The GameCube has often been overshadowed by its better selling brethren, the PS2 and Xbox. And yeah, the GameCube went out in the saddest way possible, with little to no software support in its last dying years. But some of the best GameCube games were easily the best of its generation, and made a profound impact on games to come.
10. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
I’m not really sure why Nintendo hasn’t used the co-op feature that was introduced in Double Dash in later Mario Kart games. The addition of cooperative play made communication and teamwork necessary if you wanted to breeze through the races with a buddy. The essence of all Mario Kart games is the skillful execution of the drifting mechanic and gaining the speed boost that comes out of it. If you’re racing with another player in Double Dash, the drift boost would require both players to push their control stick in the correct direction with the right timing, and this gave the game an exciting layer of depth and strategy. Once you develop a natural rapport with your partner, you’ll be pulling off boosts like nobody’s business. Double Dash is without a doubt the game that is the most different from the rest of the Mario Kart franchise, and I believe is one of the most overlooked as well.
9. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Eternal Darkness scared the bejesus out of me when I was playing it. But it wasn’t because of the horrifying monsters or the jump scares. It was when the game pretended like it was deleting all your saves that had me freaking out. The sanity effects really made the game memorable for me, and the way the fourth wall would be broken was brilliant. Going around to different time periods and controlling all of the different characters were enjoyable as well, but the tricks the game would constantly pull on the player are what made Eternal Darkness an unforgettable experience. Oh yeah, and that damn bathtub.
8. Killer 7
While I do know that the on rails movement and shooting turned some folks off, the soul of the game was the characters and the story. Some people make games to entertain, while some people make games to try to convey a vision. It is immediately apparent that Suda 51 made this game to try to say something profound. Killer 7 spins a wild tale that tackles issues such as politics, terrorism, race, and everything in between, and the story is something that I’ll never forget. I also believe that the gameplay of Killer 7 gets an undeserved negative reputation. Switching between the different assassins and their unique abilities kept the gunplay entertaining, and the Heaven Smile were legitimately creepy enemies.
7. Viewtiful Joe
Viewtiful Joe is a game that will kick your ass up and down the block without any mercy, but will always remain fair. The 2-D action brawler not only had you using your punches and kicks, but also let you manipulate time to really spice up the combat. Successfully integrating the slow down, mach speed, and rewind into your combat was crucial in coming out of each fight alive. Viewtiful Joe also had a ridiculous, yet totally rad premise: Joe and his girlfriend gets sucked into a movie starring his favorite hero, Captain Blue, and Joe must find a way to rescue his lady. And the bosses you fought had some awesome names that I wish I had, like Hulk Davidson. Henshin a go go baby!
6. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a game that can be described with one word: charm. The great writing, the creative designs, and the way the developers embrace the paper motif make this game a joy to play. The Thousand Year Door will make even the most cynical and cold-hearted of people want to hug this game. But do not mistake this for being an easy RPG with simple mechanics. As with any other Mario RPG, the timing of button presses during battle was crucial to your success. These windows for these timings were pretty tight, so some fights would be legitimately challenging. The wide selection of kooky characters you can take into fights always made the battle system fun and varied. The Thousand Year Door is a fantastic RPG that is bolstered by its imaginative setting and hilarious writing.
5. Metroid Prime
Handing off one of gaming’s most revered franchises in Metroid to an American developer was a ballsy move on Nintendo’s part. And hearing it would be a game from the first person perspective probably made people even more skeptical. But Retro Studios absolutely nailed it with Metroid Prime. It wasn’t as much a first person shooter as it was a first person explorer. Going slowly and examining your surroundings was encouraged, and scanning your enemies, as well as your environment, would give you vital information. It largely focused on the atmosphere, and the exotic locales Samus would visit were always gorgeous and breathtaking. And in true Metroid fashion, you would feel like more of a badass as both your Varia Suit and arm cannon became more powerful. The little details that you would see made me know that Retro Studios really poured all of their heart and effort into Metroid Prime. Things such as seeing the reflection of Samus’ face on her visor when her helmet fogged up made me love this game even more.
