The Gamecube's Best Games

The GameCube was a kick-ass platform that had tons of awesome games. There were many people (and unfortunately there still are) laughing at the Cube in its days but I in turn was laughing at them. And I still am!

While it didn't feature many of the franchises that made the PS2 and Xbox popular it has as impressive a rogue's gallery as any of its contemporaries.

You can probably get one for cheap with lots of games now, and you should.

eight great runners-up

  1. Resident Evil 4
  2. Animal Crossing
  3. Luigi's Mansion
  4. Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
  5. F-Zero GX
  6. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
  7. Viewtiful Joe
  8. Pikmin

honourable mentions

*Both were available on Dreamcast, the latter only in Japan, and the former in an inferior state.

not-so-secret weapon

Ocarina of Time and Master Quest. This was Nintendo inventing the HD remix.

If there's one thing you can take away from the GameCube era, it's that its finest games were among the best of the generation, reaching levels of polish and design unity any game, now or then, would be lucky to reach.


List items

  • Well. What can we say about this game knowing what we know now? Curious times we live in. Eternal Darkness, I swear to you, is an utter masterpiece. The 12 character story was and still is impressive today. In fact when you think about what went into making Eternal Darkness, how many unique assets were made for each story (though not all were unique maps), you realize it could be made today only with an enormous budget. Travelling through time and space, from ancient Rome and Cambodia to the age of Charlemagne, from the bombs of World War I to the flames of the Gulf War - like TimeSplitters, the novelty of being in such drastic locales never wears off. That each time introduces a new character (who probably meets an awful end), some of which we rarely see even now (*cough* arabs *cough*), is just a cherry on top.

    Silicon Knights may be a sad, dim office, a company withered to dust, apparently, by one man’s ego, but Eternal Darkness will stand forever as some kind of monument - effigy, maybe - to the good men and women working there then who had the vision and endurance to write these magical lines of code. Did Denis Dyack sell his soul and the jobs of all his future employees to make Eternal Darkness? Shit, maybe. Or maybe it was just what you read on the net, that it was made by some hard-working experts compelled by a dreamer, for once reined-in by the steady Nintendo hand.

  • There aren’t very many room-for-room remakes in games, especially not at this scale, but the GameCube had two that were noteworthy: the best remake ever, Resident Evil, and the most irrelevant remake ever, The Twin Snakes (see, I can’t even call it MGS). While the latter went down in history as mere continued evidence of Metal Gear Solid's dominance over everything, the latter was a surprising, reinvigorating return to survival horror.

    A recent thread posed the question, Which games have aged well? Resident Evil is my answer. Now, tank controls were never everyone’s cup of tea, and they haven’t gone anywhere, and yes sometimes the camera angle makes you go, huh? But!(Huge but.) This game is just as fun today as it was then, and somehow, just as good-looking. There’s fine detail everywhere, giving the strong sense of a game that was picked over with tweezers, every item, enemy and light placed just. like. that.

    Resident Evil 4 is the ground-breaker everyone always mentions when it comes to the GameCube, but that's never the game I go back to. The original Resident Evil has a pace that I long for in games, a pace that's not-so-common anymore. The slow, constant tension and bullet management is a real thrill, and, again, it's just damn nice to look at. The pre-rendered backgrounds and set-up camera angles really make you feel like you're playing a movie. No game has come so close to achieving this feeling.

  • Like everybody else in the world, I was really excited for SpaceWorld Zelda, so when Wind Waker was announced, I understood the reaction. And yet, the demo impressed me. I’ve always loved cel-shaded clouds (lookin at you Zone of the Enders 2!), and the lighting and grass (that’s right) looked amazing. I avoided as much information as I could before its release and played it day one.

    What’s striking about the game now is how sober the tone can be. The slow crawl it opens with, the story of the history of Hyrule, comes from a much darker place than what's implied by the bright colors of your village island. The ending, meanwhile, is something every player is likely to remember. Ganondorf, giant and looming over you, is frozen suddenly when Zelda triforce blasts him; enter Link, who barrel rolls around his nemesis, leaps into the air, and impales him in the forehead. The rest, as we know, is history. This is not so far from the scenario that played out at the end of Ocarina of Time and other Zeldas, and yet in the context of Wind Waker, the violence is somehow amplified. You’re a sly dog, Miyamoto.

  • I hate to say this, and I'm someone who usually has no problem playing old games, but Metroid Prime is a little hard to get in to today. The controls, which were a little fudgy at first back then, are like a series of slaps to your face today. Still! Once you're in, you are locked in. Between the music, the deep sense & satisfaction of exploring, the incredible environments and the subdued, eerie, thoughtful moments, this game really did capture the essence of the 2D classic in a new 3D world. Somehow, the feat accomplished with Mario 64 and Ocarina of Time was repeated with Prime.

    Bonus: Metroid Prime is still the best example of the interior helmet point-of-view. The fog from Samus’ breath on the visor is one of many great small touches, but it’s the ever so slight reflection of her eyes that steals the show.

  • I don’t hate PlayStation All-Stars. But I certainly don’t love it. Not by a long shot. What’s lacking to me in PSA is what shines through so intensely in Super Smash Brothers: unity. Everything in this game fits together, all the disparate characters and their universes, weapons and items form one seamless whole, a Nintendoverse that just clicks, and is exploding with color and character and history.

    The large roster of well-known and at-the-time unknown characters, the huge levels (remember the Hyrule Castle, Mother and Metroid maps?) is out of the ordinary still, and kept the game fresh for weeks and months of constant battling. It also had a huge selection of modes and bonuses, and was a true database for the Nintendo franchises it featured. The trophies, levels, minigames and music – everything in SSBM was done with such a loving hand. I mentioned in the blurb up top that polish was what set these games apart from other gems of the generation, and that's more true of this game than any other on the list.