×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Hidden Gems For The Nintendo GameCube

Nintendo GameCube fans all fondly remember blockbuster games like Super Smash Bros. Melee, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and Metroid Prime, even years later. But every console has some hidden gems — great titles that didn't sell well and went largely unnoticed by most gamers. The GameCube's relatively small game library makes finding these hidden gems hard — especially if you want to avoid region-lock issues. However, we think we've put together a pretty good list here of some GameCube gems that flew under the radar for most gamers. 

If you still own a GameCube or a GC-compatible Wii, you should definitely fire it up and show some of these underappreciated games some love.

Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest

The quirky action adventure Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest is one of the hardest Nintendo GameCube titles to find today, and for good reason. Originally developed for the ill-fated Nintendo 64DD, this awesomely bizarre game suffered several delays before finally being released in 2002 for the GameCube.

Your objective is simple: help your Cubivore reach the top of the food chain so it can challenge the "Killer Cubivore" that rules the land. By attacking other Cubivores to rip off their limbs and eat them, your Cubivore can mutate into a more powerful form. This complex mutation system requires carefully planning your cannibalistic diet. You can also mate Cubivores to produce powerful offspring, which you can switch to in a pinch during a particularly tough fight.

Although it received only mixed reviews, Cubivore now enjoys a wider following among game collectors. However, this newfound popularity means the price for this rare title has skyrocketed. As of this writing, a complete copy of Cubivore will set you back a few hundred bucks. If you don't want to break the bank, try to find a disc-only eBay listing or check your local thrift shops for a better deal.

Ikaruga

The Japanese arcade shooter Ikaruga went worldwide in 2003 when it was ported to the GameCube. This hidden gem is definitely not your standard "bullet hell." In addition to piloting through obstacles and enemies, you must also master the game's unique polarity-switching system.

In Ikaruga, your ship can switch between "white" and "black" modes. You can absorb enemy bullets of the same color, while bullets of the opposite color damage you. Same-color attacks do much less damage against enemies than taking risks by using the opposite polarity. You can also chain together attacks for an added boost. These factors make Ikaruga an extremely challenging and unique puzzle-like shooter that forces you to think fast instead of just frantically mashing buttons.

For the GameCube release, Ikaruga added several new game modes alongside the arcade mode. You can play against a friend or co-op, practice levels at regular or slow speed, or even unlock a prototype mode with increased difficulty and limited ammo. For an even bigger challenge, try the "Bullet Eater" strategy: completing every level and boss by only absorbing bullets and not firing a single shot. If you're a fan of arcade shoot-em-up games, definitely give Ikaruga a try — you won't be disappointed.

Skies of Arcadia Legends

Skies of Arcadia was originally developed for the Sega Dreamcast, getting a new lease on life when it was ported to the Nintendo GameCube as Skies of Arcadia Legends in 2003. Set among the floating lands of Arcadia, air pirates fight against a tyrannical empire bent on reawakening the Gigas — massive living weapons with world-ending capabilities. The turn-based gameplay is reminiscent of Dragon Quest, but the amazing graphics and engaging plot really set Skies of Arcadia apart.  While Skies of Arcadia for Dreamcast was universally acclaimed by critics, the GameCube port really failed to the earn the attention it deserved from players and critics alike.

Don't let the name fool you — the Legends GameCube port is not just a reskin of the original. The stunning visuals were enhanced by the GameCube hardware, with even better character models and framerates. The game's developers even called Legends their "Director's Cut" of the game, adding a number of entirely new elements, features, and side-plots just for the GameCube release. If you enjoy turn-based role playing games, you're really missing out if you haven't played Skies of Arcadia Legends yet.

Chibi-Robo

The 2005 platformer Chibi-Robo! manages to make housework fun with a robotic adventure. Chibi-Robo is a tiny helper robot designed to make life easier for his owners. In the first half of this hidden gem, Chibi-Robo does good deeds and solves problems for his owners and the other toys he meets in their household. Chibi collects "Happy Points" that increase his reputation and "Moolah" used to purchase power-ups and other items. Chibi-Robo runs on battery power, though, so be sure to frequently recharge at the power outlets scattered throughout the home.

