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Happy Independence Day!

by Max Lake - July 4, 2001, 12:07 pm PDT

Max celebrates 4th of July on PGC & sets off fireworks Super Mario Bros. style! (NOTE: Not patriotic blather!)

Usually we notice all so-called “post office holidays” to give greeting card type shout outs to readers & remind geeks living in the basement what day it is. Today I felt like saying a bit more.

I just got back from Columbus where last night I witnessed “Red, White & Boom,” possibly one of the most amazing fireworks displays I have ever seen. Yes, it happens July 3rd and not the 4th. Last year, my friends and I made this discovery after making big plans to go, and finding we were a night too late. This year we made sure not to make the same mistake.

The event itself was insane – the city streets were packed. Above swarms of bi-planes with ad banners trailing behind filled the sky. My brother Patrick and I joked how crazy it would be if they all started firing on each other like WWI or something. On a more sane note, seeing all the planes was surreal & reminded me of old school games 1941 & Time Pilot. They just seemed so out of place.

The other bizarre thing was being part of the crowds wading thru the streets after the event was over. Mass exodous of a crowd so large it still consumes the entire city street. It was almost a scene from a post appolyptic movie, or the evacuation part of, um, Independence Day. (Groan. I knew I’d bring that flick up somehow…)

Naturally, the fireworks themselves were what it was all about & well worth the track to Columbus. There were many successions of explosions, bursts of sparkles that changed color several times (changing, appropriately enough, red, white & blue) & bursts that let out little fireworks, that let out little fireworks. There were even fireworks that exploded into the shape of a happy face, or a blue circle with a pink star in the center and even some weird rounded triangle green shapes (I started thinking WTF, is this a Lucky Charms commercial?).

Towards the end, they started firing of a ton of things that seemed more like bombs and gunshots & lots of it. I really hope there weren’t too many war vets in the crowds… By this time, the smoke was so heavy you couldn’t even see some of the colors of subsequent and the air was thick with the smell of gun powder. Who cares, it was a visual feast.

Welcome to the 21st Century, where there is even massive technology advancement everywhere – even in fireworks. The impressive display of fireworks reminded me of the fireworks in Super Mario Brothers & wondering if/how fireworks would look on GameCube. Technology has improved a big way on the Nintendo front – the GBA already exploits the hell out of this fact. Tons of us are salivating to see more & play the Cube just to see how cutting edge it is.

Still, the 4th of July is totally an American thing. It doesn’t matter very much to people tuning in to PGC from the rest of the world about this goofy day of American hooting, hollering & blowing stuff up. It’s certainly not much a holiday to the rest of the world.

Considering we’re only celebrating 225th year of independence here in the U.S.A. today, it’s almost amazing how “big for its britches” America has become in the world community, when many other countries have been around for much longer. Although American politics become more of a joke everyday and there’s many, um, insane things happening in this country (don’t get me started) America is still pretty cool for the freedom it gives its people. A group of people can do something ambitious like, start their own company (or even their own Nintendo website) and do their own thing without much restriction. There are both good and bad things about the U.S.A. but there is a lot of freedom here that people take for granted.

The thing is, the rest of the world matters. “Planet GameCube” has really taken on a new meaning, as we hear from readers from various countries almost every day & gets hits from all over the globe. We’re all being united by our love of or interest in Nintendo. Nintendo has a joy inducing quality that crosses boundary lines. Its up there with Sesame Street & the Simpsons, probably even more so. PGC as the forefront of it all, as we work to track its legions of rabid fans from around the world. We have lots of fans down under, all over Europe, in Mexico, in Venezuela and even Japan (which I think I am most proud of). This never ceases to amaze us and we will do whatever we can to accommodate this International audience.

Jonny and I were just talking about how we’ve both subconsciously been careful not to use “over here” when talking about games coming out or being released in the U.S. (or better yet, North America, don’t forget Canada!) PGC a handful of staff in Canada & Australia and the rest of us are spread all over the United States. There is no “PlanetGame Cube” office. We do pay taxes. We do have a business license.

That brings me to another important point that’s been swimming around my head the past 24 hours. I appreciate today being Independence Day for another important reason – Planet GameCube is 100% an independent entity. It is an official business (Billy hates PGC being called a “fan site”) though we have no paid employees. We’re just a group of friends working together passionate about video games and in particular, Nintendo. Most of us have been around the “online Nintendo scene” in some form or another for some time… These days, we’ve gotten organized, efficient and increasingly connected in the industry. Although none of us can work full time on the site, we all dump hardcore amounts of time just because we feel there should be Nintendo coverage done in the way we do it. At every step of the way, Planet GameCube has been doing it our way, on our own & we’ve been doing it a long time.

