Top 25 Best GameCube RPGs Of All Time (Ranked)

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Unique, exotic, and exciting. Just some of the words that come to mind thinking about Nintendo’s cube-shaped masterpiece: the GameCube.

It was the first time Nintendo released a console using optical discs instead of cartridges, which attracted third-party devs and gave them a bit more freedom.

And despite its competitor the PS2 being known for its massive wealth of RPGs, the GameCube has a small yet beloved list of role-playing titles that every RPG fan should look into.

We’ll be taking a look at the very best in this list.


25. Digimon World 4 (2005)

Digimon World 4 gameplay screenshot

After a computer virus known as “X-Virus” begins spreading through the Digiverse, it’s up to you and the rest of the Digital Security Guard to stop its onslaught and save the world from corruption.

Digimon World 4 was a unique installment in the popular series.

Rather than a turn-based RPG like its predecessors, the game features Action/RPG mechanics where the playable Digimon wield weapons like axes, swords, and guns in hack-and-slash style.

Better yet, the game retains some of the series’ staples like Digivolution. Dorumon, Veemon, Guilmon, and Agumon can all Digivolve if you play your cards right during the campaign.


24. Pokémon Colosseum (2004)

Pokémon Colosseum game screenshot

Pokémon fans had been clamoring for a “mature” and “gritty” Pokémon game for years.

And Pokémon Colosseum is as close as we’ve ever gotten to that wish being granted.

The game follows a former member of Team Snagem – known for their Pokémon-stealing antics – after stealing a portable Snag Machine and setting the Snagem base ablaze.

You’ll explore the desert region of Orre with your Espeon and Umbreon, along with any Pokémon you manage to snag from other trainers.

Orre region has a strange post-apocalyptic feel to it, which along with the darker tone of the story and somewhat jaded main character make for a great Pokémon adventure.


23. Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness (2005)

Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness gameplay

The sequel to Pokémon Colosseum brought back a lot of the same edgy appeal as its predecessor.

But it better-developed the game’s mechanics and improved the graphics quite a bit.

This time around, you’ll be traveling alone tracking down Shadow Pokémon – corrupted versions of their former selves created by Team Cipher by “closing their hearts”. Once caught, you can use your other Pokémon to slowly purify them – or trade them to your GBA Pokémon games and back.

It features more Pokémon, a more focused story, and several more challenges than its predecessor.

I especially liked the Mt. Battle 100 Trainer challenge, which added several hours to the game’s run.

Definitely try this one out if you’re a Pokémon fan.


22. Summoner: A Goddess Reborn (2003)

Summoner: A Goddess Reborn game screenshot

If you liked Star Wars: KOTOR’s pause-and-play gameplay, you’ll love Summoner: A Goddess Reborn.

It employs the same mechanics to bring together the strategic thinking of an RPG with the exciting battles of an Action game.

You play as Maia, the Queen of Halassar, and the Goddess Laharah reborn – hence the game’s name.

She can transform into many powerful creatures, which help your three-person party overcome dangerous enemies on their way to saving the kingdom.

This game is actually the sequel to the first Summoner on the PS2, which would make it Summoner 2 – but the name was changed so GC owners didn’t lose their minds trying to find the first one.


21. X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (2005)

X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse gameplay

I’ve never been a fan of super-hero games. But X-Men Legends II is an outlier.

This game is engaging, varied, and one of the best western RPGs I got a chance to play.

You’ll command squads of mutants from both the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants, brought together by the existential threat of Apocalypse.

While the game is fantastic by yourself, it can also be played in co-op for a more dynamic and exciting experience.

The first X-Men Legends was also a great game.

But with Legends 2 offering a better storyline, more characters, and better gameplay in general, the sequel comes out on top.


20. Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life (2004)

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life gameplay

You may not think of Harvest Moon as an RPG.

But considering you level up your skills, improve your tools, and complete quests for the townspeople, it counts.

This Social Sim/Farming Sim lets you take over a farm and start building it up to be the heart of the community around it. Still, the focus isn’t entirely on farming, as you’re also supposed to befriend the locals and create a sense of belonging.

The game follows your farmer through several stages of their life, including marriage, raising a child, and eventually their golden years.

Not the most exciting, but the fact your character could age was a big deal when it first released (especially compared to other Harvest Moon titles of the time).


19. Harvest Moon: Magical Melody (2006)

Harvest Moon: Magical Melody gameplay screenshot

This is not as well-known as HM: A Wonderful Life, but Magical Melody is every bit as good – and probably better thanks to a more focused storyline and more varied gameplay.

Your objective is to awaken the Harvest Goddess, who’s sealed herself after the local townspeople forgot about her.

You’ll do this by collecting the notes to a “Magical Melody” by clearing a list of achievements, including harvesting a certain amount of crops, buying a second house, and getting married.

The game features plenty of activities and mini-games that keep things exciting.

You’re also free to choose whether to play as a boy or a girl – a long-due godsend for female farming enthusiasts.


