The GameCube was a massively misunderstood system. Mocked and derided for its appearance, the little purple box packed some serious punch. While it may have had a rough launch and lacked the support of third parties compared to its competitors, the Nintendo console has aged like fine wine.
Today, we will be looking at some of the best GameCube games of all time.
Please note that this list will include games that are both exclusive to the GameCube as well as multiplatform. We didn’t want to leave anything out. In addition, the list is presented in no particular order of quality, gameplay, or other metric.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate just saw its final character release, leaving people wondering where the franchise goes next. For some, they never moved past the GameCube era. Arguably, that was a wise move.
Melee took an enjoyable concept from the original Super Smash Bros. and completely refined it. Polished, deep, and addicting, Super Smash Bros. Melee earned its right as a relevant, popular, and enjoyable game even a decade after its release.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
One of the most underrated games of all time, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is a supernatural survivor horror that loves to mess with your mind. It’s the only game I’ve ever been too scared to play, thanks to its sanity effects.
Beyond the gimmick, Eternal Darkness is a sprawling, mysterious thriller that can connect characters and locations across thousands of years in one, interconnected plot.
It had been far too long since Nintendo released a Metroid game. The patience would be rewarded with a beautiful transition to the franchise, bringing it both into the 3D world as well as the modern era of gaming.
Metroid Prime is the gold standard for, well, Metroidvanias. Its gorgeous environment welcomes any and all adventures. The game’s lore is waiting for you around every corner. Metroid Prime may look like a first-person shooter, but it’s really an ethereal experience. It definitely leans into the adventure experience more than action. Its sequel, though…
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
…is the opposite. Echoes is more of an action-packed affair, featuring Dark Samus as an enjoyable villain. While adventure and exploration are still on the docket, like any good Metroid game, I often found myself on the edge of my seat.
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes doesn’t necessarily revolutionize the genre and franchise like its predecessor, but it also didn’t have to. In tandem with Metroid Prime, it’s easy to call these some of the best GameCube games of all time.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
From one great franchise to another. Wind Waker was a bit of a controversial game when revealed. Dubbed “Celda,” many dismissed it based on its cartoony appearance and childish appeal.
As they say, never judge a book by its cover.
Wind Waker established itself as one of the best Zelda games ever. Its visual style, as well as a younger take on Link, meshed well with its sense of discovery and exploration. Throwbacks to tales and locations of old ran through our nostalgic bones.
This is one of the pinnacles of gaming and another home run from Nintendo on their little purple box. While we got an HD remaster for the Wii U, we’d love to play it on the Switch as well. Maybe one day.
Tales of Symphonia
For many, myself included, this was my introduction to the Tales franchise. I picked it up upon release and beat it in 5 days. To say I was hooked is putting it lightly.
Tales of Symphonia combines the action combat the franchise is known for, an impressive cast of voice actors, and plenty of game time and worlds to explore. The story is on par for a JRPG; cheesy, to say the least. It bears repeating again, though, that I spent 70 hours across 5 days playing this game. Each day was time well spent.
Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
Baten Kaitos is not for everyone. Those who are willing to take the plunge, however, will be rewarded with a wonderful card-based RPG that’s also one of the best GameCube games out there.
Let’s start with the elephants in the room: the voice acting is pretty bad. Boss battles, which are undoubtedly enjoyable, can run long as well. Like, an hour or so at times. All that aside, the game is gorgeous, the environments are a work of art, and the combat system is deep, strategic, and enjoyable. A critical success, Baten Kaitos didn’t sell all too well, and the development team has now moved on to the Xenoblade franchise.
If you can find a way to boot it up on your old GameCube , you’ll be rewarded with one of the system’s best JRPGs.
Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door
The Paper Mario franchise is still around, but it’s been experimenting quite a bit when it comes to gameplay and combat. The Thousand Year Door doesn’t bother with that, instead, polishing the foundation laid by its predecessor.
For most, this is the best RPG released on the console. A charming tale with delightful characters, satisfying gameplay, and a beautiful visual style. It helps, too, that the paper aesthetics were used in terms of gameplay mechanics and not just graphics.
Any fan of Paper Mario owes it to themselves to experience Thousand Year Door
Soul Calibur II
It took a while, but we’ve finally reached a multiplatform game!
