GameCube Essential Games

The GameCube was my first home console (my parents took much convincing) and to this day, I revisit several of my favourites. Maybe you never owned a GameCube or you wonder if you missed a gem, or maybe you weren’t a gamer at the time. Either way, this Essentials Guide sets out to share the uniquely best games from the GameCube.

To qualify as essential, a game must be more than excellent – it must be the best of its type, whether for its genre or mechanics. If a sequel is better, then the sequel is essential; if another franchise does it better, then the best of that franchise is essential, no matter how good the former game is. For example, though Mario Galaxy is an excellent game, Mario Galaxy 2 is superior and thus the essential game of its type. I want to avoid filling your backlog with yet more similar games. In short, if you only had time to play a handful of games on the system, I would recommend these. Also, I don’t consider multiplayer, since one is unlikely to find opportunity to play older multiplayer games.

The Honourable Mentions section covers any games one may consider essential, but which I feel aren’t essential and what games to play first instead.

The Essentials:

(Click game title for full review)

Metroid Prime

A bounty hunter investigates a distress call near an alien planet. Metroid Prime combines a unique combat style, puzzles, and rewarding exploration with unparalleled atmosphere.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The Hero of Time sails the ocean to rescue his sister from evil. Charm everywhere! A timeless cel-shaded art style coats this grand adventure. Modern open world games could lead from Wind Waker on how to make discovery and exploration exciting and engaging.

F-Zero GX

A futuristic arcade racer at speeds over 2000 km/hr. No game matches F-Zero GX for that edge-of-the-track sense of speed. Creative track designs and sharp controls make this game essential.

Eternal Darkness

This horror story spans generations, so you must relive the blood-soaked history while conjuring spells, solving puzzles, and slaying supernatural beasts. Most creative horror mechanics in gaming.

 

Non-Essential Honourable Mentions:

Super Mario Sunshine – While Sunshine is one of the more unique and unusual Mario games, it isn’t unique enough to be essential. Super Mario 64 or Mario Galaxy 2 would be essential instead.

Resident Evil 4 – One of my GameCube favourites, but Dead Space takes Resident Evil 4 and improves it in every way, particularly in the controls department.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – Of all the Zelda games, Twilight Princess has the best dungeons; however, when it comes to the whole package, Wind Waker is superior.

Baten Kaitos – A unique card-based battle system isn’t enough to play this JRPG over the likes of Golden Sun or Persona 4.

Geist – Possessing objects as a ghost to solve puzzles is fun in Geist, but it is even more fun in Ghost Trick for Nintendo DS.

Tales of Symphonia – Good for its time, but this too-long JRPG offers little to be worth your time today. Play Xenoblade Chronicles if you need a great JRPG.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance – I can never get enough Fire Emblem, but the handheld games are always superior to console counterparts. Pick up Fire Emblem for GBA (first English release) or Fire Emblem: Awakening on 3DS instead.

Odama – Not a great game. So why even mention it? Well, you control a giant pinball while issuing commands to troops with a microphone to obliterate armies in feudal Japan. Odama is wonky in execution, but fascinating in concept – worth a try if you can get a hold of with a microphone.

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