18. Virtua Quest (2005)

Virtua Quest gameplay screenshot

Virtua Fighter is credited with being the first 3D game ever released – but did you know it has an RPG spin-off?

Virtua Quest brings together elements of fighting games and Action/RPGs for a unique experience with engaging gameplay.

You play as Sei, a newly-registered Hunter in the Nexus – a virtual universe with widespread reach worldwide.

Despite becoming a Hunter to make some cash on the side, he quickly becomes entangled in an epic adventure that’ll take him all across the Nexus.


17. Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (2004)

Lord of the Rings: The Third Age gameplay

Fans of Tolkien’s magnum opus can’t miss Lord of the Rings: The Third Age on the Gamecube.

This fantastic title is a loose adaptation of the movie trilogy with turn-based RPG gameplay comparable to Final Fantasy X.

The game features gorgeous graphics and an excellent score that lets you fully immerse yourself in your third-person exploration of Middle Earth.

Among the game’s most unique features is Evil Mode, which lets you control Sauron’s forces against the game’s heroes.

Triumph, and you’ll get some lovely items for your main campaign.


16. Lost Kingdoms (2002)

Lost Kingdoms game screenshot

FromSoftware is better known for its fantastic Dark Souls series. But their quality as a studio was already evident in Lost Kingdoms.

After a malicious black fog brings darkness to the five kingdoms of Argwyll, only Princess Katia – the monster summoner – can stop it.

This unusual RPG mixes monster-catching with card-collecting mechanics, creating a bit of a hybrid between Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! in a medieval fantasy universe.

Its ingenious design offers an unusual and addicting experience you can only get in Lost Kingdoms.


15. Lost Kingdoms II (2003)

Lost Kingdoms II game screenshot

If you liked the first game, you’ll love the sequel.

You don’t even have to play the first to enjoy Lost Kingdoms 2, as the stories are only vaguely related.

You’ll now play as Tara, a member of the guild of thieves widely feared by her peers due to her powerful monster summoning ability.

She becomes embroiled in a large adventure that’ll lead her to discover her former self.

Everything the first game did right, the sequel did better.

It improves the monster-catching mechanics, streamlines the deck-building system, and generally makes the game more fast-paced.


14. Evolution Worlds (2002)

Evolution Worlds gameplay

Evolution Worlds features two ports of Dreamcast games in one.

The first is an abbreviated version of Evolution: The World of Sacred Device from 1999 and its sequel, Evolution 2: Far Off Promise released in 2000.

These games occur in a world littered with ruins belonging to an ancient civilization that met its demise long ago. Within these ruins lie Cyframes – antique tools of great power that can only be wielded by a select few.

The gameplay is the classic turn-based RPG fare, but its fantastic story elevates it to greatness.


13. Gladius (2003)

Gladius game screenshot

It’s not every day that you run into a turn-based RPG set in Roman times – especially one as good as Gladius.

In this unusual title, you’ll recruit and train a new school of gladiators to compete in arenas all around the Empire for fame and glory.

After choosing whether to start in Imperia, a military-minded settlement, or Nordagh, where witches and woodland beasts dwell, you’ll tour around several varied environments based on real-world regions like Asia and Egypt.

With sixteen classes to choose from and solid turn-based RPG mechanics, you can’t go wrong with Gladius.


12. Megaman X Command Mission (2004)

Megaman X Command Mission gameplay

I was always a fan of the Megaman X franchise growing up.

And when I saw a turn-based RPG set in the same world, I jumped on it like a lion jumps a gazelle.

Despite having a somewhat generic storyline, Megaman X Command Mission provides a unique experience for the franchise’s lovers.

Its characters are fantastic, the gameplay is challenging, and it’s full of cool unlockables and secret boss fights that make extensive exploration worth it.

Just make sure you upgrade your weapons often and stock up on items. The game is unforgiving to the unprepared.


11. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (2006)

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess gameplay

Most people don’t think of TLoZ as RPGs, but that’s nonsense.

With weapons and skills to learn, unlockable equipment, and a world full of quests and side-quests to complete, it’s hard not to see the resemblance.

Twilight Princess was a unique entry in the series that put aside the cartoonish style of yore to present a dark and gritty Hyrule for you to explore.

It also features a more mature story with dark twists at every turn, and the atmospheric soundtrack completed the package.

Combat in Twilight Princess is among its best parts, as enemy AI was much improved from previous games.

And if you might want to try this game but with newer features, check out the HD re-release for the Switch.


10. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2002)

he Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker gameplay

As much as I love Twilight Princess, I’ll never get over the masterpiece that is TLoZ: The Wind Waker.

You’ll sail the seas aboard the King of Red Lions – your talking ship – and learn about this flooded world as you explore some of the best dungeons the franchise has seen, and meet a cast of memorable characters.

In tone, it’s the polar opposite of Twilight Princess. It’s a whimsical, colorful world rendered in gorgeous cel-shaded graphics with a cartoony style that made every character adorable.


9. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (2004)

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles game screenshot

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is one of the most unique spin-offs of the storied franchise.

