The Nintendo GameCube made its debut in 2001, and it is still regarded by critics to be one of the best Nintendo consoles of all time. The GameCube was a big part of my childhood—and it was a great introduction to the world of gaming. Due to the diversity of titles, it became a console for most any type of player. I logged hundreds of hours playing video games instead of playing outside . . . so I've had plenty of time to think about what my top five games would be.
The Top 5 Nintendo GameCube Games
- Super Mario Sunshine
- Sonic Adventure 2
- Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
- Mario Party 6
Read on to find out why I hold each of these games near and dear to my heart.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was released in 2002. It was immediately met with criticism due to its overtly childish design—but looks can be deceiving. The Wind Waker turned out to be an in-depth game with a powerful story and challenging, action-packed adventures. Over time, it became one of the most popular titles of the series.
"Wind Waker" is unlike anything that has ever happened on any other "Zelda" game . . . the graphic style of the environment and the story kind of came together at the same time, or as development progressed. We knew that we wanted to have the seas as our setting, and we could really bring that sea to life via the toon shading.
— Eiji Aonuma
I was first exposed to this game via a 20-minute demo featured in The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition. I remember replaying that demo a dozen times before my parents bought me the full game.
There's Always a New Way to Play
Since my youth, I have beat the game three times; always finding some new island to explore or treasure chest to open. With each playthrough, I became a little braver and a little smarter. There are plenty of ways to strategize your way out of a fight, beat a boss in under two minutes, or complete a puzzle without having to resort to using certain items. So although the story is linear, there are multiple ways to play, and it's truly a treat to experience the complex storyline and all of the unique characters, again and again.
2. Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine is another game with great replayability. It is similar in concept to Super Mario 64, but instead of completed paintings, you jump through paint splotches left by a menacing Mario impersonator. The whole game takes place during a vacation on the tropical Isle Delfino. But, of course, the princess is kidnapped and Mario has to kiss his vacation goodbye.
Each of the 10 portals leads to an area with its own story, characters, and disasters. For completing a level, you receive a "Shine Sprite." There are 5-10 to be collected in each area. Even though you return to the same place several times, each visit comes with a new task and plot development, so it doesn't get repetitive. It’s fairly easy to become invested in whatever turmoil the locals of an area may be in on account of the mysterious "other" Mario.
A Sidekick You'll Actually Like
Sidekicks often get a bad rep in video games for being useless, chatty, or constantly in the way. The introduction of FLUDD, Mario’s water-spraying nozzle accomplice, was a welcome one. His features came in handy and his advice was actually useful. FLUDD made it possible to fly in the air and get to hard-to-reach places, further increasing the character’s mobility. This added reach allowed for more in-depth exploration—with plenty of extra goodies to be found.
3. Sonic Adventure 2
If you're a fan of Sonic Adventure 2, you probably love the song “City Escape” that plays at the start of the first level. I know I've replayed the first 20 seconds of the level multiple times just to hear that tune.
Despite having a "2" in the title, this game isn't actually a sequel. This original story is told through multiple perspectives, so you get to actively participate in each character's journey. Sometimes you're the good guy, and sometimes the bad. But as you get to know each character, you realize that there is no real "good" or "bad."
Playing as multiple characters mean multiple level designs and objectives. For example, the Sonic/Shadow duo are focused on speed, Tails/Dr. Eggman are heavily inspired by robotics, and Knuckles/Rogue try to hunt for treasure. I loved the diversity and play-type changes throughout the game. Nothing ever felt monotonous or especially easy.
The Chao Garden
Another feature I must mention is the Chao Garden. It may seem silly and irrelevant to the story, but don’t knock it till you try it. I quickly became obsessed with unlocking each Chao garden and Chao type.
All Chao Variations in "Sonic Adventure 2"
|Chaos Drive Chaos||Colorful Chaos||Special Chaos|
Raising Chaos, having them participate in races and other challenges, helping them evolve and eventually have children—it is extremely easy to love these cuties. Throughout each main-story level, you can find animals and power upgrades for your Chaos, and then visit them with a Chao Key at the finish line.
4. Mario Party 6
Mario Party hardly needs an introduction, but for those who missed out on two decades of fun, this game is basically a virtual board game featuring all of your favorite Mario franchise characters. Everyone has their favorite installment, which is often decided by the nostalgia factor.
For me, it was Mario Party 6. In this installment, the change between day and night is the gimmick. Brighton and Twila, the sun and moon deities of the game, get in an argument. And of course, as per tradition, the only way to end it is to collect a bunch of stars. Each board changes dramatically every three turns, as the sun sets and rises once more. The change brings out different characters, different minigames, and space shifts.
Is This Thing On?
In 2004, the introduction of the GameCube mic was revolutionary. While it was finicky and temperamental, it was an interesting way to shake up Mario Party mini-games and add some unique challenges. You simply ported the mic into an empty memory card slot, press the blue button, and it was showtime! Here are the possible Mic Modes available in-game:
- Speak Up: This mode is based on classic quiz shows where players compete by answering questions from four different categories (Picture, Memory, Comparison, and Variety).
- Star Sprint: A mode for a single player that utilizes verbal commands to guide a star to a goal.
- Mic Mini-Games: Five special mini-games are included in this mode. They are all 1 vs. 3, with only one player using the mic.
5. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles
This game can hardly be called a Final Fantasy title, which is why I love it so. The game follows a linear, storybook-esque tale (so much so that there’s even a narrator).
The story goes as such: The world is fueled by crystals. These crystals protect communities with a purifying ring. But every so often, they need to be recharged. That’s where you come in; a lone hero that must travel through marshes, mines, and miasma to keep your town afloat. The design of this game is cute and whimsical, with just a touch of evil.
Unless you are playing with others, this is a solo journey with plenty of time for self-reflection and exploration. You can return to an area as many times you please, or even skip the areas that you aren’t particularly fond of. Despite some limitations due to miasma collection requirements before moving on to a new map, it is a much more creative and freeing game than many other Final Fantasy titles.
They say that wicked creatures prowl the road along this beautiful riverbank, but nobody has seen one. I once asked a man why. He simply replied, "Because anyone who happens upon one is promptly eaten!"
A Timeless Piece (of Plastic)
Though you can now buy a Nintendo Gamecube for under $60, that doesn't mean it can no longer be considered a high-quality console. The GameCube holds its place as one of the best due to an excellent glossary of titles that changed the gaming, well, game. Fancy graphics and high processing speeds don't necessarily make the game.
Though this list is purely subjective, these five games have both timeless and experimental qualities that will continue to amaze and entertain me for years to come . . . or at least until my console finally kicks the bucket. But that doesn't seem likely, because these babies were built to last.
Samantha Cubbison (author) from Oakland, CA on June 08, 2020:
Yes! I never had a SEGA Dreamcast, but I got to play many games that got GameCube makeovers.
David Patrick from United States, PA on June 08, 2020:
I was a big fan of Sonic Adventure 2, but I first played it on SEGA Dreamcast, the console that went out of business. The gamecube edition had more content I think.
Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on February 29, 2020:
I love Sonic Adventure 2. I played it on my Sega Dreamcast though. One system was giving up and another was debuting in 2001.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on February 29, 2020:
I learned about Wind Waker the same way, through that demo. I love all the Zelda games. I also played the Final Fantasy one. I love all of the Final Fantasys. My son was the Sonic lover. I loved watching that one.
Kevin Mann from Canada on August 25, 2019:
I would add Metroid Prime to the list.