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Old Sep 25, 2012, 01:20 PM   #1
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windycityguy
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Default Gamecube was a miracle of engineering IMO

Well, I wanted to make a thread where I (or anyone) could post interesting things on the Gamecube technology.

I feel Gamecube was the best-engineered of all last-gen consoles. IBM and especially ArtX worked miracles with the Dolphin/Gamecube hardware.

So without further adieu...


The first image of Gamecube when it was revealed on August 24th, 2000 in Chiba, Japan

Funnily enough, I viewed this image with my Dreamcast!



Flipper Die


PLL: Phase Lock Loop
eFB: Embedded Frame Buffer
eTM: Embedded Texture Memory
TF: Texture Filter
TC: Texture Coordinate Generator
TEV: Texture Environment
RASx:Rasterizer
C/Z: Color/Z Calculator
PEC: Pixel Copy Engine
SU: Triangle Setup
CP: Command Processor
DSP: Audio DSP
XF: Triangle Transform Engine
NB: Northbridge - all system logic
including CPU interface, Video
Interface, Memory Controller, I/O
Interface

GameCube 101: Graphics
Learn all about GameCube's graphics chip with insightful quotes from ATI's Greg Buchner.





Quote:
ATI Discusses GameCube Graphics
Covering white paper design to final silicon, we interview ATI's Greg Buchner about GameCube.

by IGN Staff OCTOBER 29, 2001
Quote:
IGNcube: You say you began talking to Nintendo® in 1998. So from white paper designs and initial design to final mass production silicon how long was the development process?

Greg Buchner:

Well, there was a period of time where we were in the brainstorm period, figuring out what to build, what's the right thing to create. We spent a reasonable amount of time on that, a really big chunk of 1998 was spend doing that, figuring out just what [Flipper] was going to be. In 1999 we pretty much cranked out the gates, cranked out the silicon and produced the first part. In 2000 we got it ready for production, so what you saw at Space World last year was basically what became final silicon.
part 1

part 2

Quote:
Miyamoto talks about Polygons

"Polygon movement is essential in the creation of 3D games. Therefore,
we are taking various steps to simplify polygon movement. Namely, this
includes calculation of polygon display, properly shading and lighting
the polygons and applying the textures. Whenever new hardware comes
out, the manufacturer always talks about how many million polygons it
puts out, but never mentions that when textures are applied only half
that can be handled. Then when you do the lighting calculations, the
number halves again. So the actual number of polygons is half of half,
or about 1/10th of what they say. So if the specs say the machine can
do 80-100 million polygons, that really translates to roughly 5-8
million.

Polygon-pushing power isn't enough; game machines have to be able to
handle things like terrain and collision detection too. When the CPU
handles these tasks, it can't do much else. With the GameCube, we've
divided the tasks up as much as possible to eliminate bottlenecks. If
you simply look at the documented specs for existing systems, they may
seem to be the latest and greatest things at the moment, but in a year
or so they'll already be outdated. On the other hand, looking at the
GameCube, I think it will have a shelf life of many years. We wanted
to make a piece of hardware that would free developers from worrying
about technical stuff like polygons or bottlenecks."


"Some people might say; 'GameCube isn't great, just look at its CPU
power.' The truth is though, for tasks such as drawing pictures or
making music, GameCube doesn't use the CPU. I think the balance of the
GameCube hardware will lead the industry for years
to come. Existing consoles aren't capable of producing the demo's we
showed at Spaceworld. In fact, I think the demo's resemble graphics
created by multi-million dollar workstations."









*Will edit-in more stuff as I come across it

Last edited by windycityguy : Sep 26, 2012 at 11:12 PM.
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 01:37 PM   #2
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Sadly Nintendo didn't exactly push third parties as hard as it could. Still, some of the games still look in emulators now.
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 01:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tizen View Post
Sadly Nintendo didn't exactly push third parties as hard as it could. Still, some of the games still look in emulators now.
True.

