Gamecube Top 20 Lifetime
The best and brightest on Nintendo's little purple lunchbox
The best and brightest on Nintendo's little purple lunchbox
There isn't much that hasn't already been said about this masterpiece. It re-energized the Resident Evil franchise in a way that hasn't been seen since Prince of Persia. It changed the focus from pure horror to more of an action game with very intense moments. It can be said that no other game influenced the now-popular Gears of War series more than Resident Evil 4, in the camera perspective, cover mechanic (while it wasn't often used in Resident Evil, the cover mechanic was what made Gears of War the game it was) and gory presentation Gears is now known for. A lot of love was pumped into this product, making it one of the best looking and most atmospheric games in its generation. While not everyone loved the control scheme, it is clear that it was a tremendous leap forward when compared to the rest of the games in the series. Being forced to stand still while plugging away at pursuers created a real sense of panic in this gamer, often causing me to miss easy and important shots, which of course resulted in a "You are Dead". While skilled players could often conserve the majority of their ammo for when they really needed it, first time players often suffered from the classic Resident Evil issue of not having anything to put in their gun, which forced them to run around looking for an opportune knife fight. The interactive cutscenes were intense, and, while often frustrating, unquestionably added to the game. While the level design rarely matched the level of care that the initial village reached, overall the world that Leon Kennedy explored in the game was beautiful and allowed for a lot of freedom. And I would be remiss if i didn't mention the boss fight against "Salazar's right hand". That creature haunted my nightmares. Still does.
Metroid fans had to wait a long time after the release of Super Metroid to get another entry in the series. And my oh my, Metroid Prime delivered. Retro Studios created a product with more love than any 3D entry in a Nintendo property has ever received. The controls were natural and exquisite, though weren't as widely enjoyed by fans of free-aiming first person shooters. The graphics were beautifully realized, and in this writers opinion, surpass those of Resident Evil 4 3 years before the later even showed up. The story was told in a form that was completely unique to the game, presented through scan-able in-game screens and displays. Each and every boss fight was an intense challenge, just the way boss fights are supposed to be. It truely felt like a 3D representation of the 2D masterpiece we all remember and love. Retro deserves a big thank you for doing such a great conversion, because for every 3D Mario and Zelda game, there are 3D Worms, Sonics and Castlevanias. This game hit the nail on the head, and was one of the first games since The Legend of Zelda: OOT that would have completely deserved 10 out of 10.
While many consider Twlight Princess to be a Wii game, many of the facts run in the face of this theory. First of all, it was originally announced as a Gamecube title, only later splitting the billing. The game certainly doesn't live up to the Wii's increased graphical capabilities. The most glaring problem however? The world is flipped. In the gamecube version, all the worlds elements are in the same spot as they were in past Zelda titles like Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time. To satisfy right-handed gamers, Nintendo turned the world on its head and put the desert on the right and the lake on the left. An absolute travesty, and why TP is on this list. It is the best in the series in my opinion.
Many may consider this an upset to be in the top 5. Not me. This game has been tragically overlooked year after year by the critics and gaming websites as one of the best games to hit the GameCube. Frankly, it doesn’t make any sense to me. Tales of Symphonia is one of the best RPGs to ever hit a Nintendo console. It’s not quite Chrono Trigger, not quite Final Fantasy VI, not quite Secret of Mana, but it deserves to be talked about in the same breath as these classics. Why? As with the rest of the top 5, the most important aspect is the game play. Giving gamers the chance to fight on a 3D plane like Soul Calibur or Tekken was genius, and it worked out nearly perfectly. The fighting system allowed for more freedom than can be usually found in the JRPG realm which tends to have more walls and rules than customization. There were partner combos, AI strategies, meaningful job classes, skill points, tech points, and once everyone joined your party, you could play as any of them, which is rare for RPGs in general. Each of the characters in the game have diehard fans, and for good reason. This certainly isn’t a happy go lucky type of game; there were often real consequences for the choices the characters made, and those choices often went very badly. There is a knock to be seen in this game, and that is in the audio department, where, while the soundtrack is most certainly up to snuff, the numerous vocal tracks often sound grainy or filtered. But it is a blemish on an otherwise fantastic game.
