Nintendo GameCube

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The Nintendo GameCube (Japanese: ゲームキューブ; originally code-named "Dolphin" during development; abbreviated as GCN) is Nintendo's fourth home video game console, belonging to the 128-bit era; the same generation as Sega's Dreamcast, Sony's PlayStation 2, and Microsoft's Xbox. The GameCube itself is the most compact and inexpensive of the Sixth generation era consoles. The GameCube was released on:

The GameCube was first introduced in volume #145 of Nintendo Power magazine. Luigi's Mansion was the first cover game (volume #150).

The GameCube launched in North America with the following 15 games [1]:


Overview

Unveiled during Spaceworld 2000, the Nintendo GameCube was widely anticipated by many who were shocked by Nintendo's decision to design the Nintendo 64 as a cartridge-based system. Physically shaped similar to a geometric cube, the outside casing of the Nintendo GameCube comes in a variety of colors, such as indigo, platinum, and black (also a limited edition Resident Evil 4 platinum and black game console). In Japan, the system is also available in orange, or in limited edition colors like Crystal White, Mint Green, Copper, and White with black pinstripes.

The Nintendo GameCube uses a unique storage medium, the GameCube Optical Disc, a proprietary format based on Matsushita's optical-disc technology; the discs are approximately 8 centimeters (3 1/8 inches) in diameter (considerably smaller than a standard CD or DVD), and the discs have a capacity of approximately 1.5 gigabytes. The Nintendo GameCube does not have any DVD-movie support. Common reasons cited by Nintendo for using this format are to lower piracy, provide faster loading times, and to make the system smaller and more compact. The lack of DVD movie support was also a double-edged sword; it did not appeal to the mass audience that turned to the PlayStation 2 and Xbox due to their built-in DVD support. Despite the protection of a non-standard disc format (essentially a miniature DVD-ROM with non-standard sectors and filesystem formatting), a number of modchips such as the Qoob and ViperGC have been released that, when used in conjunction with a modified bios, allow the use of a standard or 8cm DVD-ROM to load backed-up, homebrew, boot-leg or pirate software.

The GameCube system also has the unique capability to connect to Nintendo's portable system Game Boy Advance or its SP variant. Such a connection between the two systems allows the transfer of game data. Examples of this functionality include the use of the Game Boy Advance as a controller for the game played. Subsequent information related to game play may be displayed on the Game Boy Advance's color screen for added convenience or to avoid the cluttering of the display on the television screen. This functionality has also been used to unlock "secrets" such as new levels or characters when two games, a Game Boy Advance game and its GameCube equivalent, are connected together. Up to four Game Boy Advance systems can be connected to the GameCube through the GameCube's four controller ports for multiplayer play. A special Nintendo GameCube to Game Boy Advance connection cable is required for each Game Boy Advance system that is to be connected to the GameCube. A fair variety of GameCube games implement this innovative functionality, while Nintendo encourages its continued use.

The GameCube was designed for ease of portability, with its small size complemented by a carrying handle. However, this feature over other consoles was minimal since its inexpensive production and selling price were its main advantages. Interestingly, with the addition of the Game Boy Player accessory, the GameCube becomes a nearly perfect geometric cube. Despite being more compact than the PlayStation 2, the GameCube has superior graphics processing power and better ProLogic sound.

The GameCube also had a network adapter released during the holiday season of 2002, but Nintendo did not promote or support online gaming anywhere as heavily as Sony or Microsoft. The only high profile title that required the adapter was Sega's Phantasy Star Online Volumes 1 and 2. Instead, Nintendo focused more on Game Boy connectivity.

Software library

Main article: List of GameCube games

The GameCube currently has over 550 games available in its library. In addition, over 100 titles are currently in development.

The GameCube features games with the following ratings:

  • Early Childhood: 1
  • Everyone: 287
  • Everyone (E10+): 18
  • Teen: 204
  • Mature: 45
  • Adults Only: 0

Source: ESRB

Key first-party titles

The Nintendo GameCube software library contains such traditional Nintendo series as Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid.

