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15 Best Gamecube Games for ROMs

Old favorites and sleepers that stood the test of time
Paper Mario and the Thousand year Door title cover
Image Via Nintendo

There is probably not a single other game console whose reputation has only gotten better and better with time than the Gamecube. Initially received as a misstep, its games are probably the most sought now in current times. Whether physical copies or ROMs, there is a huge catalog of Gamecube games to search for. If you’re still a relatively young gamer you’ve got a lot to experience. Not only are there legendary games but some underrated gems that still hold up today. It can’t be overstated how many graphics and gameplay from games on the Gamecube have stood the test of time. So let’s dive into a celebration of the best Gamecube ROMs you should play at least once.

15. Viewtiful Joe

We’ve expected a plethora of good side-scrolling beat’em-up games in the past few years. There has been a wonderful resurgence of them. From Scott Pilgrim to River City Girls, it’s just been nice to have so many to fall on now. Back in the mid-2000s however, that genre was all but dead and empty. At least for one unlikely, colorful hero – Viewtiful Joe.

Everything about this game holds up. With unique combat, graphics, and color, even most of the comedy still works. People often forget about Viewtiful Joe if only because it’s been over 15 years since any company has brought him up. There is no doubt though that many of the more modern features and dynamics of the current generation of Beat’em-up games have a lot to thank Joe for.

14. Fire Emblem Path of Radiance

It might be hard for some people to believe a time when Fire Emblem games were not really prevalent in the west. It wasn’t really till the release of Awakening in 2013 that people really got into Fire Emblem. However, about 7 years before that, one of the best Fire Emblem games of all time came out for Gamecube.
If you ever want to experience the older Fire Emblem games, Path of Radiance is a must-play. The combat is heralded as one of the best in the franchise. There are over 40 characters to gain on your side and generally is one of the biggest Fire Emblems you can play.

13. Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing wasn’t always the juggernaut of casual fun communal play it is now of course. No one probably expected it to grow into the franchise it is. When it first came out for the Gamecube it was quite a niche and only appealed to a small hardcore audience. This type of gameplay was still very new in 2001.
So if you want to experience humble beginnings, jumping into the first Animal Crossing really won’t feel jarring. You’ll get as cozy a warm welcome and familiar gameplay as you have in any other installment.

12. Eternal Darkness: Santiy’s Requiem

One of the biggest hidden gems of the Gamecube’s lifespan is a game many didn’t think to pick up at the time because of the resurgence of Resident Evil releases. However, Eternal Darkness is one of the most experimental horror games of all time and it’s a Gamecube exclusive to this day!
Nintendo’s first-ever Mature Rated game is one of the most innovative horror games and way ahead of its time. Its “sanity” game features actually made it look like the game was constantly crashing and glitching ON PURPOSE. If you didn’t play right, the game seemingly punished you, driving you as mad as the character you played. It still feels fresh to play now so if you really need a unique horror game experience and think you’ve played them all, you haven’t till you’ve played Eternal Darkness.

11. F-Zero GX

F-Zero GX is considered one of the fastest-paced racing games you’ll ever find. Its unique sci-fi hovercar aesthetic also makes it one of the most unique racing games as well. Everything about it was special and top-of-the-line at the time. The fact this is also the last console installment of the franchise and there hasn’t been a new F-Zero game since 2004 has driven fans more up the wall than a speeder crash.

10. Mario Kart Double Dash

Without a doubt the best Mario Kart game of all time and possibly the best racing game ever if you’re looking for the most dynamic and complex racing game out there. Double Dash was almost too much really. You had a two-character system to add such an unimaginable depth of gameplay. It’s both frustrating and pretty obvious why Nintendo never did it again.
The peak of how well developers understood the graphics and designs they were working with on the Gamecube created one of the most optimal racing games in existence. Too bad they don’t seem confident in creating another one after 20 years of fans demanding more.

9. Luigi’s Mansion

Even if you never played it, you know this is THE game that brought Luigi out of his brother’s shadow. The fact that it wasn’t just a throwaway one-off is just a blessing. Nintendo actually gave Luigi his due with completely unique and creative gameplay. As well as a fun and memorable story to match.
Luigi’s Mansion is really all on its own so much so that people demand sequels every couple of years and eventually Nintendo answers, but 3 in just 20 years doesn’t feel like enough for most people.

