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IGN64 feature article on N2000 (pre-Dolphin/GameCube) from early 1999

stewacide

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Mar 23, 2007
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UltimateIke said:
While I don't know if it spins the disks in the opposite direction, the Xbox DVD drive reads game disks from the outer portion of the disk towards the center. Normal DVDs read from the center out, don't they?

I don't know about the other systems or the 360 though.

Was the Xbox1 ever mod-chipped? I know there were systems to copy games to a hard-drive, but I've never heard of 'burned' Xbox1 games.
 

AlternativeUlster

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stewacide said:
Was the Xbox1 ever mod-chipped? I know there were systems to copy games to a hard-drive, but I've never heard of 'burned' Xbox1 games.

Yeah it was. My sister's ex-lover had one with like 50 different burned games and also had every SNES game on it supposedly.
 
Aug 6, 2006
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camineet said:
True. That sounds about right to me.

Also, IIRC, the N2000 name was used to describe both Dolphin and the canceled system that Nintendo was working on in 1997 upto early 1998, which was to be out in Japan as early as the end of 1999. That system was being built around CagEnt's (3DO Systems) MX chipset, modified to use a MIPS CPU. Even if that had all worked out, I would imagine the problem with such a system was that originally, MX started off as being only about twice as powerful as the canceled M2, and the M2 was only 2-3 times stronger than N64, thus, placing both M2 and MX well under Dreamcast-level performance. Perhaps the modified MX-based console would've upped the performance somewhat, but probably not by a huge amount.


overall graphic performance in polys
N64: 160,000 /s
3DO M2: upto 3x N64
3DO MX: 2x M2, or 6x N64
CagEnt MX updated for Nintendo?: lets say maybe 10x N64
Dreamcast: 20x to 30x N64
Dolphin: (@ 30M) upto about 180x N64
Released GameCube (@15M) about 90x N64



It's good that Nintendo started fresh with Dolphin. Even in the form of the downgraded GameCube, it must have been much, much more powerful than any variant of MX.

Since I know less about the business side and overall strategy Nintendo took, it's always interesting reading posts like yours here.

(off topic, mostly)

The problem with those numbers is that I can't help looking at them and comparing them to my completely subjective opinions on how good those systems look... and noting how that one number most definitely doesn't tell the whole story.

That is, for instance, I would say that it is probably rare to see a Dreamcast game that looks like it is even pushing three times as many polygons as an N64 game, much less twenty or thirty. I know part of the difference must be framerates -- DC games have higher average framerates, and the higher your framerate the more polys you are actually pushing -- but still, in general a lot of DC games are pretty much N64 or PSX games with higher-resolution textures, a higher framerate, and more special effects.

Of course, the best looking DC games look better, and look better than early PS2 games (some of which also look distinctly last-gen), so I'm not just picking on the Dreamcast. But when I play Rush 2049 on the N64 and then on the Dreamcast, it is striking how similar the two versions are... sure, the DC version has headlight beams in the night tracks, nicer explosions, more smoke effects, more reflections and light effects, higher resolution textures (though for an N64 game, Rush 2049 has very nice quality textures), 3/4 player multiplayer in race mode as well as stunt and battle (N64 is 2 player in race, 4 in stunt/battle), has a higher average framerate... but just looking at the raw geometry? They look identical, as far as I can tell.

Of course then, the question is whether that's because of the limitations of the system, or because it's a port. But it's an arcade conversion, really, and the arcade version has better graphics than either the DC or N64 versions... and it is true that many DC games look better in general than contemporary PS2 games. Games ported from DC to PS2 look better on DC, mostly... though DC games ported to Xbox or GC were more likely improved in the transition. But of course, PS2 was less powerful than either of those systems. But anyway... DC, 20-30x N64? Unless framerate increases account for a lot of that, more titles on the DC sure don't look it. And that includes exclusives, a Pod Speed Zone or 4-Wheel Thunder (that is, an exclusive) doesn't look THAT much better than one of the ports. But on the other hand, Re-Volt looks and plays FAR better on DC -- better graphics, more effects, more cars on the track, a MUCH higher framerate, higher resolution... much more like what I would have expected the difference to be like.

But even so... I mean, if you just look at that number, you'd think that the Playstation is more powerful than the N64 too, while it was most definitely the other way around!

Oh yeah, and I know you're like the world's #1 M2 fanboy, but was it really going to be 2-4 times more powerful than the N64? Really? Seems hard to believe. But you've gone over that in past threads, I think.

UltimateIke said:
While I don't know if it spins the disks in the opposite direction, the Xbox DVD drive reads game disks from the outer portion of the disk towards the center. Normal DVDs read from the center out, don't they?

I don't know about the other systems or the 360 though.

The Dreamcast also reads the outside first (the boot sector is on the edge of the disc).

stewacide said:
Was the Xbox1 ever mod-chipped? I know there were systems to copy games to a hard-drive, but I've never heard of 'burned' Xbox1 games.

Was it ever mod chipped? The original Xbox has to be one of the most hacked consoles ever...

camineet said:
For those that don't know of (but may be interested in) Nintendo's search to find a chipset provider, post-N64 for N64's successor, this was one of the best articles written:

Next Generation Online - April 1998

Very, very interesting article, I don't remember ever reading it before. I'm not sure if I'd heard of the CagEnt thing before... it makes a lot of sense that Nintendo would have been looking into new consoles that early, considering how hard the N64 bombed in Japan. The American numbers did well enough to hold them over for the generation, but going from total market domination to irrelevance in Japan must have been very, very hard on them... of course, the situation got no better with the Gamecube, which sold about evenly with the N64 in Japan. They were hoping to, but once again, it just didn't work out...

It's good that Nintendo didn't give up on the N64 early, though. The system was fairly successful in the US, really, releasing another system soon could have hurt them in the US, really, if people felt that Nintendo was replacing the N64 too soon. As Sega learned, you need to be very careful when releasing another console early...

Of course Nintendo did do that, when they replaced the GBC with the GBA after just 2 1/2 years, but that decision actually really annoyed me. In fact, I didn't buy a GBA for two years after it came out, mostly out of irritation with how soon they had killed the GBC, which I had gotten in December '98 soon after it came out. I wasn't buying GBC games either, but I didn't get a GBA for a while.
 

Azure Dream

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TheGreatDave said:
I remember when people thought that was real.

It was always far too slick for Nintendo.

It doesn't fare so well at Youtube LQ, but the sequence with the castles really does make an impact.
 

camineet

Banned
Mar 30, 2007
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A Black Falcon said:
(off topic, mostly)

The problem with those numbers is that I can't help looking at them and comparing them to my completely subjective opinions on how good those systems look... and noting how that one number most definitely doesn't tell the whole story.

Many Dreamcast games didn't look 10 times better than N64 games, let alone 20-30 times, maybe twice as good in the worst cases with the worst games. But it's subjective for everyone, as it is for you, and me. To me Sonic Adventure is like 10x Mario 64 in graphics, even though I didn't really like SA and loved Mario64 much more at the time.

That is, for instance, I would say that it is probably rare to see a Dreamcast game that looks like it is even pushing three times as many polygons as an N64 game, much less twenty or thirty. I know part of the difference must be framerates -- DC games have higher average framerates, and the higher your framerate the more polys you are actually pushing -- but still, in general a lot of DC games are pretty much N64 or PSX games with higher-resolution textures, a higher framerate, and more special effects.

some yes, some no. but I agree with you for the most part.

Soul Calibur for instance, was originally on the System 12 arcade board, same board that ran Tekken 3. basicly PS1 plus 50% more performance. The arcade game could've been (but was not) done on PS1 with a small but noticable downgrade, like Tekken 3 was.

On Dreamcast however, it literally looks 10 times better than the 'PS1.5x' System12 arcade with the added polygons, textures, and the proper basic polygon image enhancing/rendering features that PS1 lacked, and everything Namco added.


Of course, the best looking DC games look better, and look better than early PS2 games (some of which also look distinctly last-gen), so I'm not just picking on the Dreamcast. But when I play Rush 2049 on the N64 and then on the Dreamcast, it is striking how similar the two versions are... sure, the DC version has headlight beams in the night tracks, nicer explosions, more smoke effects, more reflections and light effects, higher resolution textures (though for an N64 game, Rush 2049 has very nice quality textures), 3/4 player multiplayer in race mode as well as stunt and battle (N64 is 2 player in race, 4 in stunt/battle), has a higher average framerate... but just looking at the raw geometry? They look identical, as far as I can tell.

All true.

Of course then, the question is whether that's because of the limitations of the system, or because it's a port. But it's an arcade conversion, really, and the arcade version has better graphics than either the DC or N64 versions... and it is true that many DC games look better in general than contemporary PS2 games. Games ported from DC to PS2 look better on DC, mostly... though DC games ported to Xbox or GC were more likely improved in the transition. But of course, PS2 was less powerful than either of those systems. But anyway... DC, 20-30x N64? Unless framerate increases account for a lot of that, more titles on the DC sure don't look it. And that includes exclusives, a Pod Speed Zone or 4-Wheel Thunder (that is, an exclusive) doesn't look THAT much better than one of the ports. But on the other hand, Re-Volt looks and plays FAR better on DC -- better graphics, more effects, more cars on the track, a MUCH higher framerate, higher resolution... much more like what I would have expected the difference to be like.


It's amazing that Dreamcast, with 1 pixel pipeline and 1 texture unit (thus, a 1:1 system) could hang with PS2 in PS2's early life, and the PS2 was a 16 pixel pipeline system, though it didn't have even 1 texture unit PER pipe, I think it used half its pipes to texture or something like that, making it effectively an 8:1 system. PS2 started to pull away when more geometry was used, and with its high bandwidth EDRAM.
But even so... I mean, if you just look at that number, you'd think that the Playstation is more powerful than the N64 too, while it was most definitely the other way around!

N64 was more powerful than PS1 in most areas, although PS1 could push more textured polys to the screen on average. 180K vs 160K. Like I said though, N64 was more powerful in most every way.

Oh yeah, and I know you're like the world's #1 M2 fanboy, but was it really going to be 2-4 times more powerful than the N64? Really? Seems hard to believe. But you've gone over that in past threads, I think.

Depends on what exactly you compare. Matsushita claimed M2 was comparable to Sega's MODEL 3 board. The MODEL 3 board was, without a doubt, an order of magnitude more powerful than N64. Like 10x more. The M2 was really not close to being on par with MODEL 3 (3 million triangles, or 1 to 1.5 million square polys) Most developers said M2 was twice as powerful as N64. If the polygon counts are to be believed, it was: 160K vs ~300k to 500k, so about 2-3x. M2 had 4 times the texture cache: 4k vs 16k. And M2 had twice the amount of RAM of a non-RAM-expanded N64. Looking at the games in development and framerates, I'd say at least twice as powerful. If M2's bigger brother, the MX, was 2-4 times more powerful than M2, then you're at 4 to 8 times N64. Which is what Nintendo was starting with in 1997 after they moved away from SGI, and to MX via Samsung/CagEnt. Not a good enough starting point for their next-gen, given that GameCube ended up being 50 to 100 times N64 in polygon spec (even though Nintendo rarely pushed its own hardware later). While I cannot say exactly what any given system can do, I'm pretty good at comparing overall the overall look using each systems best games as examples, and comparing that to what the paper specs say. I am certain M2 wasn't 10 times stronger than N64, but I am also confident M2 wasn't 'N64 1.5x' either.
The 3Dfx Voodoo1 was somewhat more powerful than N64 and the M2 was slightly or somewhat more powerful than Voodoo1. We also shouldn't judge M2 based on the Konami M2 arcade games released, since that didn't use the twin PowerPC 602 version. Who knows what revision of the M2 that Konami board used. I became an M2 fanboy around the time it was canceled, in 1997, not when it was announced as Bulldog in 1994 or revealed as M2 in 1995. Man, the only thing I wanted more than M2 was the reported Saturn2 with Lockheed Martin GPU. That would've been the ultimate console of its generation, but that's another thread :D




Very, very interesting article, I don't remember ever reading it before. I'm not sure if I'd heard of the CagEnt thing before... it makes a lot of sense that Nintendo would have been looking into new consoles that early, considering how hard the N64 bombed in Japan. The American numbers did well enough to hold them over for the generation, but going from total market domination to irrelevance in Japan must have been very, very hard on them... of course, the situation got no better with the Gamecube, which sold about evenly with the N64 in Japan. They were hoping to, but once again, it just didn't work out...



Of course Nintendo did do that, when they replaced the GBC with the GBA after just 2 1/2 years, but that decision actually really annoyed me. In fact, I didn't buy a GBA for two years after it came out, mostly out of irritation with how soon they had killed the GBC, which I had gotten in December '98 soon after it came out. I wasn't buying GBC games either, but I didn't get a GBA for a while.


CagEnt was basicly what Samsung named the 3DO Systems hardware team that they acquired.

I got my Dreamcast in April 1999, between Japan and U.S. launches.
 

Azure J

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What an interesting bit of history this thread has been so far. So now I have an interesting question, suppose the Dolphin were released as it was intended to (higher specs, motion controls, basically the Wii) during the last console gen. What do you think the shape of the last and current console gen would have been like game wise and market wise?

And random, but did we ever truthfully learn the specs for the Wii completely, or are we still going with what was reported from taking apart the first generation workstation's abilitiy? (i.e. 729MHz PowerPC & 243MHz Broadway ATI Card, etc, etc.)
 

DrGAKMAN

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There's a lot of little known stuff about Project Dolphin and Nintendo's thought processes when creating a new console.

NES
For instance, the NES in the West *could* have been under the Atari distribution label, but that never happened while Atari crashed and burned and Nintendo decided to go at it alone. After the "crash" it was said that many retailers didn't want to carry a "video game" anymore so the Famicom was labelled the Nintendo Entertainment System (as in more than just games) in the West. Originally it was to play games off of audio cassette tapes, but they went with ROM cartridges instead. They marketted it to retailers as a toy (with the Light Gun & R.O.B.) to push the "NES" name as oppossed to it being just a video game. Mr Yamauchi himself told retailers that he would buy back any systems that weren't sold which really helped in negotiations with major chains like SEARS.

