N-Europe's Top Ten GameCube Games
Posted 29 Jun 2019 at 21:25 by Glen O'Brien
We’re at our 7th Top Ten now and while it may be considered a lucky number to some, the console we’re focusing on didn’t have the best lucky streak. The Nintendo GameCube had some pretty stiff competition from the Playstation 2 juggernaut. It’s probably why it has a bit of a cult favourite status as far as Nintendo consoles go. And like any niche console, it’s bound to have some hidden gems in its library, but which ones will show up in this Top Ten?
And if you'd like to take a look at our previous Top Ten articles then you can do so by clicking any of the mini banners below...
Just scraping into the list is a Donkey Kong rhythm game spin-off made by Namco. Using the packaged DK Bongos controller, there are 30 songs ranging from popular chart songs to classic Nintendo tunes. Of course, the best (and most expensive) aspect of this game was getting 4 bongos together and instigating some noise complaints from your neighbours thanks to all the clapping. That said, real experts know that you can just tap the sides.
"4 sets of Bongos, 3 friends who’ve played this game for more than 100 hours, choose the song ‘Rainbow Cruise’, select the highest difficulty and add 1 rule: when your clap is so loud it makes a competitors Bongo react, you’re out! Absolutely bananas, what a game!" – markderoos
While the Wii version might be the one most people remember, it’s the GameCube that this game was originally made for. Sporting a more muted and realistic look, Twilight Princess still has that classic Zelda gameplay that works so well. Imaginative new items and some of the pinnacle of Zelda dungeons makes this game one that every Zelda fan should play. Plus, it arguably has the creepiest cutscene in Zelda history. Which is nice.
"This game is truly epic and I think to this date is the most epic tale that has ever been told in a Zelda game. It's darker than many of its contemporaries but with a lot of variety in its overworld which until Breath of the Wild was one of the largest iterations of Hyrule we'd ever seen. The Hyrule Field theme is my favourite in the entire series and the dungeon design is pretty creative, especially Snowpeak Ruins. What a genius idea for a level." – GenericAperson
The second entry of the Paper Mario takes the solid base of the N64 game and builds upon it in new and exciting ways. Set in the very non-Mario town of Rogueport, Mario finds a treasure map leading to Crystal Stars with the promise of opening a mysterious door. Featuring a colourful cast of characters and the chance to play the aptly named Super Bowser Bros, The Thousand-Year Door is a solid RPG that still looks good to this day. Also, there’s a break-dancing, hoodie-wearing Koopa, what’s not to love?
"I really haven't played that many RPG's over the years, I like to think that I have but in reality I probably only average around three big RPG's per platform that I own, so when I do decide to devote time to such titles, they are usually games which stand out for the right reasons and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door definitely falls into that special category of an RPG which I actually played, completed, loved and would buy again if it was re-released in HD in an instant. While the original Paper Mario on the N64 set the template, it was this sequel on the GameCube which really pushed the paper boat out and let you sail out to sea on it with your crew of memorable allies; and that's only a small part of the game as the locations which you visit are so varied and vibrant that it will really leave you wondering where you'll be off to next.
Everything you love about the Mario series is here but in paper form, it has this tangible feel to it which other titles just don't have in the same way; it's admirable in the way which is masterfully gives you these gleeful paper pop-up book locations to explore and you'll rarely tire of wanting to go everywhere, see everything and just hit everything with your trademark hammer just to see what happens. That's just in the overworld as well, when you get into battle there's a whole other level of engagement which requires you to constantly pay attention to what's happening at all times, because although there is a turn-based battle system in place, there is further input required after you decide which attack you want to use or try to evade and this is all done with perfectly timed button presses... getting them wrong will not help you at all but when you get them right, the feeling of reward and accomplishment really couldn't be greater than in that moment.
