The Best GameCube Games That Aged Really Well (Our Top Picks)

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The GameCube and its fantastic game roster live rent-free in my mind ever since I first heard that iconic boot-up jingle.

Even after all this time, I remember many of its games as some of the best I ever played.

Curious about how much my nostalgia goggles were clouding my judgment, I decided to go back and play some of my favorites to see how they hold up in the 2020s.

I discovered a world of distinctly colorful and creative games that still remain fresh and engaging to this day, despite the console’s limitations.

The following games remain just as fun today as they were two decades ago, and anyone who ever owned a GameCube should take the time to revisit them.


15. Alien Hominid (2004)

Alien Hominid GCN gameplay screenshot

Alien Hominid was originally released as a flash game on Newgrounds during the site’s golden age back in 2002.

It got so popular that it was eventually developed into a full-fledged console game.

Its characteristic flash game art style, simple concept, and flawless execution have helped it age really well.

You won’t mistake this game for a new release, but it doesn’t matter.

Like a fine wine, the aging process has only made its tight gameplay and distinctive graphics more enjoyable.


14. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (2004)

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean game screenshot

I have nothing against Baten Kaitos: Origins.

But the original is just an overall better package.

Of the two, Eternal Wings’ more colorful environments, fun storytelling, and overall playful personality have aged better than Origins’ darker visuals and plot.

The card-based combat system really blew my mind back in the day. It’s deep, and it let me improve by tweaking my deck and strategies to match each challenge.

If there’s one thing that keeps Baten Kaitos from a higher spot on the list is the poor quality of the voice recording, which hasn’t helped it age well.


13. Ikaruga (2003)

Ikaruga GameCube screenshot

Ikaruga had gained a sizable following among import gamers since its original console release on the Dreamcast – but the GCN version was the first opportunity to enjoy the shooter in English.

This game is an excellent vertical-scrolling shoot-em-up with some interesting puzzle elements in the ship’s polarity system.

You can switch between two “polarities”, allowing you to absorb and shoot different types of bullets.

Mastering this complex but engaging system will give you a better chance of surviving its dangerous levels and highest scores.


12. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)

Super Smash Bros. Melee gameplay screenshot

You might be surprised to find SSB Melee on this list.

Several sequels have come out that blow its graphics and character roster out of the water.

So why is it here?

While not necessarily relevant for the average casual SSB player, Melee remains alive and well in the international competitive scene.

Hardcore SSB buffs appreciate the game’s lightning-fast pace and surprisingly technical combat, mediated by a couple of bugs that the player-base embraced as features and oddly specific mechanics like L-canceling.


11. Killer 7 (2005)

Killer 7 GCN game screenshot

This incredible rail shooter hits the mark when it comes to visuals and storytelling.

The cel-shaded graphics were gorgeous at the time, and their unique appeal keeps them from becoming stale.

In the same way, the bonkers storyline about an assassin syndicate comprised of a single man with multiple personalities remains just as thrilling.

Pour in a liberal amount of Suda51’s distinctive brand of dark humor and thought-provoking writing, and you’ve got yourself the gaming equivalent of a Twinkie.

It hits the spot, and it’ll never go bad!


10. Super Monkey Ball 2 (2002)

Super Monkey Ball 2 gameplay screenshot

Grab a monkey, put it in a hamster ball. What do you get?

One of the best platforming games on the GCN, that’s what.

Whether you choose to play through the Story Mode by yourself or tackle the Challenge Mode with up to three friends, Super Monkey Ball will bring you hours upon hours of fun.

It’s easy to pick up, but really hard to put down.

The simplicity of its graphics is what keeps the game so beautiful today.

Where games that strive for realism or intricate detail look muddy and washed-out by today’s standards, Super Monkey Ball could be released tomorrow and people would love it.

And if you liked this GameCube title then you might even like checking out the whole series.


9. F-Zero GX (2004)

F-Zero GX GameCube screenshot

F-Zero GX is famous for its amazing graphics, tight racing, and hard-as-nails difficulty.

The sheer challenge of just completing some of these tracks keeps the game alive for many.

You’ll have to pour a lot of time into F-Zero GX to become a master.

The stylish and colorful character and ship designs pull you into its futuristic world, where a layer of coolness and bad-assery is spread thick over every surface.

Plus there are plenty of ships to try out and tracks to conquer, and the soundtrack is timeless.


8. Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader (2001)

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader game screenshot

Back when it came out, Rogue Squadron II shocked audiences with its strikingly detailed graphics that – at the time – seemed to rival the movies themselves in visual appeal.

