Top 10 Reasons to Keep Your Nintendo GameCube
After learning that the Wii U would not support GameCube backwards compatibility, I couldn’t help but think about the wonderful times I had with my old purple lunchbox. Despite taking a backseat in mainstream popularity to the Xbox and PS2, the GameCube had its own wealth of amazing content that would be a shame to lose. Thankfully, many titles have been re-released on other platforms, but not every title is that lucky. Let’s run down the top 10 reasons to keep your Nintendo GameCube.
10. The Hardware
The GameCube’s hardware is vintage Nintendo. The console itself was a petite but powerful unit that sacrificed a little strength for style. The disc format was unlike any other gaming console at the time and had a similar kind of charm. What stood out the most with this console, though, was the controller. Before Nintendo's controller design became the waggle fest of modern day, they were still constructing controllers that left people baffled. Why is there a Z button on the top right of this controller but no equivalent on the other side? Why is the B button so small and the Y and X buttons kidney-bean shaped? Why is the A button so gosh darn big?! As it turns out, the controller was the way it was because it simply worked. Few controllers feel as natural and comfortable to play with as this one. The GameCube controller is a testament to how surprising design can not only be eye-catching, but also incredibly functional.
9. Chibi Robo
Few franchises have a debut title with the same amount of charm and dedication to an idea as Chibi Robo. Similar to the Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing franchises, Chibi Robo takes monotonous chores that would put you to sleep in real life and makes them enjoyable and rewarding. You play as a miniature robot tasked with cleaning your owner family’s house and helping them in their personal dilemmas. In a gaming industry surrounded by guns, conflict, and violence, it’s refreshing to have a game that’s a bit more philanthropic and kind. Chibi Robo had the misfortune of releasing after the Xbox 360 was already shocking the gaming public with high definition graphics, so it never got its due credit with the masses. Fans of unique and fun gaming ideas should take a look back at this often forgotten release.
8. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Now I know a lot of Metal Gear purists will tell you that the GameCube remake of Metal Gear Solid is the inferior version, but we shouldn’t lock away one of this console’s best experiences due to nostalgia. Silicon Knights took Konami’s original Metal Gear Solid title and cranked up the volume for this 2004 remake. Bringing the innovations of MGS2 into the original title might have broken the design occasionally, but they were ultimately welcome additions to a PS1 classic. A retelling of one of the best stories of the previous generation, combined with updated graphics and an even more over-the-top design, made Twin Snakes a great game for any GameCube owner.
7. Star Fox Adventures
Although this game was barely related to Star Fox at all at the time, it remains one of the strongest titles in the GameCube’s line-up. Star Fox Adventures forgoes the typical vehicle-focused Star Fox gameplay for a much more Zelda-esque experience. It’s a bit surprising, especially for hardcore fans, but was a nice change of pace from what we came to know of that franchise. The shift in focus allowed Rare to tell a much more concentrated story about Fox and the world he crash lands onto. Solid gameplay and cutting-edge graphics made Star Fox Adventures the perfect swan song for Rare’s tenure with Nintendo.
6. Luigi’s Mansion
Luigi’s Mansion has a strange history. Upon release, many people couldn’t look past the fact that this was the Mario game releasing with the GameCube instead of a proper sequel to Super Mario 64. Roughly a decade later, Nintendo has announced Luigi’s Mansion 2 to wild fanfare. It seems Luigi has garnered himself a following after the title’s launch started to set in, and for good reason. Luigi’s Mansion offered a unique ghost-busting experience that you couldn’t find elsewhere. Luigi himself provides a lot of charm and elicits sympathy from the player over how frightened he is to be in his situation. With a sequel heading to the 3DS next year, now is one of the best times to check out this classic launch title.
5. Tales of Symphonia
The Tales series always seem to be hit or miss. With Symphonia, Namco knocked it out of the park and arguably produced the best RPG to ever be put on a GameCube mini-disc. It doesn’t do a lot to dramatically shake up the RPG genre, but it really doesn’t have to. An intriguing story, memorable characters, and a fantastic battle system make up for the lack of huge innovations. With over 80 legitimate hours of gameplay and story to experience, it remains one of the best deals on the console. Though this title was eventually ported to PS2 in Japan, a GameCube is the only place to play this RPG classic throughout the rest of the world.
4. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader
Star Wars titles run the gamut from completely unappealing to absolutely mind blowing. Rogue Squadron II was definitely one of the latter upon its release. The attack on the Death Star at the opening of this title was incredibly ambitious for its time, recreating the final scenes of the original Star Wars so well that you couldn’t help but feel a part of it. Rogue Leader starts strong and remains strong throughout its duration. Factor 5 was able to create not only one of the best Star Wars space shooters, but also one of the best space shooters in general. Things may have gone off the rails a bit for the franchise after this game, but that doesn’t detract from one of the strongest experiences you can have on the GameCube.
3. Super Mario Sunshine
Sunshine’s release suffered a similar reaction to that of Luigi’s Mansion. People were upset that it wasn’t Super Mario 64 2.0. Once you got past that, however, Super Mario Sunshine offered a lot of unexpected charm. The key innovation to this brightly colored adventure was the FLUDD backpack Mario carried around. This allowed him to splash enemies, hover around, and solve puzzles through the wonders of H2O. It may be the black sheep of the 3D Mario titles, but it brings the same quality and enjoyment of its peers. While it wasn’t what people were looking for at the time, Super Mario Sunshine remains one of the best platforming experiences you could have on Nintendo’s cubed console.
2. Metroid Prime 1 & 2
Prime 1 and 2 were re-released on the Wii as part of the Metroid Prime trilogy bundle, but good luck finding that at a reasonable price nowadays. To give you an idea, as of this writing it runs for about $70 to $80 on Amazon. Rarity aside, the first two Metroid Prime titles are easily some of the best games to be released on the GameCube. I remember seeing the initial screenshots of Metroid Prime and thinking that there was no way it could work---there was no way you could recreate the feeling of adventure, discovery, and emotion of Super Metroid in a first-person title. As fate would have it, I was about as wrong as anyone can be. The original Metroid Prime is arguably the best Metroid title to date, perhaps even surpassing the 2D SNES classic, and its sequel was a great follow-up to such a landmark title. If you’re one of the people who picked up the Prime Trilogy at launch, consider yourself lucky. The rest of us shall be forced to dig out our old consoles or shell out a premium if we ever want to play these classics again.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
It seems many of the best titles on the GameCube took a lot of chances with their respective franchises. This trend holds true for the only GameCube exclusive Zelda title, The Wind Waker. While Wind Waker doesn’t do a whole lot to innovate the Zelda formula, its presentation is unmatched in the rest of the franchise. You’re still a boy in a green tunic sent on a mission to defeat Ganon and save Zelda, but it manages to feel new and refreshing in a way no other 3D Zelda titles have pulled off. The characters and settings are so far removed from previous games that it feels like its own mini-universe inside the overarching franchise. Typical Zelda games have you trekking across grand landscapes on foot or horseback, but Wind Waker brought the same majestic wonder to sailing the open seas. The vibrant cel-shaded art style and sense of adventure while sailing from point to point really bring this title to life. Wind Waker’s art direction ensures it will still look visually stunning years after titles like Twilight Princess look outdated. That’s why The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is the number one reason to keep your GameCube powered on.
I should mention that all of these titles can still be played on the Nintendo Wii as well, but the important factor is that they cannot be played on the Wii U. There are a handful of notable GameCube games missing from my list for the very reason that they were re-released or ported to other platforms and won’t be lost in the move to the new console. Games like Resident Evil 4 or Beyond Good & Evil are top-notch but can be played elsewhere. Others, such as Pikmin 1 and 2, were re-released on the Wii and aren’t nearly as hard to come by as the Metroid Prime Trilogy. Lastly, titles like Super Smash Bros. Melee and Animal Crossing have very similar or superior sequels on the Wii and will likely have similar releases on the Wii U. Ultimately, the GameCube was often teased for being a kiddy or underpowered console, but it was home to some of the best games of that generation. It would be a shame to see these titles gone forever.