My Top 10 GameCube Games
Man oh man, the Gamcube. Holy Toledo, the Gamecube. SWEET MERCIFUL PANCAKES, the Gamecube!!! This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Gamecube. And while anything less than a massive, hours-long retrospective on the little thing seems woefully lacking, I am not yet ready for such a project. It would be wrong not to make SOME sort
of celebratory video though, so let’s get to the real heart of the matter: the games. The Gamecube has long been my favorite console of all time, not because of its handsome purple color or its sleek, boxy build or its incredibly convenient carrying handle. More than anything, it’s my favorite because of its incredible library. So today I would like to present to you a list I’ve been wanting to share since the early days of my channel. (Dramatic music, please.) These are… my TOP. TEN. GAMECUBE GAMES!!! ...EVER!!! As you might have seen in my review of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, I firmly believe that Super Mario Sunshine is the worst mainline Mario game, and by a pretty wide margin. It’s stuffed with frustrating challenges where one mistake has you starting all over, some of which are weirdly sadistic. It can be pretty janky, and overall doesn’t
have quite the same level of polish as most other Nintendo games. It doesn’t have very many worlds, and a huge number of its shine sprites are earned by collecting these annoying blue coins. The game feels like a rush job, honestly, and every time I play it I see more of its flaws. And yet...I love it! I never had my own copy as a teenager and instead borrowed a copy from my
friend’s little brother (I later purchased it from him), but my memories of playing the game way back then are precious to me. The sights and sounds of Isle Delfino are indelibly etched into my psyche. I didn’t finish the game until way later, but finishing it didn’t really matter to me, because all I wanted to do was goof around. Mario felt that good to control, FLUDD was that satisfying to use, slippin’ and slidin’ around like a doofus was that stupidly fun. And no matter how many flaws I can identify now that I’m a grumpy old game reviewer,
I’ll always get that warm little nostalgic feeling whenever I boot the game up. I bought Sonic Adventure 2 Battle on a whim. I was at the game store, I was looking for something to buy, I saw the game, remembered watching my friend play the first Sonic Adventure on his Dreamcast, and thought, “I loved Sonic on the Genesis! What the hey?” So I bought it. Because I guess when
I was a kid I was willing to shell out fifty bucks, which was probably more like EIGHTY now, for a game I knew very little about. I guess that was what I liked doing. I mean I watched someone play the Spiderman movie game for like five minutes and I thought it looked cool so I went out and bought it instantly. No, not the good one, not Spiderman 2--the FIRST ONE! Kids, I tell ya... ANYWAY, I took this fancy new Sonic game home, and looking back, I think it was OKAY? I had some fun, but a lot of it was really frustrating and unpolished, and I never finished it because the emerald-hunting levels were just dreadful. I seem to be in the minority whenever
I badmouth this game, but even as a teen with a lot of time on my hands and a lot more patience I remember being like, “I THINK this is fun? Like, a good amount of the time?” Thing is though, the mechanics and the level design and the story and the polish and all that? None of that matters, and it certainly didn’t matter back then. Because when I found the Chao garden, I realized what Sonic Adventure 2 is REALLY about. The main game isn’t really the main game at all; it’s a series of mini games that you play to collect stuff for your Chao. And from that perspective, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle is an INCREDIBLE game. Trust me, I’ve been wanting to make a full video about the Chao garden for FOREVER, but I’ll just give you the cliff notes version. This is basically a virtual pet minigame, except it’s SO MUCH DEEPER than you would expect. Back then there were whole websites and communities dedicated to the Chao garden. You can customize and train them in all sorts
of ways. You can hang out with them and watch them grow from infancy to adulthood. You can squeal with glee when you see them take their first steps or start learning how to fly. It’s seriously like watching a little lifeform develop, it’s incredible! I spent more hours than I can calculate with my Chao. I stayed up late watching
them. When a corrupted memory card took some of them from me I mourned. They meant a lot to me. And because of them, this janky old game is absolutely one of my Gamecube highlights. (And why Sega hasn’t brought back the Chao garden after two decades is beyond me…) Has there ever been a headlining, first-party launch game as weird as Luigi’s Mansion? Instead of giving us a Mario game to play on our new Gamecubes, Nintendo gave us a game where you play instead as Luigi, and you toddle around a big house and suck up ghosts with a vacuum Ghostbusters style. I don’t know how such a bold move worked out for Nintendo and the Gamecube in the long run, but it sure worked out for me. Luig’s Mansion BLEW ME AWAY. First of all, those graphics were something else. The character models looked so good, the lighting and particle effects were otherworldly, the ghosts themselves were so creepy and cool. Then the
gameplay was bizarre, but it all still stands the test of time to this day. I don’t know what it is about puzzling out how to expose a ghost, hitting it with a flashlight then fighting to suck it up, but they struck gold right off the bat with this one. Luigi’s Mansion is a short game, but the whole package is so incredibly fun that it’s endlessly replayable. And of course I’ll always associate it with the day I got my Gamecube. That joyous, magical day... I played the original Smash Bros. for many, many hours. I also played a good amount of Brawl,
and of course I enjoyed Ultimate for a time when it released. But if there was one time in my life when I was INTO Smash, it was my teenage years. And the Smash I was into was Melee. This was the perfect sequel. It was everything good about the original but with SO MUCH added. A bunch of new characters, including stinkin’ BOWSER and GANONDORF and MEWTWO! UGH! Then you got smash attack charging, side specials, air dodges, directional throws, and don’t even get me started on that Adventure Mode! Working your way through actual Nintendo locations was just unreal. I honestly must have run through it hundreds of times. I just loved it.
