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by the NWR Staff - December 16, 2001, 11:14 am PST

A quickie rendition of the Mailbag is ready. GameCube programming, GameCube's casing, SD Adapter and memory card, Dolby, and RPGs.

 

Punkeroo asks, my friend said that the reason

Xbox doesn't have very many good games is because developers are still learning the

"coding" for the system. I said that was true for the GC, but he denied it. He

told me that since this was MS first system, they had new coding. But since Nintendo has

been around, everyone is used to their systems' codes. He said that Nintendo only

"upgrades" from their last system, using almost identical coding.

Mike H. Says: Uh... no. I hereby declare your

friend's public humiliation... commenced.

Breaky Boy Says: Well there are two sides to this.

If you're talking about developers learning the new system architecture, then that's one

thing.


For example, although the Xbox's components were customized and put together so as to

maximize their functionality as a gaming system, they are still the same PC components

(Intel processor, Nvidia chipset) that every PC developer knows and loves. On top of that,

Microsoft did develop Direct X and as far as I know, it (or a variant

thereof) is being used on the Xbox. All those factors combined, give a pretty clear view

as to why developers are all saying they aren't having many problems programming for the

Xbox.


Then on the other side there's GameCube. Although the system architecture isn't as

familiar, the developers also don't have as much legwork or guesswork involved when they

are familiarizing themselves with it. Since every spec Nintendo claims has proven to be

valid (making the theoretical limit consoles are famous for valid for once), the

developers can jump right in, knowing what to expect and not bump up against potential

bottlenecks in the architecture at every turn. Thus, we've heard of many developers

clamoring over how easy it is to work on our beloved 'Cube.

Jonathan Says: Hogwash. Maybe your friend's

comments could be true about graphics (and I doubt even that in light of BreakyBoy's

comments above), but great games are developed independently of the technology nine times

out of ten. The reason we often see more great games as the system ages is simply that

those games were in development for a long time...it has little to do with programmers

getting a handle on the system or whatever. The reason Xbox doesn't have many good games

right now (and that's just my opinion, of course) is that most of the good developers on

the system won't have their stuff ready until the second half of 2002. Halo exception blah

blah blah. Nintendo had some of its good games ready for launch or right after, plus

you've got Factor 5 squeezing Rogue Leader in time for launch, and some third-parties

using GameCube's ease of development to port their PS2 titles over in record time, like

Tony Hawk 3. It's kinda funny, but I think THPS2x for Xbox spent longer in development

than THPS3 for GameCube. Maybe that's not a fair comparison...but still funny. :-)


Otsego asks, I am inquiring the plastic casing of the GameCube. A lot of people are

talking about small cracks near the buttons on the top of the system. Are these normal due

to molding? Or is it possibly related to an overheating issue?

Mike H. Says: PS2 and Xbox fan FUD (Fear,

Uncertainty, Doubt). These are lines created in the molding process. They aren't cracks or

defects. Every unit should have them... mine does, but I never actually noticed them until

they were pointed out to me.


This is a non-issue in terms of product quality, safety, etc. In fact, these mold lines

were also found on Apple's now-deceased G4 Cube computers (which was an 8" cube).

TYP Says: It's no biggie! In fact, you can also

find those things on the controllers (check around the A button)... Unless you guys are

talking about something completely different, of course...


MCGJB asks, If the manual says that the system will only be able to read 127 blocks, how

will the SD-adapter and SD-memory card work on the GameCube?

Jonathan Says: Well, we may have to face up to the

possibility that the SD card won't be set up to work as just a huge memory card. I would

also note that Nintendo hasn't said jack about the SD card feature since Spaceworld 2000,

and it wouldn't surprise me if they've decided against it since then...but I guess we'll

find out eventually. Maybe by next E3. You certainly raise a pertinent question.


Rize Says: I seriously doubt that the SD card will be able to act as a huge memory

card and I always have. If there was any use for an SD card right now, I'm sure some 3rd

party developer would jump the gun and try to make a little dough by making their own

variant.


As for when we'll hear about the SD card again... never may be the right answer. After

all, it's not mentioned on GameCube's box (while the modem's, component cable and memory

card 59 are). Go figure. Perhaps Nintendo will develop a game that uses it years down the

line when the cards are cheaper and sell it as a pack in.

Billy Says: Personally I disagree with ALL of you.