The concept of Chibi-Robo! may sound simplistic, but puzzle-solving elements make the game an enjoyable challenge for all ages. Side quests involving an abandoned robot in the basement, time travel, and a friendly race of aliens add to the game's complexity. Additionally, the storyline takes a dark turn when Chibi's owners are kidnapped by evil robot spiders — forcing Chibi-Robo to put down his broom and pick up a blaster in order to save them. All said, Chibi-Robo! is a truly fun and unique adventure game for GameCube owners, one that definitely belongs in your collection.

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

The 2003 role-playing game Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean was well-received by critics, but was sadly overlooked by most GameCubers. Set among floating islands inhabited by winged humans, an Empire bent on world domination awakens an ancient evil. The game's unlikely protagonist is Kalas, a one-winged hero who must overcome his injury and his own selfish nature to fight against the Empire and their evil plans.

Baten Kaitos offers some fresh new elements to the RPG genre. Instead of controlling Kalas directly, you serve as a spiritual guide that can influence his decisions. The gameplay centers on magical cards, used for everything from restoring HP to attacking enemies. Leveling up grants no new skills, just adds to a character's stats or the amount of cards they can hold. The primary way to earn money is by taking photographs of enemies and then selling your best shots. Along with its acclaimed story and stunning visuals, the unique focus on strategy and puzzle-solving elements make Baten Kaitos a great addition to any GameCube owner's library.

I-Ninja

If you like martial arts games and heroes with anger issues, check out the charming 2003 action platformer I-Ninja. This hidden gem was one of the last titles made by Argonaut Games, creators of the famous Star Fox franchise. Unfortunately, bad timing caused I-Ninja to go largely unnoticed when it was released just two weeks Ubisoft premiered its own action platformer, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. These two games both feature the same rating and similar gameplay, but Sands of Time went on to massive popularity while I-Ninja fell into obscurity.

However, the pint-sized protagonist of I-Ninja proves that you can't tell a hero by its size, because this angry little warrior has some big moves. After the death of his sensei, the ninja sets out to find the legendary Rage Stones, which will give him the power to defeat the evil Emperor O-Dor. If you want to help the ninja avenge his master, you'll have to master a diverse set of moves, including wall-running, melee and ranged attacks, and even skateboarding-inspired elements. The levels and objectives are straightforward, but I-Ninja will keep you entertained for hours with its variety of gameplay styles, its impressive graphics and just the right amount of irreverent humor.

Timesplitters 2

For FPS fanatics, TimeSplitters 2 is a definite must-have hidden gem for your Nintendo GameCube library. It's one of the best first-person shooters of the early 2000s, and it still holds up today. In the single-player story mode, you play space marine Sergeant Cortez, who is trying to stop aliens from destroying humanity with their time-traveling capabilities. Cortez follows the aliens through portals into the past, where he must end their meddling by defeating them and retrieving their Time Crystals.

Multiplayer mode is where TimeSplitters 2 really shines, with some calling it the "heir apparent to GoldenEye." The game serves up a respectful homage to the iconic N64 title without ripping it off. This is thanks to the TimeSplitters development team at Free Radical Design, most of whom previously worked on GoldenEye for Rare. TimeSplitters 2 doesn't offer online play, but you can unlock 16 different customizable multiplayer modes for hours of offline fun with friends. What's more, TimeSplitters 2 offers a map-maker feature, allowing you to create your own playable levels for story mode and multiplayer.

Metal Arms: Glitch in the System

If Halo: Combat Evolved and Ratchet & Clank got together and had a baby, it'd probably look a lot like Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. Set on a distant planet populated by robots, this unique third-person shooter pits Glitch and the rest of the Droid Rebellion against the tyrannical General Corrosive and his army of Milbots. Unfortunately, Metal Arms got lost in the flood of holiday game releases back in 2003, keeping this hidden gem from getting the attention it really deserved.

