Home / News / Ranking The Best GameCube RPGs

Ranking The Best GameCube RPGs

59
Characters That Debuted On The Nintendo GameCube: Alastor from Viewtiful Joe (left), The God of Harmony from Lost Kingdoms II (center), and Ike from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (right)

Though it has been somewhat forgotten about today, the GameCube was a hugely important console in gaming history. Not only was it around at the advent of gaming, when the industry truly began to boom, but many of the greatest games of all time and the beginnings of hugely influential franchises were released on this platform.

GAMERANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT

While some of these games may have aged since then, many are still worth revisiting for the incredible stories and battle systems they hold. The era of consoles like the GameCube held many games that inspired the biggest releases of today.

Updated March 4, 2024, by Chris Harkin: Though the GameCube has been retired for a long time, there are always more games that fans like to revisit. Sometimes it’s because of upcoming remakes, while other times fans find more games that they consider underrated. From great franchises that continue getting sequels today to the one-off greats that deserve to be remembered, fans love much of what was available on the GameCube, as the RPG genre continued to grow through that period. It is easy to continue adding more great memories from the fantastic catalog of games which were available for this console, so this article will likely continue to be updated for years to come.

Related

5 Best Characters That Debuted On The Nintendo GameCube

Nintendo has created a ton of legendary characters, but some of their best work came from the GameCube era.

10 Pokemon Colosseum

Metacritic Score: 73/100

Gameplay screenshot from Pokemon Colosseum

Pokemon Colosseum

Released
March 22, 2004

Developer
Genius Sonority

One of the boldest and strangest entries in the history of the Pokemon franchise, Pokemon Colosseum changed the game quite literally. Instead of allowing players to capture Pokemon from the wild, the game focused on players stealing the Pokemon of other trainers in battle.

Additionally, players take on the role of a former member of Team Snagem, a completely different sort of role from the normal new trainer starting out on their adventures. Attempting to save shadow Pokemon from Team Snagem, the game has a fascinating focus and was a mind-blowing change of pace for the Pokemon franchise. It opened the games up to new possibilities, which are still being explored today.

9 Gladius

Metacritic Score: 79/100

Gladius Sunset Fight

Gladius

Released
October 28, 2003

Genre(s)
Strategy , RPG , Tactical

A most forgotten tactical RPG by LucasArts that deserves another look, Gladius lets players take control of a school of gladiators, which they were supposed to take into battle against opposing schools. The plot is choice-driven; the first major decision is made at the beginning of the game when the player decides whether to run a school in Imperia or the relatively less civilized Nordagh.

Featuring a great multiplayer system that worked for up to four players and a fantastic campaign that allowed players to venture across many different lands, Gladius succeeded at the time among those players who tried it, but it remains a largely unknown game that deserved better than it got.

8 Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean

Metacritic Score: 80/100

Promo art featuring Kalas from Baten Kaitos

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean

Released
November 16, 2004

Another RPG, this one a JRPG, which got rave reviews upon release but didn’t manage to sell well. Baten Kaitos was developed for the GameCube system specifically because the number of JRPGs available was so low.

Baten Kaitos lets the player take control of a party of characters as a guardian spirit. In a world revolving around magical cards, the fantastic card-based battling system helped Baten Kaitos become a beloved creation. A beautifully fun narrative with some great world-building, Baten Kaitos was so beloved by those who played it that, even with lukewarm sales, it managed to get a prequel game later, and both games were later remastered.

7 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

Metacritic Score: 80/100

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles party

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles

Released
February 9, 2004

Developer
The Game Designers Studio

Genre(s)
Action RPG

Despite there not being a huge list of Final Fantasy games released on the GameCube, this spin-off that started a franchise of its own was a huge success. Crystal Chronicles follows a group of adventurers who are guarding a caravan filled with myrrh, which is used to fuel the crystals that protect their world.

Related

Every GameCube Game Released in North America

Every GameCube game offers something a little different, which helped to make Nintendo’s purple powerhouse one of the most popular systems of its era.

With a great parasite feeding off their world, the heroes go on a great adventure, which is less plot-heavy but just as hugely enjoyable in terms of gameplay as many of the best Final Fantasy entries. The simple ideas, the single & multi-player options, and the beautiful world created around the crystals made for a phenomenal entry in the long-running franchise, which also managed to get a recent remaster.

6 X-Men Legends 2: Rise Of Apocalypse

Metacritic Score: 84/100

X-Men Legends II Rise Of Apocalypse

X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse

Released
September 20, 2005

Before the MCU began, the X-Men were still one of the pinnacles of major Marvel media. X-Men Legends 2: Rise of Apocalypse was one of the best examples of how comics can be brought into major video games. This action RPG allowed players to take control of a variety of characters from the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, as the teams unite to take on the new threat of Apocalypse.

