When I struggle to find information on a controller, it’s usually due to a language barrier; I don’t speak Japanese or any of the Asian tongues, so I have to crawl my way there using a funky mix of the Wayback Machine and Google translate. However, for the case of the Nintendo VIP 24:7 controllers, I speak both English and French, and I couldn’t find anything. I had to be a bit creative with my research.
Released in 2002 with the launch of the GameCube in the Old Continent, Nintendo VIP 24:7 was heavily criticized for having a bad case of “it’s better in Japan”, even though Club Nintendo was launched a year later in said country. The prizes were scarce and hot garbage, and the restocks were few and far between. You would get about 250 Stars from buying a game, which you could redeem on the now defunct “www.nitendovip.com”, but, among other prizes, ordering a game from this service would cost you a good 5000 Stars, which is roughly the price of 20 games.
But it gets worse, as this service had a fatal flaw for anyone trying to curb their Mandela effect. The restocks were not announced, just merely thrown into the index, and once the prize was out of stock, it’s as if it never existed. It wasn’t rare for an item to go out of stock within a few hours of its release, and as a result, documentation attempts of the service are always incomplete or contradicting.
But back to our subject, you might’ve noticed the extra “s” in the title. Well, I recently found out that the Grey WaveBird was offered through this service. Same as retail version, but its price in Stars is unknown, and it’ll be a real challenge to find it. It’s said to have been released in late 2002, but so is the retail version, on November 22nd. It’s fair to assume they were released on the same day, just in time for the Christmas season, until I can find more information about it at least. It was also restocked on September 2003, a year later.
On the Mario controller now; its release date was a real hecc to find so I’ll start by rambling about my sources here. I had a lead straight on the box, as it’s written “Nintendo 2005” on the inside. Using that, I loaded Google in this timestamp and I actually found a sure release date for Belgium, August 10th 2005… in a forums thread. But the same thread mentions an earlier release for the “Mario pad” in Flanders, which is the northern region of Belgium, which was apparently updated at the same time as the French VIP 24:7. While they don’t specifically mention the release date, the forums members started complaining about it on July 11th 2005. So I can assume it was released on this day or a bit earlier. And that’s it for the sources, that’s literally all I could find. I tried other forums, and an orgy called Gamekult but it’s impossible to search for info in there. And due to the controller selling out within a day, I guess gaming news site didn’t bother reporting on it.
Onto the price. I’ve seen a lot of contradicting reports on the Mario controller price, with the two most common being 3500 and 5000 Stars. The main sources for the later are the Wikipedia page for the GameCube controller, with a bogus source, and video from a Nintendo collector, who thought it was released for this amount. He is a pretty renowned collector, so his speculation appeared to infect a lot of sources around the internet. However, in the same comment section, if you scroll down, you can see this comment:
The same guy from the forums thread I linked above. He not only confirms that the price is 3500 Stars, but also corroborates the release date that I speculated above for Belgium. You can also see this price on HamarFan’s “Every GameCube Controller Nintendo Ever Made. Ever.” blogpost. I had the right answer from the start, but it’s important to confirm it.
- The Grey Wavebird was also released through the Nintendo VIP 24:7 service in late 2002 (assume November 22nd), for an unknown amount of Stars.
- Mario controller confirmed to have been released for 3500 stars on August 10th 2005, but was released at least a month earlier in Flanders (Northern Belgium) and France, which is to confirm.
Big thanks to Gatchan77 for taking the time to document something that would’ve been lost, as the service was shut down in 2015. I wish I had better sources, but time wasn’t lenient on this one.