The Nintendo GameCube continued the freefall for Nintendo home consoles. Selling fewer units than the N64 (already deemed to have lost a large portion of Nintendo market share), despite the videogame industry growing in size, the GameCube was a commercial disappointment, albeit still profitable. Nintendo would rebound in a massive way with their next console, the Nintendo Wii. However, it is the GameCube that offers classic Nintendo experiences with their games that will prove to be less forgotten. The following are the 10 best titles released on the GameCube, taking into account what the reception would be if the games were released today.
10. Star Fox Adventures (2002)
The final title created by Rareware to be released on a Nintendo home console (the company would be purchased by Microsoft to produce games for the Xbox), the company surely went out with a bang on this release. Initially titled Dinosaur Planet, Nintendo’s creative team decided to substitute the heroes out for Star Fox characters despite very minimal aerial exploration in the game. This was not unheard of, as Mario 2 (originally Doki Doki Panic in Japan) had a similar transition during the NES days. However, this decision did not endear fans that held Star Fox in high regard and felt he was out of place in this title. While not incorrect, gamers should look past this decision and enjoy a classic adventure game with graphics that hold up to this day. Star Fox Adventures was the early Zelda-style adventure game the console needed and it delivered on all fronts.
9. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (2004)
A remake of the 1998 PlayStation 1 original Metal Gear Solid, this title marked the first time the franchise had hit a Nintendo console since the NES. It was a glorious return as the title featured improved translation, voice acting using an English-speaking cast, new cutscenes and gameplay features included during later games in the series. Taking innovations originally implemented in Metal Gear Solid 2, the ability to use first person view to shoot was now available, as well as the ability to grip onto ledges. This is the definitive edition of Metal Gear Solid. Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima has stated he prefers the original PS1 version and considers that the definitive edition, which is an unpopular opinion. The fortunate conclusion to make is that this title will likely forever remain a GameCube exclusive with no desire to be ported or remastered further, which unfortunately can’t be said for the majority of the other titles on this list.
8. Super Mario Sunshine (2002)
Super Mario Sunshine is aptly viewed as the Mario 2 of the 3D Mario era. Mario 1 and Mario 64 are comparable due to their lasting influence on game design. Consequently, Mario 3 and Mario Galaxy are often debated among the best games of all time. Where does that leave Mario Sunshine? Unfortunately, as the miscast oddball title in the Mario universe. Adding a water-fueled hoverpack that has yet to make another appearance, it is not difficult to see why this game delivered a confused message. What should not have be missed, however, were the excellent platforming designs and the immense challenge of the game. This may be the most difficult Mario title ever created, as later levels required such precise jumping techniques it put the easy Mario 64 to shame. The first time Mario jumps into the retro stages and loses the comfort of his jetpack, the realization that Mario Sunshine blends new 3D elements with retro platforming emerges. Tack on the classic Mario theme remixed a cappella and it proves impossible not to smile.
7. Resident Evil 4 (2005)
Initially planned to be a GameCube exclusive and a huge coup for Nintendo, a PlayStation 2 port was announced before the game was even released. This was a fair representation of the entire generation for Nintendo. Third party companies had no faith in the GameCube selling enough copies and backed off exclusive deals. Furthermore, the system’s fanbase was unable to support mature-rated titles. The GameCube version did have superior graphics thanks to anti-aliasing features and provided a more stable framerate, although the PS2 port did add a slight amount of extra content. The Wii version would combine the best of both worlds by adding in the PS2 content. Resident Evil 4 would place higher on this list if not for the later ports. Venturing into a third person mode with over-the-shoulder style gameplay, the adventure genre met the horror genre while improving the controls the series originally floundered with. Resident Evil 4 is a masterpiece and the high-water mark for the series.
6. Pikmin 2 (2004)
Improving on the innovative design of the original Pikmin, Pikmin 2 allowed for greater control of the Pikmin creatures, introduced more difficult challenges than the original, and removed the unnecessary time limit included in the first game. Pikmin 2 is an all-around better game than the original, which is still fantastic in its own right but only worth revisiting for diehard fans. Pikmin 2’s presentation is top-notch, with impressive cutscenes and CG animation. The strategy puzzle maps the game is known for included a vast amount of paths that were intuitive and non-linear. Challenges can be completed a variety of different ways, resulting in interesting replays. Five different-colored Pikmin must be used to solve the game’s various puzzles, which prove grander and more fun than any description can explain. This is a highly-intelligent game designed with gamers in mind.
5. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (2004)
After skipping the previous N64 generation, the Metroid series returned in glorious fashion with 2002’s Metroid Prime. Nintendo, licensing out the Metroid franchise in-house to little-known developer (at the time) Retro Studios, surprised everyone with a reveal that showed Samus Aran in first person. Metroid became a first-person shooter, a drastic change for the series that had always been presented from a third person viewpoint. Initial skepticism was banished when gamers finally had a chance to play the game, as the Metroid series proved ideally suited for the first-person shooter world. This was a shooting game, however, it was one with exploration and discovery along with platforming and jumping. Graphical evolution simply allowed for a more immersive experience, one that Nintendo always dreamed of for the series. Metroid Prime 2 took the series to new heights and further improved on the original. With alternate worlds and a ramped-up difficulty level, this is the definitive Metroid game to play.
4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)
Released side-by-side with the Wii version, this GameCube swan song plays far better on the system it was originally developed for, the GameCube. The Wii capitalized on the game and used it as a launch title; however, the graphics were not altered as the system hardware was nearly identical. What did change was the inclusion of motion controls. Zelda has proven to play better with a controller, and while the Wii version did support the GameCube controller, the inclusion of motion controls caused one massive change. In order to maintain Link being right-handed, the entire world was mirrored: it was flipped sideways. East became West and orientation was changed. The GameCube version proves to be the original intention and is the true form of Twilight Princess. The game itself takes the style set forth in Ocarina of Time and returns to the alternate form mechanic. This is the spiritual successor to Ocarina that had been requested for years.
3. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (2002)
Media outlets would portray the GameCube as a console intended for children with resistance for adult-themed games. Nintendo would attempt to shake this reputation the entire generation, and their first effort came with the release of the critically-acclaimed Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. A game like no other, the title essentially attempted to make the player lose his mind. The sanity meter, which depleted when a character was seen by an enemy, caused changes to the environment designed to fool the player. Random events would occur, such as a skewed camera angle, persistent whispers that would have players verifying the volume level, and even simulated errors for a TV, making gamers believe the console had shut off. The game was terrifying and the sanity effects mesmerizing; Eternal Darkness was a completely original game that has yet to be successfully imitated. It is an experience to play and a must-own title.
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)
Expectations placed on The Wind Waker during conception were as high as any, with gamers being content (if not desiring) to receive a simple updated model of Ocarina of Time with GameCube graphics. What followed was an artistic style no longer resembling the beloved Zelda universe. Rather than realistic graphics, a cell-shaded format was adopted. While this style would prove to age better than any GameCube title, there were some gamers who simply scoffed and missed this gem of a game. Behind the new graphics was the addictive new sailing mechanic, where Link controlled the direction of the wind. The game presented real battles instead of the simple one-on-one combat the N64 titles were known for. Yet The Wind Waker often has a gauntlet of enemies attacking at once. Similar in gameplay to Ocarina of Time, The Wind Waker is a polished version with fresh tweaks simply hidden behind a new aesthetic look.
1. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)
Still viewed as the king of Smash by many, Super Smash Bros Melee is the beloved second generation of Smash Bros following in the N64’s footsteps. Where the N64 succeeded, the GameCube soars and outclasses. Where the N64 failed, the GameCube corrects and shines. Expanding upon a 12-player roster from the original title, Melee included a whopping 25 Nintendo characters, many of which were not well-known at the time, such as Fire Emblem characters and the Ice Climbers. A new trophy system proved highly addictive, while further customization and balance kept the multiplayer scene alive, even to this day. The greatest improvement came in the single player mode, which was an afterthought for the original. Introducing an adventure mode and varied gameplay, Melee represented a complete effort with a wealth of Nintendo knowledge included in its game encyclopedia. The ability for newcomers to join and have fun, as well as for hardcore gamers to play in tournaments, is a testament to the perfectly-designed gameplay.