Some of the more popular first-party titles include:

One of the defining aspects of the Nintendo GameCube is the rejuvenated relationship between Nintendo and its licensees. Unlike previous generations in which Nintendo was seen by some as bullying its third-party game developers, Nintendo openly sought game-development aid on the Nintendo GameCube. Sometimes, Nintendo would merely request that a third-party developer produce a game based on the third-party's own game franchises; other times, Nintendo would request that the third-party developer produce a game based on Nintendo's own game franchises. Nintendo often took an active role in cooperating with a developer. This effort from Nintendo resulted in many exclusive third-party games for the Nintendo GameCube, and the arrival of multiformat titles on the platform. Uniquely, GameCube owners tend to support first-party games more heavily than third party games, whereas the reverse is true for PlayStation 2 and Xbox owners.

Despite Nintendo's efforts, the GameCube was generally unsuccessful in breaking into the mainstream market dominated by the PlayStation 2. Nintendo's aging franchises such as Pokémon gave the GameCube the reputation of being a "kiddie" console, in some people's eyes, that failed to appeal to the teen-adult age groups that now formed the majority of the gaming market. Many third-party games popular with teenagers or adults such as first-person shooters and the controversial Grand Theft Auto series had overlooked the GameCube in favour of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Also, due to Nintendo's lack of support for the online capabilites of the GameCube, as opposed to Microsoft and later Sony who actively promoted online gaming on their respective consoles, many multiplatform games with online functionality were released offline-only on the GameCube, thus limiting sales amongst players looking for an online experience. Although online support was added in late 2002 and although Sony and Nintendo both followed a similar decentralized online model (in contrast to the centralized Xbox Live), lower sales of GameCube version during its launch year also precluded developers from including online support in later iterations.

The strong preference of GameCube owners for first-party titles has also put the system at odds with independent third party developers. Cross-platform games—such as sports franchises released by Electronic Arts—sold far below their PlayStation 2 and Xbox counterparts, prompting developers to scale back or completely cease support for the GameCube. After several years of losing money from developing for Nintendo's system, Eidos Interactive announced that it would end support for the GameCube, cancelling several titles that had been in development [2]. Since then, however, Eidos has resumed development [3] of GameCube titles. Around that time, due to sagging sales, Nintendo had to cut GameCube production in order to sell off surpluses and issue a profit warning [4]. Since this period, however, GameCube sales have continued to be steady, particularly in Japan, but is still in 3rd place in worldwide sales.

The GameCube has not performed to expectations due to being unable to match the sales and market share of its Nintendo 64 predecessor. However, this has been offset by the growing size of the video game console market which has allowed Nintendo to carve out a loyal following even as its market share decreased. The GameCube had a strong hold on the "age-10 and under" niche market and its low price compared to the PS2 and Xbox kept it competitive enough to keep several major developers. Nintendo also reassured nervous investors by stating that they would "only exit the software business at the same time they would exit the hardware business"; Nintendo signalled that they would not discontinue their console business to focus on developing games like Sega had done after the failure of the Dreamcast. Unlike Sega, Nintendo had strong cash reserves so it could afford to match price wars whenever Sony or Microsoft lowered the price of their console. Also before the price wars, it was estimated that Nintendo lost the least amount of money on each sale of a GameCube compared to its rivals.

Major second & third-party titles

Screenshots

Hardware specifications

The following are hardware specifications provided by Nintendo of America. Some benchmarks provided by third-party testing facilities do indicate, however, that some of these specifications, especially those relating to performance, may be conservative.

Central processing unit

  • Name: "Gekko"
  • Producer: IBM
  • Core Base: PowerPC 750CXe, 43-mm² die (modified PowerPC 750 RISC with 50 new instructions)
  • Manufacturing Process: 0.18 micrometre IBM copper-wire technology
  • Clock Frequency: 485 MHz
  • CPU Capacity: 1125 Dmips (Dhrystone 2.1)
  • Internal Data Precision:
    • 32-bit Integer
    • 64-bit Floating-point, usable as 2x32-bit SIMD
  • External Bus:
    • 1.3 gigabyte/second peak bandwidth
    • 32-bit address space
    • 64-bit data bus; 162 MHz clock
  • Internal Cache:
    • L1: instruction 32KB, data 32KB (8 way)
    • L2: 256KB (2 way)