And as far as multiplayer goes, I played it with school friends any chance I got. If there was any kind of special fun thing going on at school, I was the one going “I’LL BRING MY GAMECUBE!” But mainly I played with my friend Dan, and we didn’t know any of the fancy stuff you’ll see at tournaments, but this was the one time I really cared about being as good at Smash as I could be. We had many epic Roy mirror matches--long, intense battles of skill and wit… And then he switched to Marth and won every game after that forever because Marth is just Roy but faster. (Stupid Marth. I still hate him…) But anyway, I suspect my days of legitimately training to be better at Smash are forever behind me now, but I’ll always remember my time with Melee. As far as I was concerned, it was THE ULTIMATE party slash sleepover game.
Pikmin? On a list of Arlo’s favorite Gamecube games? I’m just as surprised as you are! While my intense love of the series wouldn’t fully blossom until later, the first game immediately clicked with me. It was one of those experiences where you pick up the controller and right away you just GET IT. The whole process of controlling and multiplying these little creatures and having them carry stuff around was immediately satisfying, and it’s just as satisfying to this day. The world is beautiful, and makes you feel like you’re walking through a lush garden. The Pikmin themselves are adorable, and they stuff the game to the gills with charm. The funny thing about Pikmin though, is that it can be REALLY hard when you’re new, and at a young age I was PARTICULARLY sensitive to watching my Pikmin die.
As a result, the game wowed and terrified me in equal parts, and it was a few years before I built up the courage to actually beat it. Those early days with the game though… Those are some of the most nostalgic memories I’ve got. I feel like I should have more to say about this one, but I don’t know… It’s Pikmin! What more can I say? Back before the days of Nintendo Directs, before game trailers were easily accessible, one of the primary ways we learned about games was through magazines. Like many I had a subscription
to Nintendo Power, and I greedily consumed every article in each issue. And one game that caught my eye in particular in the ancient year 2002 was a quirky, relatively experimental game called Animal Crossing. I fell in love with it instantly and obsessed over every article and screenshot, brainstorming town names and daydreaming about the new life I was about to lead. And when it finally released, I threw myself at it. Not only having my own little town with my own little house decorated just the way I wanted it, but also having everything move in real time? I was amazed. I played it endlessly. I treated it like it was legitimately my second life. I was consumed entirely by the imagination element--talking to the villagers like they were
real, being proud of all my decorations, growing fruit and fishing like they were my actual jobs. Even as a sleep-starved teenager who would have slept until noon every day if he could, there was a stretch of time when I woke myself up at 6am every day so I could do my daily chores before school. And I tell ya, it was never easier to wake up that early. I was EXCITED to wake up! It was the kind of experience I could have only had as a kid, and while I don’t think I’ll ever go back to that old game or enjoy any of the newer Animal Crossing titles to QUITE the same degree, the memories I made in Taralass will stay with me forever. (I think Taralass was like a combination of two elvish words, but I don’t remember what they were. I was big on Lord of the Rings back then.)
