This is the second in my series of SEO-baiting articles revealing my favourite games of all time.
In time, as every system is covered, I’ll finally have listed the 700(!) or so games that had a lasting impact on my life.
As before, because this is a personal list and not a group-created list for a magazine or site, there will be some omissions of games I either haven’t played or just personally didn’t like (sorry, Harvest Moon fans).
If one of your favourites isn’t on the list, feel free to give it a shoutout in the comments below and let the world know why it’s important to you.
A while back Nintendo released a new console. Despite the hype surrounding it, it never ended up selling in as enormous numbers as Nintendo had hoped.
Yet despite these disappointing sales figures, everyone who owned Nintendo’s console was in love with it, with some claiming it was the best system of the generation. Sound familiar?
I was one of those
Wii U GameCube owners, so to celebrate the diversity of this grossly underrated console’s library, here’s my list of the 30 best GameCube games ever.
Annoying notes mostly copied and pasted from the last article
This list is in alphabetical order. Much like it’s pretty pointless deciding whether a game’s getting a score of 72% or 73%, it doesn’t really matter if Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is my 23rd or 24th favourite GameCube game. Everything in this list was deemed good enough to make the cut, so I recommend them all with similar enthusiasm.
Also, where possible, I have included links to buy these on Amazon if you’re interested in a particular game. I won’t bullshit you: these are affiliate links.
This means if my list has tempted you to buy a game, if you do it through Amazon by clicking my link then I get a few pence (literally) of Amazon’s revenue for referring you to them. It doesn’t cost you any extra, so it’s a win-win situation. Be sure to check the New & Used sections after clicking the link though: often the main price shown is some indie store charging silly money. In the New & Used section you’ll often find it far cheaper.
However, because GameCube games sold poorly in the UK – particularly near the end of its life – many of these games were even considered rare back when they were released and as such are considered even more scarce today. As such, expect second-hand versions of some (though not all) of them to cost the same as some full-price games today, if not more.
If you want to play any of these games today you’ll need either a GameCube or a standard Wii (which has backwards compatibility). Neither the Wii Family Edition (the horizontal one), the Wii Mini nor the Wii U support GameCube games.
1) Animal Crossing
What it is: The ‘first’ version (if you don’t count the Japanese N64 one) of Nintendo’s much-loved life sim in which players move to a new village and befriend its mutated anthropomorphic beast-citizens.
Why it was chosen: The GameCube version of Animal Crossing doesn’t have many of its successors’ shiny new features: the portability of the DS version shopping centre in the Wii version, the StreetPass goodness of the 3DS version.
But there’s still something about its simplicity that I love. Even though there’s still bumloads to see and do in it, it almost seems more manageable than the daunting ‘look at all the shit you can do’ feeling you get when you play the likes of New Leaf.
Plus, it has one thing the later Animal Crossing games didn’t have: a load of NES games built in, 14 of which are still accessible to this day.
One other thing: spare a thought for us Brits who had to wait so long for it back in the day. The Japanese version released in December 2001 and Americans got it in September 2002, but Brits (well, the ones who didn’t import the US one and play it with the dodgy Freeloader disc… ahem) didn’t get it until September 2004.
Buy it: Animal Crossing
2) Burnout 2: Point Of Impact
Why it was chosen: Yes, I know Burnout 3 was a better game, but good luck finding that on the GameCube (spoiler: it isn’t).
The second offering is still a fantastic racer and, like its siblings, brings the whole risk/reward concept to the fore in a way that few other racing games do.
Driving safe and staying out of danger in Burnout 2 will see you trundling over the finish line with your head between your wheels. The only way to build up your boost is by risking your life: driving on the wrong side of the road, just missing head-on traffic by a ball-hair’s width and the like. It’s a great way to guarantee constant excitement, because success is a direct result of recklessness.
Buy it: Burnout 2: Point Of Impact
3) Capcom vs SNK 2 EO: Millionaire Fighting 2001
Why it was chosen: If there’s one popular gaming the genre in which the GameCube suffered slightly it was 2D fighting games. Well, racing games too, but let’s focus on fighters.
Capcom vs SNK 2 is the one exception to this rule. With a massive character roster – there are 23 Capcom characters and 23 SNK characters to choose from – this one’s deeper than a scuba diving philosopher.
There’s also an optional ‘EO’ system that makes it easy for beginners to perform special moves by just flicking the right stick, a feature that makes an often intimidating genre far more approachable.
4) Def Jam Vendetta and Fight For NY
Why it was chosen: Although most wrestling game fans adored No Mercy when it was released on the Nintendo 64, for some reason publisher THQ and developer AKI went their separate ways after it.