SNES
Before the SNES, Nintendo actually thought about partnering with NEC on the Turbo Graphics 16-bit system since it was already launched/marketted against the Genisis/Megadrive. Nintendo decided to realize the Super Famicom/SNES instead which is why it seemed "late" in coming against Sega's system. Later in the generation there were of course shannanigan's between Nintendo and Sony/Philips for the SNES CD-ROM add-on business...a lot of developers had a lot riding on Nintendo's decisions here, but it was clear that Nintendo was again indecisive due to control issues. There were about 10 distinctly different variants of propossed systems around this time, but ultimatly Nintendo wanted to go it alone for their add-on, but after the bad taste the aforementioned shannanigans left in Nintendo's collective mouth *and* faultering CD-ROM business for SEGA and other's, Nintendo didn't even release their final propossal in the "ND" (Nintendo Disk CD-ROM encased in a diskette SNES add-on) system...which left a large art of the industry high'n'dry giving Sony a backdoor in.

N64
Originally dubbed the "Ultra 64"...it burned a lot of bridges between Nintendo and the industry due to sticking with carts. Namco & Square were vocal of their wanting a CD-based business and the rest of the industry (especially the Japanese publishers) followed leaving Nintendo to resort to a "Dream Team" of Western developers for the platform. Funny enough, this dream team would either be totally fruitless (3D0 & Acclaim R.I.P.) or (in the case of Midway/DMA's Body Harvest) would later bear fruit (the 3D GTA's) on competing systems. Speaking of Midway and other arcade developers, Nintendo went "back to the arcades" with them with games like "Cruis'n" and KI, but then Sega (with the Virtua series) & Sony created their own arcade boards which would make more direct ports from them easier to the PSX platform emerged with great 3RD party relationships with CAPCOM, Konami and especially Namco who seemingly went out of their way in creating new PSX exclussive content in the 32-bit era. It seemed like a no-brainer (even durring the "Ultra64" codename) that Nintendo would go with a disc-based format, but they didn't. Then rumors sprouted about the newer DVD format for Nintendo's add-on N64 "DD" system (which FF VII was going to use), but we all know what the DD actually ended up being in the end. It too was late to market due to Nintendo not knowing where to go for 3D graphics, even with it being heavily rumored that Nintendo would work with or pick-up the M2 project. Instead Nintendo went with SGi/Dr Wei Yen's ArtX group (Dr Wei Yen is now heading the Chinese Nintendo iQue business and ArtX was later absorbed by ATi who more recently was absorbed by AMD). N64's obvious flaw was it being cartridge-based, but it ended up being a very profitable system for Nintendo, despite applifying the negative stigma about Nintendo's mindshare with gamers & business with game makers.

GCN
This was the first real serious effort on Nintendo's part IMO. They didn't try to tack themselves on to some other project made by someone else in other words...even though the heavily rumored X-BOX was being made by MS who *definatly* wanted to even buy Nintendo. Working closely with ArtX and through contracts with them working with IBM (who was rumored to be wanting to get into the gaming business back near the launch of N64) Nintendo's own Howard Lincoln truly set out to go against Sony's "CGI quality" PS2. GAMECUBE seriously *was* a beast. Project Dolphin (or Do!phin if some rumors are to be believed) was seriously ambitious as well. I think Nintendo, the industry and gamers as a whole really thought that the Dolphin was Nintendo's "comeback" and now that it would use discs (provided by a special CAV drive from Panasonic/Matsushida) Nintendo had it in the bag. However, Sony still had a hold on many Japanese developers and after a very ill-received GAMECUBE unveiling party at Nintendo's SpaceWorld (lolz purple lunchbox, fisher price controller lolz) MS brilliantly swooped in with the (up until then rumored) X-BOX unveiling and picked up a lot of gamers/game makers that were largely dissappointed in Nintendo's next-gen system. Before the generation even started I do believe that minshare "won" the war for Sony as MS & Nintendo fought over the previous generation's N64 userbase: GCN being bought by Nintendo fans, X-BOX being supported by everyone else (N64's garnered Western support: the Tom Clansey's, the Star Wars, the FPS's, the PC ports...and later in a devestating mindshare blow: RARE). Nintendo was really taking shot over shot in the last generation and leading up to GCN's Japanese launch Nintendo strategically planned announcements from 3RD parties to show that they learned the error of their ways from the N64-era and garner Mature/RPG genre's that they lacked in that generation. The RE-exclussivity deal (and later CAPCOM 5), the Namco exclussive Tales Of and Baten Kaitos RPG's and then the big one was suppossed to be Square returning to Nintendo...however that announcement didn't come 'til later (when it meant less) as right when it was about to happen Sony bought a huge chunk of Square. The once thought "exclussives" Nintendo was getting either ended up dudding or also going to PS2. Connectivity, lack of online, lower capacity discs...lack of real exclussives and poorer 3RD party sales (due to GCN's lower install base) just really hurt Nintendo's mindshare. It was to the point that most people believed that MS & Sony were neck'n'neck while GCN was a distant third and that GCN was actually underpowered (both of which were very untrue). The GCN *was* a beast...for the money it stood on par with the loss-leading bleeding edge big boys when game makers actually tried and this was noticeable as Sony went with IBM (who, through some of what they learned with GCN's PowerPC architecture, created the Cell for PS3) and MS went with both of Nintendo's previous partners (IBM & ATi) for X360. The previous sentence wouldn't have occurred unless GCN wasn't as powerful (garnering attention even though the system overall was seen as an underpowered distant competitor).

Wii
Before the Wii came out Mr Iwata & Mr Miyamoto both stated how they wanted to keep supporting GCN and how they wanted it to last longer and yadda yadda. In some ways, they got their wish, 'cos the Wii is basically an overclocked GCN powerwise plus a lot of added features. There was a 3RD unused port on the bottom of the GCN...being the speculator that I am I observed that this was for a seperately corded (the port had a rounded off openning) device that was rumored to be for an all-in-one gadget that was to "add life" to the dying GCN. I would speculate that instead of releasing this, Nintendo decided to repackage the idea's into Wii which adding even more function and really working to fix their mindshare as a kids-only about to go 3RD party washed up game maker to the innovative revolutionists set to cause a shift in the industry. This is evident in the NDS of course, but up until then the rumored "Revolution" was less about specs and more about features 'cos ultimatly spec-wise it was "two GCN's duct-taped together lolz". Ambition was in the cards for the system as well with Mr Iwata promising a lot that still have not happened (hoking up to a PC moniter "out of the box", having LAN games on two systems running one disc, being able to plug in a USB hard drive for storage, it playing DVD's, etc.). We're living in the era of Wii right now, it's really interesting to see it turned out like this...I'm certainly glad Nintendo made a new system to revamp themselves rather than making the concept of Wii into a GCN add-on. I'm also glad Nintendo hasn't spoken about a next gen NDS (let alone home console) as I think it benifits the industry as a whole to have longer generations...even with an underpowered but profitable/low-cost yet highly interactive platform as the top selling one.

The future...
Mr. Iwata has gone on record to say there won't be a next-gen until people stop enjoying Wii and/or until they have to release new hardware (not just peripherals) to really give gamers that "next" experience. 3D goggles, mind controlled gaming, VR? Either way Nintendo is set to milk this for a while (which I don't mind as again the longer a generation lasts the more value/games you end up with on the platform) and with as many as are being sold and as many peripherals this thing is set to have I see it's going to have a long life with no need of a "next" one for a while...same goes for nintendo's competitors, PS3 & X360 should have some longevity too.
 

camineet

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Mar 30, 2007
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AzureJericho said:
What an interesting bit of history this thread has been so far. So now I have an interesting question, suppose the Dolphin were released as it was intended to (higher specs, motion controls, basically the Wii) during the last console gen. What do you think the shape of the last and current console gen would have been like game wise and market wise?

I would've hoped that Nintendo, with a fully powered, fully featured, fully-taken-advantage-of-Dolphin, had roughly split the market more evenly with PS2. Now to be honest, The Wii Remote+Nunchuck does go beyond what might have been in the Dolphin controllers. The advanced versions of the Dolphin controllers that were abandoned probably had: microphone, speaker, maybe a removable screen (like DC's VMU) and basic tilt-motion capability (not as much stuff as Wii Remote). I am not talking about the later-Wii Remote that was going to be released as a peripheral for GameCube, but the original unreleased Dolphin controllers, circa 1999-2000.

Then for this generation, perhaps Nintendo would've gone with a more 'revolutionary' interface for Dolphin2/GameCube2/Revolution. Well, at least what the MotionPlus is soon going to offer. Plus, modern visuals with a more powerful GPU with a modern architecture, as powerful as Xbox360's Xenos, but rendering everything in SD instead of HD or near-HD as 360/PS3 do, to keep game development costs down. Also a simple, fast, single-core CPU instead of multicore CPU, 256 MB RAM instead of 512 MB, to also keep costs in check. Nintendo could still have launched at $249 and still have had a 'disruptive' console this gen. Game developers would have lowend hardware that was a major improvement over Dolphin/GameCube, but not totally obsolete late 90s hardware. Gameplay and new control would still be the focus, not hardware specs.


Of course, the above is just my ideas & thoughts typed up in a few minutes.

And random, but did we ever truthfully learn the specs for the Wii completely, or are we still going with what was reported from taking apart the first generation workstation's abilitiy? (i.e. 729MHz PowerPC & 243MHz Broadway ATI Card, etc, etc.)

There doesn't seem to be any real reports, or proof in the pudding, that Wii's chipset isn't anything more than a 50% higher clocked GameCube chipset, other than a few tweaks. The real meat of the upgrade is the extra 64 MB GDDR3 RAM.
 

camineet

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Mar 30, 2007
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DrGAKMAN said:
There's a lot of little known stuff about Project Dolphin and Nintendo's thought processes when creating a new console.

GCN
This was the first real serious effort on Nintendo's part IMO. They didn't try to tack themselves on to some other project made by someone else in other words...even though the heavily rumored X-BOX was being made by MS who *definatly* wanted to even buy Nintendo. Working closely with ArtX and through contracts with them working with IBM (who was rumored to be wanting to get into the gaming business back near the launch of N64) Nintendo's own Howard Lincoln truly set out to go against Sony's "CGI quality" PS2. GAMECUBE seriously *was* a beast. Project Dolphin (or Do!phin if some rumors are to be believed) was seriously ambitious as well. I think Nintendo, the industry and gamers as a whole really thought that the Dolphin was Nintendo's "comeback" and now that it would use discs (provided by a special CAV drive from Panasonic/Matsushida) Nintendo had it in the bag. However, Sony still had a hold on many Japanese developers and after a very ill-received GAMECUBE unveiling party at Nintendo's SpaceWorld (lolz purple lunchbox, fisher price controller lolz) MS brilliantly swooped in with the (up until then rumored) X-BOX unveiling and picked up a lot of gamers/game makers that were largely dissappointed in Nintendo's next-gen system. Before the generation even started I do believe that minshare "won" the war for Sony as MS & Nintendo fought over the previous generation's N64 userbase: GCN being bought by Nintendo fans, X-BOX being supported by everyone else (N64's garnered Western support: the Tom Clansey's, the Star Wars, the FPS's, the PC ports...and later in a devestating mindshare blow: RARE). Nintendo was really taking shot over shot in the last generation and leading up to GCN's Japanese launch Nintendo strategically planned announcements from 3RD parties to show that they learned the error of their ways from the N64-era and garner Mature/RPG genre's that they lacked in that generation. The RE-exclussivity deal (and later CAPCOM 5), the Namco exclussive Tales Of and Baten Kaitos RPG's and then the big one was suppossed to be Square returning to Nintendo...however that announcement didn't come 'til later (when it meant less) as right when it was about to happen Sony bought a huge chunk of Square. The once thought "exclussives" Nintendo was getting either ended up dudding or also going to PS2. Connectivity, lack of online, lower capacity discs...lack of real exclussives and poorer 3RD party sales (due to GCN's lower install base) just really hurt Nintendo's mindshare. It was to the point that most people believed that MS & Sony were neck'n'neck while GCN was a distant third and that GCN was actually underpowered (both of which were very untrue). The GCN *was* a beast...for the money it stood on par with the loss-leading bleeding edge big boys when game makers actually tried and this was noticeable as Sony went with IBM (who, through some of what they learned with GCN's PowerPC architecture, created the Cell for PS3) and MS went with both of Nintendo's previous partners (IBM & ATi) for X360. The previous sentence wouldn't have occurred unless GCN wasn't as powerful (garnering attention even though the system overall was seen as an underpowered distant competitor).


Wow, seriously great post on GCN.
 

IanZ

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The history of the videogame industry is truly dramatic, kinda like the beginning of the movie industry.

But ala...all is well, Nintendo is back on top again. :lol :lol :lol
 

Eiji

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camineet said:
Wow, seriously great post on GCN.

DrGAKMAN
GameStop Employee of the Month
(Today, 06:46 AM)

Wish all GameStop employees were as clued up as him.
 

