Igncube's Ultimate faq (Frequently Asked Questions) Author's Note

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IGNcube's Ultimate

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Author's Note:
Herein is all the information and facts currently known about GameCube, Nintendo's next-generation console. What is written within is only as much as we've been told, and because the GameCube has not launched this FAQ is subject to change. Further, because there is some uncertainty and unknown information, IGNcube (http://cube.ign.com) occasionally provides anonymous developer insight and intelligent speculation. In the future, if a story related to GameCube breaks, rest assured that all relevant information will be quickly added to our FAQ. Whenever changes are introduced to the FAQ, it will appear on IGNcube as a news story with any additional material highlighted.

Consider this your one-stop destination for all Nintendo GameCube related information and news.

The History of Nintendo 64.

It was three years ago, in September of 1996, that the Nintendo 64 was launched in the United States. The 64-bit home-console, the successor to the hugely popular Super NES, proved to be a remarkable success for Nintendo of America. But even as US N64 sales soared, Japanese gamers, with literally no titles to turn to after beating Super Mario 64, were returning the console to retailers across the country. Nintendo 64 has never fully recovered in the homeland, always remaining a distant second to Sony's 32-bit PlayStation.

On the US side, however, the console has never slowed down, boasting a library of huge hits ranging from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to GoldenEye 007. In fact, the combined Nintendo 64 popularity in the US and Europe has amounted to a library of 64-bit titles that have sold in the millions.

A Humbled Nintendo Reacts to the Competition.
A chain of events may have forced Nintendo to prematurely take part in the next-generation console race:

  • Sega unveils its next-generation console, Sega Dreamcast, May 21, 1998, in Tokyo, Japan.

  • Sega Dreamcast launches in Japan on November 27, 1998.

  • Sony unveils "The next PlayStation" (PlayStation 2) technology to the press in Tokyo, Japan on March 2, 1999.

  • Sony sets a target release date for PlayStation 2 in Japan: "…within the fiscal year ending March 2000."

  • Sony sets a target release date for PlayStation 2 in the US: "Fall 2000."

On March 3, 1999, one day after PlayStation 2's unveiling, Nintendo commented, "We are developing a more advanced videogame system, but we are not providing any specifics at this time."

It was clear, however, that the specifics of the system—or at least some of them—would be made available soon. Nintendo would have to make an announcement. Only a few months later, it did.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the name of Nintendo's new videogame console – the successor to the Nintendo 64?

Up until more recently, the official Nintendo codename for the console was indeed Project Dolphin. And, for a brief period Nintendo Japan was considering the name Star Cube. However, Nintendo's North American subsidiaries were not happy with the title and therefore a compromise was struck. The official name for Nintendo's next-generation console is GAMECUBE.

The Issue of Console Size GameCube is a lot smaller than it looks in pictures. To give you an idea of just how tiny the console is, IGNcube reader Brett Seldon has put together this render comparing GameCube's physical size with that of Dreamcast and PlayStation 2. It's an interesting idea, and we definitely recommend viewing it.

Why was the console previously codenamed Dolphin by Nintendo?

During a pre-E3 1999 press conference, Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln admitted that he wasn't sure. Evidently those involved with the development of the console code-named it. Lincoln mused that maybe they liked Dolphins.

When was the announcement made?

The first official announcement of GameCube's existence was on May 12, 1999 at a Nintendo-held press conference in Los Angeles—just one day prior to E3 '99. The company announced the next-generation console's "Dolphin" codename, business partners, development partners and released a brief summary of official system specs. Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln delivered a confident speech regarding the future game machine.

When was GameCube fully unveiled to the public?

After more than a year of silence, on August 24th, just one day prior to Nintendo's private Spaceworld 2000 show, the company unveiled and demonstrated GameCube.

What exactly did Nintendo reveal about the console on its August 24 unveiling?

Nintendo revealed the official name, full specs, hardware casing, controller designs, peripheral add-ons, modems, broadband plans, and more. It also showcased several software "demos" running on the console's powerful hardware in real-time and streaming FMV format.

What software was demonstrated at Spaceworld 2000? Some of the demos that were shown include the following:

  • Meowth's Party

  • Wave Race Game Cube

  • Metroid Game Cube

  • Luigi's Mansion

  • Zelda Game Cube

  • Rogue Squadron Game Cube

  • Rare Demos

  • Rebirth

  • Too Human

  • Cars

What companies has Nintendo partnered with to make GameCube?

Currently, the companies we know Nintendo affiliated with for GameCube include Matsushita, IBM, NEC, ArtX, Macronix, MoSys, S3, Applied Microsystems, Factor 5, Metrowerks and Conexant.

