Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Top 10 GameCube Games According To Me - Redux  

Games: If there's one thing gamers love, it’s top 10 lists.

...Unfortunately, my top 10 has now been reduced to a top 9 since Super Monkey Ball was disqualified. I didn't know that it had been included on some compilation discs after the initial GameCube release, thus negating its status as a 'Cube-only game.

(Thanks to Gamevet from GC for the heads-up.)

There were a few also-rans that I considered including to round out the group like Star Fox Adventures (smoothly competent, but derivative), Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (good concept, weak execution) or Cubivore (startlingly original, but too simplistic), but neither one was solid enough to justify calling them equal to the gems I've listed here. It's no secret that Nintendo systems of late have had a much smaller selection of software than the competition, and this is one case where that sad state of affairs is quite obvious.

Having tried any and everything that caught my eye and with no new games coming down the pipe, this is my definitive list of personal picks. I literally can't find a tenth game worthy of being added to the list, so 9 it is.

Just one quick note before I get started-- some of you may be wondering why a few great (or at least popular) titles aren’t on this list, so I'll say that there were two criteria for the selections:

1> I had to love the game.

2> Any game listed must be a GameCube exclusive.

There were a handful of other discs which could have made the list, but I'm not counting anything that received a multi-console release-- that’s another list for another day. These are titles that make their home on the GameCube, and the GameCube alone.

Without further ado, and in alphabetical order:




Animal Crossing: Athough it seems a little outdated in some ways today, getting a part-time job at Nook’s store and having nothing more pressing to do than search for bugs or cast a line out into the sea was pretty mindblowing at the time. Avoiding any conventional sense of progression and structure, getting dropped off in a small town and spending days actually caring about home d├ęcor was a fantastic trip outside the box.



Chibi Robo: Out of all the games on this list, this one is probably the most underappreciated title of the bunch. In spite of the sickeningly cute graphics, Chibi Robo was a challenging and sophisticated concept that combined open-world ideas with engaging quests on a much smaller scale than most developers aim for, and was quite successful for it. Confined to a single house and its accompanying backyard, this little silver robot proved that you don't need vast landscapes to have big adventures.


Lost Kingdoms: Another criminally unappreciated game, this quirky title blended real-time action with the ability to customize your character's abilities through use of collectible cards earned along the adventure. The ever-changing skillset provided by the cards kept the gameplay feeling minty fresh until the end, and the drive to explore and discover every corner of the world for new cards gave it legs. Although the sequel bungled things that the original got right, I'd love to see this series get another chance.



Luigi’s Mansion: Though it was one of the earliest titles, very few GameCube entries could match the level of polish and detail bestowed upon this one. Sucking up ghosts with an overpowered vacuum cleaner is a concept that's barely been exploited by game designers, and having a puzzle-filled mansion to do it in was icing on the cake. Giving Mario's second fiddle the spotlight was long overdue, so I'm glad that when finally given the chance it was so enjoyably playable.


Metroid Prime: A fair and accurate description of this game could be “making the impossible possible". Never in a million years would I have imagined something so intrinsically two-dimensional could translate so perfectly into three. Retaining the flavor and tone of the sci-fi exploration Metroid is made of was a true feather in Retro Studios’ cap, and brought Samus Aran to a new generation of players in flawless form.


Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door: Though it was basically just an iteration of what was achieved on the Nintendo 64, there's no disputing the fact that this game is a superb blend of action and RPG. The innovative combat engine kept players in the game instead of clicking through menus, and the adventure is full of humorous, clever moments.


Pikmin: Although there's been a new drive recently to bring RTS-style games to consoles, I think Miyamoto hit it on the nose the first time out with this one. Efficiently commanding a small army of flower people is effortless and natural, the streamlined resource management of “eat what you kill” cuts through staid genre conventions with a laser, and shrinking everything down to a near-microscopic scale was a charming stroke of brilliance.



The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures: Taking the multiplayer mode first seen in the GBA version of Link to the Past, this game brought a new singleplayer adventure using multiplayer mechanics (still playable in multi if you’ve got three friends) and a bizarrely engaging mix of new and old elements from the history of the series. Like the final game in my list below, Four Swords was a new (and successful) twist on the classic formula.


