Yes, following the Japanese and North American anniversaries last year, today it’s the last of the GameCube’s 20th birthdays… well, almost! The cube-ular console and its launch lineup was let loose in Europe on 3rd May 2022, and two weeks later on 17th May in Australasia.
We’ll take any opportunity to look back fondly on one of the best-looking consoles ever made, so let’s indulge ourselves once more, shall we? Lovely…
The Nintendo GameCube launched in Japan in September 2001 and a couple of months later on 18th November in North America. Unlucky Europeans wouldn’t get their hands on it until the following year, but the wait was worth it for one of the best-looking video game consoles of all time. The NGC (sorry, GCN) is a beautiful, compact piece of kit.
Eschewing the jack-of-all-trades direction of its contemporaries, the console concentrated on doing just one thing well: playing games. Its striking indigo colour, big chunky ‘A’ button, cute little discs and infamous carry handle ultimately worked against it in an era of sleek, all-in-one multimedia machines, but it was a powerful little box of tricks that played host to a fabulous library of games. This was the last time Nintendo put itself in direct competition with Sony and Microsoft in pure spec terms before changing tack with the Wii.
We asked Nintendo Life readers to rate their favourite GameCube games, and the result is the list of 50 games you see below. The ranking is formed entirely from each game’s user rating in the Nintendo Life Games database. However, unlike other static lists, this one constantly evolve to reflect ratings from Nintendo Life users, so you can still participate.
We’ve done this for a growing number of Nintendo consoles, so if you’re interested be sure to check out the best Nintendo DS games, the best 3DS games, the best Game Boy games and even the 50 best Switch games — each and every one a fluid list that can change over time. Try rating the games in them, too!
If there’s a game bubbling under the top 50 that you’d like to rate, feel free to find it using the search tool below and give it a score out of 10. That’s enough waffling, though. Let’s dive in and see your picks for the all-time 50 best GameCube games…
Note. In order for games to become eligible, they need a minimum of 50 User Ratings in total.
Publisher: Activision / Developer: Treyarch
Sandwiched in between Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, Treyarch eschewed the Raimiverse and went to the Ultimate Spider-Man comics for inspiration for this 2005 entry. It takes the open-world element from the previous game and layers comic book shading with thick black outlines for a great-looking and satisfying, if samey, Spidey experience.
You get to control Venom here, too, which makes for a nice change. If you’re more into the comic book visuals or a younger, snappier version of the character than Tobey Maguire’s movie take on Peter Parker, this is probably the best example of web-slinging you’ll find on a Nintendo platform.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Next Level Games
Proving that there’s little that the portly plumber can’t turn his hand (or foot) to, Next Level Games’ Mario Smash Football (or Super Mario Strikers in the US) offered solid soccer action in a colourful package with Mushroom Kingdom residents brightening up the beautiful game and adding a little flair and excitement to proceedings – no nil-nil draws here! The polar opposite of the simulation-style that ‘proper’ football games were going for, this is a fast-paced five-a-side frenzy that did well enough to get a similarly satisfying sequel on Wii.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Mario’s run of hit after hit after hit is rather incredible when you think about it. The expectations each new mainline entry creates are astronomically high and we’re continually gobsmacked that, more often than not, those expectations are surpassed.
Available to play on Switch if you have a copy of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Super Mario Sunshine is a great game with some undeniably unpolished elements when compared to the rest of the plumber’s stellar oeuvre. No, as a direct sequel to Super Mario 64, it is not the genre defining classic everyone was hoping for, but with the passing of time we can look back and appreciate the many things that Sunshine does superbly. The joyful, bouncing Isle Delfino theme alone makes it worth revisiting, and if you’ve skipped this entry in Mario’s back catalogue, don’t let its reputation put you off. The Sunshine Defence Force may be overcompensating a tad — it’s certainly got its flaws — but at the very least, it’s still very good in our eyes.
Squeezing RE2 onto N64 required a Herculean effort, but this is essentially a port of the PlayStation version with very little in the way of bells and whistles. The greatness of the base game shines, of course, and arguably makes it worthy of placement here, but anyone expecting a REmake-style overhaul was left sorely disappointed by this barebones version. Resident Evil 2 is a great game, though, however threadbare the presentation.
Coming from Clover Studio, Capcom’s starry development team behind the likes of Okami and God Hand with members who would go on to form PlatinumGames, this sequel continues movie-obsessed Joe’s story as he becomes a superhero and teams up with his girlfriend, Sexy Silvia, to defend humanity from an alien invasion. Very similar to the first game, it oozes style and energy from every pore, although it lacks a co-op multiplayer mode you might expect from a sequel. Still a belter, though.
The GameCube version of this masterpiece shooter will cost you an arm and a leg these days, and with the Switch version of Ikaruga offering extra benefits like portability and the ability to twist your Switch and play in Tate mode, it’s hard to justify splashing so much cash just to get it on a cute GameCube disc. If you still own it from back in the day, though, Treasure’s seminal shmup is indeed something to treasure forever. Still hard as nails, though.
Chibi-Robo is difficult to describe because it doesn’t neatly fit into any particular category or genre. It’s part-platformer, part-adventure, part-amiable helper game which mixes in elements of Toy Story as you work to help the Sanderson family solve their everyday problems. The eponymous altruistic robot himself is a charming little chap who’s starred in several games since this GameCube introduction (and he also has the most devastatingly cute amiibo imaginable), but he’s never quite reached the heights of his debut here. Lovely.
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R&D1
A remake of the GBA game WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgames!, this home console version added multiplayer to an already brilliantly unhinged concept of microgames that mashes together tiny tasks with a time limit to produce a hectic, hilarious experience. It feels like R&D1 were unchained and allowed to vent their bursting creativity, channelling it into a game without being encumbered by the usual Nintendo ‘polish’ everyone expects, which gives this game (and the wider series) a remarkable and unique feeling of freshness.
Bringing together the best of Sonic’s Mega Drive catalogue (and Sonic 3D Blast), this disc also includes Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Ristar and Flicky for good measure (plus Comix Zone and The Ooze in Japan). Originally a GameCube exclusive, an even larger collection was eventually released on other consoles named Sonic Mega Collection Plus with more Sonic goodness from the Game Gear, as well as the Japanese exclusives above. A shame these weren’t included originally, but the games you really want were here and Sonic CD and a bunch of other rarities would come along in the Sonic Gems Collection, so after watching him for years on rival consoles Nintendo gamers could gorge on blue hedgehog on GameCube.
We’re quite partial to the Nintendo 64 entry in the series, but developer Camelot didn’t do much wrong when it came to the GameCube iteration, either. Featuring sixteen characters and courses containing Mushroom Kingdom staples such as warp pipes and Chain Chomps, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour takes things up a gear without reinventing the game, making every bunker and green look suitably lovely and introducing some fun extra modes. Hardly revolutionary, but there’s only so much you can do with golf and there aren’t many better ways to spoil a walk than this.