The Nintendo GameCube – Emulate or Locate?

Which games are worth tracking down the original retro copies and which are best to simply download? aka The downside of a weekly content schedule with a full-time job; Tiredness and making content that’s definitely not a delay tactic to catch up on reviews.

The Nintendo GameCube is now 20 years old and despite this there is still no GameCube Mini on the horizon, nor is there anyway to legitimately purchase and play GameCube only titles that haven’t been ported. The last virtual console was on the Wii and despite having GameCube controller compatibility it never saw any GameCube titles. Maybe the Switch will finally see more GameCube titles in future now that a few games have been ported (at the time of writing they haven’t) You can easily play GameCube games on a standard Wii if the disc drive still works and the Wii-HDMI convertors while not-perfect are cheap and function well enough to enjoy playing some classics.

The original GameCube was always surprisingly easy to play Japanese and NTSC games on. The lovely small cardboard covered plastic of the Japanese games has a unique look and the Freeloader disc that makes the console region free can vary between £8 and £80 depending on the seller. There’s always the option of modding your GameCube but the only experience I have of this was a faff. The chips were a bugger to get a hold of and when I did get one there was simply some numbers and wires (no actual instructions) It is worth having a look inside of a GameCube though as the hardware is incredibly well built, that handle really dig push them to make everything secure.

The smaller sized GameCube discs means if you do mod the console you’ll have to tinker or get a custom case which can fit DVD sized discs. These days there are plenty of aftermarket sellers with pre-modded GameCubes to sell and the HDMI solutions aren’t nearly as pricey as they used to be. Thanks to the Smash scene GameCube controllers and adapters come in all shapes and at all different prices (even I have a switch adapter for Smash Sunday) In emulation the GameCube has never been better with Dolphin now at the point where it’s emulating WiiU, Wii and GameCube. I’ve written previous lists like these for the Sega Saturn and Dreamcast but the GameCube still holds a place in my heart for Uni days. I remember spending almost a months salary on a Wind Waker GameCube with zero regrets.

That’s enough pre-amble then on the lovely purple box. I won’t be mentioning the many Zelda games that were first released on the GameCube as they have all been ported now elsewhere (Even Twilight Princess is on the Wii) This is the same for the Resident Evil series where we’re now at the point where 4, Zero and the remasters have come out on every new console at a Skyrim level of ports. It’s the same with super titles like Sonic Adventure 2 Battle where it was a great upgrade on the original but the HD port to modern consoles makes going halfway back to the original pointless. I’m sure there’s some games I’ve missed or have ported since the time of writing so be sure to get in touch! Without further ado, let’s hold Z and roll a purple cube!

Emulate – Animal Crossing

I’ve been playing Animal Crossing since the original and despite a lot of love for the series, even I think £75 (the cheapest copy I could find that wasn’t Japanese) was far too expensive. New Horizons maybe a little lax of new content but going all the way back to the early days is going to be a huge shock to a lot of people. It’s definitely worth a go though if only to experience Rover and the option to be as rude to him as he’ll likely be to you. Just download it and experience the fantastic original Mr. Resetti for yourself.

Both – Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

£30 seems a lot for a retro game but if you’ve any love for the classic survival horror genre you’ll love this. I’d go as far as to say that Eternal Darkness is so good it’s worth emulating if you can’t find it anywhere. There aren’t that many unique female leads in the genre and there’s a real Buffy vibe throughout this with the story and Lovecraftian atmosphere. The sanity effects were incredible when they first came out and it’s still just as creepy as it always was.

Both – Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean

For a niche RPG classic that comes on 2 discs, Baten Kaitos being around £55 was a surprise. The critically acclaimed card game RPG that Monolith Soft completely left for Xenoblade has always been well loved and if the dub and price point is a little too much for you there’s an undub of the original via emulation. Hopefully one day we might see a port of this!

Emulate – Chibi-Robo!

It blows my mind how expensive Chibi-Robo! is on GameCube. You’ll be spending hundreds of pounds should you want to find out what all the fuss is about. There was a Japanese only port of the original and although there have been sequels (and even an Amiibo) there hasn’t been anything that really captured this original classic. It’s easily found via a google and some common sense (never download a .exe) Definitely plug in and have a go!

