The 30 Best Games on GameCube

GameCube console

The 30 Best Games on GameCube

Nintendo’s GameCube is the little purple box that could. Releasing in North America on November 18, 2001, the GameCube would fight an uphill battle against its competitors — the PlayStation 2 with its already entrenched user base and the recently released technical behemoth the Xbox. Though the GameCube would ultimately trail in last place in terms of console success in the 6th generation, it would be host to some of the most important games of the era. Several of the best GameCube games still rank as some of the greatest games of the generation and even some of the best games of all time, a testament to the system’s unique place among 6th-generation hardware. In fact, appreciation for the GameCube has only increased in the last several years, meaning fan appreciation for many of these titles might be higher now than at the time of their original release.

30. Wave Race: Blue Storm

Wave Race: Blue Storm box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — November 17, 2001
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Nintendo Software Technology
  • Review Aggregate Score — 80% (Generally Favorable)

Though it wasn’t nearly as impressive for its time as its predecessor, Wave Race: Blue Storm is still a heck of a good time. Like Wave Race 64, Blue Storm is an aquatic racing game where players thread through buoys while racing against competitors, and the visuals and physics receive a pretty substantial upgrade courtesy of the GameCube hardware. As a launch title for the system, Blue Storm serves as a great showpiece for the advancements made between Nintendo’s 5th and 6th gen hardware, and it would be one of the best multiplayer games on the console at launch and remain one of its more unique racing games throughout its life cycle.

29. Luigi’s Mansion

Luigi's Mansion box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — November 17, 2001
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Nintendo EAD
  • Review Aggregate Score — 78% (Generally Favorable)

Though fans were probably hoping for a new 3D Mario game right at the GameCube’s launch, Luigi’s Mansion is an excellent substitute. This 2D/3D action platformer is the closest approximation to a good Ghostbusters game players have seen yet, and its starring of Mario’s loveable and cowardly brother Luigi adds a certain level of levity and charm that is synonymous with most Nintendo first-party titles. The game would end up being such a hit that it spawned its own series, and it’s impressive to see how many hallmarks of those games are present and accounted for in the first entry.

28. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

Baten Kaitos box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — November 16, 2004
  • Publisher/Developer — Namco/Monolith Soft
  • Review Aggregate Score — 80% (Generally Favorable)

Monolith Soft’s Baten Kaitos is an excellent JRPG that was well ahead of its time. Long before the term “Deckbuilder” had even entered the mainstream gaming lexicon, Baten Kaitos introduced a compelling turn-based battling system built entirely on the act of collecting and strategically using cards in encounters. These cards accounted for everything from items and restoratives to the raw elements for use in magic and other skills. It’s no surprise that the game remains a cult classic on the GameCube, leading to an inevitable remaster on the Switch in 2023 that proves just how forward-thinking Monolith Soft was and continues to be.

27. Super Monkey Ball 2

Super Monkey Ball 2 box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — August 25, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Sega/Amusement Vision
  • Review Aggregate Score — 87% (Generally Favorable)

The Super Monkey Ball franchise would end up being one of the first Sega IPs to make it to a Nintendo console courtesy of the first game in the series. Its sequel, Super Monkey Ball 2, improves upon everything that the first game introduced to be perhaps the best game in the franchise. In addition to its amazing selection of levels and challenging-yet-fun physics-based puzzle platforming, Super Monkey Ball 2 looks and runs amazing on the GameCube. As far as arcade-style score attack games go, it’s hard to beat Super Monkey Ball 2.

26. X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse

X-Men Legends II box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — September 20, 2005
  • Publisher/Developer — Activision/Raven Software
  • Review Aggregate Score — 82% (Generally Favorable)

Though it wasn’t a console exclusive, the GameCube version of the excellent X-Men Legends II is superior to its PS2 counterpart thanks to the ability to have 4-player drop-in/drop-out co-op. Like X-Men Legends before it and Marvel Ultimate Alliance after it, X-Men Legends II is a phenomenal ARPG that treats its source material with respect and has plenty of Easter Eggs for longtime comics fans. Its release hot on the heels of X2, one of the better film adaptations of the X-Men comics, only helped hype the game up even more, and the satisfying combat and light, streamlined RPG systems make it an easy game to pick up and play on a whim.

25. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — February 9, 2004
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/The Game Designers Studio
  • Review Aggregate Score — 80% (Generally Favorable)

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is an interesting outlier in the Final Fantasy series and an excellent homecoming for the franchise to Nintendo hardware. Unlike the mainline games, Crystal Chronicles is an action RPG with real-time combat and a focus on multiplayer. While the GameCube original is somewhat overreliant on a slew of accessories to experience the title to its fullest, the simplistic combat and great visuals (including new renditions of several iconic series monsters) makeCrystal Chronicles feel like something of a “greatest hits” Final Fantasy game aimed at a casual audience.

24. TimeSplitters 2

TimeSplitters 2 box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — October 15, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Eidos Interactive/Free Radical Design
  • Review Aggregate Score — 88% (Generally Favorable)

With TimeSplitters 2 effectively being the true follow-up to Rare’s GoldenEye 007 and Perfect Dark, it makes perfect sense that the best version of the game is the GameCube release. Like its spiritual predecessors, TimeSplitters 2 has an amazing single-player campaign featuring missions jam-packed with fun and inventive objectives along with some pitch-perfect FPS gameplay. Of course, the real star of TimeSplitters 2 is its amazing multiplayer. With the GameCube’s 4 controller ports, players can expect hours of fun and frantic split-screen action that is perhaps the best FPS gameplay on the console.

23. Resident Evil 0

Resident Evil Zero box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — November 12, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Capcom/Capcom Production Studio 3
  • Review Aggregate Score — 83% (Generally Favorable)

It might not be as groundbreaking as the remake of the original Resident Evil or Resident Evil 4, but Resident Evil 0 (Zero) is still an impressive outing. What makes Zero unique among Resident Evil games is its unique approach to the standard dual protagonist system. Rather than splitting up two heroes into separate campaigns, players get to control both Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen at once. Switching between both heroes to solve puzzles and strategically tackle enemy encounters is an excellent idea that’s somewhat flawed in its execution (especially where inventory management is concerned), but Zero acts as a fitting prequel to the franchise and is one of GameCube’s best-looking games.

22. Star Fox Adventures

Star Fox Adventures box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — September 23, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Rare
  • Review Aggregate Score — 82% (Generally Favorable)

Sure, the GameCube also received a traditional Star Fox game in Star Fox Assault, but it’s Star Fox Adventures that reigns as the superior franchise entry on the console. This Zelda-like action-adventure game puts players in control of series hero Fox McCloud outside the confines of the Arwing as he works to save one of the Lylat System’s planets. With Rare’s development, the title’s combat, traversal, and puzzle-solving are all the same level of quality that players had come to expect from the studio, and it’s a wonder that Star Fox Adventures never got a proper sequel despite its strong critical and commercial reception.

21. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — March 9, 2004
  • Publisher/Developer — Konami/Konami Computer Entertainment Japan, Silicon Knights
  • Review Aggregate Score — 85% (Generally Favorable)

Remaking the at-the-time relatively new Metal Gear Solid was always going to be a risky move given that title’s singular importance in the medium. However, Silicon Knights deserve praise for how well they reimagined it as Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes on the GameCube, giving the title a substantial graphical overhaul and introducing some new mechanics that make it unique, even if it is a little too easy compared to the original. Twin Snakes has some issues with its tone and the few liberties it takes over the original, but it’s an oft-forgotten hidden gem in the GameCube library that wonderfully translates one of Hideo Kojima’s masterpieces.

20. Ikaruga

Ikaruga box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — April 15, 2003
  • Publisher/Developer — Atari/Treasure
  • Review Aggregate Score — 85% (Generally Favorable)

Often considered to be the greatest Shmup ever made, Ikaruga‘s first and only 6th-gen console port in the West was to the GameCube. Ikaruga‘s signature mechanic, switching between shot polarities to absorb damage or deal double damage depending on color and opponent, results in some truly mind-bending sections of stages that push players’ skills to their limit. The visuals, music, and pacing of Ikaruga are all examples of peak Shmup gameplay, but it’s the polarity mechanic that remains the title’s defining quality and the factor that pushes the game into hybrid Shmup and puzzler territory.

