Nintendo GameCube
Type Console Developer Nintendo
Release Date 2001-Sep-15 Region(s) Japan, North America, Europe, Australia
Initial Price $199 USD Games Released Approx, 640
     by Dark Watcher
At an electronic show called E3 in 1999, Nintendo announced the initial specifications for its next-generation console, code-named Dolphin.  The first thing that Nintendo made clear was that the new system would not use a cartridge medium.  The Nintendo 64 had done decent with the format, but games were expensive and the format alienated some 3rd Party developers.  As months past more specifics were released about the new console.  Nintendo would have several companies involved in the project.  IBM designed and manufactured the console processor called the "Gekko".  The graphics processor called "Flipper" was designed by a small startup company called ArtX who was later bought out by ATI.  The graphics chip was manufactured by NEC.  Macronix and Factor 5 contributed the sound with MoSys providing the system memory.  Lastly the console would use a proprietary 8cm optical disc game format capable of holding 1.5GB of data (twice the capacity of CD-ROMs).  This disk was developed and manufactured by Matsushita (best known for the Panasonic brand name).  It became clear that Nintendo was indeed developing something impressive.

Nintendo's new console was revealed on August 24, 2000 at their Nintendo Spaceworld show.  The console, which was now being called Starcube, was officially named the Nintendo GameCube.  A fitting name for one of the smallest console system in recent history.  The GameCube's power was demonstrated with a tech demo of a game simply called Mario 128.  Displaying textures would be the GameCube's most potent asset.  GameCube uses 6-to-1 texture compression, which will let texture data be shrunk to one-sixth its original size, with no appreciable hit on the hardware.  This was clearly apparent as onlookers watched 128 rendered Mario character models running around the screen at once.
Many questioned why Nintendo would not utilize the immense DVD storage format and movie playback that rival consoles were using.  Nintendo would state that they have made a next-generation, powerful, easy to understand and easy to develop gaming system and that would be their only focus.  Nintendo also unveiled new forms of connectivity between Nintendo GameCube and their popular handheld portable Game Boy Advance.  By linking the two systems, the Game Boy Advance can be used as more than a controller.  For instance, players can transfer a character trained on GameCube to Game Boy Advance to continue game play while away from home.  Or, transport characters or items via Game Boy Advance to trade with friends. And, with innovative technology such as "tilt control" players can maneuver a character just by tilting a Game Boy Advance controller.  Nintendo would reveal other linking concepts in later years.
Nintendo launched the GameCube in Japan on September 15, 2001.  Although Nintendo would market the console in other colors, only the Indigo (purple) version was initially available.  The decision to not use their proprietary format (rather then DVD) allowed Nintendo the ability to market the GameCube for around $100 less then the PlayStation 2 and Xbox (Japan retailed at 25,000 yen).  A lack of initial game titles, plus a subdued publicity campaign, may have hindered the Japanese GameCube launch.  Nintendo released only three games (Luigi's Mansion, Super Monkey Ball and Wave Race: Blue Storm and managed to sell 300,000 of 450,000 shipped units.  Clearly not the usual publicized launch that usually occurs abroad, but another contributing factor may have been the world’s focus on the September 11th Terrorist Attack on the US.  The GameCube launch in the US was originally scheduled for November 5, 2001.  Nintendo felt it wiser to delay the release in order to make more units and launch titles available.  The GameCube was officially launched on November 18th, only a mere few days after the release of Microsoft's Xbox.  Over 700,000 units and 8 launch titles were available at launch.  Even with two other next generation consoles on the market, the GameCube still managed to sell out its initial shipment.
The success followed with the European launch in May of 2002.  As the other rival consoles went about unveiling their online gaming strategies, Nintendo merely announced the availability of a network adapter that could be used with Phantasy Star Online.  It appeared as if online gaming was not part on Nintendo's overall strategy at that point.  The main focus however was to release quality game titles which had slowed to a trickle since the console's debut. Toward the end of 2002 however, the GameCube saw the release of many quality "must have" exclusive games.

The GameCube had truly restored Nintendo's popularity with both gamers and developers.  Its small unique shape and makeshift handle inspired developers to create an attaching LCD screen and battery pack for a somewhat portable game experience.  Remakes and sequels to Nintendo's popular franchise characters has pushed software sales for the console even further.  It seems Nintendo has done well to continue their console legacy.

FACT: In Japan it appeared as if the PlayStation 2 was gaining many hardware sales by being a low costing DVD player.  Nintendo partner Matsushita saw an opportunity to also cash in.  The result? The Panasonic Q: a machine that combines a Nintendo GameCube and Panasonic DVD player into one.  The Panasonic Q was only sold for retail in Japan, however it can be purchased through import retailers.  To help garner the attention of import consumers, establishments such as Upstate Games have gone the extra mile to make it totally region friendly, enabling you to play all region DVDs in addition to Japanese and US GameCube software.  However, importing this puppy is an expensive endeavor.
     by Dark Watcher
So lets get this straight Nintendo...You want to keep us a fan, claim your not a kiddy toy and then debut with a purple barney box (they call it indigo)?  Thank goodness you featured the more Dark Watcher friendly "jet black" color.  Nintendo later debuted more colors (maybe it was best that spicy orange was Japan only). Nintendo’s design was refreshing for a 6th generation console.  For an era of big behemoth units, the GameCube was a power package in a tiny box (in this case size does not matter).  The small form factor was much appreciated and many reports and videos demonstrated the GameCube's durability (it survives some of the worst smashes and falls!).  DW just did not get the built-in handle concept.  Sure, the GameCube is nice and portable, and attachable 3rd Party LCD screens made it sort of an "On the go" game console, but you still had to lug around a power brick and controllers.  Besides, in most neighborhoods walking around with a purple GameCube by the handle is likely to lead to a beat down and robbery.