Like many, I was disturbed and a little angry when I saw the Wind Waker reveal (and by saw, I mean used Napster to download an off-screen video taken by a guy with his camcorder at a convention). From the moment that doofy little Link drew his sword all the way to the group of moblins Loony Tunesing their way off a ledge, all I could do was stare at the tiny, heavily distorted video in disbelief. Fortunately once I started seeing new screenshots online the next year, my skepticism melted away and I was ecstatic to jump right into the game when it finally released the year after that. I had spent billions of hours in Ocarina of Time, so Wind Waker’s newly expanded scope was not lost on me. It was awesome enough just playing the next big 3D Zelda game, and on fancy new hardware. But having your own ship and sailing around a big, open sea? It was incredible. It was still a far cry from a true “open world” game, especially with its many
locations all relatively small and very far apart, but that didn’t matter to me one bit. The sense of freedom and adventure was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. Add on to that a wicked new sword counter system, fun new items and a heck of a cool ending sequence, and you had everything I could have wanted in a Zelda game. As with just about every game I played as a kid, Wind Waker’s flaws are more obvious to me now. But it still stands as a terrific Zelda experience, and one I’m sure I’ll be revisiting many more times. Alright NOW I got some more Pikminy stuff to say. Go back in time to my first years
of playing Pikmin 1 and ask me to imagine the best sequel possible. Then multiply that by three. That’s how good Pikmin 2 was. I played it a few years after release, and it’s the game that cemented my love of the series. I mean it was just everything I could have wanted and more. The gameplay is so much more polished and pleasant, with much better Pikmin AI and tons of quality-of-life features. The lack of a day limit is such a breath of fresh air. The two-captain system offers a new layer of strategy. The new Pikmin types are creative and
fun. The enemies are horrifying and brutal. And best of all, not only does the new cave system bloat the game up to a ridiculous 20+ hour playtime, but the caves are slightly randomized, so replayability is through the roof! There are many things about Pikmin 2 that make it a poor Pikmin sequel in the eyes of many. But for me, it was--and still is--a followup that goes above and beyond in terms of both quality and content. At the end of the day it’s a Pikmin game, except it’s super hard and you can play it forever. And that means everything to me.
Pikmin 2 almost tied with the next two games for first place, but the one thing it’s missing is the EMOTIONAL element, so I gave it a solid third thanks to a technicality. These other games though… I couldn’t possibly tell you which one I like more. In the end I had to pick an order, but keep in mind that if I wrote this a month ago the places might have been switched, and they might even have switched multiple times between then and now. At the moment, my number two Gamecube game is Metroid Prime. It’s legitimately hard to talk about this game and explain why I love it so much without going on a MASSIVE thing. It’s
like...there are so many first person games out there where you shoot stuff. Most of these are first person shooters, but this one is a first person ADVENTURE. Exactly like the 2D Metroid games before it, Prime lets you shoot, but exploring the world is equally important. It’s not just a game about beating bad guys, but about getting stronger, and piecing together the tragic story of this planet, and navigating its...ENCHANTING locales. Many games since Metroid Prime have explored sci-fi themes and given us moody, atmospheric experiences. And yet to me, very few games have achieved what Prime did. It’s atmospheric,
yet always grounded in its own reality. The world is such a real place, yet the feeling it conveys is so magical. It doesn’t have to rely on color grading and moody lighting to achieve this magical feeling. There’s nothing wrong with using that stuff, but in this case something about the game is so pure and effortless. And so much of that is thanks to the music. The music alone does
the heavy lifting of an entire art team when it comes to the mood that’s conveyed to the player. It’s just a beautiful, magical game, and easily one of my favorite games of all time. Here it is, my friends. We’ve reached the end. My number one favorite Gamecube game
of all time...is Spider-Man, the first movie game. It’s not that, it’s Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. I’ve talked about the game an awful lot, so it’s probably not a surprise that it’s pretty up there on the list. As I’ve said of many Gamecube games, it’s the
perfect sequel to the original Paper Mario. I was already in love with that game, but this… It was like the series was growing up with me. Thousand Year Door follows the same formula of the first game, but everything is better. Partners having their own HP
plus the audience and “stylish” move mechanics add so much to the battle system. The cleaner, higher resolution sprites are a huge improvement, and the ability to have a ton on screen at once makes for some very exciting moments. The humor is top notch, with countless laugh-out-loud jokes. Best of all though, the game delivers the same high-quality narrative experience, but with a little edge. You leave the storybook world of the Mushroom Kingdom behind and enter a city of thieves. The new partners are weird and interesting. The story is bigger, the antagonists more sinister, the stakes higher. And it all culminates in
an ending so epic it still gives me chills. At the time it was everything Mario wasn’t allowed to be under any other circumstances. Mario and Luigi came close, but in my eyes it didn’t match the scope and sincerity of Paper Mario. The first game turned Mario into something so much more than he was (by following the framework set by Super Mario RPG, obviously), and the second game showed that this very special, relatively-new yet already near-perfect kind of Mario game had an immense amount of room to grow. Even the silly little goomba-stomping plumber was capable of delivering an experience that would stick with me forever. And stick with me, it has.