I debated for quite a while on which game should take the number 5 spot. 1-4 were pretty obvious for me once I figured out exactly which order they should go in, but I had about 5 other games that I thought belonged in this spot. Why did I choose F-Zero GX? There are a number of reasons, but what brought it ahead in the photo finish was the sheer brutal difficulty of the game. This game is HARD. Much harder than any game I’ve played since, well, I don’t know when. I still haven’t beaten the mission mode on the Hard setting yet, and there is still another difficulty setting after that. I could talk about the well-tuned controls, great graphical prowess, and breakneck speed, but it’s the difficulty that will stick out in the minds of every gamer that has tried their hand at it. Obviously, that difficulty will turn off a lot of gamers, but for everyone else it will bring back memories of the old days where simply finishing certain games was impressive in itself. And let me make it clear. This game is not cheap-hard. It’s not like Mario Kart where being in first place is hazardous, or you suddenly get stomped flat out of nowhere. It’s just old-school hard.
The Nintendo GameCube was not a marketplace success. It only went on to sell about 22 million consoles worldwide. But one game was able to wedge itself in with a third of those console sales to become by a good margin the best-selling game on the Cube. Super Smash Bros sold over 7 million units, and a third of Nintendo's console market can't be wrong. Ignoring some of the miss-steps like adding Pichu and the infamous "clone" characters, the game was a perfect evolution from the fan-favorite n64 game. The character set was for the most part balanced, and many of the characters had never looked better. But the big draw was the easy to play/hard to master game play, which made the original such a hit and its sequel, Brawl, one of the best sellers for the Wii. All that was needed for beginners to have a good time were the control stick and the A and B buttons. More advanced gamers were able to take advantage of grabs, dodges, double jumps, and even advanced techniques like wave-dashing. The game was also a time-sink that many gamers left in their GameCube’s for months at a time (though that could be equally attributed to what some would call a weak lineup). This is a game that will stand the test of time as one of the best head-to-head multiplayer games the industry has ever seen.
I have been a big fan of the Fire Emblem games since the first one hit America on the GBA, and was “super psyched” when I heard Nintendo was making a console version for the first time since the Super Nintendo. This game delivered. The strategy was, as always, excellent, but the elements that make this my favorite Fire Emblem game were the presentation and story, which were both at the top of their game. Especially great were the cut scenes. The style was unique, and drew me in as soon as I watched the opening cinematic. While Ike was a big bag of douche in SSBB, in Fire Emblem he was a character to root for. And the story was much more interesting than the standard Fire Emblem fare, which used to simply be a reason why one battlefield was different than the next. Nintendo, for the only time that I can think of, approached the issue of racism in the form of ancient feuds between the Beorc(human) and Laguz(Human/animal) which created a story and world with relatable issues and ramifications.
This is far and away the best version of Metal Gear Solid available. Keep your Playstation version for the memories, but it doesn’t even compare. This is Metal Gear Solid the way it was meant to be played (before Metal Gear Solid 4 came in and took that mantel at least). So much was added and improved upon in Silicon Knights first project since Eternal Darkness that the original source material looks like the Zelda CD-I games in comparison. Solid Snake looks, sounds, and plays better. Psycho Mantis looks better (shiver). Meryl’s ass looks better. Every aspect of this game was improved on in the remake. This game is an example that all other remakes should aspire to. But don’t look at it as a simple remake. Instead, think of it as a gift to those who loved the original.
Some of you may wonder why I had this game so far away from the number 1 slot. The reason can be found in its pacing, but I will get to that later. In almost every regard, the game is excellent. It controls like a Zelda game should, the story was certainly more than adequate, and the technical merits were off the charts. Yes, I loved the art style. It was absolutely gorgeous on the cube. Also, among final boss fights, the Wind Wakers final fight with Ganondorf stands out as one of my all time favorites. I also loved the musical flourishes that accompanied every sword swipe and finishing blow. The problem with this game? The Triforce hunting. Between the middle and end of the game, the player is expected to go fishing for 8 pieces of the triforce. It’s not fun, not all that intuitive, it feels like artificial stretching of the game, and it completely breaks any momentum the game had. Nintendo should have left this out and taken some criticism for having a fairly short game. Instead they tacked on a weak gameplay element, and the game as a whole suffered for it. But that said, it still deserves the ninth spot on this list.
