Best GameCube Games

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Highlights

  • The Nintendo GameCube, although not as successful as its successor the Wii, was still considered a success for Nintendo and had a plethora of brilliant games.
  • Certain GameCube titles like Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, NFL 2K3, SSX 3, and Viewtiful Joe garnered positive reviews and many are considered classics.
  • The Legend of Zelda games, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Metroid Prime, and Resident Evil 4 were highly acclaimed and are still considered some of the best games on the GameCube.

The Nintendo GameCube – released in 2001 for Japan and North America, and in 2002 for the rest of the world – was a beloved console for many gamers. There are quite a few titles that are considered classics, and while it was not universally praised, it was considered a success for Nintendo overall, even though it was surpassed by the incredible popularity of its successor, the Wii.

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As Nintendo’s competition for the PS2 and Xbox, the GameCube had the unenviable task of matching the success of those consoles without outright emulating them. In essence, it still had to feel like a Nintendo. Many gamers may think of the console fondly, and remember that it’s still home to a plethora of brilliant games.

Updated on April 3, 2024, by Alexandra O’Leary: For many gamers, the Nintendo GameCube holds an incredibly special place in video game history. On the cusp of Nintendo becoming the creators of a household console, the GameCube is home to many classic games that introduced millions of people into the world of gaming. It set the stage for many fondly remembered games, and is one of the most beloved consoles ever created. With something for everyone, the GameCube was instrumental in expanding the video game audience and bringing gaming to the forefront of popular culture, and paved the way for the Nintendo Wii – which went on to become the first console truly built for the whole family.

18

Resident Evil (2002)

Metascore: 91

Resident Evil (2002)

Resident Evil (2002)

Released

April 30, 2002

Developer(s)

Capcom Production Studio 4

Genre(s)

Survival Horror

Resident Evil is the 2002 remake of the original 1996 game, first released for the PlayStation. Despite the success of the original, the 2002 version of the game quickly became critically acclaimed, with many claiming both the graphics and the gameplay had wildly improved.

It was released exclusively on the GameCube thanks to a deal between Nintendo and Capcom, but was released for multiple other consoles following another remaster in 2015. Aside from the technical updates, Resident Evil remained largely the same, following the same narrative and player characters, with minor changes that refined the experience. It’s often claimed to be the best entry in the franchise, with players citing its masterful atmosphere, look, and narrative.

17

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4

Metascore: 91

tony hawk skating in the first level of thps4

  • Platforms: GameCube, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Xbox, GBA
  • Released: 2002-11-23
  • Developer: Neversoft
  • Genre: Skateboarding, Sports

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4 is a fondly remembered GameCube title, loved for its fresh take on the series and fun gameplay. Deviating from previous installments, Pro Skater 4 emphasized exploration and world over time-limits. Players can pick up challenges from NPCs around the map with less time pressure, which makes the game more fun and accessible to gamers.

The game also added extra tricks in addition to previous ones, and these additions proved to be a hit with players. Critics and audiences alike agreed that it was the best installment in the series for a while, giving new life to the franchise without forgetting its core values. Pro Skater fans were thrilled with the addition, and today it’s well-remembered as a classic title for the GameCube.

16

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Metascore: 92

metroid prime 2

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

Released

November 15, 2004

Genre(s)

First-Person Shooter
, Metroidvania

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was the highly anticipated sequel to Metroid Prime, and the first installment in the Metroid series to feature multiplayer. Compared to previous games, there was more of an emphasis on the narrative, and the game’s marketing campaign was created in line with this – including websites featuring entries written as if Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was real footage rather than gameplay.

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The investment in marketing paid off, as Metroid Prime 2: Echoes was a commercial and critical hit. It was praised for its original and creative levels, enemies and storyline. It’s abundantly loyal to the Metroidvania genre and style, and committed fully to be a high-quality, imaginative take on the format players already knew and loved.

15

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Metascore: 92

Eternal-Darkness


Eternal Darkness

Released

June 24, 2002

Developer(s)

Silicon Knights

Genre(s)

Action-Adventure

While Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is not a household name and did not have good sales numbers, it did garner a plethora of positive reviews and went on to win several awards. Critics and players alike enjoyed combating the supernatural monsters, conjuring dazzling spells, and traveling through the ever-changing setting that only seemed to get cooler as the game went on.

Originally planned as a Nintendo 64 game, it was eventually developed for the GameCube. Due to the low sales, Nintendo canceled the sequel, but that didn’t stop it from earning a high place on the list of the GameCube’s best titles.

14

NFL 2K3

Metascore: 92

NFL2k3

NFL 2K3

Released

August 14, 2002

Developer

Visual Concepts

Considered one of the best football games of its time, NFL 2K3 was widely praised for its realistic player animations, intuitive audible system, and in-depth franchise mode. It even included an ESPN broadcast system that showed highlights from one’s games, which was revolutionary at the time.

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This is one of those games that is tough to look back at and judge compared to the games fans have today, but upon release, it seemed to be something special. Contemporarily, it substantially upped the football of football games and should be remembered as important in the progression of the genre.