  • Matsushita

Matsushita (best known by its Panasonic brand name), the largest consumer electronics company in the world, develops, manufactures and supplies Nintendo with a proprietary disc drive for incorporation into the GameCube. Along with the disc drive Matsushita will also manufacture the 8cm (optical) discs for GameCube. The discs themselves will also have a highly secure encryption scheme to prevent piracy.

Currently Nintendo's version of GameCube does not support DVD-movie playback, but Matsushita plans to offer a DVD-player that will. Howard Lincoln said, "[GameCube]'s technology will be integrated into various Matsushita or Panasonic branded DVD consumer electronic products, enabling consumers to play movies and music as well as GameCube games published by Nintendo and Nintendo's third party publishers." So, in essence, specific Matsushita DVD players will theoretically be able to play GameCube software as well. However, because of the size of the mini-DVDs, GameCube is not equipped or designed to handle DVD movies.

  • IBM

In a deal between Nintendo and IBM reaching over $1 billion, IBM has designed and currently manufactures a unique 405 MHz central processor unit featuring industry-leading 0.18 micron copper technology GameCube. The chip, dubbed the "Gekko" processor, is an extension of the IBM PowerPC architecture.

The two companies have also agreed to explore the potential use of IBM technology in other Nintendo products as well. The current arrangement called for IBM to design, manufacture and ship copper processors to Nintendo.

The Gekko includes a hefty 256KB of Level 2 cache memory and more efficient data management between the processor and the game system's primary graphics chip.

"In my mind, I'd always envisioned what a game like Zelda could look like, and with the N64, I was able to create it," comments Shigeru Miyamoto. "Now, with the Gekko processor, I can see an opportunity to take game designs to a new level."

Speaking at the Nintendo pre-E3 '99 press conference, Howard Lincoln boasted that only IBM possesses the technology to manufacture chips using copper circuitry. "Nobody else in the world can do what IBM does," said Lincoln. "And quite frankly, anything less is simply not state of the art technology."

GameCube processor chips are manufactured at IBM's high-volume manufacturing facility in Burlington, VT.

  • NEC

NEC, manufactures an ArtX-designed graphics chip codenamed "Flipper" as well as the GameCube's memory components. Flipper will house 3MB of embedded 1T-SRAM. Comparatively, Sony's PS2 features 4MBs of eDRAM on its graphics chip, but also draws upon additional system RAM continuously. Nintendo has 40MB of system RAM to draw on; 24MBs of that is 1T-SRAM and 16MBs of that is A-Memory(100MHz DRAM).

NEC is spending an estimated 80 billion-yen ($761 million) to construct a factory in southern Japan that will concentrate on the production of GameCube semiconductors. The company began development of the new facilities, located adjacently to its Japan headquarters, in November 1999. Nintendo has reportedly already ordered more than 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) worth in semiconductors for its next-generation machine.

  • ArtX

ArtX is a graphics engineering start-up based in Palo Alto, California. The company, led by Silicon Graphics Inc.'s former head of Nintendo operations, Wei Yen, has developed the "Flipper" graphics chip for GameCube. Incidentally, Yen and team were primarily responsible for Nintendo 64's graphic architecture.

According to Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln, "Dr. Yen has assembled at ArtX one of the best teams of 3D graphics engineers on the planet." After seeing what GameCube is capable of, that can be considered as fact.

Also to note is thatArtX was acquired by the respected PC graphics technologies company, ATI, on February 16, 2000. The $400 million deal provides ATI a gateway into the console market through ArtX's involvement with GameCube.

"ATI now becomes a major supplier to the game console market via Nintendo," said a company spokesperson."

Basically, the deal doesn't change much so far as GameCube enthusiasts are concerned. The ArtX chipset will remain intact and will still be delivered exclusively to Nintendo. The only difference is that ATI will also be drawing profits (we hope) from it.

  • Macronix

Macronix's manufactured GameCube's audio DSP which ArtX added to the design of the Flipper chip.

The memory add-on is called the Digicard, and will be capable of storing 1/2MBs of data. However, as that isn't a huge amount there will be a SD-Digicard adapter. This adapter will allow for a connection with Panasonic's SD Memory Cards which currently have as low as a 32MB density, but will be available in 256MB by late 2001. GameCube is currently scheduled to utilize a 64MB SD Memory card.

  • MoSys

Sunnyvale-based MoSys is the company behind 1T-SRAM technology, which will make the graphics chip and the Gekko CPU work in perfect harmony with each other—and at blazing speed. There is 24MB of 1T-SRAM main memory the Gekko CPU and Flipper graphics chip can access. As of the year 2000, this is one of the largest implementations of static RAM in consumer product history.