[Nintex]

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DrGAKMAN said:
GCN
This was the first real serious effort on Nintendo's part IMO. They didn't try to tack themselves on to some other project made by someone else in other words...even though the heavily rumored X-BOX was being made by MS who *definatly* wanted to even buy Nintendo. Working closely with ArtX and through contracts with them working with IBM (who was rumored to be wanting to get into the gaming business back near the launch of N64) Nintendo's own Howard Lincoln truly set out to go against Sony's "CGI quality" PS2. GAMECUBE seriously *was* a beast. Project Dolphin (or Do!phin if some rumors are to be believed) was seriously ambitious as well. I think Nintendo, the industry and gamers as a whole really thought that the Dolphin was Nintendo's "comeback" and now that it would use discs (provided by a special CAV drive from Panasonic/Matsushida) Nintendo had it in the bag. However, Sony still had a hold on many Japanese developers and after a very ill-received GAMECUBE unveiling party at Nintendo's SpaceWorld (lolz purple lunchbox, fisher price controller lolz) MS brilliantly swooped in with the (up until then rumored) X-BOX unveiling and picked up a lot of gamers/game makers that were largely dissappointed in Nintendo's next-gen system. Before the generation even started I do believe that minshare "won" the war for Sony as MS & Nintendo fought over the previous generation's N64 userbase: GCN being bought by Nintendo fans, X-BOX being supported by everyone else (N64's garnered Western support: the Tom Clansey's, the Star Wars, the FPS's, the PC ports...and later in a devestating mindshare blow: RARE). Nintendo was really taking shot over shot in the last generation and leading up to GCN's Japanese launch Nintendo strategically planned announcements from 3RD parties to show that they learned the error of their ways from the N64-era and garner Mature/RPG genre's that they lacked in that generation. The RE-exclussivity deal (and later CAPCOM 5), the Namco exclussive Tales Of and Baten Kaitos RPG's and then the big one was suppossed to be Square returning to Nintendo...however that announcement didn't come 'til later (when it meant less) as right when it was about to happen Sony bought a huge chunk of Square. The once thought "exclussives" Nintendo was getting either ended up dudding or also going to PS2. Connectivity, lack of online, lower capacity discs...lack of real exclussives and poorer 3RD party sales (due to GCN's lower install base) just really hurt Nintendo's mindshare. It was to the point that most people believed that MS & Sony were neck'n'neck while GCN was a distant third and that GCN was actually underpowered (both of which were very untrue). The GCN *was* a beast...for the money it stood on par with the loss-leading bleeding edge big boys when game makers actually tried and this was noticeable as Sony went with IBM (who, through some of what they learned with GCN's PowerPC architecture, created the Cell for PS3) and MS went with both of Nintendo's previous partners (IBM & ATi) for X360. The previous sentence wouldn't have occurred unless GCN wasn't as powerful (garnering attention even though the system overall was seen as an underpowered distant competitor).
Well the problems with the GameCube didn't start at launch. The original unveiling was anything but dissapointing. The gaming press called it : "the next NES" at that time. It was supposed to be cheap, powerfull and the initial library of titles didn't dissapoint. The launch of the system was great as well. It started out with a bang and continued to perform due to titles like Smash Bros. and Pikmin who hit store shelves just after months once the GameCube was restocked.
The GameCube had an edge over het competition in many area's:
1) SEGA brought Crazy Taxi, Sonic Adventure 2, Super Monkey Ball and other titles so the DC fanbase would migrate to the NGC.
2) Rogue Leader was the most impressive game at that time and looked far better than anything the PS2 had to offer
3) Impressive frame rates and visuals all around
4) Nintendo's hype machine wich promised Zelda, DK Racing, Star Fox Adventures, Mario and more

The problem was that Nintendo had burned bridges with retailers who weren't eager to carry their next system. There is a famous quote from Yamauchi who basicly said: "If you don't sell it, I'll do it myself!" It all went wrong when Nintendo didn't adapt to the market that was evolving around them. One or two dissapointing titles couldn't hurt a console but the entire GCN line-up started to fall apart. RARE rushed SFA to market, Mario Sunshine could've used some more development time. Zelda was turned into Celda, Nintendo slowly destroyed their own hype with empty promises. The no-online stance sealed the deal especially when they offered Connectivity instead. Not to mention that Microsoft was shopping around for developers for their next system and that Nintendo lost all their support during the process. Acclaim blamed Nintendo for their demise. The biggest factor in the GameCube's failure is that Nintendo dropped it like a rock once Iwata got settled, dropped the price to $99 and ended development on many titles by restructuring EAD. Once Nintendo dropped the system the third parties followed.
 

BocoDragon

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It's been a few years since Nintendo adopted a "low tech with gimmicks" approach... so its interesting to remember that just a few years ago, Gamecube was high tech stuff. Everything looked better and smoother on Cube than PS2 (which itself had been a tour de force at its release)
 

[Nintex]

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BocoDragon said:
It's been a few years since Nintendo adopted a "low tech with gimmicks" approach... so its interesting to remember that just a few years ago, Gamecube was high tech stuff. Everything looked better and smoother on Cube than PS2 (which itself had been a tour de force at its release)
That was mostly because the people in charge back then always wanted to work with cutting edge technology. Donkey Kong Country was a real eye opener for Nintendo. Once they noticed that it outsold Miyamoto's own Yoshi's Island and that it "won" the battle with Genesis(they probably didn't realize in Japan that SEGA discontinued the Genesis and pulled everything from store shelves to "help" the Saturn) they actually insisted that every game would look as good as DKC. RARE became much more important once the Ultra 64 hype begun. Nintendo was always divided though. One half of the company wanted to take the high-end approach while the others always tried to be conservative. Nintendo believed in what SGI had to offer and based the Ultra 64 hype around it. But when the first boards arrived they found out that the design was crippled in many ways. Also, the hyped up games didn't even exist. At that time even Square was running some SGI demo's probably because Nintendo asked them. SGI soon became Ultra 64 so people thought that all SGI demo's, software and renders would end up being games.

The design of the N64 was simply not good enough and Nintendo also lowered the price before it launched to take on Sony. They made their move and simply said "fuck you" to SGI who wanted to earn more money from the N64. Mario 64 saved the N64 in it's early days without games. But Nintendo understood that they were in trouble. You see they always made hardware together with their partners, but they never let their partners have full control over the design and features. SGI failed with the N64 chip and they failed hard and around the same time the rise of the PC GPU's happened. So Nintendo had the best looking games for a couple of months at best.

Once the dust settled the N64 was mostly succesfull in the US and Europe(due to the Saturn failure). SGI was "broken" the N64 was supposed to be the showcase of their technology but the performance in games was poor. Nintendo wanted to get rid of SGI as quickly as possible and with the PSX beating them and their "Silicon Graphics" with pre-rendered FMV they were frustrated. It wasn't untill they found ArtX that they could start working on that plan. ArtX offered Nintendo a great piece of hardware. Still even some of ArtX originated from SGI. The SGI curse actually followed them because Nintendo didn't want to downgrade the GCN, they simply had to. They had no choice since the first batch of Flipper chips had low yield rates.

The GameCube also lacked ram. The 1T-SRAM was rather expensive but the genius who picked A-RAM for the rest of the system should be shot. Another problem was the Mini-Disc, Nintendo understood that they couldn't stick with cartridges so they went with the GOD. They never thought about games that streamed entire cities from a disk like GTA. The performance of games on the GameCube that stream huge cities and such is rather poor. Just look at Need for Speed Underground 2, everything is compromized to fit on the disk and it looks like ass, if you play the same game on Wii it runs great. In fact I remember playing a GameCube demo that looked and played alot better than the final product. Even Nintendo's own Twilight Princess has framedrops on the GameCube because of the scale of the environments. The GameCube is a beast when it comes to smaller spaces and "rooms" see the Metroid Prime games and Resident Evil 4 but the design isn't great for bigger environments due to the lack of RAM. It's the TEV that saved the GameCube for being an utter failure in the graphics department. Nintendo also learned from their mistakes with the N64 so the systems design is also very efficient.

Nintendo actually had a good reason not to join the arms-race. Miyamoto said that it was impossible to design a system for less than $349. But they have been working on such a system. In articles it's mostly called the N5 and it was supposed to have dual core 1.6ghz processor and a decent ATi chip among other things. Some higher ups at Nintendo actually wanted to launch a new console in 2004, but Iwata was against the idea. The stockpiled everything that they had planned(Stage Debut, Zelda, Mario 128, Manibito, Motion control, online play etc.) and unleashed it together with the Wii.
 

Christine

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[Nintex] said:
The GameCube also lacked ram. The 1T-SRAM was rather expensive but the genius who picked A-RAM for the rest of the system should be shot.

There was a silver lining on the A-RAM, though - it was so slow and useless for any other purpose, developers would frequently use it to cache disc access. This is part of why load times for GC games are typically rather quick.
 
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camineet said:
Many Dreamcast games didn't look 10 times better than N64 games, let alone 20-30 times, maybe twice as good in the worst cases with the worst games. But it's subjective for everyone, as it is for you, and me. To me Sonic Adventure is like 10x Mario 64 in graphics, even though I didn't really like SA and loved Mario64 much more at the time.

Sonic Adventure does look quite good, I agree. 10x Mario 64? I'm not sure... but it does look good.

I don't know if I'd agree that the worst look twice as good, though. What about the ones that truly were just straight ports of last-gen titles? I know there were some... most were improved at least a little bit, though, so in general that's probably true.

It's amazing that Dreamcast, with 1 pixel pipeline and 1 texture unit (thus, a 1:1 system) could hang with PS2 in PS2's early life, and the PS2 was a 16 pixel pipeline system, though it didn't have even 1 texture unit PER pipe, I think it used half its pipes to texture or something like that, making it effectively an 8:1 system. PS2 started to pull away when more geometry was used, and with its high bandwidth EDRAM.

The Dreamcast had one major advantage compared to the N64, PSX, or PS2. It was easy to program for. None of those were. That's why some of the DC's launch games look so good, while on the N64, PSX, or PS2, the best looking games were ones released late in the systems' lives. This is particularly easy to see on the N64 and PS2... the massive, massive gulf between early third-party efforts on either system compared to late ones. Like compare Cruis'n USA to San Francisco Rush 2049, or Blast Corps to Conker's Bad Fur Day... it's amazing they're even on the same system, really. On DC, development was easy so that just wasn't an issue, so game graphics could push the system from early on, if developers tried at all. The same would be true on the Gamecube, somewhat -- easy to program for, relatively easy to get a lot out of. Just look at how Rogue Leader has some of the best graphics on the system and was a short-dev-cycle launch title.

Of course, this had a side effect that the system had less room to improve on, so over time the gap between PS2 and DC would have become evident even if early on it was definitely not, but it did help initially.

N64 was more powerful than PS1 in most areas, although PS1 could push more textured polys to the screen on average. 180K vs 160K. Like I said though, N64 was more powerful in most every way.

Of course, that was my point. The N64 has far better graphics than the PSX. Pure poly fill rate isn't everything.

some yes, some no. but I agree with you for the most part.

Soul Calibur for instance, was originally on the System 12 arcade board, same board that ran Tekken 3. basicly PS1 plus 50% more performance. The arcade game could've been (but was not) done on PS1 with a small but noticable downgrade, like Tekken 3 was.

On Dreamcast however, it literally looks 10 times better than the 'PS1.5x' System12 arcade with the added polygons, textures, and the proper basic polygon image enhancing/rendering features that PS1 lacked, and everything Namco added.

Great example of both a DC game that actually looked next-gen and how easy it was to program for the system, making such a good looking game possible so early in its life. The game was good too, of course.

All true.

San Francisco Rush 2049 is the easiest game for me to compare because I've played that game for hundreds of hours, on the N64, DC, and GC... one of the best games ever. :)

When I first got the GC version (I only got a DC more recently), I was surprised at how small the improvent was. I had definitely been expecting more than the effects-textures-and-framerate improvement that it actually has... it does look better on DC, but not as much better as I would have expected.

I mentioned Re-Volt because that was a nice contrast to that, a title where the DC version did look a lot better. But of course, that N64 version struggled... bad framerate, removal of imporant gameplay aspects (4 vehicles instead of 12, removing the moving doors, bouncing basketballs, etc), etc... the question is whether that was a hardware issue or just that the N64 version was shoddy compared to the other ones. I don't know.

Depends on what exactly you compare. Matsushita claimed M2 was comparable to Sega's MODEL 3 board. The MODEL 3 board was, without a doubt, an order of magnitude more powerful than N64. Like 10x more. The M2 was really not close to being on par with MODEL 3 (3 million triangles, or 1 to 1.5 million square polys) Most developers said M2 was twice as powerful as N64. If the polygon counts are to be believed, it was: 160K vs ~300k to 500k, so about 2-3x. M2 had 4 times the texture cache: 4k vs 16k. And M2 had twice the amount of RAM of a non-RAM-expanded N64. Looking at the games in development and framerates, I'd say at least twice as powerful. If M2's bigger brother, the MX, was 2-4 times more powerful than M2, then you're at 4 to 8 times N64. Which is what Nintendo was starting with in 1997 after they moved away from SGI, and to MX via Samsung/CagEnt. Not a good enough starting point for their next-gen, given that GameCube ended up being 50 to 100 times N64 in polygon spec (even though Nintendo rarely pushed its own hardware later). While I cannot say exactly what any given system can do, I'm pretty good at comparing overall the overall look using each systems best games as examples, and comparing that to what the paper specs say. I am certain M2 wasn't 10 times stronger than N64, but I am also confident M2 wasn't 'N64 1.5x' either.
The 3Dfx Voodoo1 was somewhat more powerful than N64 and the M2 was slightly or somewhat more powerful than Voodoo1. We also shouldn't judge M2 based on the Konami M2 arcade games released, since that didn't use the twin PowerPC 602 version. Who knows what revision of the M2 that Konami board used. I became an M2 fanboy around the time it was canceled, in 1997, not when it was announced as Bulldog in 1994 or revealed as M2 in 1995. Man, the only thing I wanted more than M2 was the reported Saturn2 with Lockheed Martin GPU. That would've been the ultimate console of its generation, but that's another thread

Huh. It's very hard to say, really, how well the M2 would have done, graphically... after all, it never came out. You can't believe the PR of course, PR is always greatly exaggerated (see Sony's PS2 hype for one of the best examples of this). Maybe M2 really was that powerful, I don't know... without actual hardware really having been release, it's hard to know.

but how good were the graphics of those arcade games based off of the hardware? I don't
know...

