Nintendo GameCube with controller and 251-block memory card
|Type||Video game console|
|Discontinued||June 5, 2008|
|Units sold||Worldwide: 22 million
Japan: 4.04 million
North America: 12.94 million
Europe & Australia: 4.77 million
|Media||Nintendo GameCube game disc|
|CPU||IBM PowerPC "Gekko", 486 MHz|
|Storage capacity||Nintendo GameCube Memory Card (16 MB max. capacity)|
|Graphics||ATI "Flipper", 162 MHz|
|Sound||Analog stereo (support for Dolby Pro Logic II)|
|Input||Nintendo GameCube controller, WaveBird, Game Boy Advance, numerous other input devices|
|Connectivity||Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter|
|Dimensions||5.9 × 6.3 × 4.3 in
149 × 160 × 112 mm
(width × depth × height)
|Best-selling game||Super Smash Bros. Melee, 7.09 million (as of March 10, 2008)|
The Nintendo GameCube (ニンテンドーゲームキューブ Nintendō Gēmukyūbu ), officially abbreviated to NGC in Japan and GCN in North America, is a video game console released by Nintendo on September 14, 2001 in Japan, November 14, 2001 in North America, May 3, 2002 in Europe, and May 17, 2002 in Australia. It was the successor to the Nintendo 64. As part of the sixth generation of gaming, the Nintendo GameCube competed with the Sega Dreamcast (which ceased American production before the GameCube launched), Sony's PlayStation 2, and Microsoft's Xbox.
The Nintendo GameCube was the first Nintendo home console to use optical discs as its primary storage medium, after several aborted projects from Nintendo and its partners to utilize optical-based storage media. In contrast with the GameCube's contemporary competitors, the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, the GameCube uses miniDVD-based discs instead of full-size DVDs. Partially as a result of this, it does not have the DVD-Video playback functionality of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox systems, nor the audio CD playback ability of other consoles that use full-size optical discs. Panasonic eventually released a DVD player hybrid of the console exclusively in Japan, the Panasonic Q.
In addition, the GameCube introduced a variety of connectivity options to Nintendo consoles, and was the first Nintendo console outside Japan to support online play officially, via the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter (sold separately). However, its online service only had four games which supported it and was not heavily promoted; by comparison, Xbox Live, PS2 Online, and SegaNet/Dreamarena were more actively involved in the online competition. The GameCube also allowed for connectivity to the Game Boy Advance to access exclusive features of certain games or to use the portable system as a controller for the Game Boy Player.
Nintendo used several advertising strategies and techniques for the GameCube. Around the time of release, the GameCube was advertised with the slogan "Born to Play". A rotating cube animation would also be displayed at the end of video game commercials, which would morph into the GameCube logo as a voice whispers, "GameCube".
Like its predecessor, the Nintendo 64, the Nintendo GameCube was available in many colors. The two most common color variants, released during the console's launch, were "Indigo" (the standard color used in most early advertising) and "Jet Black." "Spice" (orange-colored) GameCubes were also offered as standard models, but only in Japan. However, the standard controller was widely available in this color outside of Japan as well. Later, Nintendo released GameCubes with a "Platinum" (silver) color scheme, initially marketed as a limited edition product. Other limited edition colors and styles were also only released in Japan.
A Nintendo tradition, the GameCube's model numbers, DOL-001 and DOL-101, are a reference to its codename, "Dolphin." The official accessories and peripherals have model numbers beginning with "DOL" as well. Another Dolphin reference, "Flipper" was the name of the GPU for the Nintendo GameCube. Panasonic made a licensed version of the GameCube with DVD playback, called the Panasonic Q.
Benchmarks provided by third-party testing facilities indicate that Nintendo's official specifications, especially those relating to performance, may be conservative. One of Nintendo's primary objectives in designing the GameCube hardware was to overcome the perceived limitations and difficulties of programming for the Nintendo 64 architecture, thus creating an affordable, well-balanced, developer-friendly console that still performed competitively against its rivals.
The development hardware kit was called the GameCube NR Reader. Model numbers for these units begin with DOT. These units allow developers to debug beta versions of games and hardware. These units were sold to developers by Nintendo at a premium price and many developers modified regular GameCubes for game beta testing because of this. The NR reader will not play regular GameCube games, only special NR discs burned by a Nintendo NR writer.
The Nintendo GameCube Game Disc was the software storage medium for the Nintendo GameCube, created by Matsushita. Chosen to prevent unauthorized copying and to avoid licensing fees to the DVD Consortium, it was Nintendo's first non-cartridge storage method for consoles released outside of Japan (the Famicom Disk System and Nintendo 64DD were exclusive to Japan). Some games which contain large amounts of voice acting or pre-rendered video (for example, Tales of Symphonia) were released on two discs. However, only twenty-five GameCube games were ever released on two discs, and none required more than two discs.
The Multi-AV Out port was identical to the one used in Nintendo's earlier Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Nintendo 64 consoles, allowing most cables from these systems to be used interchangeably.
