GameCube is the name of Nintendo's sixth generation video games console. Released in September 2001 in Japan, November in America, and in May 2002 in Europe, the GameCube was arguably Nintendo's least successful home console of all time, tying for the least units sold and doing the worst in comparison to Sega's respective home console, the Dreamcast.
The GameCube was Nintendo's first console to make use of optical discs. Proprietary miniature versions of standard DVDs were used, and could contain up to 1.4 GB of data. However, this meant that the GameCube could not play standard CD-ROMs or DVDs.
The GameCube has sold about 49 million units since launch.
The GameCube was first announced at Nintendo's "SpaceWorld" event in 2000. In the event, thanks to the Showing of Several First Party tech demo like the short Link vs Ganondorf battle or the Pokemon Meowth Party, alongside a short Metroid video, along Second Party ones, like Rare's Joanna Dark high Polygon Model and Conker and Banjo-Kazooie Rendering videos and Third Party tech demo Like Lucasarts-Factor 5 High polygon X-wings and Square Final Fantasy VIII Real time Rendering Dance Scene, it was shown to be capable of far more impressive graphics than its predecessors, and arguably even more impressive than the Dreamcast's.
The GameCube was launched in September 2001 in Japan, November in America, and the following May in Europe. Launch titles were varied, and included Final Fantasy X and Luigi’s Mansion worldwide, Pikmin and Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader in America, and Super Smash Bros Melee in Europe. The launch price was about $200 worldwide.
Catching up to the Dreamcast
The first few years of the GameCube's life were largely defined by the headstart of the Dreamcast, and the GameCube's various disadvantages compared to it. In addition to selling millions of units of hardware by the time the GameCube was released, the Dreamcast also had the advantage of online play, something the GameCube was never able to do effectively. Furthermore, the Dreamcast already had a renowned library of games by late 2001, giving the GameCube an uphill battle.
Although the GameCube launched with a decent library in 2001, few would have argued it would compare to the Dreamcast's library until the end of 2002. By this time, several key Nintendo games, including Super Mario Sunshine, Animal Crossing, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and Metroid Prime were released at least in Japan. Notable third party games included the original Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil Zero, and multiplatform games like Ratchett and Clank. Meanwhile, the GameCube's price was cut to $149 to give it an advantage over the Dreamcast, an expensive ploy only made possible by Nintendo's handheld revenue.
However, despite their hits in 2002, it wasn't until 2003 that Nintendo was able to start turning the tides against the Dreamcast. This was a year of multiplayer games for Nintendo, with an emphasis on racers. Donkey Kong Racing, Excitecycle, Kirby's Air Ride, and Mario Kart: Double Dash all came out this year. Meanwhile, third parties continued releasing many games for the GameCube, including the exclusive Final Fantasy 11.
The Lead Platform
After 2003, the Dreamcast began to lose more and more ground to the GameCube. Although its online functionality was revolutionary in 2000, by 2004 it was beginning to show its age. Meanwhile, the Dreamcast hardware, despite its high RAM, was weak in other respects. This, along with a second analog stick, gave the GameCube an advantage in latter 6th generation software.
2004 started slowly for the GameCube, but would eventually see the release of Pikmin 2, Metroid Prime 2, Grabbed by the Ghoulies, Mother 4, and Donkey Kong Jungle Beat as exclusives. Dreamast exclusives such as Metal Gear Solid 3 and Sega Superstars Smackdown performed well, but betrayed the platform's weaknesses. 2005 was a similarly strong year for the GameCube compared to the Dreamcast, as the system's price was cut to $99 and big games such as Resident Evil 4, Pokemon XD, Perfect Dark Zero, Kingdom Hearts 2 and Dragon Quest 8 all were well received.
As per the norm, the GameCube's final year of life was relatively uneventful, as Nintendo was preparing for their upcoming Revolution console. However, a few final hits, such as Final Fantasy 12, Okami, and Kirby's Story did well on the aging platform.
In most respects, the GameCube was the most advanced console of its generation. Its DVD-based discs held about 200 MB more data than the Dreamcast's GD-ROMs, at 485 MHz its CPU was over twice as fast, and its GPU was, at 162 MHz, about 60% faster than the Dreamcast's. However, with only 43 MB of RAM, it was outmatched by the Dreamcast's 56 MB of RAM.
