The little lunchbox that could.
Who Are You?
GameCube (officially abbreviated as GCN), Nintendo's entry into the sixth generation
of the Console Wars
, was released in late 2001. It marked Nintendo's shift from cartridges to optical discs in response to third parties being driven away by the Nintendo 64
's continued use of cartridges, using miniature proprietary discs. The graphical capabilities were better than the PlayStation 2
, and in some cases, on par with those of the Xbox
. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron III
actually holds the sixth-gen record for polygon count, at 20 million polygons. The GameCube was the first Nintendo console to have fewer buttons on its controller than its predecessor; this was due to the introduction of a second analog stick, though this C-stick was smaller than the primary analog stick.
Nintendo offered many of its properties to other developers. Namco
ran around with Donkey Kong
and made the Donkey Konga
series, Dolled Up Installments
of the Taiko no Tatsujin
series of drumming games. Namco and Rare (under the company's last days with Nintendo before getting bought out by Microsoft) both had Star Fox
-based games (although Rare's was too a Dolled Up Installment, this one born out of Nintendo meddling
with the would-have-been Nintendo 64
game Dinosaur Planet
.) Most famously, Retro Studios
rose to fame with the smash hit Metroid Prime
was working on The Legend of Zelda
and liked the 'Cube so much they promised a few exclusive games for it, dubbed the "Capcom 5":
Oh, and this thing is tough
, as in physically. There are stories of people having dropped GameCubes off the top of tall buildings and them still being perfectly intact. It's gotten a reputation for being damn near indestructible
; someone once fended off a mugger with a knife with his Gamecube and it wasn't even damaged.
Intentionally trying to break it is just about the only way to go. Considering Nintendo's history of making their products Tonka Tough
, there might be a reason for that.
Its codename during development was "Project Dolphin" and there are often little nods to this throughout early Gamecube games, such as Super Mario Sunshine
being set on "Isle Delfino" (Italian for dolphin). An early rumoured release name for the console was "Starcube", which was apparently dropped for copyright reasons.
There was a stylish-looking variant of the GCN that plays DVD movies and contained other multimedia functionality called the Panasonic Q, but only in Japan
and only for those who care not about the health of their wallet
Oh, and the slow, haunting theme
that plays when you turn on the thing? It's the start-up theme for the old Famicom Disk System
, slowed down a whole bunch. Pretty neat
- The CPU is a 486 MHz IBM PowerPC 750CXe based CPU codenamed "Gekko". While it was internally a 32-bit processor, everything else about it was 64-bits. It's essentially an enhanced version of the processor found in Apple's G3 based computers.
- The GPU was a joint venture between Nintendo and ArtX. ATi later bought ArtX, which explains the badge on the console. Codenamed "Flipper", it's a 162 MHz GPU superficially similar to ATi's own Radeon 7500 for the PC.
- Audio was done on a ustom 81 MHz Macronix DSP that supported 64 CD-Audio quality channels. However it could only output stereo sound, but there was support for Dolby Pro-Logic II for surround sound if the speakers supported it.
- 24 MB MoSys 1T-SRAM main system RAM. 3 MB embedded 1T-SRAM within Flipper.
- 1T-SRAM is a type of RAM that offered both high density and avoids the low-level complexity of DRAM.
- The fact that the Flipper has embedded RAM in it made it extremely fast, compared to the RAMBUS RAM used in the Nintendo 64
- 16 MB DRAM used as buffer for game disk drive and audio.
- Games were stored on a 8mm optical disc similar to a mini-DVD. A key difference is that the GameCube uses Constant Angular Velocity (where the disk spins the same speed) rather than Constant Linear Velocity (where the laser traverses the disk at the same speed). The total storage capacity is 1.5GB. The three main reasons why this format was chosen was to reduce load times, to make piracy harder, and to avoid paying licensing fees to the DVD forum.
- To store game saves and other data, the GameCube used memory cards similar to the PlayStation. For better or worse, cards were formatted into blocks and capacity was Colour-Coded for Your Convenience. Gray came with 59 blocks, black with 251 blocks, and white with 1011 blocks. Each block is about 8KB.
Add-Ons and Expansions
- The GameCube could output all forms of standard definition resolutions, including progressive scan. Except for PAL progressive scan, that had to be enabled with a soft mod.
- Maximum in game polygon count is about 20,250,000 polygons a second, or about 337,500 polygons a frame at 60FPS. This is about 10 times more than the developers could push on the Nintendo64; Maximum Polygon count is 60 million a second.
- Maximum pixel throughput is 648 megapixels per second
- It supported all the nice graphical features at the time, such as anisotropic texture filtering, anti-aliasing, and bump-mapping. Color output is at 24-bits, the system also had a 18-bit color mode but no games used it.
