Details of the project code-named Dolphin were first released at E3 in 1999. The most noticeable changes from the N64 were the 128-bit custom processor and the optical disk game media. It seemed like Nintendo were finally abandoning the more expensive and developer-unfriendly cartridge for an optical disk alternative. The chip manufacturer was announced to be IBM and not NEC, who had developed the MPU for the N64.
The GameCube was demoed at Space World 2000 and its final specifications were released. Its name had changed from Dolphin to StarCube and then to GameCube. It would use an impressive S3 6-to-1 texture compression, which would allow textures to be compressed to 1/6 of their original size without any loss of quality. The GC would also allow the Game Boy Advance to be connected via an interface cable and act as both a controller and an external device for transferring data, characters and mini-games to.
The GC was released in Japan on September 14, 2001 and sold 300,000 units. It was released in the US in November and by that time had a few name game titles, including the beautiful Resident Evil 0 by Capcom. The European release came early the following year. A range of accessories were later released such as the wireless WaveBird controller and an attachable monitor.
To compete with the PS2 and XBOX's DVD playback features, Nintendo got together with Panasonic to release the Panasonic-Q, which incorporates a Game Cube and a Panasonic DVD player into a single unit. The Panasonic-Q currently only retails in Japan, but is available online for about $490. It has a multi-region DVD player and weighs more than the GC. On December 17, 2003 the Panasonic-Q was discontinued mainly because of poor sales and retail overstock.
Compared to other consoles like the PS2 and XBOX, it seems like Nintendo never had online gaming in mind. A network adaptor was eventually released.
The GC initially retailed for $199, but now sells for $99 to $149 and just £79.99 in the UK (approx. $125).
CPU: 128-bit custom IBM Gekko
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