The 10 Best GameCube Games of All Time

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It’s Christmas morning, 2002. You and your little sister race down the stairs in your footie pajamas. You’ve been up for an hour already, waiting for your parents to finish laying out the presents underneath the Christmas tree.

The pitter patter of your soft little feet sounds a bit like the freezing rain falling across your driveway outside. The tree is laden with gifts. Some for your mom, some for your dad, some for the extended family that you have to see later today, and one particular cube-shaped box is for you.

What could it be? An ice cube-shaped squishmallow? Perhaps a tiny, huggable plague doctor plushie for the latent goth inside you—to emerge in your teenage years? No, because Squishmallows hadn’t been invented yet. John Squish and Henry Mallow’s (or whoever) million-dollar idea was still a few years off. Instead, your parents got you something better. You open the wrapping paper cube to reveal … another cube. But not just any cube. The Nintendo GameCube.

And your life is forever changed.

1. The Wind Waker

Link stands on a sunny dock in "The Wind Waker"

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was a shock to fans when it first game out. Gone was the spook, dark, and true-to-life (as N64 graphics could allow) look of Majora’s Mask and Ocarina of Time. It was replaced with a cartoony, bubble-headed link sailing a curiously swirly whirly sea. While The Wind Waker seemed like a departure from what made Zelda a smash hit on its surface, a dive into its waters reveals that it’s still the same game deep down. Except now you get to sail on a cool talking boat rather than ride a silly not-talking horse! Sail to distant islands! Find sunken treasure! Eat Grandma’s soup! The Great Sea is vast and full of possibilities!

2. Star Fox Adventures

Fox McCloud stands in a field around some dinosaurs in "Star Fox Adventures"

Like the Wind Waker, Star Fox Adventures was a departure from the flying rail shooter familiarity of its predecessor. After crash landing on Dinosaur Planet, Fox McCloud discovers that the peaceful saurian herbivores that call the place home are being threatened by the T-Rex like Sharpclaw. Armed with a magic staff, Fox has to dungeon-crawl his way through a Zelda-like world in order to liberate the planet from evil. A franchise once rooted purely in sci-fi seamlessly transitioned into fantasy! To the delight of all!

3. Super Mario Sunshine

Mario stands on a sunny beach in "Super Mario Sunshine"

Super Mario Sunshine is arguably the greatest Super Mario game in existence. Seeking a vacation from the Mushroom Kingdom, Mario and friends retreat to the sunny Isle Delfino, only to find that it has become polluted with nasty slime! The culprit? A man who looks mysteriously like Mario! Armed with a self-aware water spritzer strapped to his back, Mario has to clear the island and his name!

4. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

Mario and Luigi drive a double kart surrounded by opps in "Mario Kart Double Dash"

How could Mario Kart possibly get any better? By adding a SECOND PERSON onto your kart! Racers zip around both new and familiar racetracks in pairs! The combinations are endless! Mario and Bowser! Yoshi and Luigi! Peach and Daisy! Allowing for all sorts of slash fiction headcanon pairings! Plus, the game’s two-player mode allowed you and a friend to ride in the same kart. One drives, the other throws sh*t out the window! Just like in real life!

5. Luigi’s Mansion

Luigi walks up a spooky staircase in "Luigi's Mansion"

The good people at Nintendo decided that Mario needed a rest, and his little brother was given a moment to shine! Or rather, cower in terror. After visiting a spooky mansion, Mario is kidnapped by the evil King Boo! But who can stop the phantasm? Luigi! Armed with a souped-up vacuum cleaner made to suck up ghosts! Mario’s tired platforming antics have been replaced by creepy puzzle solving fun! It’s about time, Mario. We were sick of your schtick.

6. Animal Crossing

Villagers stand in the middle of their town in "Animal Crossing"

Oh to live in a quiet little town with rad anthropomorphic animal neighbors! Whiling away the hours catching bugs and decorating my house with robots I dug out of the ground! Animal Crossing serves as a home away from home, allowing players to befriend cute animal people and sink endless amounts of fake money into renovating their digital homes! All to please the capitalist whims of a shady raccoon named Tom Nook, who tricks you into getting thousands and thousands of in-game currency into debt! The final boss of this game? Capitalism!

7. Metroid Prime

Samus shooting enemies with her arm gun in first person in "Metroid Prime"

Metroid Prime is the pinnacle of the Metroid series, and the game that put the spacesuit-wearing Samus on the map for many gamers. After intercepting a distress signal from a group of Space Pirates, Samus finds the entire crew has been slaughtered by their genetically modified test subjects! Because to a Space Pirate, the only treasure worth hunting for is scientific discovery, apparently! Even if those discoveries end up killing you! The GameCube departed from its platforming and adventure game bread and butter to bring gamers an out-of-this-world first-person shooter, one of the greatest ever made.

8. The Simpsons Hit and Run

Home stands in front of his house and pink car in "Simpsons Hit and Run"
(Vivendi Universal Games)

Video games that are inspired by TV franchises are generally best left unplayed, but The Simpsons Hit and Run is an exception to the rule. The world of the Simpsons is perfect for a cartoony, slapstick comedy, crash cars and make them explode sort of game. After mysterious machines begin to invade the Simpsons’ home turf, the titular family sets out on four wheels to get to the bottom of things! But the plot doesn’t matter! What matters is plowing full speed into Ned Flanders again and again!

9. Super Smash Bros. Melee

Link dodges a laser fired by Fox in "Super Smash Bros Melee"

The oldheads believe that Super Smash Bros. for the N64 is the peak Smash experience, while the striplings think they know everything about Smash because their Smash Balls just dropped. But a true Smash connoisseur knows that Melee is the game the elevated Smash from a fun party game to an actual full digital contact sport. The game’s fluid and precise combat mechanics allowed players to perform game-breaking feats like wavedashing and chain throwing (look it up) to help usher in the world of professional gaming. Marth mains ftw.

10. Resident Evil 4

Leon S. Kennedy stalks his way through the woods in Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4 is a horrifying exception to the GameCube’s “games for kids” rule. Horrifyingly good. You play as Leon S. Kennedy, a special forces agent who journeys to rural Spain in order to rescue the president’s daughter from a mysterious cult. But is it a fun cult? Like a very intense bookclub? Or Pickleball? If your idea of fun is injecting ancient parasites into you body and turning into a mutated monstrosity, then yes. Spooky environments and thrilling, heart-pounding tactical gameplay make Resident Evil 4 one of the all time greats.

(featured image: Nintendo)

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