Nintendo Switch: 25 GameCube Games for the Virtual Console
When the Nintendo Switch finally launches its version of the Virtual Console, it should bring back these 25 great GameCube games.
While the Switch, Nintendo’s new console/handheld hybrid, has just launched without one of the Big N’s mainstay features – the Virtual Console, which allows you to purchase classic titles from past eras for affordable prices – there’s no doubt that we’ll get a new Virtual Console at some point in the Switch’s lifespan. Nintendo hasn’t confirmed as much, but did promise to share more information on the retro gaming service at a later date.
For awhile now, rumors have indicated that the Switch’s Virtual Console will finally see the arrival of GameCube games. Those rumors haven’t been officially confirmed yet either, but we’re still optimistic that Nintendo’s beloved purple cube will see a revival on the Switch. And when it does, these are the games we want to see on it:
25. NBA Street V3
2005 | EA
The NBA Street series never had a bad entry, though for whatever reason EA has let it languish for the past decade. While all of the games are great in their own way, the gameplay was arguably the tightest in the third entry (the last released for the sixth generation of consoles). But what makes this one of the best sports titles on the GameCube and worth an entry on this list is the ability to take a team of Mario, Luigi, and Peach up against the NBA’s finest.
24. Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
2003 | Sonic Team
Yuji Naka is best known as the creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, but in the early 2000s, he took a break from cranking out Sonic games to work on a very different type of platformer. Billy Hatcher has virtually nothing in common with Naka’s better known creation. Rather than speed, he relies on rolling eggs around huge colorful levels to power up and accomplish his goals. The game has a few hiccups, like a poor camera, but there’s still nothing quite like it out there, and it could finally find its audience on the Switch Virtual Console.
23. Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life
2003 | Victor Interactive Software
Harvest Moon games have been sparse on consoles in recent years, which is odd, considering the explosion of popularity in similar games like Farming Simulator and Stardew Valley. Maybe it’s because the earlier games hold up so well. A Wonderful Life isn’t a flashy game. You just spend hours tilling the fields, taking care of animals, and raising your family, but its cathartic style of gameplay could be perfect at home or on the go with the Switch.
22. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
2005 | Nintendo
Path of Radiance may be downright ugly compared to more recent Fire Emblem games, but the strategic gameplay still holds up incredibly well (if you can tolerate it not holding your hand like the newer games in the series). And the story of mercenary Ike is still one of the best in the franchise. The Switch is sorely lacking in RPGs at launch, so putting Path of Radiance on the Virtual Console could fill a big hole in the system’s first few months.
21. Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest
2002 | Intelligent Systems
Cubivore is one of those incredibly quirky Japanese titles that only made it to the U.S. based on a perfect storm of circumstances. You play as a cube creature, and your goal is to mutate by defeating other cube creatures and eating their different colored limbs. And if you aren’t quite powerful enough to take on a boss, you can always mate with a female cubivore to let the next generation have a go at it. Despite its obscurity and bizarre premise, Cubivore has built up a devoted fan base over the years. Used copies go for about $200 online though, so a cheaper Virtual Console port would be welcome by Switch owners.
20. Phantasy Star Online, Episode I and II Plus
2004 | Sonic Team
Gamers who were introduced to online gaming in the early 2000s still talk wistfully about their experiences with the original Phantasy Star Online. Sadly, you can now only play the game on private online servers. Nintendo could fix this by bringing the beloved GameCube game to the Switch Virtual Console. Even if its offline only, many of us would love to be able to go back to it whenever we wanted.
19. Super Monkey Ball 2
2002 | Amusement Vision
Super Monkey Ball 2 is one of those games that’s just a pure joy to play. While at its core the game is about maneuvering a monkey in a giant ball around colorful levels, the gameplay gets more complex (and difficult) as you go on. The first game in the series is a classic too, but the second game just barely edges it out for the addition of extra gimmicks like conveyor belts and teleporters.
18. Wario World
2003 | Treasure
Wario is best known for his mini game collections now, but he still has one great 3D platformer under his belt. In a lot of ways, Wario World is very similar to Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, but with deeper combat. It makes sense. Wario is a villain after all. Sadly, Nintendo has never sought to expand on Wario’s 3D adventures, and with copies of Wario World scarce, it would be a perfect Virtual Console game for the Switch.
