3. Super Smash Bros. Melee
HAL Laboratory | Nintendo | 2001
If dreams could be made into video games, this top-selling GameCube fighter would be spewing from every Nintendo fanboy's subconscious mind
What made it so great?
It's the very best of Nintendo. Take all its world-renowned characters, throw them into painstakingly crafted arenas and have them fight until only one is left standing. Mario against Link against Samus against Bowser, all inside a perfect recreation of Super Mario Bros.' first level - how cool is that?
The gameplay is so simple a five-year-old can jump right in, but experienced scrappers can go on to find limitless incentives to keep playing. A challenging Adventure mode took all the same moves and brilliant animations from the fighting game and put them into a side-scrolling romp that still plays better than most games made since. Numerous multiplayer modes kept gamers up for days, each trying to out-do their friends in a 64-for-all brawl. Unlockable, collectable trophies let you see favorite characters in wonderfully rendered glory, free for your eyes to examine in great detail at any angle. In short, this is one giant celebration of everything Nintendo, released within weeks of the GameCube. You couldn't have asked for a better launch title.
Need more proof? Melee went on to become the best-selling GC title and win tons of praise from critics and the public. Massive, hundred-people-strong tournaments still clog convention centers to this day. It's all thanks to a brilliant team of developers who took the original N64 game and improved upon it in every measurable way - better graphics, a knockout soundtrack and a huge amount of awesome, secret content sat ready for every lucky soul who got their hands on a GameCube in December 2001. If the system maintained this level of energy into 2002, Sony's easily won top slot would have been in question.
Get ready to play
Completing a round of solo fights would unlock a new character or award you with a trophy of some sort. The best came when you'd unlock alternate versions of characters (like Dr. Mario) or the ultimate badass, Ganondorf. You could also play as, for the first time, Bowser, Falco Lombardi, young Link, Mewtwo and Mr. Game & Watch. We could gush on forever about all the insane fan service here. If you own a GameCube and not Melee, well, we're not sure why you bought one in the first place.
Been there, done that?
Replace Nintendo with Japanese movie studio Toho and you've got the same basic game packed with Godzilla monsters instead of talking foxes and pudgy plumbers. It's not in the same league as Smash Bros., but Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee serves up a lot of the same excitement... just with giant lizards that throw buildings instead of fireballs.