A top 10 list of games is always one of the toughest things to produce. You will inevitably forget some, not include others’ favorites, or not have played some of the console’s especially excellent games or some of its cult classics. Take this list of the top GameCube games of all time with a grain of salt, but also know that these ten hits are not to be ignored as they rank amongst the highest this underrated system has to offer.
The GameCube infamously did not sell very well but had a line-up of incredible and genre-defining titles such as Super Smash Bros. Melee and Metroid Prime. Much like the Wii U’s eventual line-up of games, the GameCube’s biggest titles went on to become massive favourites despite the system’s small install base, and are still being mentioned today as some of the best entries in their respective series.
Without further ado, here are The Top 10 GameCube Games of All Time:
10. Super Mario Strikers
There are many, many games that could’ve broken this top 10 list, so you wouldn’t be forgiven for exclaiming, “WHAT” at the top of your lungs, but please hear me out. There were numerous Mario sports outings on the GameCube such as Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, Mario Power Tennis, and Mario Superstar Baseball, but Super Mario Strikers takes the cake. Why? Many reasons; the sheer intensity of the gameplay, the grittiness of the aesthetic, it’s simple but surprisingly addictive gameplay, and above all, the fact that Waluigi makes a sexual thrusting motion with his crotch when he scores. All of these elements added up to hours of fun with friends and to this very day in 2021, it is a favourite (sometimes reluctantly so) with my group of friends. While the gameplay can at times be luck-based and cheap, there is no denying the fast-paced, on-field action gets the blood pumping. And that overtime music? Talk about getting that heart rate up.
While it is true that Pikmin 2 may be the better game overall, there is no denying the charm the first Pikmin brings. Described by Miyamoto as being inspired by his time gardening in his backyard when he was younger, the game follows the small but adventurous Captain Olimar as he crash lands on an unknown planet (very obviously Earth). Here, Olimar discovers the the diminutive but resourceful Pikmin, who he commands to help him find the parts of his ship that were sent flying when he crash landed. Using a mix of real-time strategy and third-person adventuring, Olimar can throw and grow Pikmin to do his bidding, while also sending them to their inevitable deaths at the hands of the games’ many enemies. It is by no means a relaxing game as Olimar must complete his tasks on a day-cycle and within 30 days or the player fails the entire game. It is definitely something that threw off most players at first (including myself), but if you stick with it and plan accordingly, it can be some of the most rewarding and unique gameplay the GameCube had to offer.
8. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Over time The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess hasn’t fared as well in the memories of gamers as The Wind Waker has. However, depending on your starting point with the Zelda series this may very well be your favorite Zelda game and, well, you’re not wrong. Twilight Princess is Eiji Aounuma and team’s reaction to the more cartoony visuals of Wind Waker, and it shows, as the game is one of, if not the, darkest Zelda game to date. Sporting an epic tale, with equally epic boss fights, Twilight Princess is the most standard a Zelda game can get, adhering to the rules and elements established in Ocarina of Time. You know what to expect: an overlong tutorial in your hometown, venturing out into the towns and areas surrounding Hyrule Field, and coming upon dungeons each with a new item inside to add to your arsenal. That being said, this game sported Midna who is the best companion Link has had to date, and the ability to turn into a wolf at night. That mechanic, while not revolutionary, did manage to break up the flow a little bit and help Twilight Princess carve its own unique space into the series. Still, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess showed that Nintendo had the chops to give fans a darker and more adult Zelda tale, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more epic ending against Ganondorf anywhere across the series.
7. Super Mario Sunshine
Having once been my personal favorite Mario 3D outing, (that was immediately changed when Super Mario Odyssey released) Super Mario Sunshine is an oft-overlooked gem in the series because of it’s bizarre change to the formula with the addition of the water pack F.L.U.D.D. In fact, most aspects of the game were a strange deviation from the traditional Mario aesthetics defined by Super Mario 64. Mario still had some of his trademark moves such as his long jump and side jumps, but the inclusion of F.L.U.D.D. gave way to much more interesting ways to get around like a hover ability and a rocket burst ability that sent Mario skyward. The game included voice acting for all major characters, which was never seen again in a 3D Mario, and had numerous cinematic moments that just weren’t possible in the N64 days. Super Mario Sunshine was a wild left turn for the series but to this day remains the most consistently inventive and charming entry in the entire series and I know I am not alone in wanting a return trip to the tropical Isle Delfino. Make it happen Nintendo!
6. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Famously (maybe infamously?) derived for its more cartoonish take on The Legend of Zelda, Wind Waker was not the cherished gem of a game it is considered these days. Many fans took offense to the cel-shaded look of Link and pals, which led to Twilight Princess’ darker theme. However, underneath the hood was a Zelda game with a unique hook which came in the form of Link’s boat, The King of Red Lions. Wind Waker of course had its classic Zelda dungeons, but freely sailing the open-world was unlike any other entry in the series, even to this day. Open-world game weren’t exactly a dime a dozen back then, so being able to explore the many islands dotting the map and uncovering the fog little by little was a revelation at the time. Of course, the titular Wind Waker instrument was a joy to play and also helped to change wind direction while sailing. Wind Waker was later remastered for the Wii U and brought with it a whole host of improvements to sailing and the map. Bring it to Switch Nintendo!
