The Top 10 GameCube Games

Originally Published: 2011

To celebrate 10 years of Nintendo’s infamous ‘lunchbox’ (no giggling), it’s only fair and proper to remember some of the good things that the ill fated, yet powerful, console did – produce great games. Sadly overlooked by the gaming community thanks to its lack of DVD playback, ‘childish’ design and over-dependence on first party titles; the GameCube still had plenty of awesome titles and arguably one of the most underrated controllers of all time (with the meatiest, manliest A button ever).

Those of us who enjoyed the Nintendo home console that time will mostly forget – it is the worst selling major console in the company’s history – can reflect on the top 10 titles available on the system (as decided by me). Most of them are exclusive, some started off that way before defecting, and there may even be the odd multi-format title in there. Nevertheless, the varying genres and experiences that come from these 10 games proves that there aren’t many consoles with as much variation as the GameCube.

It’s just a shame that the GameCube didn’t get it quite right, as anyone complaining about Nintendo’s lack of hardcore games on the Wii needs to remember that it was Nintendo’s poor sales the last time they tried their hand at the hardcore that pushed them away from it. So grab your 10 year old console handles and strap yourselves in for the top 10 GameCube titles.

10. Super Monkey Ball

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Super Monkey Ball was a launch title for the GameCube and remains easily one of its most playable titles today. Originally seen in arcades with its unique banana shaped joystick, the ludicrously simple puzzler was both addictive and punishingly difficult. The port over to the GameCube was a great success and spawned a whole, er, bunch of sequels (sorry).

The single player game was great, but the addition of a variety of charming mini games was the icing on the cake. All of the mini games were pleasingly assured and some were even pretty damned addictive. Monkey bowling certainly became a staple of most gaming nights I’ve been involved in over the years. Add to that a Mario Kart-lite racing game and the utterly chaotic monkey fight and you’ve got yourself quite a decent package.

The series has probably improved since the first console incarnation (the GameCube’s sequel was practically bursting at the seams with content), but the first title that started it all was arguably the most fresh and refined of the lot.

Units Sold: 1.46 million
Metacritic Score: 87

Did You Know?
The bananas in Super Monkey Ball were technically Dole bananas, as the game was sponsored by Dole Food Company of California. The company’s logo can be seen in various stages in the game.

9. Donkey Konga

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Ok, so who doesn’t love hitting stuff? These days Donkey Konga may have been banished to the shadows of the Harmonix rhythm action titles, but when released there had arguably never been a more fun and addictive music peripheral game. Bundled with quite possibly the sturdiest peripheral of all time (those things took one hell of a beating), Donkey Konga’s bongos were awesome.

The game was incredibly addictive through its simple commands of hitting and clapping, but ramping up the difficulty level and playing some of the harder songs was brilliant fun. The feeling of nailing a rock-hard song in tandem with a friend has never been surpassed by the rhythm action genre in terms of simplistic, rhythmic joy.

Playing plastic guitars is all well and good, but that’s still just tapping buttons. Smacking the hell out of the bongos and mixing in perfectly timed claps was as real as it gets. The co-op multiplayer was brilliantly coded so that passing bangs and claps between players felt fantastic when pulled off to perfection. The series arguably became stale by the third game, but drag those bongos out with a couple of friends and some booze and you’ve still got yourself one hell of a konga.

Units Sold: 1.15 million
Metacritic Score: 76

Did You Know?
The North American version of the game features the awesome cheesy-as-hell Pokémon theme from the anime TV series. That’s right PALs – we got gypped.

8. Timesplitters: Future Perfect

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The only game in the list that wasn’t an exclusive (or released on GC first), Timesplitters still very much deserves its place on the list. As spiritual a successor to Goldeneye and Perfect Dark as you’re ever going to get, very few FPS titles in the generation celebrated an ‘old skool’ mentality as much as Timesplitters. It was straight up, balls-out, gunfighting chaos and it was absolutely brilliant.

Developer Free Radical utilised all their Goldeneye development experience in both Future Perfect and its predecessor Timesplitters 2, both of which are excellent, but the cool time-travelling single player aspect was much more refined in Future Perfect. Topped off with a co-op mode, map maker and arguably one of the best FPS multiplayer modes of the generation, Timesplitters was far and away the best shooter on GameCube. Who needs Halo, eh?

Units Sold: 0.08 million
Metacritic Score: 82

Did You Know?
Recognise the voice of protagonist Sergeant Cortez? That may well be because voice actor Tom Clarke Hill is also the voice of Frosties’ Tony The Tiger in the UK. That’s grrrrrrrrrea… sorry.

7. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

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The GameCube had its problems, but it’s pretty safe to say that the console was home to several of the greatest game remakes of all time. A prime example of this is the utterly fantastic remake of the classic original Metal Gear Solid. Updated using the MGS2 engine, the game was graphically brilliant, with much more nuanced and perfected gameplay than the clunky old PlayStation version.

