The Nintendo GameCube Edition of the Totes Mathematical Top Ten Game List for Every Console Ever!

This entry is part 10 of 19 in the series Console Lists

Gather around my children and I shall tell you a tale of a gaming console which has two sides. (The story had two sides, I mean. The GameCube had six sides due to its cube like nature.) On one side are my memories. I loved my GameCube and hauled it around the country when I was on the road with Lucent Technologies. That thing was my biggest source of entertainment for three years as I went from town to town, making sure that all the shiny new fiber optic cable which had been laid down worked properly. On the other side are a large number of publications and magazines, who called the Nintendo GameCube an “Unmitigated Disaster”, and the 177 million people who bought a different system.

Those are two very disparate sides for a gaming console. So how did this come to be? How did something adored by millions of people get labeled as a train wreck? Well…there were a number of reasons. And we’ll get into a bunch of them. But first, feast your eyes on the follow-up to the N64 and the precursor to the Wii. The Nintendo GameCube.

Born To Play

Nintendo GameCube
Released: 2001
Generation of Home Consoles: Sixth
Graphics: Technically 8 bits
Rating: Super Solid and Fun…And Yet…

Nintendo began work on their fourth video game console in 1998. Dr. Wei Yen, the man behind the N64 graphics chip had done well with his previous assignment and although the N64 wasn’t as revolutionary or profitable as the NES or the SNES, the graphics certainly looked pretty. Things weren’t broke, per se, so why fix them? Why indeed.

While Nintendo was developing the GameCube, they were also developing the Game Boy Advance. Nintendo had big ideas. What if…and hear me out…you could use the new Game Boy Advance as a controller for the Cube? That way you’d have two screens! One screen on the TV, and then a secondary screen in your hands that you could also look at. Maybe throw some maps on it. Or a game menu? If you had a couple of different Game Boys, each individual player could have something different on their screens. There’s almost endless possibilities for that and Nintendo spent a lot of money on the concept.

Already twice as good as the Wii U.

They also put a lot of money into a motion sensor control schematic. What if…and hear me out again…you could play a golf game by swinging the controller like an actual golf club? Or how about bowling, tennis, or baseball? Getting people up and having them move about might open up video games to new demographics. Imagine how much money that might be worth! Again, it would have been incredible and Nintendo spent a lot of money on the concept.

Alas. It wasn’t quite to be for either of those ideas…at the time. We all know how that ended, of course. The motion control scheme was used on the Wii and made tons of money and the second screen concept was used on the DS and 3DS and made tons of money. The second screen was also used on the Wii U, although it made considerably less money than the others. But hey. You never know what’s going to pan out.

Seriously. Who would have guessed?

While the second screen/Game Boy Advance idea was utilized for the GameCube, it was hardly ever used. It was wonky to program for and nobody wanted to make a game for a console which required a completely separate gaming device. Ultimately very few games took advantage of it and none of them employed it particularly well.

At the end of the day, Nintendo put out a very standard gaming device which wasn’t perceived to be quite as powerful as their contemporaries. That hurt sales considerably as we weren’t quite a “Everyone buys a Nintendo for fun games and one of the “real” consoles for mature games.” nation yet. We would be soon. But not yet.

System sales were “ok”. They sold 22 million units, which was slightly worse than the Xbox’s 24 million, and dismal compared to the 153+ million units that Sony shipped with the PlayStation 2.

Everyone liked the GameCube just fine, and I’ve always believed that it had the best controller of all time, but Nintendo continued to lose market share as the video game audience was moving in a different direction and frankly, people just didn’t smell what Nintendo was cooking.

Not even this guy.

Additionally some of the most popular games of the day were third-party shooters and mature games like GTA, and a lot of the developers of those games skipped the GameCube entirely.

Nintendo was fading into the past and would need something truly spectacular to turn things around. That was just around the corner, but the GameCube wasn’t it.

It did, however, have a bunch of killer games. As with a lot Nintendo consoles, the games were mostly Nintendo developed, although it wasn’t quite as homogeneous as the N64. In any case, and without further ado, I proudly present the top ten games for the Nintendo GameCube!

10. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. 2004. (Intelligent Systems)
Starting out the GCN Top Ten on the TMTT is the sequel to Paper Mario with a lot of Super Mario RPG thrown in for fun. Mario needs to rescue Princess Peach. Crazy right? But instead of just your usual jumping on enemies, you’re also made of paper and explore a huge world represented in a mix of both 2D and 3D. There were a lot of neat mechanics which used the paper material of the world to really cool effect. Walls would blow away, you could slip underneath doors, fold yourself into a paper airplane and fly across crevices, and a bunch of other delightful paper based stuff. It was very well received upon release for both the mechanics and its fun story. It’s a great game and a wonderful start to the top ten.

9. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader. 2001. (Factor 5/LucasArts) God I love this game. Released as a launch title for the GameCube and one of the best Star Wars game which had ever been released on a console was this magnificent beast. A fast paced, space flight, dog fighting simulator set in the Star Wars universe. The game takes you through some of the most important space battles of the original trilogy of movies. You played as either Luke Skywalker or Wedge Antilles and got to blow up Tie fighters, AT-AT walkers, Star Destroyers, and of course the Death Stars. Almost everyone loved this game. It won the 2001 Game Critics Award for Best Action Game and it was a big reason people bought the GameCube on launch day.

8. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. 2001. (Sonic Team USA) This was a sequel to Sonic Adventure and a sort of port/upgrade to the game Sonic Adventure 2 which had been released on the Sega Dreamcast. Like the Dreamcast game, you played as either Heroes (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles) or Team Dark (Shadow, Dr. Eggman, and Rouge.) In one you try to save the world and in the other you try to conquer it. The rules are simple, collect rings, find chaos emeralds, and importantly, go fast. The GameCube version updated a lot of the graphics and sound of the Dreamcast version in addition to really trying to get people on board with the Game Boy Advance link by adding significant upgrades to the Chao raising system. (Chaos were sort of in-game pets which you could train to fight.) The game was fairly well received, but it was the game sales numbers which really pushed it up the charts of the TMTT.

7. Animal Crossing. 2001. (Nintendo) Let it never be said that Nintendo doesn’t like trying out new ways to play games. In this, the first game of what has now become a long running series, you play a person which moves to a little town filled with talking animal friends. While the graphics were simple, the world was colorful and fun. You buy a house, explore, fish, dig up fossils, visit the museum, and depending on what time of year it was, or what time of day, go to various festivals, fireworks shows, rock concerts, or hundreds of other various things. You could have up to four players in your little town. Only one player at a time could be running around, but you could see what all the other players had done. The game DID feature some Game Boy Advance features, although they were pretty limited. The main game, however, was very much-lauded, receiving many awards and a lot of critical acclaim.

6. Resident Evil 4. 2005. (Capcom) Coming in at number 6 on the TMTT is Resident Evil 4. The sixth entry into Capcom’s insanely popular Survival Horror series and THE best game of 2005 according to a LOT of publications. For this entry into the series, Capcom revised the hell out of the game play mechanics. It became a much more action heavy game, which some long time fans of Resident Evil weren’t thrilled with, but which the majority of game players loved. The game was originally slated to be a GameCube exclusive, however before launch, Capcom announced that they would also be releasing a PS2 version. Sales weren’t bad for the game, but they weren’t particularly great. Weirdly enough even the Wii version, sold more copies than the GameCube version. Despite the poor sales, the games rankings pulled RE4 WAY up in my algorithm to a nice cozy spot on the TMTT. It’s the third best reviewed game for the system and deserves it’s spot here.

5. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. 2003. (Nintendo) Coming in at number 5 is the fourth installment in the Mario Kart series and the second best-selling game for the GameCube, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. You play the game by hopping in a go-kart and zooming around a Mario Bros. themed go-kart track, hurling weapons at any who would stand in your way. This game really did up the ante in terms of graphics and sound for the series and almost 1 in 3 people who owned a GameCube, bought this game. The game received mostly positive reviews in the media. There was some criticism for the lack of ingenuity, as the game play was hardly changed from the N64 version, but it’s hard to blame Nintendo for that. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And Mario Kart wasn’t broke. This was a wonderful racing game and holds a spot in many a gamer’s hearts.

