The 2001 release of the GameCube brought about the era when 3D Nintendo games actually started to look good. With the N64 in the rearview, Nintendo finally said goodbye to those unflattering blocky graphics.
The GameCube is an unforgettable system. Its compact cube shape, no-fuss tiny disk tray, and innovative controller make it unlike any other system we’ve ever seen.
No matter how far technology advances, GameCube games are still a joy to play. Its games have aged like fine wine, giving you a heavy dose of nostalgia each time you play.
10. Viewtiful Joe
Viewtiful Joe is one of those games that you either love, or never even heard of. In this quirky Capcom title, you play as Joe, a movie fanatic-turned superhero who suddenly gets launched into Movieland.
Viewtiful Joe isn’t your typical side-scrolling beat ’em up. Its cel-shaded graphics captivate you as you fight your way across the screen, defeating enemies and solving puzzles with your Viewtiful Effects (VFX) ability.
9. Animal Crossing
The Animal Crossing series has come a long way since its first installment. During a time when a conversation dictated your character’s appearance, Animal Crossing was as bare-bones as they come.
Still, that didn’t stop the original Animal Crossing from becoming a GameCube classic. Switching on the GameCube for a peaceful hour of Animal Crossing is a memory that many gamers share.
8. Mario Kart: Double Dash
Mario Kart: Double Dash is the first and last of its kind. It’s the only game in the Mario Kart franchise that allows players to drive as a team.
Double Dash features two-seater karts—while one player steers, the other sits in the rear of the kart and throws items. Both roles are switchable during the race, making for some chaotic fun when playing with friends.
7. Pikmin 2
Pikmin 2 tends to overshadow its predecessor, as it introduces the burly Purple Pikmin, and does away with the 30-day time limit imposed on players in the original game. Not only that, but Pikmin 2 also lets you play as two explorers: Olimar and Louie.
The task of traversing a treacherous planet with a herd of fragile Pikmin can test your patience. After all, there’s really nothing more guilt-inducing than ending the day with barely any Pikmin left.
6. Resident Evil 4
Although Resident Evil 4 was originally released for the GameCube, it later made its way to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2. That said, it sits in stark contrast when compared to the majority of barely-violent GameCube titles.
Resident Evil 4 switches up the series’ conventions, opting for an over-the-shoulder point of view rather than a fixed camera angle. The gameplay, story, and artwork were way ahead of its time, easily making it one of the best GameCube games.
5. Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine is a huge leap from Super Mario 64. While both are 3D platformers, Super Mario Sunshine takes the graphics to a new level.
The game immerses you in a lively, tropical environment that needs saving from eternal darkness. With the help of Mario’s water-powered jetpack/squirt gun, you must collect Shine Sprites and restore sunshine to Isle Delfino.
4. Super Smash Bros. Melee
There’s a reason why Super Smash Bros. Melee is the best Smash game so far. The tight controls and total simplicity make it oh-so-satisfying to send someone flying off of the stage.
Melee still remains relevant today, as players actively duke it out in Melee tournaments. We also have Melee to thank for the prevalence of the GameCube controller in the Smash community—most players prefer to use the GameCube controller, even for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
You might recall playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii, but it just wasn’t as enjoyable with the awkward motion controls. The original GameCube version was devoid of clunky controls, immersing you in Hyrule, as well as the haunting Twilight Realm.
Twilight Princess gives Link the ability to transform into a wolf, and introduces Midna, the brash imp that serves as Link’s guide. The risks taken in Twilight Princess definitely pay off, resulting in a beautiful, yet intense game.
2. Metroid Prime
In this jarring move from 2D to 3D gameplay, Metroid Prime somehow manages to keep the franchise’s original charm. The change from third-person to first-person perspective is another huge leap of faith that the developers successfully pull off.
Metroid Prime is a massive feat for the series, and plays like a first-person adventure. The detailed graphics and eye-catching world creation make you forget that you’re playing on a GameCube.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
The graphics in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is cartoonish, but it works—it’s a style that’s totally unique to The Wind Waker. It trades in the plain Ocarina of Time artwork for something more colorful and childlike.
The look of The Wind Waker isn’t the only thing that makes it the best GameCube game. The delightful swap between ocean and forest exploration is another memorable twist that makes it stand out from every other Legend of Zelda game.
Revisiting the GameCube
The GameCube only had a library of a little over 650 games, and developers still managed to pump out some fantastic games. Modern developers definitely have to step it up if they want to compete with the GameCube.
Don’t have a GameCube, but still want to play these games? Learn how to play retro video games without the original console.