This is the Resident Evil formula done horribly right. Silicon Knights, who later went on to do Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, know how to use video games to expose emotions, most notably fear and discomfort. Eternal Darkness is a jarring game that will leave you wishing you had left the light on, and at the same time leave you begging for more. What is especially surprising is that this is a Nintendo-published game. While Nintendo is most well known for their lighter fare, Eternal Darkness demonstrates what can happen when Nintendo’s resources are thrown behind a dark and moody project. And maybe we would get more of those projects had more of you bought this game.
For a game that came out alongside the console in late 2001, Rogue Leader sure is beautiful. In fact, I cannot think of a movie based game that looks this good, and that isn’t to say anything of how it plays. This was the first time, and still the only time, where I felt like I was actually playing a movie. Everything that every developer has ever done wrong on a movie game is done entirely right here. It gave players gigantic free-roam areas that had recognizable icons from the movies, the best dog fights this side of Starfox 64, and is an elite example of how the use of sound can make a game great. Your squad teammates talk to you and the great laser sound effects suck the player into the experience. It’s a shame that Factor 5 wasted their talent on Lair. I can’t wait to see them do right again for the genre.
This was very much a love-it or hate-it game, so I won’t be shocked if you played it and disliked it. However, few can deny the sheer quality and style that can be found in this unique title from the makers of No More Heroes. The best way to describe it is as an on-rails action title with a lot of gunplay. People used to Halo and Half Life may have a hard time appreciating the pacing, but those who go in with a blank slate are the people who will love the game for what it is. As with all of Suda 51s work, much of the love is in the style. He creates great characters, and crafts a great story around them, which he then builds the unique approach of the game from. Again, this game is a hit-or-miss, but it definitely hit me, and has become a personal favorite.
I know what you are thinking. Yes, this is one of those Donkey Kong games that were controlled with the Ill-fated Bongo controllers. No, it wasn’t one of the DDR rip-offs. Instead, it is a Donkey Kong game that harkens back to the days when Rare was in charge of the franchise while adding some palpable Nintendo flavor that has been missing since the arcade days. The controls are simple; hitting the left bongo runs left, while hitting the right bongo runs right. Hitting them faster makes Kong run faster. Hitting both at the same time causes Kong to jump, and clapping has DK clap his hands hitting nearby enemies. For people who can get past what can easily be perceived as a gimmick, this is going to be a notoriously fun game to play, as long as nobody is in the same room as you. Others however, may be too embarrassed to give this great Donkey Kong game a chance.
Pikmin and Pikmin 2
Yeah, I’m cheating a little bit here. I just couldn’t find justification to place two very similar games in two different spots on my list. Both of these games are fantastic, and demonstrate just how an RTS can be done on a console. Miyamoto put a lot of love into these two games, and the hard work resulted in two of the games that will probably be most remembered when he leaves the business. The eerie charm of the Pikmin along with the brutality of seeing them eaten is probably a big reason why this franchise has created such a draw.
Capcom has some serious representation on this list .Viewtiful Joe is one of 3 games they created for the GameCube that have made my top 25. In fact, all 3 were at one time supposed to be Nintendo exclusives, before Capcom began to realize how bad the Nintendo console market had become. Nevertheless, Capcom created a veritable stable of great games outside of Nintendo’s own studios, many of which warranted day-one purchases. Viewtiful Joe was a 2.5D platformer oozing with style. Much like The Wind Waker, Joe utilized a cel-shaded art style, where the unique trait was Joe’s ability to alter time. Fast-forwarding, Rewinding, pausing, and other powers all had an effect on both the title character and the area around him. It was a mechanic that worked well, and turned Joe into a money printer near the end of the GameCube’s console generation.
I knew I would have to come to this game sooner or later, and it was a game I was not looking forward to ranking. After all, it was a Mario game, which pretty much guarantees it a spot on any top list. However, for a Mario game it excelled at being average. It looked good, but other games looked better. It played well, but for the majority of the game it relied on a contrived gimmick, a water cannon, that probably would have been better served in its own game rather than being shoe-horned into Mario. When people look back at the very best Mario games ever made, Sunshine will probably be near the bottom of that list.
A great fighter, but one that hasn’t aged as well as classics like Tekken Tag or Street Fighter II, or even the original Soul Calibur
Amazingly this game wasn’t taken to nearly as well as the original was. I put away a lot of time in this, and especially loved the soundtrack.
A sadly neglected game. We are all lucky that a sequel is on its way
An underrated card-based RPG
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