The top 25 Nintendo GameCube games

Feature Aaron Birch 4 Apr 2014 - 05:18

The GameCube may have been one of Nintendo's biggest commercial disappointments, but it had some stunning games. Here's our top 25...

Like Sega's ill-fated Dreamcast, the Nintendo GameCube may have failed commercially, but today it's held in high regard by gamers, and many of its titles have a cult following. The GameCube's legacy isn't merely limited to retro, cult appeal, though, and many games on the platform have survived and have been continued on later Nintendo platforms. It also played host to some people's all-time favourite entries in long-running Nintendo series, with its incarnations of some iconic Nintendo franchises beating those on the more successful platforms from the Japanese giant.

We're big fans of the GameCube here at Den Of Geek, so we're going to take a look at our top 25 titles to grace the GameCube's tiny discs. We can't pick all of the platform's best games, of course, so feel free to chip in in the comments section with your own personal favourites....

25. Animal Crossing

It may not be considered a real game by many (it certainly is by us), but there's no denying Animal Crossing's popularity, and although you spend much of your time performing fairly mundane tasks with cutsey animals, there's just something so appealing and addictive about it.

About as stressful as a picnic on a sunny day, there's no danger of anger or irritation here, and simply playing the game for a while can ease those daily troubles, all the while you're building your little cartoon life, and there are few games more suitable for young kids. Charming, to say the least.

24. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean

The GameCube wasn't exactly well-endowed with RPGs, and although overlooked by many, this is one of the best on the system. Developed by MonolithSoft, of Xeno series fame, it was a unique RPG that featured an interesting card-based combat system, and put players in the role of a guardian of the protagonist rather than the hero himself. There was also a very interesting camera function that let players take pictures of enemies. These photos could then be sold to raise money.

Now considered something of a cult classic, Baten Kaitos is a thoroughly different RPG that's well worth your time if you're a JRPG fan, but want to try something that doesn't follow the same strict design as many similar titles in the genre.

23. Viewfitul Joe

Capcom may like to play it safe most of the time, sticking with tried and tested franchises like Resident Evil and Street Fighter, but occasionally it works outside of the envelope to deliver some great, new titles, and Viewtiful Joe is a prime example.

Developed by Clover Studios, which would go on to create classics like Okami and God Hand, Viewtiful Joe was a side-scrolling scrapper that introduced fast-forward, slo-mo, and zoom mechanics alongside vibrant, cel-shaded visuals.

It was a stylish and impressive fighter with platform elements that played almost as well as it looked, and the mixture of Joe's VFX powers and challenging combat on a 2D plane produced a striking, stand out release for the GameCube.

22. Battalion Wars

Battalion Wars mixed cute characters and tactical combat to create a fusion of real time strategy and third person shooting, evolving the gameplay seen in Advance Wars on handheld. Players could control single or groups of units, and instruct the AI with basic commands. These units featured soldiers and various vehicles, and the tactical combat, although clearly aimed at a younger audience, was surprisingly deep.

The game didn't skimp on variety, and you had full control of all types, including aircraft, and the control system, whilst it could be a little clunky at times, handled things well, always keeping that all-important fun factor. What's more, the feeling of achievement that came from a successful manoeuvre, and using your own tactics to win a battle made it all the more rewarding.

21. Ikaruga

Treasure's polarity-shifting shooter is found in many lists, and for good reason – it's a superb, old-school shooter that brought a unique twist to the traditionally simple formula. It used an uncomplicated but effective black and white polarity system that allowed players to switch from one to the other at will. Enemies also utilised this colour system for projectiles, and if you switched to the corresponding colour of enemy bullets, you could absorb them, able to fire off powerful homing blasts when charged up. Your projectiles also changed colour, doing more damage to the enemy if the opposite polarity was used.

Alongside this unique system the game bore the standard 'bullet hell' style shooter play, and threw in some impressive boss battles to create a retro classic, and one of the finest shooters ever produced.

20. Luigi's Mansion

As a GameCube launch title, Luigi's Mansion was a bit of a surprise. When people wanted Mario, they got his brother instead. Not only this, but the game eschewed the usual platformer genre, instead opting for a Ghostbusters-style, cartoon survival horror.

Luigi goes looking for Mario, who's gone missing in a strange mansion, and finds it haunted by ghosts. Using his ghost catching vacuum, Luigi has to roam the mansion, finding and catching the various ghosts, uncovering the fate of his sibling.

Although the game wasn't initially considered by many to be a great title, it's one that's aged well, and the unique and different style of play for a Mario Bros. title makes it stand out. Add to that some excellent presentation and Nintendo charm, and you have a brilliant little game that shows how well Nintendo can inject new life into its long-running franchises.