As for the Voodoo1, yeah, that was a step above the N64. Amazing card, all we had at the time was an S3 ViRGE, the infamous 3d decelerator card... Voodoo looked so, so amazing in comparison. I wouldn't be able to get one until December 1998, though, when I bought an 8MB Voodoo2... :) Came with three games, too. Didn't care so much about G-Police, but I liked Ultim@te Race Pro and Incoming. But anyway, yeah, it's pretty obvious that an M2-based system like the one you describe definitely would not have been a good choice for Nintendo as their next-gen system. Nowhere near powerful enough. As it was, the GC's power was one of the few things that helped it hold on... without even that (or a Wii/DS style innovative strategy, which Nintendo hadn't quite gotten to yet), Nintendo would have done even worse, I think.

DrGAKMAN said:
Funny enough, this dream team would either be totally fruitless (3D0 & Acclaim R.I.P.) or (in the case of Midway/DMA's Body Harvest) would later bear fruit (the 3D GTA's) on competing systems.

3DO wasn't on the Dream Team, they still at a console at the time!

They did later support Nintendo though, and Battletanx: Global Assault was amazing... (and the later PSX port of the game was awful) but they weren't in the Dream Team.

DMA Design was on it though, yeah, and they did publish two N64 games before moving to other consoles. Not many, but something at least. Midway didn't have anything to do with Body Harvest until very late, because originally Nintendo was going to publish it.

As for Acclaim and Midway (then Williams), they were both on it, Williams was on it at least, but those two companies were two of the system's best third parties, support-wise. Turok, Extreme-G, and wrestling games from Acclaim, racing and sports and great arcade ports from Midway, etc... in those two cases, at least, they followed through. Rare was also a part of the Dream Team.

Others on it were ones like Angel Studios (the two baseball games for Nintendo, Resident Evil 2), Virgin (nothing came out of that... they were originally going to publish Robotech: Crystal Dreams.), Paradigm (they did make several N64 games, starting with Pilotwings 64). So yes, it is true that the "Dream Team" was overall a mixed bag. Some companies in it did turn out to be major N64 supporters, but others did little or made more prominent games on other systems. And almost the entire list were Western developers, not Japanese. But most of the developers or publishers on the list did at least develop or publish something on N64, and a few were strong supporters -- Rare, Midway, Acclaim.

Oh yeah, and in my opinion, despite how it killed their relationship with the Japanese third parties, the cart decision was a good one. I can't imagine N64 games with load times and smaller areas (to deal with loading)... it would be awful. The real bad decision was going with a 4KB texture cache. Now THAT was a big problem. It was the cause of so much blurriness... but the carts? The right decision, really.

Before the generation even started I do believe that minshare "won" the war for Sony as MS & Nintendo fought over the previous generation's N64 userbase: GCN being bought by Nintendo fans, X-BOX being supported by everyone else (N64's garnered Western support: the Tom Clansey's, the Star Wars, the FPS's, the PC ports...and later in a devestating mindshare blow: RARE).

This is a very good point I completely agree with. Essentially, the Xbox took half of the N64's market away from Nintendo in North America, and that's why the N64 got 21 million sold here while the GC got 12. All of the people who bought N64s for Goldeneye, Turok, Rare games, and the rest bought Xboxes instead the next generation. Nintendo hasn't even come close to getting any of them back ever since.

camineet said:
I would've hoped that Nintendo, with a fully powered, fully featured, fully-taken-advantage-of-Dolphin, had roughly split the market more evenly with PS2. Now to be honest, The Wii Remote+Nunchuck does go beyond what might have been in the Dolphin controllers. The advanced versions of the Dolphin controllers that were abandoned probably had: microphone, speaker, maybe a removable screen (like DC's VMU) and basic tilt-motion capability (not as much stuff as Wii Remote). I am not talking about the later-Wii Remote that was going to be released as a peripheral for GameCube, but the original unreleased Dolphin controllers, circa 1999-2000.

Then for this generation, perhaps Nintendo would've gone with a more 'revolutionary' interface for Dolphin2/GameCube2/Revolution. Well, at least what the MotionPlus is soon going to offer. Plus, modern visuals with a more powerful GPU with a modern architecture, as powerful as Xbox360's Xenos, but rendering everything in SD instead of HD or near-HD as 360/PS3 do, to keep game development costs down. Also a simple, fast, single-core CPU instead of multicore CPU, 256 MB RAM instead of 512 MB, to also keep costs in check. Nintendo could still have launched at $249 and still have had a 'disruptive' console this gen. Game developers would have lowend hardware that was a major improvement over Dolphin/GameCube, but not totally obsolete late 90s hardware. Gameplay and new control would still be the focus, not hardware specs.


Of course, the above is just my ideas & thoughts typed up in a few minutes.

Better graphics doesn't necesarially lead you to greater success. The Gamecube as released was a quite powerful system, and its failings were not hardware design related aside from perhaps the relatively small disc size (1.5GB). A more powerful, but more expensive, Gamecube would not necessarily have done better. Look at every generation, hardware power usually has very little to do with success... other factors are always more important.

You are wishing for more powerful hardware, but other factors often matter more, and companies know it... why make a super-powerful, expensive Gamecube when the less powerful system they shipped was, as it was, very powerful and nearly a match for the generation's best system graphically (the Xbox)? It's not like better graphics would have gotten the Xbox audience on GC... they liked the graphics sure, but it was games, those games (read: FPSes) the N64 had had but Microsoft had taken, that they really wanted.

Oh, and as for tilt, as you can see with the PS3 controller, just having tilt only helps in a very few games. I liked Kirby's Tilt 'n' Tumble, sure, but even there, it felt somewhat gimmicky, and I was sure that the game would have been a lot easier and perhaps more fun with normal controls... though given how easy it was as is, I was kind of happy that you didn't have normal controls, because at least with tilt there was some challenge. But overall, tilt controls are cool but by themselves not hugely important.

As for this gen, Nintendo knew that they didn't need that. And besides, designing a whole new hardware would be very expensive, avoiding a high price would be hard I'm sure, even if you keep it SD... I suspect you are understating the price issues here. (And Nintendo's desires for profits, they will NOT sell consoles at a loss)

[Nintex said:
they probably didn't realize in Japan that SEGA discontinued the Genesis and pulled everything from store shelves to "help" the Saturn)

That's not really true, Sega discontinued all Genesis/32X/Sega CD/Game Gear development in late 1995, not late 1994. DKC (and the 32X) came out in late 1994, and that year was the key in the SNES's victory over the Genesis, really. Sega did play a crucial role in making sure Nintendo would keep that lead by killing all non-Saturn development in late 1995, but by that point, they had been seriously losing marketshare for over a year.

The design of the N64 was simply not good enough and Nintendo also lowered the price before it launched to take on Sony. They made their move and simply said "fuck you" to SGI who wanted to earn more money from the N64. Mario 64 saved the N64 in it's early days without games. But Nintendo understood that they were in trouble. You see they always made hardware together with their partners, but they never let their partners have full control over the design and features. SGI failed with the N64 chip and they failed hard and around the same time the rise of the PC GPU's happened. So Nintendo had the best looking games for a couple of months at best.

Once the dust settled the N64 was mostly succesfull in the US and Europe(due to the Saturn failure). SGI was "broken" the N64 was supposed to be the showcase of their technology but the performance in games was poor. Nintendo wanted to get rid of SGI as quickly as possible and with the PSX beating them and their "Silicon Graphics" with pre-rendered FMV they were frustrated. It wasn't untill they found ArtX that they could start working on that plan. ArtX offered Nintendo a great piece of hardware. Still even some of ArtX originated from SGI. The SGI curse actually followed them because Nintendo didn't want to downgrade the GCN, they simply had to. They had no choice since the first batch of Flipper chips had low yield rates.

ArtX was founded by SGI people, of course... if your story of Nintendo really hating SGI were really true, there's no way they'd have gone back to them. But earlier in this thread the stuff about how Nintendo liked the team but not SGI's management and production and stuff is more convincing.

But anyway, the N64 was a lot better than you suggest. "Not powerful enough"? Yeah, sure, it was only the most powerful console of its generation. That's a "letdown" any company should be happy to have...

The N64's hardware design was very hard to get the most out of, but that was also true for its competitors. PSX and Saturn were also quite complicated machines... but in the N64's case, the system had a lot of power. It was just very hard to get the most out of it, and Nintendo impeded that by restricting access to the details of the hardware for most third parties. Only certain teams were allowed to really get into the depths of the system, and their games looked better... only late in the system's life were third parties given full information, I believe. This is part of why third party games improved so much over time on the system. But the first and second party games improved hugely too, showing how hard the system was to program for. But if you look at late-cycle N64 games (or at least, if I do), they look really, really good. The N64 was an amazing console. I am a huge N64 fanboy, but still, your negativity is wrong.

The GameCube also lacked ram. The 1T-SRAM was rather expensive but the genius who picked A-RAM for the rest of the system should be shot. Another problem was the Mini-Disc, Nintendo understood that they couldn't stick with cartridges so they went with the GOD. They never thought about games that streamed entire cities from a disk like GTA. The performance of games on the GameCube that stream huge cities and such is rather poor. Just look at Need for Speed Underground 2, everything is compromized to fit on the disk and it looks like ass, if you play the same game on Wii it runs great. In fact I remember playing a GameCube demo that looked and played alot better than the final product. Even Nintendo's own Twilight Princess has framedrops on the GameCube because of the scale of the environments. The GameCube is a beast when it comes to smaller spaces and "rooms" see the Metroid Prime games and Resident Evil 4 but the design isn't great for bigger environments due to the lack of RAM. It's the TEV that saved the GameCube for being an utter failure in the graphics department. Nintendo also learned from their mistakes with the N64 so the systems design is also very efficient.

... And then you do the same thing with the GC. Listening to you, you'd think that the GC was a poor disaster performance-wise, not the second-best console of the generation out of four, and one much, MUCH closer to the top console than the two lower ones! But no, you just focus on the flaws, with only bare mention of its strengths. Very biased.

Hardware design was NOT the problem with the Gamecube. Hardware design had absolutely nothing to do with its lack of success.
 

DrGAKMAN

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Nintex...
I know the problems with GCN weren't just with it's launch...it was well before then due to Mr Yamauchi's arrogance (and blatent ignorance of the MS threat as he was only veiwing the market with Japanese glasses) and Nintendo's "kiddie" image. The handle, the color, the marketting, the ideals...all very Japnese-y in approach. The original Gekko deal was a 1B deal (huge for the mainly conservative Nintendo) with IBM and it was also ambitious in that it would be a chip that would be used in other products and would allow for 3RD party CE licencing (something I do believe IS a big deal, see: Saturn's success in Japan for example, it ended up beating out N64 there even with lackluster support), but that never happened except for Panasonic's Q & Q+ model's released only in Japan. Celda and lack of big "million sellers" on GCN (N64's claim to fame now lost on GCN) also hurt Nintendo's image, but I do believe you're remembering the GCN unveiling wrong. People were happy about it's *software* (especially Nintendo fans) but Sony certainly wasn't shaking in their boots and overall, especially for Western markets, it WAS seen as a new Kidtendo box *hardware* wise...even the name GAMECUBE confused many people when comparing it to the X-BOX (mainstreamers calling one X-CUBE and the other GameBox). MS really did take the market by storm with their unveiling and there WERE people dissappointed by Nintendo's GCN unveiling and the N64 userbase WAS effectively split down the middle between Nintendo & Microsoft last generation. Fans of Goldeneye & PD on N64 went to X-BOX for Halo, fans or Mario & Smash Bros went to GCN for more Nintendo games. GCN was successful and in the end, the WW marketshare between MS & Mintendo was minimal but you woulda never known due to the mindshare which before/soon after launch, throughout that generation and even as it ended (Nintendo & MS to a larger extent (due to early X360 launch) both brickwalled their systems) was that newcomer Microsoft "beat" the veteran Nintendo. That was the concensus...and certainly DreamCast's demise sorta put a(n ill informed) stigma onto Nintendo that they too would go 3RD party soon especially against mass multi-media corperations like Sony & MS.

You also overstate SEGA's importance on GCN...sure SEGA was most successful on GCN due to audience migration from DC for Sonic & Super Monkey Ball...BUT...SEGA's more serious efforts were instead thrown (in droves, due to special behind the scenes deals) to the X-BOX and DC's sports gamers certainly found sanctuary in XBL's bossum (as EA didn't support XBL in it's early years). In fact I would say that a lot of DC owners went to MS due to feeling burned on DC...they may have subconciously went to X-BOX 'cos with MS having so much money (unlike SEGA) there's no way they'd let it fail like DC. Then most any game that found success on GCN ended up getting ported to other systems, while SEGA (and others) used the double-standerd that games shouldn't be ported from other systems to GCN 'cos they wouldn't sell...even though we all know that SC2 sold best on GCN as well as RE and that good games like JSRF and Panzer Dragoon Orta (amungst others) would've sold to the SEGA fans on GCN!

Basically Nintendo got crapped on with GCN (and in some ways Wii), but that's just Karma (NES iron fist, SNES arrogance & especially N64 mistakes).

You are right about the rumors of N5/Revolution...Nintendo was said to be working on two different varients...one being low-end and one being high-end. I think that's were a lot of the 1 disc LAN gaming, SVGA support out of the box, USB HDD's & DVD talk (from iwata) came from (the higher-end spec). They obviously chose low though and some would say they did it in order to have a price/profit advantage...BUT...I do believe the philosophy was that if it was close enough in power/specs to PS3/NextBox that developers would've treated porting games to Revolution similarly to what happened with GCN (in other words, badly) and that there wouldn't be unique exclussives, just bad ports with wand controls tacked on. Granted, a lot of that still happened, but the technology gap sorta forced the GOOD games on Wii to be games made from the ground-up with less chance of losing exclussivity to other systems as well.
 

daCuk

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camineet said:
I have been searching for this specific article for quite a while, today I finally found it.

It was published shortly after PlayStation2 technology had been revealed.

Also note this article was published about 2 months before E3 1999 where Dolphin was announced, and about 17 months before GameCube was revealed at Space World 2000.

