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25. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Told over the span of over 2000 years, Eternal Darkness features a woman named Alex trying to uncover the truth about her grandfather’s mysterious murder. What follows is a series of flashbacks, that each explores different events that have occurred in the house over the last couple of centuries. It’s incredible to relive these moments and see the house evolve over time; Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem was an inspiration to games like What Remains of Edith Finch.
24. WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Games!
If you haven’t played a WarioWare game before, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Games! is a great place to start. The basic premise is that Wario, in his newly-defined role as cheeseball game-making antagonist, has created over 200 “microgames” that you have to learn and master in just a few seconds each. They are thrown at you in quick, randomized succession, and range from cool NES Zelda and Mario-inspired challenges to goofy anime jokes — and there’s a *lot* of nose-picking. Sometimes dismissed as a port of WarioWare from the Game Boy Advance to the GameCube, WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Games! added one very important element: fun multiplayer. It’s the best multiplayer the WarioWare series has to offer to-date, with the Wii version, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, a clear runner up.
23. Luigi’s Mansion
The original Luigi’s Mansion managed to evoke a genuinely spooky aesthetic while never losing the humor and charm that comes with such a scared protagonist as Luigi. Add in a great loop of Luigi’s ghost hunting gameplay, and it’s no surprise Luigi’s time in the spooky spotlight has led to an enduring franchise.
22. Beyond Good & Evil
Beyond Good & Evil has so much going for it. Blending sci-fi with a sort of anti-corporate political vibe, Beyond Good & Evil also had remarkably layered stakes. It was visually stylish, and the gameplay was always fun whether you were in combat, traveling in your hovercraft, sorting out a puzzle or photographing wildlife. The latter mechanic has been in a plethora of games since then, but it still hasn’t been beaten in terms of how satisfying it felt to “get the shot”.
21. Skies of Arcadia: Legends
Skies of Arcadia Legends was somewhat derided at the time of release for not being enough of a graphical improvement over the Dreamcast original, but the GameCube version improves upon the original in meaningful ways by replacing some of the more grindy elements with new features and things to discover. What really stands out about Skies of Arcadia is the sense of exploration and discovery you feel when traversing the world in your airship. Skies may not have ranked among the best-selling RPGs of all time, but it most certainly made an impact on anyone lucky enough to have experienced it.
In an era where spacious 3D platformers packed with collectibles and sprawling open-world action games were really hitting their stride, Suda51’s narrow, on-rails, and completely bonkers Killer7 was an anomaly. A game where seven serial killers (all of which were different personalities inside of the mind of one man) traversed a stylish, haunting world in search of assassination targets seemed wildly out of place on the upbeat and saccharine GameCube library.
But despite being bloody, violent, and full of filthy words you’d never hear Mario, Zelda, or a bunch of Pikmin say, Killer7 is so unique and special that it was instantly loved by tons of Nintendo fans at the time, many of which are still begging for a modern port or remake of the game on Nintendo Switch.
19. Resident Evil
Every IGN Resident Evil Game Review Ever
REmake is so good that Capcom has re-released it on seven different platforms and likely inspired Capcom to continue revisiting early entries in the series, like the incredible 2019 Resident Evil 2 and the upcoming Resident Evil 3 Remake. The improvements over RE’s original release are remarkable, while still capturing the original’s fun puzzles, interesting environments, and ever-present sense of dread that the early Resident Evil games really mastered.
18. Metal Gear Solid: Twin Snakes
While they might have added a few too many flips for its own good, the GameCube remake of the original Metal Gear Solid, now called Twin Snakes, remains – much like the remake of the original Resident Evil – a great example of why it’s worth revisiting an old game on new hardware. New gameplay elements from the MGS sequels, including improved enemy AI and first-person aiming, breathed new life into Snake’s trek through Shadow Moses, and brought the Metal Gear series to a whole new fanbase – flips and all.
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes built upon the eerie 3D worlds introduced in the first Metroid Prime, continuing Samus’ story in first person on a brand new planet torn apart by light and shadow – giving off some serious Link to the Past vibes. More than anything else, Echoes gave us Samus’ most formidable opponent – a mirror version of herself that would come to be known as Dark Samus. The Metroid Prime sequel also gave us a better look at the universe of the series, letting players finally see the Federation, and pitting her against alien threats besides just metroids and space pirates in a radically diverse planet full of wonder.