17. Pikmin 2
2004 | Nintendo
The first Pikmin game launched on the GameCube, and while fun, it also kind of felt like a tech demo. Pikmin 2, on the other hand, delivered on all the promises of the first title, with even more Pikmin to control, larger levels, and much improved AI. It’s also quite possibly the best looking title on the GameCube, holding up remarkably well more than a decade later.
16. Baiten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
2004 | Monolith Soft
Like many Nintendo consoles, the GameCube severely lacked RPGs, though the few it did have were quite good. Baiten Kaitos has one of the best stories in RPG history, and some of the best graphics of its time, yet it’s divided fans for years because of its convoluted card-based combat system. I wasn’t a fan of the combat personally, but putting the game on Switch could let more gamers decide for themselves how it holds up.
2005 | Grasshopper Manufacture
Goichi Suda (Suda51) has made a name for himself crafting unique and stylish video games. Some of those titles, like No More Heroes, have even found some mainstream success, but long before that he wasn’t afraid to get really weird with his creations. Killer7 is the story of a group of assassins who exist purely in the mind of an elderly wheelchair-bound man. Gameplay is sort of a cross between a first-person shooter and a light gun game, and somehow the whole thing ends up as a deeper examination of Japanese and American politics post-World War II with amazing music. It’s better than it sounds, and something that more gamers really need to experience.
14. Star Fox Adventures
2002 | Rare
Who would have thought back in 2002 that this would be the last great Rare game? Or the last great Star Fox game for that matter? Originally slated for the N64 as a completely new property called “Dinosaur Planet,” Rare re-tooled the title for the GameCube and added in the Star Fox characters at the suggestion of series creator Shigeru Miyamoto. The result was a game that took heavy inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time while retaining so much of the character that made Rare games of this era great. It’s just a shame what’s happened to Rare and Star Fox in the years since.
13. Metroid Prime
2002 | Retro Studios
In the early 2000s, Nintendo had seemingly forgotten about Samus Aran. Super Metroid had been released in 1994, and other than an appearance in the first Super Smash Bros. game, Nintendo completely ignored the property. Then, it was announced that we’d finally get a new Metroid. In first-person. From an unproven American developer. Early internet message boards went ballistic about how Nintendo was ruining Metroid. But then we all played it. And we loved it even more than Super Metroid. Now if we could just get Nintendo to give us another proper Metroid title…
12. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
2004 | Silicon Knights
Metal Gear Solid is an all-time classic, but going back to PS1 games is rough in 2017. The Twin Snakes fixes this by redoing the entire first game in the style of Metal Gear Solid 2. The added gameplay tweaks make for an easier experience (some would say too easy), but it’s also a lot smoother to play through than going back to the 1998 original.
11. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
2001 | Factor 5
There have been a lot of Star Wars games over the years, but few have nailed the feel of actually being in George Lucas’s universe the way Rogue Squadron II did. Every sound and location is straight out of the Original Trilogy. And even if you’re not a huge Star Wars fan, the challenging flight combat gameplay will keep you coming back for more. Unfortunately, the third title in the series, also on GameCube, featured lackluster on-foot missions that kept it from living up to the greatness of its predecessor.
10. Luigi’s Mansion
2001 | Luigi’s Mansion
The GameCube was actually the first Nintendo console to launch in North America without a Mario game, something that has now become something of a custom for Nintendo. That was okay though, because instead we got this fun little adventure game starring Mario’s younger brother. For Luigi’s first solo game, Nintendo thankfully avoided just giving us another platformer, and instead turned Luigi into a ghostbuster. The ghost-sucking mechanics still feel fresh 15 years later, and if you like the GameCube game, the more recent 3DS sequel is even better.
9. Viewtiful Joe
2003 | Capcom
There were few 2D games on the GameCube. Maybe that’s because no other developers wanted to compete with Viewtiful Joe. While the basic gameplay remains similar to platformers and beat ‘em ups of the ‘90s, Viewtiful Joe added in VFX powers that slowed down or sped up time, and made the stylish 3D visuals look even more amazing. It’s been a longtime since Joe starred in a game of his own, so maybe porting the original to the Switch would even motivate Capcom to greenlight a much-needed sequel.