Thanks.
I love to take a look at things that weren't.

History of game consoles is one of my favorite research subjects (more it its about projects not fully completed.)
 

daCuk

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[Nintex] said:
It would have been interesting if Nintendo shipped it in 2000. I'm wondering what games they would have for launch since the NGC seemed like a compromise both on the hardware and software side. The Wind Waker baton and F.L.U.D.D actually make sense if you connect them to a Wii remote interface.

It's no doubt that Arakawa and NoA heavily supported the N2000/Dolphin since he was going to replace Yamauchi. He wanted Nintendo to modernize and compete with Sony and SEGA head on, while Iwata seemed to continue with Yamauchi's strategy. I remember that some important people at Nintendo left after the N2000/Dolphin plans were scrapped behind the scenes and they went with the GameCube.

This gets me to a question I have had these years...

What happened to Minoru Arakawa?

If some GAFfer knows about him after Iwata's ascension to power, please enlighten me.
 

[Nintex]

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daCuk said:
This gets me to a question I have had these years...

What happened to Minoru Arakawa?

If some GAFfer knows about him after Iwata's ascension to power, please enlighten me.
Arakawa resigned when Yamauchi didn't want him to be his succesor. I don't think he needs to do anything else. Both him and Lincoln are filthy rich from the NES and SNES days. Nintendo picked Iwata because he fixed HAL, but even moreso because he's known as a "numbers man". I don't think anyone at Nintendo thought that Iwata would restructure the entire company and take huge risks, especially not if you look at his early days as Nintendo president. He used to be just another CEO, "We'll sell 50 million GameCube's", "We won't be late next generation" , "our system will be equal in power" He obviously brought the message from Nintendo's board of directors. It wasn't untill 2004 when he "unveiled" his strategy. When he talks about Revolution at E3 2004 and 2005 it's amazing that it turned out exactly as he had planned. It's one of the few CEO's in the gaming industry that I respect. I remember that he held a keynote speech at GDC(?), he was obviously sick but he was there to deliver his message.
 

DrGAKMAN

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A Black Falcon said:
3DO wasn't on the Dream Team, they still at a console at the time!

They did later support Nintendo though, and Battletanx: Global Assault was amazing... (and the later PSX port of the game was awful) but they weren't in the Dream Team.

DMA Design was on it though, yeah, and they did publish two N64 games before moving to other consoles. Not many, but something at least. Midway didn't have anything to do with Body Harvest until very late, because originally Nintendo was going to publish it.

As for Acclaim and Midway (then Williams), they were both on it, Williams was on it at least, but those two companies were two of the system's best third parties, support-wise. Turok, Extreme-G, and wrestling games from Acclaim, racing and sports and great arcade ports from Midway, etc... in those two cases, at least, they followed through. Rare was also a part of the Dream Team.

Others on it were ones like Angel Studios (the two baseball games for Nintendo, Resident Evil 2), Virgin (nothing came out of that... they were originally going to publish Robotech: Crystal Dreams.), Paradigm (they did make several N64 games, starting with Pilotwings 64). So yes, it is true that the "Dream Team" was overall a mixed bag. Some companies in it did turn out to be major N64 supporters, but others did little or made more prominent games on other systems. And almost the entire list were Western developers, not Japanese. But most of the developers or publishers on the list did at least develop or publish something on N64, and a few were strong supporters -- Rare, Midway, Acclaim.

Oh yeah, and in my opinion, despite how it killed their relationship with the Japanese third parties, the cart decision was a good one. I can't imagine N64 games with load times and smaller areas (to deal with loading)... it would be awful. The real bad decision was going with a 4KB texture cache. Now THAT was a big problem. It was the cause of so much blurriness... but the carts? The right decision, really.

This is a very good point I completely agree with. Essentially, the Xbox took half of the N64's market away from Nintendo in North America, and that's why the N64 got 21 million sold here while the GC got 12. All of the people who bought N64s for Goldeneye, Turok, Rare games, and the rest bought Xboxes instead the next generation. Nintendo hasn't even come close to getting any of them back ever since.

You are correct sir, I meant to say Virgin Interactive (a GREAT Robotech game (Battlecry) came out later from newcomer TDK (of all publishers) who helped assembled the original voice actors and animators to help with the game though...sadly TDK was absorbed into Take Two's kiddie games division). Speaking of 3D0 though, it's sad that publishers scrounged their legacy to fight over Army Men when *really* someone shoulda went after BattleTanx...that game was, I agree, amazingly fun! I merely mentioned Midway as they were a part of the dream team and they published it...Body Harvest was a great game too and a forshaddowing of the open-ended 3D GTA's in a way...if Nintendo only knew! Lucas Arts was also a part of the Dream Team BTW, but you probably knew that since you know your stuff.

Business wise, I agree that N64 sticking with carts was good for Nintendo as it did humble them in one way and kept them profitable (due to advantages/control they had on the format) durring the hard PSX era. Think of it, a format (PSX CD-ROM) that held TEN TIMES the game for ONE TENTH the price and yet N64 *still* sold very well. No load times was good too.

Thanks for agreeing with my point about what happened with the N64's userbase...it really does make sense and if you can understand the effects of mindshare over marketshare (regardless of specs) you can really see why GCN was seen in such a poor light, yet Wii (basically the GCN re-packaged/marketted/featured) is so successful.

As a bonus I'm adding in the rumored "Project Do!phin" schematic just for speculative shits'n'giggles...

 

DrGAKMAN

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[Nintex] said:
Arakawa resigned when Yamauchi didn't want him to be his succesor. I don't think he needs to do anything else. Both him and Lincoln are filthy rich from the NES and SNES days. Nintendo picked Iwata because he fixed HAL, but even moreso because he's known as a "numbers man". I don't think anyone at Nintendo thought that Iwata would restructure the entire company and take huge risks, especially not if you look at his early days as Nintendo president. He used to be just another CEO, "We'll sell 50 million GameCube's", "We won't be late next generation" , "our system will be equal in power" He obviously brought the message from Nintendo's board of directors. It wasn't untill 2004 when he "unveiled" his strategy. When he talks about Revolution at E3 2004 and 2005 it's amazing that it turned out exactly as he had planned. It's one of the few CEO's in the gaming industry that I respect. I remember that he held a keynote speech at GDC(?), he was obviously sick but he was there to deliver his message.

HA HA HA HA...Arakawa...in case people don't know, Mr Arakawa was heavily speculated to be Mr Yamauchi's successor mainly 'cos he was "in the family" (married to Mr Yamauchi's daughter, who was said not to get along with her father). Mr Arakawa is a funny guy often times ignoring Japanese etiquet and doing his own thing likely 'cos of the success he had without Japanese third parties...he suppossedly fell asleep when meeting with some higher up's with some top brass at Namco (as if Nintendo & namco already didn't have bad blood since the Famicom Disk System). Nintex is right, Howard Lincoln & Mr Arakawa have "retired" rich and away from the nintendo family now.

Those are some good points about Mr Iwata Nintex...seemingly he was "just another CEO" probably speaking to investors as you suggested when he took over durring the GCN era. However, his power seemed to become more absolute when the NDS took off. NDS was a mixture of what Mr Iwata's study of the "Blue Ocean" disruptive strategy and what Mr Yamauchi called "his last contribution" to Nintendo (suggesting a two screen system, something he seemed obsessed with back before the Dolphin Project even with him trying suggesting to use the GameBoy line to boost their ailing console line via things like connectivity & two screen gaming). It paid off and since then Mr Iwata no longer speaks to investors as he does his own thing. Mr Yamauchi was BRILLIANT and while he was sometimes too Japanese (blind to other markets IMO) and sometimes bullheadedly arrogant he boldly made Mr Iwata his successor not only for the reasons Nintex suggested, but also 'cos Mr Yamauchi knew his own weaknesses...deep down Mr Yamauchi didn't play or make games and he was very reclussive...Mr Iwata on the other hand is open, nice, played & made games and was bi-lingual giving Nintendo the leadership it needed durring this paradigm shift and change in business and strategy.

Mr Iwata even openly appologized to "core" gamers recently. Which not only shows Nintendo is listenning and does care, but also that they won't let glaring faults go unaddressed like in times past. I respect Mr Iwata just as much as Mr Yamauchi.
 
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DrGAKMAN said:
You are correct sir, I meant to say Virgin Interactive (a GREAT Robotech game (Battlecry) came out later from newcomer TDK (of all publishers) who helped assembled the original voice actors and animators to help with the game though...sadly TDK was absorbed into Take Two's kiddie games division). Speaking of 3D0 though, it's sad that publishers scrounged their legacy to fight over Army Men when *really* someone shoulda went after BattleTanx...that game was, I agree, amazingly fun! I merely mentioned Midway as they were a part of the dream team and they published it...Body Harvest was a great game too and a forshaddowing of the open-ended 3D GTA's in a way...if Nintendo only knew! Lucas Arts was also a part of the Dream Team BTW, but you probably knew that since you know your stuff.

TDK also made the quite good platformer Lady Sia on the GBA... but yeah, it was Virgin that was in the Dream Team and did nothing at all with the platform.

As for BattleTanx, if I could have a sequel to anything, it might be BattleTanx: Global Assault. The game ended with a cliffhanger ending, after all, and nothing continued the story! 3DO did publish a couple more similar-themed games before going under, but WDL ThunderTanx and WDL WarJetz had no connections to BattleTanx and were just focused on the combat, without BattleTanx's story aspect. But anyway, Global Assault was fantastic. Sure, it's a really short and easy game, but it has a two player campaign and one of the best multiplayer modes on the system, and with bots too. QueenLord mode was the best...

As for Body Harvest, Nintendo supported that game for a long time really, but as it was delayed over and over and over (it was first shown well before the N64 came out, but didn't come out until 1998!), they eventually, some time after the N64 came out, dropped it, which is when Midway came in to publish. But that was later, after the N64 was out and the "Dream Team" thing had been dropped. At the time of the Dream Team annoucements and such, Williams (Midway) and DMA Design were separate members of the team.

Oh, Body Harvest was Midway's only release on the N64 with an internal save other than the three Cruis'n games... and the first two of those were published by Nintendo. All of the other titles published by Midway either have no saving (the fighting games) or require controller paks.

Anyway, I was looking for a list of companies in the Dream Team, because I know there was one in Nintendo Power once (I have that issue somewhere, but I'm not sure where my NP magazines are at the moment...), and forgot about Lucasarts for a moment... but yes, they absolutely were, as Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire showed.

Business wise, I agree that N64 sticking with carts was good for Nintendo as it did humble them in one way and kept them profitable (due to advantages/control they had on the format) durring the hard PSX era. Think of it, a format (PSX CD-ROM) that held TEN TIMES the game for ONE TENTH the price and yet N64 *still* sold very well. No load times was good too.

I love the N64, I just think it would be a worse system with load times and the other problems of the slower access times of CDs when compared to cartridge memory (area size limitations unless you have a good streaming system, for instance). It is too bad that Nintendo lost all the Japanese third parties, but even so, I wouldn't want them to have gone with CDs if it'd meant a system with the limitations of a slow CD drive like the Playstation (among others) had.

Oh, and only the largest N64 carts were nearly one tenth the size of a CD. N64 cart sizes vary from 8MB to 64MB. 64MB was not the largest possible size, but no game used a larger one. Nintendo gradaully phased in larger cart sizes; at first, only 8MB was available. 16MB came next (One or two games used 4MB carts at some point too, but 8MB was the usual base size). 32MB was introduced with Zelda - The Ocarina of Time, and was used by a good number of other titles after that. Only five games have cartridges larger than 32MB, however. 64MB was introduced with Resident Evil 2; Conker's Bad Fur Day and Pokemon Stadium 2 also used that size. The final size was 40MB, used by Ogre Battle 64 and Paper Mario.

As for price, N64 games were more expensive than PSX for a while, but by 1999 or so N64 games had gone down to $50 for most titles. I got my N64 in September 1999 (yeah, right after the DC launch; thought about getting one, but the N64 seemed better, and was much cheaper and with amazing games...), and never paid over $50 for any games, and under that for many. But I do know that earlier many first and third party N64 games had been priced fairly high... before Nintendo had accepted their second place position in the American market, perhaps? Because for a while after it came out, Nintendo thought they could beat the Playstation and were gaining on it fast... but N64 faded and the PSX held on and ended up winning 66-33. But things were a lot closer than that for a while; that includes all sales and the PSX had new releases until 2004 or 2005, while the N64's last release was in 2002, and that was one solitary release (Tony Hawk 3 in August 2002). The second-to-last N64 release was in December 2001... and the last first-party release was in May (or June?) 2001, about six months before the release of the GC. After that the PSX was the only system left still selling, so that 66-33 number doesn't reflect the fact that it was closer from 1996-2000 or so, particularly in '96-'98 when Mario 64 and Goldeneye sold a lot of N64s. But there just weren't enough releases to keep up sales, while PSX had a huge number of games being released, and had prerendered CG graphics (videos) too... and Final Fantasy VII. The N64 is the best-selling second-place console ever, though, and that's almost entirely thanks to how well it did in North America, where the system got more than two thirds of its worldwide sales.

Thanks for agreeing with my point about what happened with the N64's userbase...it really does make sense and if you can understand the effects of mindshare over marketshare (regardless of specs) you can really see why GCN was seen in such a poor light, yet Wii (basically the GCN re-packaged/marketted/featured) is so successful.

Yeah, it definitely makes sense. Nintendo lost Rare and designed a new system aimed straight at the Japanese mainstream and casuals. They failed to hit either market with the system, but that was the aim... so it makes a lot of sense that one side effect of that was losing the FPS-fan and Rare fan Western gamers who had liked their previous system. Nintendo had always had a "Kiddy" label, but Nintendo played straight into their hands with the design of the Gamecube... Nintendo lost a LOT of Western third party support over the GC generation. They gained Japanese developer support, mostly thanks to Nintendo funding various projects, but they lost American support.

