.
- One prototype was shown.
- Two black, separate wires, with two indigo plugs.
Blue top shell and white bottom shell, with two indigo plugs and an engraved white “ASCII” logo. It comes with a full alphanumeric keyboard and painted start/pause engraving above the start button.
- The layout of the keyboard doesn’t seem to be perfect, there’s a big gap on the bottom right that was fixed on the released version.
- The controller doesn’t use matching plugs, instead, it uses standard indigo plugs on both wires.
- Huge thanks to Exalchion for finding this picture.
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2002
- Convention held on May 21st to 24th 2002 in the United States.
- The final version of the WaveBird was shown before release.
- The ASCII Keyboard controller was also revealed.
- One pre-release WaveBird was shown and one pre-production. (prototype?)
- About a hundred Grey WaveBirds were given out through a competition.
- Grey receiver / Two black wires, the beige plug for controls and the indigo plug for the keyboard.
The demo WaveBird is a full body grey shell with matching receiver and a white “Nintendo GameCube” logo.
The four demo keyboard controllers were a cream top shell and indigo bottom shell, with two matching plugs and an engraved “ASCII” logo. It comes with a full alphanumeric keyboard.
- This WaveBird contains hardware, and is basically the same as the retail versions.
- The Grey WaveBird was released less than a month later, on June 10th 2002.
- This is not necessarily a pre-production unit, but it is still notable. It most likely couldn’t be differentiated from retail units.
- During the E3 presentation, Miyamoto appeared from the crowd, playing a Super Mario Sunshine demo far away from the console. You can see the demo here.
- About a hundred Grey WaveBirds were given out through a Mario Party 4 competition at the Nintendo booth with an exclusive blue velvet pouch. See documentation.
- Sega had a demo stand for Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II at the convention where 4 players could play a short quest while using the seemingly final versions of the ASCII Keyboard GameCube controller. Players could chat between themselves by using the keyboard.
- At the demo stand, the controller’s controls was plugged in the fourth port of the GameCube and the keyboard was plugged into the first port. Were the plugs inverted for the pre-production units?
- The ASCII Keyboard GameCube controller was released four months later, exclusively in Japan.
Tokyo Game Show 2003
- Convention held on September 26th to 28th 2003 in Japan.
- The upcoming Gundam Char GameCube set and the Sammy Keyboard controller were shown.
- Two pre-release controllers were shown.
- Standard plug / Two black wires, the off-white plug for controls and the black plug for the keyboard.
Copper red top shell and dark red bottom shell, with a copper red plug and a yellow “Char” logo.
The Sammy Keyboard controller was an off-white top shell and black bottom shell, with two matching plugs and an engraved “Sammy” logo. It comes with a full alphanumeric keyboard.
- The announcement of the Gundam Char GameCube set came after a nine month production hiatus for the GameCube, and announced the upgrade of the hardware that is still in use in the GameCube controllers today.
- The Gundam Char GameCube set and the Sammy Keyboard controller were released two months later, on November 27th.
Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2018
- Convention held on June 12th to 14th 2018.
- Pre-release units of the Smash Ultimate Black controllers were used for the demo stations for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
- Standard plug
Full body black shell with matching plug and a silver “Smash Ultimate” logo.
- The Smash Ultimate Black controller was to be announced the next day, but they were used on the demo stations for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on June 12th and pictures of the controller leaked on the internet.
- They were also used at later conventions like the Japan Expo Paris on July 5th to 8th 2018.
- The controller was released on November 2nd in the US, five months after the announcement.