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The best Nintendo Gamecube games of all time

nintendo gamecube
Image credit: Flickr/only alice

Many of us have fond memories of the Nintendo Gamecube in our younger days. Packed with games like Zelda, Mario Kart and Smash Bros., it’s essentially a nostalgia machine that we hold dear to our hearts. But what are the best Gamecube games of all time?

With so many excellent games on the Gamecube, it’s a big question to ask. We’ve rounded up ten of our favourites; the games that we think define the Gamecube for many people. It’s non-exhaustive, of course. And we may have missed off your favourite. For that, we hope you’ll forgive us. We couldn’t possible include everything. But the games we’ve selected are the ones that embody the Gamecube era for us: Nintendo classics that we’ll never forget.

Released in 2001, the Gamecube enjoyed a six-year lifespan before it was replaced by the Nintendo Wii. In those six years, it spawned so many excellent games, including entries to what are still of the biggest gaming franchises today. Let’s take a look at ’em shall we? And so without further ado, here are (some of) the best Nintendo Gamecube games of all time.

The original version of this article was published in August 2018.

1. Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime screenshot
Image: Retro Studios/Nintendo

Metroid Prime is the fifth title in the Metroid series. In what was Metroid’s first dabble into the FPS genre, Prime puts you in the shoes of Samus Aran. After receiving a distress signal from the Space Pirate frigate Orpheon, she travels to the planet Talon IV to investigate. After arriving, Samus must stop the pirate activity before they go through with their plans to spread a dangerous substance known as Phazon all across Talon IV.

Today, Metroid Prime is regarded as one of the best first person shooters of all time — and, of course, one of the best Gamecube games. It was a surprise to many, seeing as Nintendo is known best for its family-friendly games, but Metroid Prime’s success is something we welcomed with open arms.

2. Super Smash Bros. Melee

Super Smash Bros. Melee artwork
Image: HAL Laboratory/Nintendo

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been a big hit on Switch, but many of us still rush back to our Gamecubes to play Melee. It might not be the first Smash Bros. game, but it’ll go down in history as being one of the best.

Super Smash Bros. Melee is a crossover fighting game which includes characters from The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Starfox, Pokemon and more. Melee has 25 playable characters — more than twice than the first installment. It features single-player modes, as well as multiplayer and arcade. Super Smash Bros. Melee was the game played at every kids party in the early 2000s – and if it wasn’t? Well, that wasn’t any party you wanted to be at.

Related: The best brawler games Like Super Smash Bros.

3. Mario Kart: Double Dash

Mario Kart: Double Dash
Image: Nintendo

When you look up “Friendship Killer” in the dictionary, you’ll find no words: just a picture of Mario Kart: Double Dash. Well, isn’t that the story of pretty much any Mario Kart game? It’s a kart race filled with betrayal and revenge. But in the case of Mario Kart: Double Dash, that’s never been more true.

Exclusive to Double Dash, each kart had one driver and one item thrower, and you and your partner controlled one or the other. Your best friend in the entire world could have the perfect green shell lined up to hit the person in front of you, but if you accidentally drive off the edge of the map, there goes your friendship. Double Dash is a timeless classic, and had Diddy Kong available as a playable character, so yeah, its a winner.

Related: This Mario Kart mod is absolutely cursed

4. Luigi’s Mansion

Luigi's Mansion artwork
Image: Nintendo

Mario wasn’t the only bro to take a bit of the Gamecube glory. Luigi got his very own game as a launch title, and one that’s spawned a very successful franchise in its own right. In Luigi’s Mansion, players take control of Luigi as he explores a haunted mansion searching for his brother. Equipped with the Poltergust 3000, a vacuum cleaner given to him by the great Professor E. Gadd, he’s got to capture ghosts as he goes.

Luigi’s Mansion still remains one of the best games released on Nintendo Gamecube despite being one of the earliest titles to come out for the console. It’s just creepy enough to give players a slight survival horror feel, but with all the silly antics of a Mario game – and its success speaks for itself.

5. Super Monkey Ball

Super Monkey Ball 2001
Image: SEGA

In Super Monkey Ball, you play as one of four monkeys stuck inside of a clear ball. You as the player control the board that the monkeys roll around in and attempt to guide them to the goal at the end of the level. That’s it. That’s the game. But somehow, it was brilliant — and it’s led the way for multiple more Super Monkey Ball games over the years.