Capcom, of course, had been a major critic of the N64 early on and only warmed to the system very late in its life. They only released three N64 games, all PSX ports (and some externally developed, like Angel Studios' port of RE2). But they had finally got onboard, and started Resident Evil 0 on N64 before moving it to GC... but Capcom's return to supporting Nintendo had actually happened in the late N64 days, not with the GC.

Konami actually went the other way; from 1997-1999 they released a series of major exclusive titles on the N64, but they released no major exclusives on the Gamecube at any point.

Namco, however, also went the other way; Namco's only n64 releases were a couple of PSX ports (Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness, Namco Museum) and allowing Nintendo to develop Ridge Racer 64 as an internal, first-party (NST) development. But on GC, they did a bunch of stuff... not equal to their PS2 support, but something.

But on the other hand, some of the N64's core Western developers, like Midway, Acclaim, and Lucasarts, gradually abandoned the platform. Midway started falling apart early in the generation and began to collapse; they are still a shadow of their old self. They also dropped GC versions of many later titles. Acclaim started reducing GC support in 2003-2004, shortly before going out of business. Lucasarts also cut GC support, pretty much just doing ports and the two Factor 5 games. And Nintendo dropped Western third parties Rare, Left Field, and Silicon Knights, and at least temporarially lost Factor 5, during that generation too, while building up a bunch of new Japanse second/close third party studios. Nintendo had clearly made a significant shift in their focus to try to win back the Japanese market. That effort succeeded with the DS and Wii, of course, and now they're winning again in America thanks to their new efforts... but they still don't have back that network of close Western development support that sustained the N64 so well.

As a bonus I'm adding in the rumored "Project Do!phin" schematic just for speculative shits'n'giggles...


Too small to read, isn't it...

Oh yeah, as for Howard Lincoln, he didn't go far; he runs the Seattle Mariners baseball team, which is owned by Nintendo/Mr. Yamauchi.
 

DrGAKMAN

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The Do!phin Project shown above were specs posted in some Japanese magazine based around a lot of "internal snooping". I do believe Nintendo wanted a retraction on it...not like it mattered as this was well a year before GCN was even unveiled. From what I remembered it was to use (possibly encased) full-sized DVD's and also allowed DVD playback through the lip slot intake (no tray). There was a port on the side suppossedly for some type of add-on or for connectivity with their future portable (some thought it to be the "Atlantis Project" but probably most likely just the GBA). It used N64 controller ports, but the controller itself was heavily modified with a mic at the top, an analog stick on the left handle, a trackball on the right handle, no face action buttons (instead they were in the handles themselves), a GBA-like screen and some sort of "new control" in the center prong (maybe motion sensitivity?). Together with rumors from SEGA (who sorta hinted Nintendo may be trying a new control method even back then), it's seemingly pointing to Nintendo's connectivity ideas, rumors of a "star shaped" controller, the lip slot intake (a trait now in the Wii) and the purple system color...really make me believe that this Do!phin scan was probably close to what Nintendo was planning at the time by means of some sort of spying (as in, not direct as I don't think Nintendo was going to have *that* extravagant of a controller, but certainly close). However, it is known that Nintendo did skim back on the specs of Dolphin twice so maybe they skimmed on this look and controller too...the final GCN was very basic in system asthetic (it's a block who's footprint is a very clean/small motherboard) & controller design (with the C-Stick not even being a part of it when first shown, instead just a big red START button). Nintendo did a lot of research on the GCN's controller and Mr Miyamoto said that's why he went with the big A button with 3 surrounding "satalite" buttons in the design 'cos he thought it would simplify things for players...also the secondary protrusions (where the D-PAD & C-Stick went) were said to be to make the controller simpler at it's core since many found the N64's three-pronged controller to be too big/complex in Japan. It can also be said that one of the top selling (non-Nintendo made) N64 controllers in Japan was basically a GCN controller with two prongs and one center protrusion for the D-PAD. While I don't believe this "Do!phin" scan is completly legit or straight from Nintendo's internal's, I do believe that it was on to something...I mean, look at some of the ideas for the Revolution's controller interface, one is a damned frisbe with a big star button on it...crazier things have happened.
 

Cmagus

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I have a very old issue of an out of print mag that has first pictures of Zelda for the 64DD I should find the mag cause i don't think I have seen the pictures online before the one of Armos was cool
 

djtiesto

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Gakman - are you able to find that scan?

This thread is fantastic, I love hearing about console/company history... learned a lot of interesting things about the GC's development. I remember in 2003 or so, after finding out that the Xbox was actually outselling the GC (I didn't pay much attention to sales, and I knew way more people who owned a GC than an Xbox, about as many GC owners as there were PS2 owners in my circle), I read something how Nintendo's rumored "N5" console would be very similar to Gamecube in specs but add new functionality and peripherals. When exactly was first news of the "Revolution" trickled out to everyone?
 

DrGAKMAN

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djtiesto said:
Gakman - are you able to find that scan?

This thread is fantastic, I love hearing about console/company history... learned a lot of interesting things about the GC's development. I remember in 2003 or so, after finding out that the Xbox was actually outselling the GC (I didn't pay much attention to sales, and I knew way more people who owned a GC than an Xbox, about as many GC owners as there were PS2 owners in my circle), I read something how Nintendo's rumored "N5" console would be very similar to Gamecube in specs but add new functionality and peripherals. When exactly was first news of the "Revolution" trickled out to everyone?

No sorry, that's about the best I've got and I think that site (and maybe even the magazine) is dead by now. Doesn't really matter 'cos it was skirted as "fake" quickly retracted and the original scans were in Japanese and very small/blurry. There were a lot of fanmade things at the time (including my own) and they were obviously fake...this though, was in a magazine. Anyone remember NintendoNext (later re-named NintendoNation) should remember that's where I started out on Nintendo forums and where SOME of this info was found, but that place died after a lot of BS that happened.

There was also something rumored called the "Nintendo21" or N21 right around the rumors of the NES-V (Nintendo's fifth console) which basically looked a lot like the GCN if that's what you're talking about. There was pen'n'paper rendition of what "something" heard about it and it basically looked like a GCN with a 21 on top (it was suppossed to mean something...I forget what) and one of the corners was sorta "cut" (like the Wii and it's indented corner?) and the power was roughly only 2 times that of GCN. However, the "big deal" about it was that it was suppossed to be a wireless hub with a Nintendo-based network and any household that had one somehow became an antenea and was called a "Nintendo Home" or something and the controller was a break-apart controller (which, if I might add, there were lot's of rumors/fakes going around based off of the tilt patents). Some of this stuff was found at places like PlanetGAMECUBE (now PlanetNintendo?) and the like...

Soon after there was suppossedly behind-the-scenes stuff going on at some trade show one year before Nintendo started their blue ocean revolution paridgm shift talk. It was an GCN "add-on" that would allow for not only networking, e-Cards (or possibly some mix-up and it was meant to be an SD card slot) and other stuff, but that it was going to allow for a new type of WaveBird wireless controller that was said to have tilt functions and maybe a screen. This was covered on a few bigger sites but was quickly discarded as a rumor with more people focussing on possible patents for a new Nintendo portable (which would end up being the NDS). It would make some sense with recent (at the time) comments of Mr Miyamoto wanting the GCN to last 7 or 8 years and Mr Iwata commenting on peripherals to extend the life of the GCN. With the GCN being $99 at the time, they could've been contemplating re-packaging it with this new peripheral...but luckily they wisely started over with the Revolution instead.

So yeah, the earliest we really heard of Nintendo making a new system (beyond just the a-typical "we start on the next one as soon as the current one is finnished") was a lil' bit after rumors of the next handheld (around the time PSP was announced).
 

[Nintex]

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I do know that Nintendo wanted to introduce Manebito/Stage Debut(they actually registered the name and made logo's) with a new type of controller late in the GCN life(around 2004) when the first N5 talks began as well. After that the "Nintendo X(at least that's what mags here called it)" became the topic of speculation. Nintendo said it had a "new" device, and everyone thought it was the N5 to beat the competition to the punch. In the end it was the DS, and everyone laughed at the idea of two screens when they unveiled the "specs" but didn't show it.

Alot of early specs/info/rumors got lost between N5 and Nintendo X(DS). Nintendo was actually developing two systems since records show that they payed IBM and ATi alot of money for an upgraded GameCube. I remember their investment being as high as Microsofts. Nintendo said the tech was used for the acceleration feature that the Wii CPU has so it can go down to GameCube speeds. I don't think that's where all the money went though. They must've spend a fortune to design the N5 untill they decided to go ahead with the Wii. I remember a dutch journalist reporting about the N5 specs. He said that Nintendo had two designs, one system with a 1.6ghz dual core CPU and one slightly less powerfull single core design. There were also rumors about a non-custom CPU offered by IBM for the Wii, but Nintendo insisted that they made a custom CPU instead. As Nintendo's R&D expenses from 2004-2006 show they must've been working very hard to get the Wii ready for a 2006 release. Not to mention the investments in the high end system that they didn't pick. Miyamoto also said that Nintendo found out that it was not possible to design a system as fast as the competitions for less than $349. Which obviously indicates that they indeed tried to design such a machine. I would've wanted them to go for a bit more power instead of shiny plastics that they talk about in the interviews. I also laugh every time Iwata said that the "Wii" was high tech. The controller might be high tech but the system certainly isn't. I think I would be shocked to see just how much money they make on each console they sell.

Edit: The Nintendo 21, ever since we knew about the Wii specs and such I always think of it. Since it fits the description perfectly.
 

camineet

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DrGAKMAN said:
You are correct sir, I meant to say Virgin Interactive (a GREAT Robotech game (Battlecry) came out later from newcomer TDK (of all publishers) who helped assembled the original voice actors and animators to help with the game though...sadly TDK was absorbed into Take Two's kiddie games division). Speaking of 3D0 though, it's sad that publishers scrounged their legacy to fight over Army Men when *really* someone shoulda went after BattleTanx...that game was, I agree, amazingly fun! I merely mentioned Midway as they were a part of the dream team and they published it...Body Harvest was a great game too and a forshaddowing of the open-ended 3D GTA's in a way...if Nintendo only knew! Lucas Arts was also a part of the Dream Team BTW, but you probably knew that since you know your stuff.

Business wise, I agree that N64 sticking with carts was good for Nintendo as it did humble them in one way and kept them profitable (due to advantages/control they had on the format) durring the hard PSX era. Think of it, a format (PSX CD-ROM) that held TEN TIMES the game for ONE TENTH the price and yet N64 *still* sold very well. No load times was good too.

Thanks for agreeing with my point about what happened with the N64's userbase...it really does make sense and if you can understand the effects of mindshare over marketshare (regardless of specs) you can really see why GCN was seen in such a poor light, yet Wii (basically the GCN re-packaged/marketted/featured) is so successful.

As a bonus I'm adding in the rumored "Project Do!phin" schematic just for speculative shits'n'giggles...



OMFG I remember that controller. I think I saw it on Dolphin Cove or one of the big Dolphin information sites,,,,, Man oh man.

Also, your posts are truly exellent, and close to my thinking on N2000, Dolphin, GameCube, Revolution, Wii etc, except you expand on things in words, much more than me , good job
A+ 10/10. :D
 

stewacide

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If Nintendo really did design a 'next gen' system alongside the Wii, and chose the Wii instead, I'm sure something concrete about the 'N5' would have leaked by now.
 

[Nintex]

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stewacide said:
If Nintendo really did design a 'next gen' system alongside the Wii, and chose the Wii instead, I'm sure something concrete about the 'N5' would have leaked by now.
Well we know they axed it around 2004 though. It wasn't untill then that they started talking about a different approach. Around 2003 all you would hear is that they would be first to market and the systems specs would be comparable to the competitions. Nintendo is a very secretive company, they managed to keep so many secrets of the years that I doubt that one of their internal hardware projects would leak.

It's a shame that none of the Nintendo employees ever spills the beans though. We've got every detail about the rise and fall of SEGA and pictures of all their prototype systems and games. We've got almost nothing from Nintendo. They should just open the archives one day, we'd be amazed to see what they've kept under wraps. The Mii's are a small example of this, they actually were working on Mii's for the NES, DS and other systems.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbaNZ7IwrxY
It's amazing that they kept all these demo's and prototypes, unlike other companies like Capcom.
 
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[Nintex] said:
It's a shame that none of the Nintendo employees ever spills the beans though. We've got every detail about the rise and fall of SEGA and pictures of all their prototype systems and games. We've got almost nothing from Nintendo. They should just open the archives one day, we'd be amazed to see what they've kept under wraps. The Mii's are a small example of this, they actually were working on Mii's for the NES, DS and other systems.

I would really, really love to see copies of the playable versions of Zero Racers, Bound High, and Dragon Hopper for the Virtual Boy, as well as the completed Mini Racers for N64 and incomplete Echo Delta for N64, that we know they have... to name just a few...
 

Azure J

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Thread delivers, in all facets of videogame politics (hardware, software, and speculation). I'd love to add something to the table but I don't have a lot that wasn't mentioned already.
 

nightez

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[Nintex] said:
The design of the N64 was simply not good enough and Nintendo also lowered the price before it launched to take on Sony. They made their move and simply said "fuck you" to SGI who wanted to earn more money from the N64. Mario 64 saved the N64 in it's early days without games. But Nintendo understood that they were in trouble. You see they always made hardware together with their partners, but they never let their partners have full control over the design and features. SGI failed with the N64 chip and they failed hard and around the same time the rise of the PC GPU's happened. So Nintendo had the best looking games for a couple of months at best.

Once the dust settled the N64 was mostly succesfull in the US and Europe(due to the Saturn failure). SGI was "broken" the N64 was supposed to be the showcase of their technology but the performance in games was poor. Nintendo wanted to get rid of SGI as quickly as possible and with the PSX beating them and their "Silicon Graphics" with pre-rendered FMV they were frustrated. It wasn't untill they found ArtX that they could start working on that plan. ArtX offered Nintendo a great piece of hardware. Still even some of ArtX originated from SGI. The SGI curse actually followed them because Nintendo didn't want to downgrade the GCN, they simply had to. They had no choice since the first batch of Flipper chips had low yield rates.

