The 25 best GameCube games of all time

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Now over 15 years old, Nintendo's enigmatic fourth home console, the GameCube, represents a quirky era of Ninty history that offered some of the purest gaming experiences of all time. While it was nowhere near as ubiquitous as Sony's PS2 or as powerful as Microsoft's Xbox, Nintendo's bizarre little box – complete with a fashionable handle and miniature discs – held its own with a unique and eclectic catalog of first and third-party titles. 

We live in hope that Nintendo may bring its classic Gamecube titles to Switch via a new version of Virtual Console – as was rumoured back in 2016, with Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi's Mansion and Super Smash Bros. Melee all reported as being in testing – but for now, we can console ourselves with ability to play Switch games using a GameCube controller.

GameCube may not have had the most games, but it was never lacking in quality, playing host to some of the best entries in the Zelda, Metroid, and Resident Evil franchises while also bringing an array of incredible, wholly original content. It's time to get weird, as we celebrate the 25 best GameCube games ever made.

25. Super Mario Strikers

Mario and his amazing friends have dominated sports like tennis, golf, basketball, and baseball for years, always in the spirit of friendly competition. That all changed when the Mushroom Kingdom players entered the soccer pitch, as they competed with more intensity and aggression than we'd ever seen. 

It's strange enough to see Mario grit his teeth, let alone brutishly shove Peach into an electrified wall. That tough exterior made Strikers stand out from the rest of Mario's sports discography, though the enjoyable gameplay fit nicely with the series' tradition of inclusive gaming. If you wanted soccer mixed in with random violence, this was your best choice on the Cube. 

24. Skies of Arcadia Legends

Skies of Arcadia reigns as one of the premier Dreamcast RPGs. You'll quickly fall in love with Vyse and his Blue Rogues as they fight the evil Valuan Empire. Sega, after the Dreamcast unfortunately floundered, decided to port this excellent first-party RPG to the GameCube, re-dubbing it as Skies of Arcadia Legends. 

The epic dungeon battles are intact, the discovery system still works (now with more discovering!), and the battle system made the cut, virtually untouched. Legends is the same game Dreamcast owners loved, just with some minor new elements and a fresh coat of paint. Any RPG lover who missed Skies of Arcadia the first time round no longer has any excuse to pass this port up. 

23. Ikaruga

In a time when shoot-'em-ups no longer meant a thing, to see one so beautiful and so intoxicatingly vibrant come to consoles was a real feat. The game's focus on duality gives your ship its two distinct colours (black and white). One colour can absorb like-coloured bullets and store them for your own screen-clearing assault, but the other can deal double damage to enemies of opposite colour. 

It all boils down to a flurry of black and white pellets flying across the screen in a seemingly inescapable frenzy of action. When it's all in motion, your eyes will glaze over and raw instinct takes over. For those watching from afar, Ikaruga looks like a piece of flowing art. It really is that amazing. Sadly, the game barely made a splash when it was released, but its legacy lives on as a downloadable. Despite low sales and even lower awareness, those in the know will defend the title and its more obscure Sega Saturn sister, Radiant Silvergun, as the pinnacles of twitchy shooter insanity.

22. Beyond Good and Evil

Frank West can go pound sand. Jade is gaming's original photojournalist, and she's much better at her job, too. Beyond Good and Evil has reached cult status among gamers, to the point where its recently announced sequel became the most talked about news to come out of E3 2017 by a giant pig-sized margin. 

Everything about the game shines: the writing, the characters, the story, the graphics... there's not a whole lot that can be found wrong with it. This incredible package only makes us wish that the oft-rumored sequel would just present itself already. We're tired of waiting, Ubisoft. Give us more Jade. 

21. TimeSplitters: Future Perfect

We play a lot of serious games around the GR+ offices, and every once in a while it's good to have a laugh at whatever's happening on the TV screen. Better still is when the game makes us laugh instead of laying on the seriousness. We need look no further than TimeSplitters: Future Perfect for a good chuckle. 

