The Favorite Games List was a recurring feature originally published on Trevor Trove. This installment originally debuted on February 28-29, 2016
Despite having grown up a Nintendo kid, by the time the Gamecube rolled around, I had shifted my focus from the Nintendo and the N64 to PlayStation and the PSOne and PS2. Having separated from my N64-era multiplayer friends by the end of high school and especially into college, I might have been content to skip the Gamecube altogether. But my sister took advantage of the late-in-its life-cycle holiday sales price of $99 for the system. So here are my favorite games of the…
Because I came so late to the system, I wound up missing a lot of the staples of the Gamecube like Super Mario Sunshine and Luigi’s Mansion. And since I was primarily a lone gamer during this era, Super Smash Bros. Melee never really resonated with me either. I have it. I played it. But those games are best enjoyed with friends so it doesn’t quite make the cut. Heresy, I know. Anyway, let’s get to a few of the games that did make the list.
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door – A continuation and improvement upon the Nintendo 64 Paper Mario in nearly every way, Thousand-Year Door was a phenomenal turn-based RPG oozing with charm and humor. As Mario adventure’s to save Princess Peach from Sir Grodus and the X-Nauts and prevent a long-locked-away demon from being released through the titular door, he meets a colorful cast of characters. As with previous Mario RPG games, this includes a mix of the familiar character types like Goombella the Gooma and Admiral Bobbery the Bob-omb as well as new designs like Madam Flurrie the flirtatious wind creature, and enemy-turned-friend Vivian the Shadow Siren.
While Bowser and Peach don’t join Mario directly on this adventure, there are many playable sequences as each character, filling the player in on what they’re going through while Mario works his way through collecting the Crystal Stars needed to unlock the door. In one of my favorite recurring bits throughout the game, Mario can visit with Luigi in the game’s main town and meet his new companions and piece together his quest for the Marvelous Compass in order to save Princess Eclair in the Waffle Kingdom. Fully embracing Luigi’s “poor man’s Mario” status, this tale is essentially a tongue-firmly-in-cheek parody of the quest you’re playing through as Mario. It’s a great bit of (easily missable) writing!
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker – While many people balked at the “Cel-da” art style when The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker came out for Gamecube, I appreciated the beautiful, bold, design choice. In fact, my biggest gripe with the game, as with Ocarina of Time, was that they both were largely just pulling from the same “collect three things, then collect seven things, then fight Ganon” formula of A Link to the Past. That said, I had a ton of fun sailing from island to island and finding every hidden chest on the map, in large part because I always had something beautiful to look at with this game. I even remember hooking up my Game Boy Advance as an early “second-screen experience” with the Tingle Tuner mini-game. Which, in turn, helped sparked the great debate to determine which character is the absolute worst: Navi or Tingle?
Viewtiful Joe – As evidenced by the other selections on this list, I was a huge sucker for bold, artistic styles on the Gamecube; games that didn’t look like everything else on the landscape. Paper Mario, Wind Waker and Capcom’s Viewtiful Joe all feel as if they were in direct opposition to the direction of “realism” that Final Fantasy and Grand Theft Auto were heading toward. An excellent side-scroller beat-em-up in and of itself, the real charm of Viewtiful Joe was the superhero film aesthetic it invoked, years before the Superhero Movie was the staple it is today.
Stay tuned for Part Two to see the rest of my favorite Gamecube games.
Part One of my Favorite Games for the Gamecube covered Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Viewtiful Joe. I forgot to mention that one of the prized possessions that came from Wind Waker was the bonus promotional disc that came with the original Nintendo Zelda games, as well as the Nintendo 64 ones.
It gave me another chance to play through Ocarina of Time and try Majora’s Mask again (still couldn’t get into it, though). But mostly, it’s just a great little bonus pack from the era.
Anyway, here are the rest of my favorite Gamecube games.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! – One of my favorite entries in the Mario Kart franchise, Double Dash stands out mostly because my sister and I would regularly play in during the brief time we lived together in college. We would often compete through the game’s iconic tracks like Wario Colosseum, DK Mountain, and Yoshi Circuit. I believe this was also the first game in the series to introduce character-specific Special Items , adding another element to determining who to play as. I typically went with Yoshi/Birdo because I was comfortable with how they handled. And when Jamie and I weren’t feeling particularly competitive, we could play through a race co-op where I would typically drive and she would manage our arsenal of weapons.
Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II – As I touched upon in my N64 favorite games, I’m a sucker for the Rogue Squadron games, so it’s fitting that the “next-gen” sequel would make the list. Coming out before players were getting tired of the same Death Star Trench Run and Hoth Battle levels, Rogue Leader is, in essence, a very familiar game if you played the original but the improved graphics and another chance to insert myself into the original trilogy as Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles was all I needed to put hours into this game, always trying to maximize my performance in each of the game’s missions.
Pokemon Colosseum/Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness – The closest we’ve ever gotten to a core console Pokemon RPG game, Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness provided a deeper console experience than their Pokemon Stadium predecessor. Instead of playing as a young boy leaving home to be a world-class trainer, these games gave you the ability to snag “Shadow” Pokemon away from the game’s antagonists. As you battle with these captured “Shadow” Pokemon, you were able to purify them and restore them to a happy healthy life on your team. This was an interesting new approach for the series to take and I loved that purified Pokemon could then be traded with the Gameboy Advance games in the core series.
And that wraps up my time with the Nintendo Gamecube. The decision to run a proprietary disc instead of being a combination DVD player was likely the worst business decision Nintendo could have made for the console but the games it had were pretty good, all things considered.