Soul Calibur II meant more Soul Calibur, which is always a great thing. One of the big hooks here, though, was the console-exclusive characters. For the GameCube version, we got to do battle as Link.
If that’s not enough to get you excited, then the 3-D combat, impressive visuals, and addictive weapons-based fighting styles surely will. Soul Calibur II didn’t push the boundaries beyond its predecessor, but it also didn’t have to. It’s one of the best fighting games on the console.
It’s been almost twenty years since F-Zero GX was released, and we’ve been wanting more ever since.
The pinnacle (that’s a common refrain on this list!) of the F-Zero franchise, GX is all about speed and mayhem on the track. Blazing fast racing, an amazing single-player campaign, and challenging difficulty help make this beautiful GameCube racer one of the best.
I often daydream about playing F-Zero online with 29 other racers, but I also value my own mental health and sanity.
I think it’d be worth it, though.
Before Suda51 became known for the No More Heroes franchise, there was Killer7. The definition of a game that needed to be seen to be believed, Killer7 was a stylish acid trip of a video game.
At the time of release, gameplay and controls were definitely divisive. Killer7 plays out like an on-rails shooter. You’re not really exploring the world and environments around you. Instead, you’re along for the ride and interacting at appropriate times. While this may not allow for an immersive experience, it does let the player take in everything on the screen.
Killer7 was also the poster child for “Can games be art” back in the day. Interactive mediums are far more popular in gaming than they were 15-20 years ago, which could make Killer7 ahead of its time. Regardless of where you stand on that spectrum, it’s still an experience everyone needs to try at least once.
A launch title for the Nintendo GameCube, Luigi’s Mansion left our heads scratching: “We’re getting this instead of a 3D Mario platformer?”
As it turns out, Luigi’s Mansion was a charming delight of a game. One that wasn’t going to sell systems, sadly, but still one that was a lot of fun. It was unique, different, and an impressive-looking launch title to boot as well.
While the franchise has been greatly expanded since its debut on the GameCube, looking back, the original is still a satisfying romp.
An extreme top-down arcade-style shooter, Ikaruga harkens back to games of old. The catch here, though, is that not only is everything trying to kill you, but the enemies are actually competent at it.
Ikaruga plays like a game designed to steal your quarters, which is true! Obviously, console owners don’t have to deal with that. Instead, the beauty of Ikaruga is that with each play session, you perform increasingly better. You’ll lose fewer lives as you learn the attack patterns.
You’ll have a great time doing it, too.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
In contrast to Wind Waker, Twilight Princess is darker, more mature, and downright gorgeous. A swan song to the Gamecube (it was released as a Wii launch title as well), the final Zelda title for Gamecube was one of, if not the, best in the franchise.
Everything about the game resonated with critics and fans alike. Graphics, soundtrack, gameplay, setting, story, environments; it was all a home run. A perfect send-off for a fantastic system, it’s easy to see why Twilight Princess is one of the best GameCube games the system had to offer.
Kirby Air Ride
Many brushed aside this Kirby spin-off as a childish, overtly easy racing game.
What they didn’t know, however, was the open-world sandbox mode called “City Trial” was the real gem over the main racing game.
To sum it up, players drive around a city acquiring various power-ups, skills, and new vehicles. They traverse the world collecting anything and everything they can, at times at the expense of other players, before competing in a random mini-game.
The best way to describe Kirby Air Ride was chaos on wheels. It shows similarities to Super Smash Bros. at times as well, which isn’t a surprise considering the development house behind the game.
Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Building upon the success of the Nintendo 64’s Rogue Squadron comes Rogue Leader. With missions inspired by events during and in between the movies, as well as the original voice actor for Wedge Antilles, Rogue Leader oozes with presentation and style.
Gameplay-wise, it doesn’t get much better than this.
While Knights of the Old Republic gets all the hype as the best Star Wars game of all time, Rogue Leader deserves to at least be in the conversation. It’s one of, if not the, best space shooters of all time.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Following the success of Mario Kart 64, Nintendo took a bit of a risk when it came to Double Dash. Adding a second rider to the carts meant a second set of items, as well as the possibility for cooperative play.
Today, the double items are a standard feature of Mario Kart 8.