MoSys first announced its partnership with Nintendo in September 1999. "1T" refers to the single transistor feature while the "S" means that the RAM is static as opposed to dynamic (DRAM). The static nature of the SRAM is intended to give the Gekko chip immediate access to all the info it needs which is what gives the GameCube its incredible speed.

  • S3 Inc. (Sonic Blue)

To better provide texture performance on GameCube, Nintendo called upon S3 for their S3TC texture compression technology.

When the deal was made, Howard Lincoln explained, "S3 will be a major force in accelerating the performance we'll achieve on [GameCube]. With their unique graphics compression technology, developers will be able to provide players with more complex and colorful graphics. Coupled with our previously announced strategic agreements with companies like IBM, Matsushita, ArtX and MoSys, incorporation of S3 technology will make GameCube a console without equal."

  • Applied Microsystems

To ensure that developers had the best development environment available, Nintendo partnered with several software and hardware companies. One of those was Applied Microsystems, Corp. (AMC). It was been selected to design and manufacture the critical development hardware developers will use to create GameCube games.

"We're pleased we were chosen to work with Nintendo on [GameCube]," says Stephen J. Verleye, President and CEO, Applied Microsystems, Corp. "AMC has led the embedded systems tools market for more than 20 years, so we have much to offer this next generation of console."

Initially AMC provided emulation devices to mimic GameCube, but because of the systems final state real development hardware is being shipped. Early reports suggest the development hardware is so good it only took a matter of weeks to port the emulated code onto the GameCube system hardware. Normally it takes months. The hardware is designed to be efficient and encourages a faster time-to-market.

Other news also suggests the development hardware will eventually integrate tools for online gaming.

  • Factor 5

The agreement between Nintendo and Factor 5 extends through the lifecycle of GameCube. Factor 5 is providing its acclaimed MusyX Audio Tools (formerly known as MoSys FX) as the primary sound software for the console and its developers. Using it, programmers can compose real-time music and sound effects that can be made to interact with players -- all with a degree of audio quality that rivals studio-engineered streaming music. Also, because GameCube uses a propriety disc format, streaming red book audio is also possible.

"Nintendo is the first game console manufacturer to recognize the evolution of sound as an integral part of their [GameCube]," said Julian Eggebrecht, President, Factor 5. "Their system will be more powerful than anything else out there, and we're thrilled to work with them."

For a full breakdown of MusyX technology click here.

  • Metrowerks

The Austin, Texas-based Metrowerks is best known for its CodeWarrior compiler for Nintendo 64. For GameCube, Metrowerks is providing a custom version of its acclaimed CodeWarrior software development tools, which enables developers to create GameCube software using popular programming languages. In a nutshell, CodeWarrior provides a sleek programming environment to aid developers, and efficiently compiles written code so that it may be used in conjunction with the GameCube.

"Our Dolphin-specific CodeWarrior will streamline the [GameCube] game development process giving designers ease of use and the ability to access the unique features of the [GameCube] system and the Gekko chip," explained Greg Galanos, President and Chief Technology Officer of Metrowerks. "We're pleased to work with Nintendo on this important hardware system and look forward to the results of this partnership."

  • Conexant

Conexant will build and supply a V90 56k modem as well as a broadband adapter for GameCube. The modem will work in conjunction with the console to allow platform owners a dial-up connection to an online network where they will presumably be able to trade data and play games. The broadband adapter should allow for users with cable or DSL service to use their high-bandwidth services if they so wish. Nintendo has not announced its Internet strategy, but sources say the strategy is very solid and not something Nintendo has glanced over.

"Dolphin will combine Nintendo's world-class design and beloved franchise characters with the expansion of the world of gaming by an online network," said Genyo Takeda, Nintendo's corporate director and general manager of integrated research and development.

Former Nintendo of America technical director Jim Merrick has recently been promoted within the company and is now heading up its online network for GameCube, still top secret and yet to be formally announced.

  • Numerical Design Limited

Middle-ware designer NDT has created the NetImmerse 3D Game Engine, which can be licensed by GameCube developers. The engine gives software houses an easy to use software package that includes everything from the API to tools and support, and could shave six months or more off development time, according to the company.

What are the official specifications for GameCube?