- The first generation models had two AV outputs, one labeled analog out for standard use with composite cables, the other labeled digital out. This was a misnomer, as the video and audio were still analog, it just supported higher quality versions of it.
- There were three expansion ports total. One was for a high-speed network adapter/modem used for online/LAN games (though very few used it). One was for the GameBoy player. The last one never got used.
- The Game Boy Advance had an accessory that allowed it to be connected to one of the GameCube's controller ports. This was used in Pokémon Colosseum and Pokémon XD to transfer Pokemon back and forth. However, Square Enix was a notable abuser of this with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, where each Game Boy Advance was the controller.
GameCube games and series include:
- 007: From Russia with Love
- Alien Hominid
- Amazing Island
- Animal Crossing 1.x (the series made its international debut on this system, though there was a Nintendo 64 version in Japan, which is why the game features an N64 logo as a decorative item)
- Backyard Sports
- Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
- Baten Kaitos
- Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu
- Batman: Vengeance
- Battalion Wars
- Beyond Good And Evil
- Billy Hatcher And The Giant Egg
- Blood Omen 2
- Blood Rayne (only the first game)
- Bloody Roar: Primal Fury
- Bomberman Generation
- Bomberman Jetters
- Bounty Hunter
- Crash Bandicoot The Wrath Of Cortex
- Custom Robo (international debut again)
- Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix
- Darkened Skye
- Digimon World 4
- Donald Duck Goin Quackers
- Donkey Konga
- Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
- Doshin The Giant
- Dr Muto
- Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
- Everything or Nothing
- Evolution Worlds
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (although not the first game in the series to be released internationally, this was the first non-handheld installment to be released internationally)
- Freaky Flyers
- F-Zero GX
- Godzilla Destroy All Monsters Melee
- Gotcha Force
- The Haunted Mansion
- Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life
- Harvest Moon: Magical Melody (in Japan and North America; it was released for the Wii in PAL countries and later it was given an Updated Rerelease for the same console in North America.)
- Hello Kitty Roller Rescue
- Ikaruga (For those who didn't import the Dreamcast version.)
- The Incredible Hulk Ultimate Destruction
- The Legend of Spyro: A New Beginning
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
- The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess
- Lord Of The Rings The Third Age
- Lost Kingdoms
- Luigis Mansion
- Mario Kart Double Dash
- Mario Party 4, 5, 6 and 7
- Mario Golf Toadstool Tour
- Mario Kart Double Dash
- Mario Tennis
- Mega Man Anniversary Collection
- Mega Man X Collection
- Mega Man X Command Mission
- Metal Arms: Glitch In The System
- Metal Gear Solid The Twin Snakes
- Metroid Prime (the first two installments were released on this system)
- Mortal Kombat Deadly Alliance
- Mortal Kombat: Deception
- Naruto: Clash of Ninja
- Over The Hedge
- Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door (Super Paper Mario was originally going to be a GameCube game, but didn't get the treatment Twilight Princess got. Also had misfortune of being released the same day as Halo2)
- Phantasy Star Online Ep. 1 & 2 (improved from the Sega Dreamcast/PC version), enhanced remakes of the same called "Ep. 1 & 2 Plus, and Ep. 3 C.A.R.D. Revolution''. These were the only games on the GameCube that had online capabilities.
- PN 03
- Pokemon Channel
- Pokemon Colosseum and Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness
- Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc
- Resident Evil (the "REmake")
- Resident Evil 0
- Resident Evil 2
- Resident Evil 3 Nemesis
- Resident Evil Code Veronica X
- Resident Evil 4
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- The Simpsons Road Rage
- Second Sight
- Skies Of Arcadia Legends (For those who didn't buy a Sega Dreamcast)
- SNK Vs Capcom
- Sonic Adventure DX (Again, for those who didn't buy a Sega Dreamcast)
- Sonic Heroes
- Sonic Riders
- Soul Calibur II
- Sphinx And The Cursed Mummy
- Star Fox Adventures
- Star Fox Assault
- Star Wars Jedi Knight 2: Jedi Outcast
- Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
- Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike
- Summoner: A Goddess Reborn (A port of Summoner 2 for the PS2)
- Super Mario Sunshine
- Super Monkey Ball
- Super Monkey Ball 2
- Super Monkey Ball Adventure
- Super Robot Wars GC
- Super Smash Bros. Melee (The Killer App for the 'Cube.)
- Tales Of Symphonia
- Time Splitters 2
- Time Splitters: Future Perfect
- Tom Clancy Series
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon
- Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow
- True Crime: Streets of LA
- Ultimate Spider Man
- Viewtiful Joe
- Wario World
- WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$!
- Wave Race: Blue Storm
- Yu Gi Oh The Falsebound Kingdom