Before we wrap this up, please allow me to indulge in two runners-up who only didn’t make the list thanks to technicalities. They definitely would have bumped off Mario Sunshine and Sonic Adventure 2 under other circumstances. ...Whoosh. The first is Metroid Prime 2. It didn’t make the list because while I did play it once on Gamecube,
most of my time with it has been spent on Wii via the Trilogy collection. It’s still a Gamecube game at heart, but eh, doesn’t matter, I’m talking about it now anyway so who cares that it’s not on the list. As far as development efficiency goes, Metroid Prime 2 is a perfect sequel. Not only is it a direct followup on the same system that uses a tremendous amount of the same assets as its predecessor, but the light world/dark world mechanic cut down even more on the need to build new locales. When you’re looking at things from a mass appeal perspective however, Echoes might have been a bit of a misstep. In the dark world Samus takes damage unless she’s protected by these bubbles of light, so you spend a lot of playtime standing around, waiting for your health to slowly recover.
And the first game was already easy to get lost in, but now with light and dark versions of most areas and specific methods needed to navigate each with dead ends aplenty, it can be enough to make your head spin. When I first played it, I did have fun, but it was super stressful, and didn’t seem to reach the same heights as the first game. However every single individual time I’ve revisited Metroid Prime 2 over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate it more. It gives us another incredible world to explore. It continues the themes of the first game while taking us to even darker places, raising the stakes, and giving us even more to do. The
world can be confusing to navigate, but it’s all meticulously designed, and the way the light and dark worlds work together is really incredible. Metroid Prime 2 is an amazing game in a trilogy of amazing games. Also it’s got moth people and they’re really rad. The second game that didn’t make the list is Resident Evil 4. And hoo boy, if I were judging the game as a singular title without considering its different versions, it would probably be number four on this list. But again, it’s hardly a Gamecube exclusive anymore (in this case not even CLOSE), and while I played through the Gamecube version once, my next 6,049 playthroughs happened on the Wii Edition. Pointer controls make the game a lot easier, but also
way more fun, and to this day I just can’t seem to get to grips with the standard controller scheme. But you know what? It started on GameCube and I played it on GameCube, so we're talking about it! Resident Evil 4 is simply a masterpiece. The controls are a little dated, but the game established the modern Resident Evil style that’s still going strong today. Something about it is
just...really really fun. I think a big part of it for me is the slower-paced shooting. You get to really take time to aim, and choosing where to aim is often a tactical decision. And the graphics and enemy designs and animations are all so good that the fun gameplay is just that much more enjoyable. I mean I’m STILL amazed that this game ran on a Gamecube. This is the EPITOME of a AAA experience.
Then, the icing on the cake. Leon. And all the other characters. And the ridiculous things that come out of their mouths. Resident Evil games since have each had their own unique mixes of both “unintentionally funny” and “intentionally yet unsuccessfully funny,” but 4 is the only one that nails it 100%. It's hilarious but always feels sincere, and still manages to be cool when it wants to. And honestly, I think it will always be the only game in the series
to strike such a perfect balance. The lines and how they’re performed are so hilarious sometimes, yet never over-the-top or annoying. It’s that subtle kind of bizarreness that mostly seems to come from Japanese games. And combined with everything else, including a slew of things to unlock through repeat playthroughs, all those one-liners make Resident Evil 4 a game that...is
just too good. Like it’s TOO good. It’s impossibly good, and while I wish there were more games like it, I’m also so, so thankful that the universe gifted us with it at all. And that, my friends, is the end of my list.
...of the TOP. TEN. GAMECUBE-- Whether you were fortunate enough to be actively gaming during the Gamecube’s life, or you only discovered its library later, I would love to know YOUR favorite games. But most importantly, I would like to know...if I'm the only person who had the first Spider-Man movie game. I mean it wasn't bad, right? Everyone loved 2, but 1 had it's good elements. You could...play as Green Goblin! And ride around on the thing! It was...cool!