The legendary startup of GameCube.

The Nintendo GameCube (abbreviated as GameCube, GC, GCN, or NGC) is Nintendo's fourth home console and a sixth generation video game console initially released on September 14, 2001 in Japan. Nintendo first mentioned a successor to the Nintendo 64 on March 3, 1999, a day after Sony's announcement of the PlayStation 2. Two months later, on May 12, 1999, Nintendo of America's former chairman Howard Lincoln officially announced the console, which would be codenamed Dolphin. Nintendo remained quiet for over a year about the project, preferring to focus on the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy Color at E3 2000. It wasn't until August 24, 2000, a day before Spaceworld 2000, that the company officially unveiled the GameCube, the end result of the Dolphin project. The five colors for the console shown at Spaceworld 2000 were purple, black, silver, gold, and magenta. However, in the final build, purple, black, and silver were kept, but gold and magenta were scrapped and replaced with orange.

The heart of the GameCube is a IBM-developed CPU called the Gekko. The Gekko is based on IBM's general-purpose PowerPC 750CXe with custom features. The system's 202.5 MHz GPU, called Flipper, was designed by Art X and after ATi bought Art X, was produced by ATi. For its storage medium, the GameCube uses 8 cm discs based on the DVD, developed by Matsushita Panasonic, that can hold up to 1.5GB. Since they are smaller than traditional DVD's, the GameCube is not able to play DVD movies, though through a partnership with Nintendo, Panasonic manufactured and distributed the Panasonic Q, a hybrid DVD player console with GameCube hardware.

The GameCube's controller combines elements from just about every controller before it, as well as introducing a few innovations of its own. In addition to the standard analog stick, D-Pad, and shoulder buttons, Nintendo has added an analog C-Stick often referred to as the camera stick replacing the four yellow C-buttons from the Nintendo 64 controller, moved the Z-button to the right shoulder and rearranged the button configuration so that there is a large A button surrounded by the X, Y, and B buttons and having the middle part from the Nintendo 64 controller removed for better comfort. In Spaceworld 2000, the colors of the A, B, and start buttons are identical to the colours of the buttons from the Nintendo 64 controller (blue, green, and red), but in the final build, the A, B, and Start buttons are now changed to green, red, and gray, respectively.

The shoulder buttons L and R are both analogue, allowing the console to know how far they are pushed in, for things like throttle in racing games. Like the Nintendo 64, the GameCube features four controller ports. The regular GameCube memory card holds 4MB of data, but the Digicard Adapter will allow for flash memory cards that can hold 64MB to 128MB, effectively giving the console the functionality of the failed 64DD add-on for the N64. A choice between a 56K modem and broadband adapter was available for online connectivity, but neither of these add-ons were included with the console.

Unlike the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color, which connect using an adapter, the GameCube can interface directly with the Game Boy Advance via the Game Boy Advance to Nintendo GameCube Link Cable to transmit information back and forth. The last title released for the GameCube was Madden NFL 08 (which was also released for the Wii and DS) on August 14, 2007, though first-party development ended six months earlier. In November 2006, the GameCube was succeeded by the Wii (with models released before November 2011 being fully compatible with GameCube games and controllers). Later revisions removed support to save costs. In early 2009, the GameCube was discontinued with 22 million units sold. Hardware and software sales concluded later the same year. In Japan, the GameCube was one of the first two Nintendo systems to have its games rated by the Computer Entertainment Rating Organization (CERO), whose rating system had been put to use during the system's lifetime.

History and development[]

Development on the GameCube began after the launch of the Nintendo 64. Nintendo has stated multiple times that the moment a system is launched, the plans to create its successor are already in motion. Prior to the launch of the GameCube, Nintendo referred to it as the Nintendo Dolphin. Indeed, several video games released near the launch of the console bare references to this popular code name.

Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto has stated that the transition from developing on the Nintendo 64 to the GameCube was fairly easy when compared to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to Nintendo 64 transition. He compared the move to the NES to SNES changeover in that basically the GameCube wasn't as much of a revolution as it was an evolution over its predecessor.

The design of the GameCube has often been criticized. During the launch of the Wii, even Nintendo recognized that several critics thought that the GameCube was designed to look like a toy. The handle in particular caused several pundits to joke that the piece of hardware looked like a lunchbox. The controller, on the other hand, was greatly praised for being comfortable, and the Wavebird in particular was lauded for its wireless capabilities. Nintendo implemented a digital and analog mode in the controller's L and R buttons, new to the system.



