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GameCube FAQ

Release Date & Pricing Information

by the NWR Staff - June 21, 2001, 10:59 pm EDT

Believe us, it drives us insane too.

This is perhaps the question most important of all to gamers; when the heck is this thing coming out? Nintendo has never been too reliable with release dates but it looks like it is finally on track with NGC. This section of the FAQ also covers pricing info.

What is the GameCube System’s Release Date in Japan? How About the U.S.?

The Nintendo GameCube will be released on September 12th, 2001 in Japan and November 5th, 2001 in America for the low price of 199$ american and 299$ canadian.

What is the Release Date for the GBA in Japan? What about the U.S.?

The Game Boy Advance will be released in Japan March 21, 2001 at the price of ¥9,800 and the U.S. can expect the Game Boy Advance frenzy to hit one June 11th for the low, low price of only 99.95$!!

When was this info Released?

Specific details regarding the Japanese launch of both machines was revealed just after E3 2001. Specifics concerning both the American and Japanese launch of the AGB can be found here.

Will PlanetGameCube provide Import Coverage of these systems?

As much as we possibly can, we’ll have import coverage. Count on it! (Hmm, do I sound a little too excited about this?)

Is there any chance that the GameCube will be Released Simultaneously in the U.S. & Japan?

None. There was some indication that Nintendo was considering a simultaneous release of the GameCube system in both the US and Japan, presumably sometime in early 2001. These preliminary reports were speculative and subsequently turned out to be false. This info has resurfaced as a rumor but it simply isn't happening. Whether Nintendo ever considered it is questionable but who knows?

Wasn’t GameCube originally going to be Released at the end of 2000?

When Nintendo made the first public announcements on the system as “Project: Dolphin” during the speech given by Howard Lincoln at Nintendo’s pre-E3 press conference in 1999, a release date of late 2000 was given.

It seemed like Nintendo’s plan to release its newest system in the fourth quarter of 2000, hot on the heels of the PS2’s U.S. release, as stated Since then, Nintendo has pushed back the release of its new system until early 2001.

What is the Likelihood Nintendo Will Actually Come through on this Projected Date?

With Nintendo, it’s always hard to say. GameCube is currently set for release in Spring 2001 in Japan, shortly after it is shown at E3 2001 in May.

Given Nintendo’s nature, it’s possible the GameCube release will slip another month or two and may not be released until after E3 2001. Obviously, we hope this isn’t the case but history has also shown it’s better not to rush Nintendo, or trust the company’s release dates.

Aren’t there rumors of a delay until 2002?

Although there are rumors that Nintendo will delay the GameCube in the U.S. there is no at all to suspect that this will happen. In a rant about this delay insanity, our comrade Matt Casamassina of IGNCube confirmed that these reports blossomed out of control after one inaccurate reporter mentioned the possibility.

The report in question came from rumors section of an issue Next Generation Magazine. The rumor essentially said something to the extent that “a little bird in Redmond, WA” told them that the NGC wasn’t as easy to develop as Nintendo had hoped and that the company feared having its system go head-to-head with Microsoft’s X-Box. This rumor has spread like wildfire but it’s total malarkey. We can only assume the “little bird” came from Microsoft, also in Redmond.

Perhaps Nintendophiles have grown used to the “Nintendo delay” one too many times and are already bracing for the worst. Don’t. Nintendo have confirmed and re-confirmed that that the GameCube will be launched in Japan in July and will hit the U.S. come October. Second-party developers who have been asked about a delay echo Nintendo’s statements. There is no reason to worry.

Aside from the official word, it’s important to realize that if Nintendo waited until 2002 for the GameCube, it be a major set back in many ways. Missing the holiday selling season of 2001 would be crippling for any game system being launched—the equivalent would be sawing your leg off before running an Olympic marathon. After the holidays, there is no real good time to launch a system and an overwhelming golden opportunity would be missed. Then there is the issue of Microsoft’s X-Box being released merely three days later. Nintendo are not frightened of taking X-Box “head on” –it is looking forward to it.

Finally, Nintendo will be building anticipation for its NGC system through the release of the Game Boy Advance console. While an impressive system, it will be unable to carry Nintendo through 2001 by itself. Although the GBA is being released first, it is only part of Nintendo’s next generation plans.

Ironically, no one has ever questioned Microsoft's ability to launch this fall. While Nintendo's hardware is already being mass produced and software is supposedly close to completion, MS's Xchip has only been recently finalized and their developers still do not have access to a final development kit. Makes you think.