The story isn't bad either, typically not a high point where the general plot of a Mario game is concerned, but here it serves to spur you on and you'll feel like each conversation you have with an NPC just adds to that feeling of making the world you're in all the more believable. There are some great comedic moments in the dialogue too, none here which I wish to spoil but I'm sure that if you've played this game then you'll know exactly what I'm talking about and if there was ever a game in the Paper Mario series which truly deserved a remake or re-release in some form, then this is surely it. Until then though... the GameCube version is worth every penny." – S.C.G
There are a lot of Star Wars games, which isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that this one is really good. A launch title for the purple lunch box, Rogue Leader challenges you to 15 missions of flight action in an attempt to complete various missions set during the original movie trilogy. This game provides a pretty accurate way of living as a Star Wars pilot, because let’s face it, real life isn’t going to help with that. Or you could enter a special password and fly around in a Buick Electra, whatever works for you.
"The greatest Star Wars game ever made, the intro still gives me chills and Tatooine still looks as beautiful as ever. HD remake please." – Nicktendo
Sega’s first major collaboration with Nintendo was a blisteringly fast entry in the F-Zero franchise. Flexing their arcade muscle, Sega made one of the most intense and exciting racing games to grace console gaming. Although, some people might the game way too difficult, those looking for a harsh challenge with a very high skill ceiling will feel right at home with F-Zero GX. Or the arcade version, if your home is an arcade, but that’s not a GameCube, so it won’t be counted here. Sorry.
"If you only like games where you're constantly winning, you won’t enjoy F-Zero GX because you will screw up a lot, with nobody to blame but yourself and your stupid need for speed and a perfect race. One more try, I'll beat it this time! but of course you die again. And again. And again." – markderoos
"Don't blink when playing this game, you won't be able to anyway. Yeah, F-Zero GX is fast, insanely fast! Easily the most exhilarating racing game ever made, not sure it'll ever be surpassed either. 30 racers on screen at 60 FPS was an astounding technical achievement on GameCube, and the game still holds up incredibly well to this day. Truly masterful development by Amusement Vision." – RedShell
Our fifth best GameCube game is also the fifth title in the long running Tales of series, happy coincidence that. Symphonia follows Lloyd Irving as he effectively forces himself into a pilgrimage to help restore the world. What follows is a massive action RPG that features an engaging battle system that even supports multiplayer, although that would mean someone has to be Raine. So, you might get some arguments in a 4-player session. Small nitpick, really.
"The Tales game that started it all for me. In a world of turn based RPGs, the free run mechanic was a breath of fresh air – you could win a battle without taking a single hit. The story of class war, discrimination and the coming together of two worlds was gripping from start to finish." – EEVILMURRAY
Yeah, probably not particularly shocking that this game would show up here, but the second Smash game had more than double the amount of characters, a whole bunch of new stages and cool new modes to test your skills in. Smash Melee is one of the finest fighting games of its generation that still gets played in competitive tournaments to this day. Thankfully, there’s a hell of a lot more to this game than “No items, Fox Only, Final Destination”.
"Without a doubt my most played game on the GameCube, and probably my favourite game of the series. Melee struck the perfect balance between number of fighters, modes and features. Also had the most hype game trailer of all time. OF ALL TIME." – bob
"The single-player mode was incredibly comprehensive. Adventure Mode had to be tackled differently with each character, Stadium mode tested my knowledge of the game mechanics, and Event mode threw me for a loop. And then there's the crazy difficult stuff, like beating All-Star Mode on Very Hard (which still kept me busy for hours). Overall, it was an excellent example of what the single-player mode of a fighting game should be.
Explaining how to play the game to others was tricky ("Stop killing yourself with Fox's side-B!"), but still, I could play the game with my friends, and we had great times. We barely remember specific moments now, but we still played the hell out of it, and to this day we play casual Smash." – Jonnas
"The follow-up to Nintendo’s fun & unique brawler was bigger, better & brilliant! A hugely expanded roster, more music, stages, options, trophies, items & more refined gameplay made this another of the Big N’s multiplayer classics." – WackerJr
"The game that truly brought a niche N64 fighter (I guess) to the masses and started the greatest franchise of the last two decades. Nothing in the entire gaming industry comes close to the hype levels of a Smash reveal." – Nicktendo
Resident Evil 4 is remarkable because it doesn’t really play like a Resident Evil game. This may have helped cement it as one of the finest examples of a survival horror game the series had seen. Seriously, it had a tremendous impact on gaming at the time, and it still holds up to this day, with its fun gameplay loop, subtle dynamic difficulty levels and charmingly corny dialogue. There’s no need to bust out your GameCube to experience this classic though, chances are, whatever console you own, you can play this on it. I recommend the Wii version.
