The Nintendo Switch is proving itself to be a great piece of gaming hardware — even if, at present, it’s really just an expensive Breath of the Wild machine — but things will only get better as more quality games are released. One way that Nintendo will really be able to fill out the Switch’s library is to make its Virtual Console service available on the system, as no other company has as impressive a back catalog as Nintendo’s. Once VC does make the jump to Switch, we’re sure to see the same assortment of NES, SNES, and Nintendo 64 classic that have been made available on the Wii and Wii U but if the rumors are true, I’m definitely more excited by the prospect of downloading GameCube games on the Switch.
The GameCube may not have had a ton of games released for it, but it does have a number of legitimate must-play games and features some of the best first-party games Nintendo ever produced. Given Nintendo’s history of releasing Virtual Console games at a trickle, we’ll probably have to wait awhile for many GameCube games even when (if) Nintendo starts making them available, but if they can prioritize putting out the following 12 games, the Switch will quickly become a must-own console for those who grew up playing GameCube.
*Note: I’ve only included games that were originally published by Nintendo, as it’s likely that these would be the easiest games for the company to re-release on the Switch (in other words, don’t expect games like Resident Evil 4 to come up here, even though it absolutely should be on the Switch).
12. Pikmin 2
In an ideal world, Nintendo would re-release both the original Pikmin and its sequel on the Switch (preferably as a compilation) but if I had to pick only one, it would be Pikmin 2. Pikmin 2 is pretty much the ideal sequel, as it improves on its predecessor in just about every way imaginable, while also introducing some fresh ideas of its own. The most welcome feature in Pikmin 2 is its removal of the unnecessary timer from the first game, allowing players to play the game at more leisurely pace and not have to race to beat the clock. It also introduced new Pikmin, more areas to explore, and better control of the Pikmin themselves. While Pikmin 3 for the Wii U is arguably the best overall game in the series, Pikmin 2 holds up to this day and its relaxing structure and deep experience are well-suited for a system like the Switch.
11. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Nintendo has a reputation for only putting out kid-friendly games but this reputation is a bit unfair, as the GameCube in particular was awash in mature games, An exclusivity deal with Capcom brought a bunch of Resident Evil games to the console but before Resident Evil 4 came out and blew everyone away, it was Nintendo’s collaboration with Silicon Knights that produced one of the GameCube’s most critically-acclaimed horror games, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. As the title suggests, Eternal Darkness is a psychological horror game that gets a lot of mileage out of its “Sanity Meter,” a feature designed to make the player feel like they’re losing their minds.
As the game progresses, stranger and more unsettling things start happening, as the environments morph and mysterious voices start speaking to you, reflecting your descent into madness. Although the horror genre has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, there still aren’t many games out there like Eternal Darkness and with physical copies becoming increasingly difficult to find, it would make perfect sense for Nintendo to make the game available digitally on the Switch.
10. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
The Paper Mario series has been a Nintendo mainstay ever since its first appearance on the Nintendo 64, but its best entry is arguably the GameCube’s The Thousand Year Door. The Paper Mario games are well-recognized for their comedic stories and The Thousand Year Door doesn’t disappoint in this area, weaving a humorous tale that gets a lot of mileage out of Bowser acting like a buffoon and Luigi receiving undeserved hate from his party members. The game’s many playable characters, memorable score, and varied gameplay are really just icing on the cake. While I’m hesitant to declare Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door the best Mario RPG ever (I have an affinity for Bowser’s Inside Story), it’s definitely up there and its status as a Nintendo classic is hard to dispute, making it an easy pick for a Switch re-release.
9. Soul Calibur II
Alright, I’m definitely cheating with this one, considering Nintendo neither published nor developed Soul Calibur II. That being said, even though Soul Calibur II was a multi-platform release, the addition of Link as an exclusive character helped make it synonymous with the GameCube, so its status as an important game for Nintendo is hard to dispute. Plus, it’s not like having one of the best fighting games ever made would do anything to the Switch’s appeal. Even though there have been multiple games released in the series since Soul Calibur II’s original release, it’s still viewed by many as the pinnacle of the series. With its diverse roster of fighters and a bevy of different game modes, Soul Calibur II would make an excellent addition to the Switch library.
8. Wave Race: Blue Storm
For whatever reason, jet ski racing games seemed to fall by the wayside in the early 2000s, which means that the GameCube’s Wave Race: Blue Storm, released in 2001, arguably remains the best game in this now-defunct genre. While the game has certainly aged from a visual standpoint, Blue Storm’s water effects and physics were remarkable for their time and remain impressive to this day. What’s more, this tech actually had a dramatic impact on gameplay, as courses would change as a race wore on and even wakes created by other riders could impact the outcome of a race. Sure, Wave Race: Blue Storm isn’t the first or maybe even tenth game that comes to mind when one thinks of the GameCube, but its addition would help add some variety to the Switch library, as we’re probably not going to be seeing any new jet ski games anytime soon.
7. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
I debated whether or not to put Twilight Princess on this list since most people originally played it on the Wii, but since it’s also a GameCube title — which, coincidentally, is the only version I ever played — I’d say it qualifies. While Twilight Princess definitely has its problems, including a tutorial section that just drags on and on, it features some absolutely classic dungeons and epic moments that are still worth experiencing today, even with the existence of Breath of the Wild.