There was also vastly improved AI, new mesmerising Matrix-inspired cut-scenes, and a revised translation with re-recorded dialogue by all the original English language cast. Criminal, then, that this lovingly crafted and utterly brilliant remake of an already incredible game failed to break even half a million units in sales. For there is no better way to experience the first, and easily the best, title in the iconic Metal Gear Solid series than this marvellous version. Metal Gear Solid always aspired to achieve the type of narrative and visual splendour of Hollywood movies and the GameCube was the console that finally delivered it.

Units Sold: 0.47 million
Metacritic Score: 85

Did You Know?
In the laboratory there are mini statues of Mario and Yoshi on top of one of the computers. Shooting the Mario statue in first person mode produces the classic Mario Bros. ‘1UP’ sound effect and gives Snake a health bonus.

6. Super Mario Sunshine

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Mario Sunshine could well be the Phantom Menace of Mario games. Highly anticipated, expected to show off exciting new technology, and absolutely lauded over by critics upon release, but in hindsight it appears not as great as we all thought first time around. To be honest, Sunshine gets a bad and quite unfair rap. The game definitely doesn’t deserve the same level of acclaim that 64 or Galaxy ever got, but finding a better 3D platform game on the GameCube or any other console from that generation is a near impossible task.

The GameCube’s association with being a transitional console seems personified through its main franchises. It seems that Nintendo were really trying to freshen up key IPs like Mario and Zelda, and the addition of the FLUDD water cannon mechanic was definitely a unique way to control a Mario title. Kudos to Nintendo for thinking of a new and innovative way to play the game even if it wasn’t for everyone.

For those that embraced the game, were there many things cooler on GameCube than backflipping onto a wall, kicking off the surface and gliding over to an unreachable ledge using the water cannon? Almost certainly not. The cannon gave a tremendous sense of freedom to go anywhere and reach anything. Even then, the traditional FLUDD-less platforming sections were among the greatest in Mario’s history. A gorgeous, fun and altogether different Mario title criminally under-appreciated.

Units Sold: 6.31 million
Metacritic Score: 92

Did You Know?
The final FLUDD nozzle design was actually not Nintendo’s favourite, but was used as it seemed to fit with the gameplay ambitions better. Several gun-style nozzles were canned due to Nintendo not wanting to associate with any gun controversies in America.

5. Resident Evil

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The second remake in the list, Resident Evil is perhaps the remake that outdoes them all. The game was an absolute triumph, and the yardstick by which all other remakes should be measured. Bursting with an unbelievable graphics overhaul and just enough gameplay enhancements and additions; the amount of effort put into the game was staggering. You only have to look at the recent Xbox 360 ‘HD’ versions of Resident Evil 4 and Code: Veronica to see that this kind of effort is rarely exerted by Capcom, or anyone else.

Some puzzles were slightly changed, there were new and very brutal defensive weapons, and the addition of the terrifying “Crimson Heads” added a whole new level of strategy and surprise to the game. Whatever you thought you knew about the game, you still weren’t safe from shocks and scares. Simply put, Capcom did everything it needed to perfectly modernise its finest hour and regain the survival horror throne with what can arguably be coined the greatest survival horror game ever.

Units Sold: 1.42 million
Metacritic Score: 91

Did You Know?
The game actually features a hidden difficulty setting known as ‘Real Survival’, which removes the item boxes from the game entirely, meaning players only have what they can carry.

4. Super Smash Bros. Melee

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Whereas Zelda, Mario and Mario Kart caused some dissatisfaction amongst fans for making major changes and shifting the dynamics of the series too much, Smash Bros. Melee was the perfect example of fan service. The game was the epitome of bigger, bolder and better, and fans clearly lapped it up, making the game the biggest seller on GameCube. The game wasn’t just better than its predecessor; it was in a whole new league.

Melee took the brilliant original formula, added a ridiculous amount of extra content, subtly tweaked and perfected the gameplay, and completely refined the animations to produce a fighter of supreme quality. Indeed, the multiplayer of Melee is completely unparalleled on the system and proved yet again that even in an age where online gaming was kicking off, Nintendo were the undisputed kings of 4-player local multiplayer gaming. The simple, addictive and relentlessly fun experience of Smash Bros. is the prime example of what made Nintendo great in the first place – gaming for the fun of gaming.

Units Sold: 7.07 million
Metacritic Score: 92

Did You Know?
Developer Masahiro Sakurai actually wanted Metal Gear’s Solid Snake to appear in Melee, but as the game was too far into development, Snake had to wait until the Wii’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl to shoot rocket launchers at Pokémon.

3. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

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Yet another key Nintendo franchise and yet another GameCube version that divides opinion. Double Dash made several changes to the tried and tested formula that caused more fan outcry, most notably the omission of the jumping mechanic and the addition of two racers in one kart. The jumping omission was possibly not the best choice, but the titular double racers gimmick was a brilliant idea and one that Nintendo sadly cast aside in the wake of fan disapproval.

