The staff chooses their personal favorites on the Gamecube.
In honor of the tenth anniversary of the purple lunch box, the staff took a look at the unsung heroes of the Gamecube. Everyone remembers the big sellers and the popular brands – Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Rogue Squadron, Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, Luigi’s Mansion. But, what about those charming games that didn\’t manage to capture EVERYONE’s attention. Aren\’t they worth remembering as well? It would be a shame for them to be forgotten, erased from our memories. Let’s give them a second look and recall with fondness the games that deserve a chance for your attentions.
Unsung Hero: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
Metroid Prime made itself a tough act to follow. That’s why its direct sequel, Echoes, is on this list. It is a game that has been pushed into its own shadow world, despite pushing the GameCube to render an even larger and more detailed alien world to explore, while also introducing new power-ups and upping the difficulty. And although Prime 2 is the hardest game of Retro’s trilogy, it is also the most rewarding. After searching for hours on end to find temple keys unseen to the naked eye, spending a 20-minute battle with the Emeror Ing and then defeating Dark Samus for the third time (in four encounters) as the world of Dark Aether crumbled around our Chozo/Lumioth-armored heroine, I was spent. I was worried I wouldn\’t be able to get Samus out of this one alive. Doing so provided a feeling of accomplishment I haven\’t felt since from any other videogame. If you weren\’t able to appreciate this game on the \’Cube, track down a used copy of Metroid Prime Trilogy on the Wii. The controls are better, the difficulty is ever-so-slightly tamed and the virtual world is still one of the most ruggedly beautiful ones ever constructed. Maybe in the mighty shadow of Metroid Prime isn\’t such a bad place to be, after all.
Unsung Hero: Wave Race: Blue Storm
I remember the summer of 2002 when I first got a Gamecube. I played quite a few of the games released around the system’s launch like Luigi’s Mansion, Rogue Squadron II, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. But one game I played but never saw again until several years later was Wave Race Blue Storm. Of the Gamecube’s launch games, Blue Storm is the most under appreciated of them all. NST showed that they were capable of making a game just as great as, and even more challenging than, Wave Race 64. While not graphically impressive, the game showed what wave physics were capable of on the Gamecube, and it provided for fun and equally difficult races. The courses, the wave physics, the music, this game captures what made Wave Race 64 good and still makes it recognizable as its own thing. Anyone who has a Gamecube collection owes it to themselves to get this game.
Unsung Hero: TimeSplitters 2 and 3
It would be a disservice to the franchise to only mention one of these games, and truly, both games were awfully obscured by the success of Halo throughout that generation. While the (I would say headless) body of Rare went on to work for Microsoft, pieces of its staff, some of which had worked earlier on the highly acclaimed GoldenEye 64 and Perfect Dark, went on to found Free Radical and continue their vision with the TimeSplitters series. While I wouldn\’t feel confident saying either of the TimeSplitter games reached the greatness of Perfect Dark, I certainly don\’t think they got left behind. Chock-full of weapon types, clever level designs, brutally fast-paced shooting, and an unheard-of number of game modes, TimeSplitters 2 and 3 offered a vast amount of content and gameplay variety like nothing else in the genre could, and to this day I haven\’t played another FPS that tops it in that regard. Unfortunately, many bad things happened to Free Radical studios ever since, but ultimately they were put in the hands of Crytek (known for Crysis and Far Cry), where, as rumors suggest, they continue to work on the long-awaited TimeSplitters 4.
Unsung Hero: Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
While not strictly a niche title, this game is the least well-known of the three Prime games, and definitely my favourite. Retro had a much stronger focus of story-telling with a planet split in two; a light world with peaceful inhabitants and a dark alternate with an evil species called the Ing. The adventure would see you travelling between the two to solve puzzles; When first starting out on the dark side, your armour would constantly be eroded by the harmful atmosphere, so you\’d have to stay near special beacons to keep you
safe. It’s a mix of the FPA forumla, which proved successful with Prime 1, and the darker story and more complex puzzle nature of Aether which made this game my most memorable GameCube game.
Unsung Hero: Eternal Darkness
Eternal Darkness will always be one of those games that deserved more than it received. It didn\’t perform commercially as well as Nintendo had hoped and subsequently Silicon Knights was dropped from Nintendo’s clique of friends. But fans who picked it up recognize it as one of the most complex and darkest games that Nintendo has ever produced. It has achieved cult status as a classic, despite underperforming sales-wise. An unsung hero if there ever was one. Playing through Eternal Darkness was a bit like sinking your teeth into a deep Stephen King book. It wasn\’t a simple walk through the park. The story was full of mythological lore and ancient gods, spanned multiple centuries and characters, and messed with your mind. By the end of the day, the game would have gotten the best of you many times over, psychologically seeping into your head. \”Is this real or am I being tricked again?\” was the constant thought going through the gamer’s head. A game that could create such an experience of consciousness that made the real gamer question his own eyes means that the horror transcended from the virtual to the actual.
Other Unsung Heroes:
Beyond Good & Evil
Tales of Symphonia
Skies of Arcadia Legends