Though the GameCube wasn’t Nintendo’s biggest hit in terms of home consoles, it was a nonetheless widely praised system that had a roster of awesome titles representing a variety of genres but, signaling Nintendo’s new status in the industry at the time of the GameCube, the vast majority of them were released by the console maker themselves.
One thing the GameCube got right was multiplayer games, continuing a strength of the Nintendo 64, but one area where the GameCube faltered was in its overall power output which limited the number of cutting-edge titles that could be developed for the system. And during this era, that was the name of the game.
Many of what were then-called more “mature” titles often sported advanced graphics, something that the GameCube just didn’t do. Don’t get us wrong – the GameCube had beautiful graphics but a limited capacity. Nonetheless, most of its titles hold up even today and feature prominently in the pantheon of Nintendo classics, a hall filled with titles of exceptional quality and variety.
10. Soul Calibur II
Soul Calibur II is, even by modern standards, an amazing fighting game. The graphics, arcade sound, and gameplay all hold up and provide countless hours of fun. Welcoming to both fighting game fans and newcomers alike, Soul Calibur II is simultaneously flamboyant and earnest, endearing it in a way that most fighting games fail to do. Again, the system is accessible without being simplistic, and deep enough to make Soul Calibur II matches between veteran players skilled bouts and contests of will. The conceit of the game revolves around weapons-based fighting and, for the most part, it succeeds in this area. Different from fighting games that emphasize some version of a handheld combat style, Soul Calibur introduces strategies of range and counter attacks that have to consider distance between players as well as an opponent’s ability to operate at various points on the stage. A truly awesome game, Soul Calibur II is a classic of 3D fighting.
Inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto’s playtime romps in his parent’s backyard, Pikmin grew out of a concept for a Mario game and places the player in control of the titular pikmin as they explore a backyard filled with puzzles to solve and tasks to complete. The player needs to help the pikmin get back to their alien home, and he does this by rounding them up and spurring them on towards collective behaviors that will help them achieve this goal. One of the more creative gameplay concepts to debut on the GameCube, Pikmin is probably not for everyone but is definitely a must-play for fans of puzzle games. The graphics are some of the brightest and most detailed you’ll see on the GameCube and the game provides enough challenge without ever becoming overwhelmingly frustrating.
8. Eternal Darkness
Another unique title in The GameCube’s library is Eternal Darkness, the horror video game that had people shaking their heads in surprise and which consistently broke the fourth wall in creative and unsettling ways. Without spoiling too much, this game is very much rooted in its experience. There is a narrative, but it serves mainly as a vehicle for a series of interesting puzzles and player-game interactions that underscore a deviously inventive title’s creative genius. If you’re looking for something outside of the ordinary (and you haven’t already played it) Eternal Darkness on the GameCube is just what you’re looking for in a video game. No other title quite makes the player a part of the narrative quite like this game, and for that it is a classic among the GameCube’s greats.
7. Resident Evil 4
The game that showed the GameCube could have “serious” fare on its system, Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 did much the same for the GameCube that Code Veronica did for the Sega Dreamcast, except for RE4 is probably one of the best Resident Evil games ever made. This title did tweak the original formula enough to modernize it and featured a bizarre, winding narrative for which later RE titles became renown. The game’s graphics were also crisp and detailed, pushing the GameCube to its limits in terms of what it could do. The result is an immediately cinematic title that really does not look like it was born on a Nintendo system. Capcom has tried to replicate RE4’s success ever since, and may have done so with the most recent RE7. Th
6. Metroid Prime
Moving Samus Aran in to the first-person shooter realm was no easy task, but Metroid Prime achieved it with flying colors. Ever since the release of Super Metroid, players were wanting more from Samus and the series, and had eagerly awaited a sequel to that game ever since its release. While Metroid Prime does not feature the same classic 2D gameplay as other entries in the series, it does have some robust first-person shooter gameplay that showed true believers and doubters alike that Metroid could go 3D and do it in a big way. The environments are iconic Metroid and the gameplay is adapted for the new 3D exploration concept. There is even a “scanning” feature that adds so much in terms of lore and gameplay that it is mind boggling. The game went on to spawn two sequels, all of which continued the first’s tradition of quality, and the Prime series represents a high point in the Metroid canon even now.
5. The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker
Fans were skeptical of Windwaker’s cartoonish graphics when Nintendo showed it off, but they were quickly won over by the game’s familiar Zelda gameplay and excellent storyline. Unlike previous games, this one was seafaring and water based, adding a new level of exploration both above and below water. The graphics that were initially derided by some ended up being some of the most gorgeous in the whole series and the story underneath it all so epic in scope that some Zelda games have struggled to match it. The Windwaker was a necessary experience on the GameCube and proved that, once again, Nintendo’s first-party titles were often the stiffest competition on their systems.
4. Super Smash Bros. Melee
Where would the world be without Super Smash Bros. Melee? Though the series had its origins on the Nintendo 64, the Melee era showed that things had not died down a bit and, in many ways, might have accelerated. Some players to this day swear by the GameCube controller and prefer it over all others. While Smash has never had quite the serious audience that other fighting games have had, it nonetheless has a rabidly dedicated fanbase that adores its unique fighting game system and cast of iconic characters.
3. Super Mario Sunshine
The next 3D Mario game after the legendary Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine largely continues that game’s style and adds brighter, more detailed graphics in the sum. This Mario game introduces a new concept in the form of the water jet backpack and tasks the player with cleaning up graffiti on a tropical island. The game is undoubtedly a classic and, while it didn’t fulfill hopes of a direct Super Mario 64 sequel, it was one of the best games released on the GameCube without a doubt.
2. Mario Kart: Double Dash
There’s always a good time for Mario Kart, especially Double Dash. This was the game to own if you had a GameCube. Beautiful graphics, tons of tracks to choose from, and a gameplay style that never gets old – Double Dash was everything you wanted in a Mario Kart 64 sequel. The addition of another player on the back of the cart, along with multiple powerups and different cart stats, are traditions that continue in the series even now. Endless hours of both single player and multiplayer fun, Mario Kart: Double Dash was the GameCube at its addictive height.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
This game, released both on the GameCube and the Wii, was a masterpiece on both systems. The graphics for Twilight Princess on the GameCube answered a long-held fan desire for “more realistic” graphics in a Zelda game and Nintendo did not cut corners. Featuring the gameplay you’ve come to expect from a Zelda game, Twilight Princess was epic in every respect, from graphical style to score to story. While the game was a sensation on the Wii, just as the Wii itself was a sensation, it began its life as a GameCube game. When the console failed to meet Nintendo’s expectations, development for Twilight Princess was moved to the new Wii. Along with that shift came the vaunted new motion controls that Nintendo touted in its marketing. But if you didn’t want that and you still wanted the Twilight Princess experience, the GameCube game was not only comparable but as much of a masterpiece as the Wii version. Players really could not go wrong with this game.