In 2003, a two-year old port of a Japanese-only arcade game probably seemed like a strange release for the GameCube. Ikaruga’s polarity mechanic made it an elegant, elevated shoot ‘em up that required some thinking along with the usual fast reflexes. While every other arcade shooter required you to dodge bullets, Ikaruga invited you to embrace them (half of them anyway) and felt revelatory for it. Almost twenty years later, our frothing demand for Ikaruga’s smart arcade thrills persists.
Pikmin had that unquantifiable Nintendo magic from its first entry. Captain Olimar’s timed adventure to escape a planet home to the adorable Pikmin and also many terrifying, hungry monsters is a fantastic blend of art design, unique RTS gameplay mechanics, and charming characters in its sweet, powerful hordes of Pikmin. What makes the original entry truly a joy to master is its 30-day time limit to succeed. There’s inherent replayability to trying to master Pikmin’s objectives in as quick a cadence as possible, but even only taking a crack at Olimar’s journey one time leads to a beautiful blend of exploration, strategy, and giant Duracell batteries.
14. Viewtiful Joe
While the 3D action genre had thrived on other consoles with games like Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, and God of War leading the charge, the pinnacle of the 2D action genre could be found right on the GameCube. Its clever implementation of movie-inspired powers gifted Viewtiful Joe with a one-of-a-kind feel, as you would alternate between slow-mo, to slow down and reflect bullets; fast-mo, to punch so fast that you would ignite flammable objects; and a zoom-in effect, to increase the damage you would deliver for each punch. The interplay between these three special VFX powers, in addition to the many purchasable and upgradeable skills that Joe could acquire, made for an unforgettable experience that to this day is still unlike anything else out there.
13. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
Mario has had several RPG iterations in his many years out in the field, but the Paper Mario franchise may be one of its most inventive. The consistently funny, punny, and smart writing of The Thousand Year Door elevates what began in Nintendo 64’s Paper Mario to an all-time classic RPG experience. The great turn-based combat returns alongside a fantastic ensemble, beautifully imagined and designed worlds, and self-aware storytelling that stands apart from Mario’s many other adventures.
12. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was the series’ first foray onto a home console in the west, allowing it to mix complex 3D maps with sublime 2D artwork and character portraits. Missions were tactically diverse and challenging – from stealthy prison breaks to castle sieges. Unlike most other entries in the franchise that centered around noble lords, Path of Radiance allowed players to view a complicated war between countries through the eyes of Ike, a brash and no-nonsense mercenary. Its unique story presentation deftly explored themes of prejudice between humans and the shape-shifting beast-folk known as laguz, as well as political subterfuge, war-time propaganda, and even slavery. As an added bonus, you could also transfer your data to the sequel on the Wii – Radiant Dawn – to further boost your army in their next adventure.
11. Soulcalibur 2
When Soulcalibur 2 appeared on both the GameCube, PS2, and Xbox, players on each console got their own guest fighter. PlayStation had Tekken’s Heihachi, and Xbox had comic book anti-hero Spawn… but really, it was no contest, because Nintendo had the hero of Hyrule, Link. Even without such an awesome guest fighter, Soulcalibur 2 is an excellent fighting game, and even included a robust single-player experience featuring tons of customized battles to test player’s adaptability to crazy win conditions.
10. Mario Kart Double Dash
Mario Kart: Double Dash has forever cemented itself as the king of the couch, introducing an entirely new way for players to race both with and against to each other, thanks to the unique ability to have two racers man a single kart.
By letting one person in the backseat focus entirely on using items offensively and defensively, the driver was free to put the pedal to the medal and toss back newly gained items – or find the right times to swap positions and make use of each character’s unique item. Beyond its new doubles mechanic, Double Dash was chock-full of instantly memorable tracks to race again and again (and again, if you were racing on Baby Park).
IGN’s Top 25 Nintendo Switch Games
9. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Rogue Squadron II was undoubtedly the graphical showcase for the GameCube at launch, and remains one of the best-looking games on the system. It takes everything we loved about the original N64 game and ups the intensity and fidelity. Replaying that first Death Star level is about the closest thing there is to actually being in a Star Wars movie.
8. Pikmin 2
As great as the original Pikmin is, the franchise continued to improve with Pikmin 2. While it abandoned some of the engrossing stress that came with the original’s time limit, opening things up really allows players to navigate Pikmin 2’s mysterious world to their own whims. Adding in new Pikmin types with new abilities and Olimar’s partner Louie allows for plenty more variety on the hunt of Pikmin 2’s fantastic continuation of the series.
