Today we’re going to talk about a purple box. And I don’t mean just any purple box – I mean the Nintendo GameCube, the first console I ever owned.
People have mixed feelings about the GameCube, but it’s one of my favorite gaming systems I’ve ever owned, right up there with the Nintendo Switch and 3DS. From its looks to its controllers, I’ve always really loved it, but the reason I still have mine is because it’s home to many of my favorite video games, even now, over ten years after Nintendo stopped manufacturing the console.
Today, I wanted to share a few of my favorite games from the GameCube era. I know many of these are outdated now in terms of technology, but to me, they’ve held up over the years, and I still find myself playing them from time to time. Just a minor disclaimer: I didn’t duplicate franchises, so as much as I love MarioKart: Double Dash, I took it off in favor of another Mario game. In addition, games that I didn’t finish, like Metroid Prime, and ports/remakes, such as The Legend of Zelda: Collector’s Edition, were not included in the running.
So without further ado, here are my top five GameCube games in no particular order.
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Will I ever stop talking about The Wind Waker? Probably not, and I see no point in trying. If you read my blog post about video games that made me fall in love with gaming, you’ll know that TWW is on that list as well, but I couldn’t just ignore it when it came to putting this list together. At the risk of redundancy, I’ll just say a few things about this game.
Being the first Legend of Zelda game that I actually completed, TWW will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved the adventure of exploring the open seas, even though it was a bit tedious sometimes, and although many found the cartoony, cell-shaded art style to be childish, I loved it. It made the world brighter, and I appreciated that, especially when the game dealt with its darker moments. The final boss fight is something that will always stick with me, too. I think in a way, The Wind Waker embodies a sense of optimism and hope, even though there’s an evil dude trying to take over everything. It’s always been a hopeful game for me, and I think that’s part of why I love it so much.
One of the burning questions that I believe will never be answered is who came up with the idea for a video game essentially based on doing household chores. I mean let’s be real: When put that way, this game sounds about as exciting as actually doing chores. But somehow, Chibi-Robo pulls it off and makes cleaning up the house entertaining.
Playing as a pint-sized robot tasked with helping a suburban middle-class family, you go through the game performing seemingly minor tasks like cleaning up puddles of water, picking up trash, and so on. However, there’s also a story at play: finances are causing tension in this family, and you see that come to a head as the game progresses. Not only that, but you can interact with the other toys in the house as they come to life, following their own stories and sidequests. All in all, it’s a fun game with a simple premise, and it remains one of my favorites for when I just need a “casual” game to play.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
Yes, I know that Melee isn’t the first game in the Smash Bros. franchise, but I think we can all agree that it was the one that really made the series into the awesome fighting games they are today. As awful as I am at literally any fighting game, I have very fond memories of playing Melee with my brother and our friends while we were growing up, and later battling my brother one-on-one as we improved our skills (he more so than me).
There have been “bigger and better” sequels since Melee, but it does still hold a special place in my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I love the newer games too, but there’s something about this one that makes me smile. I will definitely still scream when I accidentally blow my character off of the stage, but I’ll still be laughing afterwards.
Super Mario Sunshine
Honestly, I don’t think this game gets enough credit for what it is. Super Mario Sunshine is perhaps one of the most underrated 3D Mario Games, being overshadowed by its spiritual successor, Super Mario Galaxy. Before my brother and I had a Wii though, we played Sunshine on our GameCube. In a way, this game created a foundation that a number of successful games in the Mario franchise would build on in years to come, including their upcoming release for the Switch.
I’ll say this, too: I am not and probably never will be very good at platformers. I do well enough to pass the levels, but they’re not the type of games I can finish in a week or two. Even so, I always really enjoyed Sunshine because it was approachable and entertaining. I’d always associated platformers with the sidescrolling kind, which I didn’t enjoy, but Sunshine allowed me to look at them in a new way. Instead of repeatedly falling into pits and getting frustrated, it was more like a puzzle – how was I going to get from Point A to Point B? Although it’s not in a genre that I love or am very skilled at, Super Mario Sunshine still remains one of my favorite games to pick up every now and again.
Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness
Gale of Darkness plays very similar to most Pokémon games with a few key differences. One of these differences is the heavy emphasis on double battles, which, though they exist in the main series Pokémon games, don’t always get the spotlight. With double battles, new factors need to be taken into account, affecting the overall strategy of the game. Not only that, but unlike normal Pokémon games that allow you to catch any Pokémon you come across, Gale of Darkness limits you to “snagging” Shadow Pokémon from other trainers and purifying them before you can use them in battle yourself.
I liked the unique challenges that Gale of Darkness presented, and it was always super cool to see my favorite Pokémon battling on the big screen in 3D. Having to rework my normal strategies was fun, if not a little frustrating at times, but really, the best games are. And of course, I can’t forget that you begin the game with Eevee, arguably one of the cutest Pokémon ever.