And one of the best.

The game replaces the classic turn-based combat with real-time melee and AoE spell casting.

It’s perfect for playing the game in co-op with up to three friends. Note you’ll need a working GBA and the Link Cable for each of them, but it’s definitely worth the extra effort.

My favorite part of the game is its aesthetic, which blends a somewhat cartoonish character/enemy style with ethereal environments. It makes traversing each area feel like stepping into the unknown.


8. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (2003)

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance gameplay

Baldur’s Gate is one of the most well-loved and influential isometric RPGs ever released, and the GameCube edition is a great way to experience it.

This Action/RPG hack-and-slash title features excellent visuals and a dark fantasy setting you can’t get enough of. You’ll start as a dwarven fighter, a human archer, or an elven sorceress and make your way adventuring, questing (and looting) all over the Sword Coast and the Western Highlands.

Its gameplay is based on the rules of Dungeons & Dragons’ 3rd Edition, so it’s a great choice for lovers of the classic pen-and-paper game as well.


7. Skies of Arcadia Legends (2003)

Skies of Arcadia Legends gameplay

Originally released on the Dreamcast, Skies of Arcadia Legends is a fantastic turn-based RPG set in a world comprised of floating islands full of dungeons to conquer and towns to explore.

The game’s protagonist is a witty young sky pirate commanding his own vessel.

When you’re not fighting traditional party-based battles on the ground, you’ll be commanding your airship against enemy armadas and giant monsters.

The story isn’t anything to write home about. But its characters are fleshed out and experience in-depth character development. They make it 100% worth it.


6. Phantasy Star Online Episodes 1 & 2 (2003)

Phantasy Star Online Episodes 1 & 2 gameplay

Phantasy Star Online was revolutionary on the Gamecube due to its focus on online gameplay when MMORPGs were usually confined to PCs.

Other than the peripheral allowing the GC to connect to the Internet, this game prompted the release of a bizarre GC controller with a whole keyboard in the middle so players could easily communicate in-game.

PSO Episodes 1 & 2 has the content of two whole games and features split-screen multiplayer, making it appealing for offline play.


5. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (2005)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance game screenshot

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance was one of the most influential titles of my teenage years.

It took the FE franchise to 3D for the first time and set a precedent that would lead the series to the fame it enjoys today.

It follows protagonist Ike and his band of mercenaries as they fight to protect Crimea and Princess Elincia from the imperial might of Daein.

The story mixes the intricacies of geopolitical conflicts along with more fantastical elements.

You’ll get plenty of units to command on grid-based maps as you advance through the campaign, but once they die in battle, they’re gone for good.

You’ve never used your Reset button as much as you will playing through FE: Path of Radiance.


4. Tales of Symphonia (2004)

Tales of Symphonia gameplay screenshot

Tales of Symphonia was the first introduction to Action/RPGs to many, and a great one at that.

The game follows young swordsman Lloyd Irving as he and his ragtag band of friends explore an expansive world and become involved in a struggle where the world’s fate is at stake.

Despite terrible voice acting and an oddly convoluted story, the game manages to capture you through its lovable characters and its exciting real-time combat system.

It even featured co-op multiplayer, if only during combat.


3. Baten Kaitos: Origins (2006)

Baten Kaitos: Origins game screenshot

Released two years after the original Baten Kaitos, Origins is a prequel that fleshes-out the world introduced in the previous game.

It features many mechanical improvements compared to its predecessor, including a more streamlined card battle system. The voice acting is also somewhat improved, and the characters have more in-depth development as well.

With fantastic graphics and a killer soundtrack, BK: Origins would’ve surpassed the original… if it weren’t for the excessive use of recycled locales and assets from the first game.

But if you’ve never played the original, this will feel like a treasure.


2. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and The Lost Ocean (2004)

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and The Lost Ocean gameplay

The original Baten Kaitos was a very polished title that pushed the GameCube to its graphical limits, and provided one of the generation’s best JRPG experiences.

Its turn-based card combat system was creative, and it placed just as much weight on carefully crafting your deck as it did in playing your cards smartly during each battle.

Some of the game’s most memorable aspects are the intriguing world of floating islands and its unique character design.

The game has oddly bad-quality voice audio, but other than that, it’s a masterpiece.


1. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004)

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door game screenshot

The best and most memorable RPG on the GameCube is, surprisingly, a Mario game.

The second installment in the Paper Mario franchise has so much character and personality. It puts all other Mario games to shame.

It’s full of snarky jokes, fourth wall breaking moments, and generally more “mature” humor than its platformer counterparts.

It’s also ripe with challenging puzzles and secrets to uncover. Classic role-playing stuff.

The turn-based RPG battles are simple but exciting – letting you pull-off “stylish” moves for more damage by carefully timing button presses.

With charming characters, gorgeous 2.5D graphics, and an excellent storyline, it’s no wonder successive Paper Mario titles have never lived up to PM: The Thousand-Year Door.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely playing games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.