But I want one of them...
This is the Fourth installment in an all-new ongoing feature by Olly023 that seeks to delve deep into the mind of a child when certain retro items were not retro, they were the hot new ticket in town!
Drawing mostly from personal thoughts, feelings and experiences of a much younger and less hairy Olly023, he seek's to bounce back to you, the readers, a sense of need and want for select hardware and software titles. Some vaporware, a few he has since obtained and others that fall between the lines.
This ain't no Fleetwood Mac rumour...
Rumours were rife in the years preceding the launch. Talk of it being more powerful than the PS2 and Dreamcast, talk of it running DVD’s – it was truly difficult to decipher what was true and what was false. It’s always those special moments that make pre-emptive launch details so exciting for gamers though, is it not?
Much was soon leaked about the likes of Miyamoto being all over the new console, alongside the official talk of what the hardware was actually running. We all read about the (supposedly revolutionary) Gekko CPU, Art-X CGP (with S3 compression) and MoSys 1T-SRAM. Not to mention the most exciting at the time: the Matsushita/Panasonic DVD drive! It was all seeming too good to be true, or as a youngster; downright amazing. Nintendo’s new console was going to be the most powerful in the history of everything ever. Considering the shellshock one had over the look and feel of the Dreamcast, y’know this was feeling quite epic. This Segaite would rather a ‘proper’ games company kick Sony to the curb if Sega were unable themselves (this would bite me very hard, obviously and times do indeed change).
We all knew a small list of developers had the dev kits in their possession. Most importantly, we all knew Rare was on board. Being an N64 fanboy of sorts, you can see why this peaked all kinds of interest from little ol’ moi! I mean, imagine a Goldeneye or Killer Instinct with ‘real time, ultra-realistic graphics’. Exactly!
As all of this went on, another little thing got in this kids ear. Microsoft were gonna be making their own console that would be the eventual X-Box. Quite literally being ignorant, I knew not much of it; other than the fact it was to blame for the Dolphin getting delayed into 2001. It was not long until the MXB was being touted by this same kid as the best console on the market when it launched, but that’s for a different article at a different time. Stay tuned on that one.
It was not long until we saw the promise of a Super Mario 64 sequel (that we all called Mario 128, yay for bits!), a new WaveRace, a new Zelda (one for the girls) and much more – it was looking more and more that the Dolphin was to be the only Sega alternative worth its salt.
Then the time closed in. It was inevitable that things would change by launch. The biggest of all was that wonderful name. It was now the GameCube and remember that DVD drive? Well, it was now these quirky little discs that were designed to keep prices down and combat piracy. Olly023 did not dig that. Also, the thing looked like a darned toy. Literally a purple block with a handle. Seriously, were they trolling me!? This wasn’t the Dolphin! Alas, I still held out hope…
Broken heart as Gamecube mania starts...
The continued hope was backed by that glorious demo video of 128 Mario’s running about a surface not too dissimilar from the cancelled Sonic X-Treme or the future release of Super Mario Galaxy. We all saw very exciting new exclusives such as Dinosaur Planet (that thanks to Miyamoto’s love of monies would become the mixed reviewed Starfox Adventures), Donkey Kong Racing (a sequel of sorts to one of the best kart racers ever made), etc. Not to mention after the fact we can now revel in the various unreleased Beta’s floating around online: Rare were initially building Kameo and Perfect Dark Zero for Nintendo’s Dolphin/GameCube – but we all know what happened there. There were also a selection of RPG’s for all the dorks of the land like RavenBlade and Gold Star Mountain. Undoubtedly exciting stuff that never properly saw the light of day. For shame.
I would frequently watch my demo VHS of upcoming titles I had at the time, still remaining hopeful that even at first if it wasn’t the best; it may eventually grow to be. Alas, foresight and all that. Not to say I don’t love the GameCube then and now in its own special way, it certainly has its place in my heart and in gaming history, it just feels marred from the big dreams of the Dolphin for this retrobate of RetroGameGeeks. Heck, I did do its introduction page!!