The GameCube was available in many colors over its life, primarily black, silver, and purple. However, the GameCube was ultimately released in virtually every standard color, often coinciding with the release of a major game. For example, there were red GameCubes that were bundled with Mario Kart: Double Dash, light blue ones bundled with The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and even a pink one bundled with Kirby Air Ride.
The GameCube controller was the first to feature a second analog stick. This stick was often used in games to control the camera, a task reserved for the D-Pad on many Dreamcast titles. This extra control option gave many multiplatform titles an advantage on the GameCube, particularly those that required navigating complex 3D environments.
Most games required a memory card peripheral to save, which was available in multiple sizes.
The GameCube was generally well received, especially for its diverse library. However, the console sold poorly by Nintendo standards, barely grabbing 50% of the market share, in contrast to the Revolution's 65%. The console's juvenile appearance was also criticized. Most critical, however, was the lack of any major online connectivity features, especially compared to the then-advanced Dreamcast.
List of Best Selling Games
Note: Only games that have sold at least a million copies worldwide are included on this list. This list may be incomplete.
- Mario Kart: Double Dash - 15 million
- Super Mario Sunshine - 9 million
- Super Smash Bros Melee - 9 million
- The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker - 7 million
- Final Fantasy X - 6 million
- Final Fantasy XI - 5 million
- Final Fantasy XII - 5 million
- Luigi's Mansion - 5 million
- Metroid Prime - 5 million
- Animal Crossing - 4 million
- Donkey Kong Racing - 4 million
- Dragon Quest 8 - 4 million
- Final Fantasy X-2 - 4 million
- Kingdom Hearts - 4 million
- Mario Party 4 - 4 million
- Pokémon Colosseum - 4 million
- Kingdom Hearts 2 - 3 million
- Kirby Air Ride - 3 million
- Mario Party 5 - 3 million
- Metroid Prime 2 - 3 million
- Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door - 3 million
- Resident Evil 4 - 3 million
- Soul Calibur 2 - 3 million
- Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II - 3 million
- Dinosaur Planet - 2 million
- Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles - 2 million
- Lego Star Wars - 2 million
- Lego Star Wars 2 - 2 million
- Mario Party 6 - 2 million
- Mario Party 7 - 2 million
- Need for Speed Underground 2 - 2 million
- Need for Speed: Underground - 2 million
- Pikmin - 2 million
- Pikmin 2 - 2 million
- Pokemon XD - 2 million
- Resident Evil - 2 million
- Resident Evil Zero - 2 million
- Shrek 2 - 2 million
- Spider-Man 2 - 2 million
- Spider-Man: The Movie - 2 million
- Star Fox: Dark Phoenix - 2 million
- Tales of Symphonia - 2 million
- Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII - 1 million
- Donkey Kong Jungle Beat - 1 million
- Dragon Ball Z: Budokai - 1 million
- Dragon Quest 5 - 1 million
- Enter the Matrix - 1 million
- Finding Nemo - 1 million
- Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life - 1 million
- Jak & Daxter - 1 million
- Jak 2 - 1 million
- James Bond 007: Agent Under Fire - 1 million
- King Kong - 1 million
- Kirby Story - 1 million
- Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble 2 - 1 million
- Madden NFL 02 - 1 million
- Madden NFL 03 - 1 million
- Madden NFL 04 - 1 million
- Madden NFL 05 - 1 million
- Madden NFL 06 - 1 million
- Madden NFL 07 - 1 million
- Mother 4 - 1 million
- Namco Museum - 1 million
- Naruto: Clash of Ninja - 1 million
- Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2 - 1 million
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted - 1 million
- Perfect Dark Zero - 1 million
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time - 1 million
- Ratchet & Clank - 1 million
- Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando - 1 million
- Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike - 1 million
- The Incredibles - 1 million
- The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures - 1 million
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - 1 million
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - 1 million
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - 1 million
- The Simpsons: Hit & Run - 1 million
- The Sims - 1 million
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 - 1 million
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 - 1 million
- Tony Hawk's Underground - 1 million