Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Top 10 reasons GameCube Was Lame

Now, I've been accused of being a Nintendo fanboy on my message boards. This isn't the first time. (Although it is the first time I've been accused by a poem) I used to swear by Nintendo ever since receiving my NES. This generation though, it seems like Nintendo has been lagging a bit behind. It was the last console out of the three I got, and I have the least amount of games for it. Most of the games I do have for it are Mario Party, and frankly, by 7, I'm sick of them. What did Nintendo do wrong this generation? How does that reflect on next generation? Let's discuss!

10. No entertainment center features – This may be a minor point to some, but I don't have a real DVD player. I just used Xbox and/or PS2. That's pretty darn cool. Xbox has Windows Media Center Extender if you want movie playback from your PC, but you need a Media Center PC. You can mod your Xbox and get a pretty awesome Media Player that will do everything. Then you can finally watch all those TV shows you video captured or downloaded through legal means) on your TV (unless your computer is in the same room as your big screen TV and you have video out). Xbox 360 is supposed to let you stream videos off your PC if you have Media Center (which no one does) or Vista (which everyone soon will). Even the PSP makes a really bad ass movie player if you put MP4s on your memory stick. Sure, they are gaming platforms, but it's relatively easy to use the powerful hardware (unless you don't have powerful hardware *cough* Revolution *cough*) to do some cool video playback. I for one am looking forward to Blu-Ray on Playstation 3. (HD-DVD isn't as good of a format [15 GB per layer vs 25 GB], and buying a separate drive for Xbox 360 might not actually be much cheaper than buying a standalone player, but we'll see what wins the next gen video format wars. Sony lost with its superior BetaMax product way back when.)

9. DK: Jungle Beat – This game got really good reviews and a lot of praise, but I didn't like it at all. It seemed like a really lame game with a very awkward control scheme. It really should have been shipped as mini-games with Donkey Konga... Taiko Drum Master had more interesting mini-games that actually came with the main game rather than playing $40 for almost no content.

8. Legend of Zelda: Windwaker – What a let down. I liked the cell shading, but it was exactly like playing the other Zelda games except with a grappling hook, and the horribly annoying sailing and conducting. It took like a minute to pull out the baton and conduct the wind changing song, so usually when I teleported into an area, I tried to wiggle the stick back and forth to get to land without playing the darn song. Sailing was annoying, and when you almost beat the game, they extended the game with more sailing and finding stuff. I hate looking for things in real life, so naturally, I hate looking for them in video games... I wish I could get people to pay me to look for missing papers and stuff in my apartment.

8. Mario Sunshine – I LOVED Mario 64. I was anxiously awaiting a successor... I'm still waiting. Mario Sunshine just didn't do it for me. The levels weren't as fun, and I don't like cleaning. I wish I could get people to pay me to wash my car.

7. Poor HDTV support – Nintendo thinks that HD isn't important. The FCC disagrees since it is regulating that by May of this year, all broadcasters must broadcast in HD. GameCube actually supported component 480p out, but they removed the jacks on newer GameCubes... The component cable was really hard to find. I had to order mine direct from NOA, which was a pain. Very few games actually support progressive scan on the GameCube, which is quite lame. If you've played it on an HDTV, you'd be disappointed too, especially because some Xbox games actually support 1080i, which looks excellent. (Last I heard, it was only 6 games though)

6. Weak hardware – GameCube has the weakest hardware of the bunch. Debate it all you want, it can't compare to Xbox, and there are many PS2 games that look much better than any GameCube game (Ratchet & Clank series, God of War, etc).

5. No shaders – Shaders are awesome. Play “Panzer Dragoon Orta” and you'll agree!

4. Bad third party support – GameCube didn't get all the ports because of the worse hardware and small market, so that sucked. Also, they didn't get very many good 3rd party exclusives except Capcom (Viewtiful Joe, Resident Evil 4), but then they went ahead and released those for Playstation 2.