4. Metroid Prime. 2002. (Retro Studios/Nintendo) Developed by Retro Studios, a subsidiary of Nintendo, this was the fifth game in the Metroid series and the start of the mini trilogy of Prime games. The designers took a big risk in turning what had been a beloved 2D platformer into a 3D FPS. But despite some initial backlash from the hardcore Metroid fans, they managed to come out with an incredible gaming experience for both new fans and old. You play as bounty hunter Samus Aran and run, jump, and shoot your way around a vast world hunting both space pirates, monsters, and the titular organisms known as Metroids. It won numerous game of the year awards and garnered a LOT of perfect scores from various gaming publications. GameRankings has it as the 12th highest rated game of all time and the second highest rated game of the sixth generation of consoles. Sales were OK. Not great, but OK. That dragged it down a bit in the algorithm; nevertheless it remains one of my favorite shooters of all time and if you’ve never played it, I can’t recommend it enough.

3. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. 2003. (Nintendo) Starting out the top three is the ninth cannon game in the Legend of Zelda series . It was, in a word, gorgeous. Using a “cel shading” technique, the game looked like a playable cartoon. While it wasn’t as praised as much as Ocarina of Time, it was certainly well received and loved, winning many awards and a number of perfect scores from the various game magazines. As always, you play as link, and discover that your soul is intertwined with a shimmering medallion called the triforce, which can either save or destroy your beloved world. In this outing, Hyrule has been flooded and all life remains on islands which are scattered around the map. While the island hopping mechanic got a bit tedious after a while, it was still an incredibly solid and different game then it’s predecessor and made Nintendo and the World realize that you really could put Link in almost any situation and have it work if you maintain the core principles.

2. Super Mario Sunshine. 2002. (Nintendo) This was the follow-up to the incredibly successful Super Mario 64 and the 10th game in the Super Mario series (If you don’t count things like Super Mario All Stars. It’s the 15th in the series if you DO count games like that, and we’re not even getting into the Mario does sport stuff.) Bowser steals the princess and you go find her. This game added an interesting mechanic in the form of a water pack which could be used in a number of ways. From flying, to rocket boosting, to killing enemies, and of course, cleaning up all the evil filth from the ground to save an island paradise and bring sunshine back to the land. This was the second best-selling game on the console and one of the best reviewed games as well. Standard Mario fare but with a new and interesting twist. Nintendo never disappoints with their franchise player and this was no exception.

But it wasn’t the alpha. It wasn’t the big dog. So who, you may ask, fought its way to the top spot? It is of course, the one, the only…

1. Super Smash Bros. Melee. 2001. (Nintendo)

Ah, Melee. On the N64, Nintendo conducted an experiment which saw a bunch of their more popular characters from various franchises duke it out.

The original game was fun, but it did have its flaws. To be fair, it was Nintendo’s first real dalliance with the genre. But Nintendo is not one to just sit on their laurels. They paid attention. They listened to the gamers and in the end, they more or less fixed every flaw with the original Smash Brothers, doubled the amount of available fighters, exponentially increased the graphics, brought in an orchestra for the soundtrack, added a TON of new levels to play on, among other things, and they named their opus, Melee.

The game reached a million units sold in two months, and was by far the best-selling game on the system. Additionally, it was one of the best reviewed games for the console. People STILL play this at the tournament level! It’s that good! And so, without any trepidation, I declare that Super Smash Bros. Melee is the greatest game for the GameCube and one of the greatest fighting games ever. No asterisks, only asses kicked.

So that’s the GameCube! Are you upset that Pikmin was edged out of a top ten spot? Wondering why Super Monkey Ball only ended up at the 12 spot? Devestated that Luigi was outshined by his brother once again?! Tweet me @whentheicebreak! Then remember. The world outside is full of terrors, bright sunshine, and sunburns. Do not venture into that nonsense. Stay inside and play video games instead!

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About Philippe L.

When not out exploring the stars with his good friend Hotblack Desiato, he makes his living here on Earth keeping other people's money safe from the hands of thieves and spinning the occasional yarn. He enjoys beer and coffee very much, but unfortunately he can't eat shellfish or tomatoes.

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