Friend, I don't know where you got the idea that the performance of the N64 was "poor" and the chipset was "broken". Performance was pretty good for the time. The hardware was fast too, pushing many polys wasn't the problem on the N64 (if you used custom microcode) most software was actually fillrate limited. During its time of release the N64 was ahead of everything else and the fastest consumer level 3D hardware. Even faster than a SGI Indy Workstation (but with far less memory) costing thousands of dollars - which was what SGI had originally promised to begin with. The N64 was also first with hardware mipmapping, trilinear filtering, antialiasing, zbuffering, perspective correction. PC's didn't catch up until the 3DFX Voodoo accelerator came out nearly a year later - but even then popular effects like coloured lighting and environment mapping were still easier to do on the N64.

The N64 hardware design wasn't as disastrous as you make it out to be. I'm sure Nintendo were happy with. It was on the strength of their original work on the N64 that Nintendo chose Art-X to design the Gamecube. The same guys that designed the N64 chips also designed the Gamecube (and Wii). If they totally screwed up on the N64 then Nintendo wouldn't have gone back to them.
 

camineet

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A Black Falcon - about M2, you're right we cannot know just exactly, precisely how strong or not it was. The most unfavorable comments about M2 back in 1996/1997 were that it was no better than the Nintendo 64. The most favorable comments were that it was very similar to MODEL 3 in features and performance. I think the truth was, somewhat less than half-way between those two opinions. When I said 2 to 3 times N64, I wasn't making that up or saying it as my opinion, I was going by what Next Generation magazine reported most conservative developers said.



Given that Power Crystal, the 'Zelda 64 killer', looked at least as good as Ocarina of Time if not better, while running at 60fps, which is 3 times OoT's framerate, I'd say M2 was significantly more powerful than N64. That said, D2 only looked somewhat better than N64 games and ran at only 30fps. So M2 was certainly not a huge leap beyond N64 that 3DO then Matsushita's PR hype machine would have us believe.

I'm confident that if M2 had been released, it would've been the strongest console of its generation (Sat,PS1,N64,M2) assuming Sega had not released a Lockheed Martin Real3D based console in place of Saturn or as an upgrade for Saturn in 1996/1997. The M2 was basicly what the N64 should have been, i.e. somewhat higher fully featured textured triangle/sec capability in the 300k to 500k ballpark, 8 MB RAM, CD-ROM, etc.
 

camineet

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nightez said:
Friend, I don't know where you got the idea that the performance of the N64 was "poor" and the chipset was "broken". Performance was pretty good for the time. The hardware was fast too, pushing many polys wasn't the problem on the N64 (if you used custom microcode) most software was actually fillrate limited. During its time of release the N64 was ahead of everything else and the fastest consumer level 3D hardware. Even faster than a SGI Indy Workstation (but with far less memory) costing thousands of dollars - which was what SGI had originally promised to begin with. The N64 was also first with hardware mipmapping, trilinear filtering, antialiasing, zbuffering, perspective correction. PC's didn't catch up until the 3DFX Voodoo accelerator came out nearly a year later - but even then popular effects like coloured lighting and environment mapping were still easier to do on the N64.

The N64 hardware design wasn't as disastrous as you make it out to be. I'm sure Nintendo were happy with. It was on the strength of their original work on the N64 that Nintendo chose Art-X to design the Gamecube. The same guys that designed the N64 chips also designed the Gamecube (and Wii). If they totally screwed up on the N64 then Nintendo wouldn't have gone back to them.


It's true that N64 was faster than SGI's low-end (Indy) to mid-range (Octane/Indigo) workstations of the 1992 to 1995 era. The only 1992-1995 SGI hardware faster than N64 were the highend Onyx2 RealityEngine and RE2 which were more than just workstations, they were visualization supercomputers. Even those machines could never, ever do in realtime, the renders that various SGI machines did offline (prerendered stuff). Indeed all of SGI's renders made the hype for Project Reality / Ultra 64 / N64 impossibly high. N64 did offer about 1/4th of the visual performance of the highend RealityEngine which was pretty amazing for a $199 console. But by 1996, 3Dfx Voodoo and the unreleased M2 had caught upto and at least slightly surpassed N64 performance. N64 came out in Japan in mid 1996, the 3Dfx Voodoo hit in late 1996, not long after N64 hit the U.S., not a year later.

In 1996 SGI introduced a new generation of workstations, supercomputers and InfiniteReality visualization systems that leaped well ahead
 

Eiolon

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Does anyone know if they intended the Dolphin to be cartridge-based or is this system purely for development (cause I think it has a CD drive as well).

 

Gwanatu T

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I tell you what, I thought I knew a lot about video game history, but this thread is making me blush while reading it :lol . Some absolutely incredible historical information here guys, thanks for it all. Speaking of which, does anyone have any good links of prototype Sega hardware? I'd love to see that history, as I vaguely remember rumors of new consoles and such heard in magazines and the like.

A Black Falcon said:
The problem with those numbers is that I can't help looking at them and comparing them to my completely subjective opinions on how good those systems look... and noting how that one number most definitely doesn't tell the whole story.

That is, for instance, I would say that it is probably rare to see a Dreamcast game that looks like it is even pushing three times as many polygons as an N64 game, much less twenty or thirty. I know part of the difference must be framerates -- DC games have higher average framerates, and the higher your framerate the more polys you are actually pushing -- but still, in general a lot of DC games are pretty much N64 or PSX games with higher-resolution textures, a higher framerate, and more special effects.

Well the problem is that you have to look at those numbers and take framerate in to account. I believe the DC's numbers were given as 3 million polys/sec, when in actuality many games pushed beyond that, with games like Shenmue, Test Drive LeMans, Ferrari F355 and others IIRC pushing 6-7 million polys/sec. Take Crysis for example; at any given moment at High/Very High detail settings you can have 1.5-3 million polys per frame (if my eyes don't deceive me in the benchmarks), and if you are running that at 30 frames per second you are getting anywhere from 45-90 million polys/sec. It's all about how many polygons can be displayed per second (as the term suggest) and that directly takes framerate in to account. Many N64 games can so "poorly" (read: sub 30 fps) because developers wanted to put more than the 100,000 poly/sec barrier that the standard microcode could allow, and pushing this barrier made the system render the frames slower. I hope I didn't misunderstand you and write all that for nothing though...

A Black Falcon said:
Of course, the best looking DC games look better, and look better than early PS2 games (some of which also look distinctly last-gen), so I'm not just picking on the Dreamcast. But when I play Rush 2049 on the N64 and then on the Dreamcast, it is striking how similar the two versions are... sure, the DC version has headlight beams in the night tracks, nicer explosions, more smoke effects, more reflections and light effects, higher resolution textures (though for an N64 game, Rush 2049 has very nice quality textures), 3/4 player multiplayer in race mode as well as stunt and battle (N64 is 2 player in race, 4 in stunt/battle), has a higher average framerate... but just looking at the raw geometry? They look identical, as far as I can tell.

Of course then, the question is whether that's because of the limitations of the system, or because it's a port.

The Dreamcast was a system that was terribly under represented at times. Not nearly as bad as the Wii is now I think, but it definitely had more than it's fair share of N64 and PSX ports. If you look at Dreamcast exclusive games from developers that truly cared about the development of their title, e.g. anything from Sega, Soul Calibur, Toy Commander, Dead or Alive 2 etc. you will find that Dreamcast games looked an entire generation ahead of the N64 and PSX simply because it was. The Dreamcast was the start of generation 6 and therefore ended up being the weakest. That's not to say though that the Dreamcast didn't hold it's own, and I truly believe that if Sega were still around today that the Dreamcast would have been one of the most successful systems in history. It went on to sell 10 million units in less than 2 years, which for the time was unreal, and it broke more than a few sales records IIRC. I don't think it would have beat the PS2; nothing could have, Sony just had the upper hand and ultimately might have sold less than they have now, but then again we might not have seen MS enter the market like they did, afterall the Dreamcast used a Windows CE variant to make PC ports much easier, and with Sega and MS's long history together I could probably have seen some sort of ultimate partnership between the two after the Dreamcast.

A Black Falcon said:
I love the N64, I just think it would be a worse system with load times and the other problems of the slower access times of CDs when compared to cartridge memory (area size limitations unless you have a good streaming system, for instance). It is too bad that Nintendo lost all the Japanese third parties, but even so, I wouldn't want them to have gone with CDs if it'd meant a system with the limitations of a slow CD drive like the Playstation (among others) had.

Oh, and only the largest N64 carts were nearly one tenth the size of a CD. N64 cart sizes vary from 8MB to 64MB. 64MB was not the largest possible size, but no game used a larger one. Nintendo gradaully phased in larger cart sizes; at first, only 8MB was available. 16MB came next (One or two games used 4MB carts at some point too, but 8MB was the usual base size). 32MB was introduced with Zelda - The Ocarina of Time, and was used by a good number of other titles after that. Only five games have cartridges larger than 32MB, however. 64MB was introduced with Resident Evil 2; Conker's Bad Fur Day and Pokemon Stadium 2 also used that size. The final size was 40MB, used by Ogre Battle 64 and Paper Mario.

If the N64 was exactly the same machine except having CDs, I honestly believe it would have won the generation. Developers left Nintendo's grasp mostly because of the lack of CDs as the medium for the N64, and as such N would have still had Square and many other big name developers, as well as making development a little cheaper. Load times would have sucked for sure, but the sheer number of sales and quantity of games would have made everyone forget, I'm sure.
 

DrGAKMAN

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Great discussion here...

Nintex...
You mention the name/logo patents for games like Stage Debut, but there was also another patent at the time for "GameEYE" possibly either for the GCN add-on or as the "GameBoy Camera" for GBA...but with Sony's EyeToy just coming out and past problems with Nintendo not wanting litegation (putting your face in the game was pulled from Perfect Dark on N64) for fear of being blamed for making a school shootings simulator nintendo didn't pursue the GameEYE. It may also be a part of reasoning behind cutting Stage Debut (the whole fun was being able to put your face in the game, a feature that Nintendo suddenly got cold on) and instead going ahead with Mii creation on Wii. You also talked about Tedman seeing a basic looking prototype Revolution controller...yes...he did and it was just for early developement purposes on the system. Also, as the pen'n'paper sketch you posted pointed out about the Nintendo21...I was wrong about the break-apart controller...however there were tons of fanboy designs for such a controller around then.

My own (final) design for the "Revolution" controller was sorta close to what Nintendo ended up doing...


Certainly my design had some wacky elaborate ideas. But basically it's very similar. I got the idea from holding an NES bone controller and feeling that one could hold onto it horizontally or vertically. Also my lightgun functionality (although, not in the way Nintendo did it), the option for duel weilding (for "Punch Out!" and while Nintendo didn't do it this way, they still allowed for a controller in each hand with the nunchuck attachment), a link connector (I was thinking for GBmicro plug for wireless connectivity and private screen gaming, Nintendo actually went another way with it by making the Nunchuck and other attachments instead), what I called the "beep tune I.D." sound system(which Nintendo one-upped me by adding a speaker) and the overall "wand" asthetic were pretty close. Nintendo was more brilliant in their design by making it simpler (a major complaint of non-gamers & lapsed gamers) with less buttons and by making it look like a damned remote control. However, with the gelly coat jacket for the Wiimote...my design looks a lot like what Nintendo went for in overall shape (bone).

Not to try to change the subject but I LOVE to speculate...who here would like to talk about what Nintendo's future holds now that they're probably going to milk NDS & Wii for a while?
 

camineet

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Gwanatu T said:
I tell you what, I thought I knew a lot about video game history, but this thread is making me blush while reading it :lol . Some absolutely incredible historical information here guys, thanks for it all. Speaking of which, does anyone have any good links of prototype Sega hardware? I'd love to see that history, as I vaguely remember rumors of new consoles and such heard in magazines and the like.


To go into the prototypes, both known and rumored, of Sega, would need its own huge thread. Sega developed or explored a tremendous number of different hardware both in the early 1990s for the 32-bit generation beyond Genesis, which resulted in 32X & Saturn,...Then also in the mid 1990s to either upgrade, replace or succeed the Saturn, which resulted in Dreamcast. There have been threads and many posts on the subject before.

Well the problem is that you have to look at those numbers and take framerate in to account. I believe the DC's numbers were given as 3 million polys/sec, when in actuality many games pushed beyond that, with games like Shenmue, Test Drive LeMans, Ferrari F355 and others IIRC pushing 6-7 million polys/sec.

I think the limit for Dreamcast was 5-6 million polygons/sec. Some aspects of PowerVR2DC allowed for 7 million but other factors limited it to 6 million. Either way, it was significantly beyond the 3 million Sega stated in 1998,1999. I would've preferred a lower polygon count like MODEL3, with more stable 60fps framerates that included anti-aliasing and more textures, even if of a lower texture resolution.


Take Crysis for example; at any given moment at High/Very High detail settings you can have 1.5-3 million polys per frame (if my eyes don't deceive me in the benchmarks), and if you are running that at 30 frames per second you are getting anywhere from 45-90 million polys/sec. It's all about how many polygons can be displayed per second (as the term suggest) and that directly takes framerate in to account. Many N64 games can so "poorly" (read: sub 30 fps) because developers wanted to put more than the 100,000 poly/sec barrier that the standard microcode could allow, and pushing this barrier made the system render the frames slower. I hope I didn't misunderstand you and write all that for nothing though...

I understand what you're saying. I wish N64 had allowed / been built around a standard like; 300,000 polys/sec and the choice of either 5000 polys per frame at 60fps (like MODEL2) or 10000 polys per frame at 30fps.
 

yankee666

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This thread is so cool!!!, this sorta Nintendo history make me hungry for more so i google a little bit and i found this
. This is the supoused super famicom/cd add-on made by sony. This is the first time i see an all in one machine.
 

