A Glance at the Game Cube

By Ice

As many of you know, I've been out of the videogaming world for about two years now. A lot has gone on during that time that I was away, and a lot has changed. There are so many new Game Boys that my head gets dizzy just trying to comprehend it, there's a Nintendo 64 Expansion Pack (that I had to buy just to play the new Zelda, argh!), the 64DD officially died, and most importantly, there are FOUR new systems.

I won't talk about the Sega Dreamcast in here, mostly because I don't know anything about it and because no one seems to care too much about it. It's already become "ol skool".

I will however talk about the Cube, the PS2, and the XBox, seeing as how the Game Cube is mainly up against those. This isn't going to be a compare and contrast, but there will be a little of that in here.

I had a chance to play the Game Cube awhile ago to test it out for a Wave Race site that I'm running [into the ground]. The controller was a bit difficult to get used to, but it's a pretty good controller. As far as I've been able to tell, all three systems have good controllers. I played the new Wave Race for a little bit, and it was fairly easy for me because I was such a fan of the 1996 game, but I can see that a lot of newcomers are going to have to go to hell and back while learning the controls. I'm hoping that other Game Cube titles are easier to pick up and play.

The visuals on Wave Race were only so-so ... but at Best Buy, I saw someone playing the Star Wars game, and the visuals were pretty impressive. I've seen some screenshots of Smash Bros., and the visuals look decent, although it looks like the arenas are nothing that the N64 couldn't handle. The characters themselves were awesome-looking.

I did a little research on the Game Cube's hardware. It's able to display 6 to 12 million polygons ... as opposed to Playstation 2's 75 million and Xbox's 300 million (or so). Ouch ... the Game Cube sucks compared to it's competition, in that category.

However, as far as sound goes, it's better. It still uses the same old MIDI stuff that the N64 uses, but it has 64 channels of sound, as opposed to the N64's 20. And with the larger storage space on the disks, more and more developers will start using digital music.

The disks themselves are 1.5 gigs, which is about 1540 megabytes. Zelda 64 was 32 megabytes (256 megabits), so Zelda 64 could fit on a Game Cube disk almost 50 times. That's a huge amount of space. I don't know what the PS2 or Xbox uses, but I'd imagine it's something equal or better. But no matter how you look at it, 1.5 gigs is a huge amount. That's over 2 cd's worth ... about 2 1/2 cd's. You can fit A LOT of game on those disks.

The extra space will hopefully be used for better graphics, more digital audio, and FMV's. FMV's haven't been used much by Nintendo in the past, mostly because of the small space that the N64 allowed for, but now, they can be used as much as a devleoper wants. The huge amount of space allows for almost unlimited creativity on the part of the developer ... there aren't any constraints or rules.

Also, the Game Cube is $100 cheaper than it's nearest competitor, selling at stores for about $200. But as Nintendo found out with the N64, the games make the system, not the other way around. I would have thought that they would have learned this by now, but I'm not so sure they have ...

As far as I can tell, there are two good games for the Game Cube. Wave Race and Smash Bros. There are also two decent games for it, Luigi's Mansion and the Star Wars game. There are a few decent sports game I suppose, but nothing you can't get from another system. On the other hand, PS2 has a huge amount of games, and since it can also play PSX games, the amount of games someone can buy for that system is incredible. Hopefully, for Nintendo's sake, they'll get some better games out there ... they need some games that appeal to an older audience. Most teenagers would pass on Smash Bros just because it's so cartoony. The thought of battling Mario and Pikachu just doesn't appeal to many people. And the teens are the ones with enough money to go out and buy a lot of games. The sports category doesn't offer anything that other systems don't. We need something like Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, 1080 Snowboarding, a good (and not cartoony) fighter, some RPG's (PS2 has Final Fantasy), and mostly, we need Zelda.

The Playstation 2 killed the other systems in sales in 2001. I'm not surprised. The Xbox did well. The Game Cube did ok. The system has the power, and the space, and the money for advertising and all that ... all it needs is some good games. When I started getting back into the videogaming world, I was sure that all three companies would have awesome games to offer ... they've come a long way, but it doesn't look like they "get it" yet.

Well that's enough whining for one day.

-- Ice