This fast-paced action game is a technical marvel that supports 480p video (an achievement at the time), high-resolution bump-mapped textures, and never drops below 30fps – even amid intense shootouts.

Fans of the Star Wars franchise will find a lot to love in the game’s wealth of iconic spacecraft, and even those new to the series can enjoy the gameplay variety and exciting dogfighting.


7. Viewtiful Joe (2003)

Viewtiful Joe gameplay screenshot

Another fantastic game benefiting from the wonders of cel-shaded graphics is Viewtiful Joe.

It’s a stylish side-scrolling beat-em-up starring a movie buff who gets sucked into the world of films.

The intense saturated colors and beautiful visual effects made Viewtiful Joe a treat for the eyes back in the day.

Joe’s special effects-based superpowers, including fast-forward, slow-motion, and zoom mechanics, were unlike anything I’d seen, which made it a very memorable title.

The sequel, featuring bombshell super-heroine (and Joe’s girlfriend) Sexy Silvia, is also a blast.


6. Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (2004)

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes GameCube screenshot

The original Metal Gear Solid is one of the best games ever released, period.

That said, the visual limitations of the PlayStation leave a lot to be desired.

It was just the beginning of 3D graphics, and I’d be lying if I said I don’t find Snake’s blur of a face jarring nowadays.

The Twin Snakes on the GCN is by far the best way to enjoy this revolutionary classic.

It runs on the same engine as MGS2: Guns of the Patriots, and provides a much-needed facelift to Snake’s first 3D adventure.

Voice acting was also re-recorded here, while maintaining the same cast.


5. Super Mario Sunshine (2002)

Super Mario Sunshine game screenshot

After the massive success of Super Mario 64, Nintendo was faced with the almost impossible task of recreating the magic on the GCN.

And boy did they succeed.

Super Mario Sunshine brings together a surprisingly intriguing storyline with gorgeous environments to explore and a wealth of new gameplay mechanics thanks to the FLUDD – the closest thing to plumbing equipment I’ve ever seen this Italian plumber use.

It features some of the most colorful and creative levels and boss fights in the franchise.

While the graphics themselves aren’t extraordinary, the beautiful locale design keeps the game visually appealing.

Or if you want to replace Sunshine with more optimized graphics, check out the Mario anniversary edition for the Switch.


4. Pikmin 2 (2004)

Pikmin 2 GameCube screenshot

One of the defining factors of games that age well is sheer creativity.

Whereas derivative games lose relevance the minute a newer one comes along, titles like Pikmin endure the test of time indefinitely.

Much like the original game, Pikmin 2 is nothing if not creative.

It takes elements from contemporary RTS titles and even older ones like Lemmings and injects it with undiluted Nintendo essence to create an all-new experience of survival, exploration, and very unique combat you just can’t get anywhere else.

The unique graphics and absorbing environments also play a role in how enjoyable this game remains almost two decades after its release.


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

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door gameplay screenshot

Mario’s second paper-based adventure isn’t only the single best RPG on the GameCube – but one of the most well-aged games on the console.

That’s largely due to the excellent 2.5D graphics, its tight gameplay, and its level of deep exploration.

The excitement of pulling off stylish moves by pushing buttons at just the right time during the turn-based battles adds a lot to the RPG formula. And there are so many secrets to uncover it’s almost dizzying.

All of this, in addition to charming and iconic characters and some of the most creative writing in a Mario game, will keep this title fresh for a thousand years to come.


2. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (2003)

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker game screenshot

The GameCube saw several fantastic Zelda titles, chief among them The Wind Waker and Twilight Princess.

Which game is better is a matter of taste.

But when it comes to enduring the passage of time, The Wind Waker comes out on top.

The game’s charming and colorful cartoony art style goes hand in hand with the cel-shaded graphics to create a game that looks just as good now as it did over 15 years ago.

The opportunity to sail across a massive open world, exploring distinctive islands and meeting unforgettable characters, was also ahead of its time.


1. Mario Kart: Double Dash (2003)

Mario Kart: Double Dash GameCube screenshot

Anyone who still owns a GameCube and doesn’t have Mario Kart: Double Dash in their library yet should seek out an immediate psychological assessment – or just buy this fantastic title already!

This entry in Nintendo’s world-famous kart racing franchise grabs what made its predecessor on the N64 so good, and supercharges it with more characters, more items, and incredibly dynamic tracks.

Its graphics may not be as flashy as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch. But they’re polished, and push the GameCube just far enough to keep performance steady.

It’s not the second best-selling game on the console for nothing!

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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.