13

SSX 3

Metascore: 92

Snowboarder in mid-air

SSX 3

Released

October 20, 2003

SSX 3 is a snowboarding simulation game released on the GameCube in 2003. Players can compete in a snowboarding championship and show their skills on the slope to prove they should be number one. Like NFL 2K3, SSX 3 was applauded for its realism, particularly its board mechanics and physics.

It made huge technical leaps and the graphics can still be appreciated. Maps were expansive and open-world, which removed the barrier of loading screens and wait times. It’s one of EA Sport’s all-time highest-rated games on Metacritic, a testament to all its achievements.

12

Madden NFL 2003

Metascore: 92

Madden NFL 2003 Football Game

Madden NFL 2003

Released

August 12, 2002

Developer

Budcat Creations, EA Tiburon, EA Sports

Madden NFL 2003 is another football simulation game that garnered critical acclaim for its realistic graphics and its bountiful extras. Critics and fans alike found the amount of options and modes available made it unique from other football simulation titles and made it feel more expansive. The changes from previous titles were noted as necessary and attentive, with critics noting it played well and gave a real impression of football. It’s generally thought to be a must-play for football game lovers who want fun, stakes, and great commentary.

11

Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time

Metascore: 92

Prince of Persia The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Released

October 28, 2003

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a well-known game that’s still acclaimed and loved today. It’s an action-adventure, third-person perspective game where players assume the role of an unnamed Prince as he tries to fight the evil unleashed upon Azad.

The game was praised for its combat, which was kept fresh and exciting thanks to enemy respawning. Additionally, the storyline and puzzles were favored for their originality and ability to keep gamers captivated. Upon release, critics were quick to name it a soon-to-be classic and correctly assumed it would take a much-deserved place in video gaming history. Additionally, Assassin’s Creed developers have since stated that the prolific franchise began as a concept for a Prince of Persia sequel.

10

Super Mario Sunshine

Metascore: 92

Super Mario Sunshine: Mario using his water pack to glide over mud


Super Mario Sunshine

Released

August 26, 2002

Genre(s)

Platformer

Super Mario Sunshine is one of the highest-rated Mario games on Metacritic and was loved for its creative and original take on a 3D Mario game. It introduced the FLUDD machine, a water jet-pack that was used for travel as well as different puzzles. It was one of the GameCube’s best-selling games, with over 5 million copies shifted worldwide.

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The story, graphics, and innovative gameplay were the main draws. Its attractive, fun map was also favored by fans and critics, being home to the now iconic Mario Kart map Delfino Plaza. Developers had great ideas for the game, and successfully took Super Mario Sunshine in its own, distinct direction. Critics hailed the game as addictive, even if its camera mechanics may drive the modern gamer nuts.

9

Super Smash Bros. Melee

Metascore: 92

Promo art featuring characters from Super Smash Bros. Melee


Super Smash Bros. Melee

Released

December 3, 2001

Genre(s)

Fighting

Super Smash Bros. Melee was the second installment in the now classic Super Smash Bros. series. It was praised by critics for brilliantly executing its vision, with simple, effective controls, great visuals, and iconic sound design. Although Nintendo had yet to see what a legendary title it would be, Super Smash Bros. Melee sold over 7 million copies and was the best-selling game on the GameCube.

This installment added extra characters and stages and had a hand in bringing the Fire Emblem series to a wider audience. When Marth and Roy were added to Melee, the Fire Emblem games had only been released in Japan and were unfamiliar to Western audiences – their popularity prompted the following Fire Emblem titles to be released overseas.

Now, Melee is home to a vast and loyal competitive gaming scene – one of the most popular in the world. Players have been loyal to the title since its release, and it’s generally thought to be the best version of Smash for competitive play.

8

Viewtiful Joe

Metascore: 93

ViewtifulJoe

Viewtiful Joe

Released

June 26, 2003

Developer(s)

Clover Studio
, Capcom

Genre(s)

Platformer
, Beat ‘Em Up
, Adventure

A superhero action game with an incredible visual style, Viewtiful Joe quickly became not only one of the most stylish games available on the GameCube but one of the most stylish games available at the time, period. Though it was just a side-scrolling beat-em-up, it seemed to be a game that was greater than the sum of its parts.

Viewtiful Joe garnered more than favorable reviews from just about every publication at the time. It was praised for being unique and creative but wasn’t a particularly popular or well-known game. Despite that, it sold over 200,000 copies, which was relatively successful for a small title – and it’s loved by some as a cult classic.

7

SoulCalibur 2

Metascore: 93

Fighting in Soulcalibur 2

Soulcalibur II

Franchise

Soulcalibur

Released

July 5, 2002

One of the most beloved fighting game franchises ever, SoulCalibur 2 was – much like its predecessors – widely praised upon release. The game innovated in several areas, including an easier “avoid” and “step” system, as well as a mechanic that implemented moves that could only be used when interacting with a wall.

