To celebrate the launch of the Wii this Sunday, I am spending the week wearing a different Nintendo t-shirt each day... and presenting a new Nintendo "innovation" from the Era of the GameCube.
This is my Double Dash shirt. I got it when I renewed my Nintendo Power subscription a couple terms ago. Folks, if you're going to indulge yourself with Nintendo Power, don't sign up for more than one year at a time. Even if you go for three years, you're only saving $10 compared to renewing for a year at time, and you cheat yourself out of choosing a Free Gift every year.
Today's GameCubeian innovation: the free pack-in. OK, this isn't so much of an innovation as a willingness to not screw over the customer who has already committed to a $50 game purchase. Nintendo was not afraid to include free accessories if the game needed it, from microphones to link cables. Animal Crossing and Pokemon Box both came with free memory cards, which cost $15 separately at the time. The AC memory card was even pre-loaded with a rare item for the game.
Aside from bundles and pre-order bonuses, I can't think of many other examples of free accessories from other systems. Sony's EyeToy was really more of an accessory that happened to come with a game, rather than the other way around. SOCOM came with a headset, but I think it also cost $10 more. And after paying through the nose for this sort of thing on the N64 (ahem, Hey You Pikachu), I was really happy to see Nintendo put their best foot forward on this one.