2. Crappy controller – Anyone who says they like the GameCube controller is a liar. Not only do the X, Y and Z buttons suck a lot, but it doesn't have enough buttons for cross-plat games. The other two have 12, but GameCube only has 8.

1. Not enough RAM – And the number one thing is, there isn't enough RAM. I suppose I should be specific. There isn't enough main memory. It features 40 MB total if you include the A-RAM, but only 24 MB is main memory. (Less than the PS2's 32 MB) Main memory can be used for optimizations, effects, better AI, higher res textures, larger environments, etc. GameCube is missing out!

So, there you have it. The funny part is, Nintendo didn't learn from their mistakes, and the Revolution suffers from all of these (except it MAY have shaders, but unlikely) if they port Windwaker, Sunshine and DK: Jungle Beat. It looks like Nintendo wants to repeat being last place!


Anonymous jubal_harshaw said...

...and all is right with the world. the birds are singing, the sun is shining and my confidence in the BIG G has been restored. Huzzah!

I shouldn't have doubted you, BIG G, though I'm sure you have realised that my criticism could have been interpreted by certain 'imaginative' people to be a pre-emptive strike on another prolific poster. Although this interpretation is nothing more than a flight-of-fancy, a nonsense, it seems to have worked nonetheless.

Putting amusing attempts at dissembling aside for the moment, here's my take on the GC/Revolution 'thing:'

From a business perspective, the console market has grown up. It's dominated by two large companies who excel in throwing money at problems until they go away. MS and Sony.

Nintendo, while a large company with many alternative revenue streams, is still unable to compete on a financial level (sourcing, production quantities, etc.) with such large players. At this moment, fortune favours Sony and MS because they are companies built around computing and consumer electronics. They have vast resources to draw from - other products may well have encountered similar pitfalls, so the resolution is already 'known.'

Nintendo is built around vision - they would probably resist going the way of Sega for as long as possible because they, like Apple, want control over the whole user experience. This has its good and bad points - they should be obvious, so I won't go into them.

As the 'vision' incorporates everything, including hardware, only games that are able to conform to it are able to be made to work. Of course, there's some cyclical process going on here. More on that in a moment.

Ultimately, to maintain their vision, Nintendo has to compete out of the mainstream as 'my-first-console' to kids, or as a second console to adults.

Now the cyclical process is this: console 'x' not popular, severely curtailing available funds to design 'console next.' As a result, hardware specs for 'console next' have to be downgraded as per-unit costs are greater - you can't afford to source as much as your original costings allowed. Ultimately, your console is unable to compete with other consoles on a hardware level. That means you have to: sell to a different market or get cheaper.
In Nintendo's case - the only two other markets also demand that the unit price is sweeter. More compromise! Update 'vision.' Repeat.

I think they are resigned to their position in the market. They've got their low price, Unique Selling Point controller and they've got their 'vision' of gaming. Sounds like a niche business to me.

Everyone I know with a GC uses it as a second console. It's useful when they have a few friends round. Super Monkey Ball, Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros and Bomberman are all tremendously fun 4 player games. There's nothing about them, however, that couldn't be done on any other console that supports four controllers. In fact, they're not significantly better looking than N64 games.

But that's the point - Nintendo make fun games that people could easily do without - and would do if the GC was any more expensive. Ultimately, the price point is the most important thing to the success of a Nintendo console, so comparing the hardware to more expensive consoles is 'well futile.'

Urgh, that was longer than I anticipated. My apologies.

5:50 AM  
Blogger The BIG G said...

No need to apologize for writing too much. I think the next gen consoles are going to be more expensive, so most people probably won't be able to afford that second console....

-The BIG G

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IMO, the only thing that screwed the GC was the lack of third party support. GC saw some fantastic games, but they were spread far and thin... also, Nintendo has ill ended the GC's life by basically not paying any attention whatsoever on the GC, and not releasing games for it waiting for the Revolution. Games like Baten Kaitos II, which is promising seeing how Baten Kaitos was great, may not get published in the US. My opinion is that Namco decided that releasing said game on America was too expensive, seeing how GC is lagging behind.

12:16 PM  

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