Nintendo Gamecube (GC) || 2001-2006


Development

Intro

The Nintendo Gamecube is a console released by Nintedo in the early 200's. This is a sixth generation console that competed with the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The Gamecube was the first Nintendo console to use optical discs as its storage medium. This was a change from the long standing cartridges used up until the N64. The Gamecube didn't have anything too groundbreaking in its design, but it did make small jumps in innovation. The console supported online gaming for a small number of games via broadband, and connected to Nintendo's mobile consile, the Game Boy Advance to gain exclusive in-game features.

"Project Dolphin"

With collaboration with a graphics hardware design company, ArtX, Nintendo began to design the system logic and graphics processor of the Gamecube called "N2000" at the time. When announced to the public, Nintendo called the Gamecube "Project Dolphin" as the successor to the N64. At the same time, Nintendo began development kits to developers and also formed a partnership with IBM to produce the Dolphin's CPU, named "Gekko." The Dolphin was reputed to be the king of the hill in terms of graphics and video performance with 128-bit architecture. Because Nintendo recently was focusing on its lineup of Game Boy mobile consoles, a lot of potential N64 features were delayed to the Gamecube. Additionally, a lot of Gamecube features were designed to connect to the Game Boy via link cable. The Dolphin ultimately didn't really go for anything ambitious. Rather, it was quite a safe choice in console design in that it mainly upgraded the previous graphics engines and also implemented features that worked off of past or current Nintendo consoles.

Technical Specifications
CPU IBM PowerPC Gekko @486 MHz
Memory 43 megabytes
Storage Up to 16 megabytes
Interesting Designs Console focused on making Nintendo an "entertainment company".
Units Sold 21.74 million

"The Nintendo Difference"

A big concept for the Gamecube was that it was the beginning of turning Nintendo into an entertainment company. The console focused on simple architecture to help speed the development of games by making it easier on software developers. The console was also marketed at $199, which was $100 cheaper than the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. This was a strategic move to get more sales, but to also attract third party game developers. The guiding design this time wasn't to focus on the console, but rather the games- the console's hardware targetted developers rather than the players so that the best games could be developed. Nintendo mainly showed off the Gamecube with the catchphrase of "The Nintendo Difference" and the design of the Gamecube was supposed to be similar to that of a toy. The rotating cube animation that was an iconic introduction to the Gamecube and the slogan "Born to Play" pushed this design concept. The idea was simple: stronger hardware at a cheaper meant better games.

Upgraded Games

Because there was a focus on bringing good games, the peripherals and features were designed to show off these games. For example, Nintendo developed stereoscopic 3D technology for the GameCube especially for their launch game, Luigi's Mansion. Likewise, changes were seen in the game controller. Nintendo learned from the N64's three handled controller design and opted for a two-handled, handlebar design for the Gamecube. This shape was made popular by Sony's first PlaySatation. The Gamecube controller used vibration feedback as well as having two analog sticks for improving the 3D experience in games. The controller featured a total of 8 buttons, two analog sticks, a d-pad, and a rumble motor. Also, in 2002, Nintendo introduced the WaveBird, the fist wireless gamepad developed by a first-party console manufacturer. All of the focus on the hardware this time was aimed to bring out the best user experience in the games.


History/Impact

Lack of Innovation

Overall, the Gamecube was positively received following its launch. Critics mainly praised the hardware design and the quality of games at launch. It's main selling points were that it was generally inexpensive, had a good lineup of games and had great controller design. However, the Gamecube had an issue in that it wasn't strong in anything. Many users felt that the console lacked a few features offered by the competition, and that the console centering it simage on boying a toy was too "toy-ish." Most criticisms targetted the consoles lack of technical innovations. During this time, the market share of the Gamecube was much lower than that of its compeitors. Nintendo managed to sell 22 million units, but it paled in comparison to consoles like the PlayStation 2, which sold 153 million.

Birth of Series and Sub Series

Despite having lackluster technical innovations, the Gamecube still did well in bringing very solid games. Many games released on the console, such as Pikmin, eventually became popular Nintendo franchises that would complement the well known ones like Mario and Zelda. The console also spawned many sub series, such as the Metroid Prime series (from Metroid) and Luigi's Mansion, which stars Mario's brother, Luigi. The Gamecube also built strongly on a lot of previous franchises. For example, Super Smash Bros. Melee was a critically received title in the Smash Bros. series, and created a competitive video game scene that is still going strong today for nearly 2 decades.


Games

Last Console: Nintendo 64
Next Console: Wii