MPU (Microprocessor Unit): IBM Gekko Processor (an extension of the IBM Power PC architecture)

MPU (Microprocessor Unit): IBM PowerPC "Gekko"

  • Manufacturing process: 0.18 Microns Copper Wire Technology

  • Clock frequency: 405mhz

  • CPU capacity: 925 Dmips (Dhrystone 2.1)

  • Internal data precision: 32bit & 64bit floating point

  • External bus bandwidth: 1.6GB/second (peak), (32bit address, 64bit data bus 202.5mhz)

  • Internal cache: L1: Instruction 32KB, Data 32KB (8 way), L2: 256KB (2 way)

System LSI: "Flipper"

  • Manufacturing process: 0.18 microns NEC Embedded DRAM Process

  • Clock frequency: 202.5mhz

  • Embedded frame buffer: Approx. 2MB, Sustainable Latency: 5ns (1T-SRAM)

  • Embedded Texture Cache: Approx. 1MB, Sustainable Latency: 5ns (1T-SRAM)

  • Texture Read Bandwidth: 12.8GB/second (peak)

  • Main Memory Bandwidth: 3.2GB/second (peak)

  • Color, Z Buffer: Each is 24bits

  • Image Processing Function: Fog, subpixel anti-aliasing, HW light x8, alpha blending, virtual texture design, multi-texture mapping/bump/environment mapping, MIPMAP, bilinear filtering, real-time texture decompression (S3TC), etc.

  • Other: Real-time decompression of display list, HW motion compensation capability

The Gekko MPU integrates the PowerPC CPU into a custom game-centric chip.

(The following sound related functions are all incorporated into the system LSI)

  • Sound processor: Special 16bit DSP

  • Instruction memory: 8KB RAM + 8KB ROM

  • Data memory: 8KB RAM + 4KB ROM

  • Clock frequency: 101.25mhz

  • Minimum number of simultaneously produced sounds: ADPCM: 64ch

  • Sampling frequency: 48khz

  • System floating point arithmetic capability: 13.0GFLOPS (peak), (MPU, Geometry Engine, HW Lighting Total)

  • Actual display capability: 6 million to 12 million polygons per second (display capability assuming actual game with complexity model, texture, etc.)

  • Main memory: 24MB sustainable latency, (10ns or lower 1T-SRAM)

  • A-Memory: 16MB (100mhz DRAM)

  • Disc Drive: CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) system average access time 128ns, Data transfer speed: 16Mbpsto 25Mbps

  • Media: 8cm Nintendo GameCube Disc based on Matsushita's optical disc technology – approximately 1.5GB capacity

  • Input: Controller port: x4, Digicard slot: x2, Analog AV output: x1, Digital AV output: x1, High-speed serial port: x2, High-speed parallel port: x1

  • Power supply: AC Adapter DC12V x 3.5A

  • Main unit dimensions: 150mm/5.9in(W) x 110mm/4.3in(H) x 161mm/6.3in(D)

Additional Information

  • Nintendo promises quick access time comparable to a silicon cartridge.

  • Manufacturing cost and time will be minimal.

  • Geometry engine (transformation & lighting) on-board.

What is S3TC?

S3TC, which is hardwired into the graphics chip, provides a 6:1 ratio for compressing textures. Which means if a developer wants to cram 50MB of textures into GameCube, it will only cost them about 8MB of memory space, and because the technology is part of the graphics chip it won't affect the system resources. What all this means is that GameCube features exquisitely detailed textures with great variance instead of ones that are monotonous and blurry.

If you haven't come to an understanding by now, simply know that S3TC will be a very important part of GameCube's graphical abilities; in fact, one of the most important. By employing S3TC in every game from the systems launch forward, developers will achieve stunning graphics. In the end, texture performance is the perfect marriage for GameCube's high polygon pushing performance. As cliché as it sounds, S3TC is the icing on this graphical cake.

What is 1T-SRAM?

MoSys 1T-SRAM technology (which is available in densities up to 128Mbits) uses a single transistor cell to achieve high density while maintaining the refresh-free interface and low latency random access memory access cycle time associated with traditional six-transistor SRAM cells. Embedded 1T-SRAM, as used in the GameCube console, enables designers to get beyond the density limits of six-transistor SRAMs. It also reduces much of the circuit complexity and extra cost associated with using embedded DRAM. 1T-SRAM memories can be fabricated in either pure logic or embedded memory processes using as little as one ninth of the area of traditional six-transistor SRAM cores. In addition to the high performance and density, this technology offers dramatic power consumption savings by using under a quarter of the power of traditional SRAM memories.

How does GameCube fare against the competition?

Nintendo has released some rather vague specifications for GameCube, so it's hard to say definitively how much more or less powerful it may be. However, developers say GameCube is a more powerful machine than the PlayStation 2, and the demonstrations shown at Spaceworld 2000 back that up. The following chart compares what we officially know about Nintendo's next-generation console to the competition.

Polygon Power

[Note: We're unable to accurately compare the specifications for the below consoles because the method the companies used to measure performance are so different. Sony and Microsoft's numbers are unrealistic and denote the raw (read: not real) performance of their respective systems, while Nintendo and Sega's numbers are based on real performance during gameplay. With that said, the figures you see are just smoke and numbers. We refer you to compare the actual games.]

