Here is some various information about the GameCube console.GameCube models
There are apparently several revisions of the GameCube hardware sold in the US:
Nintendo acknowledges that removing the digital A/V connector was a cost-cutting measure; as a very small percentage of their target audience actually owns the hardware necessary to make use of it. I would imagine this is the same reasoning behind removing the serial port 2 connector. Don't worry, the Gameboy Player and Broadband Adapter use different ports which are still present in current models.A/V Options
The GameCube has an analog A/V and digital A/V connector, which provide the following:
Analog A/V Out
The GameCube ships with a "Stereo A/V Cable" which has composite and stereo audio RCA plugs. Nintendo also makes a S-Video cable which is sold separately. In my experience, original and 3rd-party SNES "Stereo A/V Cable" and S-Video cables work fine with the GameCube. Nintendo also sells an adapter to get RF output from the GameCube, using the analog A/V connector.
Nintendo kept the RGB output intact for PAL GameCubes beacuse most European video hardware supports RGB through the widely-used SCART connector. In North America and Japan, the RGB connection type is not standardized, and 9-pin, 21-pin, 25-pin, and BNC connector interfaces all exist. In Japan the 21-pin type of connector somewhat more prevalent.
Digital A/V Out
The component video cable has no audio outputs, you'll need to use the "Stereo A/V Cable" (packaged with the GameCube) in conjunction for sound.
The GameCube always boots up in 15KHz mode, and will switch to 31KHz (e.g. 480p, progressive-scan) if the 'B' button is held down during the boot sequence, and if the game supports a progressive scan display too. As far as I know this is only available from the component / RGB video output from the digital A/V port. RGB video from the Analog A/V port of a PAL GameCube is fixed at 15KHz (480i, interlaced) output only.Playing Imports
There are several solutions for playing import games on a US GameCube.
You can use the Datel "Freeloader" disc, which is booted first, then allows you to load a regular GameCube disc afterwards. This can be tedious to do every single time you run a game, and I don't know how this interferes with using cheat discs like the Action Replay.
A switch can be installed that changes the system territory from US to Japanese when enabled. GameSX has detailed instructions abuot doing this.
Adding a switch involves disassembling the GameCube, removing the heat sink (something of an issue as this pulls off some of the thermal paste / grease from the Flipper and Gekko ICs, which will need replacing) and the actual jumpers that will be soldered to are very small.
National Console Support offers pre-modified GameCube systems with a switch installed professionally. This costs $139, so you pay $40 over the retail price for the switch installation. You do get the assurance of having a tested and working system. My review of their work follows:
A large red pushbutton switch is placed under the left of the carrying handle, opposite to the A/V and power connectors. It is securely fastened and does not feel loose. At first the button looks clumsy, but it provides a lot of tactile response so you can easily tell which position it is in without having to turn the GameCube around to look at it. There was a little bit of plastic left over around the switch hole which maybe should have been removed beforehand, but other than that NCS did a very good job.GameBoy Player
The GameBoy Player plugs into the Hi Speed Port connector and does not obscure any of the other ones (so you can keep your 56K modem or BBA attached). The GBP contains the guts of a GameBoy Advance with some glue logic to interface it to the GameCube. As such, it is compatible with nearly all of the GBA, GBC, and GB library, with a few exceptions.
There are two modes for scaling up the display to fit in more of the TV area. The largest setting looks quite nice, and there are no visible artefacts from scaling. However, the largest setting is intended for a GBA sized display; GBC and GB games have a smaller screen and even with the largest scale setting, still are rather small and could be scaled up more. I think the GBP software cannot distinguish between a GBA and GBC/GB game, so to compensate the designers limited the scale options. Bad idea. But the GBC/GB screen is big enough, playing games with fine detail such as Metal Gear Solid are much easier than on a real GBC.
One oddity that arises is that the GameCube can only output an interlaced display, whereas the GBA screen is not interlaced. This causes some problems when moving around graphics at 60 FPS, you can see 'tearing' between the lines of adjacent frames. To compensate, the GBP software has three filters: Sharp (no filtering), Normal (some interpolation between two frames) and Soft (heavy interpolation, makes everything blurry). The Normal filter is ideal for using high quality monitors (e.g. S-Video through a Sony Trinitron) but for your standard run-of-the-mill televisions, they are blurry enough that Sharp looks better.
A boot disc has to be inserted for the GameCube to play a GBA/GBC/GB cartridge. Controller and video settings are saved to a memory card, but the controller button mapping options are extremely limited. None of the Super GameBoy borders or extended color / sound features are supported.
There is an issue with re-inserting a game if the contacts are dirty and the 'Nintendo' check fails. You have to enter the menu (press Z), select the change cartridge option, confirm you want to do this, and finally re-seat the cartridge. It seems the GBP software can't detect this (startup check failure) but at least a faster way to change cartridges would help. On the flip side you can change cartridges without having to turn the GameCube off, which is marginally convenient as the GBP boot-up time is very short. If you eject a cartridge without selecting the 'change cartridge' item, the GBP software displays a warning and forces you to cycle the power.
If Nintendo decides to make an improved version of the GBP software, here's my wish list of features:
Currently the only way to run your own software on the GameCube is to exploit a bug in the networking code for Sega's Phantasy Star Online Ep. I & II, through the Broadband Adapter (BBA). Windows and Mac-hosted cross-compilers targeting the PowerPC exist, so you can develop software in C or C++. I've written a tutorial about getting set up for development in a Windows '98 environment.Documentation