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. It was released on September 14, 2001 in Japan; November 18, 2001 in North America; and May 3, 2002 across Europe.
The GameCube was first introduced in volume #145 of Nintendo Power magazine. Luigi's Mansion was the first cover game (volume #150).
The 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. 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, a proprietary format based on Matsushita's optical-disc technology; the discs are approximately three inches (7.5 centimeters) 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, but a Nintendo GameCube hybrid product containing movie functionality has been released by Panasonic in Japan, named "DVD/GAME Player Q."
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.
Despite the protection of a non-standard disc format, proof of concept videos have been released that show it is possible to use a regular DVD with a GameCube, albeit one heavily modified to allow full-size DVDs to fit, to pirate games.
Key first-party titles
The Nintendo GameCube software library contains such traditional Nintendo series as Super Mario, Star Fox, The Legend of Zelda, and Metroid.
Some of the more popular first-party titles include Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Pikmin and its sequel Pikmin 2, Animal Crossing, Luigi's Mansion, Wave Race: Blue Storm, Donkey Konga, Star Fox Adventures, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and Pokémon Colosseum.
Approach to third-party developers
One of the defining aspects of the Nintendo GameCube is the rejuvenated relationship between Nintendo and its licencees. Unlike previous generations in which Nintendo was seen by some as bullying its third-party game developers, Nintendo openly sought game-development aid on 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. This effort from Nintendo resulted in many exclusive third-party games for the Nintendo GameCube, and the arrival multiformat titles on the platform.
Major third-party titles
The following are hardware specifications provided by Nintendo of America. According to specifications, the GameCube falls between the PlayStation 2 and the Xbox, in terms of raw power. Some benchmarks provided by third-party testing facilities do indicate, however, that some of these specifications, especially those relating to performance, may be conservative.
- Name: "Gekko"
- Producer: IBM
- Core Base: PowerPC 750CXe
- 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)
- Name: "Flipper"
- Producer: ArtX/Nintendo (ArtX were 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:
- 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
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
- 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
- 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.  (http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/systems/nintendogamecube/component_faq.jsp)
- 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.)
- 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 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) 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 (http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/systems/nintendogamecube/component_faq.jsp).)
- VGA Adapter. Allows GameCube play on a standard computer monitor. Several are available from Lik-Sang (http://www.lik-sang.com), however, a game supporting 480p combined with the Component Video cable above, and the VD-Z3 (http://www.vdigi.com)(which has a monitor pass-through) or this (http://www.lik-sang.com/info.php?category=219&products_id=4233&) 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
- Bongos for use with the music game Donkey Konga, and the newer Donkey Kong platform title Donkey Kong Jungle Beat.
- Microphone, which plugs into memory card slot, for use with Mario Party 6.
Nintendo is expected to release the GameCube's successor, currently code-named Project Revolution, in late 2005 or in 2006.
- Official Nintendo GameCube site from Nintendo (http://www.nintendo.com/systemsgcn)
- Warp Pipe (http://www.warppipe.com/) - Application which allows online GameCube functionality
- XLink Kai global gaming network (http://www.teamxlink.co.uk/) - Allows free online GameCube functionality as well as Xbox, PS2 and recently Sony PSP and Nintendo DS all from a single application.
- Console Database (http://www.consoledatabase.com/consoleinfo/nintendogamecube/index.html) - Info on GameCube and Panasonic Q
- IGNcube channel at IGN (http://cube.ign.com/)
- N-Sider (http://www.n-sider.com/)
- GameCube Café (http://www.gccafe.com/)
- eLook GameCube Cheats (http://www.elook.org/games/cheats/gamecube/)
- GameCube Cheats (http://www.console-cheats.com/gamecube/)
- GameCube Directory (http://www.dmoz.org/Games/Video_Games/Console_Platforms/Nintendo/GameCube/)
- Planet GameCube (http://www.planetgamecube.com/)
- European GameCube fan/newssite (http://www.cube-europe.com/)
- GameFAQs - GameCube (http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/gamecube/)
- GameCube Linux (http://www.gc-linux.org/)
- GameCube owners get something special for the Fight Night Round 2 (http://articles.filefront.com/Old_School_Spice_for_New_GameCube_Boxing_Title/;362;;;/article.html)