8. Super Mario Sunshine
2002 | Nintendo
While hotly anticipated when it was announced, Super Mario Sunshine has since become something of a black sheep in the Super Mario series. It’s not that it’s a bad game by any means. The controls are as tight as any Mario game, and the levels are still bright and gorgeous. But the use of Mario’s water-squirting backpack FLUDD just rubbed a lot of gamers the wrong way. The thing is, that without FLUDD, this would have just felt like a Super Mario 64 expansion. FLUDD is what gives Sunshine its identity. Maybe giving the game new life on the Switch could help rehabilitate Sunshine’s image with gamers.
7. Skies of Arcadia Legends
2003 | Sega
Sometimes I think Sega just hates money. Skies of Arcadia was heralded as one of the first great RPGs of the early 2000s when it was first released on the Dreamcast, a fantastic turn-based adventure starring an air pirate (a faction that is severely underrepresented in games). The GameCube port, with additional content, received even more praise. Everyone who has played the game falls in love with it, and yet while Sega has complete ownership over the property, they’ve so far refused to do any more ports, remakes, or sequels. Instead, we get a new, terrible Sonic game every year. Please, Sega, port this game to the Switch. You’re just throwing money away at this point.
6. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
2003 | Nintendo
The addition of a second character to each kart sounded gimmicky when it was first announced, but it actually added a lot of depth to the GameCube’s entry in the Mario Kart series, particularly in multiplayer, and the unique feature has earned the title lots of accolades over the years. Of course, having some of the best track designs in the entire series didn’t hurt either. If GameCube games do show up on the Switch Virtual Console, this is almost a lock to be released at some point. I, and a lot of other Double Dash fanatics, can’t wait.
5. Tales of Symphonia
2003 | Namco
For most American gamers, this was their first introduction to Namco’s Tales series. And while those games have only become more refined over the past decade, many of us still have fond memories of Lloyd Irving’s quest to save the world on the GameCube. Yes, the PS3 remake is now readily available, but a release on the Switch would be welcome by Nintendo fanatics who have shunned Sony consoles over the years.
4. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
2002 | Silicon Knights
Heavily influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Eternal Darkness was unlike any other game Nintendo has published before or since. Featuring a dozen characters confronting unspeakable evil throughout history, Eternal Darkness might be the finest horror game ever made. Sadly, Silicon Knights was never allowed to make a sequel before disbanding, and director Denis Dyack has been unable to find funding for a spiritual successor. But maybe Nintendo will at least let more people experience the game’s legendary sanity effects on the Switch.
3. F-Zero GX
2003 | Amusement Vision
Blindingly fast and excruciatingly tough, F-Zero GX is easily the best racer on the GameCube. It takes real skill to beat the game’s 20 tracks and master its dozens of machines, likely more dedication than most gamers are willing to put in. Seriously, it’s a difficult game. Nintendo has bafflingly refused to release a console sequel since GX, so the least they could do is a Virtual Console release on the Switch.
2. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
2004 | Nintendo
Nintendo has taken to all sorts of experimentation with the Paper Mario series in recent years, adding in stickers, paint, and other gimmicks that just generally make the titles feel less fun. The Thousand Year Door doesn’t have any of that. It’s just classic Paper Mario with a great storyline and enjoyable, timing-based combat. We don’t want any more Paper Mario gimmicks on the Switch. We just want The Thousand Year Door.
1. Super Smash Bros. Melee
2001 | Nintendo
Even after two more console sequels that added a couple dozen more characters and tons of new features, there are those who believe Melee is the best Smash Bros. game ever made. And it’s hard to blame them. The stages and music have become iconic over the past 15 years, the physics do feel great, and there are even a couple of characters who have never made their way to the later installments. The Switch will likely get its own version of Smash Bros. at some point down the line, but re-releasing Melee would do a lot to tide gamers over in the meantime.
Chris Freiberg is a freelance contributor.