It's unfortunate that the hardware rarely got pushed. Few exceptions. Factor 5's Rogue Leader & Rebel Strike, Capcom's RE4 immediately come to mind. There are others.
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 01:42 PM   #4
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Yep, the GC was a fantastic console which a lot of people didn't have the chance to enjoy. One of my favorites, for sure.
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 02:33 PM   #5
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Same. My Gamecube is currently plugged into my HDTV and I'd forgotten how small and damn cute it is. It's also almost silent which is a very welcome change.

Zelda Wind Waker is also an incredibly pretty game still compared to its contemporaries. It now just feels stupid to have thought that the Xbox having shaders would make a difference.
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 03:35 PM   #6
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The first GC game I tried was the remake of Resident Evil 1, and I thought it looked so good. (really makes me wonder how games with pre-rendered backgrounds would look on today's technology )
Resident Evil 4 impressed me very much, with it's many enemies on screens at once and it's pretty big environments, with a stable framerate.

I think Carmack once hinted Doom 3 had been possible on it if it had more RAM, though I can't find the link
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 03:41 PM   #7
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Resident Evil 4 was quite astonishing, I remember how blown away I was with that one game.
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 04:06 PM   #8
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The GameCube was a great little system that very few people bought. I bought one and still love it!

If you want to appreciate the GameCube and Zelda Windwaker a little more check out this site:
http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=104415

It's got a lot of technical info and pretty interesting stuff
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 04:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyTMouse View Post
The GameCube was a great little system that very few people bought. I bought one and still love it!

If you want to appreciate the GameCube and Zelda Windwaker a little more check out this site:
http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=104415

It's got a lot of technical info and pretty interesting stuff
Thanks!
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 06:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MyTMouse View Post
The GameCube was a great little system that very few people bought. I bought one and still love it!

If you want to appreciate the GameCube and Zelda Windwaker a little more check out this site:
http://www.polycount.com/forum/showthread.php?t=104415

It's got a lot of technical info and pretty interesting stuff
Wow some solution systems in there cannot even be found in modern games. The IK feet surprised the hell out of me. Wow... good job Nintendo.

I felt goosebumps reading through that. Some of the stuff is amazing considering how long ago the GC came out.
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Old Sep 25, 2012, 10:53 PM   #11
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A lengthy article from Next Generation Online about how Nintendo arrived at Gamecube, before it was called Gamecube or even Dolphin. It's an interesting history from the "between years" of N64 and Gamecube.

Quote:
Is Nintendo in Trouble?

Although experts acknowledge that the video games business is surprisingly
incestuous by even Jerry Springer’s standards, recent developments taking place within two of Seattle’s biggest corporations have made that fact clear for the whole world to see. Next Generation Online exclusively reports on how Nintendo and Microsoft wound up eyeing the same company’s chipset for the year 2000’s biggest game console.



Few in the video game industry are aware of a rift that formed between Nintendo and partner Silicon Graphics, Inc. just as their jointly-developed 64-bit game console rolled off production lines. Already beginning to feel financial strains due to changing market conditions for their high-end graphics workstations, Silicon Graphics found itself arguing over component profits with notoriously tight-fisted Nintendo as the system’s American launch MSRP was lowered at the last minute before release. Although the companies maintained their working relationship, the decidedly traditional and hard-lined management at Nintendo had taken offense, and no longer considered SGI a lock for development of Nintendo’s post-N64 game console.



Then several important events took place during 1997 inside of Nintendo, SGI and one of their former competitors. Weak Japanese sales of the N64 and its software lowered the company’s confidence in the N64 platform, and American sales were projected to fall off as key internal software titles were continuing to miss release targets by entire seasons. Demonstrably strong sales of PlayStation games in the inexpensive CD format had weakened the appeal of Nintendo’s third-party development contracts, and Nintendo started to believe that it was in the company’s immediate interest to prepare a new console for release as soon as Fall of 1999. At the same time, a number of Silicon Graphics key Nintendo 64 engineers left the company to form the new firm ArtX, with the express intention to win a development contract for Nintendo’s next hardware by offering Nintendo the same talent pool sans SGI’s manufacturing and management teams.