Twilight Princess may lack the charm and whimsical tone of its direct predecessor, The Wind Waker, but it’s not without some truly memorable characters of its own, including Link’s companion Midna and the absolutely delightful villain Zant. The truth of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter which version of Twilight Princess hits the Switch (but it better be the HD version) as long as it actually happens because it’s too good of a game to just leave on the Wii U where no one is really going to play it.
6. F-Zero GX
Sure, the Switch already has the F-Zero-inspired racer Fast RMX, but it’s no substitute for the real thing. While I’d love to see Nintendo put out an all-new entry in the series, there’s arguably a better chance of seeing the GameCube classic F-Zero GX on the Switch. Still one of the best high-speed racers of all time, F-Zero GX is punishingly difficult but ultimately a rewarding experience for those who persevere. This game was a visual powerhouse when it first launched and time has been surprisingly kind to it, and I’d imagine it would look great on the Switch’s screen in HD. While I hate to see the damage this game might to do some Switch systems when a few frustrated owners inevitably whip their system at the wall in frustration, F-Zero GX is a true racing classic begging to make the jump to the Switch.
5. Mario Kart: Double Dash
Sure, the Switch is already getting a Mario Kart game in the form of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but it’s different enough from 2003’s Double Dash that I think there’s room for another one on the console. Double Dash’s most unique feature is its two riders per kart design, with one in the driver’s seat and the other in charge of weapons and items. For whatever reason, Nintendo has not used this system in any of its subsequent Mario Kart games but in the case of Double Dash, it works surprisingly well.
The ability to put any two characters in a kart together led to all sorts of interesting combinations, especially when you factored in character-specific special attacks, another Double Dash idea that has not been carried over to other games in the series. Given how ingrained local multiplayer gaming is in the Switch’s design, it would frankly be absurd if Nintendo were to release GameCube games on the console and not include Double Dash in the mix.
4. Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Odyssey may be coming out later this year but as things stand right now, there is a distinct lack of Mario games on the Switch. Sure, it probably won’t be long before Nintendo releases the NES and SNES Marios on Virtual Console but the system is pretty much begging for a 3D Mario at the moment, so why not have Super Mario Sunshine fill that void?
I’ve always felt that Sunshine doesn’t get the respect it deserves, probably because it came out in-between Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, two of the best games ever made. Sure, Sunshine doesn’t measure up to either of those games, but it’s still a great 3D platformer with beautiful environments that would look great on the Switch’s screen. It also helps that Nintendo games tend to age better than their contemporaries and Sunshine is no exception, as it still holds up 15 years after its debut.
3. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
The Wind Waker is now one of the most beloved games in The Legend of Zelda franchise, but this wasn’t always the case. When Nintendo first revealed footage of the game Space World 2001, the reception was deeply mixed, with many Zelda fans being disappointed with the game’s cel-shaded graphics. And while these criticisms have never truly gone away, The Wind Waker received a much warmer reception when it was finally released in 2003 because it looked beautiful and most importantly, was an incredible game, boasting tight controls, brilliant level design, and a captivating new world just begging to be explored.
Unfortunately, The Wind Waker is not without its faults, as its sailing mechanics grow tiresome after awhile and late-game Triforce quest is an exercise in tedium, so that’s why I would much prefer to see the HD remaster that Nintendo put out on the Wii U a few years back on the Switch. Wind Waker HD not only takes steps to fix these issues, but is truly the definitive version of the game and since the Wii U version didn’t reach as many people as it deserved to, it should be put on a console where people might actually play it.
2. Metroid Prime
While I would much prefer it if Nintendo would just release the Wii’s Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Switch and call it a day, if they’re going to go the piecemeal route, they absolutely have to start with the original GameCube release. What more is there to really say about Metroid Prime at this point? Nintendo is unparalleled in successfully translating its franchises to from two dimensions to three, so it really shouldn’t have surprised anyone back in 2002 when Retro Games was able to take Metroid’s 2D puzzle-platforming design and convert it to a first-person viewpoint.
Metroid Prime impressed on pretty much every level when it first released and quickly became the GameCube’s killer app. With Nintendo seemingly reluctant to return to the Metroid Prime series these days, we may never actually see a new entry on the Switch, but it certainly wouldn’t go unnoticed if Nintendo were to release the original on the console. After all, a return to one of the greatest Nintendo games of all time is never a bad thing.
1. Super Smash Bros. Melee
It seems inevitable that the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. will be ported over to the Switch at some point, but I’m sure I’m not the only one holding out hope that the greatest entry in the franchise makes the jump to Nintendo’s new system too. Although its visuals don’t pack the same punch they once did, Super Smash Bros. Melee is one of those rare games that only seems to get better with age. This is arguably the best fighting game Nintendo has ever produced and one need only look to the vibrant competitive scene that continues to swear by Melee despite there being two more recent Smash Bros. titles to see proof of this.
When Melee was first released, it was applauded for its dedication to celebrating all things Nintendo and ironically, it’s become a beloved piece of nostalgia for a whole generation of gamers who grew up competing with their friends in tournaments that would go deep into the night. With the Switch’s emphasis on local multiplayer gaming, Super Smash Bros. Melee is really a no-brainer addition to the console’s library.