  • GameCube: 6 to 12 million polygons per second (conservative, but realistic estimate)

  • PlayStation 2: 75 million polygons per second (realistically first-gen games are more like 3-5 million)

  • Xbox: 150 million polygons per second (does not consider real gameplay environments)

  • Dreamcast: Roughly 3 million polygons per second

  • Nintendo 64: Around 150,000 polygons per second

  • PlayStation: Around 360,000 polygons per second (lacks comparable effects)

Main Clock Speed
  • GameCube: 405MHz

  • PlayStation 2: 300MHz

  • Xbox: 733MHz

  • Dreamcast: 200MHz

  • Nintendo 64: 93.75MHz

  • PlayStation: 33.86MHz


  • GameCube: 24MB of 1T-SRAM (main), 16MB of 100MHz DRAM (main), and 3MB of embedded 1T-SRAM in the graphics chip

  • PlayStation 2: 32MB Direct Rambus RAM (main), 4MB of embedded DRAM on the graphics chip

  • Xbox: 64MB of RAM (unified memory architecture)

  • Dreamcast: 16MB (plus 8MB Video RAM, 2MB Sound RAM)

  • Nintendo 64: 4MB (+parity) Rambus D-RAM (expandable to 8MB)

  • PlayStation: 2MB (plus 1MB Video RAM, 512kb Sound RAM)

Memory Bus Bandwidth

  • GameCube: 3.2 GB/s (Gigabytes per second)

  • PlayStation 2: 3.2 GB/s (Gigabytes per second)

  • Xbox: 6.4GB/s (Gigabytes per second)

  • Dreamcast: 800 MB/s (Megabytes per second)

  • Nintendo 64: 500 MB/s (Megabytes per second) or about 0.5 GB/s

  • PlayStation: 132 MB/s (Megabytes per second)

Software Format

  • GameCube: Proprietary GameCube (Optical) Disc, 1.5 GB capacity

  • PlayStation 2: Proprietary DVD, 4.7 GB capacity

  • Xbox: Proprietary DVD, 4.7 GB capacity

  • Dreamcast: Propriety CD, 1 GB capacity

  • Nintendo 64: Cartridge, 64MB capacity (so far)

  • PlayStation: CD, 650 MB capacity

An explanation GameCube's storage format.

Nintendo GameCube Disc: Holds 1.5 Gigabytes of data condensed onto an 8cm in diameter disc. If you compare the data storage capacity of the media to one of Nintendo 64's most popular games, Super Mario 64 (which holds 8MBs), you'll find that the GameCube disc can store 190 times the data -- or roughly twice the amount of a regular CD game.

"This 8cm pocket size disc that can fit in your pocket was designed to be an advanced medium that can be easily inserted/removed from the main drive and is user-friendly for all levels," says Nintendo on its GameCube disc. "Also in the near future, when you consider the merging of TV games in the home and portable games, we are confident that this fashionably-sized disc will lead the way for entertainment in the 21st Century and become the de facto standard for the game industry." When questioned if future handheld devices from Nintendo (beyond Game Boy Advance) would utilize the mini-DVD-sized medium, a company representative hinted that it was a possibility.

The inner curves of the 8cm disc, which feature proper branding, are also key to the protection against piracy -- and like the disc itself, are provided from Matsushita Electric Industrial Company's proprietary technology.

Will these proprietary discs be expensive to make games for?

No. "Proprietary" doesn't necessarily mean expensive -- cartridge manufacturing does. Don't confuse the two. Sega's GD-ROMs are proprietary in nature while still cost effective and easily manufactured. Nintendo's proprietary GameCube discs will not inflate the costs of development, and in fact the company has said that its licensing fees for third-parties are comparable, if not better than those of competitor Sony's for PlayStation 2.

What does the controller look like and how does it function?

The Nintendo GameCube controller features seven buttons, two analog stick (one of which is used primarily for camera positioning), a D-Pad and built in rumble motor. Nintendo comments: "To make the controller easy to use and feel more stable we have designed two grips and compiled the controls for the left and right hands into two 'systems.'"

"Also, with the manner in which the buttons on the right side are arranged, the A Button home position can be set, making the role of each button more intuitive," says Nintendo. "In terms of functionality, another analog control stick was added, and an actual analog trigger was added to both the right and left. An even wider variety of operations are now possible. Furthermore, a rumble motor was implemented so the inconvenience of removing/inserting the Rumble Pak and In addition to the standard GameCube controllers, Nintendo has also developed the Wavebird -- a wireless version of the regular joypad. It uses a Radio Frequency system and can transmit controller data up to 10 meters -- much more distance than any game players would need while interacting with the console. The console port wireless adapter you see in the picture (to your left) is only in prototype stage and Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto has commented that it will likely be more stylish by the time it is released next year.

