NINTENDO GAMECUBE:


How to Shine Without Breaking a Sweat
E3 EXPO 2001 COVERAGE
Reported by: Kyle Suggs
ThotMedia Freelance Writer

GAME TECH INFO

SYSTEM SPECS
    CPU: 405mhz Microns Copper Wire Technology
    Graphics processor: 202.5mhz
    Polygon Performance: 6 million to 12 million polygons per second
    (display capability assuming actual game with complexity model, texture, etc.)
    Particle Performance: unreported
    Audio Channels: unreported
    Internet Ready: Future upgrade (additional purchase)
    DVD ready: No (Panasonic will release DVD model)
    Max Resolution: unreported
    List Price $199

M A Y . 2 0 0 1  |  L A , C A , U S A

INTRODUCTION
I saved the best for last. Now let me first say that I have bias towards Nintendo systems for several reasons. As I get into this review of Nintendo's presence at E3 the reasons for my fascination and admiration for this stellar game company will become crystal clear.

Nintendo GameCube This was my third time covering an E3 convention so when I say the following I feel like I know what I am talking about: Nintendo is hiding something. The entire atmosphere at the Nintendo booth was that of exclusivity, inclusion, and somewhat secrecy. Let me explain a bit. The type of convention booth that Big N normally uses is wide open with clever ramps and passageways. The environment is that of openness with a sense of carefree charm. This year, however, the booth was sort of a lagoon setting (or a giant office cubicle to be more crude) and boy was it cluttered. The first day you would be lucky to get from one side to the next without saying excuse me a hundred times and not stepping on at least 20 people's feet. Added to all this, was that many of the Games that they promised to show at E3 were not there. In fact, only a handful of games were shown and many of those that were no more than 75 percent playable. My buddy Maurice pointed out that the games were not even playing on REAL GameCubes but were operating of a DEV Station (i.e. test system).

Now your first impression may be to think that Nintendo is dropping the ball or that they are just being cheap. However, any loyal Big N follower could easily argue otherwise. Nintendo is notorious for their desire to put out quality games and systems. In fact, building games systems and the software that support them is all they do and therefore have much more at stake than that of Sony or Microsoft. Nintendo has been on the bleeding edge of gaming innovation from the moment they stepped on the home gaming console scene in August 1985. Take a look at what they have contributed to the industry a lot of which have become standard hardware to this very day:

    Innovation Nintendo Debut System Systems that still use this
    The D Pad (the cross control pad) Entertainment System ALL
    Shoulder buttons Super NES ALL
    Dual Analog Pad N64 ALL
    Trigger button N64 ALL
    Controller Specific Memory Card The PS2 debut with this however, Nintendo designed the system! ALL
    Camera buttons Nintendo N64 XBOX, Gamecube uses a camera stick
    Real-time rendering & anti-aliasing Nintendo N64 XBOX, Gamecube uses a camera stick
    True 3D N64 (specifically Mario 64) ALL
    Four game ports N64 ALL expect PS2
    Carrying Handle, Camera Stick, RF Wireless Controller, Analog shoulder buttons GameCube None…yet

Take into consideration that this list could be bigger if Sony, Microsoft, and Sega had not "borrowed" ideas that Nintendo had initially thought of and you begin to see why Nintendo is very cautious about letting anything slip out.

CORPORATE STRATEGY
Nintendo made big mistakes with their N64 unit - the biggest being that it was so hard and expensive to develop for. This made it hard too for third party developers to allocate the necessary resources that could produce the quantity of diverse games that people crave. Other minor mistakes hurt the system in terms of sales and gave momentum away to Sony and its PS2. Well with the Cube, Nintendo has corrected all of the mistakes and instead of creating the biggest and baddest system on the block, they decided to create an easy to design unit that developers would fall backwards for.