As it turns out, most of the industry’s top 3D chip experts have been lured away from smaller firms by accelerator developers NVidia, 3Dfx and NEC, so Nintendo’s pool of potential partners was already shrinking when it began to shop around for a new console design team. Enter CagEnt, a division of consumer electronics manufacturer Samsung, and here’s where the confusion begins: CagEnt was formerly owned by 3DO, where it operated under the name 3DO Systems and developed the M2 technology that was sold to Panasonic for $100 Million some time ago. When 3DO decided to exit the hardware business, it sold off the 3DO Systems division to Samsung, which named it CagEnt and gave it roughly two years to turn a profit. CagEnt owned three key technologies: a DVD playback system, a realtime MPEG encoding system called MPEG Xpress, and a completed game console with a brand new set of console-ready chip designs called the MX. Adrian Sfarti, who had formerly developed the graphics architecture design for SGI’s Indy workstation, was the head of the MX project.



The MX chipset was a dramatically enhanced version of the M2 chipset sold to Panasonic and Matsushita, now capable of a 100 million pixel per second fillrate and utilizing two PowerPC 602 chips at its core. (CagEnt’s executives also boasted of a four million triangle per second peak draw rate, though the quality of those tiny triangles would of course have been limited). Nintendo executives Howard Lincoln and Genyo Takeda were among a group of visiting dignitaries to tour CagEnt’s facilities, culminating in late 1997 or early 1998 with a formal offer from Nintendo to acquire CagEnt outright. At this point, Nintendo had terminated its development contract with SGI (see SGI/MIPS Loses Nintendo Business).



As purchase negotiations continued, Nintendo worked with CagEnt engineers on preliminary plans to redesign the MX architecture around a MIPS CPU, as Nintendo’s manufacturing partner NEC has a MIPS development license but none to produce the PowerPC 602. Nintendo and CagEnt flip-flopped on whether the finished machine would include a built-in CD-ROM or DVD-ROM as its primary storage medium, with Nintendo apparently continuing to insist that ROM cartridges would remain at the core of its new game system. Yet as DVD and MPEG technologies would have been part of the CagEnt acquisition, Nintendo would probably have found some reasonable use for those patents eventually. The MX-based machine was to be ready for sale in Japan in fall 1999 -- in other words, development of games for the new console would begin within literally months, starting with the shipment of dev kits to key teams at Rare and Nintendo’s Japanese headquarters.



Although the asking price for CagEnt was extremely low by industry standards, talks unexpectedly broke off in early 1998 when Samsung and Nintendo apparently disagreed on final terms of CagEnt’s ownership, leaving Samsung’s management desperate for a suitor to buy the company. CagEnt aggressively shopped itself around to other major industry players. SGI’s MIPS division, reeling from the loss of its N64 engineers to ArtX, allegedly considered acquiring CagEnt as a means to offer Nintendo the technology it had already decided it liked. Sega, 3Dfx and other companies toured CagEnt’s facilities and finally CagEnt found a suitor.



In early April, Microsoft’s WebTV division ultimately acquired all of the assets of CagEnt and hired on most of its key personnel. WebTV and Microsoft apparently intend to use the MX technology at the core of their next WebTV device, which as might be guessed from the graphics technology, will no longer be limited to simple web browsing and E-mailing functionality. The next generation WebTV box will be Microsoft’s low-cost entry into the world of game consoles, melding the functionality of a low-end computer with a television set-top box and game-playing abilities. Having worked with Sega behind the scenes since 1993 or 1994, Microsoft has been quietly gathering the knowledge it needs to market and develop games for such a device, and now it has the hardware that even Nintendo would once have wanted for itself.



As for Nintendo, all signs point to a very unpleasant near future for the Japanese giant. Lacking internal hardware engineers with the necessary expertise to develop the next high-end chipset, Nintendo is now all but forced to either partner with ArtX, or one of the 3D accelerator makers who have been sucking the industry dry of all its most talented people, or perhaps join with one of its other major rivals. The latest word has it that ArtX and Nintendo are in talks to work together, perhaps under circumstances similar to those under which Nintendo would have acquired CagEnt. Unlike CagEnt, however, ArtX does not have a finished console or even half-completed chip designs to sell Nintendo, and it would be unlikely that Nintendo would be able to scrape together a reasonable system by Christmas 2000 with ArtX’s present limitations. Additionally, SGI’s recent series of strategic lawsuits against Nvidia and ArtX seem to be intended to serve as garlic and crosses to stave off any Nintendo alliance with its tastiest potential allies: Nintendo might well fear developing a new console only to find out that its core technologies or employees are depending upon infringed patents, regardless of the merits of those patents or the lawsuits.