Have development kits shipped to developers?

Yes. Since August 2000 all first- and second-party houses have been in possession of working development kits. Most third-parties, meanwhile, save for the bigger companies like EA, Capcom and Konami, are still waiting for hardware, and will continue to do so until late January 2001, when final kits go out to everybody.

The general opinion amongst those who have GameCube development kits is that the hardware lives up to all expectations and it is considerably easier to program for than PlayStation 2.

Will GameCube play N64 cartridges?

No, obviously. The console will only play proprietary 1.5GB GameCube Discs developed by Matsushita. The next-generation console will not be backward compatible with Nintendo 64 games for three major reasons:

  • 1. GameCube's internal architecture is entirely different from that in Nintendo 64.

  • 2. GameCube is a proprietary disc-based console.

  • 3. Backward compatibility is not important enough to justify a significant increase in the price of the console in order to implement it.

Will GameCube be able to play DVD movies?

Two different versions of GameCube are planned. A Nintendo-released "base" unit will not support DVD playback. Nintendo is marketing the console as a videogame machine—nothing else. To this end, the console is expected to be very cheap and mass-market friendly. However, a Matsushita-branded version of the GameCube console is also planned for release—initially in Japan. This machine will feature DVD playback, but will be more expensive.

Why won't Nintendo's "base" unit just include DVD playback?

Nintendo claims that it is targeting its GameCube as a videogame console only. However, logic tells us that price is also a major issue. In accordance with the DVD Forum (formerly DVD Consortium), an organization founded and maintained by major electronics manufacturers worldwide, any corporation wishing to release a DVD-branded device capable of playing DVD movies into the mass-market must pay a fee of approximately $20 per unit to the Forum. Therefore, Nintendo would have to pay $20 to the Forum for every GameCube unit shipped—an amount of money that, it seems, is unacceptable. Add to that the fact that Nintendo wants to use copy-protected, differently-sized DVDs.

Will Matsushita's DVD capable version of GameCube ship at the same time as Nintendo's "base" unit?

Yes. Matsushita plans to release its DVD-movie playback ready version of GameCube July 2001 in Japan. It will be more expensive. Currently this version of GameCube is only scheduled for release in Japan -- not the rest of the world.

Will Nintendo release an add-on or upgrade for GameCube that enables DVD movie playback?

Unknown at this time. However, Nintendo has stated time and again that GameCube is designed to be a game machine only, so to release a DVD add-on would clash with the company's philosophy.

Will GameCube be able to play FMV?

Yes. Nintendo's base unit will be able to decode MPEG-2, despite the fact that it won't be able to legally play DVD-branded movies. This means that full-length cut-scenes and cinemas are fully possible on the console.

And because GameCube's media format allows for 1.5GBs of storage, developers are now able to store roughly twice the amount of FMV data with Nintendo's next-generation console than they could with previous CD-based platforms. With that said, though, Nintendo is still focusing its efforts on real-time gameplay as opposed to rendered cut-scenes and movies, and is encouraging most of its development houses to do the same. But as you can see, second-parties like Silicon Knights are already planning on using GameCube's media for FMV cut-scenes.

How does Nintendo's planned N64 add-on device 64DD fit in, if it all?

It doesn't. 64DD is dead in Japan and never coming to America. Nintendo is using 64MB SD Memory Cards with its GameCube console in order to store and save extra data -- so in this sense the philosophy behind the 64DD lives on.

Will the GameCube have a modem?

Yes. "[The GameCube] will have a function to access the Internet," confirmed Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi. "We are entering the market as a latecomer so the console will have to outperform Sony Corp.'s PlayStation2." The modem(s) -- a 56k and a broadband -- are being built by hardware company Conexant. You can read all about Conexant's involvement in our company profile located at the upper-end of the FAQ.

Will the modem come packaged with the system?

The 56k modem is currently not scheduled to ship with the system, but this could change before GameCube's release. Meanwhile, the broadband modem will be available later.

Where does the handheld market fit in?

Enter Game Boy Advance. The portable will be able to hook up with GameCube for optimal interactivity. Recently in a speech given by Peter Main, Nintendo of America's Vice President of Sales, he stated Game Boy Advance would be an "integral part of GameCube" and that "...clearly you're going to see an interface between the Game Boy Advance and GameCube that is more than happenstance and doesn't require a mechanical device."

From what we can discern, GameCube will connect directly to the GBA in a plug-and-play manner. For instance, users will potentially be able to use GBA to build character experience and then transfer the character into full its full 3D counterpart on GameCube.

How much will GameCube cost?