19. TimeSplitters 2

Viewed by many as the swansong of the talented developers of GoldenEye, TimeSplitters 2 wasn't a GameCube exclusive, but it was, without a doubt, one of the best FPS titles on the platform, or any other format for that matter, and the strongest entry in the series.

Heavily multiplayer-focused, but with a unique, and brilliant campaign mode that oozed style and challenge, this is a veritable tour de force of game design. Even after all these years, TS2 is one of the most fluid and addictive FPS titles ever made, and when it comes to split screen local multiplayer, this is one of the finest examples you can find.

18. Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition

Not to be confused with the Wind Waker pre-order bonus disc, this was only officially available within a special GameCube bundle (and special registration offers). This may not actually be a GameCube title per se, but regardless, it's one of the best discs you can find on the platform. To do this, you'll need to trawl second hand stores and sites like eBay, but it's well worth it.

The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition is a special compilation disc that includes several earlier Zelda titles, all playable on the GameCube. The titles include the original Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventure Of Link, Ocarina Of Time (with the remixed, Master dungeons option), Majora's Mask, a Zelda retrospective, and a 20-minute demo of Wind Waker. It should be noted that the pre-order disc for Wind Waker only featured Ocarina of Time.

With four Zelda games, including the legendary Ocarina Of Time, on a single disc this is a must for any Zelda fan.

17. Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat

Another Nintendo heavy-hitter, Donkey Kong has starred in many different titles, and this is arguably one of the most original. On the surface it's a standard DK platformer, but this changed when you consider the main control method – a pair of bongo drums.

Using these drums, you controlled DK by hitting left, right and both to jump. Tapping the sides caused DK to clap. You could also use a standard GameCube pad, but the drums were by far the most fun.

Heavily score-based, it was a different take on the usual DK title, and with the bongo drum controls it was a GameCube classic that can be quite hard to get hold of now, so if you get chance, go for it.

16. Killer7

A game that seems to pop up in quite a few of our lists. Suda 51's stylish classic was available on the PlayStation 2, but it was the GameCube where the group of crazy assassins began, and it's this version that's superior, with better visuals and no slow down (which plagued the PS2 version).

On rails gameplay was merged with shooting gallery action and a deep, bizarre and multi-layered story to create a truly unforgettable adventure, the real answers to which are still debated by fans today. Suda 51 has made more bonkers titles since, such as No More Heroes, Shadows Of The Damned and Lollipop Chainsaw, but Killer7 is still the best of his stable.

15. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

One of the best launch titles for the GameCube, Rogue Leader was a superb space combat title that was spread over multiple levels, seeing the player put in the shoes of Luke Skywalker, Wedge Antilles, and even Darth Vader.

Various mission types were implemented, including escort missions, search and destroy, and outright dogfights, and there was a selection of craft to fly, including the iconic X-Wing, Y-Wing, Snow Speeder, Millennium Falcon, and Vader's TIE fighter.

It was an early showcase for the power of the GameCube, and this visual flair, solid gameplay, and the Star Wars name made it an instant hit, and a system seller.

14. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Mario has dabbled with RPGs a few times, and this GameCube outing is one of the best in our opinion. Set in a flat, 2D paper world, The Thousand Year Door has a very different feel to it than most Mario games, and the turn-based combat, while very similar to many JRPGs, is interesting, and engaging, with timed button press abilities adding to the challenge. Add in the battle audience that reacts to the action, the badge-based ability system, and the paper-folding powers, and you've got a classic example of Mario's flexibility above and beyond simple platforming.

Mario explores a range of locations and meets up with various ally characters. There are secrets aplenty and some challenging boss fights, some of which truly up the difficulty curve, more so than you may expect from such a friendly-looking RPG.

13. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

It may have been a port of an already existing game, one that made one of its rivals, the Sony PlayStation, a major threat, but this update of the original Metal Gear Solid was a brilliant GameCube release nonetheless.

It repackaged the original game with updated visuals and better cut scenes, and also introduced some of the elements from the PS2 sequel, Sons of Liberty. In truth, this was the MGS2 engine running MGS on GameCube, and it worked.

All aspects of the game were tightened, such as Enemy AI and controls, and although the core game and the areas were exactly the same as the original, the Twin Snakes felt like a very different experience thanks to the new game engine.

12. Super Mario Sunshine

Oddly, the GameCube was a Nintendo platform that didn't have a traditional Mario game, at all. Instead, the closest the system came to a standard Mario game was Super Mario Sunshine. This was a 3D Mario that saw the plumber attempt to clean up the Delfino holiday resort after it was attacked by a dark doppelgänger, leaving Mario to take the blame.

