The Nintendo Gamecube has been having a resurgence in the modding community as of late, with excellent solutions popping up left and right. Although I’ve dabbled with many magnificent Gamecube mods in the past, there are still plenty of upcoming projects that have me hyped. Today, I’m proud to be showing off the M.2 Loader by WebHDX, an upcoming Gamecube storage mod that could very well be the best of the bunch.
If you want to see this mod in action, I highly recommend that you check out my M.2 Loader first look video. I was lucky enough to have an advanced hands-on session with this highly anticipated project and it deserves to be seen in all of its glory. Now, let’s take a closer look at the M.2 Loader and see how it stacks up to the competition!
The M.2 Loader is Raising the Bar for Gamecube Mods
To give you a bit of context, the M.2 Loader is a passion project from the prominent and talented modder, WebHDX. It’s partially a resurrection of an older, abandoned mod, which used IDE storage to load games directly to the Gamecube. Recognizing the potential, WebHDX refined the concept, swapping the IDE for a solid-state drive. To ensure smooth software compatibility, WebHDX also worked closely with Extrems, the lead developer of the Gamecube homebrew program, Swiss. After many tweaks and adjustments, WebHDX has granted us an exclusive first look at this fantastic mod!
However, it’s important to note that the M.2 Loader that I’m showcasing is a prototype and is not representative of the planned retail version. This initial prototype model utilizes a CPLD chip, but due to recent shortages, a full redesign is currently in progress. Moving forward, the M.2 Loader will use an RP2040 processor instead of a CPLD, in order to keep costs low and ensure part availability. That said, the prototype is fully functional and provides the same experience that you would expect from the final version.
Installing the M.2 Loader is Incredibly Easy
If you’re interested in potentially picking up an M.2 Loader in the future, you’ll need a few things for the remarkably easy installation process. Firstly, you’ll need the ability to load Swiss onto your Gamecube. The M.2 Loader works perfectly with a Gamecube outfitted with WebHDX’s Picoboot mod, but game-save exploits and other methods work as well. You will also need an SD2SP2 adapter, complete with a microSD card that has the latest version of Swiss installed. Finally, you’ll want a top-of-the-line SSD to store your games, but make sure it’s not an NVMe, as the M.2 Loader does not support them.
Fortunately, the M.2 Loader installation process is a breeze. First, connect your SSD to the M.2 Loader and screw it in place. Then, flip over your Gamecube and remove the plastic covers for serial ports 1 and 2. Connect the M.2 Loader to serial port 1, then connect the SD2SP2 adapter and microSD card to serial port 2. Replace the plastic covers and flip your Gamecube back over with pride, because that’s it!
The Features, Pros, and Cons of the M.2 Loader
Thanks to its easy installation and seamless integration with other mods like Picoboot, the M.2 Loader makes playing your favorite Gamecube games an absolute joy. When you boot up your console and load into Swiss, all of the games stored on your SSD will be easily accessible and ready to play. What makes the M.2 Loader so special is its incredibly fast loading, made possible by the powerful processor chip on the device. Instead of using the Gamecube’s default data speeds, the M.2 Loader essentially boosts the transfer rate with its excess power.
In short, the M.2 Loader provides a simple way to load your game backups with remarkable speed, eliminating many of the issues that plague other aftermarket storage solutions. Video stuttering, audio glitches, and game compatibility are all improved thanks to the faster data transfer rate. While the M.2 Loader doesn’t boast 100% game compatibility, it still has a leg up on its competitors. Plus, by utilizing an SSD, you can safely store up to 2TB of game files without worrying about data corruption. Best of all, the mod is entirely reversible and keeps the optical drive fully functional.
I’m always pleased to see new Gamecube mods and the M.2 Loader from WebHDX is yet another impressive feat of technology. After spending time with the prototype, I can’t wait to see the final version and the inevitable updates and improvements that will come with it. For more updates on the M.2 Loader, keep an eye on my YouTube channel, as I can’t wait to cover the final version when it’s ready to be released!