Exact pricing for the console is not yet known, but it's going to be marketed cheap. "While our new [GameCube] hardware will be extremely powerful," said former company chairman Howard Lincoln at a Nintendo held press conference last May, "it will retail at a mass market price for home videogame systems." A rumored $150-200 USD price-point is likely.

Lincoln also noted that GameCube software would sell at a competitive price. "Let me assure you that this is a critical objective for Nintendo—as is the need for flexible and quick manufacturing turn around of [GameCube] software and strong and effective counterfeit protection. All of these objectives will be achieved under the Nintendo-Matsushita alliance."

When is GameCube's release date?

July 2001 in Japan and October 2001 in the US.

What is the probability of Nintendo meeting its projected GameCube release date?

With Microsoft's upcoming XBox console debuting in the US late 2001, Nintendo would be wise to release the GameCube system as soon as it can afford to. With this in mind, it's entirely possible that the company will in fact release it as planned during the July (Japan) and October (US).

What developers are officially backing GameCube?

At a pre-E3 press conference held May 1999, Nintendo officially confirmed that four development teams were already underway with GameCube software. Those teams include:

  • Rareware -- The maker of franchise hits Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie and Conker's Bad Fur Day. Rareware is working on a sequel to Perfect Dark for GameCube. Rumors have also surfaced that suggest Rare is underway with the next installment of the Donkey Kong franchise and perhaps even an sequel to the 1984 Spectrum title Sabre Wulf.

  • Retro Studios -- Headed by Iguana Entertainment's founder and former president Jeff Spangenberg, Retro is heavily backed by Nintendo and has snapped up talent from all over the industry. The company is working on five GameCube games ranging from a truck racer and first-person shooter to a football game, an RPG and yes, Metroid 4.

  • Left Field Productions -- The developer of Excitebike 64, one of IGNcube's Top Five favorite N64 games. Left Field is working on a sports game for GameCube -- the next installment of the Kobe Bryant basketball franchise.
  • NSTC (Nintendo Software Technology Corporation) – Nintendo of America's internal studios. The firm is in the works with Wave Race for GameCube.

Other since announced second-parties include:

  • Silicon Knights -- Developer of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and the forthcoming N64 release Eternal Darkness. SK is rumored to be working on a GameCube version of its now-cancelled PlayStation game Too Human.

  • NDCube -- An odd joint venture between Nintendo and Japanese advertising agency Dentsu Inc, hence "ND" Cube. Read our breakdown of the company by clicking here.

What third-parties are supporting the console, and with what?

  • Acclaim Entertainment -- Company president Greg Fischbach has already announced plans to support the GameCube console.

  • Activision -- Has announced it will support Nintendo GameCube.

  • Capcom Entertainment -- Working on a GameCube version of Resident Evil 0.

  • Electronic Arts -- EA Canada has already received working development hardware and is benchmarking the GameCube's performance. IGNcube can confirm at least two projects already underway by the company. Read about EA Canada's benchmark tests right here.

  • Factor 5 -- Has two GameCube titles underway -- Thornado, a 3D action shooter, and Star Wars Rogue Squadron Cube -- click on the link and be blown away.

  • Konami -- Several projects underway for Nintendo GameCube. Also has deal with Universal Interactive to release GameCube titles based on The Thing, Jurassic Park III and -- believe it or not -- Crash Bandicoot.
  • Infogrames -- Has announced that it has more than five projects underway for Nintendo GameCube, but has not commented on what they are.

  • Midway Games -- Currently in planning stages for Nintendo GameCube project.

  • Paradigm Entertainment -- Has several projects planned for Nintendo GameCube.

  • Titus Software -- Multiple projects underway for GameCube, one of which is rumored to be a next-generation Robocop game.

  • Take-Two Interactive -- Has said it will support Nintendo GameCube with software.

  • THQ -- Has already confirmed development of a Rugrats title for GameCube. The firm is also working on Tetris and a new WWF wrestling game for the system.

  • Ubi Soft -- Has announced it will support Nintendo GameCube.

  • 3DO -- Company president Trip Hawkins confirmed that the 3DO will be creating software for Nintendo's next-generation console.

What games are being made for the console?

Very few games have been confirmed for Nintendo Cube thus far. However, IGNcube has compiled a list of software that is almost definitely on its way to the console. The titles featured on the list come to us through a combination of announcements, rumors, and comments from development houses.

Here's a breakdown of some of the games on the way:

  • From Nintendo: Luigi's Mansion, Zelda and Meowth's Party.

  • From NST: Wave Race GameCube. Plus one other project.