8. Pikmin 2

Everything you love about the original Pikmin, Pikmin 2 has outright. Two characters so your difficulty is doubled. More and new Pikmin to use. More levels. Pikmin 2 is just that perfect sequel that is more. This also ups the difficulty and gameplay quite a bit. Still a bit of a niche franchise there’s no doubt if you are a fan of games like Pikmin you’ve played Pikmin 2 hundreds of times. While for newer fans who love strategy games like Portal, you’re sure to enjoy some of the base similarities in Pikmin.

7. Pokemon XD Gale of Darkness

There really is an eternal argument on which Gamecube Pokemon game really should be on lists like these, XD or Colosseum. Colosseum has had a more unique and difficult RPG style, however, XD has a bigger roster and smoother gameplay. XD Wins out here, but you really could play either game and have one of the best main console Pokemon Expieneces of all time, even now with main-line games having finally moved to Switch.

6. Resident Evil 4

There was probably no game more revolutionary in its specific genre than Resident Evil 4. People like to tout it single handheld changed the horror game genre forever. For many, it perfectly blends action and horror and creates a new emphasis on the then-still budding Survival Horror genre.

Resident Evil 4 seemed to do it all. Blowing out expectations and reinvigorating the franchise. Not that it really went anywhere. However, with the remake coming out soon there may not be a need for its ROM port for much longer.

5. Metroid Prime

Metroid Prime completely revived and reinvented a franchise many thought was on death’s door. Turning a 2D third-person platformer known for its jumping and scrolling, into a fully immersive 3D First-Person shooter. While many found Halo revolutionary in that aspect, Retro Studios did not leave Gamecube exclusive fans high and dry for long in that regard.

Truly it was a time for great FPS sci-fi epics that still look great even now and hold out the test of time. Prime and its sequel Prime Echoes should always be encouraged to try at least once. It might be cliché but Metroid Prime really will have you say “they sure don’t make them how they use to.”

4. Paper Mario and the Thousand-Year Door

Speaking of “They don’t make them how they use to.” Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door is regarded as one of the best untraditional JRPGs of all time. While it is very much an RPG, the Mario franchise folded into the arts & crafts aesthetic took everything to a whole new level. The charm and joy of Mario were now in one of the most creative cartoony RPGs of its time.

Some may be disappointed with the most recent Paper Mario, Origami King, and if you are, you still very much have a chance to fire up Thousand Year Door for one of the smoothest RPG experiences and creative stories of all time.

3. Legend of Zelda Wind Waker

What should really stand as a testament for Wind Waker beyond the extremely smart choice of the cell shading style they went with at the time, is how it has overcome the seething negative reaction during its initial release as well. Like the Gamecube itself, perhaps no other single video game has retroactively been held as one of the greatest ever made.

Once angry at the cartoony design, fans have come to realize that the art style helped created a unique and in-depth world to explore. As well as implementing such a smooth and seamless gameplay that even the original outmatches some of its successors. There is a reason why people have gone back to Wind Waker over Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword.

2. Super Mario Sunshine

There will probably always be an argument about how “flawed” or “rushed” this game feels to some. This might seem ridiculously high to you as many want to call the game just “commendable” or “serviceable”. However I can’t help but argue, like the purple lunchbox it was released on, what came off as clunky and strange, really shines through as the last time Nintendo was truly, genuinely creative and ingenious about one of its beloved products.

The Mario Galaxy games might be more diverse or have better gameplay. Odessey might be the perfect culmination of all Mario games. However Sunshine is without a doubt the most unique and carefree. There is such a loose and open feeling to the game despite a few glaring faults. No matter what games are ‘better’ or ‘more playable’ Super Mario Sunshine stands out as a game that truly wanted to do something new instead of a franchise holding out from running out of ideas.

1. Super Smash Bros Melee

Really, it couldn’t be anything else. The impact and addictive spirit of Super Smash Bros Melee is undeniable. Melee is touted as the best Smash Bros game even today for many diehard fans. It fixed everything before and streamlined everything for its successors. It just got everything right. There’s hardly any change to any sequel to the franchise. Melee became the definitive “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” definition for its franchise moving forward.

Not to mention the level of crossover of your favorite video games has gone passed just Nintendo. There’s a reason why Soul Caliber and Marvel vs Capcom aren’t talked about on the same level as Smash Bros. It only continues too as we get internet-shattering new additions like Sephiroth and Sora. The legacy Melee laid the groundwork for has caused it to be the most downloaded Gamecube ROM of all time for virtually any site you check out.

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