2001 was quite a memorable time in gaming. Standout titles include Grand Theft Auto III, Metal Gear Solid 2 and Final Fantasy X. It was also the year Xbox made its debut, while the Sega Dreamcast bowed out. But while all that was going on Nintendo was still going strong, releasing the Game Boy Advance in March of that year and a new home system in September. The GameCube was quite a console, an adorable box with a great wireless controller and fun add-ons like the Game Boy Player.
Unfortunately, the system was plagued by a thin library, especially compared to the PlayStation’s combined roster of PS1 and PS2 games. But what titles they were — it gave us Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Monkey Ball and the original Animal Crossing. On the GameCube’s 20th anniversary in Japan the Engadget staff looks back at their favorite titles from that era which, once again, doesn’t include some of the obvious candidates. — Kris Naudus, Buyer’s Guide Editor
I’ll be honest; I was late to the GameCube and the only reason I bought one was for Donkey Konga. I first played this rhythm title at a Toys ‘R’ Us and fell in love with those stupid bongos. A year before Guitar Hero this was the party game du jour, and I took my cube and controllers everywhere. I quickly unlocked every song, and became an absolute master at “Oye Como Va.” It was followed by a sequel and the bongos were even the default control scheme for Donkey Kong Jungle Beat, but nothing matched the sheer joy of playing that first installment and the sore palms that ensued. — KN
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Call it the anti-Resident Evil. Eternal Darkness puts you in the shoes of Alexandra Roivas, a young woman trying to solve the mystery of her grandfather’s horrific death. Its century-spanning story covered a dozen characters, all connected to an ancient Lovecraftian god. While there’s combat, it was more about psychological trauma than the survival horror of Resident Evil. Most notably, it had a sanity meter that would change the gameplay and environment and even throw simulated system errors to freak out players. Take that, Metal Gear Solid.
Like many GameCube titles, Eternal Darkness was clearly an attempt to attract an older audience. It was the first M-rated game published by Nintendo, and the company kept the trademark alive for a decade. But it was never re-released outside of the GameCube, and hope for a direct sequel was squashed when developer Silicon Knights filed for bankruptcy in 2014. There was an attempt at a spiritual successor, Shadow of the Eternals, that fell apart after failing to raise enough money via crowdfunding. It’s almost fitting that a game about millennia-old evil may end up being lost to the sands of time. — Devindra Hardawar, Senior Editor
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
After the runaway success of Awakening and Three Houses, it’s hard to see what made Path of Radiance, Fire Emblem’s only GameCube release, so special back in 2005. Nearly two decades later its presentation looks stiff and dated, and the game is missing the relationship mechanics beloved by newcomers. But in Path of Radiance you’ll still find many of the elements that came to define later Fire Emblem games.
They exist in a sort of prototypical form since this was the first game in the series to make the jump to 3D. We take a lot of it for granted now, but back then series developer Intelligent Systems had to figure out the mechanics for the first time. And it did, making for a game that’s still fun to play to this day. It has one of the best stories in the series, with an English script that captures a lot of the nuances of the Japanese original.
It’s that story that made me fall in love with Path of Radiance when I first played it more…