  • Nintendo, Disney Interactive and Nintendo announced a deal by which Rare would develop 13 Disney-licensed videogames across all Nintendo platforms well into the year 2001. Given that Cube's release is scheduled for mid-2001, it's safe to assume that at least one of these games will arrive for the console.
  • Developer Retro Studios is rumored to be in development with multiple games for the console, covering football among others. Retro also has an action-adventure underway called Metroid -- you may have heard of it. Also, expect a first-person shooter and a "multiplayer RPG" from the company.

  • Thornado, a 3D action title, is being developed by Factor 5. The company is also in development with a Star Wars Rogue Squadron GameCube title.

  • Nintendo 1080 Snowboarding team terminated work on an N64 sequel in order to design software for Nintendo's "next-generation machine" more than a year ago. At this time, there are no details regarding what software EAD might be creating for the console.

When will more Cube information be released?

At the Electronics Entertainment Expo 2001 in May. Nintendo is intentionally keeping quiet until the big show -- but you can bet that the company is going to coming out swinging then.

Are there any other events to watch out for?

Yes. Nintendo is planning a GameCube Developers Conference in Seattle, Washington February 2001. This show will highlight the console to interested third-parties, and it will also mark the beginning of the campaign to push the console. One month later Nintendo will highlight GameCube at the industry's Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California -- an annual show designed specifically for the development community. Here key Nintendo figures are expected to talk about the console. Nintendo is currently debating on whether or not to show new demos at this event.

GameCube Release List

Nintendo - 2001

TBA -- Communication Game (EAD/Nintendo)

TBA -- Pokemon Title (HAL Labs/Game Freak/Creatures/Nintendo)
TBA -- Super Mario Bros (EAD/Nintendo)

Third Party Licensee - 2001

TBA -- Disney's Dinosaur (UBI Soft)

TBA -- Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado (UBI Soft)

TBA -- MLB (Midway)

TBA -- NBA Showtime (Midway)
TBA -- NFL Blitz (Midway)
TBA -- Picassio (Promethean Design)
TBA -- Rayman 3 (UBI Soft France/UBI Soft)
TBA -- Ready 2 Rumble (Midway)
TBA -- Resident Evil Zero (Flagship/Capcom)
TBA -- Ridge Racer V: Special Edition (Namco)
TBA -- V.I.P (UBI Soft)
TBA -- Xtreme Games (Midway)

Nintendo - Future

TBA -- Donkey Kong (Rareware/Nintendo)

TBA -- Football Title (Retro Studios/Nintendo)
TBA -- Ken Griffey MLBPA (Retro Studios/Nintendo)
TBA -- Kobe Bryant in NBA Courtside (Left Field/Nintendo)
TBA -- The Legend of Zelda (EAD/Nintendo)
TBA -- Metroid (Retro Studios/Nintendo)
TBA -- Mickey Mouse Adventures (Rareware/Disney Interactive/Nintendo)
TBA -- Online FPS Title (Retro Studios/Nintendo)
TBA -- Online RPG Title (Retro Studios/Nintendo)
TBA -- Perfect Dark 2 (Rareware/Nintendo)
TBA -- Smash Brothers 2 (HAL Labs/Nintendo)
TBA -- Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 2 (Factor 5/Lucas Arts/Nintendo)
TBA -- Thornado (Factor 5/Nintendo)
TBA -- Thunder Rally (Retro Studios/Nintendo)
TBA -- Too Human (Silicon Knights/Nintendo)
TBA -- Wave Race (NSTC/Nintendo)

Third Party Licensee - Future

TBA -- All Star Baseball (Acclaim Austin/Acclaim)

TBA -- Batman: The Animated Series (UBI Soft)
TBA -- Donald Duck (UBI Soft)
TBA -- ECW (Acclaim Salt Lake/Acclaim)
TBA -- E.T (New Kid Co)
TBA -- Ferrari 360 Challenge (Acclaim)
TBA -- Jungle Book Rhythm and Groove (UBI Soft)

TBA -- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (THQ)

TBA -- MTV Music Generator (Codemasters)
TBA -- Puzzle Title (Metro 3D)
TBA -- Rainbow Six (Saffire/Red Storm Interactive)
TBA -- Robocop (Titus Software)
TBA -- Saffire (Saffire/TBA)
TBA -- Scooby Doo (THQ)
TBA -- Shadowman 2: 2nd Coming (Acclaim Teeside/Acclaim)
TBA -- Spy Hunter (Paradigm/Midway)
TBA -- Stunt Driver Racing (Climax)
TBA -- Title Defense (Climax)
TBA -- Tom and Jerry (New Kid Co)
TBA -- Top Gun (Titus)
TBA -- Turok 4 (Acclaim Austin/Acclaim)
TBA -- Xena: Warrior Princess (Saffire/Titus)

Please visit http://cube.ign.com for the latest breaking news and information on the Nintendo GameCube.

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