Top 12 Hardest GameCube Games Worth The Challenge

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Nintendo’s GameCube is more famous for its unique shape and high-quality games than for their difficulty.

Still, challenge-thirsty gamers could find a lot to love in its extensive software library.

If watching so many GameCube jingle memes got your mouth watering for some early 2000s nostalgia, you can always come back to tackle those games that made your knuckles white back in the day.

The console’s biggest titles – like Pikmin and Metroid Prime – are no walk in the park.

But the following games bring to mind the term “Nintendo Hard.”


12. Geist (2005)

Geist GameCube gameplay screenshot

Geist is one of the weirdest games on the GameCube.

In this FPS/action-adventure hybrid, you play as a ghost trying to get back its body from an evil corporation.

As a disembodied soul, your powers are most useful to possess people, animals, and machines to clear a way forward.

Each possessed entity has unique skills that’ll help you make it deeper into enemy territory – and closer to your original body.

Getting used to these powers is a bit hard, but what really drives up the difficulty is figuring out what to do next. The game doesn’t hold your hand after the first couple of minutes – and there’s a lot to try out as a ghost.


11. Super Mario Sunshine (2002)

Super Mario Sunshine screenshot

Super Mario games have evolved a ton over the years.

But some things remain the same since the arcade times – including the difficulty.

Nintendo’s flagship series may appeal to everyone, but you’ll have to develop some serious skills if you want to clear them – let alone 100%.

Among the 3D games, Super Mario Sunshine rises above the rest as the hardest.

Getting used to the FLUDD is hard enough.

But the game becomes grueling when it’s taken away.

This generally only happens in secret levels, but you’ll have to clear at least one platforming challenge by yourself.


10. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (2002)

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem game screenshot

The survival horror genre used to be synonymous with hard games.

And Eternal Darkness is one of the reasons why.

This game pits you against an eternal evil unleashing ghouls and curses on various protagonists in different eras, including the height of the Roman Empire, ancient Persia, and the present day.

As if staying alive wasn’t hard enough, there are puzzles with a macabre difficulty.

On top of that, you’ll have to deal with your dropping sanity meter.

The more it drops, the weirder the game gets – almost making the player feel as if they’re the ones going crazy instead of the characters on screen.

Piecing together the story’s mysteries can also be challenging, as it involves many characters and spans thousands of years.


9. Resident Evil Zero (2002)

Resident Evil Zero (2002) screenshot

Just like its predecessors, Resident Evil Zero provides a real challenge for anyone trying to conquer its zombie-infested campaign – and in my opinion, it’s even harder than the classics.

This GameCube exclusive was a step-up from the previous generation in both graphics and difficulty. Enemies are fiercer, puzzles are more intricate, and bosses will maul you at the first opportunity.

It also stars Rebecca Chambers, who’s easily the most adorable character in the RE series despite being a total bad-ass. For someone who always plays Clerics in RPGs, it’s a pleasure to play a fierce Medic who knows how to deal damage when it counts.

Be sure to play in Hard mode for the most authentic survival experience.


8. Viewtiful Joe 2 (2004)

Viewtiful Joe 2 GCN screenshot

Thanks to their challenging combat and hardcore puzzles, the original Viewtiful Joe and the sequel both deserve a spot on our ranking.

This gorgeous 2D beat-em-up unleashes hordes of enemies upon you. It takes speed and focus to survive – and I’m not talking about your VFX moves!

Though, granted, you’ll need those too.

While demanding, the game rewards you at every turn with gorgeous graphics, excellent comedy, and the gratifying feeling of becoming a master 2D brawler.

I’ve chosen the second one as the hardest due to Sexy Silvia.

She’s tons of fun, but adding her means you’ll have to get to consider even more ways to clear every puzzle.


7. Metal Arms: Glitch in the System (2003)

Metal Arms: Glitch in the System GCN screenshot

Third-person shooters are always a good place to look for difficulty.

Whether it’s Gears of War on the highest difficulty or a high-level match of Fortnite, you need skill and nerves of steel to make it in the TPS scene.