19. Tales of Symphonia

Tales of Symphonia box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — July 13, 2004
  • Publisher/Developer — Namco/Namco Tales Studio
  • Review Aggregate Score — 86% (Generally Favorable)

For whatever reason, Western players never really caught on with the Tales series in the same way that they had with Final Fantasy. That would change during the 6th generation courtesy of the GameCube-exclusive Tales of Symphonia, introducing the Tales series to an entirely new audience with one of its best entries. The real-time combat of theTales series is the most obvious thing setting it apart from its JRPG contemporaries, but the relationship-building events and character development synonymous with the franchise are just as important. Aside from being an excellent JRPG, Tales of Symphonia has one of the best casts of heroes and narratives in the series and is one of many must-have GameCube exclusives.

18. Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — September 15, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Nintendo EAD
  • Review Aggregate Score — 87% (Generally Favorable)

It’s impressive how fully-formed Animal Crossing arrived, delivering all of the series’ hallmarks in its first entry. After initially coming to the Nintendo 64 in Japan, Western players would finally get to experience the much-hyped life-sim on the GameCube, quickly becoming addicted to its cozy, low-stakes gameplay and a plethora of furniture and other collectibles. Being able to get an NES in your house and actually play games on it was practically unheard of, driving several players with only a passing interest in the title to pick up a copy in hopes of playing some emulated versions of Excitebike or Super Mario Bros. in their cozy hamlet.

17. SSX Tricky

SSX Tricky box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — December 2, 2001
  • Publisher/Developer — EA Sports BIG/EA Canada
  • Review Aggregate Score — 87% (Generally Favorable)

The superior downhill snowboarding game to Nintendo’s 1080 Avalanche, SSX Tricky is one of the best extreme sports games of all time. Tricky‘s signature, uh, trick, is that it gives players incentive to pull off increasingly complex tricks by boosting their speed. As a result, the racing and stunt mechanics feed into one another, making both parts of a race in SSX Tricky feel equally important and complement one another in terms of their feel and fun factor. Tricky has an amazing single-player component, but it’s yet another title where the multiplayer gives it an edge over competing games.

16. SoulCalibur II

SoulCalibur II box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — August 27, 2003
  • Publisher/Developer — Namco/Project Soul
  • Review Aggregate Score — 93% (Universal Acclaim)

SoulCalibur II is undoubtedly one of the greatest fighting games both of the 6th generation and of all time, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see its GameCube version land on a list of the system’s best titles. Notably, each of the three versions of SoulCalibur II (Xbox, GameCube, and PS2) features its own signature bonus character, and the GameCube’s is a doozy. Getting to play as Link from The Legend of Zelda against the SoulCalibur series’ already impressive roster makes the GameCube version perhaps the best of the bunch, and even outside of his inclusion it’s still the same great 3D fighting game that players know and love.

15. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — October 17, 2005
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Intelligent Systems
  • Review Aggregate Score — 85% (Generally Favorable)

One of the few Fire Emblem games to make it stateside before the series’ massive surge in popularity courtesy of Awakening on the 3DS, Path of Radiance, fills a surprising weak spot in the GameCube’s library, that of the tactical RPG. The story focuses on the popular series character and mercenary Ike, and the combat and mechanics are exactly what fans of the newer Fire Emblem games would expect from an older series entry. The same grid-based tactical battles from future games are the bread and butter of Path of Radiance, making the absence of the relationship systems and family dynasty mechanics felt less thanks to the excellent combat.

14. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

Mario Kart: Double Dash box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — November 17, 2003
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Nintendo EAD
  • Review Aggregate Score — 87% (Generally Favorable)

The GameCube’s sole Mario Kart title is one of the best and most unique in the series. Rather than have one driver per kart, Double-Dash!! is the one game in the Mario Kart series that features a team of drivers for every kart and allows players to swap between them at will or control them as a team, together. Aside from its unique mechanics and place in the series, Mario Kart: Double-Dash!! is an excellent step up from Mario Kart64 that further evolves Nintendo’s flagship kart racing series and sets up the next evolution in the franchise, courtesy of Mario Kart Wii.

13. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — October 11, 2004
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Intelligent Systems
  • Review Aggregate Score — 87% (Generally Favorable)

Few games have the kind of dedicated cult following of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. This sequel to the Nintendo 64 classic Paper Mario is every bit the same kind of whimsical and lighthearted RPG as its predecessor, but it ups the production values in every conceivable way. The visuals are more striking and use the GameCube’s hardware to present some of the most vibrant and aesthetically pleasing 2D visuals on the console, the gameplay is finely tuned and utilizes similar mechanics as Paper Mario and Super Mario RPG to make battles engaging, and the narrative is surprisingly poignant and heartfelt for a game starring Mario and his pals. It’s no wonder this game got its own Switch remaster when the original is such a timeless classic.