What’s Taken So Long with Nintendo’s Systems? Nintendo hardly ever releases Information either! Is Nintendo Lazy or Something?

With the delays and lack of information, it’s easy to think Nintendo are just goofing off. They’re actually very hard at work and hopefully, when all is revealed there will be more than sufficient reason to wait for the GameCube.

Sleep away Mario...

Shouldn’t Nintendo Be Worried About the Competition?

Absolutely! The sooner Nintendo releases the system the better. At the time of GameCube’s original release date (end of 2000) the Dreamcast would have been out for over a year & the Playstation 2 would have just been released during the fall. Nintendo should (& likely will) do everything possible to get the system out before Microsoft’s X-Box that is set to launch on November 8th, 2001.

At the same time, Nintendo does not seem overly concerned about its competitors, confident that the GameCube will be revolutionary enough to stand out from the pack. Miyamoto’s comments on GameCube frequently echo this sentiment.

Asked whether there was room in the industry for four competitors, Miyamoto offered:

“I don't think there will be enough room. That is why we believe that the battle will be fought between Sega, Sony, and Microsoft. While Nintendo is going to do something really different from them.”

As it’s shaping up, it looks like Sega may not be much of a competitor at all anymore. Instead the defunct hardware manufacturer appears to be one of Nintendo's staunchest allies. Find out more in the FAQ’s section on Sega.

What’s with all the Delays Anyway?

Is it simply typical Nintendo fashion to blow smoke regarding the release of their products or do they simply habitually over-estimate themselves in the public eye? Perhaps they’re just excellent at stalling, taking the necessary time to make sure they get things right the first time.

During our E3 2000 coverage (when we were known as PlanetN2000) we caught up with Peter Main and asked him what was the “dilly yo!”

Planet: "Mr. Main, in your 1999 Year In Review speech, you stated that revenues from Dolphin and GBA are forecasted for NOA, for the fiscal year 2000 ... which would mean no later than March 2001, is this still accurate?"

Peter Main: (paraphrasing) "I had to pull some of that back out, with this year doing so well, especially Game Boy Color … perhaps around Easter."

This blew away any hope we had seeing the “Dolphin” say, sometime in March 2001. Heck we shoulda known - they hadn't even given the system its final name yet!

Nintendo cites the popularity of its existing hardware as a cause for the hold-up. This is supported by NOA President Minoru Arakawa, who claims that Nintendo held (an ironic) 64% of the North American video game market, with the rest split between Sony & Sega during 2000. This success has apparently encouraged Nintendo to “ride-out” its existing hardware a bit longer, especially in regard to handhelds.

“We were planning to release it (AGB) sooner, but the Game Boy Color has sold so well its depleted our available stock. So we were told to wait regarding the release of the AGB.”

Sure enough, the Game Boy Color had only been released two years previous and adding color to the decade-plus handheld was something people had wanted forever. It was also something competing handhelds touted over the GB (without much success).

Was this the only reason for the delay? During the summer of 1999, Game Informer interviewed Peter Main & asked about the GameCube 2000 release date. Main’s response was essentially ‘we wouldn’t set this date if we weren’t confident we could make it.’ It is possible that Nintendo is not as far behind as it may seem in terms of console development.

Then again, with only recently getting development kits out to most developers only recently, Nintendo may not have been ahead of things as much as they would have liked us to think.

Are Development Kits Complete?

Nintendo Reps like to say that Development Kits are always a work in progress and are never “finalized.” Still, they seem to be happy with what MetroWerks have cooked up. We believe that many developers and publishers are in the possession of these fully functional GameCube Development Kits.

How many Developers have Kits? How Long have they had them?

Many second-party developers reportedly started software projects long before receiving kits, though since August 2000 all have them have had full development tools for the NGC system. There are a few major third-parties who have final kits too, Capcom, Konami and EA. However, most third-party developers will should just be getting the kits any day now, if they haven’t already.

There is also a rumor that Square requested a development kit for research purposes. If this is true, Square probably wouldn’t be the only developers to do so—who else may have is a mystery though. (Check our Square section for more on Nintendo/Square info).

Were Developers able to do much work on games prior to receiving the Finalized Kits?

