Two enthusiast developed projects on the GameCube—GC Loader and Swiss—have released important updates over the last month that work together to enable exciting new functionality for fans of the lil’ purple lunchbox.
GC Loader—an optical drive emulator developed by Daniel Kraak—is a modification that replaces the GameCube’s built in disc drive with an SD card slot, allowing users to run their choice of homebrew and/or retail code on real GameCube hardware. While this is obviously a compelling upgrade over the stock console, one limitation that dogged the GC Loader was that it was a read-only device, necessitating the use of extra storage devices to harness the full functionality that a utility like Swiss can provide. As you might have guessed from my use of the past-tense though, this limitation no longer exists; write support was added to the GC Loader in a beta version of its v2.0.0 firmware released late last September:
- Added write support.
- New implementation for fragmented file handling.
- Improved SD Card compatibility:
- Fixed issue with PNY cards.
- Support for standard capacity cards
- Several small optimizations.
On the software side of things, Swiss—a software utility developed by emu_kidid and Extrems—gives users extraordinarily granular control over how games and homebrew apps are run on modified GameCubes. This covers, but definitely isn’t limited to:
- Improving video quality by removing Nintendo’s de-flicker blurring filter and enabling higher resolution video output.
- Emulating physical memory cards with SD card storage adapters.
- Running software from any region in whatever video mode your TV prefers.
However, an important part of enabling the full functionality of Swiss is having a device to store settings and other important data on. This need has historically been met by the SDGecko or SD2SP2, but there has always been a desire to take advantage of all this functionality with as little hardware as possible. Now that write support has been enabled in the GC Loader firmware, and Extrems has released a version of Swiss with completed support for it, GC Loader users no longer require another device to access most of the functionality provided by Swiss.
Changelog: Swiss v0.6r1215
- Update Redump database.
- Force clean boot for unsupported discs.
- Use file numbers.
- Support disc images up to 4GB.
- Move file paths to top of memory for USB Gecko.
- Compare file names as a sanity check.
- Warn not to remove patch device.
- Add disc header checksums.
- Improve DI passthrough.
- Fix disc read speed after disc swap on GC Loader.
- Use separate work areas.
- Fix random freeze on clean boot.
- Refactor some fragment handling.
- Fix USB Gecko file unlock on IGR.
- Use configuration device as patch device first if possible.
- Fix UI inconsistency.
- Enable ISR-based read method with USB Gecko.
- Minor optimization.
- Complete GC Loader 2.0.0 support.
- Avoid annoying casts.
- Add workaround for disc swap on GC Loader.
- Fix issue with fragmented boot image.
- Bump version to 0.6.
So, to summarise, GC Loader owners no longer need any other storage devices to get the most out of their GameCube library with Swiss. That said, should SDGecko and SD2SP2 owners pitch their existing hardware in the trash? Swiss developer Extrems doesn’t think so:
“Using an SD Card Adapter will be less harsh on the SD Card used as patch device and will write much quicker. This may change with future firmware development.”
Be sure to check in with RetroRGB for updates as new revisions of both GC Loader and Swiss get released.