On a system bereft of first-person shooters, Future Perfect does a terrific job of representing the genre. Fast-paced action joins forces with a high comedy factor to create a game that's just plain fun. That's what video games are supposed to be, right? Fun. 

20. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

The Fire Emblem series is probably the most niche long-running Nintendo franchise out there, with the turn-based RPG having been around since the Japanese version of the NES, the Famicom. It seemed like it would never come to America, but thanks to the popularity of Fire Emblem characters that appeared in Smash Bros., it was given a chance internationally. And it gave western gamers exactly what Japanese fans had loved for years, even if many US GameCube owners weren't as excited.

The turn-based, stat-heavy action didn't look too impressive even at the time, with the grid map and small characters. Fortunately it didn't need to, as the traditional strategy gameplay was as addictive then as it always has been. And it was nice to see a Nintendo game that didn't take it easy on the player, with high difficulty and permanent team member death. For those who bothered to find it, they'll never forget it. 

19. Luigi's Mansion

Luigi and his GameCube launch game Luigi's Mansion have been unfairly maligned for over a decade. Though it's far from the best launch game in Nintendo history, and it wasn't as revolutionary as a core Mario platformer, Weegee's spooky adventure remains an underrated gem. 

Constant coward Luigi ends up trapped in a huge haunted house, and to save Mario, he has to overcome his fear and capture all the ghosts via a modified vacuum cleaner. The G-rated scares and creepy atmosphere marked a new style for Nintendo and the experiment paid off. If you missed out on this one, set aside a weekend and dig it up. 

18. Tales of Symphonia

It takes talent to transcend a nonsense plot. Symphonia's plot doesn't twist so much as it sprains. But the characters are so likable that you'll let it sail by with a shrug. Hero Lloyd is predictably naive, but it plays well off of his friend Colette's dopiness, tutor Raine's cynicism, and swordsman Kratos' battle-hardened experience. You won't want to, but you'll fall in love with the cast. 

Even more important are the game's battles. You take direct control of Lloyd, whose two swords make slicing up enemies simple and fun. In fact, Symphonia is that rare RPG where the battles are addictive. You'll find yourself chasing enemies with the intent to push for higher combos, and striving to earn new special attacks to optimize your strategy. Backed up by three computer-controlled allies, the battles are swift and never dull. Add in truly appealing, butter-smooth anime-style graphics and you have a game that looks great and plays better. 

17. Mario Kart: Double Dash

Double Dash didn't revolutionize the Mario Kart franchise like many hoped it would, but the improvements here go beyond surface deep. The character and vehicle selection is huge, the new weapons are appropriately insane complements to returning classics, and the tracks themselves have never been this diverse. Wario Colosseum is such an exhaustively twisty daredevil affair that it's only two laps long, while Baby Park is so simple in its round-and-round madness that it requires seven.

Of course, the multiplayer is what counts, and that's where Double Dash gets creative. Two players can control a single kart during races, with one handling all the driving and the other dishing out all the power-up punishment. It may be the greatest team-bonding exercise in video game history. Besides, what other tense, emotion-fueled multiplayer could inspire exclamations like "Use the golden mushroom, damn you, use it now!" or "Holy crap, watch out for that banana peel!"? After seeing the series' regress ever since, this is still the secret favourite for many Kart fans. 

16. Super Monkey Ball

Some ideas are so obviously good that, in retrospect, it feels like they've always been with us. One of the best launch titles for the GameCube was Super Monkey Ball, and it was so much fun that it made instant fans out of almost everyone. The setup is basic: You've got a ball, with a monkey in it. The levels are mazes made out of platforms; if you fall off, you die. If you make it to the end of the maze, you win. Instead of controlling the monkey, you tilt the world. 

The reason Super Monkey Ball rocks is down to the maze design being excellent and the control and physics being more or less perfect. It's proof positive that you don't need an idea that makes a hell of a lot of sense if you can put it together just right. Also, cute monkeys make anything better. Anything.