The recent Nintendo leaks have given us prototypes and source code, but the most recent dump of info is perhaps even more interesting as it pertains to hardware concepts Nintendo was working on during the GameCube era.
According to the leaked documents, Nintendo planned to create a portable GameCube which included a screen and a docking cradle. The machine would be playable using its built-in display, but could also be placed in the dock and connected to a TV. This could go some way to explaining the system's diminutive size when compared to the PS2 and Xbox, as well as the existence of that iconic carry handle.
Here's the specification:
Could such a system have really worked? Given the limitations of modern batteries – let alone those from the turn of the millennium – we'd be tempted to say no, but it might have been interesting to have a system which could be taken around with you, rather like the Sony PSOne with its officially-made portable screen. Indeed, the GameCube itself got a similar product, albeit one made by third-parties rather than Nintendo itself. A hybrid system which boasted such a display as standard and could be easily carried around would have been interesting, if not game-changing in the same way the Switch has been.
Elsewhere in the leaked data there's a potential GameCube successor codenamed "Tako":
This system is perhaps what Nintendo had in mind as a follow-up to the GameCube before it decided to drop out of the technological arms race and instead focus on making motion control the unique selling point for what would eventually become the Wii, which was powered by roughly the same tech as the GameCube.
Tako means Octopus, keeping up the marine naming convention.
The GAMECUBE Taco sounds amazing. I know it's actually Tako but don't care.
@RupeeClock also Takoyaki is good, bought a lot of that when I went to Japan.
Top left has "8cm DVD drive" so it could run the normal gamecube games
@Kalmaro @RupeeClock Look two Snivy GO POKI BALL!
Thank God they didn't. Otherwise we would've gotten even more weak hardware than original Gamecube. I mean look @ WII U Gamepad.. such low resolution and yes you were able to play on TV as well. Kinda same. The time wasn't right for that one that's for sure
The Gamecube had a screen for sort of portable play.
It also had a Gameboy player dock to play handheld games on the TV.
So it doesn't surprise me they were thinking about it, because they were actually doing it to.
@Alucard83 "Thank God they didn't. Otherwise we would've gotten even more weak hardware than original Gamecube."
You do realize that Gamecube was on par with Xbox and both had better hardware than PS2, which launched a year earlier?
Here's a 10 year old thread comparing the three 20 year old systems.
"The GameCube's PowerPC CPU was faster than the Xbox's Pentium III. It's not the clock rate that matters, but how many instructions it could process with each clock cycle. The PowerPC was superior to the Pentium III in that regard, hence why the Xbox 360 abandoned the Pentium III and went with a PowerPC architecture like the GameCube. In addition, the GameCube's 1T-SRAM was also faster than the Xbox's SDRAM. When it came to speed, the GameCube was the faster console, with practical polygon fill rates pushing up to 15 million polygons per second in game, while the Xbox was barely able to push beyond 10 million polygons per second in game. The Xbox's main advantages over the GameCube lied in its more advanced 3D graphical capabilities, particularly the use of programmable pixel shaders, and of course the PC-like architecture which made it easier to develop games for."
"The GameCube had more raw power, in terms of floating point performance and polygon fill rate.
However, the Xbox had superior shading capabilities (programmable hardware pixel shaders versus the GameCube's fixed-function pipeline shading)."
@rjejr I ha that very same screen plus a battery that fit into the bottom of the gamecube in a similar manner as the GBA adapter. Could never get the battery to work but the screen was great, especially for me as a kid who had to travel a lot. Play it in the car, hotels wherever. So great.
I'm guessing the cost of such a machine was what pushed Nintendo to rethink their next console. This thing probably would've had a price tag on par with PS3.
I do remember a company - Square-Enix, I think - saying something like the GameCube's successor would be "not a handheld, not a portable, but something in between". Then the Wii was unveiled and it was confusing.
@Zeropulse Portable Gamecube.
I wonder how different things might be had Nintendo stuck with Tako.
@RickD Not true. The GameCube and Wii didn't have shaders at all. All lighting was calculated on the spot on those systems. It's one of the biggest issues with emulating them (since having to stop to calculate shaders for modern systems results in seemingly unavoidable stuttering in games).
That said? The GCN/Wii lighting capabilities were great as you said. They just weren't shader based.
@rjejr The Japanese had blue cases for there GB Player Disc's?
Us aussies had a clear case instead.
Plus that Japanese case had some weird slot to the left of the memory card slot, yet us aussies only had a memory card slot above the disc.
@RickD Well while you are disputing 1 point from those I listed, I think you still very clearly make the point that the Gamecube was not a weak system that gen, which I was trying to point out to that other person.
Though ti seem sliek even your shader point may not be correct, but I think Gmaecube was still in the running that gen, and not weak by any means, regardless of how it functioned.
For about 10 years I thought Starfox Adventures was the best looking game graphically I had ever seen, even if it did slow to a about a frame per second during battles, I've read that may have been intentional for dramatic affect. Krystal still has the best fur though.
Coupled with the glasses-less 3D concept that they had for the screen, that woild have been one insanely innovative system well ahead of it's time... with a huge price tag and a confused consumer. It's brilliant, but I think between battery limitations, price and trying to position the system in the market, they may have had another 'Wii U'. The Gamecube didn't sell that well to begin with and it was a wonderful system at a solid pricepoint. I'm glad they streamlined the concept. I do wish they had pursued the Tako path, but with the Wii motion controls and hit the market with a system that was hi def, powerful, innovated with motion controls (and launched with the full Wii MotionPlus functionality), DVD playback and better Wifi, since wifi was key and 'always on'. It would have set them up for a much more capable Wii U as well. Wishful thinking, I know.
@rjejr Thank you for dropping the knowledge, it's rare to see such highly technical discussion in these comments!
It is fascinating to see these design concepts be held on to for decades, and re-imagined down the line. It shows the creative heart of Nintendo that these ideas weren't completely discarded after they were deemed unfeasible.
I always thought that Nintendo would let the home console die if it meant saving the Game Boy line.
@rjejr There was also an official, first party screen that was never released.
I wanna live in that timeline.
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