This Obscure GameCube Variant Is Worth Way More Today Than You Might Think

Compared to the likes of its competitors, the Nintendo GameCube didn't really go in on the whole limited edition variant craze. It didn't particularly need to — the console sold gangbusters with just a couple of color palettes and the sheer star power of the Nintendo brand. That said, there was a single offshoot of the GameCube that the majority of people outside of a very particular niche and age group have never heard of.

When up against the PlayStation 2 and the original Xbox, there was one feature that the GameCube was lacking: DVD playback. The GameCube was designed for Nintendo's proprietary miniDiscs, after all, so it couldn't very well fit an entire DVD in its drive. As an experimental effort to remedy this, Nintendo gave its blessing to electronics manufacturer Matsushita, better known by its western moniker of Panasonic, to create a more entertainment-focused offshoot of the GameCube. The result was the Panasonic Q.

What is the Panasonic Q?

The Panasonic Q was released in December 2001 exclusively in Japan with a ¥41,000 JPY price tag (a little over $300 in USD). At a glance, you probably wouldn't even think this thing was a GameCube — it looks more like an avant-garde home stereo system. But indeed, it was fully capable of playing GameCube games and using GameCube peripherals like the controllers, memory cards, and even a modified version of the Game Boy Player. More importantly, though, the Q was an entertainment powerhouse, with the ability to play DVDs, audio CDs, and MP3 CDs. It featured a Dolby Digital 5.1 sound output, plus a subwoofer jack, making it just as functional as a stereo or home theater as it was a game console.

The original version of the Q was region-locked to Japan, so it could only play Japanese GameCube games, as well as Japanese movies and audio. However, at an indeterminate point in the console's lifespan, a modified version that could play Western media began to circulate for a slightly inflated price tag. Unfortunately, the Q only had a lifespan of two years due to underwhelming sales and a general lack of interest. Less than 100,000 Q units are believed to have been sold worldwide.

[Featured image by Evan-Amos via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 3.0]

What is a Panasonic Q worth?

While the Panasonic Q was a bit underwhelming in its own era, its rarity and functionality have made it quite the attractive collector's item. The devices change hands fairly regularly on sites like eBay, where they're listed for as high as $1,500 a pop. The precise value of a Panasonic Q can vary wildly depending on its condition. On average, a loose Q system with no packaging or accessories will go for around $850. A complete Q system that has been previously removed from its box, then repackaged with the relevant accessories can sell for a little under $1,100. 

Things start getting interesting when we consider a brand new, sealed-in-box Q system, which can sell for as high as $3,050. At the pinnacle of price is a graded Panasonic Q, with its value officially determined by a professional appraiser. A graded Q system could sell for as high as $3,350, based on historical sales info. If you managed to luck into a mint-condition Panasonic Q at some point in your life, you might be able to turn it into an impressive windfall on eBay. You might just want to keep it, though — it makes an excellent talking point in any Nintendo buff's collection.