The Nintendo GameCube 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 Nintendo's Wii.
The Nintendo GameCube is the first Nintendo console to use optical discs as its primary storage medium, after several aborted forays by Nintendo in disc-based storage media. In contrast with the GameCube's competing consoles, the Xbox , PlayStation 2 and the Dreamcast , the GameCube uses miniDVD-based discs instead of full-size DVDs. As a result, it does not have the DVD-Video playback functionality of the Xbox and PlayStation 2 nor the audio CD playback ability of previous consoles that used 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 officially support online play. It also allowed for connectivity to the contemporary Game Boy Advance to access exclusive features of certain games.
The console was released on September 14, 2001 in Japan, 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 has used several advertising strategies and techniques for the GameCube. The earliest commercials displayed a rotating cube video, which would morph into the GameCube logo. A female voice whispered "GameCube". This was usually after the normal commercial for a GameCube game.
Subsequent ad campaigns had Nintendo advertising with a "Who Are You?" tangent 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 gamer enjoys playing suggests a dominant trait in that gamer's personality. The "Who Are You?" logo is similar to graffiti 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.
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 "default" color) and "Jet Black". Later, Nintendo released GameCubes with a "Platinum" color scheme, marketed as limited edition. "Orange Spice" GameCubes were also manufactured, but primarily only released in Japan; however, the standard controller was widely available in this color.
The GameCube's model numbers, DOL-001 and 101, are a reference to its Dolphin codename. The official accessories and peripherals have model numbers beginning with DOL as well. Also, other types of Nintendo hardware before and after the GameCube has its developer's codename as a model number. 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 performs 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 but only special NR discs burned by a Nintendo NR writer.
Like its competitor, the PlayStation 2, the GameCube uses memory cards for saving game data (unlike the Xbox, which has a built-in hard drive). The GameCube Memory Card comes in multiple sizes, the three official size units are: 59 blocks (grey card), 251 blocks (black), and 1019 block (white). Cheaper third-party memory cards are also available. There are 2 ports for two Memory Cards, just like the PS2.
The Nintendo GameCube Game Disc is the 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 in North America and Europe (the Famicom Disk System and Nintendo 64DD were only released in 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 cables from those systems to be used interchangeably.
Nintendo found that the digital AV port was used by less than one percent of users, causing the port to be removed from consoles manufactured after May 2004.
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, and a D-pad. 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 in the middle 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.
A wireless variation of the controller was later released, called the WaveBird. It operates using radio frequency, and is powered by two AA batteries. The rumble feature was removed to accommodate this. The WaveBird controller is mainly available in two different colors, "Grey" and "Platinum" (silver). Two additional limited edition variations were made available through Club Nintendo in Japan, "Gundam Copper" (red) and "Club Nintendo" (white and light blue).
The GameCube controller comes in four major colors: "Jet Black", "Indigo", "Platinum" (silver) and "Orange Spice", all of which matching available colours of GameCube consoles. Limited edition consoles came with "Pearl" (white), "Starlight Gold" and, in Japan, "Symphonic Green" (mint green) and "Gundam Copper" (red) controllers, as well as offering a WaveBird version of the latter. Nintendo later offered an "Indigo" controller with a clear bottom, as well as limited edition "Mario Red and Blue", "Luigi Green and Blue", "Wario Yellow and Purple" and "Emerald Blue" controllers in Japan. In April 2008, Nintendo released a white controller exclusively in Japan, as a result of increased demand of the controller due to GameCube backwards compatibility on Wii and the fact that two Wii games support the controller as a primary method of control. It differs from previous editions in that it features a white cable which is 3 meters long.
The GameCube controller, in both its original wired version and the wireless WaveBird version, is compatible with the Wii. Virtual Console games and certain Wii and WiiWare games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii, Sonic Unleashed and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King and several others can be played with a GameCube controller.
Anascape Ltd, a Texas-based firm, filed a lawsuit against Nintendo for patent infringements regarding Nintendo's controllers. A July 2008 verdict found that a ban would be issued preventing Nintendo from selling the regular GameCube and WaveBird controllers in the United States. Nintendo is free to continue selling the controllers pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
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 expiration of the warranty period.