Graphics processing unit

  • Name: "Flipper"
  • Producer: ArtX/Nintendo (ArtX was acquired by ATi Technologies in 2000 and is now a part of ATi)
  • Manufacturing Process: 0.18 micrometre NEC embedded DRAM process
  • Clock Frequency: 162 MHz
  • Embedded Frame Buffer:
    • Approximately 2 megabytes in capacity
    • Sustainable latency of 6.2 nanoseconds
    • RAM type is 1T-SRAM
  • Embedded Texture Cache:
    • Approximately 1 megabyte in capacity
    • Sustainable latency of 6.2 nanoseconds
    • RAM type is 1T-SRAM
  • Texture Read Bandwidth: 10.4 gigabytes/second (at peak)
  • Main Memory Bandwidth: 2.6 gigabytes/second (at peak)
  • Fill Rate: 648 megapixels/second
  • Pixel Depth:
  • Image Processing Functions:

Audio specifications

  • Producer: Macronix
  • Clock Frequency: 81 MHz
  • Instruction Memory:
    • 8 kilobytes of RAM
    • 8 kilobytes of ROM
  • Data Memory:
    • 8 kilobytes of RAM
    • 4 kilobytes of ROM
  • Simultaneous Channels: 64 channels
  • Encoding: ADPCM
  • Sampling Frequency: 48 kHz
  • 206mb graphics
  • "Dolby Pro Logic II" in analog audio out
  • AC3 signal through "digital out" with D-erminal cable

Other system specifications

  • System Floating-point Arithmetic Capability: 10.5 GFLOPS (at peak) (MPU, Geometry Engine, HW Lighting Total)
  • Real-world Polygon Performance: 6 million to 12 million polygons/second (at peak) (assuming actual game conditions with complex models, fully textured, fully lit, etc.)*
  • Main RAM:
    • Approximately 24 megabytes in capacity
    • Sustainable latency of 10 nanoseconds
    • RAM type is 1T-SRAM

(Even though DDR-SDRAM is significantly faster, since the PowerPC 750CXe can not address DDR-SDRAM, it is not used.)

  • Auxiliary RAM:
    • Approximately 16 megabytes in capacity
    • 81 MHz in speed
    • RAM type is DRAM
  • Disc Drive:
    • Drive type is Constant Angular Velocity (CAV)
    • Average access time is 128 milliseconds
    • Data transfer speed is between 2 megabytes per second and 3.125 megabytes per second
  • Disc Media:
    • Based on DVD technology
    • Diameter is 3 inches in length
    • Producer is Matsushita (Also known as Panasonic)
    • Approximately 1.5 gigabytes in capacity
  • Controller Ports: 4
  • Memory Card Slots: 2
  • Analog Audio/Video Outputs: 1
  • Digital Video Outputs: 1 *
  • High-speed Serial Ports: 2
  • High-speed Parallel Ports: 1
  • Power Supply: AC Adapter DC12 volts x 3.25 amperes
  • Physical Measurements of Entire System: 110 mm (H) x 150 mm (W) x 161 mm (D). [4.3"(H) x 5.9"(W) x 6.3"(D)]
* The Digital output was removed in a hardware revision in May 2004. Models without the port are DOL-101. [5] The original system with the port is model DOL-001.

Media

File:Gamecubedisc.jpg
A Gamecube optical disc

The GameCube Optical Disc is the media format used by the Nintendo GameCube. The disc is a proprietary version of the 8 cm DVD (MiniDVD) format. The capacity of the disc is 1.5 GB. Games with large amounts of voice acting or pre-rendered video often need to be put on 2 discs.