12. F-Zero GX

F-Zero GX box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — August 26, 2003
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Amusement Vision
  • Review Aggregate Score — 89% (Generally Favorable)

The best, and hardest, game in the F-Zero series, F-Zero GX is not for the faint of heart. Nintendo was smart to partner with Sega for the GameCube rendition of its futuristic racing series, ultimately delivering one of the most blindingly fast and white-knuckle tense games in the franchise. F-Zero GX would even feature connectivity with its Sega-produced arcade cabinet counterpart, F-Zero AX, allowing players to import their saves and unlock secret racers. Still, it’s the excellent racing mechanics, impressive sense of speed, and phenomenal story mode that make F-Zero GX a high point for the series. 21 years later, it’s high time for a proper sequel.

11. Pikmin 2

Pikmin 2 box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — August 30, 2004
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Nintendo EAD
  • Review Aggregate Score — 90% (Universal Acclaim)

The first Pikmin game would end up being one of the more quirky and pleasant launch titles on the GameCube, and its sequel only improves on its formula to be the best entry in the series during the era. The format is similar to the first game in that players crash land on a planet littered with artifacts and need to work together with the endemic plant-like Pikmin to escape. But, where Pikmin 2 shines over the first game is in its introduction of new Pikmin types, inventive puzzles, and generally improved mechanics. The Pikmin series remains one of Nintendo’s more offbeat franchises, but once it takes root it’s hard to deny its fun and charm.

10. Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — November 18, 2001
  • Publisher/Developer — LucasArts/Factor 5
  • Review Aggregate Score — 90% (Universal Acclaim)

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II is somehow even more impressive than the first game in the series, outdoing its predecessor in terms of pure audiovisual fidelity thanks to the power of the GameCube. While it doesn’t change up much in terms of the arcade-style flight-sim and space combat gameplay of Rogue Squadron on the Nintendo 64, the inclusion of some of the most iconic moments from the original trilogy of Star Wars films and the stunning presentation make Rogue Squadron II a must-have for GameCube owners who also happen to be Star Wars fans. Rogue Leader is Star Wars fan service done right.

9. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — November 15, 2004
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Retro Studios
  • Review Aggregate Score — 92% (Universal Acclaim)

The second entry in the now-iconic Metroid Prime trilogy (and, hopefully, soon-to-be 4-game series), Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is like the Empire Strikes Back of the franchise. The tone is overall darker and grimmer than the first Metroid Prime, and the main plot device of Samus needing to combat the “Dark” version of herself and hop between dimensions is an interesting twist that plays out in mixed ways where the gameplay is concerned. The harsh atmosphere of Dark Aether makes traversal a bit of a headache at certain points, but Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is otherwise a phenomenal 3D take on the series.

8. Resident Evil

Resident Evil (1996) gameplay
  • Release Date — April 30, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Capcom/Capcom Production Studio 4
  • Review Aggregate Score — 91% (Universal Acclaim)

Similar to Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, the GameCube version of Resident Evil is a surprising remake of a PlayStation title that wasn’t quite yet 10 years old. That said, the Resident Evil remake (commonly referred to as “REmake”) is perhaps the definitive edition of the original survival horror game. Not only does Resident Evil upend player expectations and play with their nostalgia, but it also introduces several new mechanics that should have always been part of the original release but were cut for resource constraints. Further, Resident Evil establishes the darker, horror-leaning tone that the future series remakes would abide by, making it an important game in the continued evolution of the franchise.

7. Super Smash Bros. Melee

Super Smash Bros. Melee box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — December 3, 2001
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/HAL Laboratory
  • Review Aggregate Score — 92% (Universal Acclaim)

If the original Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64 is a proof of concept, Super Smash Bros. Melee is the series coming into its own. Still considered to be one of the best games in the Smash Bros. series, Melee is pure over-the-top multiplayer fun and a mainstay among GameCube owners for that very reason. The roster is improved over the first entry, the stages pull from even more iconic game locations, and the single-player story mode and museum of collectibles give solo players plenty of content to engage with outside the title’s highlight — 4-player multiplayer battles. It might be the second entry in the series, but there’s a case to be made that Smash Bros. starts in earnest with Melee.

