9. Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II
Factor 5 | LucasArts | 2001
This dazzling Star Wars flight-combat sim all but dominated the Cube's launch lineup with tight action and beautiful visuals.
What made it so great?
Blowing up TIE fighters in an X-Wing is cool. Doing so in a superb game on the day you bought your shiny new GameCube is mind-blowing. Rogue Leader was the first GameCube game to really show off what Nintendo's purple lunchbox was capable of, pumping out beautiful visuals to match its rapid-fire action. It was like a near-blind man taking off his glasses and finally seeing the world in complete clarity. More than that, it's one of the only launch titles of any generation to still hold up more than five years after its release.
From the epic trench run on the first Death Star to the final assault on the second one at the Battle of Endor, Rogue Leader's battles pile on the action as you tangle with the best cannon-fodder pilots the Empire has to offer. The dogfights are fast and addictive, the multiple mission objectives punch in some decent variety and the scenery still looks amazing as it zooms past. As space/aerial combat in the Star Wars universe goes, this is still the definitive game, and that's saying a lot.
Get ready to play
Whether you're fighting over land or in space, expect fast, simple arcade action; the focus here is on blowing TIE fighters to hell as quickly as possible. The X-Wings, snowspeeders and other craft at your disposal are a blast to pilot, even when it's through a sequence you've played six trillion times before, like the Death Star trench run or the Battle of Hoth. Blast anything that isn't on your side and try to hit all the optional objectives, and you'll do fine. Will the original trilogy ever see such perfectly crafted space shooter again?
Been there, done that?
Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike dropped the ball by branching off into weak on-foot segments and speederbike chases, but it still managed to be a badass Luke Skywalker simulator in its own right. And hey, if you're sick of flying a snowspeeder over Hoth - and by now, who isn't? - then taking down AT-ATs with a lightsaber is a refreshing alternative.