Bringing in a lot of new elements, as well as improving on ones from the previous game, X-Men Legends 2 was a fantastic RPG that helped continue popularizing that type of game in the West by combining it with a hugely popular franchise. Including 18 playable characters from the X-Men world, this game is hugely worth revisiting today. It remains one of the best and most varied options for creating a roster of superheroes and villains to use in an RPG.

5 Skies Of Arcadia Legends

Metacritic Score: 84/100

Skies of Arcadia official art

Skies of Arcadia

Released
January 27, 2003

Developer
Overworks

Genre(s)
JRPG

Skies of Arcadia was one of the very best games released for the Dreamcast, but it later received a fantastic port for the GameCube in Skies of Arcadia Legends. With phenomenal turn-based combat and a huge amount of character work done in addition to fantastic world-building, Skies of Arcadia is a JRPG bursting with heart and real love, which shockingly never got a sequel.

Featuring a sort of Robin Hood-like story about a pair of air pirates trying to fight back against the Valuan Empire, there are similarities between this game and entries in franchises like Final Fantasy. The air-based world is a beautiful one to explore, and the soundtrack fits the over-the-top style of the game perfectly.

4 Fire Emblem: Path Of Radiance

Metacritic Score: 85/100

Ranking The Best GameCube RPGs

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Released
April 20, 2005

Genre(s)
Tactical , RPG , Adventure

One of the best JRPG franchises of all time, Fire Emblem was still relatively new to the Western World when Path of Radiance was released. It was the ninth entry in the franchise, but only the third to be released outside of Japan at that time. A fascinating tactical JRPG that includes permadeath which is unusual in such open games; characters who were killed on the field did not return.

Battles are decided by the player tactically placing their characters around the field of play. Only the protagonist could not be killed, as that resulted in the end of the game. If anybody else out of the massive roster of playable characters perished, the game would continue with them gone forever. The plot involves Ike and his band of mercenaries attempting to restore Princess Elincia to the throne of her native Crimea, a plot with plenty of fun to it, and many interesting characters, though the focus was definitely on the tactical combat system.

3 Tales Of Symphonia

Metacritic Score: 86/100

Tales Of Symphonia

Tales Of Symphonia Remastered

Released
February 17, 2023

Genre(s)
Action RPG

One of the more notable entries from the Tales Of franchise of JRPGs, Tales of Symphonia was released in 2003 and got Western releases in 2004. Dubbed “an RPG that resonates with you”, the game featured protagonists attempting to save their world while discovering that doing so would threaten an adjacent world.

Related

14 Best Exclusive Games Trapped On The GameCube

The Nintendo GameCube had several great platform exclusives that have, sadly, remained trapped on the console. These are the best games of the lot.

With a colorful, fun art style and exciting characters, Tales of Symphonia was an instant success. There were few issues with the game, despite several ports and translations across a number of consoles, prompting the Tales Of series to gain some level of foothold in the West, enough for Tales of Symphonia to get a must-play remake.

2 Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance

Metacritic Score: 87/100

baldur's gate dark alliance beholder feature

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance

Released
December 2, 2001

Genre(s)
Action RPG , Hack and Slash

After the release of the first two major entries in the Baldur’s Gate franchise, Dark Alliance was a bold step by the developers to see whether the franchise would be successful on consoles. A surprisingly dark D&D-type adventure game, this story gave players the chance to play as a dwarf, human, or elf.

A great introduction to the RPG style, as the Forgotten Realms setting of Baldur’s Gate is familiar to many fantasy fans of all calibers, Dark Alliance was a massive leap for the franchise and for Western RPGs, just like Baldur’s Gate 3 has done for the Western RPG again more recently, which led to a remake of this classic entry.

1 Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Metacritic Score: 87/100

Mario standing next to Admiral Bobbery in Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

Platform(s)
Nintendo GameCube

Released
October 11, 2004

The Mario franchise isn’t known for the RPGs it has produced as much as the platformers and even the racing games. However, the Paper Mario spin-off franchise has been hugely successful at delivering quality, entry-level RPGs in the franchise, and none of them have been more of a phenomenon than The Thousand-Year Door.

The drawing-like art style, the fun storyline, the wide variety of characters, and the improvements made from the first game in the franchise led to The Thousand-Year Door being a close-to-perfect experience in the larger Mario franchise. With the Mario franchise showing no signs of slowing down, it is possible that more Paper Mario games will be released after the remake of The Thousand-Year Door, to keep the legacy of phenomenal GameCube RPGs like this alive.

Related

15 Best Nintendo GameCube Games, Ranked

The Nintendo GameCube may not have been as successful as the Wii, but it still had some fan favorites. Here are the console’s best games.

No Comments

Comment on
There are no comments yet, but you can be the one to add the very first comment!

Comments