Being able to successfully balance the signature items of both racers was the skill of kings. Even though this meant that Double Dash took the emphasis of the series firmly down the weapons, rather than pure racing, route, it is easily the finest balance Nintendo has achieved between racing skill and all out chaos. Mario Kart 64 can trundle along at times, but four-player Double Dash is utter mayhem.

The tracks were brilliantly ambitious (with easily the best opening track in the series’ history) and constantly required precise timing and skill. It’s pretty clear that any hardcore Kart fans that are disappointed with the latest Wii version being too casual need to re-evaluate their opinion of this magnificent multiplayer racer. Underneath all the cynicism is yet another fresh take on an established Nintendo franchise, undoubtedly proving that the GameCube is the console to choose for the most unique and criminally underrated Nintendo experiences.

Units Sold: 6.95 million
Metacritic Score: 87

Did You Know?
All Mario Kart games have a fair amount of shortcuts, and Double Dash is no different. However, there is a warp pipe on the track ‘Peach Beach’ which is actually purely for aesthetic value. Drive into it and it’ll simply shoot you back out onto the same piece of track.

2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

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Despite being initially panned, the cel-shaded art style of Wind Waker was a complete masterstroke by Nintendo. Almost sickeningly gorgeous – so sweet it’s like diabetes for the eyes – Wind Waker is easily the best looking Nintendo game ever made. Not only is the game akin to the most spectacular cartoon you’ve ever seen, but the unique and heart-warming presentation ensures that the game is unlike any other action game you’re ever likely to play.

Improving on virtually everything from the N64 titles, Wind Waker is one of the most refined Zelda titles to date with a perfect mix of old and new. The wind-changing mechanics and sailing kept everything feeling fresh, while any disgruntled ‘anti-Celda’ fans could simply not deny that the gameplay was quintessentially Zelda. Dungeons were huge, bosses were spectacular and the sense of scale across the Great Sea was epic.

For the most part, the sailing was a blast. There’s a real guilty pleasure in sailing up to a Bokoblin lookout post in the middle of the sea, smashing them off their perch with a good sword swipe and pillaging all their loot before upping anchor and sailing off into the sunset. However, it wasn’t all epic-ness and piracy. Nintendo wanted to get the game out on time and cut corners by removing two end of game dungeons and replacing them with the rather tedious sea-based Triforce hunt. Rest assured that if we ever get the much clamoured for director’s cut, it would be a contender for the greatest game of all time.

Units Sold: 4.6 million
Metacritic Score: 96

Did You Know?
There is a hard to access island in the game that houses the ‘Nintendo Gallery’. Speak to the man who runs the place to see a less than subtle dig at certain other console manufacturers: “we’ve been losing members due to our lack of “gimmicky attractions”…but we don’t worry. True fans know we’re the coolest,” he says. Now, now, children!

1. Resident Evil 4

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The best title on GameCube is undoubtedly the king of action horror. The bold and brilliant decision to completely shake up the foundations of the Resident Evil world was to result in an astounding title that is still held amongst the higher echelons of the greatest games of all time. The only problem for Capcom is that their attempts to mould survival horror with all out action gaming were too perfect. They nailed it at the first attempt, leaving subsequent Resi titles clinging to the coattails of this magnificent achievement.

Terrifying, brutal, superbly paced and wonderfully over the top, Resident Evil 4 is very nearly the perfect video game that silenced critics of the stagnating game series and the ‘kid friendly’ GameCube. It was a breath of fresh air to the ageing and waning console, whose low user base sadly contributed to relatively measly sales figures, which Capcom rectified with the eventual PS2 release.

The brilliance began on GameCube, though, and no one will ever forget the first time they ventured into that eery looking village and heard the revving of that bloody chainsaw. Pure terror personified in the very first act of this brilliant game. The weapons were meaty, the enemies were terrifying and the action was brutal. Not only that, but the game was also a textbook example of pacing and variation.

Previous Resi titles usually kept the player in one building or area, but Resi 4 was constantly throwing up new places to go with new enemies to slaughter, and was keeping it all engaging thanks to eye-watering action, teeth-jangling terror and very occasional puzzles and brief lulls to catch your breath. A stupendous title for the GameCube to be remembered for and one that Capcom will seemingly forever struggle to surpass.

Units Sold: 1.69 million
Metacritic Score: 96

Did You Know?
Original development for Resi 4 started in 1999. Initially intended for development on PS2, director Hideki Kamiya wanted to make Resi a ‘cool’ and ‘stylish’ action game featuring a man with superhuman abilities explained with biotechnology. Series producer Shinji Mikami decided that the ‘coolness’ theme didn’t fit into the Resident Evil world and convinced staff members to make the game independent from it. They did just that and the game went on to become Devil May Cry, with development on Resi 4 starting again from scratch.

Alex Aldridge

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