Nintendo found that the Digital AV Out port was used by less than one percent of users, leading to the removal of the port from consoles with model number "DOL-101" manufactured after May 2004.
Serial Port 2 was also removed from all "DOL-101" models manufactured after the first product revision.
All Nintendo GameCube systems support the display of stereoscopic 3D, however this was only ever utilized for the launch title Luigi's Mansion, and the feature was never enabled outside of development. 3D televisions were not widespread at the time, and it was deemed that compatible displays would be too cost-prohibitive for the consumer.
Central processing unit:
Graphics processing unit:
Memory and storage
The GameCube features two ports that accommodate memory cards for saving game data. The three official memory card sizes are: 59 blocks (4 Mbit/512 KB, gray card), 251 blocks (16 Mbit/2 MB, black), and 1019 blocks (64 Mbit/8 MB, white). Third-party memory cards were also widely available.
The standard GameCube controller has a wing grip design, and was designed to fit well in the player's hands. It includes a total of eight buttons, two analog sticks, a d-pad, and an internal rumble motor. 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 center, a smaller red "B" button to the left, an "X" button to the right and a "Y" button to the top. Below and to the inside of those, there is a yellow "C" stick, which often serves different functions, such as controlling the camera. The Start/Pause button was located at the middle of the controller face, and the rumble motor is encased within the center of the controller.
On the top of the controller there are two analog shoulder buttons marked "L" and "R", as well as one digital button marked "Z". The "L" and "R" shoulder buttons feature both analog and digital capabilities; they behave as a typical analog button providing an increasing analog signal, until fully depressed, at which point the button "clicks" to register an additional digital signal. This method effectively serves to provide two functions per button without actually adding two separate physical buttons.
Nintendo learned from its experiences, both positive and negative, with the Nintendo 64's three-handled controller, and from that console's primary competitor: the PlayStation Nintendo bowed to popular convention with the two-handled wing grip design but, like the Xbox which was released about the same time as the GameCube, Nintendo chose to "swap" the positions of the d-pad and left analog stick as compared to the PlayStation series' DualShock controllers. Also like the Xbox, and indeed the Dreamcast, it uses analog shoulder triggers, rather than simple digital buttons as found on the DualShock. (The DualShock 2, Sony's contemporary to the GameCube controller, retained the original button design from the DualShock, but added pressure sensitivity.)
Unique to the GameCube is the controller's prominent size and placement of the A button, intended to be the primary action button as it has typically been. The larger size and central placement made it easier for younger players to use and, in combination with the rubberized analog stick, more comfortable for all by reducing the dreaded "Nintendo thumb" caused by button-mashing. The design had the additional desirable side effect of giving every face button on the controller a different size, shape and/or orientation, allowing for easier access by feel and for in-game icons recognizable only by shape.
The WaveBird Wireless Controller is an RF-based wireless controller based on the same design as the standard controller. It communicates with the GameCube system wirelessly by way of a receiver dongle connected to one of the system's controller ports. It is powered by two AA batteries, which are housed in a compartment on the underside of the controller. As a power- and space-conservation measure, the WaveBird lacks the vibration function of the standard controller. In addition to the standard inputs, the WaveBird features a channel selection dial, which is also found on the receiver, and an on/off switch. When switched on, an orange LED on the face of the controller lights up. It was released in light grey and platinum color schemes.
Some launch GameCube consoles developed disc read problems with the optical pickup becoming thermally sensitive over time, causing read errors when the console reached normal operating temperature. Failures of this sort require replacement of the optical pickup. Affected consoles have sometimes been serviced free of charge by Nintendo even after the expiration of the warranty period.
Start-up "Easter Eggs"
The GameCube has two audio "Easter Eggs". When the power is activated while the "Z" button is pressed on the Player 1 controller, a squeaking sound, and then a child's laughter will play instead of the standard sound effects. Holding the "Z" button simultaneously on controllers plugged into all four ports will produce a Japanese oriental style sound effect with a man shouting a battle cry. When the menu music is sped up about 16 times the normal rate, the music playing resembles the boot music from the Famicom Disk System.
Backward compatibility on Wii
The original model of Nintendo's successor console, the Wii, supports backward compatibility with Nintendo GameCube controllers, memory cards, and games. Due to the differing footprints of the device, the Game Boy Player is not compatible with the Wii. The South Korean Wii, the "Wii Family Edition" and the Wii Mini all omitted GameCube hardware completely; GameCube games and accessories are not compatible with these systems as a result. The Wii's successor, the Wii U, also lacks GameCube backward compatibility, but is in turn compatible with Wii controllers and games.
The Nintendo GameCube launched in North America on November 18, 2001 with the following 12 games:
One of the defining aspects of the Nintendo GameCube was the rejuvenated relationship between Nintendo and its licensees. Unlike previous generations in which Nintendo was accused of taking advantage of its leadership role in the video game marketplace by posing monopolistic restrictions on its third-party game developers that vastly favored Nintendo, the company 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. In both cases, Nintendo often took an active role in cooperating with the developer. This policy on Nintendo's part resulted in exclusive third-party games for the Nintendo GameCube, and the arrival of multiple format games for the console.