7. Super Mario Sunshine
A much-needed vacation away from the Mushroom Kingdom led to a fun, tropical setting filled with unique takes on old enemies (hello goopy Piranha plants) and fresh new mechanics thanks to F.L.U.D.D. While F.L.U.D.D is a character in its own right, it’s also a backpack Mario wears that’s part water gun, part jetpack, and completely game-changing. F.L.U.D.D creates new opportunities for creative combat and platforming making Super Mario Sunshine the perfect balance between the old and the hasn’t-been-seen-since. And getting used to F.L.U.D.D makes the handful of levels without it feel especially challenging, and refreshing if you’re a platforming purist. From Blooper surfing to traversing theme parks, Sunshine is a memorable joy from start to finish.
6. Animal Crossing
This laid back, low-stress town simulator decked out with talking animal townsfolk, arrangeable furniture, and customizable clothing instantly connected with fans of all ages on the Nintendo GameCube and sparked the start of Animal Crossing becoming one of the biggest and most recognizable video game franchises on earth. Meanwhile, dissenters who were accustomed to much more engaging video game experiences constantly shouted: “but what do you actually DO in Animal Crossing?” As it turns out, not much, but that’s entirely the charm of it all. Animal Crossing never really tries to hurt you or punish you (outside of Mr. Resetti) and instead nudges you to go fishing, beautify your house and town, and mostly just relax and take it easy. It’s a wonderful experience, even when it’s 2:00 AM in the game and everyone is asleep but your character is still up and shaking trees looking for money like some kind of psychopath.
5. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Twilight Princess was a darker approach to Zelda — both in visuals and in its story. Brimming with cinematic flair, it featured some of the most inventive dungeons and bosses in the series, and the unique ability to fight and traverse in wolf-form was only bolstered by Link’s mischievous companion, Midna, who easily ranks among one of the best sidekicks of all time.
4. Resident Evil 4
Sure, Resident Evil 4 reinvented the core Resident Evil franchise just as it was starting to get a bit stagnant, but it also redefined the third-person action game genre as a whole and created a new benchmark for years to come. Resident Evil 4 expertly blended the horror and ammo conservation elements the franchise was known for and threw in copious amounts of action, ridiculous movie-style set-pieces, and one of the first-ever legitimately fun video game escort mission sequences. It’s tense, thrilling, campy, and infinitely replayable (and quotable) even today.
3. Super Smash Bros. Melee
For many, Super Smash Bros. Melee is the pinnacle of Super Smash Brothers, and it’s not hard to see why. Melee has a unique feel to it not present in any other Smash Bros. game. Characters feel weightier, there are a ton of high-level techniques that completely alter how the game is played, and some characters’ melee counterparts are just simply more fun to play. Regardless of how it’s viewed among other Smash Bros. games though, it’s indisputable that Melee was one of the most important games ever released on the system.
2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Despite its many detractors ahead of launch, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has endured as one of the most unique entries in the Zelda franchise. Yes, its sailing speeds were improved in the Wii U remaster, but even still the chance to explore the high seas as Link, sailing from island to island while discovering new characters, awesome new dungeons, treasure, and talking fish is one of the GameCube’s finest adventures. It’s a Zelda adventure that really plays on the passage of time, the recurrence of the hero’s story throughout generations, adding a deep level of storytelling to the series while simultaneously delivering one of its most vibrant adventures to date.
1. Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime is one of the most sublime video game experiences of all time, and a no-brainer choice for the top GameCube game ever created. When news first broke of a first-person, 3D Metroid game, expectations were… low, to say the least. The previous game in the series, Super Metroid, is widely regarded as the best 16-bit game of all time. Why would Nintendo dare to mess with perfection? However, after just a few minutes of play, it becomes clear Nintendo didn’t mess with perfection, but instead allowed it to branch off in a new direction, and the fruits it bore would become the Prime trilogy. For all intents and purposes, it sticks to the Metroid formula, but never before had it been so personal and immersive. The sense of mystery and loneliness was amplified by its new, first-person setting, with Kenji Yamamoto’s haunting score working perfectly to give Prime a feel like no other game before or since. It seems almost quaint now, but the transition to 3D was a monumental decision, one that could easily have gone disastrously wrong. Yet not only is Prime exactly the right game for Metroid’s 3D debut, its undeniable quality would have shown through had it not built on the existing fiction of the Metroid universe. It’s without question the best GameCube game, and one of the best games ever made for any system.Leave your fondest GameCube memories in the comments below!
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