The purely epic main menu.

The GameCube menu is unlike the Xbox or PlayStation 2 menus. The music for the GameCube menu seems unique and especially slow at first, but when sped up around 19 times, the tune is actually a slightly lower pitched version of the Famicom Disk System's BIOS.

There are also several Easter egg start-up noises activated by pressing the Z button on a specific amount of controllers. If you hold the Z button on 1 controller when turning the system on, you will hear squeaky noises and a baby's laughter at the end. Holding the Z button on all 4 controllers produces a Japanese oriental style sound effect, with a man shouting a battle cry at the end.


The menu is a cube, and consists of 5 different screens. The first is the picture you see on the right, the second being where you start up the game, the third being where you adjust the screens position and sound, the fourth being where you can erase, copy or move data on your memory cards and the last one tells you the date and time. It was removed when the Nintendo Wii had backward compatibility for the Nintendo GameCube. This has been changed due to Wii having settings for the GameCube memory cards and Wii settings.


Technical specifications[]

Central processing unit (CPU)
  • 486 MHz IBM Gekko PowerPC CPU
  • PowerPC 750CXe-based core
  • 180 nm IBM copper-wire process, 43 mm² die, 4.9 W dissipation
  • Roughly 50 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 GBs peak bandwidth
  • 64 KB 32 KB I/32 KB D L1 cache 8-way associative, 256 KB 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 code named 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 to 12.8 GB/s texture read peak bandwidth,[3] 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
  • 3.2 GB/s main memory bandwidth,[3] under 10 ns latency[4]
  • 4 controller ports, 2 memory card slots
  • MultiAV analog audio/video port interlaced composite, Y/C(NTSC models only), and RGB (PAL models only) video, stereophonic analog audio
  • Digital audio/video port: interlaced or progressive scan YCBCR video, RGB video, stereophonic I²S audio
  • Resolutions: 480i, 576i, 480p
  • High-speed serial ports: 2
    • Serial Port 1 is reserved for a broadband adapter or modem adapter
    • Serial Port 2 is unused
  • High-speed parallel ports 1 (reserved for the Game Boy Player)
  • Power supply output 12 volts DC x 3.25 amperes
  • Physical Measurements 110 mm (H) × 150 mm (W) × 161 mm (D) [4.3 (H) × 5.9 (W) × 6.3 (D)
Graphics processing unit *162 MHz Flipper LSI (co developed by Nintendo and Art X, acquired by ATI)
  • 180 nm NEC eDRAM compatible process
  • 9.4 GFLOPS[4]
  • 4 pixel pipelines with 1 texture unit each [12]
  • 4 pixel shaders, 1 vertex shader, 4 ROP (render output) units[5]
  • TEV Texture EnVironment engine (similar to Nvidia's GeForce-class register combiners)
  • Fixed-function hardware transform and lighting (T&L)
  • Polygon performance
    • 90 million polygons/second raw[3]
    • 20+ million polygons/second in-game [14][6]
  • 648 megapixels/second (162 MHz × 4 pipelines), 648 megatexels/second (648 MP × 1 texture unit) (peak)
    • Peak triangle performance: 20,250,000 32-pixel triangles/second with 1 texture and lit
      • 337,500 triangles a frame at 60 FPS
      • 675,000 triangles a frame at 30 FPS
  • Estimated internal bandwidth: 20-25 GB/s (peak)[3]
  • 8 simultaneous texture layers per pass,[3][6] texture compression, full scene anti-aliasing[14]
  • 8 simultaneous hardware light sources
  • Bilinear, trilinear, and anisotropic texture filtering
  • Multi-texturing, bump mapping, reflection mapping, 24-bit z-buffer
  • 24-bit RGB/32-bit RGBA color depth
    • Hardware limitations sometimes require a 6r+6g+6b+6a mode (18-bit color), resulting in color banding.
  • 720 × 480 interlaced (480i) or progressive scan (480p) - 60 Hz, 720 × 576 interlaced (576i) - 50 Hz
  • Integrated audio processor: Custom 81 MHz Macronix DSP
    • Instruction memory: 8 KB RAM, 8 KB ROM
    • Data memory: 8 KB RAM, 4 KB ROM
    • 64 channels 16-bit 48 kHz ADPCM [14]
    • Dolby Pro Logic II multi-channel information encoded within stereophonic output
GameCube Disc
  • Panasonic-developed CAV miniDVD-like 8 cm optical disc, 2.000 MB/s–3.125 MB/s transfer rate, 128 ms average access time, 1.5 GB capacity
  • Memory cards of varying sizes for saved game storage