So why the awful booth and lack of games? Well I am not really sure yet but there is still another conference called Space World, which takes place this summer in Japan. Traditionally, Big N announces all major game systems in Japan. Timing and scheduling was the only reason why California saw it first. This leads many others and me to think that Nintendo is prime to drop a bombshell. Some rumors are that since no Nintendo system has ever launched without a true Mario title that this one will as well. Also speculated is that you will not even need a television set to play the GameCube. Since the bandwidth (i.e. data transfer) between controller and system is so fast, all you might need is, let's say, a GameBoy Advance. Whether or not we will see any of this is really not the issue. The fact is Nintendo seems pretty confident with their product.

And products are what the Big N is all about. The corporate strategy, as egotistic as it may be, seems to be "Don't rush perfection". Nintendo, led by their super guru developer, Shigeru Miyamoto, cares about games and games only. They design games first and think of a system that can get it done. This approach, I feel, has lead to many ground breaking innovations and millions of delighted gamers. Although profit is a big deal at Nintendo, they do not seem to sell out simply for it.

SYSTEM SPECS

    CPU: 405mhz Microns Copper Wire Technology
    Graphics processor: 202.5mhz
    Polygon Performance: 6 million to 12 million polygons per second
    (display capability assuming actual game with complexity model, texture, etc.)
    Particle Performance: unreported
    Audio Channels: unreported
    Internet Ready: Future upgrade (additional purchase)
    DVD ready: No (Panasonic will release DVD model)
    Max Resolution: unreported
    List Price $199

GAMES
    The Good
    (Family friendly - a good romping, fun time)
    Title Developer Comment
    Luigi's Mansion Nintendo Cool looking game that shows the vast color output of the system. However, from what we saw it seems a bit boring.
    Pikmin Nintendo This Miyomoto's brain child. The game is extremely innovative and if it catches on will be a mega hit. Watch out for occult and new age references that may be present.
    Wave Race 2 Nintendo Nintendo's patented water algorithm got an upgrade. You thought the H2O looked real in the first version, wait till you check this out.
    Super Smash Bros: Melee Nintendo Yes. I know it is a fight game, BUT there is no blood and nobody every gets killed. The object is to knock someone off a platform. Sort of like the game, King of the Hill.

    The Bad
    (Not so family friendly - contains violence, mature, or occult/new age references)

    Title Developer Comment
    Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II LucasArts This is gonna be the game of the year! This title looks harmless but ships get destroyed implying death. Totally awesome experience.

    The Ugly
    (Family? Forget about it - name says it all.)

    Eternal Darkness Silicon Knights I spoke with the President of Silicon Knights, Denis Dyack and was very excited about this game and I could see why, despite its horrific nature.

    The game looked awesome at only 50 percent and the innovation the developers put in the game is incredible if not frightening. One feature in the game allows you to select which body part of an enemy to chop off.

    Nintendo is very careful about their adult games. They did not display this game openly in their booth - you had to view it behind a curtain. Although Nintendo reluctantly releases adult games and although this was their only “adult” title at E3, be on the watch because there will be more.

FINAL COMMENTS
This system rocks. For Christians this is the unit to get. I know that all of the games are not perfectly family friendly, but of all of the game manufactures, Nintendo seems to have the family and family values at the heart of their focus. Hold on now before you get too excited. This time around, Big N is going to try and shake their “kiddie” image in efforts to make a splash with college kids and young adults. In fact, the cash bovine Pokémon, was barely even present at E3. You will see in the coming months, Nintendo market games that they would not have in the past. You will also most likely see a marketing campaign that is more gritty. I would not let this detract you all that much for two reasons. First, the other systems will be worse and secondly, Nintendo has NEVER marketed their adult titles to kids or anything that kids would typically get their hands on. In fact, you can not even get to them on nintendo.com.

I respect that.

Nintendo, arrogant as always, swaggered its way with lackluster fanfare and limited game titles into the biggest gaming convention in the world during the most pivotal and competitive gaming system generation of all time, and walked away the overwhelming favorite; it didn't even break a sweat.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Christian Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Films for Christ or the Christian Answers Network.

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