Meanwhile, the company continues to harbor tremendous concerns for the future of the Nintendo64 platform, which appears to be sinking deeper and deeper in Japan by the day. Nintendo’s negotiations with CagEnt shed light upon the tremendous dependence the Japanese company now has upon Rare, which has been responsible for a number of the Nintendo 64’s best-looking games and at least two of the machine’s most popular—Diddy Kong Racing and Goldeneye 007. As Nintendo’s Japanese development teams have never been known for their ability to stick to release schedules, the company’s third-party rosters have remained bare and its management has remained dogmatically fixated upon silicon chips as its sole means of profit, Nintendo’s problems have set the stage for a truly interesting set of negotiations come this E3.



To sum up, readers need to understand that decisions and relationships made early in the design process of a new console can dictate a company’s standing in the industry for the following five years. Ripple effects from these decisions can be felt in a company’s bottom line can be felt for even longer. Nintendo has found itself in the unenviable position of being without an established partner and with the clock ticking down. If Nintendo should choose to go with ArtX (assuming it’s able to fight off SGI’s lawsuit), it will need to complete a chip design is an extremely short period of time. If it doesn’t go with ArtX, Nintendo will have to find a technology that is already suited to the console market or one that can readily be changed to suit a similar purpose. Either way, at this point the chances of Nintendo hitting its desired 2000 release with a new system are extremely slim.
http://tinyurl.com/brjb93l

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Old Sep 25, 2012, 11:26 PM   #12
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IBM PR

Quote:
IBM, Nintendo Announce $1 Billion Technology Agreement
IBM 400 MHz Copper Processor To Power Next Nintendo Game Machine


LOS ANGELES, CA - 12 May 1999:
-IBM and Nintendo today announced a multi-year $1 billion technology agreement to support Nintendo's next home video game console, code-named "Dolphin."
As part of the agreement, IBM will design and manufacture a unique 400 MHz central processor featuring IBM's industry-leading 0.18 micron copper technology. The chip, dubbed the "Gekko" processor, is an extension of the IBM PowerPC architecture. It's designed to be more powerful than those found in any current or planned home video game entertainment system, providing players with dramatically better graphics and more realistic action.
The processor is in the advanced stages of development, supporting Nintendo's plans for a worldwide launch for the 2000 holiday season.
While the relationship initially involves the development and production of the copper-based processor, the companies will explore the potential use of IBM technology in other Nintendo products as well. The current arrangement calls for IBM to design, manufacture and ship copper processors to Nintendo, with the potential value of the deal exceeding $1 billion.

"Dating from our very first home system in 1983, Nintendo's ongoing commitment is to provide game developers with industry-leading technology to create new game experiences for our players," explains Howard Lincoln, chairman, Nintendo of America. "IBM's new copper-based chip delivers on that commitment like never before, and we've jointly committed to a long-term relationship to assure revolutionary results."
In order to provide more power than Nintendo's current game system chip, the IBM processor leverages IBM's experience with complex system designs to incorporate enhancements specifically required by Nintendo. These include extra on-chip memory and more efficient data management between the processor and the game system's primary graphics chip.

"As customers such as Nintendo develop increasingly sophisticated systems, the complexity of the chips that power them grows dramatically," says Dr. John Kelly, general manager, IBM Microelectronics Division. "Not many companies are able to meet this need. We have the technology, design expertise and manufacturing experience necessary to develop and deliver customized solutions for our customers."
With IBM's advanced copper processor powering the next Nintendo system, developers can create game designs featuring the degree of realism, emotional connection, fantasy or interaction they've always imagined.

