In retrospect, the GameCube was the one Nintendo system that seemed to live in a bizarro world. It was the worst-selling system of its generation despite it having a ton of great exclusive first and third-party games. This isn’t a Wii U situation, as the GameCube’s library is frankly even better than the original Xbox.
It was also the last Nintendo console that just felt like a standard gaming system without any gimmicks, and its hardware was on par with the competition. The GameCube is truly special, and a lot of its games are still exclusive to it, without any modern ports.
Update on October 9, 2023, by Dominic Allen: The original version of this article was written a long time ago, and we have updated our style guide multiple times since then. That’s why we have decided to rewrite this list, highlighting the best of Nintendo’s cube once again.
10 Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Probably the most remembered game by the now-defunct Silicon Knights is Eternal Darkness. Essentially, the studio’s take on the Cthulhu Mythos, Eternal Darkness is a fantastic Lovecraftian horror title with a groundbreaking and effective sanity mechanic. It’s what this game is remembered for, and for good reason, because it was pulled off so well.
Almost all the sanity tricks are going to get you, with the best one being when the game Blue Screens. It really did seem legit back then because the GameCube was made with IBM’s Gekko processor. Unfortunately, Eternal Darkness is a bit dated and definitely could use a remake. However, its massive impact on Cthulhu games and the sanity meter mechanic, which has been used on countless horror games since, can’t be denied.
9 Super Mario Sunshine
Mario 3D’s outing on the GameCube is a really wild one, but phenomenal, nevertheless. Super Mario Sunshine is still one of the best feeling platformers ever made and controls buttery smooth. Sunshine has so much variety in its levels that the game never gets boring, and in fact, you’re excited for what’s to come next.
Exploration is fantastic, and if you played this title growing up, you could spend a ton of time in Delfino Plaza alone. The game world’s also just the right size. Mario Odyssey is a great game, but it’s frankly too big and has way too many moons to collect. Sunshine, on the other hand, is so fun you might 100 percent the game more than once.
8 Super Monkey Ball 2
A sequel to the original GameCube launch title, Super Monkey Ball 2 is vastly improved. First off, it’s still brutally difficult but much more fair than the first game due to the improved lives system. In the original, you only had three lives to start with, which is way too small for the difficulty on offer. In Monkey Ball 2, you can unlock 99 lives to start with.
This makes things much more manageable, especially for the Expert and Master stages. You also get story mode, which is nice, and the party games are still excellent. Combine this with being one of the best controlling games of all time, and you get a must-play for the system.
7 The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Looking back, the outrage for Wind Waker was ridiculous. Yes, people wanted a more mature Zelda title, especially due to the huge popularity of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies at the time. However, Wind Waker’s gameplay had the best combat the series had so far and improved on the N64 titles.
The sword combat still holds up really well, while Ocarina and Majora do feel a bit dated today. The dungeons and bosses are still of the same high quality you’d expect, and the final Ganondorf boss is debatably the best in the series. Wind Waker’s successor, Twilight Princess, is even better, but due to it releasing a month earlier on the Wii, it won’t count.
6 Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Both Metroid Prime 1 and 2 are absolutely fantastic games, but Echoes just takes the slight edge due to the dual-world mechanic. You can almost never go wrong with a dual-world system because it’s so fun with exploration and puzzle-solving.
The boss fights here are some of the best in the series. Add in all the great elements that worked so well in the first game, and Metroid Prime 2 is a must-play Metroid title. It’s a shame only the first Prime is available on Switch, but hopefully, the second and third titles get remastered as well.
5 Animal Crossing
Not only is Animal Crossing just as hooking and fun today as it was back then, but it’s arguably one of the most important titles ever launched for the GameCube. A life simulator, it wrote the blueprint for many important aspects of the genre going forward.
Even aspects like Nintendo launching their old games essentially started here, as Animal Crossing features 19 unlockable NES titles. This first instalment isn’t a game that’s overshadowed by its superior sequels like others. Animal Crossing 1 still holds up extremely well in the life sim genre and can go toe-to-toe with even the newest Animal Crossing games.
4 F-Zero GX
F-Zero is one Nintendo series people desperately want to come back, but be honest; there’s no topping F-Zero GX for the GameCube. It’s one of the greatest racing games ever made, and it’s so fun zipping through these tracks.
Be warned that the game’s hard, just like Super Monkey Ball. In fact, it was made by the same developers of that title, which means that F-Zero GX is technically a Sega-developed game of a Nintendo property. That was wild to see at the time, but the end result is nothing short of incredible.
3 Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
The best Mario RPG ever made has to be Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. It has so much going for it. The battle system is one of the best designed in any RPG, with it being applicable to anyone regardless of skill or even a liking to the genre. The writing, humor, and characters are all great, making this game even more fun to play through.
Mario’s adventure itself is diverse, memorable, and extremely well-paced. The only real knock on the title is that there’s not a lot of post-game content, but that’s about it. Thankfully, Thousand-Year Door is getting a Switch remake, and that’s a great time to experience one of Mario’s greatest-ever adventures.
2 Super Smash Bros. Melee
When discussion arises about the greatest fighting game of all time, there are three names that usually get brought up. Those are Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and Super Smash Bros Melee. Probably the longest-running, still competitively played fighting game, Melee is one of the greatest sequels ever.
It truly transformed a vanilla N64 party title into a game that could seriously be played competitively at high levels and still be incredibly fun. Not to mention the solid controls, which are primarily why GameCube controllers can still be used on every further Nintendo home console.
1 Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 is an absolute masterpiece and maybe the most influential and important game to come from the 2000s. Third-person shooters, as you know, would not exist without RE4. It pioneered the over-the-shoulder camera and many common elements of the genre, like stunning an enemy with a headshot and making a follow-up attack.
The original GameCube version is still worthwhile to play due to its dirtier visuals that just give off a different vibe than the HD ports. Playing classic RE4 today is still refreshing due to the combat’s focus on spacing, as you can’t move and shoot at the same time. Plus, blowing off heads never fails to get old.
NEXT: Best Horror Games On The Nintendo Switch