Friday, November 18, 2011

Top Ten Gamecube Games

Earlier this week we celebrated the ten year anniversary of the original Xbox. Today just so happens to be the ten year anniversary of the Nintendo Gamecube. It may have been last in the overrated console wars, but it was first in many gamers' hearts. This is a list of my top ten favorite games for Nintendo's little purple package.

10) Viewtiful Joe


Let's get it on! Joe was just an ordinary movie buff when suddenly his girlfriend, Sylvia, was grabbed and pulled into a movie. Joe followed and received a V-watch to transform into the superhero Viewtiful Joe. With powers like the ability to slow down time, mach speed, and zoom, Viewitful Joe is one unstoppable force. The 2 1/2D gameplay and cel-shaded graphics showed tremendous character, and the humor the game possesses made players laugh from beginning to end. The game is challenging, too, with multiple difficulty levels and the ultimate task-- trying to attain rainbow Vs in every level. Viewtiful Joe was a game back when Capcom took risks that were rewarded, and this game is a true testament to that rationale.

9) Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat



On paper, the idea of controlling a platforming game with a set of bongos decidedly doesn't seem like the grandest or greatest idea. However, in execution the controls work splendidly. Smack the right drum to move right, smack the left drum to move left, and smack both simultaneously to leap into the air. Clap or tap the drum to attack enemies. Sure, you really couldn't play this game in the wee hours of the night without waking up your roommates or housemates, but those who gave Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat a chance found a platforming adventure worthy of accolade. The team who crafted this excellent experience went on to create Super Mario Galaxy among other brilliant games. A Wii New Play Control version of Jungle Beat came out, and it has all the charm of the original with added bonus content. Which ever version you choose, you will surely not be disappointed.

8) The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess



The mess that was Twilight Princess' launch was ill-conceived at best. The Gamecube version was delayed a month to give the Wii launch title a chance to shine. The Gamecube version sported camera control, a mirrored take on the Wii's levels, dungeons, and world map, and an extra button to place items. I honestly prefer the Wii version as controlling the bow and swinging the Wii remote to attack enemies was a genuinely entertaining thrill. Some don't like it, but that's certainly their right as gamers. Regardless of which version you played, the dungeon design is some of the best the series has ever witnessed, Midna is a fascinating character, and the wolf gameplay is intriguing, too. Though on the easy side, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is one epic adventure that Zelda fans cannot be without.

7) Mario Kart: Double Dash!!


Up until Double Dash!!, the Mario Kart series pretty much played it safe, with minimal changes to the game's formula. This was altered with the Gamecube iteration of Mario Kart. This time around two characters occupied one kart, and both had a special item that only they could use. Mario and Luigi launched fireballs from their kart, Bowser shot off a huge spiked shell, and Waluigi chucked a bomb. The course design featured some ingenious courses such as Daisy Cruiser, Bowser Castle, Mushroom City, Baby Park, and my personal favorite edition of Rainbow Road. The ability to hook up multiple Gamecubes for LAN parties (Nintendo didn't know the concept of the Internet) made for some colossal fun with players switching between driving and item duties. One of the most unique Mario Kart games, Double Dash!! ranks number six on my list.

6) Animal Crossing


Anyone who wasn't Japanese missed out on the first Animal Crossing game in Japan for the Nintendo 64 known as Animal Forest. When the series took up residence in the rest of the world, it had the makings of a sleeper hit. You have your own avatar, choose a house, and slowly pay it off bell by bell at a time for Tom Nook, your town's main entrepreneur. Meanwhile, the world is constantly moving and time is always progressing-- whether you're there or not. Making new friends, gardening, collecting bugs and fish, and building up your armada of furniture, wallpaper, flooring, and NES games makes for one heck of a time in your town in Animal Crossing. From earning rare pieces of furniture from Tortimer on holidays to obtaining a song for your pad from K.K. Slider on Saturday nights by the train station, Animal Crossing blossoms with charm.

5) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker


When the cel-shaded art style of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was revealed after the unveiling of a more serious, Ocarina of Time-inspired look, the gaming world went bananas in a most embarrassing fashion. The moniker "Celda" was often used. When the game actually came out, most of the criticisms towards the art style were silenced with one completely and totally awesome game. The Wind Waker had Young Link sailing between isles, pirates ships, and towns aboard the King of Red Lions. Link's many facial expressions and animations still look top-notch to this day, and few Zeldas have come close to imitating the variety that Wind Waker has. There may be a Triforce hunt near the end of the game, but other than that, The Wind Waker stands as a tremendous Zelda title worthy of the franchise's fabled and illustrious history.

4) Super Mario Sunshine


Charged with defacing Isle Delfino, Mario is placed in prison. The judge sentences him to clean up the island with the assistance of a water backpack known as F.L.U.D.D. This accessory offered tons of unique platforming challenges that otherwise wouldn't be possible. The tropical theme may have kept the different levels looking the same (e.g. no ice world, for instance), but that didn't stop Super Mario Sunshine from being great, camera issues aside. Collecting shine sprites is the aim of the game, and there are 120 of them to gather. Each task is designed to put players' platforming prowess to the test, especially in levels where Mario's water cannon is taken away. Some view Mario's Isle Delfino excursion as one of the weakest 3D Mario games, and they might be right, but a weak Mario game is still better than most of what comes out anyway.

3) Super Smash Bros. Melee


The all-star brawl is on. Characters from Nintendo's past, present, and future enter a full-fledged confrontation across several locales including the Great Fox, Onett, the Mushroom Kingdom, the Great Temple from Zelda II, and many more. Characters come out from the woodwork like Mario, Link, Kirby, Samus, Yoshi, Fox McCloud, the Ice Climbers, Ganondorf, Falco Lombardi, Pikachu, among others. Many sleepless nights were had playing multiplayer Smash with friends. I shudder to think how much of my life has been wasted playing the Super Smash Bros. series of games, and Melee takes up a significant portion of that time. With so many collectibles, trophies, and secrets to unlock, Super Smash Bros. Melee is a fighter (fighting game purists can suck it) worth playing.

2) Metroid Prime


The Metroid series missed out on the Nintendo 64. It was until a little-known company called Retro Studios took the franchise that it would return, but as a first-person adventure? Surely that would not work out well. Color nearly everyone surprised as Retro pulled it off, and they pulled it off masterfully. Entering the world of Talon IV was an experience I soon will not forget with rain washing off Samus' visor, foliage fanning from the wind, and fog rising up from the ground. The world was highly interactive and full of volatile creatures just waiting to see Samus croak. Boss battles were intense, Samus' powers such as the morph ball, high jump, and charge shot were awesome, and her many suits like the Gravity and Phazon suits were indeed incredible. Who could forget first stepping into the frosty fjords of Phendrana Drifts and seeing the snow falling silently to the ground? Metroid Prime remains one of my favorite games to this day.

1) Resident Evil 4


Revitalizing the horror genre came Resident Evil 4, a former Gamecube-exclusive. The game starred Leon S. Kennedy, a Raccoon City police officer turned special agent for the U.S. government, tasked with recovering the president's kidnapped daughter. The game had three stages: the village, the castle, and the island. Each set piece and boss encounter was more impressive than the last. The weaponry available to Leon was extraordinary and super cool like magnums, shotguns, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Resident Evil 4 is a game with perfect pacing. It just flows so effortlessly from beginning to end. The designers are total virtuosos when it comes to game design. While not delivering as many chills as past Resident Evil games, RE4 delivers on its promise of giving the player a thrilling experience from the opening credits til the closing credits. The PlayStation 2 version would receive bonus content in the form of Assignment Ada. However, the Wii edition would be the definitive version with all the bonus content from the PS2 iteration, superior pointer controls, and Gamecube controller or Classic Controller functionality. Whatever your preference, Resident Evil 4 will not disappoint.

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What memories do you have of the Gamecube launch ten years ago? What are your personal favorite Gamecube games? Drop me a line in the comments section to unleash your opinion to the masses.

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