Saturday, April 28, 2012

6 Practical Everyday Uses for Your Gamecube

Ah, the Nintendo Gamecube. Misunderstood and under-appreciated in it's day, and quickly overshadowed by it's slightly more likeable younger brother Wii. This was truly an entertaining system with a rather impressive catalog of exclusives. I can't count the number of hours wasted playing games such as Super Smash Bros. Melee, Resident Evil 4, and Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Despite it's excellent library, the Gamecube lived a rather short life and enjoyed rather underwhelming sales. As a result, it died shortly after the Wii was released. Many games initially slated for the Cube, such as Super Paper Mario and Donkey Kong Barrel Blast, also ended up getting moved to the Wii in the interest of higher sales volumes. By 2007, the system was left with a slow trickle of mediocre kids games and sports titles, with Madden 08 being the last official title.

Considering this, it doesn't look like there's much left to do aside from aftermarket game shopping. Thanks to the efforts of many creative minds within the Nintendo hacking scene, however, there's many unintended and interesting uses for your obsolete console.

Today I'm here to happily present to you 6 practical, everyday uses in which the Gamecube can once again shine like it's mid-2001. Are you ready?

6.) Make it an artistic expression.

 If you have a good eye and some experience with vinyl dye, I strongly encourage you to break out your old Cube and turn it into a colorful creation derived from your own unique tastes. If you're good enough, you could probably even start selling your works as art. Hell, I'd buy from someone that could make a good enough two-tone black and white case for mine.

5.) Gut it and make creative use of the case.
(credits to EMDF on DeviantArt for making a lunchbox!)

The Gamecube has always jokingly been called a lunchbox, and I've personally always thought about buying a broken one with the intent of gutting the faulty hardware and turning it into one. Add in a gutted Gameboy Player and you've got yourself a rather sturdy and fashionable lunchbox with a built-in icepack.

It would also come in handy as a cup holder, a pencil sharpener (ports 1-4, anyone?), or a custom iPod speaker dock.

4.) Learn how to program for it's hardware!

Think you're level-headed enough to write programs? Better yet, are you by any chance interested in game programming? If you do, the Gamecube could be a great start for you. At this point, it's very inexpensive to get a working development setup. Unless you're plan on creating a high-budget game with realistic graphics, the hardware should be able to run whatever you throw at it. Just bear in mind, it only has 24MB of memory, so you might have to be a little creative once in awhile. ;)

3.) Game hacking (may require 3rd party tools)

(credits to Tsukimaru on the Smash Boards for this awesome SSBM texture hack!)

I'm not encouraging piracy here. This is written under the impression that the reader has dumped his games and is using legal tools to modify them.

Depending on the popularity of the game, there may be many tools available to extract and modify the contents of one of your favorite games. From textures to models to audio to any random bits of data understood by foreign tools, it is your playground. Feel free to build as many sandcastles as you'd like to.

Some games also have rather nice built-in emulators. If you dump the rom of your choice, you may very well be able to swap it out with a little bit of research. ;)

2.) Turn it into a retro game depository (requires 3rd party tools)
The Gamecube homebrew scene was at a slow, steady pace for many years. Initially, it was rather difficult to run unsigned code on it's hardware, as it required an original copy of PSO I+II, a BBA, and a dedicated PC. It was much more costly to hack and more complex to program for when compared to the likes of the Xbox or Dreamcast, which both had thriving homebrew scenes at the time.

Around 2008, however, it picked up quite a lot of steam, thanks in part to it's younger brother's similar hardware. Before the days of the Twilight hack and the Homebrew Channel, the only way to run unsigned code was through running SD Media Launcher or Freeloader in NGC mode.While Nintendo eventually blocked these tools from booting through firmware updates, hackers found their way into the main part of the hardware as they originally intended to.

As the Wii scene grew, the Gamecube got to jump on it's bandwagon and enjoy a rebirth of sorts. In many instances, homebrew releases get ported to both platforms. Today, the console enjoys a wide variety of emulators: NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, and even Nintendo 64!

1.) Turn your Gamecube into an Ultra-Portable Media Center!
Thanks to it's small form factor and it's networking and media card compatibilities, the Gamecube is a rather nice choice for a UPMC. Thanks to the team porting MediaPlayer CE over from the Wii and the past efforts of those who retooled Gamecube Linux into a media-based OS, we now have the ability to do much more with our systems than Nintendo had originally intended.

It would also be an inexpensive alternative for a more entertaining car dashboard considering the vast array of 3rd party accessories geared towards it's mobility. Imagine the cost of tracking down a small LCD monitor, a Freeloader disc, a cigarette lighter AC adapter, and a Memory Card -> SD Adapter.

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