As a consequence of this, AKI was quickly employed by EA, who had earned the license to make video games based on rap label Def Jam Records.
The result was Def Jam Vendetta, a wrestling game that played just like No Mercy (albeit a little faster) but featured the likes of Method Man, DMX and Ludacris instead of WWE superstars.
Its sequel Fight For NY is even better, adding a load of new rappers to the mix: Ice-T, Snoop Dog, Busta Rhymes, Xzibit… the list goes on.
If you aren’t convinced, put it this way: what other game lets you kick seven shades of shite out of Sean Paul?
5) Donkey Konga series
Why it was chosen: In my list of the 30 best DS games I mentioned Taiko No Tatsujin, a series of rhythm games from Namco in which the player batters a large drum.
It should comes as no surprise then that Donkey Konga – which sees the player battering two small bongo drums and clapping their hands to the beat of the music – was developed by the very same studio.
It’s the same daft fun, and if you find yourself in a position to get hold of the third Japan-only game, do it: it’s got 21 unlockable NES chiptune themes to play along with as well as the normal track list.
6) DreamMix TV World Fighters
Why it was chosen: Long before Konami surprised gamers by allowing Solid Snake to feature in Super Smash Bros Brawl, it had included him in this brilliant Smash Bros-like game.
DreamMix TV World Fighters plays just like Smash Bros, but instead of featuring Nintendo characters it instead brings together characters from Konami and Hudson Soft games, as well as toys from Japanese toymaker Takara.
The result is a fighting game starring the likes of Simon Belmont from Castlevania, Solid Snake, Bomberman, Tyson Granger from Beyblade and even fucking Optimus Prime and Megatron from Transformers. Clearly you should be sold on it already.
Buy it: DreamMix TV World Fighters
7) Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Why it was chosen: Eternal Darkness is the sort of game that would have been ruined had it been released today. People would be putting up Vines and the like of its bizarre sanity effects and spoiling the surprises for everyone.
For those who played it when it first came out, it was bloody clever stuff. Taking control of twelve different characters from different historical periods – from a Roman Centurion in 26 BC all the way up to a student in Washington in the year 2000 – it kept things interesting not only with its constantly changing settings but the way it fucked with the player as their character went slowly insane.
One minute the camera angle would tilt slightly and the sound effects would get a little louder. The next you’ll enter a new room and find yourself on the ceiling. Then you’ll try to save your game and it’ll pretend to be formatting your memory card instead.
No game messes with your mind like Eternal Darkness did, and I’m including Arkham Askylum’s Scarecrow scene in that.
8) F-Zero GX
Why it was chosen: You know all these arguments Xbox One and PS4 owners are having right now about whether games are 30 or 60 frames per second? F-Zero GX flicks a finger at them both: it was effortlessly punting out silky smooth 60fps gameplay twelve years ago.
Not only that, it was achieving that 60fps rate in an insanely fast racing game with up to 30 racers on the track at the same time.
Very few games are as exhilarating as F-Zero GX, and to this day I pray for a Wii U remake or sequel with online multiplayer.
Buy it: F-Zero GX
9) Fight Night Round 2
Why it was chosen: When you look at Fight Night 2 these days it looks pretty dated. The animations are stiff, the boxers don’t move too well and it’s all a bit of a slugfest.
You know something though? It’s still brilliant fun. Stringing together combinations is so satisfying, and the Total Punch Control feature lets you use both sticks to completely control the strength of your punches. Best of all, the haymakers (the strong punches) are ridiculously overpowered, making for some great comeback moments.
Punch-Out!! fans may also be interested to know that the GameCube version of Round 2 includes a hidden version of Super Punch-Out!! on the SNES, and that game’s blonde version of Little Mac as a playable fighter.
Buy it: Fight Night Round 2
Why it was chosen: Ikaruga is your typical Japanese bullet hell game in which the screen fills with bullets and the aim is as much to dodge between the gaps as it is to destroy your enemies.
What makes it interesting is its colour-changing mechanic. Each enemy is either black or white, as are their bullets, and you have the ability to change your ship’s colour whenever you like.
If your ship is the same colour as an enemy’s bullet it can absorb it and build up a special weapon meter. However, your own shots are also weak against same-coloured enemies, so you need to keep alternating between absorbing their bullets and switching to the opposite colour to take them out more effectively.
It adds a clever layer of strategy to the shoot ’em up genre and makes it a must-play.
Buy it: Ikaruga
Why it was chosen: killer7 is bloody mental, and I love it. It definitely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and it’s got as many haters as it does fans, but Suda’s western debut is more of an art piece than a traditional game.
