Being cool means being comfortable in one’s own skin, ignoring peer pressure, and forging a unique path with undersized discs and a convenient handle. With its playfully purple exterior, quirky awesome controller, and a library of some of the most innovative and inventive games ever released on one platform, the GameCube may be the most Nintendo console the company has ever produced, and as a result, it’s also one of the most beloved.
Though its library may not have been as packed as some of its competitors, much of what the GameCube did have was destined to become classic, changing gamers’ expectations for even their most revered franchises in addition to being just plain fun. While it’s never an easy task to rank an abundance of greatness, the staff here at Goomba Stomp has determined the list of the 35 best games Nintendo’s little console had to offer. Enjoy!
35. Time Splitters 2
Combine the frantic, mission-based first-person shooter action of the N64’s Goldeneye with a few episodes of Quantum Leap, and what results is the very weird and very awesome Time Splitters 2. Fans of Rare’s Bond will feel right at home with the look and feel of this sequel to the PS2 exclusive, which sees players taking on the role of a space marine named Cortez, who must time-travel to various points in the past (and our current future) and assume the role of someone living there to stop an evil alien race from using magic crystals to alter history and take over the universe. It’s silly stuff from a plot perspective, but what other game allows the players to be an Old West bounty hunter in one stage, a Prohibition-Era Chicago detective in another, and a 24th-century robot in the next?
The amount of variety, coupled with slick, responsive controls and plenty of bizarre side content, like decapitating zombies or collecting bananas, makes the single-player experience a memorable one. Even better, Time Splitters 2 allows for split-screen co-op in its story mode, doubling the firepower (or brick power), so taking down those nasty ETs is, even more, fun. With a host of multiplayer options standard for the time and the cheesiness of a Syfy Channel movie, Time Splitters 2 is one of most purely entertaining titles the GameCube has to offer. (Patrick Murphy)
Treasure has a record of creating cult classic games. Sin and Punishment, Mischief Makers, and Gunstar Heroes are some of their more notable titles. Originally released in arcades and then ported to consoles like the Dreamcast and GameCube, Ikaruga stands out as one of the most polished shmups (shoot ’em ups) of the early 2000’s. Its hectic gameplay is focused less around dodging bullets and more on absorbing them. The game’s gimmick is polarity. Every enemy in the game shoots some combination of black or white bullets, and your ship can absorb bullets that match its polarity; however, getting hit by a bullet of the non-matching color will kill you. This gimmick works both ways and hitting enemies with their opposing color racks up more points for your score. You can also choose to do a “pacifist” run of sorts; all enemies and bosses will leave after a certain amount of time, and as long as you can keep absorbing bullets until then you can beat every stage without opening fire.
The work of 4 individuals, Ikaruga looks great for its time. The 3D models of the ships still fly, the two distinct bullet colors stand out, and it all meshes together nicely. Curiously, Ikaruga comes with a built-in rotate mode where you can have the game flip its axis 90°, lining it up with a classic vertical arcade cabinet. All console versions of the game can do this, but the GameCube version is the first one to also have a widescreen option. Ikaruga is frantic, fun, addictive, and is still one of the best shmups out there. (Taylor Smith)
33. Super Mario Strikers
There are two types of people in this world which we inhabit: those who like FIFA and those who don’t. Personally, I’ve always been part of the latter category. Like many others, I had no interest in sports, and the gameplay was too slow-paced for me. But when I come to think of it, I would probably have liked it if the stadiums and teams were smaller, the players were all from Mario games, and you could pick up power-ups, such as shells, banana peels, and special attacks. Luckily, a game that does exactly that was released for the GameCube, and it provided everyone who has no affinity for sports with a chance to finally enjoy a football game.
Super Mario Strikers is hectic, to say the least. There’s never a dull moment because there’ll always be a dozen shells bouncing rapidly from wall to wall while you try to maneuver yourself across the field, hoping to score a goal. Luckily, the game mechanics are simple, and almost anyone can have fun with this game and be good at it without thinking too much of tactics and different approaches to the sport.
The different game modes also provide you with a reason to keep going. Instead of including only quick matches and multiplayer, the game comes complete with a tournament mode, giving the player an ambition, erasing much of the repetitiveness. I could find myself playing this game for hours upon hours, and I still do.
Super Mario Strikers stands alone as the game that successfully melded soccer and Mario Kart together as a whole, a job it did surprisingly well, and the mechanics and game design are good enough to make this a staple for any GameCube aficionado out there. (Johnny Pedersen)
32. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Until Ubisoft decided to resurrect this popular puzzle platforming series, players had no idea how much fun running along walls could be, and what a shame it would have been to miss out. While the original Prince of Persia (which can be unlocked in this game) is mostly known for incredibly smooth animation that also could prove cumbersome when dealing with the many deadly dungeon devices the nameless protagonist faced, The Sands of Time turns its princely hero into a balletic maestro of movement, scaling heights and rounding corners of each booby-trapped room with the grace of a gravity-defying gazelle. Gone is the two-second wait after pushing the button for a jump to be completed, and in its place is satisfying responsiveness that makes navigating stages set against a Persia straight out of One Thousand and One Nights an absolute joy.
Though combat can still be a bit clunky, the pitfalls are the real star of the show, and there are enough devious ones that players will find themselves making good use of the titular grains via the Dagger of Time, a useful item that, among other things, allows for perilous mistakes to be corrected by rewinding time. The result is a free-flowing sense to platforming that holds a challenge without becoming overwhelming, an inspiration for future series like Assassin’s Creed, and one of the best games of all time. (Patrick Murphy)
31. Beyond Good & Evil
Originally meant “to pack a whole universe onto a single CD,” Beyond Good & Evil didn’t quite meet the lofty goal it set for freedom and exploration, but this tale of a young photographer/martial artist named Jade and her pig “uncle”/friend/whatever who uncover a human trafficking conspiracy involving a malicious alien race and a corrupt government has certainly left an impression with those who played it. Armed with a staff, a camera, and a sense of journalistic obligation, Jade sets out to uncover the truth about her strange world by solving puzzles and fighting foes, furthering her investigation as she documents evidence of the DomZ’s atrocities.
Simple Zelda-ish gameplay aside, it’s the world-building of Creator Michel Ancel and his team that deserves the bulk of the credit for this gem’s ever-growing reputation, and while he may not have been able to fully articulate his vision, the striking art direction, beautiful ambiance, and colorful cast of characters provide enough inspiration to get through any tedious stealth moments or clunky hovercraft races. Jade and Pey’j are nicely fleshed-out, the villains are truly despicable, and the mature themes are as compelling as ever. Sometimes an engrossing atmosphere is enough for a legacy, and because of that Beyond Good & Evil has lived on in the minds of those played it long after. (Patrick Murphy)
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