4. Tales of Symphonia
Tales of Symphonia was the JRPG the GameCube needed in a time when the PlayStation 2 dominated that market. The real time battle system was the crux of the game, and it offered fast paced fights that would constantly be a blast to partake in. You can play as any one of your party members, so if you get tired of running up to foes and cutting them up, you can switch to a mage and start casting spells. Oftentimes in JRPG’s, the battles would begin to feel like a grind as you near the end, but Tales of Symphonia, with its unique battle system, made me always want to find the next enemy. While the story may have had its fair share of JRPG tropes, (princess being the savior, male protagonist who doesn’t know his parents) it had enough interesting characters and shocking plot twists to make it one of my favorite GameCube games.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker
Anyone who dislikes Wind Waker because of its cartoonish look needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Wind Waker offers one of the most cohesive visual aesthetics of all time, and I’m glad it turned out to be such an outstanding game after fans bemoaned Nintendo for not making a “mature” Zelda. The cel-shaded graphics help present a world that is bursting at the seams with color and beauty. The animation of bombs exploding, the facial expressions that Link would make… all of it combined together to make a world delightful to traverse. The stunning graphics are backed up by the solid combat and ingenious puzzles that you’ve come to expect from a flagship Zelda product. Wind Waker also offered a surprisingly engaging and emotional tale with some unexpected plot twists that I think no other Zelda has been able to match yet. I would also be remiss not to mention the final clash with Ganondorf. The encounter with Ganondorf at the end is without a doubt one of the most memorable boss fights of all time, and it ends in a truly spectacular fashion.
2. Super Smash Bros. Melee
The best selling GameCube game of all time had to find its place somewhere on this list right? The idea of bringing all of Nintendo’s iconic characters into a fighting game where they can beat the crap out of each other might have been first introduced on the original game for the N64, but Melee perfected that concept and made the most out of it. The sheer number of characters and stages helped make Melee fresh and appealing to go back to years after its release. There was a plethora of ways to customize a match so that you can perfectly set up the kind of fight that you wanted, like turning up the item frequency to very high and making it so that the only items that would show up are Poke Balls. And if you haven’t tried this with a bunch of friends, you’re missing out.
The beauty of SSBM was that it appealed to every kind of player. For the person who wants to put on all items and have chaotic fun, SSBM offered that sort of insanity that everyone of all skill levels can enjoy. But for those who want to dig deeper, SSBM had an astounding level of depth. SSBM holds a special place in my heart because I was part of that subsection of players that really got into its fighting system and mechanics. I’m afraid to look at the total amount of time played and see how many hours I’ve put into that game because that number would probably terrify any sane person.
1. Resident Evil 4
In my opinion, every modern action game owes a little something to Resident Evil 4. That game introduced so many revelatory ideas that current games utilize on a regular basis. It was genre defining, being the first to competently implement the now standard “over the shoulder” camera that we’ve all become accustomed to in today’s third person shooters. Not only did it introduce a myriad of ground breaking ideas, but it also was just an excellent game. It successfully married tense, atmospheric moments with action packed set pieces that kept your heart pounding and your adrenaline pumping. The juxtaposition of these two moods always kept the player suspenseful and uneasy.
But the main reason why Resident Evil 4 is amazing is because the shooting just felt so damn good. The aiming was impeccable, all of the guns felt powerful, and the enemies reacted to your bullets in a believable way. Want to save some ammo? Pop a ganado in the leg and slice him with your knife as he struggles to get up. There were so many different ways to approach any given situation, and every option you had was viable and fun. On top of all that, the audiovisual presentation of Resident Evil 4 was second to none at its time. The graphics were unprecedented for 2005, and even still the game looks like it could pass as a current generation release. Simply put, Resident Evil 4 is masterpiece that will go down in the annals of video games as being one of the most exhilarating, tense, and revolutionary games of all time.