Treated as a normal game, it isn’t that great. The controls are clunky and there really isn’t much interaction to be had. But what drives killer7 is its bizarre storyline and its unique art style. If you want to try something different, give this a go.
Buy it: killer7
12) The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Why it was chosen: When Nintendo showed off its new-look Zelda game at Space World 2001, a lot of fans were pissed. Dubbing it Celda because of its cel-shaded graphics, they were incensed that Nintendo was seemingly living up to the “Nintendo makes kiddie games” insults that early trolls of the time loved to use.
Then people actually played it and realised it was alright to love a cute Zelda game if the game itself was bloody fantastic. It may be a little easy and a tad shorter than most Zelda adventures, but The Wind Waker remains an essential experience.
13) The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Why it was chosen: Over the years Twilight Princess hasn’t really been held to as high a regard as the likes of Ocarina, Wind Waker or even Majora’s Mask for some reason. As one of the darkest Zelda games though, I still love it.
Perhaps one of the reasons was Wii Remote controls in the version that launched alongside the Wii, which felt a little tacked-on. There’s a good reason for that: they were.
Twilight Princess was always supposed to be a GameCube game, and it feels better on the GameCube. Link holds the sword in his left hand like he’s supposed to (the entire Wii version was mirrored horizontally so right-handed players could swing the Wii Remote like a sword) and the player can freely control the camera: something not possible in the Wii version.
The Cube version was released in limited numbers so it’s tricky to find these days but if you want to play the true version of Twilight Princess – the one where Kakariko Village lies to the east like it’s supposed to – then hunt it down.
14) Luigi’s Mansion
Why it was chosen: The GameCube was the first Nintendo home console that didn’t launch with a Mario game, and as such many felt that Luigi’s Mansion represented something of a poor substitute, as if it was kicking things off with a B-list character.
Ultimately though, Luigi’s Mansion was the best possible launch title for the system, showing off a wide range of impressive lighting and animation effects. It’s also genuinely funny too, with Luigi bricking it throughout. It’s very short, but it’s worth playing through at least once.
Buy it: Luigi’s Mansion
15) Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Why it was chosen: There are some who, to this day, refuse to accept that Double Dash!! even existed.
To them, the idea of a Mario Kart in which the player chooses two characters who ride together is sacrilege. To them I say “pffffft”.
Double Dash is still brilliant, and it laid down the foundation for the Mario Kart game engine that’s still used (albeit in a slightly modified form) to this day. Plus it was the only Mario Kart game ever to let you play as Petey Piranha.
Buy it: Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
16) Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Why it was chosen: Go into Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2 expecting a first-person shooter and you’re going to be pretty disappointed. Despite that big bastard of an arm cannon Samus is sporting, combat isn’t the main point of these games.
Instead, it’s a first-person adventure. The act of exploring the worlds you find yourself in and the need to scan your surroundings (literally) makes for one of the most immersive game worlds ever. Two beautiful games.
17) Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Why it was chosen: When I stated on Twitter that I was working on an article about the best DS games, a number of followers demanded I include The World Ends With You. This time, it was The Thousand Year Door. My Twitter followers have good taste, is what I’m saying.
The second in the four-part Paper Mario series, The Thousand Year Door has some of the funniest dialogue you’ll read in a game, especially whenever Bowser is involved.
If you’re not adverse to a game where you’ll probably be reading more than you’ll be playing, this is a true delight.
18) Pikmin and Pikmin 2
Why it was chosen: The Pikmin games are probably the most heartbreaking things Nintendo has ever created.
At face value they’re brilliant action-strategy games in which Captain Olimar, crash-landed on a mysterious planet, has to instruct an army of tiny creatures to fight enemies and carry objects for him to help him survive and then escape.
But when you play, and one of your little Pikmin dies, and their little ghost floats away into the sky, it will make you question your very being.
19) Resident Evil
Why it was chosen: Exclusive to the GameCube (well, until about two months ago), this fantastic remake of the first Resident Evil gave the game a massive visual overhaul.
Replacing the B-movie visuals and voice acting with more impressive graphics could have removed some of Resi’s charm, but the RE-make (as it’s affectionately known) looked so bloody amazing it’s no surprise it was roundly loved.
Buy it: Resident Evil
20) Resident Evil 4
Why it was chosen: Anyone who’s played Resi 4 already knows why it’s on this list, but for me the moment that defined it came half an hour in.
