|Nintendo GameCube Special Edition|
|Home Theater Accessories Game Systems|
|Written by Bryan Dailey|
|Sunday, 01 June 2003|
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Playing the games
As of this review, there are over 360 games listed on the official Nintendo website for the GameCube, and by this holiday season, that number will certainly be well over 400. As you first pop one of the tiny game discs into the GameCube and press the power button, you can’t help but be impressed that this diminutive system is capable of such beautiful graphics, even without using the component video cables. The GameCube logo that precedes each game is bright, vibrant and rock-solid on the screen of my 36-inch Sony XBR television monitor. I hooked up the GameCube through one of the video inputs on my Kenwood VR-5700 receiver and despite the fact that the GameCube does not come with a 5.1 digital audio output, the Dolby Pro Logic II that is on most of the game does a more than adequate job of making you feel like you are in the middle of the action. The Playstation II features DTS sound as an option, something I’d love to see on the GameCube.
“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater III” was the first disc I fired up and I’m certainly glad that I’ve already honed my skating skills on “Pro Skater III” for the Playstation II. After quickly figuring out which buttons on the GameCube correspond to the PS2 controller, I was shredding it up in skateparks, factories, schools and anything I could get my hands (or board) on. Jackass fans will have fun skating with Bam Margera, one of the stars of the MTV show and recently-released feature film. He’s got some serious street moves and actually looks like himself in the game, as do most of the professional skaters, thanks to the GameCube’s crisp graphics.
Having played “Pro Skater III” on the Xbox, PS2 and the GameCube, I have to say that the GameCube version looks and plays as good as the other systems. It also benefits from fast loading times. The GameCube is very quick to load levels into RAM and to switch back to the main menus when asked to do so. In the end, it’s very hard to tell the difference between the PS2 version and the GameCube version, which I consider a small victory for the lower-priced GameCube. The GameCube edition looks as good, plays as good, the game was $15 in the store and any differences between the game play in the two formats were essentially nonexistent.
If you have more spare time than you know what do to with, you may want to give “The Legend of Zelda: The Windwalker” a try. Every Nintendo system has had at least one version of “Zelda” and it goes without saying that “Windwalker,” using the GameCube’s power and large disc capacity, is by far the biggest and most ambitious of the series. This game has a very slow beginning, as do most adventure games of this nature. Nintendo’s game designers have developed a clever way of using the first level of their games to actually train the game player how to actually play the game. This is great for those of you who do not like to read instruction manuals, although it can be a bit annoying to be spoon-fed tasks and commands rather that just getting right into the game if you are a more advanced player.
With bright, bold colors and a look that is more anime than the past “Zelda” games, “Windwalker” has smoothly scrolling graphics and an unbelievably vast lineup of creatures to fight, riddles to solve and lands to explore that will keep kids and adults busy for weeks if not months, depending on your gaming prowess. The characters and backgrounds may be a little too “Pokemon”-looking for adults to take seriously, but if you have kids who are into adventure games and solving puzzles, you’ll definitely want to look into “The Windwalker.”
Up next is my personal favorite GameCube game, “Metroid Prime.” Based on the incredible side-scrolling Nintendo game for the original system, “Metroid” has been given the 360-degree, 3D treatment on the GameCube and the results are stunning on this first-person shooter. “Metroid” has the same basic game-play style as “Doom,” “Quake” and other PC games but has the Nintendo touch to it that makes it more than just an endless kill fest. Puzzles must be solved, strategy must be used and patience is a necessity as you wander through the deepest, darkest reaches of outer space in at attempt to save the universe. It becomes sensory overload as bizarre-looking monsters flood the screen, attacking you from every direction, but the GameCube handled the onscreen action better than the technically more powerful Xbox on the comparably busy “Star Wars” sci-fi game “Obi-Wan.”
Many games are available for all three major systems, but it is the original Nintendo franchise games that set the GameCube apart from the rest. If you have been playing “Super Mario Brothers” for years and want to keep up with the adventures of Mario and Luigi, you aren’t going to be able to with an Xbox or a PS2. “Zelda,” “Donkey Kong” and “Metroid” are just some of the other Nintendo originals that aren’t available on the other platforms. As you might have guessed, these are some of the titles that are geared towards younger children, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a young ‘un to enjoy the GameCube. Nintendo built their empire without having to create many violent shoot 'em up games and the tradition continues on the GameCube.
Speaking of violent shoot ‘em up’s, the next game I popped into the GameCube was the WWII simulation game “Medal of Honor: Frontline.” This game is available on virtually every current game system, as well as for Macintosh and PC computers. The opening mission, storming the beach at Normandy, is exceeded in intensity only by Steven Spielberg’s opening scene in “Saving Private Ryan.” As you move your soldier through the game, diving into bunkers, sneaking onto submarines and shooting Nazi soldiers with a sniper rifle, this game will give you flashbacks, even if you have never engaged in real-live combat. The GameCube’s processor easily handles the graphic duties of this complex game. As enemies off in the horizon fire their weapons, small flickers and puffs of smoke rise up in the air with incredible detail. With the long-range sniper gun, you can zoom in on guards in their watchtowers, see them going about their duties, then with amazing accuracy, you can quietly pick them off one by one as you move from building top to building top. The game has already inspired one sequel and I would not be surprised to see more games using the same internal architecture, perhaps “Medal of Honor: Operation Iraqi Freedom.”