This week presents a rather unique opportunity, as we’ll be celebrating major anniversaries for two consoles. The GameCube celebrates the tenth anniversary of its North American release on November 18th, while November 19th is the fifth anniversary for the Wii in the same territory. Not only does this dual celebration entitle us to twice as much cake, but also provides a unique opportunity to look at both consoles and explore their similarities and major differences.
Later this week we’ll look back at each console individually and discuss them in a roundtable, but for now we’re taking the bold step of declaring our top 10 games for both platforms. Not necessarily directly linked to review scores but lists that, in the view of the current team, represent the best games on Wii and GameCube. A total of nine staff members nominated 98 games over the two platforms, with votes and scores then tallied together. Naturally, limiting ourselves to a top 10 when addressing entire game libraries means that many exceptional titles miss out, but we hope that you’ll agree with us on one thing: these are all awesome games.
We’ll begin at the beginning, with our GameCube top 10.
10. F-Zero GX — F-Zero is a franchise that has been terribly neglected by Nintendo, an issue that we will certainly explore in the future. For now, let’s celebrate an outstanding entry in the series, utilising the GameCube’s capabilities to produce a title with the fun and manic speed of its predecessors, and gorgeous presentation to round off the package. A perfect game to enjoy with like-minded friends, while we longingly wait for the next entry in the series.
9. Luigi’s Mansion — So, it’s a new Nintendo console with an exciting launch title from Mario, um, what? Luigi’s Mansion was a surprise in terms of its main protagonist and gameplay style, and these were arguably pleasant surprises. A perfect example of the GameCube’s willingness to experiment, check out our retrospective if you still need to be convinced.
8. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door — Mario’s adventures in the RPG genre often have bags full of charm, and this title is no exception. With turn-based battles and quirky visuals and storytelling, this continues the good work of the N64 original.
7. Resident Evil — This remake of the original Resident Evil title was so much more than a simple re-release. Enhanced visuals were expected, but it was the re-mastering of the adventure itself, with new enemies and story arcs, that truly captured fans of the series. It’s the definitive version of the first title in the series, and a pinnacle of ‘old-school’ Resident Evil game design.
6. Animal Crossing — A good example of a bold new IP on the GameCube, Animal Crossing was completely laid back and left the direction of the game to the player. You have a house, friends and shops to visit, all at your own pace. A title that is addictive and relaxing in equal measure, this is a franchise that looks set to continue into future generations of Nintendo consoles.
5. Resident Evil 4 — While the Resident Evil ‘REmake’ provided the best of the original title, Resident Evil 4 took the series in a bold new direction. Exclusive to the GameCube at the time – though it’s since been re-released many times – this title introduced a completely new style of gameplay, alongside exceptional visual and sound presentation. Opinion is divided on whether the action-focussed style represents true survival horror, but the quality of this game is in little doubt.
4. Super Smash Bros. Melee — The second entry in the series, Melee took the basics from the N64 original and made it all bigger. More characters, stages and trophies combined with a substantial boost of play options in single and multiplayer. Fun and frantic fighting that is easily accessible to gamers of any ability, this title is fondly remembered by many.
3. Super Mario Sunshine — Super Mario Sunshine was a surprising title, as it refused to simply copy the ideas of Super Mario 64 with better graphics. It was a different direction for the Super Mario series, but deserves to be recognised as an excellent adventure in its own right. More freedom of exploration, the rather fun FLUDD system and the appearance of Yoshi all contribute to a top-notch gaming experience. Different doesn’t necessarily mean bad.
2. Metroid Prime — After a rather famous outing on the SNES, Samus Aran went rather quiet on the home console scene, skipping the N64 completely. The announcement that the Metroid franchise would return as a first-person adventure, developed by unknown Texas developers Retro Studios, sounded like a recipe for disaster. When Metroid Prime finally arrived, it was a masterpiece. An impressive achievement of game design, art direction and reverence to the series lore, it can be regarded as one of the great re-designs of a major gaming franchise.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker — Initial reactions to Wind Waker often focussed on the cel-shaded cartoon graphics, a change that caught some gamers off-guard. When accepted at face value, the visuals in this title are actually gorgeous and that which truly matters, the actual gameplay, shines brightly. The tight controls and the exploration across the seas give this title a character of its own within the Zelda canon. This was the undisputed number one amongst the Nintendo Life staff, accumulating almost double the votes of the runner-up.
Those are our top 10 GameCube titles, though three runners up that narrowly missed out are Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes and Pikmin: all titles that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the final list. We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments, but not before you see our top 10 Wii games on the next page.