To clean up the island, Mario used his backpack-mounted FLUDD system (Flash Liquidizer Ultra Dousing Device), which could spray water to clean up slime, and also allowed Mario to hover in the air.

The game was very reminiscent of Mario 64, but the addition of the FLUDD system and the clean-up gameplay added a unique twist to the series, one that went down very well with critics. It featured the usual impeccable design for which Nintendo is unequalled, and is one of the best Mario games around.

11. Beyond Good And Evil

Like Killer7, this is a game that ends up on a lot of lists, partly due to its multi-platform nature, but mostly as it's just brilliant, and a game that everyone should try. The GameCube got in on the action alongside the PS2 and Xbox, and although there wasn't anything particularly unique about this version, it was still every bit the classic game it was on other systems, and one of the best games on the GameCube.

Its a testament to the game that it could actually rival, and even better the world-beating game design usually only demonstrated by Nintendo itself, but it did, and the end result was a fantastic third-person adventure, and one that oozed both character and playability.

10. Pikmin 2

The original Pikmin was a great title, but Nintendo expanded and improved upon the first game with this direct sequel. Featuring the same real-time strategic play, Pikmin 2 added new types of Pikmin and the ability to control more than one group of critters at a time, opening up new gameplay possibilities.

Using the titular Pikmin, players has to command hordes of the cute critters to find and retrieve objects, and to defeat foes. Pikmin could also be used to build structures, and the ability to separate groups of Pikmin allowed for more advanced tactics and puzzling elements.

Single and multiplayer modes were included in the game, and it also packed in some great co-op play. A definite GameCube classic, and one that improved upon the already great original in almost every way.

9. Resident Evil

The GameCube remake of Resident Evil, the game that thrust the survival horror genre into the limelight, was stunning at the time. Although the game still used pre-rendered visuals for the environments, the quality and attention to detail of these, with subtle animations bolstering the visual style, produced by far the best version of the original Capcom horror.

Everything from the original game was overhauled and recreated, including visuals, audio and cut-scenes. The mansion itself was remodelled, with various differences to keep long-time fans on their toes, and new enemies and whole sections of the mansion grounds were added in, including those terrifying crimson zombies and the unsettling Lisa Trevor.

Whilst most remakes are happy to simply upscale the visuals, or add in a couple of extra features, this reworking of Resident Evil was a master-class in how to breathe new life into an old classic, and developers should look back on this and take notes when working on the seemingly endless slew of HD re-releases we see today.

8. Mario Kart Double Dash

The Mario Kart series has been a massive seller and huge success ever since its inception on the Super Nintendo, and the GameCube outing, Double Dash, was no exception. Gaining critical acclaim and selling well, the game continued the addictive kart racing formula, adding a new dual character system for the karts. One character was the driver, whilst the other threw weapons, and they could switch around at any time. This wasn't such a big thing for single-player, but multiplayer made it a unique and interesting feature, as both players could co-operate on the same kart.

The game utilised the power of the GameCube, presenting the best looking Mario Kart to that point, and the tight track designs and mixture of power ups coupled with the best racing multiplayer around made it a classic, if not the most revolutionary step Nintendo has ever taken with a major series.

7. F-Zero GX

F-Zero was one of the undisputed classics of the Super Nintendo era, even with the mighty Mario Kart also on the scene. Its return to the GameCube was equally important, as it was responsible for one of the hardest, and fastest racing titles you're ever likely to play, and that's if you can find it. It's rare.

It finds itself here above Double Dash in the list as, unlike the GC Mario Kart, F-Zero GX was a major departure from its previous incarnation, and totally changed-up the game, adding all sorts of crazy track configurations, a slew of vehicles and power ups, and some fantastic multiplayer racing, the likes of which we've yet to see anywhere else, even with Sony's Wipeout coming close (which, of course, GX takes plenty of inspiration from).

Tracks were filled with loops, twists and other, roller coaster-esque designs, and the title also had a story mode, as well as various game modes, such as grand prix, battle, and a customisation tool set.

The high difficulty put many players off the game, but for those looking for a real racing challenge on the GameCube, look no further.

6. Skies Of Arcadia Legends

Sega's Skies Of Arcadia is one of the best JRPGs around, and some would say it's even better than the likes of Final Fantasy, it's that good.

It started out on the Sega Dreamcast, but was later ported to the GameCube in the form of Legends. This version retained everything from the original and added in extra content and tweaked gameplay. This new content included more discoveries, a couple of new story lines, including optional (and difficult) battles with a female pirate hunter, and the new wanted system. This introduced a list of increasingly difficult boss battles with wanted pirates, battles that were far more challenging than any in the main story.

