Nintendo GameCube Orange
Image: Gemma Smith / Nintendo Life

The GameCube marked Nintendo's switch to disc-based media form the work of cartridges and some of the company's finest output ever came on a cute little disc that you put into a cute little cube. The GameCube library features classics from Nintendo itself and a bunch of third-party companies, but in this reader-ranked list we'll be focusing on the former.

Our ranked list of the Best Nintendo GameCube Games Ever covers absolutely everything on the system, but in this selection, we're looking specifically at Nintendo's first-party GameCube games released in the West. All of the games below were developed (or co-developed) by Nintendo and therefore represent the company's own in-house output on the system. Other developers are trusted with Nintendo IP — Kirby and Fire Emblem, to name just a couple — but here we're looking purely at GameCube games developed personally by the folks at Nintendo.

This is a reader-ranked list based on the User Ratings of each game in our database. As such, it's subject to real-time change at any time. If you haven't personally rated any of the games below, you can assign them a score out of 10 right now and exert your influence on the ranking. You can also use the search bar below to quickly find any Nintendo-developed GameCube games and rate them as you wish:

So, let's take a look at every first-party Nintendo GameCube game, as ranked by you. We start at the bottom...

15. Doshin The Giant (GCN)

Doshin The Giant (GCN)
Doshin The Giant (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: 20th Sep 2002 (UK/EU)

Doshin The Giant is a wholly unique and pleasingly confusing experience. Balancing working hard and being loved alongside doing things quickly but being hated — as well as random natural disasters — allows for a degree of tactics in an otherwise super chilled-out game. Villagers can have unreasonable demands that often contradict their neighbour's, who is standing two metres away, but that’s the price you pay for having such heavy responsibilities. It’s showing some signs of age in its visuals, but the terraforming mechanics alone are still impressively modern, and make Doshin the Giant a great game to play even today.

14. Pac-Man Vs. (GCN)

Pac-Man Vs. (GCN)
Pac-Man Vs. (GCN)
Publisher: Namco / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 2nd Dec 2003 (USA) / 26th Mar 2004 (UK/EU)

Designed specifically for the Game Boy Advance link cable and developed by Nintendo EAD alongside Namco, Pac-Man Vs. is a curious addition to the GameCube library that nevertheless boasted the same compelling gameplay that Pac-Man has always been known for. With one player controlling the titular character with the GBA and three other players controller the ghosts on the TV, it was definitely a fascinating idea at the time, with concepts that have gone on to live in subsequent titles like Nintendo Land. Nevertheless, with a distinct lack of content, it failed to keep players' interest for extended periods of time.

13. 1080° Avalanche (GCN)

1080° Avalanche (GCN)
1080° Avalanche (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Release Date: 1st Dec 2003 (USA) / 28th Nov 2003 (UK/EU)

Nintendo Software Technology gripped tightly to 1080° Avalanche's wayward development and created a title that surpassed expectations, forging a game with its own approach to the genre, sitting between the realism of 1080° Snowboarding and the extravagance of SSX 3. It stuck to the N64 foundations, still focusing on speed and one-on-one versus racing, yet the tight, creative course design, gameplay-changing shortcuts and coin-collecting time trials combined to present a polished GCN game. Intuitive controls made tricks accessible and encouraged gamers to take risks to build the empowering boost bar. It looks great, and a short, but quality selection of licensed bands combines with similar attention spent on sound effects, which provide an aural treat.

12. Wave Race: Blue Storm (GCN)

Wave Race: Blue Storm (GCN)
Wave Race: Blue Storm (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
Release Date: 17th Nov 2002 (USA) / 3rd May 2002 (UK/EU)

Wave Race: Blue Storm was a dazzling showcase for the GameCube at launch — nothing like a little water tech to showcase a new system. There's no argument that Nintendo Software Technology's US-developed entry offers a far prettier experience than Wave Race 64's chunky polygons, but the jury's out on whether it takes the lead in the gameplay stakes. For us, the original just beats it, but this is still a great water-based racer.

11. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GCN)

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GCN)
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 7th Jun 2004 (USA) / 7th Jan 2005 (UK/EU)

A collaborative adventure in the Legend of Zelda mould was something many had dreamt of for a long time, and the Four Swords part of the GBA port of A Link to the Past made the jump to the TV screen here in Four Swords Adventures. There's a single-player game in there, but the real meat of the experience involved each of the four players hooking their own GBA to the GameCube with the requisite link cable and controlling their Link in a screen-hopping adventure long before Nintendo went asymmetric with the Wii U gamepad. It's a brilliant co-op Zelda game hampered only by the fact that it required so much kit to function.

10. Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (GCN)

Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (GCN)
Donkey Kong Jungle Beat (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 14th Mar 2005 (USA) / 4th Feb 2003 (UK/EU)

An under-appreciated gem from director Yoshiaki Koizumi and the EAD Toyko team that would go on to make Super Mario Galaxy, you control Donkey Kong Jungle Beat using arguably the best/silliest official controller ever made, the DK Bongos. You can play with a standard GameCube pad if you want, but it's best to keep the neighbours awake with this one.

The first 'mainline' DK game following the end of Rare's stewardship of the character, you move DK by hitting the drums or clapping, which is detected by the bongos' in-built mic, as you work through the 2.5D levels collecting bananas, bashing baddies, and building combos to score 'beats'. It's short, but brilliant fun and is superior to the (still excellent) Wiimote-controlled New Play Control! version — which added some notable new features and design tweaks — because bongos beat motion controls. Always.

9. WarioWare, Inc: Mega Party Game$! (GCN)

WarioWare, Inc: Mega Party Game$! (GCN)
WarioWare, Inc: Mega Party Game$! (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: 6th Apr 2004 (USA) / 3rd Sep 2004 (UK/EU)

A remake of the GBA game WarioWare, Inc: Mega Microgames!, this home console version added multiplayer to an already brilliantly unhinged concept of microgames that mashes together tiny tasks with a time limit to produce a hectic, hilarious experience. It feels like R&D1 were unchained and allowed to vent their bursting creativity, channelling it into a game without being encumbered by the usual Nintendo 'polish' everyone expects, which gives this game (and the wider series) a remarkable and unique feeling of freshness.

8. Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)

Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)
Super Mario Sunshine (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 26th Aug 2002 (USA) / 4th Oct 2002 (UK/EU)

Mario's run of hit after hit after hit is rather incredible when you think about it. The expectations each new mainline entry creates are astronomically high and we're continually gobsmacked that, more often than not, those expectations are surpassed. Available to play on Switch if you have a copy of Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Super Mario Sunshine is a great game which — thanks to its rushed development — lacks the immaculate polish we've come to expect from the Mario series. However, there's a unique charm and brilliance to its mechanics and setting which make it an underdog in the series, and who doesn't love one of those?

As a direct sequel to Super Mario 64, it is not the genre-defining classic everyone was hoping for. However, with the passing of time, we can look back and appreciate the many things that Sunshine does superbly. The joyful, bouncing Isle Delfino theme alone makes it worth revisiting, and if you've skipped this entry in Mario's back catalogue, don't let its reputation put you off. The Sunshine Defence Force may be overcompensating a tad — it's certainly got its flaws — but at the very least, it's still very good in our eyes.

7. Pikmin (GCN)

Pikmin (GCN)
Pikmin (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 2nd Dec 2001 (USA) / 14th Jun 2002 (UK/EU)

Shigeru Miyamoto takes up gardening and before you know it he's cracked out Nintendo's inimitable version of the real-time strategy genre. Featuring for the first time those tiny little plant creatures that you order around in groups to pick up rubbish, harvest fruit, and battle bugs and other beasties, it's disarmingly charming and utterly bloodthirsty at the same time.

You become very protective of the little critters that do your bidding and there's an immense feeling of guilt when you accidentally command a legion into a watery grave or awaken a nest of sleeping monsters that proceed to munch through great swathes of your army. The sequel might have had some great refinements and additions — and did away with the finite time limit — but there's something to be said about the taut design and focus of the original Pikmin. We like it a lot.

6. Luigi's Mansion (GCN)

Luigi's Mansion (GCN)
Luigi's Mansion (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 17th Nov 2001 (USA) / 3rd May 2002 (UK/EU)

Had it been released now, Luigi's Mansion would arguably be lauded for the charming and affectionate genre parody it is and its short length would arguably be an asset in an era when we have more games than time to play them. As a launch game for GameCube, though, it wasn't what Nintendo gamers were expecting in 2002 after the genre-defining Super Mario 64 which launched Nintendo's previous console. It took a while to be appreciated after the initial bafflement that it wasn't a Mario platformer, but after a 3DS sequel (not to mention a remake) and the upcoming Luigi's Mansion 3 on Switch, it's safe to say the original has since received the appropriate levels of love and it still plays beautifully 18 years on.

5. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN)

Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN)
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 17th Nov 2003 (USA) / 14th Nov 2003 (UK/EU)

Your favourite Mario Kart game tends to depend very much on which one you played first, or which one you've played the most in multiplayer. This can lead to much contentious debate, but we have wonderful memories of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! despite it often getting short shrift from many.

While not overflowing with new ideas, the racers were presented as gorgeous fully 3D models for the first time, the two-driver gimmick was extremely satisfying and introduced a new layer of strategy as you switched characters and juggled items, and it has some great courses, including DK Mountain (ah, that little shortcut at the end!) and perennial favourite Baby Park, the hilariously hectic mini-course. It might lack a certain je ne sais quoi if you're devoted to other entries in the series, but make no mistake, this remains a chaotic karting classic. We love it.

4. Animal Crossing (GCN)

Animal Crossing (GCN)
Animal Crossing (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 15th Sep 2002 (USA) / 24th Sep 2004 (UK/EU)

It's arguable that this series really came into its own in a portable context with the wonderful Animal Crossing: Wild World on Nintendo DS, but the N64 original nailed most of the systems first time out and this GameCube port of that Japan-only release introduced Animal Crossing's pleasant real-time village antics to the west. It's a series that you play a little bit every day and that's much more easily accomplished on a handheld system which you can whip out on the bus or take on your lunch break. It's hard to return to a village tied to a home console these days, but then again it's hard to return to any previous entry once you've become accustomed to the myriad quality-of-life improvements of the next. We'll always have the memories, though, and this first taste of village life was sweet.

3. Pikmin 2 (GCN)

Pikmin 2 (GCN)
Pikmin 2 (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 30th Aug 2004 (USA) / 8th Oct 2004 (UK/EU)

Removing the 30-day time limit that so irked players in the first game, Pikmin 2 expands on the original in every way, creating a larger adventure with more of everything you liked before, plus a host of extra modes (including a surprisingly addictive two-player component). Wingman Louie joined Captain Olimar this time around and the game also introduced White and Purple Pikmin, expanding the puzzling possibilities and the options available to you as the diminutive spacemen and their plant-based charges ran around gardens fighting beasties and collecting tasty-looking fruit, discarded objects, and ship pieces. Some players might miss the tight focus of the original, but this is an excellent sequel and absolutely worth digging up.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 11th Dec 2006 (USA) / 15th Dec 2006 (UK/EU)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess took the series back to an art style closer to Ocarina of Time, albeit a little earthier and obviously benefiting from the power of the 'Cube. For many fans, it was the 'realistic' Zelda they'd been pining for after Nintendo took a left turn with The Wind Waker's cel-shading, and although it didn't quite strike all the right notes, it still features some breathtaking dungeons, memorably oddball characters, and a unique atmosphere.

Setting a precedent that Nintendo would later repeat with Breath of the Wild, Twilight Princess straddled generations, bookending the GameCube and launching the Wii with some added waggle and widescreen.

1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GCN)
Publisher: Nintendo / Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 24th Mar 2003 (USA) / 2nd May 2003 (UK/EU)

Given the 'Cel-da' controversy that blighted the game at its initial reveal, it's fitting that The Wind Waker has come to be so loved and admired over time. Where other games of the era struggle under the weight of modern high-definition scrutiny, Toon Link's maiden voyage looks almost as fresh as the day we first set out from Outset Isle to discover what had happened to the Hyrule we once knew.

It's not without flaws (and the HD remake on Wii U addressed many of them) but thinking back, we don't really remember the repetitive wind conducting, the infamous Triforce shard hunt or Tingle's sea chart extortion. No, it's the rainbow colours of the tempestuous ocean, the breezy panpipes of Dragon Roost and the salty self-reflection our voyages brought about that stick in the memory. Beneath the surface, it's very much a continuation of the 3D Zelda template laid down in Ocarina of Time, but there's undeniable magic in The Wind Waker, and in spite of its imperfections, it's still one of our very favourites of the series.


And there you have it. Feel free to let us know your personal favourites below.