DrGAKMAN

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yankee666 said:
This thread is so cool!!!, this sorta Nintendo history make me hungry for more so i google a little bit and i found this
. This is the supoused super famicom/cd add-on made by sony. This is the first time i see an all in one machine.

There is SO MUCH to tell about this whole situation...there's actually about 10 different systems propossed and prototyped around this (3 to 4 year period of) time, not just "one" end-all be-all. It was an ongoing thing and many argue Nintendo shoulda just did it, but I'm glad they didn't.

I was a Sony/Nintendo lover back then and the thought of them getting together was awesome (as I used to be one of those Sega haters, yeah), but knowing a lot of the history Sony are basterds to me...they weren't a gaming company to me, but they (like MS who I also hated for a time as I felt they didn't belong (Sega I at least had respect for since they actually were a gaming company)) basically tried to sneak their way in with Nintendo (and all their 3RD parties) bitched into making games for their format. Nintendo sanctioned Sony for a CD-ROM based ~add-on~ for the Super Famicom/SNES to combat the MegaCD/SegaCD...but it's obvious Sony had more ambitions with the PlayStation. They were making stand-alone PlayStation systems (both types being wrong as one played carts & CD's which means Nintendo lost on hardware (who'd by a SNES+add-on anymore if they could buy Sony's all-in-one?) and one even without a cart slot which meant no dirrect 3RD party royalties to Nintendo on software either) behind Nintendo's back and also looked to obtain Nintendo through fishy means (like they obtained Columbia/Tri-Star and more recently MGM to push the BR format). Then they played victim when Nintendo dissed them at the CES show acting like they were abandonned by Nintendo...well sure Nintendo abandonned you, you were trying to rob them blind and sneak your way into gaming through Nintendo's backdoor while you said bend over (Sony sorta forced themselves into partnering with Nintendo as a way in and they used their control of the flow of SNES soundchips they made to do so). Then, Nintendo had to be dicks and had a paper relationship with Philips (on CDi) to scare Sony off their nuts and Sony ended up supporting SegaCD (the competition) through Sony Imagesoft. One last try happened with the SuperCD which would be a universal system developed by Nintendo/Sony/Philips that would use the CDi disc format, Nintendo getting gaming royalties and Sony suppossedly only getting non-gaming royalties...but that fell through too as it was obvious Nintendo wanted control and Sony wanted it too.

In the end CDi failed, Nintendo prototyped the distinctly different CD-ROM diskette SNES add-on drive ("ND", the Nintendo Disk system) which never released as it was clear Nintendo wasn't keen on CD-ROM gaming and Sony went back to the drawing boards and took the PlayStation name. Both companies were sorta assholes about it all, Nintendo used the Sony name to downplay Sega's efforts into CD-based gaming and Sony used Nintendo to get into the gaming industry (and I wouldn't doubt to get to 3RD parties much quicker) rather than doing it themselves (like Panasonic, Pioneer and others found out the hard way not to).
 

camineet

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The thing with Super Famicom CD / SNES-CD, as already mentioned, there was more than one CD system prototyped. There were several different 16-bit CD-ROM systems (including the Play Station and Phillips systems) then later at least one 32-bit system (ND / Nintendo Disc) The SNES CD-ROM systems weren't just a CD drives, these things were system upgrades with their own processors, unlike the NEC PC-Engine CD systems, but like the MegaCD/SegaCD, but more powerful.

The 32-bit Nintendo Disc was the most interesting, it had a 21 MHz CPU for better gameplay, etc and other processors to help manage loading times. It was announced then canceled within a few months, just before Project Reality was announced in August or September 1993.

Good website to learn the basics of the 3 main distinct CD-ROM systems for SFC/SNES
http://www.nintendoland.com/snes/snescdr.htm


Seperate articles on some of the different SNES CD systems:

16-bit Sony Play Station and 16-bit Phillips





32-bit Phillips-Sony-Nintendo ND


 
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Gwanatu T said:
Well the problem is that you have to look at those numbers and take framerate in to account. I believe the DC's numbers were given as 3 million polys/sec, when in actuality many games pushed beyond that, with games like Shenmue, Test Drive LeMans, Ferrari F355 and others IIRC pushing 6-7 million polys/sec. Take Crysis for example; at any given moment at High/Very High detail settings you can have 1.5-3 million polys per frame (if my eyes don't deceive me in the benchmarks), and if you are running that at 30 frames per second you are getting anywhere from 45-90 million polys/sec. It's all about how many polygons can be displayed per second (as the term suggest) and that directly takes framerate in to account. Many N64 games can so "poorly" (read: sub 30 fps) because developers wanted to put more than the 100,000 poly/sec barrier that the standard microcode could allow, and pushing this barrier made the system render the frames slower. I hope I didn't misunderstand you and write all that for nothing though...

That's true, if the N64 had one significant issue beyond the texture resolution problem (that is, beyond the 4KB texture buffer), it was framerate. Obviously, the N64 could push a lot more polygons than it could keep running at a good framerate, and developers loved to push the system as hard as possible to get the best looking graphics. This did lead to N64 framerates very often hovering right on the edge of playability. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as the mid single digit framerates of SNES Super FX games (just try to play Star Fox or Stunt Race FX or Vortex without noticing how incredibly low the framerate is...), but it was bad. I got used to it, and don't really mind most N64 framerates (except for the lowest ones), but it is a problem... other systems don't have this problem as bad (apart from the PC, where it varies depending on your hardware configuration), so obviously it was something to do with the design of the system... but oh well, it did lead to some really good looking graphics. :)

Then Nintendo released the Expansion Pak which added 4MB more RAM, which allowed for some higher-resolution games... and some even lower framerates. In many titles where you can switch, you have to choose between the ugly, but higher framerate, low-res version and the prettier, but slow, high-res one... the system couldn't quite keep up with the amount of polygons it could generate.

camineet said:
It's true that N64 was faster than SGI's low-end (Indy) to mid-range (Octane/Indigo) workstations of the 1992 to 1995 era. The only 1992-1995 SGI hardware faster than N64 were the highend Onyx2 RealityEngine and RE2 which were more than just workstations, they were visualization supercomputers. Even those machines could never, ever do in realtime, the renders that various SGI machines did offline (prerendered stuff). Indeed all of SGI's renders made the hype for Project Reality / Ultra 64 / N64 impossibly high. N64 did offer about 1/4th of the visual performance of the highend RealityEngine which was pretty amazing for a $199 console. But by 1996, 3Dfx Voodoo and the unreleased M2 had caught upto and at least slightly surpassed N64 performance. N64 came out in Japan in mid 1996, the 3Dfx Voodoo hit in late 1996, not long after N64 hit the U.S., not a year later.

In 1996 SGI introduced a new generation of workstations, supercomputers and InfiniteReality visualization systems that leaped well ahead

So essentially, your problem is that you think that the N64 should have either come out a year earlier, or been more powerful? But it was tough as it was to get it at $200 in late 1996... where would Nintendo have gotten a more powerful system from? They couldn't just scale up the N64 without unacceptably increasing prices, I'm sure. And the games weren't ready in 1995.

You are right, though, that the system didn't quite match up to the MASSIVE, MASSIVE "Project Reality" hype (things like the N64 demo videos that have been linked in past threads here). It simply couldn't have, no system could have matched that level of graphics at an affordable price. So in that regards it was disappointing, somewhat... but unavoidably so. And when it came out, it did have the best graphics of anything you could get at any kind of normal price. It is true that the Voodoo1 came out just a few months later and slightly passed it, and some arcade machines were there too, but the Voodoo1 was a few months later and was also a revolutionary product (the PC market is smaller, but the Voodoo1 was an unbelievable improvement over what had come before... and arcade machines are very expensive...

I understand what you're saying. I wish N64 had allowed / been built around a standard like; 300,000 polys/sec and the choice of either 5000 polys per frame at 60fps (like MODEL2) or 10000 polys per frame at 30fps.

At what cost?

=Gwanatu T said:
The Dreamcast was a system that was terribly under represented at times. Not nearly as bad as the Wii is now I think, but it definitely had more than it's fair share of N64 and PSX ports. If you look at Dreamcast exclusive games from developers that truly cared about the development of their title, e.g. anything from Sega, Soul Calibur, Toy Commander, Dead or Alive 2 etc. you will find that Dreamcast games looked an entire generation ahead of the N64 and PSX simply because it was. The Dreamcast was the start of generation 6 and therefore ended up being the weakest. That's not to say though that the Dreamcast didn't hold it's own, and I truly believe that if Sega were still around today that the Dreamcast would have been one of the most successful systems in history. It went on to sell 10 million units in less than 2 years, which for the time was unreal, and it broke more than a few sales records IIRC. I don't think it would have beat the PS2; nothing could have, Sony just had the upper hand and ultimately might have sold less than they have now, but then again we might not have seen MS enter the market like they did, afterall the Dreamcast used a Windows CE variant to make PC ports much easier, and with Sega and MS's long history together I could probably have seen some sort of ultimate partnership between the two after the Dreamcast.

Anything from Sega? As if Daytona USA Deluxe and Sega Rally 2 look so amazing? They don't. You can't just pass it all off as "developers didn't care and liked to port things from other systems...

I mean, as far as I know, Sega itself didn't actually publish any four-player racing games on the Dreamcast! All of Sega's own driving games were one or two player only... and many of them were not great visual spectacles, really. Sega Rally is fast, but doesn't look that great, comparatively, and it doesn't have a stable framerate either...

Plus, if for instance you go look at IGN's review of Rush 2049 for DC: http://dreamcast.ign.com/articles/163/163634p1.html Mostly praise, graphics included.

You are right that some of the best looking games started out as next-gen-only titles, like Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive 2, Toy Commander, probably also stuff like Crazy Taxi and Sonic Adventure, etc... but when slightly upgraded last-gen ports get so much praise, it does say something.

Oh, it is also true that anything using Windows CE was limited power-wise, because of DC Windows CE's limitations. Anything using it was not going to be truly pushing the hardware (though some did look good anyway; I think the pretty nice looking Bang! Gunship Elite was WinCE...). But really, the DC just can't match up to the PS2, Xbox, or GC when they are pushed. The difference is huge -- and particularly for the Xbox and Gamecube. This did hurt the DC. And that's why it's good that Nintendo didn't go with that M2-based system... :)

As for success, that 10 million was worldwide, and the system was on the market in the US and Europe for about 2 1/2 years overall (Sept. 1999 to early 2002 in the US for instance). I believe that it actually finished behind the N64 and PS1 in holiday season 1999 in the US... and then did the same thing again in holiday 2000, except that time the PS2 was ahead of it too. 10 million sounds like a lot, but that's across three regions, and several million of that came after the announced death of the console in January for February of 2001, when Sega was massively cutting prices.

In Japan, though the system came out 10 months earlier, and lasted longer, it never got above something like 2 or 3% of the market there... it sold badly, worse than expected. Obviously, considering how long it lingered with a few releases a year, that tiny audience was pretty hardcore... But when casuals aren't buying it, that won't save a system.

http://www.islandnet.com/~kpolsson/segavid/sega1997.htm
http://eidolons-inn.net/tiki-index.php?page=SegaBase+Dreamcast+p5
http://eidolons-inn.net/tiki-index.php?page=Segas+Last+Days

Sure, the DC did better than Saturn in the US and Europe, but better than almost nothing (Saturn hardware sales: 1.2 million US, about the same Europe, I believe...) isn't a great success when you still finish behind your last-gen competition, and even farther behind your current-gen competition.

The only way Sega could have kept going was if they had money. However, if they had had money, the entire situation would have been avoided -- either the DC would have had a DVD drive (more expensive than the modified CD it used) and IT would have sold based on being a cheap DVD player, or Sega could have afforded to pay for a lot more games and advertising, or something, like Microsoft and Nintendo could... but as I said last time, money troubles had always been an issue with Sega, just like poor decisions and infighting were.

So as I've been saying, the only way Sega could have kept going, realistically, was if the Dreamcast had caught on like the DS or Wii. And faced with PS2 hype, that wasn't happening. It's too bad... but, by the time the DC came out, unavoidable, I think. To try to build a case for how Sega's hardware business could have been saved you'd have to go back a lot earlier, like to the Genesis days, and start making major changes from then on. Even then it'd be tricky, considering the differences in funding between Sega and its major competitors, but probably possible. The key would be to not kill Sega's brand name in the US and Europe in 1994-1996...

If the N64 was exactly the same machine except having CDs, I honestly believe it would have won the generation. Developers left Nintendo's grasp mostly because of the lack of CDs as the medium for the N64, and as such N would have still had Square and many other big name developers, as well as making development a little cheaper. Load times would have sucked for sure, but the sheer number of sales and quantity of games would have made everyone forget, I'm sure.

Perhaps so, but even so, I'll keep the carts. I do like the system as it is...

It would have been nice if larger cartridge sizes had been available earlier, however, and if Nintendo had given full disclosure on the hardware to third parties from the beginning. Nintendo's barriers and rules making it hard for all but a chosen few to make the best looking games were a real problem.

Also, of course, the format wasn't the only problem. As big a problem was fees. Sony had low fees; Nintendo high ones. Not charging such high fees would have made a HUGE difference. Every generation Nintendo's fees for third parties are always higher than the other hardware manufacturers... Square was first turned off from Nintendo because of issues like these, not just because of the format. The Square-Nintendo problems started during the SNES days, not just because of the N64's format choice -- fees, control, etc (I definitely remember hearing about Square and Nintendo having differences during the development of Mario RPG...). A Square less bitter at Nintendo (for reasons beyond the cart format) may also have not made quite as big an effort as it did to get other Japanese third parties to also abandon Nintendo...

As for the SNES CD, Nintendo absolutely did the right thing in dropping Sony on that thing. As was just explained, Sony was trying to steal Nintendo's licensing rights and third parties... no sane company would have gone through with that. As for the later Phillips/etc SNES CD models, Nintendo just decided in the end that they didn't need one. And they didn't.