Sailing the Blue Skies since 2001.
Everyone has a different opinion on what the greatest games of all time are. Such lists that state "The Best Games of All Time...Ever!" can't truly be 100% accurate, because it is the union of a staff at a said place, not so much the general populace. So, I slap a disclaimer on mine. This is MY personal opinion on what I think the Top 15 Gamecube games are. These are the ones I've gotten the most enjoyment and the most inspiration from. The games that have left an impact on me. The ones that have helped me love gaming as much as I do. So, without any further ado, here's the 15 games that have left a deep impression on me. A new feature is expanded views on games already on my Top 30 list or I have written an opinion about them. Just click the link to get more enriched with details...or something like that. For games that I don't have on my list, I'll try to get into more detail here.
1. Skies of Arcadia Legends
It shouldn't come to be a surprise to most anyone who knows me that this leads my Gamecube list...since it leads my Top 30 list. :p This updated port of the DC classic adds in more subquests and battle options into an already rich and rewarding RPG, making it the definitive version of Skies (despite those who say the music took a little blow, which, to be honest, I haven't noticed :p ). For more on my opinion, read my favorite games notes.
2. Resident Evil 4
RE4 is certainly one of the greatest games of all time, an excellent reinvention of the Resident Evil franchise, and a delightful gaming experience all the way around. The modifications to the camera, enemy designs and gameplay make RE4 a fantastic experience that I heartily recommend. You can get the Wii Edition for $30, which lets you play with the Gamecube controller as well as the Wiimote, or pay a little less for the standard GC rev. It's worth it either way. For more on my opinion, read my favorite games notes.
3. Beyond Good & Evil
This somewhat overlooked gem is one of the best multiplatform games ever done. The GC rev looks as good as GC-only games do, the musical score is incredible, the gameplay takes a basic Zelda-like core and tweaks it to fit its own gameplay mechanics, the dungeons (although few) are delightfully polished and challenging, has one of the best narratives I've ever experienced...and simply is a game that needs to be played. It's one of the greatest tragedies in gaming that I can think of that BG&E practically died in the stores the way it did. For more on my opinion, read my favorite games notes or my article on Jade.
4. Tales of Symphonia
RPG fans, here is another fantastic gaming experience for you. The battle system is set in real time, but the combo system is well done and fun to use. With 9 characters to play as, there's something for everybody. You can even get friends to join you as you battle!...granted, they don't get the chance to do much anything else, but the option is nice. ^^ The game looks great, has a wonderful voice cast, a mildly clichéd but overall well told storyline, offers up tons of sidequests and replay options, and the aforementioned battle system makes fighting more of a joy than a bother. For more on my opinion, read my favorite games notes.
5. Metroid Prime
Metroid Prime is a perfect example of not judging a game before it comes out. It silenced most of the doubters, won over the gaming populace and stands as one of the best GC games you can own. Retro masterfully converted the Metroid feel from the 2D realm into 3D with very few transition errors. They created an excellent game world to explore, with plenty of enemies to blast, secrets to find and clues to scan. The power-ups are all well-implimented (and if you're like me, you love the Ice Beam and Grapple Beam), the game still is one of the most impressive looking GC games, and offers nice rewards to persistent players. Great work Retro. For more on my opinion, read my favorite games notes.
6. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
A fitting end to the Gamecube's life cycle, Twilight Princess learns from Wind Waker's design flaws and instead offers up a world easy to travel, explore and discover. The game pulls a lot of influence from Link to the Past (light and dark worlds, a mirror to traverse them) and Ocarina of Time (the races of Hyrule, the overall layout of the world), but manages to mix them up into being a unique experience all its own. The game is rich in art design and detail, has the great controls Wind Waker pioneered, has the best storyline the series has ever had, and introduces one of the most intriguing characters into the series yet - Midna. Despite it also being on the Wii, I heartily recommend it as a GC title as well. It's a great game either way.
7. Super Smash Bros. Melee
HAL took the N64 concept and really shook it up for the better. Doubling the playable characters, tripling the amount of stages and heavily increasing the amount of cameos through new items and the awesome trophies was ingenious. This was the reason to buy a GC at launch for me. The graphics were spellbinding, the gameplay mesmerizing, and the Nintendo factor has never been so prominent (until Brawl came out, but the trophy selection here is much more diverse). This game launched the SSB franchise into the stratosphere, putting it along Mario, Zelda and Metroid as one of the keys to Nintendo success. Brawl is better, but Melee is still a good choice.
8. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
The last of the three great RPG's (Baten Kaitos fans, you can begin throwing tomatoes now...I didn't like it) on the GC, Intelligent Systems took what they started with in the N64 title and improved upon every single facet of it. Offering up inventive levels, crazy dialogue, awesome partners in Mario's quest, better battles thanks to the improved battle engine that takes place on a stage, and some gorgeous graphics that feature some of the nicest spritework I've witnessed, they all add up into a wonderful game. Ignore Game Informer's "It's too easy and kiddish" garbage and pick this up.
9. Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures
Miyamoto considers the relative commercial failure of FSA as one of the disappointments in his career. I can see why, because this adventure is fantastic and is overall superior to Wind Waker. Granted, the Zelda formula is mixed around significantly here, removing the usual keeping of items and hearts in favor of more competitive resets for every chapter. But with one or two players (I've yet to take on the game with four people), this game is really enjoyable. I have no gripes about it at all.
10. Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
The best super hero game ever? You betcha. Radical finally nailed the difficult super hero license title with this fantastic game that lets you go on a rampage with the big green Hulk. This is what Midway's classic Rampage done in 3D should feel like - sheer chaos. The control scheme is perfect, the gameplay is delightful and the game has a solid plot following it too. It's sheer joy to plop this into the GC and totally destroy stuff. A great stress reliever.
11. Metroid Prime 2 Echoes
Retro's second stab with Metroid is a fantastic title as well, but a few design faults cripple it. The new ammo system, for one. This is Metroid. There's never been a cap on beam ammo. There shouldn't be a cap on beam ammo. Also, the game's increase in difficulty may alienate newbies to the franchise (go with Prime first to get a grip on the controls). Lastly, the multiplayer mode is a gimmicky add-on that shouldn't have been put in over a more lengthy single-player quest. Outside of these gripes, the game exceeds Prime in graphical detail, has a nice musical score and offers up more solid gameplay. It just has some design flaws.
12. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
This will more than likely climb up when I get deeper through it, but the wonderful FE gameplay is here in spades. It's a fun game, has a great musical score, breath stealing movies and the plot is pretty good so far. The graphics are passable, but it's certainly not the prettiest game in the GC lineup. However, if you're not wrapped up in graphical prowess and want a large adventure with tons of strategy, here you go. I'm not finished with it yet, so I can't go into too much more detail.
13. Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Like Echoes, Wind Waker suffers from some design issues that muck up the great parts. The sailing is novel for a while, but once the Tingle Triforce Shard Parade starts, you'll be wishing for more dungeons and less oceans. The partner setup here is also clunky (BG&E pulled it off much better), somewhat crippling two of the dungeons. Even with these two problems though, Link's first GC game is still fantastic. Link has never controlled better (Twilight Princess notwithstanding) before in 3D. The versatile battle engine offers players tons of ways to take on the enemies seamlessly. The game's look is one of the best cel-shaded offerings ever. And, most of the time, playing as Link is a blast. Twilight Princess has fixed these shortcomings with a lot more dungeons (9 in total, although two of them are rather short) and minimized boat use (only when fishing or in a minigame).
14. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time
UBI Soft's relaunch of the old Prince of Persia franchise is among some of the best 3D platforming you'll ever encounter. The game lets you fly around like an acrobat better than any other game I've touched (except for Sly Cooper), and the game's puzzles and traps make for some skillful maneuvering that makes one proud to get through. The game's best part however is the awesome Dagger of Time, which lets you rewind those nasty screw ups, rip through enemies and provides the focal point for the game's excellent storyline and voice work. However, the game isn't perfect. A level near the end takes away your dagger for a time, testing your patience with some of the more dangerous platforming in the game. The combat engine is adequate, but the enemies never seem like they stop coming sometimes, and they get in cheap hits when you can't do much about it. But the sweet platforming grace this game offers you makes up for these shortcomings.
15. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Konami's premiere franchise's lone stop on the Gamecube is a great ride. MGS purists may scoff at some of the new additions, like first person shooting making the game easier or the new superhuman clips replacing the more realistic ones, but I, as a newbie to the series with this title, loved both of these features. My argument for the first person part is this - you don't have to use it if you don't want to. As for the movies...I love them. Over the top with violence and sheer impossibility, they have made me drop my jaw more than once. Silicon Knights revived the game quite well from what I can see, giving it a nice graphical polish, subtle gameplay tweaks, re-recorded dialogue that sound excellent, and leaving the stealth-fueled excellence for the most part alone (I could be wrong...). Alas, MGS has flown back over to Sony's camp, so for now this may be the only way to enjoy a modern MGS title on a Nintendo system.