Mwuahahahahah! Why? Because I really do see a future with the SD technology. When I was in

Japan, we saw the whole line up of SD cards ranging from 16mb to 1GB. With larger cards

you have a virtual hard drive. Could this be the return of the 64DD type technology? Or

could this be a savior for downloading small patches or new player line ups for games? You

never know what's up Nintendo's sleeves!


The other side of this coin is that the technology is expensive. The price of SD cards

(and memory in general) has been dropping constantly. There's a long way until E3 2002.


Spencer asks, I’m curious about using Dolby Digital with the GameCube (as Batman:

Vengeance supports for example). Is there a separate digital out audio cable that I’m

missing somehow, or is it not truly Dolby Digital, because I’d like to hook it up to

my receiver? I haven’t found any information on this subject.

Jonathan Says: Simply put, you

can't get Dolby Digital out of GameCube simply because the system doesn't have an audio

optical out port. GameCube is fully capable of encoding DD, but I guess that port wasn't

included because of cost and also because it was thought DD wasn't practical for real-time

gaming purposes. I've heard that some Xbox games are using it now during the game, but I

have no idea how well that works. Supposedly the latency was too high for it to work, but

who knows, maybe some developer has found a way around that. Will DD ever be possible on

GameCube? I doubt it, unless some third-party company could make an optical out that

plugged into the system's high-speed port on the bottom or something...and even then, it'd

be hard to secure developer support for some peripheral Nintendo isn't backing. Hell, it's

hard to secure developer support for the peripherals Nintendo IS backing.

Billy Says: Even though you can't get Dolby

Digital out of the Cube, the sound is still sweet.


Surround Sound in games has NEVER sounded this good.

TYP Says: I'll be getting a whole new theater

system sometime mid-next year in Montana--where Ty can crash when he's kicked out of his

own house. It'll have the WORKS, and I'll make sure it supports DPLII, so I'll tell you then

;-). I have a regular surround system right now, and though the setup uses akward speaker

placement (and old ones at that), it still sounds very good. Of course, I haven't heard a

game in DD yet, so I can't really compare it to Xbox's offerings. But from what I've

heard, less than half of the few folks that will have a 5.1 setup would be able to tell

the difference between DPLII and DD 5.1 anyway.


Matt asks, I've already bought my GameCube, and with Phantasy Star Online v.2 the

only RPG on the horizon, should I fret? I heard rumors of Skies of Arcadia and Evolution

being ported over from the Dreamcast -- done them both already. Anything fantastic and new

on the traditional RPG horizon for the GameCube?

Breaky Boy Says: The Evolution game coming to

GameCube seems to be a new adventure in the Evolution series. You should

check our profile

href="http://www.planetgamecube.com/games.cfm?action=profile&id=414">here.


Also, From Software is developing

href="http://www.planetgamecube.com/games.cfm?action=profile&id=378">Rune, a

promising card/RPG game.

Jonathan Says: There's always Camelot's

ultra-secret GameCube RPG, which I think could be an extension of the Golden Sun series,

and maybe even the Shining Force series. We'll see.


There are tons of rumors too: Enix support, FFXI (the online one), even the next

Castlevania game from Konami, if it's at all like the incredible Symphony of the Night.


Regardless, I wouldn't be too worried. No console has strong RPG support right off the

bat...the PS2 is just now getting decent ones (and lots of indecent ones), and the Xbox

doesn't have any major RPGs on the horizon other than Shenmue 2 and PSOv2, and they're

both 2002 titles.

Billy Says: Roy and Marth showing up in Smash Bros

has got to be some sort of sign that we'll start seeing Fire Emblem games. There's too

many people out there that would kill for that series to make it to the states.

Dragona Says: Eternal Arcadia GC is no rumor; it's

been confirmed for some time. The bad thing about it is that it's a port. The good thing,

however, is that it points to the sequel also landing on GC.


As for other RPGs, there's rumor of an Estpolis game in the works (Lufia in English,)

along with the possibility of something from old standbys such as Enix. Camelot won't be

leaving Nintendo fans out in the cold either.


From what I've heard, Fire Emblem VI is being translated as we speak. Whether NOA has the

balls to actually release it, is another question. But then again considering how well

Advance WARS sold, it really shouldn't be an issue. Who knows, a Fire Emblem GC and Cube

WARS, might also be on the way...

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