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Alive 5

    Once a ruler of the  gaming industry, Nintendo has lost a lot of its golden
reputation over the  last years. This was mainly  due to  their latest failure,
namely  the  Nintendo  64. While all other  competitors of the time, Saturn and
PSX, had opted for CD support, Nintendo went  on stubbornly with cartridges. It
increased the games prices and  surely drained away  many developers. God knows
how Nintendo still managed to be the industry king with their devilish Pokemon.
Actually each - spooky ! - game based upon the evil creatures sold + 10 million
copies in the world !

    This time, they are willing to claim for the throne SONY has been jealously
keeping since their PSX and -now PS2- have brought them an  almost monopolistic
status. Even before  Nintendo's GAMECUBE was  out in Japan and US, gamers  felt
history would  repeat  as announce  was spread that, unlike  PS2 or Xbox, their
console would read neither  CDs nor  DVDs !! Actually they  opted for minidvds.
Time will tell if that was another stupid idea or not...

Before Getting My Hands On The Beast 

    I had already enjoyed many videos and snapshots  of NGC games (for Nintendo
GameCube) and since there was that awesome Star Wars game, I decided to make it
a birthday present to my best friend (hey, don't you think I AM the best friend
ever ? :). Tho he  was born in  early June, I could NOT take the chance to miss
the first wave of NGCs made available on May 3rd (official release in Europe).

    Nintendo played it  very  smartly  as some  weeks before  release, they had
published a free guide that presented over 100 NGC games including the gorgeous
Resident  Evil  Rebirth (yummy !). Another  good surprise  came from  the  last
minute drop in the console  price, making it the  cheapest of all, only costing
199 euros (instead of  announced 249). Even now  with the Xbox impressive price
cut, NGC is  still  100 euros  cheaper than  its rivals ! Also games  are  much
cheaper than PS2 or XBOX, average NGC prices being 59.99 euros.

   Okay so here I am, waiting for the supermarket nearby to open :) There isn't
a single customer in the  video games  alley !? Anyway let's go  to the counter
and ask for GAMECUBE : "sure Sir we have some, do you  want to buy one ?". Sure
I do ! Knowing that most NGC had been booked weeks before, I still  wonder if I
didn't "steal"  someone  console... Shit happens poor guy :) I also  grabbed  a
copy of Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2 : Rogue Leager and happily went back to bed.

NGC Features

   Here's the  purple box ! (also  available in black). First thing is that the
machine is sooooooooo small. Exact sizes are  161mm*150mm*110mm and only weighs
2.4 Kgs  while  heavy  weight Xbox reaches  4 kgs ! There are  four pads slots,
making it a multiplayer platform unlike PS2. Main  processor is an IBM Power PC
running at 405 Mhz  against 295Mhz for PS2 and  733Mhz for Xbox. Ram is of 43Mb
divided into several units. Last but not least it offers 64 channels sound. The
pad is small and perfectly fits hands unlike the huge  and awkward Xbox one. Of
course this controller features two analog 'muhsrooms' and includes vibrations.

   Erm yep you guessed  right : I  couldn't wait a  full month  with a GameCube
lying in my closet :( Hey I just wanted to  make sure it ran  perfectly :) So I
opened the box and found the usual content : the NGC, one controller, video and
power cables and some documentation I didn't open  for logical purpose. I was a
bit disappointed - tho not surprised - to see that there was no demo included.

   The machine really looks nice, small and so light ! Get connected, and power
on ! You are greeted with  an introduction  screen with the  now usual NGC logo
rotating on  screen. The main menu offers the  usual stuff like settings, saved
games, run game and so on... Nothing  new but it looks  nice anyway  with cubic
shapes all around with sharp edges and smooth colors.

Start The Game Sucker !

   Yeah I had to check the game as well :) Oki let's grab that tiny DVD and run
it. Shortly after a happy tune started while imperial guards went tap dancing !
No, I wasn't drunk ! Soon after a huge and beautiful X-wing flies by and... hey
the makers of Star Wars Rogue  Squadron 2 are no more than  FACTOR 5, makers of
the TURRICAN series !!! Coolness !

   Loading is almost reduced to zero and we reach the main menu with the usual
sections such  as new game, load, options, bonus, blabla. In the background an
FMV excerpt from the first Star  Wars trilogy is  running, waouh ! Btw in case
you didn't know, this  game is  actually based  on the first - and only really
worth - trilogy !

   Let's start shooting at  Tie Fighters ! I completely  skipped the training
level and went directly to the first mission : Death Star Attack ! At first I
was a bit  disappointed by  video quality, in  spite of the  million polygons
shown, as antialiasing created  some glitches :( Like  PS2 and Xbox  you  are
strongly invited to buy a decent RGB cable  and get rid of that crappy scart.
Anyway it looks really nice !!!

   There are tons of  polygons moving all around  as you make your way thru the
many lasers  trying to  get you down. You can  switch from internal to external
view with a simple button. Other buttons  allow you to move around, speed up or
slow down, use primary  or secondary  weapon, use  some radar, spin  around  or
simply look  around  you. Last but  not  least, the arrow  pad is  used to send
orders to your fellow fighters and don't underestimate this feature or the game
will turn to hell ! Time for some snap :

uh? CiH's Ascii is getting pretty impressive !

   Controls are pretty easy and you quickly get into action : fly around and
destroy defense towers. Once done, you'll have to  face several waves of tie
fighters and  that's when your  radar proves useful (don't overuse it tho as
it'll give you fewer points at the end of the mission).

   Every little detail is highly polished and everything's smooth. Add a good
amplifier and enjoy the 5.1 sound system that sends sounds  in FIVE different
directions. It's almost like being at the movies !

   The game plays mostly like arcade, still you will have plenty to do ! If the
first mission  comes quite  easily, the following are  trickier especially when
they're set in outer space. Then you'll fully understand the word '3D' as ships
will be flying around in all directions.

   Technically speaking, the game shows how powerful NGC is ! All objects are
made of an amazing number of polygons and except for a few antialiasing hints,
it really  looks  movie-like. Next missions  will bring you back on  Oth where
you'll defeat the 4 legs  walkers of the  Empire (AT-ST or  something ??). The
whole game perfectly retraces the first trilogy.

   I don't know about how  long it may take to  complete the game. It's said to
be composed of 10 missions only and really  we completed about 6 in a couple of
days. But hey if you want to earn gold medals you'll have to play like a jedi !
Actually we never got  such medal :( Too bad because you'll need them to unlock
secret stages, ships (Falcon Millenium if anyone interested ? :) and bonus such
as credits and game commentaries.

Bottom Line

   NGC rocks ! It's  small and  handy (cute too :). Sure there are not  so many
games so far but if you're a Star  Wars fan, there's only ONE game you need and
guess what ? Yeah it's Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2 : Rogue Leader ! I was really
impressed by the quality of 3D, sound, and details. Even though it may be short
to finish (well we went thru the first missions quite easily but had no medals)
it's a unique experience. At last  we have a game  worth of the trilogy ! Isn't
that a  reason good  enough to buy  NGC ? I think so (even tho  I'm still happy
with my good old DC :).

------------------------------------------------------------------- STS ------ 

Alive 5