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Yes, another Zelda. It's completely true that the endgame item-fetching foisted on players was a catastrophic mistake, but Wind Waker gets just about everything else right. The playful cel-shaded visual style was a breath of fresh air, and the complete redesign of the overworld was a great shakeup for the lauded series even though I wouldn't have minded spending a wee bit less time in the boat. Regardless, it's a perfect example of taking something old and making it new again.


So there you have it, my Top 9 GameCube list. Disagree with my choices? Have some suggestions of your own? Post a comment or send me an e-mail and let me know what you think.

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8 comments: to “ The Top 10 GameCube Games According To Me - Redux


  •  

    Ok, I'll pass on the omission of Smash Bros Melee, which I consider as criminal as that of Halo for the Xbox (c'mon, not even the top 10...) as I've learnt your taste is not particularly homologated (that's high praise there). And I'm kind of surprised Star Fox Adventures doesn't appear, since I remember you liking that game quite a bit.

    That aside, though, I'm just gonna say that Zelda: TWW and Metroid Prime oughta swap places on that list. TWW was plot-wise the same soup heated up in a microwave and even suffered from several holes (Ganon captures Link and simply "throws him away" into the sea, the king just APPEARS in the final cutscene, literally appears from nothing). It had little of innovative in terms of gameplay and even suffered from some unusual depressions of pace. While I'll agree that it was charming at the level of both aesthetic presentation and script (the side-quests were utterly memorable and they completely overshadowed the main adventure, in my experience) it just didn't do enough to make me feel it topped several of the other games on the console.

    And I feel your one paragraph here doesn't do justice to Metroid's majesty. As well as a seamless transition into 3D, the best looking gamecube (and beyond) game, blessed with a terrific gameplay, impressive combat sequences and a staggering longevity, it has to date the most complex and mature narrative structure I've ever encountered in a videogame. Its capacity to retrospectively flesh out a mythology through spatial exploration and turn it into a metaphysical dialogue between two alien races, couching it in the rumbling world of a living, breathing ecosystem, is still a non-pareil experience for me in videogames. I'm going to have to write down a proper essay on that game someday, because the complexity of its message (and most importantly, the cleverness with which it conveys it) is really quite unique.

    At all events nice list, it was a pleasure reading it.

    PS: I think F-Zero might deserve a mention. I'm not sure if it gets into the top ten, but it's a damn fine racing game.


  •  

    Luigi's Mansion is fantastic! Best use of the A button ever.


  •  

    Thanks for the comments, JS.

    Truth be told, I was a little torn not including Star Fox Adventures (you can think of it as number 11). It was a tough choice, but there are always going to be some good games left out of a top 10. It was a tossup between that and Monkey Ball, and I figured with adventure so well represented on my list through other titles, it would be good to have something from a different genre.

    In regard to Zelda and Prime, I just wanted to point out that my list is in alphabetical order, so that's the only reason why WW comes last. (Or seems to come first, as the case may be.) It's already tough enough picking 10 games, and I feel like if the game is good enough to be in the top 10 then there's no real reason to narrow it down any further -- as a gamer I would never be satisfied with just one game, so why should I say one is better than every other one? In any case, I agree that WW isn't perfect.. what games would you nominate in its place?

    Oh, and sorry for not doing Metroid justice… if you want to write that essay, I'd be glad to post it on the main page. A little guest bloggery, perhaps?

    Thanks for the praise… I've got plenty of systems left to do lists for, so you'll be seeing more of this stuff in the future. ^_^


  •  

    Ah, I hadn't noticed it wasn't in order of merit.

    I wish I could comment as exhaustively on your future lists, but beyond the gamecube and xbox my knowledge declines dramatically. Helas!

    JS.

  • Anonymous

     

    I personally would have put Ikaruga somewhere on that list, but since it's recent release on Live i'm guessin it no longer qualifies.


  •  

    Yeah, that's exactly right.

    If Ikaruga hadn't hit Live, it would have *absolutely* made the list, no question.

    It was tough to leave that one off, but I had to. = /

  • Anonymous

     

    Wanna share what Ikaruga would have replaced on that list (i'm gonna guess Super Monkey Ball)?


  •  

    The fighter would have swooped in and popped the ball with the white side, then flipped over to black and turned AiAi into primate smear.

    ; )