When you enter the village and the residents suddenly turn evil (oh, now I get it), you run into a nearby house and block the door by pushing a bookcase in front of it. Until that point, video game convention meant that all enemies were rendered helpless when faced with an obstacle.
Here though, they broke the window and climbed in. And followed you upstairs. And set up ladders so they could get onto the roof. And knocked over your shitey bookcase. And in just five minutes the entire rules of video game enemies had been changed.
Buy it: Resident Evil 4
Why it was chosen: When game sites inevitably dig up the tried and tested list of ‘movie tie-ins that were actually good’, they rarely mention Rocky. Scandalous.
Developed by now-defunct Liverpool studio Rage Software, Rocky told the tale of all five Rocky movies (the sixth wasn’t out then), with ace CGI re-enactments of their most pivotal scenes using the original film’s audio.
As you work your way through the storylines you fight all of Rocky’s big opponents – Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, Ivan Drago, um… Tommy Gunn – as well as all the lesser-known boxers mentioned in the movies, like Spider Rico.
You can even unlock Rocky’s cornerman Mickey as a playable fighter as well as, oddly, the statue of Rocky that’s unveiled at the top of the steps in Rocky III. Lovely attention to detail.
Buy it: Rocky
22) SoulCalibur II
Why it was chosen: When it comes to fighting games
Namco Namco Bandai Bandai Namco may be best known for its Tekken series but there will always be a following of fans (myself included) who reckon SoulCalibur boots its balls up and down the street.
What makes SoulCalibur so entertaining is the fact that every character is armed with a weapon with which to strike their opponent: not only that, but the weapons are wildly different, making for a wide variety of different fighting styles.
The GameCube version of SoulCalibur II also features Link as a playable character, as if you needed further persuading.
Buy it: SoulCalibur II
23) Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Why it was chosen: Some would argue that Rogue Squadron II is still the definitive Star Wars game, and I’d struggle to disagree with them.
That iconic first stage, in which you fly above the Death Star before descending into the trenches to take out the core, is simply the greatest stage in any Star Wars game, and amazingly hasn’t really aged much in the 13 years since. Check this video out if you aren’t convinced.
24) Super Smash Bros Melee
Why it was chosen: Let me be honest. I don’t care about character balance. I don’t care about dash cancelling, or wavedashing, or reverse aerial rushes.
I am not one of these ultra pro Smash Bros players who pick apart the minutiae of the game’s fighting system, the ones who have decided that Melee is the best game in the series for professional competition purposes.
To an easily-pleased goon like me, the best Smash Bros is the one with the most stuff in it: therefore the Wii U one. But that’s not to say Melee isn’t still a fantastic game, it absolutely is and is still packed with lashings of Nintendo love. If you have a GameCube, you need to have Melee.
Buy it: Super Smash Bros Melee
25) Tony Hawk’s series
Why it was chosen: The first Tony Hawk game on GameCube, Pro Skater 3, was the one that absolutely nailed the gameplay in my eyes. The introduction of the revert, allowing you to continue combos after performing vert jumps, completely changed the way the game was played and made insanely long combo runs possible.
The subsequent GameCube entries – Pro Skater 4, Underground, Underground 2 and American Wasteland – all built on this formula, but never went quite so far as to ruin what was a good thing.
They are all, therefore, worth hunting down. But don’t get anything from the appropriately named Downhill Jam onwards.
26) Viewtiful Joe 1 and 2
Why it was chosen: I rarely use the term “cool as fuck” when describing video games (mainly because the publications I worked for didn’t allow it) but Viewtiful Joe gladly fits into this description as if it were a skin-tight superhero outfit.
Joe is a normal chap whose girlfriend has been kidnapped by the villain in a movie they were watching at the cinema (bloody IMAX). Luckily, he’s armed with the V-watch, a device that lets him transform into a superhero with the words “henshin-a-go-go, baby”.
Cue some magnificent cel-shaded face-punching action, complete with cool as fuck (see?) slow motion bits.
27) Virtua Striker 2002
Why it was chosen: At a time when people were playing ISS Pro Evolution and FIFA games, nobody paid any attention to Virtua Striker 3 (which is what this is with a different name), mainly because it played like shit. At least, it did at first.
But this arcade football game, replete with Sega’s trademark ‘chunky’ feel, only really came into its own if you spent a few hours learning what makes it tick. Eventually you could string together some amazing passes and score some ridiculous long-range goals, with the over-excited announcer screaming GOOOOOOAAAAAALLLL WONDERFUL GOAL” at your face.
The GameCube version even had a hidden team made up of Sonic characters, as this video I uploaded years ago shows.