The GameCube was big N's attempt to finally abandon the cart format and go optical. They elected to go with a proprietary 80 mm 1.4 GB disc.  This contributed to the small form factor, but also had its downfalls (more on that later).  This meant that the GameCube offered no other functionality outside of gaming (unlike their console rivals).  They attempted to bridge the lack of multimedia functionality with a variety of connectivity options with their GameBoy Advance handheld.  We took no value from it though.
Although there were reports of internal "overheat" disc read errors, we have never had any issues.  Perhaps it is because we do not have the gaming habits of a preteen completionist cracked on energy drinks.  Our original model featured the digital-out port that was removed in later models (bad move N), a "High Speed" port which allowed us to enjoy our Gameboy Player and 2 serial ports (Nintendo eventually removed 1 in later models).  The serial ports could be used with a dial-up or broadband adapter, but with only a handful of online games…we did not bother with it.  Four (4) controller ports allowed for multiplayer, but in house only.

The GameCube controller was well designed. It fit well in the hands, featured analog and digital directional controls and buttons, force feedback and the button layout (even that oversized button) worked well for most games (although not so well with fighting games).  Nintendo's licensed wireless Wavebird controller worked great even up to 30 feet.  The only downside is the removal of force feedback in order to extend battery life.

The GameCube put out some amazing graphics with 2D and 3D sprites / textures with cell shading, pre-rendered video, bump mapping and even stereoscopic 3D.  Visually, it falls just shy of the Xbox in terms of presentation and just shy of PlayStation 2 in terms of on-screen animation.  The maximum resolution was 480p / 576i at 16:9 (available in some games), but only fully available in older models that retained the digital-out port.

In terms of sound, the GameCube uses analog stereo with "faked up" surround sound supported by Dolby Pro Logic II.  So it cannot compete with its rivals in this area, but it was not designed with multimedia in mind. For games that truly took advantage, the GameCube could still put out good sound.  The choice to finally go optical helped win back third-party developer support, but the limited size meant that some games had to be split up into several discs.  The small discs do add to some level of portability though.  Like most optical discs, they can be scratched and damaged, but the GameCube's error correction capabilities can handle minor scratches.
Nintendo GameCube Standard Controller
Nintendo GameCube Wavebird Controller
Nintendo had a slow time gaining 3rd party support, but eventually received great titles.  Their most successful titles were based on their own franchise characters and in house development.  They even garnered successes with Sega ports from the Dreamcast console.  They were slow in targeting every demographic.  Sports titles were limited and mature rated games were trickled in over time.  More emphasis was placed on younger party like games in the beginning, but eventually the GameCube would see quality titles.

The GameCube was designed primarily for in-house gaming.  Its small size allowed for it to be easily transported and it produced a number of great game titles. Nintendo did well in achieving attractive price points for the console which contributed to its value.  It was a good little box that would eventually be rendered obsolete by its successor.
     Officially licensed releases
Nintendo GameCube - Color Variations

Like the Nintendo 64, the GameCube was released in various colors throughout its lifespan.  The first release featured an Indigo chassis, followed by Jet Black, Spice (orange) and various other colors. Many Limited Edition systems were sold (primarily in Japan), with one of the most popular being the Platinum LE console.  Overall, everything is the exact same within these variations with the exception of the outer hull color.  Later models did not include the digital out port and removed one (1) of the High Speed Serial Ports (which wasn't used anyway).

GameCube - Indigo
GameCube - Jet Black
GameCube - Spice
GameCube - Gold
GameCube - Platinum
GameCube - Pearl White

Nintendo GameCube - Platinum Edition

Nintendo GameCube - Special \ Limited Editions
FF Crystal Chronicles LE
Gundam Char LE
Hanshin Tigers LE
Metal Gear Solid LE
Pokemon LE
Tales of Symphonia

Panasonic Q

During the development of their GameCube gaming system, Nintendo partnered with Matsushita-owned Panasonic to manufacture the disc drive for their console.  As part of this agreement, a license was issued to Panasonic to be able to utilize the base GameCube software technology for their own system.  Released exclusively in Japan, the Panasonic Q was developed to address the fact that the GameCube's main competitors, the Sony PlayStation 2 and shortly after the Microsoft Xbox, supported DVD movie playback out of the box while Nintendo did not incorporate this feature into its machine.  Hoping to capitalize on this supposed oversight, the Panasonic Q was born.  This is hands down the best looking GameCube system that has been released, and arguably one of the finest specimens for any system.