Contrary to popular belief, a great deal can be done without finalized kits. Development for a game starts with conceptualization and planning, which doesn’t require a development kit at all. IGN64 reports that most GameCube development teams have been utilizing emulation software provided by Nintendo to prototype their next-gen games. Supposedly, making the leap from prototype to actual hardware won’t be a huge issue as the GameCube system fully realizes the initial specs provided. However, the transition will take some time—which may prevent numerous second parties from showing off playable software at Space World.

What is being said About the GameCube Development Kits?

Developers’ reactions to GameCube development kits thus far have been overwhelmingly positive. As promised by Nintendo, the system is very, very easy to develop for (much easier, reportedly than Sony’s PS2). This means that more games will come out for the system, in less time—a very good thing indeed.

What steps is Nintendo taking to Recruit Developers?

Because any development contracts contain NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements), we cannot say with any certainty just how actively Nintendo has been recruiting developers.

We do know that Nintendo was planning to hold a GameCube Developer Conference in Seattle, WA where it planned to invite several third-party developers to discuss NGC Development. Originally believed to be in November 2000 the conference is then was rescheduled to happen in Febuary, 2001. Now it has been bumped up all the way until summer. Before we start wondering if Yamauchi misplaced his medication again, it turns out that Nintendo has already gained the support of every major third-party developer it could be interested in. This includes people like Namco, Konami, EA, Neversoft and many others.

Many of these developers have reportedly had an additional motivation to make games for NGC -Sony's Playstation 2. EA, Konami and Namco all suffered considerable losses due to the shortages of PS2 systems, resulting in countless unsold copies of their software. To add insult to injury, many developers feel PS2 is difficult to develop for, whereas Nintendo GameCube and Microsoft's X-Box are much easier.

There has also been an unexpected addition to the ranks of GBA/NGC 3rd-Party Developers, Nintendo's longtime rival, Sega! Sega is poised to become a major Nintendo ally since announcing it would be leaving the hardware business.

There are certainly many other developers making games too. We don’t know a lot of the specifics thanks again to the NDAs. It certainly looks like the Planet staff will be keeping busy come E3.

Shortly after the Game Boy Advance’s Japanese launch on March 21st, Nintendo will rally for GameCube support at the Game Developers Converence, an annual show held in San Jose, CA for those in the game development community. Reportedly, Nintendo is debating whether or not to show new NGC demos at the show though is confirmed to have audio demos if nothing else.

How Many Launch Titles Should we Expect?

Some comparative history: The Sony Playstation hit North America on October 28th, 2000. Although there were damn near over 30 launch titles, there were few consoles to be had, resulting in a bunch of unsold software.

The U.S. launch of Sega Dreamcast in September, 1999 boasted an impressive line-up of 18 games available from day one. Dreamcast launch titles spanned a variety of genres, from a variety of developers and publishers. Additional Dreamcast software offerings were quick to follow, helping Sega’s system defy widespread pessimism and gain a large user-base.

Three years previous, the Nintendo 64 launched in the U.S. with two measly launch titles. Granted, the games were Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64, but as new games trickled out over the following months, even their greatness could not keep N64 owners from becoming jaded.

Naturally, Nintendo fans would love to see GameCube boast a launch line-up equally impressive (if not more so) to Dreamcast’s this time around. At the very least, it is hoped launch titles will number more than the N64’s two! The Japanese magazine, Dengeki expressed similar concerns and asked Miyamoto if the console would have at least five titles ready for launch. Miyamoto responded, "No, I think about three is sufficient. If titles come out regularly after that it should be okay."

Before you freak out, since these early announcements, the launch title list has grown a bit. Billy got a chance to talk to Beth Llewelyn during Spaceworld 2000 who said we can expect at least 5 GameCube titles.

More recently, NCL itself has stated that we can expect 5-7 launch titles from Nintendo and all its various second-parties will also provide games for launch. A list of some surefire launch titles is provided below.

To top it off, two very hot 3rd-party developed projects may make GameCube’s launch or soon after: Capcom’s Resident Evil: 0 and EA’s SSX: Special Edition. Namco is allegedly going to bring Ridge Racer 5 and Tekken Tag Tournament to NGC as well. Interestingly, Matt Cassimasina froM IGNCube says that Namco is bringing "new fighting games" to the GC. Hrm.

All in all, the GameCube launch list should be an exciting one indeed!

Which Titles can we Expect for Launch, or Soon After?