"Designing games is an ever-changing process, and this chip with its speed and seamless data flow, will allow us to make even more amazing games, " explains Chris Stamper, chairman and technical director of Rare, Ltd., producer of mega-hit games Goldeneye and Banjo-Kazooie for the N64. "Consumers will love the end result with the upcoming system."

"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," describes Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo developer and world-renowned game designer. "Now, with the Gekko processor, I can see an opportunity to take game designs to a new level."
The IBM copper processor will be paired with a revolutionary graphics chip designed by ArtX Inc., one of the world's leading 3D graphics technologists located in Palo Alto, California. The ArtX team, led by chairman, Dr. Wei Yen, includes a number of well known 3D graphics designers.

"The lineup of companies working on Nintendo's next system is hugely exciting," notes Dr. Wei Yen. "The match between Nintendo's know-how in the video game field, and the enormity of what IBM brings to the table can't be matched."
The Nintendo game system processor chips will be manufactured at IBM's high-volume manufacturing facility in Burlington, VT, where copper-based processors have been manufactured and shipped to customers since 1998.
http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/2181.wss

MoSys PR

Quote:
New Nintendo System To Use Ultra Fast 1T-SRAM Embedded Memory From MoSys
Technology-First Delivers New Standard For Graphics Performance

LONDON, England (September 6, 1999)
— Nintendo and MoSys today announced that MoSys' patented 1T-SRAM technology will be used in the next Nintendo home game console to embed large very high performance memories directly onto the system's graphics chip, being developed by ArtX, Inc. Embedded 1T-SRAM represents the most advanced memory technology in the world, and will eliminate transmission times between memory and chip allowing a new industry standard for graphics performance.

The multi-year licensing agreement announced at the ECTS show in London culminates nearly one year of technical collaboration between the two companies. The embedding of these very large Static Random Access Memory (SRAM) blocks to enable exceptional performance is an industry-first for graphics chips. Game players can expect more detailed graphics moving at higher frame rates. Use of the single transistor 1T-SRAM technology allows embedding of even more SRAM than is used to achieve performance on leading edge CPUs such as the PowerPC™ or Pentium ® III.

"Simply stated, the incredible performance of MoSys 1T-SRAM memory with the proprietary custom graphics chip designed by ArtX is the perfect match for IBM's custom, copper-based CPU," says Howard Lincoln, chairman, Nintendo of America Inc. "We will employ this technology to surpass the game experience offered by any competing console or personal computer."

"We are convinced the use of such a large amount of this ultra high performance memory will put this graphics processor in a league of its own," says Dr. Fu-Chieh Hsu, chairman, CEO and president of MoSys. "Nintendo's use of our 1T-SRAM uniquely meets the blinding performance and easy manufacturability requirements of next-generation cost-conscious consumer products, and is an excellent flagship application for our technology."

"Nintendo promises to set a new standard for graphics by using the unique capabilities of embedded 1T-SRAM technology to deliver graphics memory performance that is dramatically faster than competitive DRAM-based systems", said Bob Merritt, senior analyst at Semico Research Corp. "Consequently, MoSys' 1T-SRAM allows the performance, previously only possible in small cache memories, to be available in this consumer graphics system."
http://www.mosys.com/investors.php?p...mtxt&id=340764

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Old Sep 26, 2012, 12:33 AM   #13
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I remember when i saw metroid prime for the first time on the gamecube i was speechless! Game looked so damn good and it didn't have any loading time whatsoever.
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Old Sep 26, 2012, 12:39 AM   #14
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I remember when i saw metroid prime for the first time on the gamecube i was speechless! Game looked so damn good and it didn't have any loading time whatsoever.

Nintendo with its partners MySys and ArtX had the best RAM/memory implementation of any of the last-gen consoles. Metroid Prime was pretty astonishing. Outstanding game.
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Old Sep 26, 2012, 02:49 AM   #15
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Love the gamecube. I have 3 of them and 2 official component cables. Plus 2 gameboy advance players. The Gameboy advance player is one of the many reasons the gamecube is awesome. having every gameboy, gameboy color and gameboy advance game available to play on a big tv with component quality is .
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Old Sep 26, 2012, 09:36 AM   #16
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yes, gamecube was brilliant, but lets not forget that the Wii runs on the same architecture. A gamecube that supports widescreen and component output!