Both – F-Zero GX

Here’s the issue, £40 is a bit much in my opinion for a slightly beaten up copy of an old retro classic but there’s no denying it is a one-of-a-kind experience. Technically the last entry in the series for a big 3D F-Zero game (the arcade game doesn’t count) GX is absolutely wild, fast paced and incredible fun. If you don’t fancy paying that price for an arcade feeling racer then it’s definitely worth tinkering with emulation to get it going there.

Locate – Donkey Kong Jungle Beat & Donkey Konga 1, 2 & 3

The physical bongos accessory for the GameCube will be the last thing on the planet when there’s nothing left. They’ll definitely break your hands before they develop any faults. That being said; They are super fun to play. They’re also still surprisingly cheap! £12 will net you the controller and Konga. Jungle Beat is a unique platformer game but if you’ve ever played Taiko no Tatsujin then you’ll be right at home with Konga. The 3rd game was Japanese only so it’s a little more pricey and the first game is mostly song covers but the original Pokémon theme is on there to. It’s hard to be the very best.

Both – Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

I personally loved Double Dash!! I will admit though that, it is the Marmite of the Mario Kart series and if you dive into it after playing Mario Kart 8 you’ll be in for a rough time. At £30 it still remains a nicely priced Mario Kart and is a rare unique co-op experience. It’s obviously worth emulating first as the style of the carts really is a double dash of like it or loathe it.

Locate – Soulcalibur II

£20 to play one of the best 3D fighting games ever made as Zelda’s Link? Bargain. Back in the day you had the choice of Heihachi as a guest character for the superior PS2 version, Spawn for the Xbox version or Link for the GameCube. The classic still holds up and Soulcalibur 2 was one of the games in the series to see a HD remake to the last generation of consoles. It included Heihachi though so if you want to throw bombs and go ‘HEYAT’ then the GameCube original is for you.

Emulate – Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness

People are always demanding a unique Pokémon RPG experience and seemingly forget how many of those already exist. Gale of Darkness is a strange beast, it feels both generic in places and incredibly Pokémon feeling in others. It is not however worth hundreds of pounds in any sane way and emulating this title to enjoy a different style of Pokémon story is definitely the way to go. Only catching Shadow Pokémon takes a bit of getting used to.

Locate – Naruto: Gekitō Ninja Taisen! 1, 2, 3 & 4

Here’s the thing, it may seem cliché but Naruto was in its prime when I was at uni. The excitement for the chunin exam arc was palpable. When we found out about the Gekito Ninja Taisen series we would play it 3 player (with an Ai) for nights on end. They’re snappy, unique fighting games and have a Dragonball FighterZ feeling to them. If you buy them now you’ll need to keep an eye out for import fees but the Japanese GameCube cases are fantastic and for £15 each, every title of these Naruto games is a mind-blowing 4 player brawler.

Emulate – Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes

I love Metal Gear Solid, I’ve a few collections and sets of the originals in various formats but the price for Twin Snakes has only been worth it at launch. £80 for what is essentially a remake of the original game in the PS2 engine sounds tempting until you try to aim with the c-stick and start noticing all the changes made between this and the original. It absolutely boggles my mind Konami have never ported this to anything else and if you want to replay MGS with a little first person spice it’s definitely worth downloading, it’s just slightly different.

Both – Super Smash Bros. Melee

£30 seems to be the running price in the retro market these days for any mainline Nintendo title but it seems fair enough for a game that really gets way more love than I can ever understand. Melee’s gameplay is unique and there’s nothing quite like it and they still play tournaments of SSBM around the world. It’s definitely worth a go for the bonkers adventure mode alone and who knows? Maybe you’ll be hooked enough to play Project M.

Locate – Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

This game was a system seller for so many years of the GameCube’s life cycle. Every time you’d see a GameCube running a game in a show display it would have Rogue Squadron 2 happily zipping away blasting at the death star. It’s the absolute cream of the GameCube crop and to find this system seller is still only £7 makes it a ridiculously cheap no brainer. The force is strong with this one.

What do you think? Did I miss your favourite? Are you as surprised as I am to find some titles command ridiculous prices to this day? Let me know and be sure to like and share!

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