GameCube vs Nintendo 64: Find out Which Is Better!

Nintendo has always been one of the most prominent names in the entire video game console industry. Two of the consoles that followed the classic and popular SNES are the GameCube and the Nintendo 64, which were pioneers in their own right. There are plenty of people who love these classic consoles. However, as popular as both the GameCube and the Nintendo 64 may be, which of the two is the better game console?

Despite the fact that the GameCube was technically superior to the Nintendo 64 in almost every aspect, the console never even came close to its predecessor’s success. The Nintendo 64 was a hit console with a myriad of memorable games and a strong nostalgic hook, which is why I prefer it over the GameCube. 

Today’s article is going to be all about the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube. I am going to compare these two consoles, their hardware and architecture, finally telling you which of the two consoles is better. You are also going to find out whether you can play your Nintendo 64 games on your GameCube. Enjoy!

Nintendo 64: An overview

The Nintendo 64, named after its 64-bit main processor, is the third stationary game console from Nintendo to be released worldwide. It is the successor to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and the first game console with 64-bit architecture. It was first released on June 23, 1996 in Japan. 

As a game console, it competed mainly with the PlayStation from Sony and the Sega Saturn, but could only beat the latter console in terms of sales. 

Nintendo advertised the device for release as the fastest video game system on the market. The 64-bit architecture of the processor was particularly emphasized, as the competing consoles PlayStation and Sega Saturn had only 32-bit architectures. The actual advantages in games with the 64-bit architecture were, however, classified as marginal in the end, whereby the advantage in arithmetic calculations was noteworthy. 

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The efficiency of the processor at the time should also be emphasized, as theoretically four bytes could be processed with just one instruction. As with Nintendo’s predecessor consoles, modules (the cartridges) were used as the storage medium for the games. By saving money on an expensive CD drive, the console could be manufactured and offered more cheaply. 

Compared to the consoles from Sony and Sega, which used CD-ROMs, the cartridges offered shorter loading times, but very little storage space and were also more expensive to produce. This was reflected in the – compared to the competition – high sales prices for the games. 

The controller of the Nintendo 64, the Nintendo 64 controller, introduced a modernized, digital version of the analog stick, which has since gone out of fashion, as a major innovation, which enables more precise control, especially for 3D games. 

Another innovation was the Rumble Pak which could be plugged into the controller and which triggered vibration effects (force feedback) in certain games during special events. The analog stick and the vibration effect were adopted for the controllers of the following consoles and established themselves as a fixed standard for competing products. 

After being replaced in 2001 by the successor Nintendo GameCube, the console was still manufactured until 2003. 

GameCube: An overview

Nintendo released the GameCube with the model designation on September 14, 2001 in Japan; it was released in the West later that year. The working title was initially Dolphin; the short-term working title thereafter was Starcube, but this was discarded a little later. In May 2004, another version of the GameCube appeared, which, in addition to a few other changes, made the disc slot open faster and offered fewer connections on the back. 

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Originally developed by Nintendo with the aim of leading the company back to the top of the console manufacturer, the GameCube had to take serious setbacks when it was released. 

The sales figures were well below those of the PlayStation 2, and with Microsoft, Nintendo also had a strong new competitor, especially in the USA, Nintendo’s traditionally strongest market. Another problem after the sales figures became known as the poor support from other manufacturers. 

This led to a further decline in sales; into the third year, the sales of the Nintendo GameCube and the Xbox were roughly the same. However, from 2004 onwards, Nintendo GameCube sales dropped within a few months. 

Independent developers no longer gave the console exclusive titles and Nintendo itself was busy developing games for the new handheld console, the Nintendo DS, which was introduced in late 2004. The result was a prolonged software lull from mid-2004 until the appearance of the successor console, the Wii; new games continued to appear only sparsely. 

To date, Nintendo has sold around 21.74 million units of the GameCube – a lot less than the competing consoles from Sony and Microsoft. According to Nintendo, the console is considered a flop. 

Offshoots of many well-known Nintendo-exclusive game series, such as Donkey KongThe Legend of Zelda and Super Mario, have appeared on the GameCube. In addition, some completely new game series were created, such as B. Pikmin and Nintendo also revived the Metroid series with Metroid Prime 1 and 2

Production of the console ceased in 2007. 

Nintendo 64 vs GameCube: The differences

In this section, I am going to present the differences between these two consoles in table form, based on certain categories. Here are the differences: 

CategoryNintendo 64GameCube
CPU cores11
CPU speed0.09 GHz0.49 GHz
RAM memory4 MB43 MB
CPU modelN/A1 Core 485 MHz PowerPC “Gekko”
CPU nameN/AATI “Flipper”
Supported resolutionsN/A480 p, 576 p
Controller featuresMemory Card slotVibration
Number of joysticksSingleDual 
Directional padYesYes
Alternative controllerNoNo
Connection methodWiredWired
Number of supported wireless controllersN/A4
Backward compatibilityNoNo
Type of media supportedCartridge / cassetteMini-DVD
Surround decoderN/AYes
Video formats supportedN/A480 p, 576 p
Number of USB inputsNone2
Component outputNoYes
Number of connection ports44

The conclusion, in terms of technical aspects, the GameCube was a significant improvement from the Nintendo 64, based on these specs:

  • 262 more games available
  • 5.23x faster CPU speed
  • 21MB more RAM memory
  • 30mm thinner
  • 111mm narrower
  • 1 more analog sticks
  • Supports connectivity between home and portable devices
  • 1 more button
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Nintendo 64 vs GameCube: Which is better?

As far as pure technical specifications and ease of use are concerned, the GameCube is a far better console than the Nintendo 64, which is expected since it’s a newer generation console. It has a bigger CPU speed, more RAM and had more additions than the Nintendo 64. In that aspect, getting a GameCube was certainly a better option tech-wise. 

Yet, you don’t hear people talking about the GameCube a lot, do you? The reason behind this is the fact that the GameCube was a commercial flop by all standards! The Nintendo 64, although later overshadowed by the PlayStation, was a very popular console and it has an enormous legacy, unlike the GameCube, which is almost completely forgotten. 

The nostalgia that surrounds the Nintendo 64 is enormous and its overall legacy is something one cannot ignore. The GameCube is a console that has not passed the test of time, despite the better hardware and being up to date with the contemporary trends. This is why I would rather own and re-play a Nintendo 64 than a GameCube, despite the latter’s technical superiority. 

Can you play Nintendo 64 games on your GameCube?

The answer to this question is quite simple – no, you cannot play your old Nintendo 64 games on the GameCube. Why? Well, when Nintendo released the GameCube, they completely changed the architecture of the console, following Sony’s concept of using game discs instead of cartridges. This is why the GameCube only had a disc port and not a cartridge port, like the Nintendo 64. 

Since all Nintendo 64 games are saved on cartridges, they cannot be played on the GameCube, as you’d have nowhere to insert them, since the GameCube uses discs. I suppose you’d have to find a game that was released for both consoles; in any other scenario, we don’t have good news for you.