When the Nintendo GameCube was first released in 2001, it received its fair share of criticism. When compared to the likes of the PlayStation 2 or the Xbox, the GameCube lacked an extensive library of third-party games and was often seen as a lesser system because of it. However, what the GameCube lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality, as the Nintendo GameCube is the home of some of the best games ever made.
"Between a slew of first-party masterpieces and standout titles from major developers, these games represent the very best that the Nintendo GameCube has to offer."
Today, we’re taking a look at some of the finest titles available on Nintendo’s underdog home console as we count down the top 7 GameCube games of all time. With loads of nostalgia tied to the system, any list of the best Nintendo GameCube games will be a mess of subjectivity. As such, we’ve listed our picks in no particular order, as there’s little to gain in comparing such vastly unique titles. Between a slew of first-party masterpieces and standout titles from major developers, these games represent the very best that the Nintendo GameCube has to offer.
The Top 7 GameCube Games of All Time
1. Resident Evil 4
When Resident Evil 4 was released exclusively on the Nintendo GameCube in 2005, it forever changed the landscape of both the action and horror genres. With its groundbreaking over-the-shoulder, third-person camera perspective and intense survival horror gameplay, Resident Evil 4 was considered one of the most exciting and terrifying games of its time. Following a special agent named Leon Kennedy who travels to a deranged village full of cultists to rescue the President’s daughter, this entry in Capcom’s landmark horror franchise quickly became regarded as an absolute classic. Even now, over a decade after its initial release, Resident Evil 4 stands strong as one of the best entries in the series and a respectable pick for our list of the top 7 Nintendo GameCube games of all time.
2. Super Smash Bros. Melee
Like the Nintendo 64 before it, the GameCube was the perfect home console to bust out when it was time for hectic multiplayer sessions. With its mixture of iconic characters, deceptively complex fighting system, and a wonderful selection of maps and modes, Super Smash Bros. Melee is the quintessential party game for the Nintendo GameCube. Supporting up to four players at a time, you and your friends could duke it out as Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, and other Nintendo mascots, resulting in a frenzy of local multiplayer entertainment. In addition to the infinitely replayable multiplayer, Melee offered a great single-player campaign and bonus mini-games to test your skills and reflexes. To this day, Super Smash Bros. Melee retains a dedicated community of competitive fans, further exemplifying the undeniable quality of this multiplayer classic.
3. Metroid Prime
Metroid has been a fan-favorite franchise ever since its debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System in the late 1980s, but it didn’t make the jump to 3D until Metroid Prime was released in 2002. Making the leap from a sidescroller to a first-person adventure game, there was a lot of risk in Metroid Prime‘s approach. Despite this, the game was a rich and mysterious science-fiction epic, perfectly melding all the elements of classic Metroid games while spicing it up for modern audiences. In a lot of ways, Metroid Prime cracked open the first-person shooter genre and proved that exploration could be just as fun as combat. Playing as interplanetary bounty hunter Samus Aran, Metroid Prime tasked players with investigating their surroundings, solving puzzles, and blasting through a varied roster of cosmic baddies. Generally speaking, the Metroid Prime trilogy is regarded as the high point for the franchise (although some would argue Super Metroid tops it), so it makes complete sense for the groundbreaking original to be included on our list of the top 7 Nintendo GameCube games of all time.
4. Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine had the tough task of acting as a follow-up to Super Mario 64, which is widely considered one of the best platforming games of all time. For his first outing on the GameCube, Nintendo whisked Mario and his friends away to the vacation location of Isle Delfino, where he must utilize his new water-blasting device called the F.L.U.D.D to clean up the town. Due to its reliance on the F.L.U.D.D mechanic and its wholly unique setting, Super Mario Sunshine is considered the odd one out in the 3D Super Mario franchise, but we think its originality is what makes it so special. With its vibrant colors, unique level designs, and persistently charming atmosphere, we had to make sure Super Mario Sunshine made our list.
5. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Much like Super Mario Sunshine, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the black sheep of its beloved franchise, due to its cel-shaded visual design, ocean-themed setting, and quirky characters. While many begrudging fans unfairly judged The Wind Waker as too juvenile, those who were unbothered by the more colorful presentation discovered a rewarding adventure full of intrigue. Much like other Zelda games, The Wind Waker has you exploring a vast world packed with puzzle-filled temples, big boss fights, and unique gear to help you uncover new areas. Sailing the enormous ocean map as Link and stumbling upon new discoveries always feels satisfying, despite some changes from the standard Legend of Zelda formula. Like most of the other picks on our list of the top 7 Nintendo GameCube games of all time, The Wind Waker is upbeat, gleeful, and great for gamers of all ages.
6. Animal Crossing
In addition to the crazy party games and epic action titles, one of the most popular and unexpectedly addictive Nintendo GameCube games was the unassuming life simulator, Animal Crossing. In this cutesy casual game, players move into a sleepy village town and begin working on home improvements, meeting their neighbors, and more. The game also uses the system timer to accurately represent the real-world time of day and season, with holiday events and numerous other surprises to find. With tons of items to collect and a beautiful home to customize, it was always easy to pop into Animal Crossing and lose a few hours in aimless bliss.
7. Luigi's Mansion
Just when you think Nintendo has run out of ideas, they hit you with something like Luigi’s Mansion, which is essentially a horror game designed for children. Of course, while that means that this single-player romp through a haunted mansion full of ghosts is far from scary, it’s a perfect treat for fans of all things supernatural and spooky. Armed with just a flashlight and a powerful vacuum made for sucking up spectral spirits, Luigi must investigate the many rooms of the eponymous mansion while searching for Mario. As a launch title for the system, Luigi’s Mansion made a solid impression and had us excited for the rest of the console’s life span. In retrospect, the only disappointing thing about Luigi’s Mansion is its brevity, but that doesn’t stop it from earning a spot on our list of the top 7 Nintendo GameCube games of all time.
If you’re interested in more Macho Nacho GameCube content, check out the two linked videos!