The Problem with the GameCube and Tiny DVDs

Ever wondered why Nintendo decided to use the Mini-DVD format for the GameCube? I sure as hell have. I could understand if the system were smaller than a DVD, but that isn’t the case. They didn’t even use the opportunity to package their games in a smaller case that fits better on a shelf. They limited the system’s potential along multiple lines for (to me, at least) seemingly unknowable reasons. One such example is losing out on larger, more complex games and CD and DVD playback. I know people that still use their PS2 as a DVD player.

mini dvds

They are kinda cute…

We can’t regain long lost features, but there are other benefits to having the ability to spin full size discs. Mini DVDs are comparatively expensive and the GameCube can be picky about the types of disc it will read. So if you want to run homebrew or backup your ever-increasingly expensive GCN games, you’ll be peeling your lid off or trying to source a lid replacement on eBay. I know other options exist that read from SD cards, but there’s something visceral about popping in a disc, hitting the power button, and grabbing your controller. My goal is to create a fully printable lid replacement for the GameCube that is easy to install and allows for the play of full size DVDs.

gamebox 3000

This is what I’m trying to save us from.

Thankfully, the GameCube has only 4 screws attaching the top lid. These screws are Nintendo’s famous security screw – larger size (keep that in mind if you’re looking to open your ‘Cube). That gave me some confidence taking on this project. The inside of this thing has a lot of strange angles that had to be replicated as closely as possible to ensure a good fit. This was a lot more complicated than I thought. At 14 hours per print on draft settings, you can see how just a few iterations on the design can add up to days or weeks. I take for granted how well the stuff we use every day is designed.

Gamecube DVD mod

Uhh… What did you do with the handle?

After many revisions and updates, I finally have something that I’m okay with using. Everything seems to be in the right place and there’s no rattling when shaken, which I consider to be a major win. I have tested this design and found absolutely nothing wrong with the operation. As you may have noticed from the image, however, we’re missing our hat. The cover to conceal the drive cavity was a bit of an afterthought for me: I was just so excited to have something that fit. A cover solution is incoming. Coming up with something elegant that doesn’t require screws, bolts, or springs has been fruitless. It’s been suggested to use a kettle-like lid.

gcn lid model

More to come

I will be looking for inspiration to solve my little dilemma. It may be something as simple as a flip-top lid. Just enough to stop the ingress of dust, which will keep the spinny-parts and laser in good condition. The options for full size DVD fans on the GameCube are bad right now and only getting worse the further it is from the present. I expect to make this model available soon for people like me that need a low-cost solution to getting their backup library started. So we can all preserve our beloved copies of Smash Bros Melee.