"Absolutely fantastic game, sure it lost a lot in the horror department compared to previous entries in the series (even more so for me, being able to understand the Ganados, which made them more comedic than scary) but the more action based gameplay was just spot-on. Highly satisfying and also very replayable, even just organising items in the inventory was fun!" – RedShell
One of the most controversial Zelda games the series had ever seen. A lot of people may have been turned off from the art style, but what I’m sure most of you know is that this entry aged incredibly well visually. The Wind Waker is a charming adventure with an amazing soundtrack, expressive characters and a whole host of optional content to discover. It’s a Zelda game that’s quite unlike any other you’ve seen so far.
"I have thought long and hard over the years about which Zelda game is my favourite because during the course of playing each one the generally high quality of each entry means that I am convinced at the time that that particular game is my favourite. But when I sit down and think back, which of these games takes up a good portion of my gaming memories and fondness for video games? It would have to be Wind Waker. The dungeon design is extremely solid and the puzzles are pretty inventive, especially when they bring in a second character to travel through the dungeons with you. It even manages to make stealth, a game mechanic that isn't among my favourites, very playable." – GenericAperson
"I never know how to talk about this game. Ultimately, what I love about it is how... free it feels. You start confined to one island after the other, then gain the opportunity to sail into Dragon Roost, and then the entire game opens up from there. The sense of freedom this game gives me - even when it isn't actually true (you do need story items) - is so far unmatched. The way you can see islands in the horizon, the adventurous music, the random bouts of rain and seafoam, the occasional shark or bird showing up... it's lovely.
And can I say the Men-Fish are brilliant? They're charming, always drop some hints and/or lore, offer some short-term goals simply by existing, and do wonders for immersion." – Jonnas
"Fully captured the Zelda series’ magic, giving players the thrill of exploring the unknown & rewarding them with new islands to explore, new items to find & new quests to beat! It proved the naysayers wrong as its endearing graphical design still stands up today & adds to an amazing experience." “The wind... it is blowing...” – WackerJr
Another game in this Top Ten that bucked a trend that a series had established to this point. The first 3D Metroid title opted for a first-person perspective, which was unlike any of the previous games that came before. Metroid Prime is a slower paced game compared to its 2D predecessors with a much heavier focus on world-building and explanation and it was a massive risk, seeing as how Metroid skipped out on the N64 completely. It paid off in spades though, as its refined controls, beautiful graphics and expansive world to explore clinches Prime the top spot on our GameCube list. A definitive title for any collection.
"The game is a masterpiece and in many ways did things that games like Dark Souls did long before Dark Souls existed and became relevant. The map design is solid to the point that the lack of fast travel does not become an issue and you can make your way back to previous areas to get what you need without too many issues, the soundtrack is great and the way the story is told through playing the game and scanning the lore makes you more involved in the whole thing.