One of the hardest options on the GameCube is Metal Arms: Glitch in the System, which plays pretty much like Ratchet & Clank – without the Lombax or the PlayStation exclusivity.

There are tons of wicked weapons to discover here, and you’ll need everything you can get to face the steel behemoths that make up the enemy army.

Fortunately, the game features some of the tightest gun-slinging on the platform.

It’s solid and intuitive, so getting better at the game is a matter of practice.


6. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (2004)

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes GCN screenshot

The Metroid Prime saga combines the in-depth exploration of classic Metroid titles with action-packed shooting and hard-as-nails bosses.

While finding your way around the game world and hunting for key items has always been challenging in the Metroid series, MP2: Echoes takes it to the next level with the Dark Aether realm – where the atmosphere itself chips away at your health.

It’s also one of the best games on the system, full stop. So don’t be deterred by the backtracking and check out this masterpiece if you haven’t yet!


5. Alien Hominid (2004)

Alien Hominid GCN gameplay screenshot

The farther back in gaming history you go, the harder the games get – so any title that wishes to emulate the classics has to bring some serious challenge.

Inspired by side-scrolling shooter masterpieces like the Metal Slug series, Alien Hominid pits you – a cute but deadly yellow alien – against the armies of the world.

It’s an endless onslaught of enemies spitting bullets left and right, and it only takes one to take your life.

You’ll have to master shot evasion by rolling, jumping, and even digging underground if you wish to survive.

Fortunately, the devs included tons of awesome weapons to fight back against your enemies – and you can even bite their heads off in close quarters!


4. Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)

Super Smash Bros. Melee GCN screenshot

Our next entry isn’t so hard because of the contents of the disc – but rather because of the people who still play it.

Melee has the longest-lasting competitive scene of all past SSB entries, outliving even Brawl and remaining almost as relevant as the current generation.

This is thanks to the game’s precise controls and lightning-fast gameplay, which allow high-level players to push the game to its limits through great skill and obsessive practice.

This is just as true in tournaments as it is in your group of friends.

There’s always at least one Melee maniac who knows how to combo in a game with no combos and counts frames with the naked eye.

And with some of the Melee in-person events getting skipped, there’s never been a better time to get in some practice time on your couch.


3. Ikaruga (2003)

Ikaruga GCN gameplay screenshot

The humble GameCube saw the first English language release of Ikaruga – a classic Treasure shoot-em-up that has gained a large fanbase thanks to its creative and challenging gameplay.

Most of the game’s difficulty comes from the polarity-change mechanic, which lets you change your ship between black and white to absorb incoming projectiles of the same color.

Changing back and forth as you navigate complex bullet patterns feels a bit like playing through a puzzle rather than a shoot-em-up.

It gives the gameplay more depth, but it’s also harder to master than a regular shooter.


2. Super Monkey Ball 2 (2002)

Super Monkey Ball 2 GCN screenshot

One of the most deceptively child-friendly games on the GameCube is Super Monkey Ball 2 – a platformer where monkeys trapped in balls roll around stupidly difficult courses at high speeds.

These courses are full of narrow bridges, winding roads, and unique elements like conveyor belts and teleporters not present on the original.

Just getting around without falling is pretty hard. But that’s only the beginning.

The levels become increasingly treacherous as you advance and grow in skill, and the 60-second timer doesn’t help.

My hat’s off to anyone who manages to collect every banana without reading a guide.


1. F-Zero GX (2003)

F-Zero GX GCN gameplay screenshot

The first spot should come as no surprise to anyone who knows anything about the GameCube’s game library.

The F-Zero franchise has always been synonymous with the term “Nintendo hard”.

But even long-time fans were surprised at GX’s extreme difficulty.

F-Zero GX gives you extremely precise handling – but it demands that you learn how to use it.

You’ll need a lot of practice just to finish your first race due to the game’s extreme speeds and impossible turns.

However, approach this game with patience and you’ll find one of the best racers ever made.

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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.