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GamesFirst! Magazine

Nintendo GameCube Info Roundup
May 20, 2001

System Release Dates:
Japan – September 14, 2001
US – November 18, 2001
Europe – Early 2002 (we’ll keep you posted)

Price: $199 in US

Check out our Gamecube launch coverage:
Nintendo Gamecube: The Little System That Could
and
A Gamecube Checklist

Want the tech specs? Click here.

 

While there were many points of interest at E3 this year, the most consistently really crowded booth was Nintendo’s, where gamers flocked, nay swarmed, to see the GameCube. For those skeptics out there who think the general mediocrity of the N64 experience has soured gamers, witness the intense interest shown for the new system. Let’s face it, the N64 has suffered from a general lack of titles, and some companies have released really terrible games for it, further causing pain to gamers who have been forced to pursue the "any port in a storm" strategy (Big Mountain 2000 comes to mind, er, flashes painfully across my memory). However, there have been some very good titles, and it’s no mistake that the best titles on the system have been made by Nintendo and it’s 2nd party developer, Rare. Nintendo is, in many ways, the Disney of the gaming world – they have created and continue to create incredibly popular and lasting characters, who appear in all sorts of games and have firmly lodged themselves in the hearts of mainstream USA (as well as mainstream everywhere else).

Click for larger image.The GameCube should nicely re-instill Nintendo in the hearts of gamers everywhere. In many ways, it is the only true "gaming system". Although Microsoft insists the Xbox is for pure gaming, Microsoft press releases regarding the South American launch of the Xbox cite their strategy as offering affordable Internet access to folks who don’t already have it. The PlayStation 2 is an obvious multimedia machine, and Sony touted it as "not a gaming system" at E3 2000. While both of these systems are undoubtedly built to game on, they are not exclusively gaming system. Nintendo has made the conscious choice to remain focused on games, being noncommital about their modem and online gaming, and going with a DVD-format mini-disc that, while protecting from piracy, also makes the GameCube unable to play DVD movies, the only next-gen system that is hindered in such a way. However, that’s obviously not a hindrance to the games. Nintendo showed both broadband and analog modem network adapters for the GameCube, which may or may not be available at the launch.

Click for larger image.The little purple box is much more appealing after viewing and playing games on it. The graphics are uniformly spectacular, and the gameplay continues the Nintendo tradition of mixing traditional elements with innovative new concepts. The controller seems to be the most controversial element of the system. Some have said it is too small and crowded, while others rave about the feel and quality of control. But the GameCube will not suffer from a shortage of controller options, including an official optional controller, the Wavebird. The Wavebird will not be packaged with the system, but will allow gamers wireless play using RF technology. This technology is a big thing in gaming now, especially with RCA’s adoption of Eleven Engineering’s Spike technology, so expect wireless controllers to become de rigeur for the next-gen systems. The GameCube also supports digital video output, and an optional digital video cable will be available at launch. In addition to all these doo-dads, the GameCube connects to the Game Boy Advance, making it the smartest controller out there. Details about what the connection will allow, precisely, are sketchy. Still, it looks cool.

Click for larger image.For adult gamers who feel the purple and that big handle will clash with their chic living room furnishings, Panasonic unveiled their own version of the GameCube, developed in secret until E3. The chrome unit looks very much like a bookshelf stereo system, features all the hardware and ports of the GameCube (including the four controller ports and memory card slots), as well as CD and DVD playback, and a suave digital display. Details about the Panasonic version of the system are sketchy, but look for many more GameCube tie-ins between Panasonic and Nintendo. In addition to the second version of the system, Panasonic will manufacture special 64 MB memory cards to allow the GameCube to interact with Panasonic products. Normal memory cards for the system are 32 MB Flash cards.

The most significant drawback to the system is the number of games available. Nintendo owners are either frustrated with or resigned to the fact that fewer games come out for the N64, and many hoped for more titles on the GameCube. While the GameCube will undoubtedly be supported by many developers, and I have high hopes for more titles coming available on the system, it will only launch with five titles, and only another three will come out between launch and Christmas of 2001.

Launch titles:

Luigi’s Mansion
Super Smash Bros. Melee
StarFox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet
NBA Courtside 2002
Wave Race Blue Storm

Titles due by Christmas 2001:
Pikmin
Eternal Darkness
Monkey Ball
Phantasy Star (Online? Maybe, maybe not.)

In addition to these games, titles announced for the GameCube include: Metroid Prime (2002), Kameo: Elements of Power (2002), Raven Blade (2002), Donkey Kong Racing (2002), Disney’s Mickey (2002). Fear not Mario fans, as Nintendo has confirmed that a Mario game will be released, but had no time frame for or details about the game. On another note, Working Designs has announced that they will begin making titles for the GameCube, although they haven’t announced any titles so far.

Overall, the GameCube will be an important next-gen system, and the high quality of the games available for it at launch will make it painful to pass up. For many folks, the GameCube is the only system worth waiting for, and I don’t anticipate much of an effect on either the sales of GameCube or Xbox because of their incredibly close release dates (GameCube will beat Xbox to market by three days). At a $199 price tag, the GameCube is possibly the best value out there for your gaming buck.

Shawn Rider

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