The main problem with much of what a younger Olly023 was looking forward to falling through, was that this guy started to feel less abrasive toward Sony’s equivalent. Whatever Nintendo loyalty that had steadily been built to co-exist with the Sega fandom (especially considering the far too soon demise of the Dreamcast) was decidedly dashed. For the first time, I felt video game industry disillusionment. It was a sour taste and a bitter pill to swallow. All those clichés. I didn’t like it, basically. All that was soon dashed and reversed the day my father got his Microsoft X-Box though. Again, stay tuned on that one!
The legacy of the Dolphin is clearly built within the tech and nicely referenced throughout the GameCube’s lifespan however, which remains at giving a glimpse at what could have been. The ATI Flipper, the fact DOL remains on all the serials, not so subtle references in games such as WaveRace and Mario Sunshine, etc. In fairness, much of what was to be the Dolphin did become the GameCube, but again – just not as the Olly023 of the period had wanted. What would have originally been the first console purchase ideally outside of the Dreamcast for its generation, became the third and final. There’s something strong within that.
But did I want one? Heck yes, I wanted one. To this day a Dolphin prototype (as ugly as that sucker is) is still something I would happily covet. In the build up to the launch and the aspirations I had set for it during my NOM readership days and N64 fan boyishness, I’d be a total liar to say I didn’t want one. It’s the Nintendo Dolphin, the best console they kinda but didn’t yet almost ever released. True facts.
Olly's Final Thoughts...
It was a fairly rocky road for the N2000/Project Dolphin. What was being touted as Nintendo’s return to form (which I didn’t get then, as I thought the SNES sucked and the N64 was king) and the one to push them over the edge, ended up as a surprisingly powerful yet often underwhelming console that fell straight into third place and was unable to recapture Nintendo’s prior market to the point of it being their least successful, wide-released home console (though perhaps the Wii U shall be soon taking that crown, time will tell).
It was packed with great games come launch, but its original name and hinted titles in the build up to its original release were so grand and at such dizzying heights that whatever was going to hit the shelves would never live up to the hype.
A mis-step? Maybe. A cult icon? Deffo. Did/do I want one? YES.
Can it really be? Yes, yes it can. It’s time for the 4th instalment of this particular series of articles…Why? Coz I WANT ONE!! Of course.
In this volume I (Olly023) shall be taking a look back at something I hinted at, at the end of last week’s edition. Something that was indeed released, yet not exactly as I had hoped and dreamed at the time. So strap into your Inner Space-sized DeLorean and let’s enter a time warp into a different dimension – one that is the brain of a much younger, more easily excitable and downright PS2-denying Olly023 – as we shine a light on something that wasn’t quite the initial nextgen hardware expected: the Nintendo Dolphin!!
Now if you are a member of the forum (and if you are not, why not!? Join us!) you may have spotted that in the days of the Nintendo 64, a young Olly023 was frequently found spending what little pocket money he had on video game magazines for the first time out. The most frequently bought was by far the Nintendo Official Magazine. I know, irony of a Sega guy, blah blah…Shup. It was within the pages of that thurr mag that I first come to learn about this so-called next-gen system to be released in the future by the makers of my beloved N64. With many dubbing it the N2000, it was eventually leaked to be working under the, what at least sounded to me, moniker of Project Dolphin.
Calling their next-gen system the Dolphin seemed to invoke whimsical senses of majestic fantasy. Or something. Dolphins being intelligent yet beautiful creatures (Ecco still sucks, though) seemed to go hand-in-hand with forming all these wild ideas in a young Olly023’s mind of what it could truly be representative of with the console. At the time, I was still raw from Sony and their PlayStation fiasco (a loyal youth will always see a bad guy in a situation) and it was all about the Dreamcast first and foremost. But the Project Dolphin had clearly captured my crazy games-orientated imagination, especially considering just how much I loved the N64 back then.