Metal Arms is a great shooter that also offers plenty of 3D platforming adventures along the way. With solid graphics, smooth controls, and superb voice acting, the 50+ expansive levels of Metal Arms' story mode are filled with variety and lots of cool details. And the game's multiplayer mode is just as fun and engaging. Metal Arms offers plenty of weapon choice for shooter fanatics, while those who prefer a different approach will appreciate the destructible environments and ability to hack and control enemies. Intelligent and original with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, Metal Arms is a great example of game design done right.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom

You probably didn't expect a SpongeBob game to pop up on this list, but the 3D platformer SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom is easily the best Nickelodeon game ever made. This 2003 title is also a really solid and challenging game that even adults can appreciate. Although it was obviously intended for a younger audience, gamers of all ages will find a lot to love about Battle for Bikini Bottom.

Like many other 3D platformers, the game focuses on collecting items, navigating obstacles, and defeating enemies — in this case, the army of robots controlled by evil restaurateur Plankton. But even with familiar objectives, Battle for Bikini Bottom is anything but predictable. You choose which areas to unlock next with the items you collect, and you can switch between SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy to handle various challenges in each level. It may have been made for kiddies, but Battle for Bikini Bottom offers a lot of variety,  humor, and details that even adults can enjoy. Challenging and jam-packed with the wacky SpongeBob aesthetic, Battle for Bikini Bottom is one GameCube game you definitely shouldn't pass up.

Gotcha Force

Capcom is famous for blockbuster franchises like Mega Man and Street Fighter, but they've created some pretty awesome standalone games, too, including the 2002 shooter hybrid Gotcha Force. This underrated title is a true hidden gem available exclusively on Nintendo GameCube, featuring an interesting blend of genres that should appeal to all ages despite its kid-friendly visuals.

You choose and deploy a team of toy "Gotcha Borgs" against the Galactic Emperor and his army of evil Gotchas. However, the game won't bore you with a limited selection or unbalanced characters. There are over 200 different Borgs to collect and trade, offering an endless variety of teams and strategies for you to experiment with.

Actual battles take place in real-time, feeling more like a third-person shooter as you control your Borgs and use them to attack your enemies and defend your allies. This element of Gotcha Force is extremely fun, and lends itself well to both the single-player story mode or the many multiplayer options available. If you want a fun battle game to play with friends or at parties, you should definitely pick up Gotcha Force.

Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy

As you might have guessed, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy is set in ancient Egypt, where the land is in turmoil due to the endless meddling of the gods. The half-man, half-lion demigod Sphinx sets out to restore peace to the land with the assistance of an undead King Tutankhamen. Although the game received largely positive reviews, it was overlooked by players and ended up as a commercial failure — prompting a massive price reduction just a few months after its release.

The gameplay and controls in Sphinx are reminiscent of the Zelda franchise, but Sphinx stands solidly on its own. Throughout the game, you switch between playing as the demigod Sphinx or the mummified corpse of Tutankhamen. Sphinx is best at tasks that involve fighting and physical strength, while King Tut uses his intelligence to solve puzzles and outwit enemies. The puzzles are fun and challenging, and the seven immense areas of Sphinx offer expansive levels and 20+ hours of gameplay that stays fresh throughout. What's more, the game's on-point visuals, environments, lighting, and soundtrack are still impressive today. If you get a chance, you should definitely add Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy to your collection.

Geist

Fans of the supernatural will find lots to enjoy about Geist, a first-person shooter that offers mystery and adventure in equal measure. It's a shame this awesome GameCube exclusive from n-Space and Nintendo didn't get more attention after its 2005 release. If you haven't tried Geist before, you're definitely missing out on a great game with an engrossing story.

