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Platinum GameCube with controller

The , officially abbreviated as GCN, is Nintendo's fourth home video game console and is part of the sixth generation console era. It is the successor to the Nintendo 64 and predecessor to the Nintendo Wii.

The Nintendo GameCube is the first Nintendo 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 Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft 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 these systems, nor the audio CD playback ability of other consoles that use full-size optical discs.

In addition, the GameCube also introduced a variety of connectivity options to Nintendo consoles, and was the third Nintendo console, after the Nintendo 64DD, to support online play officially, via the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter and Modem Adapter. It also enabled 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.

The console was released on September 14, 2001 in Japanmarker, November 18, 2001 in North America, May 3, 2002 in Europe, and May 17, 2002 in Australia. The GameCube sold 21.74 million units worldwide. Nintendo ceased production of the console in 2007. Madden NFL 08 is believed to be the final GameCube game to be released in North America.


Nintendo has used several advertising strategies and techniques for the GameCube. Around the time of release, the GameCube was advertised with the slogan "Born to Play." The earliest commercials displayed a rotating cube animation, which would morph into the GameCube logo as a female voice whispers, "GameCube." This was usually displayed at the end of GameCube game commercials.

A subsequent ad campaign featured the "Who Are You?" slogan across Nintendo's entire product line, to market 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 person enjoys playing suggests something about that gamer's personality. The "Who Are You?" logo is designed in graffiti-style lettering. Most of the "Who Are You?" commercials advertised games developed or published by Nintendo, but some developers paid Nintendo to promote their games, using Nintendo's marketing and advertising resources.

Nintendo also offered several different limited-edition software bundle promotions with the GameCube hardware throughout the system's production.


Like its predecessor, the Nintendo 64, the Nintendo GameCube was available in many colors. The two most common, released during the console's launch, were "Indigo" (the standard color used in most early advertising) and "Jet Black." "Spice Orange" GameCubes were also offered as a standard model, 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" color scheme, marketed as a limited edition product. Other limited edition colors and styles were also only released in Japan.

Following Nintendo tradition, the GameCube's model numbers, DOL-001 and 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" is the name of the GPU for the 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.

Technical specifications

The Nintendo GameCube Game Disc is 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 is 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) have been released on two discs; however, only twenty-five titles have been released on two discs, and no games require more than two discs.

The MultiAV port is 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 port was used by less than one percent of users, leading to the removal of the port from consoles manufactured after May 2004.

Serial Port 2 was also removed from models produced after the first product revision.

Central processing unit:

  • 486 MHz IBM "Gekko" PowerPC CPU
  • PowerPC 750CXe based core
  • 180 nm IBM copper-wire process, 43 mm² die, 4.9 W dissipation
  • Roughly fifty new vector instructions
  • 32-bit ALU
  • 64-bit FPU (1.9 GFLOPS, usable as 2×32-bit SIMD)
  • 64-bit enhanced PowerPC 60x front side bus to GPU/chipset, 162 MHz clock, 1.3 GB/s peak bandwidth
  • 64 KiB (32 KiB I/32 KiB D) L1 cache (8-way associative), 256 KiB on-die L2 cache (2-way associative)
  • 1125 DMIPS (dhrystone 2.1)

System memory:
  • 43 MB total non-unified RAM
  • 24 MB MoSys 1T-SRAM (codenamed "Splash") main system RAM, 324 MHz, 64-bit bus, 2.7 GB/s bandwidth
  • 3 MB embedded 1T-SRAM within "Flipper"
    • Split into 1 MB texture buffer and 2 MB framebuffer
    • 10.4 GB/s texture peak bandwidth, 7.6 GB/s framebuffer peak bandwidth, ~6.2 ns latency
  • 16 MB DRAM used as buffer for DVD drive and audio, 81 MHz, 8-bit bus, 81 MB/s bandwidth


IBM PowerPC "Gekko" processor
Graphics processing unit:

GameCube Disc
Storage media:

Memory and storage

Memory Card 59
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, grey card), 251 blocks (16 Mbit/2 MB, black), and 1019 blocks (64 Mbit/8 MB, white). Cheaper third-party memory cards are also available.