Double Dash added a bit of chaos to what was an already chaotic game. While it never gets mentioned among the greats of the franchise, it’s still an enjoyable and underrated entry in the series. Even if it brought us the Baby Park track, which is 100% the worst of all Mario Kart 8 tracks.
Super Mario Strikers
Speaking of chaos, Super Mario Strikers has it in spades.
At the time of release, people were already starting to question fatigue when it came to the Mario sports games. Strikers was the debut of soccer to the franchise, and it turned out to be a very welcome addition.
The simplistic arcade gameplay resulted in plenty of matches that were able to combine strategy with the over-the-top nonsense Mario sports titles are known for. Personally, I remember spending countless hours simply playing the demo, never mind just the full game.
Several titles on this list are worthy of new releases on the Switch, and Super Mario Strikers is right there with them.
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
At the time, Fire Emblem was still somewhat new to the American market. Path of Radiance was the first console entry for the Western audience, and it did not disappoint.
The original games for GameBoy Advance proved Fire Emblem was worthy of all the praise it received in Japan. Packed with deep, strategic combat, RPG elements, and engaging stories, it was a wait that was ultimately worth it. Path of Radiance’s debut on GameCube took the game to a new level.
The more powerful console allowed Fire Emblem to do more powerful things, and it resulted in a beautiful tale from start to finish. One day, we’ll (hopefully) see a Fire Emblem collection release, giving people a great opportunity to discover or re-experience one of the best GameCube games ever made.
Originally part of a line-up of exclusive Capcom games for the GameCube , Viewtiful Joe was a superhero movie come to life. A call back to the beat ‘em up games of old, this title was oozing with personality, style, and had plenty of substance to back it all up too.
The franchise was created by none other than Hideki Kamiya, known for his work at Platinum games and the Bayonetta franchise. Everything about what makes his recent titles so great can be called back to good ol’ Joe.
Henshin a Go Go, baby!
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
A worthy remake of an all-time classic, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is our second game from developer Silicon Knights (Eternal Darkness). The game’s release on GameCube was a big deal, especially as an exclusive title. Previously, the franchise’s Metal Gear Solid entries were all only on PlayStation.
Even today, it’s the only Metal Gear Solid game to release on a Nintendo platform. Future releases were available on both PlayStation and Xbox.
Twin Snakes takes the original Metal Gear Solid and brings it into the modern era. 3D visuals, first-person cameras, re-recorded voice acting, and expanded cutscenes help make this the premiere version of one of the best games and stories of all time.
Super Mario Sunshine
It took a while to finally get a new 3D platformer to follow Super Mario 64. The result was Super Mario Sunshine, a game that continues to get better.
While 64 and the Galaxy games had more acclaim upon release, it took a while for people to be won over by Sunshine.
Tight and precise controls, excellent handling of Mario and his platforming, and a laid-back atmosphere have helped the game be seen for the gem that it truly is.
Its inclusion in Super Mario 3D All-Star was earned and well deserved.
The original Pikmin was a cute console real-time strategy game. More importantly, it was a console RTS that actually worked well! Unfortunately, it was also a bit short.
Enter Pikmin 2. It featured a longer campaign, more depth and content, additional Pikmin types, and just an all-around great time. There was an obscene amount of things to do, items to collect, and enemies to encounter.
Without a shadow of a doubt, Pikmin 2 is one of the best GameCube games ever released.
Animal Crossing was a different type of game from the start. It was chill, relaxed, and stressful at the same time. What’s truly remarkable, though, is how well the game works on a home console.
Playing with friends meant being their neighbors and never getting to physically interact at the same time. In order to do anything of value, you had to hog the TV, which sometimes meant sitting in the family room for hours at a time. From the outside, you’re doing very little, if anything, of value. But you knew better; you knew you were forming friendships with virtual neighbors, customizing your house, or playing old NES classics.
Resident Evil 4
The final game on our list is arguably the best as well. Resident Evil 4 shook up the formula of the franchise, resulting in a more action-packed entry that still featured plenty of tense moments and scares.
It was a genre-defining breakthrough hit that still inspires third-person action games, including the recently released Resident Evil: Village. Few games match its polish and quality even today. Resident Evil 4 had everything you could ever want from a video game at the time of its release. It has also been lovingly remade for current generations.