Despite having a prestige and being adored by those in the know, it was arguably not until Fire Emblem: Awakening on 3DS that the mainstream woke up to the turn-based delights of Intelligent Systems' SRPG series. For anyone who was a fan back in 2005, this GameCube game - only the third entry to be localised for the west - introduced 3D visuals to the strategy series as well as protagonist Ike who would go on to join the fight in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and gain notoriety there before returning in the Wii sequel to this game, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
If there was a positive to Dreamcast's untimely demise, it was that other consoles benefited from Sega's misfortune. A port of the Dreamcast original, Skies of Arcadia Legends was made by Sega studio Overworks, a starry team of Sega veterans, and was billed as a 'director's cut' of the turn-based JRPG. With minor improvements across the board, Skies of Arcadia made exploration a central part of the gameplay as opposed to other games in the genre and fans have been calling for a modern remaster of air pirate Vyse's adventures for a long time, although it's failed to materialise. Until it does, the GameCube is the best way to revisit Arcadia.
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 (the 3D Zelda formula was starting to get a little long in the tooth at this stage), 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. The Wii version flipped the world, though, reversing the map and it was the GameCube geography that was used when Midna and the Twilight Realm got an HD remaster on Wii U (as did Wind Waker).
There's a reason that to this day Super Smash Bros. Melee has a dedicated hardcore following in the fighter community - it's a brilliant local multiplayer brawler that sanded the rough edges off the N64 original, added a metric ton of content and arguably feels the most balanced of all entries in the series. Smash would continue to balloon from here on out, but there's an elegance and purity to the GameCube iteration that makes it worth revisiting if you're knee-deep in Smash Bros. Ultimate and want to try a different flavour of superstar brawling.
'Ura Zelda' - an expanded 'Second Quest' version of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time with remixed dungeon elements and other minor alterations - was planned for the ill-fated 64DD console, but thanks to that system's commercial failure, it got shelved. Fortunately, GameCube owners would get the chance to play it on this special disc that was available as a pre-order bonus with The Wind Waker (and was actually packaged in that game's box in some regions).
There's not much to say beyond the fact that it gave fans the chance to play previously-unreleased Zelda content, so no wonder it ranks so highly in GameCube owners' memories. A variation of the Master Quest was later made available in Grezzo's Ocarina port on 3DS, but this is the only way to play it with those classic N64 visuals (albeit with the resolution doubled on GameCube compared to the 64-bit original).
A promotional disc that was bundled with hardware or made available in a variety of ways to GameCube players across the globe, it's hard to argue with the quality of the games on offer. It contains the original Legend of Zelda and Zelda II for NES as well as the N64 entries Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. The emulation of the latter two wasn't perfect, but as a means of playing past Zeldas on your shiny new GameCube for the pleasing entry price of $0, it was a very fine collection indeed.
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, its still one of our very favourites of the series.
The power of GameCube enabled greater fidelity of its paper-based art style than the original, but otherwise Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door stuck closely to the original's blueprint. It's a wonderfully colourful adventure packed with clever callbacks to the portly plumber's history and the same irreverent spirit which makes so many Mario RPGs refreshingly different from the mascot's platformers. Where other entries have dropped the ball in an area or two, Thousand-Year Door gets everything right; plot, writing, battles, presentation - the lot. Prices for a GameCube disc--still the only way to play--have skyrocketed in recent years and given the quality, it's not hard to see why. Treasure your copy if you've got one, and perhaps lend it to a trusted friend who never visited the town of Rogueport.
Metroid Prime is the kind of game that people say 'shouldn't' have worked. Despite finding the 2D heart of both the Mario and Zelda franchises and transplanting them into 3D, somehow there was extreme scepticism that it could also be done with the Metroid series as well. Perhaps it was because second-party studio Retro Studios was at the helm rather than Shigeru Miyamoto and his band of wizards at Nintendo HQ, but Retro managed to produce one of the finest games on the system, or indeed any system.
The design, extraordinary atmosphere and sense of exploration and progression of the 2D games all transfer incredibly well into a first-person shooter and while the Wii version might have added the pointer control scheme of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, there's still something to be said for experiencing the original using the controller it was designed for. With Metroid Prime 4 in development for Switch, now is a great time to rediscover the original and what made it so great.
Resident Evil 4 was a watershed moment for survival horror Capcom's series. Shedding the genre-defining fixed-camera gameplay of the previous titles, it traded a little of that survival horror for a boatload of tight, tense action and not only revitalised the series, but set the blueprint for a decade of third-person actions games. So brilliant was RE4 that it's taken until relatively recently for the series to escape its shadow.
The game was designed with Nintendo's hardware in mind and despite going on to appear on practically every other home console produced since the GameCube, the original system is still one of the best places to play it, with the GameCube controller marrying the design perfectly (although the recent Switch version isn't bad, either). The series has had its ups and downs like any other, but it's hard to argue that RE4 isn't the best it's ever been.
How's that for a slice of fried gold? Disagree with the ranking? Well, you can do something about it by rating your favourites — remember this list is fluid and subject to change, so be sure to check back every now and then as it refines over time. Until then, check out our Hardware Classics feature on the GameCube for a brief history of the console and then crack out the Wavebirds and enjoy some of the beauties on this list.