The Playstation was undisputed king of the 32-bit generation, with the Nintendo 64 coming in second place. It looked as if the Playstation 2 was going to follow in its predecessor's footsteps, too, after thoroughly trouncing the Dreamcast in the ensuing battle of the 128-bit machines. In other words, it would be difficult - if not impossible - for a newly-launched console to topple it from its throne. Thankfully, Nintendo decided not to attempt this.
Instead, speculation began to build about 'Project Dolphin', a console in development by Ninty aimed squarely at being one thing: an all-powerful games machine. It was to use a proprietary games format, breaking away (at last) from the Nintendo tradition of using cartridges. It was to have a cool controller (It does indeed). It was, in essance, going to be a true Nintendo console, doing away with the new-found fads such as online gaming and the ability to play DVDs.
Finally, in the spring of 2002, it arrived. Hot on the heels of the X-Box, the GameCube was launched, propelling Nintendo into the latest bout of the console wars. It currently sits in second place, with recent special offers and price cuts causing a surge of interest in the console. A number of exclusive games from the likes of Capcom, Sega and Nintendo themselves should also help keep interest in the console alive.
The GameCube continues the Nintendo tradition of having a number of different-coloured versions of their consoles available, with the 'Cube available in colours such as purple, black, green, orange, and silver. It's a nice looking machine, no matter what colour scheme you look at, with a number of cool features - the four controller ports on the front making multi-player games simple to set up, and the console even has a carrying handle on the back!
GameCube! In lovely Spice Orange flavour.
CPU: A 128-bit IBM PowerPC processor named 'Gekko', running at a tasty 405Mhz.
GPU: A graphics chipset designed by ATi, named 'Flipper'. This runs at 162Mhz.
RAM: 24Mb of main RAM, with 16Mb of video RAM thrown in as well.
Maximum Polygon count: About 6-12 Million polygons per second - that's with fully textured, detailed models
Media: Proprietary 3-inch mini-DVD. Very quick load times, and virtually impossible to pirate.
Naturally, Nintendo want consumers to own both a GameCube and Game Boy Advance. Therefore, they have released a number of accessories to help link their systems:
Boy Advance Link Cable: This plugs into a controller port on the 'Cube, and
allows communication between the two machines. For example, mini-games can be
downloaded to the GBA. The first game to make use of this was Sonic Adventure
2: Battle, but many more have now included cross-platform features.
Game Boy Player: This connects to the underside of the GameCube, and acts much like the SNES' Super Game Boy - it lets you play virtually any Game Boy game on your TV.
Then come the accessories for the console itself. Despite virtually no games supporting them, two modems are available for the GameCube - a standard 56k modem, and a Broadband Adaptor. Thankfully, the latter is now coming into a different use, with some games supporting networking between 'Cubes for multiplayer gaming, LAN-style. Which is nice. Hopefully, Nintendo's next console will be slightly more geared towards using the Internet.
The controllers are wonderful. Both a standard GameCube controller, and the wireless 'Wavebird' are excellent, being easy to hold, having buttons in the right places, and generally being nicely done. They, like the console, come in every colour under the sun.