Speculating over the Original Intentions Behind the Gamecube’s Hi-Speed Port

March 10th, 2008

hi speed port gamecube

Got a GameCube? Ever wondered what that Hi-Speed port on the bottom of the Cube was really all about? You know this one:

hi-speed port gamecube location

Back around the time the Gamecube and it’s hardware specifications were first being shown off at E3 2001 Nintendo stated that the Hi-Speed port was basically a port for any console add-ons or peripherals down the track and that for the time being they weren’t sure what any of these expansions may be. I can’t remember exactly but I believe that the default assumption was that it would be similar to the Nintendo 64’s Memory Expansion port which later housed the Expansion Pak. That is, some sort of additional processing power for the console.

Eventually a year and a half later Nintendo released the GameBoy Player which was the only such peripheral to ever take advantage of this port. Which kinda makes me a little suspect as to what Nintendo were originally planning to use the port for. So I’ve thrown together some ideas of my own which I think would have been realistic of Nintendo and the hardware, feasible as well as useful for the consumer.

CPU or RAM Upgrade

Much like the N64’s Expansion Pak the Hi-Speed port would have likely been some sort of small upgrade to the system to give it an added advantage in whatever Nintendo could have considered the Gamecube was lacking.

There are two reasons why I believe this is likely firstly Nintendo’s history with expanding a consoles hardware. With the Super Nintendo they used a series of chip upgrades to the game cartridges and with the Nintendo 64 they had the expansion pak, so a further opportunity to upgrade their platform’s hardware is logically sound. Secondly the name Hi-Speed gives the hint that whatever plugs into it will add “speed” or power to the console.

Harddrive

Remember the Memory Card 59s and how annoying they were? Then Nintendo finally released the 251 followed by the 1019 and finally the 2043. It is so ridiculous and confusing. You know that they messed up because they kept on releasing games with free memory cards. In anycase a portable harddrive would have solved all of these problems.

Judging from my own perception, from the size of the Hi-Speed compartment and the technology back 5 years ago a small 128mb harddrive would have definitely been feasible . That is equivalent to a Memory Card 2043 by the way.

Obviously Nintendo didn’t put much effort into putting the Gamecube online so really the harddrive would have just been an “invisible” storage unit (rather then used to store additional content). Which isn’t such a bad idea for someone like myself whom has roughly 6 GameCube Memory cards. Once again this one is quite likely, firstly because Nintendo had the issue of memory card storage and secondly because the Hi-Speed port was a Parallel port which is old technology used (superseded by USB technology) for floppy disks, portable harddrives etc.

DVD Player

panasonic q gamecube dvd playerThis is another technology new to Nintendo which often conflicted them. On one hand Nintendo didn’t want a DVD player for the Gamecube but on the other it released the Panasonic Q in Japan which was a metallic, silver Gamecube with a small LCD screen and DVD player.

This is where I believe a DVD player add on could have been in the works. Nintendo has a good relationship with Matsushita and had plenty of reasons to include a DVD player. The main reason being that people liked the idea of having a “free” DVD player with their console. I believe that if this one was to have taken off then it would had a similar design to the GB Player.

Wii-like Peripherals

Yes, yes we do like peripherals. Or so I believe Iwata-San (back then he had just overthrown replaced Hiroshi Yamuachi) was saying. This one is going to be difficult to prove because I can’t quite remember it myself. But I vaguely remember that once before when questioned about N5 (the code name for the Wii) Iwata stated that he wanted to add further life into the Gamecube with additional peripherals.

There is a relationship here and I hope that you have spotted it. ^_^

Basically these peripheral never really were released on the Gamecube (you could say otherwise with the microphone, bongos etc) and migrated over to the Wii. The Wii Zapper, Balance Board and even the Wii mote itself are all examples of what these Gamecube peripherals could have originally intended to be. It does make a lot of sense. Hence I believe that this would have been another likely idea being kicked around over at NCL. Now if only I could back that claim up. ><

  • Badazz

    There were a few uses for the highspeed port. There was a high speed peripheral that could plug into this port. There were a couple games that utilized the online feature. They were the Phantasy Star Online games. Other than that, the only other game that I can think of that used it was Mario Kart, and it only used it for LAN connection of consoles.

  • Hey Badazz, thanks for the comment.

    Can you add a bit more information about this ‘high speed peripheral’ as I’m unfamiliar with it. As far as I know the Gameboy Player is the only peripheral to utilize the port.

    The LAN/Online games utilized the Serial Ports underneath the Hi-speed port (left – broadband adaptor, right – dial up adaptor).

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  • The online adapter did fit right in there if I remember. Haven’t used it for while. Only really used it for homebrew development actually. A great little machine for that!

  • well done, guy

  • Hector F.

    The “(J)acks”: 1 and 2 are (O)pen and may-be used for using the GC as a home CPU. The GC still today be used for designing games in the “test & check” phase II-III of hardware “disc” production. Visual video out-put to secondary components, data transfer of game to a burner, another CPU and these feats are easily accomplished with not just a pin illustration but with bridge circuitry. Not accomplished by the shade tree mechanic.

    Long live the GC