Some Never Before Seen (On Video) Gamecube Development Hardware

I recently had the opportunity to take a look at some very interesting Gamecube development hardware that for the most part is undocumented and relative unknown.  So I wanted to make a video showcasing these items for future posterity an shed some light on these mysterious devices.  Everything that I showcased in the video was very kindly sent to me from an avid collector named Andrew.  He sent over three distinct pieces of development hardware:  The NPDP-GW (Gangwriter), NPDP-WIF (PCI Card), and a NPDP Cartridge.  All these items worked together in a developer environment to make the games we played for the Gamecube which is pretty remarkable.


The WIF is a PCI card that would, not surprising, be installed inside of a PC.  This was used to interface with other development hardware, which in this specific case is the NPDP-GW.  Once a developer/programer was ready to have the latest build of their game tested, they would need to distribute copies of it for debugging, quality control, or other testing.  So with the NPDP-WIF installed in their computer and connected to the NPDP-GW, they can transfer their latest build to multiple NPDP Cartridges for distribution.

NPDP-GW (Gangwriter):

This device is a rather large appliance (about the size of a PC tower) that has eight bays, meaning it can copy to eight NPDP Cartridges simultaneously.  This is well suited for larger studios who would need to make many copies of their games for internal distribution.  Now on its own, the GW is essentially a large paperweight, like much of the equipment that I’m discussing.  It needs NPDP-WIF PCI Card in order to function and also a NPDP Cartridge to write to.

NPDP Cartridge:

The NPDP Cartridge is a unique storage media.  And even though it is a “cartridge” it ironically does not utilize solid state storage, but rather a 2.5″ IDE Hard Drive.  The capacity is only 6,007MB, but for it’s purpose, that’s more than enough.  It has 4 separate partitions allowing you to store different software on each.  In the case of the NPDP Cart that I showed in the video, it contained builds of two different games (Worms 3D and Freestyle Street Soccer) as well as a QA Tool for memory cards.

Now in the video, I also disassembled each of these devices to get a closer look at how they worked, as well as what sort of hardware they use.  Definitely check out the video if you’re curious about what makes these devices tick.

Also, a fun trivia fact that I learned (and I couldn’t find anywhere online) is what the heck does “NPDP” stand for.  Based on folks with more knowledge on the topic than me, it apparently stands for “Nintendo Pseudo Disc Pack” which actually kind of makes sense.  Remember how I said that the NPDP Cart has four internal memory partitions?  Perhaps each of those partitions represents a Gamecube disc so all together they represent a “Disc Pack” so to speak.  And since they aren’t real discs, but rather disc images on a hard drive, you could say they are “Pseudo Discs”.  Anyway, I thought that was also an intersting bit of information.

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