5. Metroid Prime
These days, people utter the words Metroid Prime and either you hear the melodic songs of angels, or the cries of fans who just want Metroid Prime 4 to be shown already. Back in 2002, Nintendo gave up-and-comers Retro Studios a chance to bring Metroid into the modern era, and boy did they. While like Wind Waker, fans were skeptical about the change in perspective, that all changed after the game released. Metroid Prime took the series into the first-person, and completely revitalized the series for a new generation. The controls were as smooth as could be, and the combat was stellar, even allowing Samus to curl up into her signature morph ball. The classic Metroid style gameplay was still intact allowing players to discover new items and upgrades to take with them to previously unexplored areas. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes released a couple years later (complete with multiplayer mode!), and while great, still couldn’t muster up to the awe and wonderment of that first release. Much like Wind Waker, please Nintendo, we know the trilogy is already done and remastered for Switch. Just announce that release date already!
4. Mario Kart: Double Dash
Depending on how much of a Mario Kart purist you are, this entry could be blasphemy to your eyes. Continuing on with the GameCube’s unique experiences, Mario Kart: Double Dash brought double the characters and double the items to the proceedings making for the most out-there and best Mario Kart to this day. I may have the biggest nostalgia goggles on right now, but hear me out: Mario Kart 8 is mechanically and overall the best Mario Kart hands-down. There is no denying that logic, but Mario Kart: Double Dash is easily the most fun. This game introduced a number of series firsts, some that have even gone on to become staples of the franchise like an “All-Cup Tour”. The wild kart designs, the characters’ individual items, the bonkers courses (Wario Colosseum is the best, dont @ me), and the scorching soundtrack all add up to the best time you’ll ever have with Mario Kart, even in 2021. Of course, the kart controlling isn’t nearly as tight as it is in Mario Kart 8, but there is no denying the absolute charm of this entry in the storied franchise.
3. Resident Evil 4
“Whatta ya buyin’?!” At this point, Resident Evil 4 has to be the most ported game of all time, with perhaps The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim giving it a run for its money. With good reason too, as Resident Evil 4 stands for many as the pinnacle of the Resident Evil series and still the best entry in the franchise to date (are you noticing a theme here?). Director Shinji Mikami’s seminal masterpiece was the series first foray into over-the-shoulder third-person shooting after the series had stuck with high-up camera viewpoints for its baby years. Starring just Leon S. Kennedy on a quest to uncover the mystery of the Las Plagas virus, Resident Evil 4 ratcheted up the action while still keeping the creepiness and jump scares that had become a mainstay of the horror series, delivering high thrills and a gripping story. The Merchant, one of the most quotable NPCs of all time, stood by to offer Leon upgrades for his weapons the like players had never seen, with inventory management to boot. Resident Evil 4 proudly balanced all of these aspects, perfectly marrying the old with the new, and creating one of the most beloved horror games of all time. A remake is currently rumored to be in the works, and I speak for all of us when I say, we couldn’t be more excited.
2. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
It really is quite a shame what the Paper Mario series has become. After the incredible highs of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the series plummeted into depths so dark fans must be wondering if it will ever be salvageable. It’s not so much that TTYD set such a high benchmark…okay, maybe it did, but all fans wanted was just another game in a similar vein. Unfortunately that is not how Miyamoto works, but I digress. The Thousand-Year Door, a sequel to N64’s Paper Mario, went out of its way to make one of the most wildest and endearing adventures I have ever had the pleasure of embarking upon. From it’s perfection of turn-based fighting, to its incredible ensemble cast (a unique group that was the last of its kind in the series), TTYD solidified itself as an instant classic, one Nintendo itself never seems to want to acknowledge. With a story that saw Mario collecting stars to open the titular Thousand-Year Door, and a ending boss fight that was surprisingly creepy for my little 10-year-old mind, TTYD is Paper Mario and turn-based RPG perfection. If you somehow have access to a GameCube, you owe it to yourself to play one of the genre’s greatest games.
- Super Smash Bros. Melee
It is actually not this writer’s opinion that Super Smash Bros. Melee is still considered the best Smash, or my favorite. However, many, many, Smash fanatics do. Why? Because so early in this franchise’s history, the series came within a hair of perfection, less than two years after the original game. This game had everything fans could have dreamed of back then: more characters, more stages, more bonus stages, a freaking Home-Run Contest, you name it, Melee had it. Not to mention of course it’s tight control making the original and Melee play like night and day. It was a phenomenon, and having come the first month of the GameCube’s lifecycle solidified it as THE game to buy with your new and shiny purple lunchbox. There was absolutely no contest in my mind about what would come out on top on this list of 10, as Super Smash Bros. Melee proved that getting four friends around the giant TV would always reign king over the online genesis that was to follow. When you think Nintendo GameCube, you think four controllers, a Friday night, some pizza, some friends, and Super Smash Bros. Melee.