In terms of units sold, it’s no secret that the GameCube was one of Nintendo’s poorest performing home consoles. You could argue increased competition meant sales of the quirky little machine were destined to fall short of the system’s legendary predecessors, but that didn’t keep the Wii from outselling it by a factor of five a few years later. Still, enough incredible games were released for the GameCube that the system still enjoys a considerable fanbase.
Now, with the release of PicoBoot by [webhdx], we suspect the GameCube is about to gain a whole new generation of fans. With just a Raspberry Pi Pico, some jumper wires, and a widely available third-party SD card adapter, this open source project bypasses the console’s original BIOS so it can boot directly into whatever homebrew application the user selects. With how cheap and easy to perform this modification is, we wouldn’t be surprised if it kicked off something of a renaissance for GameCube homebrew development.
In the video after the break, [Tito] of Macho Nacho Productions provides a rundown of this new project, including a fantastic step-by-step installation guide that covers everything from soldering the jumper wires to the console’s motherboard to getting the firmware installed on the Pico. He then demonstrates booting the console into various community developed front-ends and tools, showing just how versatile the modification is. While some will see this as little more than an easier way to run bootleg games, we can’t help but be excited about what the future holds now that getting your own code to run on the system is so easy.
Alright, maybe it’s not so easy. To solder on the five wires that will eventually snake their way to the GPIO pins of the Pi Pico, you’ll need to strip the console all the way down to the main board. That wouldn’t be too bad itself, but unfortunately to reach two of the connections you’ll need to remove the system’s massive heatsink — which means you’ll need to clean up the old sticky thermal pads and apply new ones if you don’t want your GameCube to turn into a GameCrisp. It’s nothing that would scare off the average Hackaday reader, but it might give pause to those less handy with an iron.
The release of PicoBoot comes hot on the heels of the revelation that the Raspberry Pi Pico can be used not only as an N64 flash cart but as a supercharged PlayStation Memory Card. These projects would all be significantly improved with a custom RP2040 board, and no doubt that’s the direction they’ll eventually head, but it’s hard not to be impressed by what the low-cost microcontroller development board is capable of in its native form. Especially now that it comes in WiFi flavor.