The GameCube is one of Nintendo’s most underrated systems. When discussing Nintendo, the GameCube is often overlooked, except when Super Smash Bros. Melee is brought up. This system, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, has left a lasting impact on how some of us view gaming. With the introduction of amazing games such as Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker and Animal Crossing, the GameCube is one system that a lot of us hold close to our hearts.
In honor of this great system, we decided to go through some of the best games offered on the platform. In our opinion, it has one of the best game libraries of any console — ever. We’ve included classics as well as hidden gems that maybe you’ve forgotten about.
What if a comic book, panels and all, were a video game? That’s exactly what the Hideki-Kamiya-helmed Capcom project Viewtiful Joe set out to do in 2003 when it launched on GameCube. The side-scrolling beat ’em up put players in the red suit and cape of Joe, a young man who is transported into Movieland to fight villains and save the world.
A comic book art style and the melding of both comics and film made for one of the most visually interesting games of the era. It also helped that the game had solid, tough combat. It’s disappointing that after one sequel and a couple of spin-offs, Viewtiful Joe ceased to exist as a franchise. The original still holds up, though.
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
Inspired by the Four Swords cooperative mode in the A Link to the Past port for GBA, The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures was part relic, part innovative twist on the storied series. Designed as cooperative dungeon crawler for up to four players, Four Swords Adventures featured eight worlds with four self-contained levels in each world.
It used a remixed version of Link to the Past’s soundtrack and also had a pretty OK competitive multiplayer mode. While it doesn’t have the depth of the main, best Zelda games, it retains the charm. It’s much better as a cooperative experience, but still a worthwhile experience solo. It’s also far superior to the 3DS spinoff Tri Force Heroes, which played on similar themes but lacked the gripping gameplay.
Resident Evil 4
It’s still shocking that Resident Evil 4, one of the greatest action games of all time, was initially supposed to only appear on GameCube. While it did launch on the system first, it came to a slew of other consoles afterward. The game followed police officer Leon Kennedy on a mission to Spain to rescue the President’s daughter from a cult. Naturally, the cult had turned even more sinister, so players had to spend their time watching their backs and shooting zombies.
Everything about Resident Evil 4 impressed. From the frightening monsters, to the epic boss battles, to the over-the-shoulder shooting mechanics, to the non-linear, spooky environments. Resident Evil 4 remains an influential game today and outside of Nintendo-developed games, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better GameCube game. Resident Evil 4 is now available on the go courtesy of the Nintendo Switch. With Resident Evil 2 and 3 already getting remakes, it’s possible we could see a full remake in the future for this game, as well.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time reinvigorated a fledgling franchise in 2003 with the help of one, amazing mechanic. His dagger, imbued with sand, can turn back the hands of time to retry platforming sequences, take another swipe at enemies, or just get a better angle to assess the situation. He could also freeze enemies in time and slow the world around him temporarily.
The mechanic worked wonders for the action adventure game, giving The Sands of Time a unique and strategic twist that made it a standout experience. Combine the mechanic with excellent puzzles, clever A.I., and a gripping storyline about deceit, and The Sands of Time easily became one of the greatest adventure games of the era.
Skill is king in Ikaruga, the 2003 vertical shoot ’em up that offered a bare-bones experience which managed to bubble up to the top of arcade shooter genre on GameCube. Armed with just regular missiles and a homing laser, you had to maneuver your ship around obstacles and shoot enemies in lightning-quick stages. It’s not a game for everyone, but it harked back to the glory days of feeding quarters into arcade machines on loop, and its unique polarity-switching mechanic allowed you to navigate even the most hectic bullet-hell segments. Today, Ikaruga is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Sam Fisher’s third outing, Chaos Theory, included all of the great stealth gameplay of the first two games but also loosened up the requirements to let players tackle missions in their own way. When moving through areas, it was no longer mandatory to hide bodies.
Additionally, while the first two games almost always made you play stealthily, in Chaos Theory, you could use lethal force much more often without failing missions. Of course, Chaos Theory was designed to play as a stealth game, so thankfully the stealth mechanics and AI also improved in Chaos Theory. It remains one of the best entries in the series today, and one of the greatest stealth games of all time.
Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II
A launch title, Rogue Squadron II offered significant improvements to its already great predecessor. The game took place throughout the original trilogy and saw Luke Skywalker leading a group of X-wing pilots across the galaxy, engaging in fast-paced flight combat throughout.
Each level had different completion requirements to keep the gameplay fresh and exciting. It wasn’t just X-wings, despite the name, so you could pilot six other Star Wars ships, including the iconic Millennium Falcon. Rogue Squadron II is easily our favorite Star Wars game on GameCube and one of the best of all time.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
A remake of the PlayStation classic Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes made the stellar stealth game infinitely more playable by introducing accessibility mechanics seen in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. It also reworked the cutscenes, of which there were many, from the ground floor.
Only released on GameCube, Twin Snakes was a weird moment in Nintendo history, but one we are incredibly thankful for. It was also developed with the guidance of both Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima and Zelda/Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. How cool is that?
Poor Luigi, the often pushed-to-the-side brother of Mario. Even when he finally received his own game as a launch title on GameCube, he was sent to explore a haunted mansion. Thankfully, although Luigi was frequently scared, Luigi’s Mansion was more comical than anything else.
Armed with a ghost-vanquishing vacuum, a flashlight, and a modified Game Boy, Luigi’s quest to find Mario was filled with countless surprises and intriguing mysteries. Though the game ended prematurely, its puzzles and delightfully creepy atmosphere engaged enough players to warrant a great 3DS sequel, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, and the even better Luigi’s Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch.
No one could have expected that Metroid’s jump to 3D would prove to be one of the greatest games of all time, especially considering that Retro Studios created Metroid Prime as a first-person shooter. We’re placing it in the action-adventure category of our list, however, as it leans heavily on exploring its intoxicating landscape for new secrets, abilities, and baddies to blast into smithereens.
Remarkably, Prime captured the essence of what made 2D Metroid games so great — an open world that is retraced repeatedly as you gain new powers. Somehow, Retro and Nintendo managed to convert this model to 3D without it ever feeling repetitive. Smart controls, powers that feel like joys to discover and even greater to use, and all of the novel atmosphere that put Metroid on the map, made Prime an absolute triumph. Seriously, play this game if you haven’t already, especially with a fourth game coming to Nintendo Switch.
Star Fox Adventures
Star Fox is mostly known for its ship battles, but Star Fox Adventures leaned heavily into third-person action-adventure, turning Fox McCloud into an intergalactic Link. Over the course of the adventure, Fox unlocks more weapons and items through exploration and completing tasks. The game largely centered on melee combat, of which it also borrowed from The Legend of Zelda.
Although the story, which sees Fox looking into the disturbance of the Dinosaur Planet, isn