Rumors are swirling today, via a Eurogamer report, that Nintendo will add GameCube games to its Virtual Console service with the release of its upcoming console, the Switch.
While we’d like to see Nintendo instead focusing its limited Virtual Console resources on fixing the various quality of life issues that plague the service—poor NES emulation quality, input lag on N64 games, and the company’s ridiculous insistence that patrons continue to pay an “upgrade fee” every time a VC release hits a new platform—there’s no denying the appeal of seeing Nintendo’s one outstanding retro console being represented on the service at last.
Titles like Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi’s Mansion, and Super Smash Bros. Melee are, of course, all shoo-ins for the service, but we’d love to see Nintendo and its partner publishers digging a little bit deeper into their catalogs of releases for the infamous purple lunchbox. In fact, we’ve already come up with 10 suggestions for GameCube games we think would be a great fit for the Nintendo Switch. This isn’t a top 10 GameCube games list, by any means, but we’re pretty confident there’s something here for everyone.
Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
Okay, so we’re not exactly reaching with this one: Thousand Year Door is, to this day, the most beloved entry in a series that remains popular despite some… questionable… design choices in recent entries. A traditional RPG that introduced a broad assortment of memorable characters and a fun emphasis on Mario’s paper-like qualities for solving puzzles, the second Paper Mario game is a fantastic example of the way Nintendo can take a hardcore genre like role-playing and make it accessible to everyone. The Wii U sequel, Paper Mario: Color Splash, was a lot better than internet pundits predicted, but it still wasn’t the return to form fans were hoping for. That makes Thousand Year Door a prime candidate for Virtual Console—especially because it’s the only game in the series that hasn’t yet seen a digital re-release.
Chibi-Robo! Plug Into Adventure!
Chibi-Robo! is another one of those Nintendo-published series that, for whatever reason, its developer can’t seem to remember what players loved so much about it to begin with. A Toy Story-inspired, third-person adventure game that has players controlling a tiny robot as he does chores and attempts to solve sometimes intensely personal dilemmas for the residents of a suburban household, Chibi-Robo! Plug Into Adventure! is the quintessential example of a period of Japanese game design when sales expectations didn’t preclude experimentation. Like its contemporaries Mister Mosquito and Katamari Damacy, it’s a kind of gaming experience that has become exceedingly rare these days, and Nintendo simply must release it on Virtual Console.
Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg
Speaking of Katamari Damacy, did you know Sonic Team beat Namco’s ball-rolling concept to market by a good six months? Billy Hatcher & The Giant Egg has players rolling giant eggs around colorful worlds, collecting fruit with which to hatch the animals trapped inside said eggs. Sounds simple, and it is: at the end of the day, it’s a gentle, goofy, well-made puzzle-platformer that should appeal as much to younger players as to the older ones for whom the Sonic Team label used to mean something. Incidentally, its emphasis on creating new life makes it the perfect antithesis to Katamari’s heady themes about consumerism and environmental destruction.
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes developer Silicon Knights might’ve crumbled under the weight of its founder’s hubris, but that’s probably not the reason Twin Snakes wasn’t featured in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Vita a few years ago. No, the culprit in that case was very likely Nintendo, whose direct involvement in the game’s remaster likely means it can legally never be released outside of Nintendo platforms. Of course, with today’s Konami being pretty bullish on its plans to make as much money off the MGS brand while making as little effort as possible, a Virtual Console re-release of The Twin Snakes seems like a no-brainer on Switch. Konami’s already a strong supporter of Nintendo’s VC service, so if the rumors are true, we’d say this is less of an “if” than a “when.”
It might’ve taken Capcom some time to come around to the whole Virtual Console idea, but the publisher’s support for the service has been pretty steady—if not exactly robust—for almost a decade now. And while I’m sure they’ll use GameCube support as yet another excuse to sell us the 8- and 16-bit Mega Man titles again (by way of the Mega Man Anniversary and X collections), I’m hopeful they’ll also pull this gem out of the vault. In an era where runaway budgets means most games have had even the slightest of irregularities filed off, Killer7 remains as rough, divisive, and inspiring as ever. This early Suda51 joint about demons, assassins, and child trafficking is weird, dark, and ripe for a revisit.
Skies of Arcadia: Legends
One of the most profound tragedies of the Dreamcast era, Skies of Arcadia is one of the few RPGs of its time to buck the trend towards petulant protagonists and bewildering battle systems. Instead, now-defunct Sega developer Overworks gave us a classic RPG experience that, presentation aside, wouldn’t have been out of place in the NES era: a simple, no-frills combat system, an engaging but not overly complicated plot about warring nations, and one hell of an upbeat soundtrack. The game was made even better when it was updated for the GameCube, and like a lot of games on this list, it’s not exactly cheap on the second-hand market these days. Here’s hoping Sega does the right thing.
Phantasy Star Online Episode 1+2 Plus
Another Dreamcast-era Sega RPG that was ported over to the GameCube, this one’s a bit of long-shot: an online multiplayer role-playing game whose servers have been dead for more than a decade, a parent company that doesn’t seem interested in localizing its sequel for western audiences, and a free PC version (complete with a dedicated community) that can still be enjoyed to this day. Still, the game exhibits a unique, haunting charm when played solo, and the GameCube version’s split-screen multiplayer means players aren’t completely SOL when they need someone to help them take down a particularly nasty boss. It might not be very likely that this one will show up on Switch, but we’d me mighty grateful if it did.
Okay, yes, we’ve got a bit of a thing for games that originated on Sega hardware before being ported to the GameCube following the Dreamcast’s demise, but can you really blame us? Japanese developers were on fire in the early 2000s, and Treasure’s bullet-hell shooter does just about everything right, from its unique yin/yang hook to its frenetic action that demands a level of discipline that will challenge even the most seasoned SHMUP lovers. Ikaruga is everything a top-down shooter should be, and it’d be a perfect fit for the Switch—especially because the GameCube version’s vertical mode could make full use of the handheld console’s screen for on-the-go play.
We wouldn’t have even hoped for this Japan-only, puzzle-action delight if Nintendo hadn’t shocked us all by releasing the first game in the series, Kuru Kuru Kururin, on the North American Wii U Virtual Console earlier this year. But since all bets are off and the company’s open to imports now, let us be the first to say “yes, please!” to this GameCube sequel. With its dull-sounding yet addicting premise—navigate a spinning rod through a maze, collecting coins along the way!—bolstered by a charming cartoon aesthetic and a relaxing calypso soundtrack, Kururin Squash! is a true hidden gem, and we’re pretty confident we’ll see the game released on the Switch Virtual Console eventually.
Developer Shin’en’s success with Fast Racing Neo on the Wii U proved that Nintendo fans are still ravenous for futuristic racing, so why is it that we haven’t gotten a new home console F-Zero game since 2003? With its brilliantly designed tracks, gorgeous effects work, a rock-steady 60 frames of animation per second, and a breakneck sense of speed that has us gasping for breath as we struggle to hold onto our lead in its punishingly difficult campaign mode, F-Zero GX is the crown jewel in Nintendo’s most hardcore racing series, and we can’t wait to see it on Nintendo’s next-gen Virtual Console service.