The mix of on-foot exploration, turn-based battles, and epic ship-to-ship confrontations made Skies Of Arcadia a brilliant RPG, and the GameCube got the best version, even if the audio was butchered by compression so the game could fit onto a single GC disc.

5. Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem

A commercial failure on release, Eternal Darkness is one of the most original survival horror titles around, and a genuine underrated gem of a game.

The story revolves around Alexandra Roivas, who, after finding strange book, is thrust into a nightmarish struggle against all sorts of supernatural forces. This struggle spans various time periods, and the player takes control of multiple characters in each of these.

The stand out feature of the game was the sanity system, which employed a range of tactics to scare the player. As sanity dropped, various effect were used, such as camera distortions, audio hits, and graphical glitches. Many effects even fooled the player by breaking the fourth wall, such as blue screen error messages and threats of save game corruption. It was different, and brilliant.

Above and beyond this, the multiple characters and ever-shifting temporal story spanning hundreds of years created a totally absorbing take on the genre, one that's simply never been duplicated.

4. Super Smash Bros. Melee

Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series has become one of its major series, not surprising really, as it combines all of its series into one, fast-paced fighting mash-up.

Picking one of a collection of Nintendo stalwarts, such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Samus and Link, players engaged in frantic 2D battles on precarious platforms adorned with power ups and hazards. The goal was to damage your opponent enough so that you weaken their resistance to being smashed out of the arena's boundaries. It was a simple premise, but one that was, and in later versions still is, fiendishly addictive.

The game was great solo, but it really came into its own in mutliplayer, where it could destroy friendships, and cause plentiful nerd rage. Simple controls belied the deep and complex combat, and few Nintendo games promote such heated rivalry.

3. The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker

Whilst Ocarina Of Time and A Link To The Past usually get most of the attention, the GameCube's Wind Waker is one of the best outings of the Zelda series, and certainly one of the most original and ambitious.

The new, cartoon look and the ocean-navigating play encapsulated all that made the series great, but the island-laden world and sailing mechanics made for one of the most memorable in the Zelda timeline. This formula also made rooting out the game's many secrets and hidden areas even more rewarding, and sailing the seas often lead to discoveries of cool little diversions and instances.

You may be wondering why Twilight Princess isn't here instead, or even on the list. TP is a superb Zelda, to be sure, but as it's pretty much a port, and little more, it's the platform's own Wind Waker that takes this space.

2. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil is a series that's been flagging of late, and even serious fans of the survival horror admit that its seen better days, perhaps no better than its fourth major outing on the GameCube. Resident Evil 4 was, and still is considered by most to be the best in the series, and it represented a huge turning point in the whole genre.

Starring Leon S. Kennedy, RE4 followed on from the events seen in Raccoon City, and took place in a rural Spanish village. This village was inhabited by some truly strange people, which we would learn were infected with an ancient parasite, worshipped by a dangerous cult.

The gameplay of RE4 was a departure for the series, moving to a third-person shooter view, but it kept all of the same RE mechanics, including ammo conservation, puzzles, tricky boss fights and all sorts of crazy, out of control experiments.

Visually it was very impressive, and it played fantastically, with a great control scheme, a long and varied story, and had a selection of extras, including the Mercenaries mini game and Ada missions, although not the Seperate Ways campaign that found its way into later versions.

If you only ever play one Resident Evil game, then this could well be the one to pick (although Resident Evil 2 makes the choice difficult).

1. Metroid Prime (inc. Echoes)

Our number one spot has to go to Metroid Prime, and we're cheating a little by including Prime 2: Echoes, as it's essentially more of the same with some tweaks.

Back when Nintendo revealed Metroid Prime, which was being developed by Retro Studios and not Nintendo itself, fans expressed a lot of concern, especially when it was revealed that the game would be a first person shooter. However, any worries soon vanished when the game was released, and what Retro Games produced was a stunning Metroid title that managed to effortlessly incorporate classic Metroid features and feel with new, first person gameplay.

The world Retro created just oozed the atmosphere Metroid is known for, and the heavy backtracking and power-up collecting play was perfectly balanced, with the various world areas offering unique challenges and barriers players couldn't bypass without the right equipment, often acquired by careful exploration and/or defeating massive bosses.

Metroid Prime is simply one of the best games ever made, and is, in our opinion, the best game on the GameCube. If Nintendo want to make up for the disappointment that was Metroid: Other M, we'd strongly suggest giving Retro another crack. You know it makes sense.

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