After reading through a EuroGamer post stating the Nintendo Switch may potentially include GameCube games in its Virtual Console lineup, I started thinking back to all of the incredible experiences and overlooked gems that graced my favorite boxy-shaped console that doubled as a melee weapon in times of need. That’s what the handle was for, right?
According to EuroGamer’s Tom Phillips and his three unnamed sources, GameCube support is already tested and working on the Switch. Not only that, but three of the GameCube’s most well-known games are currently ready to roll as of his December 7th posting: Mario Sunshine, Luigi’s Mansion, and Super Smash Bros. Melee., with Animal Crossing being worked on as we speak.
As Phillips points out, Animal Crossing is an interesting choice, as it offers fully playable versions of NES classics like The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros., and Donkey Kong inside of the game itself. Playing a GameCube game on the Switch while playing an NES game inside of a GameCube game on the Switch is a rad way to think about it.
Taking in to account that we may already see the likes of Animal Crossing, Mario Sunshine, Luigi’s Mansion, and Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Switch, I wanted to go over the top 10 games I’d like to see make their way over to The Big N’s shiny new toybox.
Before we get started though, I’d like to point out why I don’t have either of the Metroid Prime titles on this list, despite them being my favorite games on the console. I’m sincerely hoping that since the Metroid Prime Trilogy is already a part of the current Wii U Virtual Console lineup that it’ll be available in that format instead.
That being said, here’s my top 10.
#10 – Killer 7
A bizarre action game where you control an elite team of 7 assassins who are all manifestations of a man’s multiple personalities. It’s not the most technically sound game in the world, but Killer 7 proved to be one of the most stand-out GameCube titles thanks to its unique aesthetic and overall wild design by way of SUDA 51’s intense imagination.
#9 – Lost Kingdoms 1 & 2
Long before Dark Souls, or even Demon’s Souls, From Software developed this unique pair of action RPGs (known as Rune in Japan) for the GameCube. They’re not as well known as their distant cousins, but if you dig up screenshots on Google, you might notice some similarities in the UI that eventually made its way to the Souls games.
This short-lived series hearkens back to the Summoner series, where your typical hack and slash action is instead replaced by summoning protective monsters using a magical deck of cards. Think of it as a real-time Magic: The Gathering.
#8 – Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
One of the few original IP RPGs to grace the GameCube, Baten Kaitos’s beautiful world and charming characters garnered a cult classic status among its player-base.
The combat on display is quite similar to the above Lost Kingdoms, where party members issue attacks using a deck of cards rather than using traditional menus and weapons. However, the action is turn-based instead of real-time, and the game’s aesthetic is far more appealing (Chrono Cross is an appropriate visual comaprison).
#7 – Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II
Although the online features are long dead, the local 4-player co-op is alive and kicking. This action RPG/MMO-no-more features tons of weapons, characters, quests, enemies, and alien worlds to explore, packed with hundreds of hours of content across both of the included episodes.
Even without the ability to meet up with friends online, Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II is a pretty incredible experience.
#6 – F-Zero GX
The last F-Zero to grace a Nintendo home console was perhaps the best it’s ever been. We’ve seen its inspiration in games like Fast Racing NEO (along with the upcoming Switch release, Fast Racing RMX), but F-Zero GX was way ahead of its time in 2003.
The sense of speed was intense, elevated by the electronica soundtrack that accompanied it. Its track design also presented some of the best in the series. There’s a reason why Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett considers it his favorite racing game of all time.
If Nintendo isn’t going to show their futuristic racing series any modern love, then at least let us relive the glory days with F-Zero GX. Or just hand over the reins to Shin’en Multimedia, who’ve done a bang up job with Fast Racing thus far.
#5 – Ikaruga
Widely considered among the greatest shoot-em-ups of all time, Ikaruga is the spiritual sucessor to Radiant Silvergun and was developed by a small team of just three people over the course of two years.
What makes Ikaruga so unique is how it approaches combat. The game still features a top-down viewpoint with vertical scrolling, but it requires the player to switch between two different color variations to both negate oncoming damage of the same color, while dishing out double damage to enemies of the opposing color. The end result is one of the most frantic and enjoyable shmup experiences I’ve ever had.
#4 – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Silicon Knights’ psychological horror game spans across twelve different time periods after Alexandra Roivas discovers a mysterious book in her grandfather’s Rhode Island mansion. The story itself is clearly quite unique, but it’s the game’s sanity mechanic that really drove the experience home.
As each of the characters slowly lose their minds, they begin witnessing supernatural events; skulls floating in the air while quoting Shakespeare, or odd camera shifts. There’s even some fourth-wall effects, simulating corrupt saves and the dreaded blue screen of death.
Eternal Darkness not only told a compelling narrative of old gods, but it was yet another GameCube title entirely ahead of its time.
#3 – Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
Although popularized in 2013 (2012 in Japan) with the stellar release of Fire Emblem: Awakening, Path of Radiance introduced fans of Super Smash Bros. Melee to the series that brought them Marth and Roy. Granted neither are actually in Path of Radiance, as the hero Ike wouldn’t make an appearance until Super Smash Bros. Brawl on Wii, but the series in name itself would’ve been a lot more attractive.
Path of Radiance sold well enough for Nintendo to consider the series viable for home console release, though Fire Emblem is now considered a handheld franchise. It’d be nice to see this gem live again through the Switch’s Virtual Console instead of suffering the series’ mainstay permadeath on GameCube.
#2 – Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
The RPG-hybrid Paper Mario series hit its stride on GameCube with The Thousand-Year Door, but became something else entirely (much to the dismay of the fanbase) with its future offerings. Playing on the paper aesthetic, with the ability to fold himself in to a boat to cross water and blow away hidden panels with gusts of wind, it offered a truly unique take on the otherwise standard Super Mario experience we’d gotten used to.
With a lovely 2D papercraft world, the ability to play as Bowser and Peach (instead of plain ol’ Mario), and a charming narrative, The Thousand-Year Door is highly deserving of a second chance on the Nintendo Switch.
#1 – Skies of Arcadia
Skies of Arcadia is one of the most beloved JRPGs of all time, originating on the Sega Dreamcast and later finding a home on GameCube. This updated version features improved graphics, slightly more content, and a toned-down random encounter rate, though some would argue the Dreamcast version offered a higher quality soundtrack. I’ll happily take lesser sound quality over the Dreamcast’s infuriating encounter rate any day of the week.
Skies follows the story of a ragtag band of heroes as they sail the skies against the Valuan Empire. These big baddies seek to gain control of some powerful ancient weapons with enough blasting power to destroy the entire world. That’s clearly not good. There’s sky pirates, airships, and tons of adventure to be had along this 50+ hour adventure.
The sky-ship seems to have sailed in hopes of an Arcadia sequel, but there’s few GameCube games on the planet that I’d love to revisit on Switch more than Skies of Arcadia.
When I proposed the question on Twitter, I received a fair amount of requests for things like Resident Evil 4 (which I avoided including, since it’s been ported to everything under the sun), Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes and Mega Man X: Command Mission. There were a few shout-outs for Viewtiful Joe, Evolution Worlds, Pikmin, Mario Party, and Mario Kart: Double Dash.
This is a testament to the overall quality of the console’s lineup and the memories instilled within its user-base over the last 15 years. It’s a legacy well worth preserving digitally (yes, I realize how nonsensical that sounds) and even introducing to a new generation of Nintendo fan.
Should the rumors prove true, which GameCube titles do you want to see on the Switch’s Virtual Console? Feel free to elaborate down in the comments!