Currently, we’re not sure which specific games will make the NGC’s launch. Until we know for sure, keep an eye on the ever-changing dates in our Releases section. While there have been many candidates, here’s some sure bets:

Luigi's Mansion – Represented by Spaceworld demo “Luigi’s Mansion.” While Mario is nowhere in sight, Luigi is left cleaning house of scary ghosts with only a flashlight and a vaccuum to aid him. Add in a wacky scientist type and you've got some launch title.

Wave Race: Blue Storm – Sequel to Wave Race for N64. We can’t wait! After playing this game, developed by NST, no one can be unsure of the Graphical Prowess of the GC.

Ridge Racer V – Namco’s offering for the GameCube Launch. Just shy of being confirmed, a souped-up version of RRV may serve as Namco’s trial run for NGC. Let’s hope it turns out to be only an appetizer…

SSX: Tricky – A “Special Edition” of PS2’s dreamy Snowboarding racer. EA apparently have other things, like Madden, in store for NGC too.

“1080 2” –Snowboarding title from Left Field, team responsible for Excitebike 64.

Resident Evil 0 – An RE prequel originally planned for N64, this survival horror classic should definitely be ready sometime after launch!

Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2 – A sequel that will do the Star Wars movies justice in more ways than one. This game was playable at E3 (including an all new "Death Star Run" level) so it's a good candidate for launch.

Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet - A Rare "Zelda killer" set on an alien planet and featuring Fox McCloud in addition to other popular characters, this game was expected to be Rare's N64 swan song. Instead, the project is was confirmed for NGC at E3 & is believed to appear at launch.

Which Games Won’t be Launch Titles?

This list could turn out even longer! Still, here are some important clarifications, as we see it based on the Spaceworld demos and franchises Nintendophiles care about.

Zelda – Maybe it’s just that we hope it won’t be ready for launch. A rushed Zelda title to NGC would be a real shame. Still, it might just make it.

Metroid: Prime – Retro Studios is apparently not off to the best of starts, though we’d encourage them to take as much time with this as they need. It is Metroid after all, and we don’t mind waiting for Samus a little longer.

Perfect Dark Zero – Although there are rumors that all of Rare is working on a sequel to PD, RareNet informs us that this simply isn’t true. Development of the game is almost certainly underway though.

How much will the GameCube System Cost?

“One of Nintendo’s primary objectives is to price the Dolphin affordably.” Howard Lincoln stressed this at the 1st Dolphin announcement, signifying that this has been one of Nintendo’s biggest goals with GameCube from the beginning.

Lincoln continued, back at E3 ’99: “While our new Dolphin hardware will be extremely powerful, it will not be expensive. It will retail at a mass market price for home video game systems.”

As a result Nintendo has structured development of the system to keep things cheap. The offical price of the GameCube is 199.99$ american.

It was hoped that the prices of both systems would be revealed at Space World 2000. This was not the case however. Instead, Nintendo announced the price just after E3 2001.

We estimate that for both systems, not including controllers or games, we’ll be looking at $300. GBA will be released first, with GameCube following in both countries as early as three months later. Time to start saving, Planeteers.

How much will GameCube Games Cost on Average?

MSRP is said to be 49.99$.

However, Nintendo seems equally dedicated to keeping prices low on games too. “I mentioned before that Dolphin's software will be competitively priced at retail,” said Lincoln at the ’99 Dolphin announcement. “Let me assure you that this is a critical objective for Nintendo.” After the high pricing of cartridge games, this is definitely some welcome news.

Can we Pre-Order the GameCube?

No, not yet. Although some retailers and online shops in the U.S. held GameCube preorders for a bit, Nintendo has asked all retailers to discontinue these unofficial pre-order programs for the time being, as the U.S. price has yet to be finalized. Nintendo assures that it will provide all retailers all necessary price and pre-order info as soon as is possible. Until then, a few places persist to take pre-orders, which may assure that you’ll secure a system on launch day, yet are not sanctioned by Nintendo. Save up ‘till spring!

How Many Controllers will come included with the GameCube system?

Unknown at this time, though obviously at least one will. To(keep the initial system price down, Nintendo will likely pack-in only one controller and sell additional controllers separately. This is pretty much the trend with new video game systems these days.

Will any Games be Packed-In with the GameCube System?

It’s very unlikely GameCube will actually come with any games. The N64 was the first Nintendo system not to debut with a pack-in game. Since then, several promotional “package deal” N64 systems have been offered with various pack-in titles. Yet these appeared later in N64’s life to attract late-adapters. Going with the growing games industry, new systems debuting with pack-ins are all but a fond memory.

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