While investigating the shadowy Volks Corporation, John Raimi becomes an unwilling test subject when his cover is blown, and his captors put him a machine that rips his soul right out of his body. Now Raimi's restless ghost must find a way to get his body back and put an end to the Volks Corporation for good. 

Geist offers plenty of unique gameplay and isn't afraid to color outside the lines. In fact, the shoot-em-up sections of Geist are the only traditional element of the game, which really shines due to other interesting mechanics. Raimi can scare enemies or possess people and inanimate objects, using them to progress through a level by fighting or solving puzzles. Geist also features polished graphics, intense sound design, and unique multiplayer modes — making it an edgy and enjoyable FPS that should appeal to most gamers.

Alien Hominid

These days, indie games are developed for consoles left and right. That wasn't the case back in 2004, when indie developer The Behemoth turned its Flash-based 2D shooter Alien Hominid into a polished console release. Getting Alien Hominid published at all was impressive enough, but the final product was a really awesome and unique game. Filled with fast-paced action, Alien Hominid features plenty of quirky humor and smoothly animated hand-drawn graphics. Don't let the cartoonish visual style fool you, though — Alien Hominid provides a challenge throughout.

The protagonist of Alien Hominid is an alien on the run from the government, fighting his way through waves of attacking enemies. Except for a few flying stages, the majority of the game's levels are intense side-scrolliers inspired by arcade classics like Metal Slug. You'll need quick thinking and quicker reflexes in Alien Hominid, because taking just one hit causes instant death. Thankfully, this cute yellow alien has a variety of moves and attack options. You can stick to your trusty blaster, go underground for stealth, or even bite off an enemy's head to send your other foes running in fear. We wish the single-player story mode lasted longer, but Alien Hominid has plenty of replay value and offers several exciting multiplayer options to keep your attention long after you've beaten it.

Odama

Video games that combine two different genres are largely hit-and-miss. Many end up feeling like a disjointed mishmash, but a few manage to seamlessly blend two wildly different genres into an amazing new gaming experience. If you want a GameCube genre mashup that's actually worth playing, check out Odama, a bizarre but awesome hybrid released in 2006. Odama is a crazy mix of tactical wargaming and pinball, all set in Feudal Japan. Yes, you read that right.

In Odama, you and your army of warriors take the battle to an enemy clan's gates, attempting to break them down with your secret weapon: a giant stone ball called the Odama. The game's mechanics are an interesting twist on a standard pinball game, with flippers to help launch the Odama out into the battlefield. But this battlefield can be tilted in one direction or another by the soldiers' movement — so you'll also need to keep a constant watch on where your forces are needed most. 

If you pick up a copy of this hidden gem, make sure you also have a Nintendo GameCube Microphone to give the voice commands that send your soldiers scrambling to carry out your orders. Some players might find this constant juggling act too much to keep up with, but give it a shot. Odama offers an extremely fun challenge once you get up to speed on the controls and strategy.

Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg

At its heart, the 3D puzzle platformer Billy Hatcher and a Giant Egg is a fun twist on Alice in Wonderland. Young Billy Hatcher becomes an unlikely hero when he finds himself transported to the magical chicken realm of Morning Land, where he dons a chicken suit and sets off to save the world from Dark Raven and his army of crows.

The colorful eggs Billy finds offer many new abilities, which help you navigate obstacles or defeat enemies. Protect an egg and help it hatch, and you'll find power ups or animal helpers inside. Billy Hatcher was developed by Sega's Sonic Team, and certain rare eggs contain companions from their other games, including Sonic the Hedgehog himself.

Billy Hatcher also offers some hidden fun for Game Boy Advance owners. After completing certain achievements in Billy Hatcher, you can connect your GBA to the GameCube and load additional Sonic Team games — including Puyo Pop, ChuChu Rocket!, and Nights: Time Attack. On the surface, Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg might look like it's just for kids, but even adult GameCube fans should give ridiculously fun game a second look.

Recommended