Click here to read more about the Panasonic Q.

     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.  The original Nintendo GameCube DOL-001 is being reviewed. Nintendo GameCube
Nintendo GameCube - Platinum Edition

Nintendo GameCube miniDVD disc
Smaller Discs = Smaller Capacity

Packaging Cardboard Overload
Console Design 05 Some people love the design of the GameCube - I am not one of them.  Though compact and functional, this system does not fit easily within any AV set up.  To make matters worse, the flip-top miniDVD access necessitates an additional 4" of vertical clearance.  On the plus side, the four controllers ports and two memory card slots are definitely welcomed.
Console Durability 09 These systems are tanks.  My launch model still runs great to this very day.  As Dark Watcher cited in his Hands On Review, I too have heard of some people experiencing over heating issues.  This seems to be a very uncommon occurrence though.
Controllers 05 While comfortable in your grip, the GameCube controller is a bit cumbersome to use due to the unnecessary variation in button sizes and location.  If you have big paws, forget about trying to trying to deftly click the bean-shaped X and Y buttons.
Graphics 07 Though basically on par with its competition, the lack of any HD support is a big disappointment.
Audio 09 The GameCube rocks in this area.  Hook this up to your surround sound system and let it rip!
Media 03 Though compact and effective, the GameCube miniDVD significantly lacks the capacity of the  standard DVD format.  Nintendo did save a great deal of cash utilizing this proprietary format, but was it worth it?
Game Library 06 Though the GameCube did not have the cross platform support of its competition (Xbox \ PS2), the exclusives for this system are excellent.
Gamer Value 08 The system, along with most of the titles within its software library, is extremely affordable.  Grab one now while the prices are still low.
Collector Value N\A It is still too early to gauge this facet of the GameCube.  The original model (DOL-001) features the Digital Out and an extra Serial Port that was removed from the subsequent revisions.  As with most systems, the original model is always the safest bet to invest some coin.

     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Nintendo GameCube was distributed on optical discs which resemble a mini DVD.  This proprietary format allowed Nintendo to save a great deal of money since they were not required to pay the standard licensing fee for use of the standard DVD format.  The drawback for this choice was that the capacity was quite limited compared to the DVD medium utilized by its competitors (1.5 GB versus 4.7 GB).

Select titles were re-released as Player's Choice editions.  These games were sold at a reduced price and are designated as such with a yellow banner on the front cover (see the example to the right).  Nintendo claimed that only "select, top selling games" would earn this distinction, but in truth nearly 17% of the entire GameCube library (a total of 105 games including the exclusive PAL releases) would receive this 'honor'.

Replacing these cases can be a bit pricey due to their proprietary nature, especially for multi-disc games.

applemctom's Games that Defined Compiliation

     Captured in-game images
1080 Avalanche
Animal Crossing
Baten Kaitos Origins
Battalion Wars
Beyond Good and Evil
Conflict Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad
Dance, Dance Revolution: Mario Mix
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
F-Zero GX
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
Fire Emblem Path of Radiance
James Bond 007: From Russia with Love
Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Mario Kart Double Dash
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Metroid Prime 2
Resident Evil 2
Space Raiders
Star Fox Assault
Super Mario Sunshine
Super Monkey Ball Adventure
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Viewtiful Joe: Red Hot Rumble
Wave Race Blue Storm

     First and third party system emulators

GameCube emulator that will run on Win XP+, Linux or MacOSX systems.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
 128 bit IBM Gekko PowerPC 486 MHz / 1.94 GFLOPS GPU - Flipper (162 MHz) 43 MB (System - 24 MB, 3 MB GPU, 16 MB DVD \ Audio buffer)
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
720 x 480 (480i, 480p) 720 x 576 (576i) 24-bit to 32-bit N\A Custom 81 MHz Chip (64 channel, 16 bit 48 kHz with Dolby Pro Logic II)
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Proprietary Mini DVD (80 mm) 1.5 GB Approx. 640 None (optional GameBoy support with optional adaptor)
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
None Two (2) Memory Card ports (available in 512 KB, 2 MB and 8 MB) Wing Design (8 buttons, two analog sticks and a D-Pad) Microphone, Keyboard, Dance Pad, GB Adaptor, LCD Screen, Modem, etc.
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Fours (4) One (1) High Speed Serial Port for optional Modem or Broadband Adaptor One (1) High Speed Serial Ports, One (1) Parallel Port (for GB Player) Multi-AV (Composite, S-Video), SCART (PAL only), Digital Out (DOL-001 only)
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
Input: AC 100V, 91VA, 50\60Hz
Output: DC 12V, 3.25A
None One of the High Speed serial ports was removed in later models (it was not used for anything).
Nintendo GameCube Owners Manual (PDF) - 0.90 MB

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Nintendo GameCube Television Commercials

Various Nintendo GameCube First Party Peripherals
ASCII Keyboard
Broadband Adapter
DK Bongos
GameBoy Advance Cable
GameBoy Player
Speed Force Racing Wheel

     Visitor insights and feedback
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