Controller

The standard GameCube Controller totals eight buttons, two analog sticks and a D-pad. The primary analog stick is on the left, with the D-pad below it. On the right are four buttons; a large green "A" button in the centre, a smaller red "B" button to the left, an "X" button to the right and a "Y" button to the top. Below those, there is a yellow "C" stick, which has a similar function to the right stick on a Playstation. The start/pause button is in the middle of the controller. On the back (not bottom), there are two analog shoulder buttons marked "L" and "R" which are moulded to fit your index fingers. Slightly above the "R" button is the "Z" button. In a late design change, the "Z" button was oddly positioned above the "R" trigger. Originally, Nintendo was not going to include it, but game developers asked for it to be put in. Some unofficial controllers also have a "turbo" button, but this is not supported by many games.
The controller is a standard wing grip design, and was designed to fit well in human hands. As such, it is quite comfortable to use. The L and R analog shoulder buttons, the main innovation, have when fully depressed an additional 'click' if the buttons are depressed further. This serves as two additional buttons on the controller without the need to actually add physical buttons. Some games exploit this well.
One notable feature of the GameCube is that when you turn it on, like the Nintendo 64 controller, it will set the current analog stick and L and R buttons' positions as "neutral", which may cause undesired effects in games if they are aligned incorrectly at startup. Thus, Nintendo established a way to reset the controller. They advise you to hold down X, Y and start/pause for three seconds, and the controller should work fine again. This method is also commonly used as a prank during multiplayer games, in which you can set the neutral positions of the other players' controller buttons to non-neutral positions, causing malfunction during gameplay.

Accessories/peripherals

File:Gameboy player.JPG
The Game Boy Player
File:Wavebirdpic.jpg
Wavebird Wireless Controller
  • Controller (Standard colours include Purple, Black, Orange, Silver or Purple and clear. There are also many limited edition controllers available such as a split Silver and Red, with the Mario "M" logo replacing the regular GameCube logo seen on standard controllers. There are also specially shaped controllers, such as a blood-spattered chainsaw released to coincide with Resident Evil 4.)
  • Wavebird (RF wireless controller)
  • Memory Card (59, 251 or 1019 blocks. A maximum of 127 files can be stored on a memory card)
  • GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable (for games that support connectivity between the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance)
  • Modem or Broadband adapter (for internet or LAN play)
  • Game Boy Player (to play Game Boy games on the television, using either a GameCube controller or a connected Game Boy Advance)
  • Component video cable (for progressive scan (480p and 720p) support) which requires a GameCube with Digital Video Output. Less than one percent of GameCube owners used 480p, therefore the digital output was eventually removed from the design to reduce the system's manufacturing costs. See System Specifications above and Official Information.)
  • VGA Adapter. Allows GameCube play on a standard computer monitor. Several are available from Lik-Sang, however, a game supporting 480p combined with the Component Video cable above, and the VD-Z3 (which has a monitor pass-through) or this can give Progressive Scan display quality on a computer monitor.
  • In PAL regions, an RF cable for connection to older televisions, and an RGB SCART cable for high-quality connections
  • DK Bongos for use with the music games Donkey Konga, Donkey Konga 2 and Donkey Konga 3, the Donkey Kong platform title Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, and the upcoming Odama.
  • Microphone, which plugs into memory card slot, for use with Mario Party 6 and the upcoming Mario Party 7.
  • SD Card Adapter, for games exhibiting the SD Card logo like Animal Forest e+. This official Nintendo accessory is currently sold in Japan only.
  • A dance pad, included with Dance Dance Revolution: Mario Mix

Marketing

Nintendo has used several advertising schemes for the GameCube. The earliest commercials displayed a rotating cube video, which would quickly morph into the GameCube logo. A voice whispered "GameCube". This was usually after the normal commercial for a GameCube game. Later on, Nintendo incorporated a video clip before the normal clip for the GameCube game would begin, similar to the brief PlayStation 2 logo before a commercial featuring the game. It basically rotated around what appeared to be the top of a GameCube console, with the lettering being slightly 3D. The lettering would begin as a wave, only to settle on the top of the pictured console. More recently, Nintendo has been advertising in the "Who Are You" tangent, essentially marketing the wide range of games Nintendo offers. The idea behind the "Who Are You?" campaign is that "you are what you play"; the kind of game a gamer enjoys playing suggests a dominant trait in that gamer's personality. The Who Are You logo is similar to graffiti lettering. Most of the Who Are You commercials advertised games developed or published by Nintendo, but some developers pay Nintendo to promote their games, using Nintendo's marketing and advertising resources. One example is the advertisement campaign for Square Enix's GameCube-exclusive Final Fantasy game, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles.

Miscellaneous

Sales figures

Nintendo reported that as of March 2005 they have sold a total of 18.5 million Nintendo Gamecube units worldwide. [6]

See also

Template:Dedicated video game consoles

Related consoles

Competes with

Follows

Precedes

External links

Template:Nintendo hardware

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