Super Monkey Ball also features a few multiplayer minigames, which are just as much fun as the main campaign. In one mode, you compete against your friend to see who can get the most points by sliding down a large slide, opening your ball like a pair of wings, and slowly guiding your monkey onto the platforms below. Super Monkey Ball was fun not only as a single player title but, when you wanted a break from the difficult levels, you could wind down with its minigames with friends for hours and hours.

6. Pikmin

Pikmin Best Gamecube games
Image: Nintendo

In Pikmin, you play as Captain Olimar – a small, humanoid extraterrestrial. While taking a vacation in outer space, Olimar’s ship is hit by a meteor which sends him careening down towards the nearest planet. On this planet he finds small creatures that grow in the ground, calling them Pikmin.

Working together with the Pikmin, you must uncover all of Olimar’s ship parts in order to get him back home. It’s a tricky game (or at least, it seemed that way to us all those years ago) but it’s one with a very innovative premise. And it clearly hit the right notes with many players: we had Pikmin 4 on Switch just last year.

Related: Pikmin G-Man is the Half-Life 2/Pikmin 4 crossover we didn’t know we needed

7. Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing - Best games on Nintendo GameCube
Image: Nintendo

We don’t even want to know how many hours we’ve poured into Animal Crossing over the years, but this is the title that started it all. Best described as a life sim game, Animal Crossing throws you into a village inhabited by nobody but talking animals. At the start of GameCube’s Animal Crossing, you’re a new resident in town without any real goals. You’ll spend your time doing favours, upgrading your house, fishing, and generally enjoying the lifestyle of a colourful, talking animal. Living the dream, right?

Ultimately, Animal Crossing is based around paying off loans — which admittedly isn’t all that fun in real life. But something about getting a couple hundred coins just for selling some fruit you’ve picked makes it easy enough for us to disassociate from the reality of being in debt. Either way, Animal Crossing runs in real-time so the days pass by normally, with holidays coming around during the year just like real-life. It remains one of Nintendo’s most successful series and, trust us, once you load it up and set your eyes on the adorable animal villagers, you’ll understand why.

Related: The best games like Animal Crossing

8. Soul Calibur II

Soul Calibur II GameCube
Image: Project Soul/Namco

Back in the early 2000s, there wasn’t anything quite as good as playing on a fighting game with your friends in the arcade. But some console games managed to capture the arcade magic to bring into your living room. Soul Calibur II on Nintendo GameCube is one of them.

The story of Soul Calibur revolves around a legendary weapon called Soul Edge which is broken into multiple pieces. Each character that you are able to play as in the game wishes to collect these pieces in order to either gain its power, or completely destroy it. The focus may be on the fighting, but Soul Calibur’s story had us hooked when we first played it on GameCube. Sure, we’d played Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Tekken, but nothing kept us as invested as Soul Calibur II did at the time. It still remains one of the best fighting games of all time, and one of the best games on Nintendo GameCube.

9. Resident Evil

Resident Evil - best games on GameCube
Image: Capcom

Resident Evil was already a classic by the time its remake rolled around on GameCube, but it was this remake of the original which got more people than ever hooked on the series. Featuring fully animated cutscenes, a new script and new voice actors, this remake remains a classic in its own right.

Resident Evil takes place in Raccoon City after gruesome murders occur on the outskirts of the town. The Raccoon City Police Department sends out a group of S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics and Rescue Squad) members to investigate the murders and… things start to go wrong. Players can choose to play as Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield and follow the story through as you begin to realise something much more sinister is going on than just a few mysterious murders.

Related: The best Resident Evil bosses of all time

10. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was, quite possibly, many people’s first Zelda game. And in our opinion, it’s the perfect introduction to the series. You play as Link who lives on a small, quiet island with his grandmother and sister. Island idyll doesn’t last very long, however: pirates invade Link’s island and capture his sister. And so, as Link, you must travel across the nearby island, beating dungeons, and defeating bosses in order to save your sister, eventually defeating Ganon, the main antagonist of The Legend of Zelda series.

Even now, we’d argue that Wind Waker is perhaps the best introduction to the Zelda series because it’s easy to pick up and learn. Being practically open world, it can entertain you for dozens of hours. It also means that every player will likely have a slightly different experience with it, and we love that. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best games ever released on Nintendo GameCube, and it’s one we’ll always hold close to our hearts.

Related: The 7 best Legend of Zelda games of all time, according to critics

Becca knew that she would be addicted to video games for the rest of her life when she saw the first pixelated zombie shambling across her TV screen while playing Resident Evil 3. She particularly enjoys being scared, laughing until she cries, or just plain crying while experiencing games. When she isn't playing games she loves spoiling her cat Usagi and eating any kind of sushi she can find.