My favourite part is how they took the very first area in the game which was separate from the actual overworld map itself and then incorporated it into the map but now underwater as a means to progress the game to get to a crucial area. You can just about get to everywhere you need to go from everywhere (with the exception of Phendrana Drifts which for some reason is only accessible through Magmoor Caverns) and as the game progresses and you learn more about the backstory behind Tallon IV, what started out as a simple mission to stop the Space Pirates and chase Ridley turns into something far greater, to the point that by the end of the game it has become the main focus of the entire game and you almost forget why you came here in the first place... and then the game reminds you exactly why." – GenericAperson
"Metroid Prime wasn’t just a new Metroid game when it launched. It did to Metroid what Ocarina did to Zelda. It took the Metroid formula, perfected it and took a bold step turning it into a first person adventure. To say that it's an amazing game is an understatement; it is the most perfect game made for the Cube, and one of the best games ever. So much stuff to collect and to do, a great storyline, very deep and engaging lore, a perfectly created atmosphere and to top it off a beautiful soundtrack. Mix this with really tight controls, and you get no less than perfection." – markderoos
"Like many I thought a first person Metroid was a bad idea, after all, what could you do to top the masterpiece that was Super Metroid? However it captured the essence of the isolation brilliantly, especially since you didn’t have the field of vision a 2D platformer gives you. The game let you make it what you wanted it to be, you could blast your way through to the end, or you could stop to scan consoles and expand the universe for yourself, and plants for a little local knowledge, but more importantly scanning the enemies to get the lowdown on their weaknesses." – EEVILMURRAY
"Scans were a brilliant addition to the franchise, offering a lot of lore and depth to this world, without ever being obtrusive for those who don't care that much for it. Heck, it's even a way to make the world engaging for those who don't pay much attention to the environments.
There's also something about the way Retro Studios translated Metroid into 3D that's brilliant. It's amazing how well it controls. Very few of the design conventions of FPSes (such as ammo) are found here, which is what makes it ingenious. It allows you to aim at weak points without thinking about it, move quickly and do some platforming despite being first-person, and even some dynamic exciting fights with blade-wielding enemies... all of this makes it so we focus on what truly matters about this game: exploration." – Jonnas
"The first time I played Metroid Prime was a life-changing experience, I had read about the game extensively in magazines and on this very site for what seemed like an eternity, then on the weekend of its release I went straight to the entertainment section of our Big W store which we had at the time and I was straight on the GameCube console that they had set up speficially to demo the game. Getting to control Samus right from the start was nothing short of a revelation, working your way through the opening Space Station section served at the perfect tutorial getting you used to jumping, scanning, shooting and of course rolling around on the ground utilising those beautifully programmed morphball mechanics; taking out the Parasite Queen at the end of this section was just the icing on the cake, then escaping as you catch a glimpse of a familiar enemy, losing all of your powers before blasting off in your ship as the place explodes... standard exit proceedure for Samus at this point.
It was right after playing this part of the game in the store that I had to go, or so I thought... as upon getting back to car my parents said to me "Didn't you want to get that new game you've been talking about?" my stunned reply was "absolutely!" (or something to that effect) it was one of those rare instances where a game was purchased for me in advance for my birthday and I was truly grateful for it. I played that game day and night for some time but it wasn't actually until some time later that I actually finished the game owning to me playing a lot of PSO online as well, but when I did finally decide to finish Metroid Prime, it didn't let me down at all, ending in one of the most brilliant end boss battles ever created.
Metroid Prime is much more than that though, each mechanic is perfectly refined on its own, with more attention paid to each part than probably goes into a lot of full games these days (generally speaking) but together it all makes for a truly unique game which simply must be played in order to enjoy and appreciate its subtle nuances. If you've yet to play one of the greatest games ever made (I say that with zero hyperbole) then I suggest that you do so, either in its original GameCube form, on the Wii with its enhanced controls or just wait for the inevitable Switch port which will surely have the best of both worlds and a nice bit of HD polish over the top. However you play it though, please enjoy and appreciate it because it's rare that we get games as good as this, I personally feel blessed to have played it first on the GameCube as I won't forget it." – S.C.G
If you'd like to be part of N-Europe's Top Ten game lists, then check out the thread on our forum as while it's too late to nominate any Nintendo DS titles, we're now down to the last decisive moments as the shortlist is now available and voting will close 06/07/19 but in any case please stop on by. It will be nice if we do get any new forum members (or even existing members) taking part, as we would very much welcome your input because these articles simply wouldn't happen without the valuable feedback and memories from our community.
Exciting times indeed, catch you next time when the article for the best Nintendo DS titles goes live on N-Europe... dreckly, yes dreckly. (AKA soon or sometime within the next week or two)