Buy it: Virtua Striker 2002
28) WarioWare Inc: Mega Party Game$
Why it was chosen: WarioWare may be best suited to handhelds, but that doesn’t mean WarioWare Inc wasn’t still great fun to play on the big screen.
Offering all the microgames from the GBA game of the same name, the GameCube version also included a bunch of daft multiplayer takes on WarioWare, which were great fun to play with enough willing participants.
Buy it: WarioWare Inc: Mega Party Game$
29) World Soccer Winning Eleven 6 Final Evolution
Why it was chosen: GameCube fans who loved football, hated FIFA (because it was shite then) and couldn’t see the glory of Virtua Striker had a big problem: while they were moping around in football-free hell their PS2-owning pals were enjoying the glorious Pro Evolution Soccer series, which remained staunchly Nintendo-free in the west.
One version of PES did actually make it to the GameCube, though. World Soccer Winning Eleven 6 Final Evolution was actually the Japanese version of PES 2, and while that wasn’t exactly the pinnacle of the series it was still PES on Nintendo at a time when that wasn’t supposed to exist.
I spent many a lunchtime at ONM playing this with deputy art editor Lewis. Naturally, I won most of the time.
30) WWE Day Of Reckoning 1 and 2
Why it was chosen: To be clear, the Def Jam games are still the best wrestling games on GameCube, but obviously not every wrestling fan wants to play as Redman.
For more a more conventional WWE experience, give both Day Of Reckoning games a go. They’re not quite up there with the Smackdown games on PlayStation systems but I reckon they handled storylines better than any other WWE game to date, particularly Day Of Reckoning 2.
They don’t touch N64 gem WWF No Mercy, but they’re still quality wrestling titles.
Beg your pardon? You already have all 30 of the games I’ve listed above and you want me to list at least 15 more? Alright Richie Rich, Jesus Christ.
Track these down if you’re still craving even more GameCube goodness.
Before it started getting all minimalist with the Bit Generations and ArtStyle games, developer Skip brought us this adorable GameCube game about a helper robot.
Disney Sports Football
Sneer all you want, but this Konami football game is basically International Superstar Soccer 64 with Disney characters. Not laughing now, are you? Sorry? You are? Oh.
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat
Just in case your Donkey Konga bongos hadn’t already been beaten to dust, they could also be used in this quirky platformer.
Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance
Not the best Fire Emblem game every made but still a brilliant example of why Intelligent Systems’ strategy series is loved by fans the world over.
Look at Neversoft’s softography and right in the middle, after its Tony Hawk games but before its Guitar Hero sequels, lies this underrated open world wild west game.
Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
The Lego games haven’t strayed too far from their original formula, as is proven when you try out this, the second of what now stretches to sixteen titles.
Midway Arcade Treasures 1, 2 and 3
If you’re craving some retro arcade goodness, these three compilations combined offer 52 of Midway’s classic coin-op titles, from Defender and Gauntlet to Smash TV and Mortal Kombat III. Arcade Treasures 3 consists solely of racing games, including gems like Hydro Thunder, San Franciso Rush 2049 and Race Drivin’.
Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
With this, Ubisoft managed to do what had been tried and failed in the past, and made Prince Of Persia relevant again. Its parkour gameplay and brilliant time-rewinding mechanic make it a joy to play.
Resident Evil 2, 3 and Code: Veronica X
These GameCube versions of classic PlayStation and Dreamcast titles don’t really add anything new, but are still worth tracking down if you’ve never played them.
Resident Evil Zero
The only Resident Evil to remain a Nintendo exclusive to this day, Zero is classic old school Resi, tank controls and all.
Sonic Mega Collection and Sonic Gems Collection
If, however, you agree with the majority that Sonic’s best days were in 2D form, these two compilations together provide the full Mega Drive series, as well as spin-offs (like Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine), Game Gear titles, arcade game Sonic The Fighters, Saturn racer Sonic R and the glorious Mega CD game Sonic CD.
Super Mario Sunshine
Yes, we all know Sunshine was by no means the best 3D Mario game, especially considering it’s forever sandwiched in history between Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy. But it did offer some pleasing moments even if they too were sandwiched, this time between nail-gnawingly frustrating bits.
Super Monkey Ball 1 and 2
Sega’s ports of its arcade titles were perfectly balanced tests of controller dexterity, and also offered some brilliant mini-games back when people still accepted mini-games and didn’t think they were the scum of the earth.
Still the best Spider-Man game to this day, Treyarch’s adventure game let you flick two fingers up to the storyline and just swing around the city if you fancied it. And most of us did.
Universal Studios Theme Parks Adventure
No, not really.