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Four new characters were added to this iteration of SoulCalibur, and many characters from previous entries in the series made their return. Link from The Legend of Zelda was also added as a platform-exclusive character. The game was further celebrated for its brilliant graphics and intuitive gameplay, claimed by many players as the best 3D fighting game ever.

6

Madden NFL 2004

Metascore: 94

Madden2004

Madden NFL 2004

Released

August 12, 2003

Developer

EA Tiburon, Budcat Creations

Much like NFL 2K3, to a newer audience, Madden NFL 2004 might not look very impressive. But, at the time, it was one of the best sports simulation games available.

Madden 2004 introduced the Owner Mode, allowing players to build and manage their stadium alongside managing their team. This mode was a highlight of the game, giving players unprecedented control over aspects of the game that increased player investment and immersion.

5

The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition

Metascore: 95

Zelda-1

The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition

Released

November 14, 2003

Developer(s)

Nintendo
, Nintendo EAD

Genre(s)

Action-Adventure

The Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition featured four different Legend of Zelda games: The Legend of Zelda, Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. To a modern audience, the sheer importance of each game makes it hard to believe they were ever combined.

All four titles were hugely influential in gaming, and are still praised as incredible and iconic titles today. The Collector’s Edition also included a demo of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Any gamers able to get their hands on a copy of this game were suddenly in possession of a vast video game history. The value for money was off the charts, and many critics noted how great it was to play through these games with the GameCube’s controls.

4

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Metascore: 96

twilight princess


The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Released

November 19, 2006

Developer(s)

Nintendo EAD

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is technically interchangeable with Wind Waker, both of them clocking in with a Metascore of 96. Like Wind Waker, Twilight Princess was a different take on a traditional Zelda adventure, incorporating an ability that allows Link to transform into a wolf. The game leaned more towards a cinematic and gritty vision, with iterations of Link and Zelda that appeared more serious and dark.

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Although Twilight Princess didn’t sell as well as Wind Waker, it did have a second life on the Nintendo Wii – which is the platform many gamers will associate it with. Critics applauded Twilight Princess for managing a different perspective on a Zelda game while remaining just familiar enough to appeal to longtime fans of the franchise. So much so that the game generally holds up today, making it one of the more easily replayable Zelda games. It showed real progression in the direction of the series and, of all Zelda games, is a clear example of a fine-tuned franchise that knows itself. Twilight Princess was certainly pivotal in leading to the Zelda games of today, with both Breath of the Wild and Tears of the Kingdom also being critically acclaimed.

3

Resident Evil 4

Metascore: 96

Resident Evil 4


Resident Evil 4

Platform(s)

PS4
, PS3
, PS2
, Xbox One
, Xbox 360
, Switch
, Wii
, Nintendo GameCube
, PC
, Android
, iOS

Released

January 11, 2005

Genre(s)

Survival Horror

Resident Evil 4 saw the return of protagonist Leon Kennedy years after the events of Resident Evil 2. Upon its release, it was considered by many critics and fans to be the best installment in the franchise so far, applauded for seamlessly taking the game in an action-oriented direction while maintaining great mechanics and story.

It allowed players to stay tense and invested while feeling more equipped to tackle enemies than before. Players noted that the game doesn’t lose any of its heart-pounding intensity, especially thanks to its brilliant (for the time) graphics. The game is generally thought to be one of the best horror games of all time, noticeably influencing the genre since its release. In fact, it was so popular that a remake was released in 2023.

2

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Metascore: 96

Wind-Waker

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was one of the GameCube’s most successful games. It’s one of the most recognizable games in the Zelda franchise thanks to its distinct, cel-shaded graphics and art, as well as its unique sailing mechanic.

Despite the new style, the game stayed true to its classic elements and had a great combination of combat, puzzles, and story. It’s one of the few Zelda titles to not overtly involve Princess Zelda – instead introducing her as Tetra, a more dimensional, trusty pirate captain. The game was also flush with side quests and zany interactions with all kinds of characters, building a rich and extremely likable world for players to explore. For the time, it was a different take on a Zelda game that was refreshing for audiences without losing its familiarity.

1

Metroid Prime

Metascore: 97

Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime

Franchise

Metroid

Released

November 17, 2002

Genre(s)

First-Person Shooter
, Metroidvania

Despite the massive range of outstanding and well-loved games created for the GameCube, Metroid Prime reigns supreme with a Metascore of 97. The action-adventure, first-person perspective game saw a return to Samus – one of the most iconic women in video game history. It was the sixth highest-selling GameCube title and is generally accepted by critics as nearly flawless.

The game was universally praised for its fresh take on the franchise’s environment, gameplay, and story. The mechanics were tight and fun, coupled with fantastic level design which was elevated by the outstanding soundtrack. It appeased longtime fans of the franchise while drawing in a whole new audience that got to see Metroid at its best.

Compared to previous games, critics thought Metroid Prime had more dimension, and was almost a love letter to all the franchise could be. It was hailed as the perfect example of a franchise evolving with time and technology – achieving that transition with utter grace and fluidity. Reading any review of this game paints a clear picture of the love and passion that went into it, as well as the joy it gave millions of players.

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