Black GameCube controller
The standard GameCube controller has a wing grip design, and is 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 those, there is a yellow "C" stick, which often serves different functions, such as controlling the camera. The Start/Pause button is 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 one marked "Z." The "L" and "R" shoulder buttons have both digital and analog capabilities. In analog mode, the shoulder buttons have an additional "click" when fully depressed. In digital mode, it will register it as digital only when fully depressed. This difference, in effect, serves as two additional buttons on the controller without the need to actually add physical buttons. This works by means of a dual-sensor system inside the controller, a slider piece, which is moved by pressing down on the shoulder button and a separate button press pad at the base.

The WaveBird wireless controller is a radio frequency (RF) based wireless controller, based on the same design as the standard controller. It communicates with the GameCube system wirelessly through a receiver dongle connected to one of the system's controller ports. As a battery power-conservation measure, the Wavebird lacks the rumble function of standard controllers.

Technical issues

Some earlier and later revisions of the 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 expiry of the warranty period.

Secret Startup Sounds

There are two secret startup sounds for the GameCube, which do not affect the startup sequence in any other way. If the Z button is pressed on one controller during startup, the sounds of a squeaking toy, xylophone, springs, and childish laughter will play. If four controllers are connected and all four Z buttons are pressed, kabuki-style sounds will be played, including vocalization and drumming.

Software library

Launch games

The GameCube launched in North America with the following twelve games:

Title Developer Publisher(s)
All-Star Baseball 2002 Acclaim Acclaim
Batman Vengeance Ubisoft Ubisoft
Crazy Taxi Hitmaker Sega
Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2 Z-Axis Acclaim
Disney's Tarzan Untamed Ubisoft Ubisoft
Luigi's Mansion Nintendo Nintendo
Madden NFL 2002 Tiburon EA Sports
NHL Hitz 20-02 EA Black Box Midway
Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader Factor 5 LucasArts
Super Monkey Ball Amusement Vision Sega
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 Neversoft Activision
Wave Race: Blue Storm NST Nintendo

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. 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 multi-format games for the console.

Market share

Despite Nintendo's efforts, the GameCube failed to reclaim the market share lost by its predecessor, the Nintendo 64. It was in third place compared to its competitors, the Sony PlayStation 2 (still currently supported) and Microsoft Xbox (discontinued in 2006). The console's "family-friendly" appeal and lack of support from certain third-party developers skewed the GameCube toward a younger market, which represented a minority of the gaming population during the sixth generation (see chart). Some third-party games popular with teenagers or adults, such as several first-person shooters and the controversial Grand Theft Auto series, skipped a GameCube port in favor of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The GameCube does, however, have over forty M (for Mature) rated games, a considerably larger amount than Nintendo's previous consoles.

The strong sales of first-party games did not seemingly benefit third-party developers. 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 Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend.

The 1.5 GB proprietary disc format may also have been a limiting factor since the PlayStation 2 and Xbox could use 8.5 GB Dual-Layer DVD for larger games. The GameCube disc still had sufficient room for most games, although a few would require an extra disc or, less often, 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.

Also, 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.

Due to sagging sales, Nintendo halted GameCube production for a brief period in 2003 in order to reduce surplus units. Sales rebounded slightly after a price drop to US$99 on September 24, 2003 and the release of the 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.

Online gaming

The GameCube was at one point online compatible by using a GameCube Broadband Adapter or Modem Adapter, though the only four games that featured an online component 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, but LAN gameplay is still available for the three titles that originally supported it: 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

The GameCube sold nearly 22 million units worldwide during its lifetime, lagging far behind the 100 million PlayStation 2 consoles sold. The GameCube finished its generation slightly behind the Xbox, which sold 24 million units before being discontinued. It also did not 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.


The number of games released for the console exceeds 600, with 208.56 million GameCube games sold as of June 30, 2008.

See also


External links

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