Despite Nintendo's efforts, the GameCube failed to reclaim the market share lost by its predecessor, the Nintendo 64. In terms of overall hardware sales, it remained a steady third place behind its direct competitors - Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox - throughout the lifespan of all three consoles. The console's "family-friendly" appeal and lack of support from certain third-party developers skewed the GameCube toward a younger market, which was a minority demographic of the gaming population during the sixth generation (see chart). Many third-party games popular with teenagers or adults, such as the blockbuster Grand Theft Auto series and several key first-person shooters, skipped the GameCube entirely in favor of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
While many of Nintendo's own first-party titles saw strong sales, this did not typically benefit third-party developers or drive sales of their games. Many cross-platform games — such as sports franchises released by Electronic Arts — sold far below their PlayStation 2 and Xbox counterparts, eventually prompting some developers to scale back or completely cease support for the GameCube. After several years of losing money from developing for Nintendo's console, Eidos Interactive announced in September 2003 that it would end support for the GameCube, canceling several games that were in development. Later, however, Eidos resumed development of GameCube titles, releasing hit games such as Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and Tomb Raider: Legend. In addition, several third-party games originally intended to be GameCube exclusives - most notably Resident Evil 4 - were eventually ported to other systems in an attempt to maximize profits following lackluster sales of the original GameCube versions.
The 1.5 GB proprietary mini-disc format may also have been a limiting factor, since the PlayStation 2 and Xbox could use 8.5 GB Dual-Layer DVDs for larger games. The GameCube mini-disc still had sufficient room for most games, although a few games would require an extra disc or, sometimes, feature less content than the other versions. Higher video compression for some games was also potentially more apparent on some GameCube versions, if employed by developers as a workaround for storage constraints.
Due to sagging sales, Nintendo halted GameCube production for a brief period in 2003 to reduce surplus units. Sales rebounded slightly after a price drop to US$99.99 on September 24, 2003 and the release of The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition bundle. A demo disc, the Nintendo GameCube Preview Disc, was also released in a bundle in 2003. Beginning with this period, GameCube sales continued to be steady, particularly in Japan, but the GameCube remained in third place in worldwide sales during the sixth generation era due to weaker sales performance elsewhere.
Some third-party companies, such as Ubisoft, THQ, Disney Interactive Studios, Humongous Entertainment and EA Sports, continued to release GameCube games well into 2007. These titles include TMNT, Meet the Robinsons, Surf's Up, Ratatouille and Madden NFL 08.
The Nintendo GameCube was at one point online compatible by using a GameCube Broadband Adapter or Modem Adapter, though only four games featured an online component which were Homeland, Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II, Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II Plus and Phantasy Star Online Episode III: C.A.R.D. Revolution. This online play was ended as of April 2007.
Due to Nintendo's lack of support for the online capabilities of the GameCube (as compared to Sega, Sony, and Microsoft, who actively promoted online gaming by releasing first-party online titles and soliciting developers for support), multi-platform games with online functionality were released offline-only on the GameCube. Although online support was added in late 2002 and both Sony and Nintendo followed a similar decentralized online model (in contrast to the centralized Xbox Live), lower sales of the GameCube versions of games during its launch year precluded developers from including online support.
Although the official servers for the Phantasy Star Online titles are now offline, it is still possible to play online on various private servers. LAN gameplay is still available for the three titles that originally supported it as well: Mario Kart: Double Dash‼, 1080° Avalanche and Kirby Air Ride. There are some third-party PC applications such as Warp Pipe and XLink Kai that allows online play of these three games by tunneling the network traffic through a computer and across the Internet, though this is not supported by Nintendo.
Reception and sales
|This section requires expansion. (March 2009)|
Although generally receiving positive comments on its software library which includes some of the highest-rated video games ever made, the GameCube received criticism for its "toy-ish" external hardware design and for lacking some of the technical features of its competitors (such as DVD playback, digital audio output, widespread online support, and widescreen display mode for most games).
The GameCube sold approximately 22 million units worldwide during its lifetime, lagging far behind the PlayStation 2's almost 154 million. The GameCube finished its generation slightly behind the Xbox, which sold 24 million units before being discontinued, and well ahead of the short-lived Dreamcast, which sold 10.6 million. The GameCube failed to outsell its predecessor, the Nintendo 64, which sold almost 33 million units in its lifetime.
In September 2009, IGN named the GameCube the 16th best gaming console of all time, behind all three of its competitors: the PlayStation 2 (3rd), Dreamcast (8th), and Xbox (11th). Aside from the Virtual Boy (which did not make the list at all), it was the only Nintendo console to not make the list's top 10.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: GameCube|
- Nintendo GameCube Official webpage by Nintendo of America
- Nintendo GameCube at Nintendo.com (archived versions at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)
- Nintendo GameCube at the Open Directory Project