Top Ten Best-Selling GameCube Games[]

  1. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001) - 7.41 million
  2. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (2003) - 6.88 million
  3. Super Mario Sunshine (2002) - 5.91 million
  4. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002) - 4.43 million
  5. Luigi's Mansion (2001) - 3.33 million
  6. Mario Party 4 (2002) - 2.29 million
  7. Metroid Prime (2002) - 1.87 million
  8. Star Fox Adventures (2002) - 1.69 million
  9. Mario Party 5 (2003) - 1.64 million
  10. Pikmin (2001) - 1.52 million

Canceled Games[]

Several games were originally under development by Rare for the GameCube. However, the acquisition of the company by Microsoft meant that Rare could not develop for the GameCube anymore, so these games were canceled. With the exception of Donkey Kong Racing, which was altogether cancelled, most other well known projects planned for the GameCube were developed for the Xbox but, due to development issues, eventually released on the Xbox 360. Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo involved cosmetic changes whilst Banjo-Threeie was turned into Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts.


The GameCube performed rather poorly, saleswise (Currently Being Redacted By Scott Wozniak). Following the GameCube's launch, Miyamoto admitted that it had sold far less than he and Nintendo had expected. It is Nintendo's third worst-selling performing system of all time, only doing better than the Virtual Boy and the Wii U. The PlayStation had caused Nintendo to lose its market share during the Nintendo 64 generation, and the GameCube just made matters worse. The PlayStation 2's sales numbers dwarfed those of the GameCube's, while the Xbox sold slightly more.

Interestingly, however, Nintendo made more money during the GameCube generation than their competitors, thanks in part to the Game Boy Advance and the moderate sales of the GameCube and its software. Whereas Nintendo made money almost every year from the launch to the discontinuation of the system, the competition's game departments regularly lost money.

The GameCube featured several titles that are noted for their quality even today. Retro Studios made their video game debut with Metroid Prime on the GameCube. Upon being announced, many speculated whether a Western developer, especially one that had just been established, could create a successor to what was generally regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, Super Metroid.

Their earnest hard work and determination payed off, as Metroid Prime was not only critically acclaimed, but sold millions of units as well. Another Western Nintendo developer, Nintendo Software Technology in Washington, also made a big splash on the GameCube with Wave Race: Blue Storm and 1080° Avalanche. Canadian developer Silicon Knights created one of Nintendo's only Mature rated video games, Eternal Darkness Sanity's Requiem.

While Western developers proved themselves greatly on the system, Japanese companies developed more successful software. Super Smash Bros. Melee is considered by most to be a huge improvement over the Nintendo 64 original Super Smash Bros., and is the best selling title on the system. The GameCube was also the height of the Mario Party franchise, with an astounding four video games being released for the system, more than any other console. The Pikmin franchise began on the GameCube, with Pikmin and Pikmin 2 both being huge successes for Nintendo.

The GameCube was the last Nintendo console that Rare, the English developer known for Donkey Kong Country, Banjo-Kazooie, and GoldenEye 007, developed for. After a lackluster reception for Star Fox Adventures, Nintendo sold their shares in Rare to Microsoft for over $300 million. Microsoft has stated that they purchased Rare in order to lighten their image, despite one of Rare's first games for the company being a remake to the M rated Nintendo 64 title Conker's Bad Fur Day.



Wii Nintendo GameCube Disc Channel

Nintendo GameCube disc channel in Nintendo Wii

  • It was the only Nintendo console that launched with the Mario spin-off game.
  • The Wiggles had used the console's controllers during Fly Through the Sky on their Top of the Tots video.
  • It was the first Nintendo home console since the Color-TV Game to have the bestseller not a Mario game.
  • The GameCube startup has become a very popular internet meme.
  • When the menu music is sped up 19 times, it sounds the same as the Famicom Disc System's startup jingle.
  • It’s the first Nintendo console with two Star Fox games.
  • In The Super Mario Bros. Movie, the GameCube startup jingle is heard when Luigi's phone rings.

See also[]