I was in a marvellous store the other day which had a massive collection of games and consoles dating back to the NES era and even a few odds and ends from before the NES. I was also rather impressed by a beautiful set of Zelda pins and a Majora’s Mask cushion. I was happily browsing some old games when I heard someone say “Hey a GameCube! I used to have one of those, seems so retro now.” My initial thought was that this was a stupid thing to say, the Cube was only released in….. oh. What do you mean twelve years ago?! Upon, reflection I conceded that this console may well be straying into the realms of retro-ness. I also feel that this console was also heavily underrated. True it sold 20 million units overall, but I know that in my school at least, buying one made you a little uncool. Its a shame really, many people will have missed out on this console, and their was actually a large selection of very high quality titles on this platform. I’ve listed ten of my favourites that I think that everybody needs to play. I’m not saying they’re the best games; I can only speak for games that I owned, being unable to afford all the great games on an 11 year old’s budget. In no particular order I begin with:
This game, created by Codemaster and Free Radical Design (incidentally made up of people who worked on the N64 Rare titles) is an underrated and relatively unknown classic. Released on a multiple platforms, this third person shooter look great on the GameCube’s more powerful hardware. This game’s particular draw was the ability to use psychic powers on the surrounding environment and enemies such as healing, telekinesis, psi attack, projection and possession. This game was fairly ahead of its time featuring NPC team mates, rag-doll physics, using the environment for cover, and of course, the ability to choke enemies Darth Vader style and throw them out of windows. The storyline is engaging and innovative as the playable character tries to regain his memories and discover the cause of his psychic talents. Uniquely, the actions you take in the levels in the past can change the present. Wonderful stuff.
Yes, this game was expensive at the time to factor in the cost of the bongos, and yes if you wanted to play multi-player you had to buy more bongos, but it was worth it. This game is hilarious to play. Essentially it works in the same way as guitar hero or tap tap revenge. Notes play across the screen and you have to left drum, right drum, both drum or clap as the icon indicates. Sounds simple. And it is, on easier difficulties. On harder difficulties you have to move and flail like a maniac to try and keep perfect time. The song choice is great, featuring a variety of styles and time periods. Put simply, this game would cause you to grin hugely while playing electronic bongo drums. Brilliant.
Again released on multiple platforms (but I think looked the best on the Cube) this game is an absolute classic. The best in the series by far, this game had it all. Made by the good folks at Free Radical this game had a brilliant story made with excellent and atmospheric levels from time periods both in the past and future and even on alien worlds. This game has a charm all of its own and is without a doubt the best first person shooter that I have ever played. The realistic graphics and game-play of Call of Duty and the like does not even come close for me. The story mode is superb, the multi-player is very fun indeed with a huge variety of modes to play and also features a challenge and arcade mode which could almost be a separate game by itself and is addictive as hell. If you like FPS games, you need to try this game. If you don’t, this may be the game that wins you over.
Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2:
One of the very first games to be released for the GameCube, this game is still one of my favourites today. It offers you the chance to pilot all the crafts that you see in the Star Wars movies, play through all the major battles against the Empire, take on Death Stars and Star Destroyers and visually looks gorgeous too. Fans of the franchise will go nuts for the Star Warsiness of this, and for everyone else it is actually a great action game. The star ships feel smooth to control and the dogfights are manic and exciting in equal measure. Certainly this is more of a spiritual successor to Lylat Wars 64 than the awful StarFox Adventures anyway.
Metroid Prime 1 and 2
Ok, so technically this counts as two games but I am putting them together because they share the same good points. The leap from 2D to 3D worked well for the Metroid franchise, offering Samus a wealth of gorgeous looking 3D environments to explore and also allowed the combat to evolve somewhat while still retaining the overall Metroid atmosphere. The puzzles are great, the worlds are a delight to explore, the combat feels fluid and challenging, particularly against the Space Pirates, and the boss battles are entertaining and suitably tough. This game really does look beautiful too, and really pushed the boundaries of what the GameCube could do. This game is an almost perfect example of a series evolving and re-inventing itself and is a great action adventure game.
Super Smash Brothers Melee:
Well, you all know about this by now, you don’t need to hear anything from me on this one.
Resident Evil Remake:
This is the game that really launched the Playstation to success, games were no longer ‘just for kids’ and could be mature (whatever that means.) Irrespective of gaming labels, this game was phenomenal and delivered scares by the spadeful. The remake only made it better. The graphics of the game are gorgeous, making you feel like you could reach out and touch the wonderfully textured backgrounds. The zombies looks so detailed they really could be fresh corpses and the audio team outdid themselves to create a real atmosphere of terror, from zombie moans to creepy music and dramatic crows. The small improvements and touch ups to the game coalesced to form a truly wonderful and scary game. For more detail see here: https://theinverselook.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/survival-of-the-fittest/
A real gem from Silicon Knights this game had some truly innovative features to it. A third person action/explorer game bases around a mysterious book called ‘The Tome of Eternal Darkness.’ You explore an inherited mansion to find out more clues about your grandfather’s brutal murder only to discover the book and chapters from it in the form of stories from across history. The real hook to this game was the introduction of a sanity meter. When this drops too far after monster encounters all kinds of insane effects can happen from blood dripping down of ceilings and walls, distant crying, disembodied crying, your characters head falling off etc. Some effects will momentarily think the game has broken, they are that good. Add to that a clever magic system and entertaining combat and you have a real winner of a game.
Super Mario Sunshine:
The successor to the classic Super Mario 64, this game only just falls short of living up to the quality of its predecessor. For me the only let down in this game is the lack of level variety. The levels themselves are very well designed, but they all feature the same style. Whereas 64 had a huge variety of levels (Snow, volcano, giant fortresses etc) Sunshine’s levels all used the tropical theme which overall means that no levels really stand out (except the theme park perhaps.) Aside from this the game is a masterpiece with great graphics, the water and paint effects are gorgeous, clever game-play with the FLUDD water cannon mechanic and excellent retro mini levels which paved the way for Mario Galaxy. I prefer 64, but this game is still so high quality and such fun to play, particularly on horrible winters evenings.
Resident Evil 4:
One of my favourite games of all time, combining the scares of Resident Evil with slick action, fun combat and immersive story telling. This game is so successful at making you feel like you really are isolated and taking on impossible odds that it creates actual tension an fear for Leon’s survival. The enemies are constantly swarming you, from lowly villagers to chainsaw wielding maniacs with bags over their head. The system of acquiring and upgrading weapons allows you to vary your combat options a lot and adds an element of treasure hunting to the game which adds a bit of relief from constant fear of death. This game was almost universally well received, and for good reason. I imagine that you have played it. If not, go buy it right now, it is one of the best games of the last 15 years.
There are so many good games for this list, those which just missed out on my admittedly fairly arbitrary decision making include; Wave Race Blue Storm, MarioKart DoubleDash, Mario Power Tennis, Soul Calibur 2, Smuggler’s Run.