PGC is associated with Cloudchaser Media, though Cloudchaser is an independent, non-profit, volunteer driven project—just like PGC. These guys are our friends and although CC sites offer a different flavor than PGC, they are in it because of their love of video games & not a paycheck. After breaking from our IGN Affiliate contract, it was only natural we teamed with CC, as we thought there was certainly strength in numbers. We don’t answer to CC, nor do they try to impose anything on us.

We can do what we want, when we want to. We don’t have to worry about salaries.

Although we get hook-ups from companies, we are not under any non-disclosure agreements. If we are asked not to report something, we won’t. If we are asked to keep quiet about something, we won’t breathe a word. Otherwise, anything is fair game. We have spies all over the place, with new agents reporting in all the time. We may be getting more top secret stuff soon though, so ya never know. Someone at E3 actually warned us about Perrin Kaplan. (“If you don’t watch, she’ll have you sign your life away.”)

PGC gets scoops. We PGC gets exclusives. We do it all baby & we even do it on the holidays. Independent!

We also pledge to give fair reviews. I mean, we definitely appreciate getting review copies but it doesn’t equal padded scores. A lot of times we’ll buy or rent games anyway, just to have multiple reviews. And hey, reviews are taking longer, but because we’re putting time into them. And again, we can do what we want. (Look for lotsa game & hardware reviews soon!)

We also try to make time to communicate with our readers whenever possible; either in our forums, chat, at trivia or even email. Occasionally, we’ll get submissions so helpful, informative or interesting we may even just throw them on PGC for all of our readers to see. This almost creates more feedback we can keep up with.

The number one reason we do it? There is not a day that goes by now that I don’t get a big smile on my face about playing GameCube again & about how good things are shaping up for Nintendo. I covered for the N64 for quite awhile & only dreamed of reporting the kind of things that pops up on PGC daily. Good third party support? Mature games? Increased second party support? SEGA MAKING GAMES? We’ve been covering this before it was called Dolphin. Now it’s getting really off the hook & not a day goes by that I don’t think of the glorious day when I’ll have my own Cube with its mess of great launch titles.

PGC is the merged love child of the two first GameCube sites on the net—Operation N2000 and N2000HQ (which was later renamed to PlanetN2000). It also incorporates staff & style from many other websites combined with a few promising new comers. We all work hard & continue to labor to improve the site. We have a lot of folks on staff…all serve a purpose, all of them work pretty hard. Although we do assign, edit & collaborate on content, we are generally pretty loose. We give our staff freedom to post whatever they want but hold them personally responsible for whatever they do or say. Sometimes this backfires because everything reflects on PGC itself but for the most part everyone does a good job. (We also get each other’s backs catching typos…)

That said, none of us would be here without Billy Berghammer. Billy is the reason PGC exists, is as good as it is and is still alive today. Although initially N2000HQ was nowhere near the site Operation2000, Billy’s passion rivals (if not exceeds) Justin’s & my own. He strove to make a quality site from the get go and recruited Ty & Kosta (before he was a big shot mag editor). When Justin decided to start a family & could not maintain OpN2k, Billy convinced him to stay active & join forces. After I had nearly drifted out of the scene completely (and barely playing games anymore), Billy called me and convinced me to start writing again. Although he works more behind the scenes stuff than on content, he is involved with PGC on every level, from keeping the staff in line to sweet talking game companies.

The entire site has been Billy’s master plan from the get go and I’m very happy to be a part of that plan’s success. Our popularity has been costly & with the Internet having all kinds of problems, ads are not paying. You may have noticed our pop-up ads recently disappeared; they were not paying us. Therefore, I’m really sorry for submitting them to all of you since our re-launch. Thanks so much for putting up with them & asking us would it help us more if you clicked on ‘em. From the get go, Billy has been our founder and he jokes that he is also our “funder.” We’ve all put long hours into the site, some of us have even lost jobs working on the site too much. None of that would matter if Billy hadn't been keeping us going out of his own pocket. Still, he is much more than just a wallet to all of us. If PGC were a human, Justin Nation would be the brain, I'd be the heart and Billy would be the soul.

Financially, it costs far more to keep us alive than we have ever earned, though our highly anticipated E3 video should help us stay afloat. So no, I’m not trying to guilt you into buying one. On every level, the video project has turned out better than I ever thought. Yeah, it’s taking awhile to produce but it’ll be worth it & we already stand to make server costs & scratch for a SpaceWorld video. As long as everything keeps going to plan, we’ll be here, continuing to deliver non-stop, hard hitting indie GameCube & GBA (yes GBA, because we want to) coverage.

PGC is more punk rock than any garage band I have ever been a part of. We’re independent & funk as puck.

So! Whether or not you’re American, celebrate whatever independence you can today. It’s your greatest right as an individual.

And don’t blow up one of your hands or something. Safety first.

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