It's too bad Nintendo made it such a pain for 3rd party devs, and the overall library of games was small and sub-par. Yes, there's a handful of gems, but no doubt the gamecube was Nintendo's weakest platform.
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Old Sep 26, 2012, 09:38 AM   #17
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I use to own one of these.



It was bigger than the cube by a bit but could do more.
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Old Sep 26, 2012, 10:35 AM   #18
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Ah yes, the Panasonic Q, I always wanted one of those
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 11:51 AM   #19
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I loved my Gamecube. First game I got for it was Metroid Prime which imo is one of the most creative shooter/adventures of all time just for the movement aspects. Eventually got F-Zero GX and NEVER before had a game come so close to giving me motion sickness the raw speed of that game was just wrong.

I originally had it plugged into a 32" tube with component inputs but not HD and it looked great, years later plugged it into something HD capable and it was faptastic in games that supported it.
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 03:37 PM   #20
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I thought the gamecube/wii looked like **** on hd capable displays.

I wish that I had access to a crt tv.
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 09:32 PM   #21
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I always play Gamecube and Wii games on a 32inch Trinitron XBR TV
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Old Sep 29, 2012, 09:35 PM   #22
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Oh I found an interesting doc:

Implementation of the ATI Flipper Chip
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Old Sep 30, 2012, 09:04 PM   #23
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I had a blast with my Gamecube, used it way more than my Wii.
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Old Sep 30, 2012, 10:39 PM   #24
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I had a blast with my Gamecube, used it way more than my Wii.
It wasn't a weak system. It had better GFX than PS2. I used the gamecube more too, but that was because I played games more often back then.
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Old Oct 1, 2012, 02:08 AM   #25
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What are all you talking about?! I remember GameCube well... and it was barely more powerful than the Dreamcast and vastly over-powered by the PS3/XBOX.
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Old Oct 1, 2012, 02:16 AM   #26
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You're not remembering it well if you think it was only barely more powerful than a dc and over powered by a ps2.
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Old Oct 1, 2012, 02:38 AM   #27
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You're not remembering it well if you think it was only barely more powerful than a dc and over powered by a ps2.
I remembered that games didn't run as nice on it as the PS2 and I especially remember that the XBOX had nicer graphics. All I remember looking really good on it were native Nintendo titles. DOn't get me wrong... there were some nice games, but I don't remember it as a dominant graphics power house. That's how I remember the XBOX.
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Old Oct 1, 2012, 03:11 AM   #28
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Best part of the Gamecube was the kinds of inspiration it had on developers... it had some truly unique and noteworthy titles for it's time.

The Pokemon games for it were a big step forward for that genre, and interesting/abstract titles like Chibi Robo actually made it to the 'States. And who could forget the remastered/remade Resident Evil? It think the remake Resident Evil for the GC was one of the best of the whole series...

Such a great console for it's time. And to think I was leery from the bad taste the N64 left in my mouth..
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Old Oct 1, 2012, 04:15 AM   #29
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Another great thing about the gameCube was becasuse nintendo went with a proprietary disc type the load times were very fast compaired to the PS2 and X-Box
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Old Oct 1, 2012, 06:34 AM   #30
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yes, gamecube was brilliant, but lets not forget that the Wii runs on the same architecture. A gamecube that supports widescreen and component output!

It's too bad Nintendo made it such a pain for 3rd party devs, and the overall library of games was small and sub-par. Yes, there's a handful of gems, but no doubt the gamecube was Nintendo's weakest platform.
My GC supported component output (I belive they droped it from later hardware) and a lot of games were also 16:9, it was only 480p though.

And not going to bother qoating but to the person that said barely better then DC and blown away by ps2 and xbox, it destroyed the PS2, a most games on GC look better then Wii even though Wii is a faster version of the same hardware, and the best looking GC games looked better then any thing on xbox as well.
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