6. Super Mario Sunshine

Super Mario Sunshine box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — August 26, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Nintendo EAD
  • Review Aggregate Score — 92% (Universal Acclaim)

Super Mario Sunshine gets a bad rap in comparison to its predecessor and follow-ups. The “black sheep” of the 3D Mario titles, Sunshine got some flak upon release for how little it did to differentiate itself from the era-defining Super Mario 64, but looking back on the title in hindsight shows that to be an unfair criticism. The new area of Delfino Island was a nice, tropical-themed change of pace from the Mushroom Kingdom, and the F.L.O.O.D pack allowed for some truly inventive platforming gameplay that should absolutely be reintroduced in some way in a future Mario title. Sunshine looks great, runs great, has plenty of ingeniously designed platforming challenges, and stands on its own as a unique entry in the 3D Mario games.

5. Eternal Darkness

Eternal Darkness box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — June 23, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Silicon Knights
  • Review Aggregate Score — 92% (Universal Acclaim)

Simply put, Eternal Darkness is the best survival horror game not bearing the name Resident Evil. Originally developed for the Nintendo 64 and then pushed to the GameCube, the fourth-wall-breaking Eternal Darkness is a Lovecraftian nightmare come to life and one of the most genuinely disturbing games in the survival horror subgenre. Players get to experience an entire bloodline of a family devoted to stopping the Ancient Old Ones from destroying making, resulting in a series of vignettes that take you across time and cultures all while introducing unique mechanics and combat in each section. While the encounter design is somewhat basic, the puzzle-solving and narrative of Eternal Darkness are peak survival horror.

4. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — December 11, 2006
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Nintendo EAD
  • Review Aggregate Score — 96% (Universal Acclaim)

Though most players are familiar with the Wii version, it’s worth noting that the GameCube release of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is arguably the superior release. Aside from being generally the same game except featuring mirrored item placements and puzzle solutions, Twilight Princess on the GameCube is the last of the “classic” 3D Zelda titles to feature a traditional control scheme. The darker tone and dimension-hopping gameplay that sees Link transform into a wolf make Twilight Princess an uncharacteristically grim entry in the franchise, and its success and adoration among fans shows that it was a risk that paid off for Nintendo.

3. Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 gameplay
  • Release Date — January 11, 2005
  • Publisher/Developer — Capcom/Capcom Production Studio 4
  • Review Aggregate Score — 96% (Universal Acclaim)

After starting and stopping its development multiple times, players would finally get their hands on Resident Evil 4 during the twilight of the GameCube’s lifespan. As it turns out, it was more than worth the wait, with Resident Evil 4 practically single-handedly rewriting the rules for third-person action games overnight. While Resident Evil 4 would eventually (and quickly) arrive on other platforms, its importance as a timed GameCube exclusive was hugely important to the console, and many players still prefer the original, unaltered version of the game in comparison to later ports.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — March 24, 2003
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Nintendo EAD
  • Review Aggregate Score — 96% (Universal Acclaim)

The best Zelda game on the GameCube and a strong contender for one of the best in the series, The Wind Waker is a title that only continues to get better with age. Thanks to its timeless cel-shaded visuals and vibrant color palette, Wind Waker looks just as impressive today as it did more than 20 years ago, and its gameplay is peak 3D Zelda, taking all the best parts of Ocarina of Time and adding in a few twists to make it a definitive high point in the franchise. Sailing around the Great Sea is a meditative experience while also presenting players with a semi-open sandbox brimming with adventure, and that sense of adventure and desire to discover what’s just around the corner or on the next island is a pure distillation of what makes Zelda so special.

1. Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime box art and gameplay
  • Release Date — November 17, 2002
  • Publisher/Developer — Nintendo/Retro Studios
  • Review Aggregate Score — 97% (Universal Acclaim)

Truthfully, Metroid Prime is many things. One of the greatest Metroid games, the first true 3D Metroidvania, and the greatest game on the GameCube, Metroid Prime is a massive departure from what came before in the series yet it still feels undeniably like Metroid. Nintendo and Retro Studios deserve commendation for how they successfully translated the core Metroid experience of Super Metroid into full 3D and lost none of the atmosphere, challenge, and tension that are hallmarks of the franchise. Exploring the world of Talon IV in 3D is every bit as enjoyable as uncovering every secret across one of the traditional 2D interconnected maps of the franchise, and the combat and puzzles toe the line between challenging and accessible to appeal perfectly to newcomers and series veterans.

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