Nintendo’s GameCube is considered to be a commercial failure but it stuck around for six years and provided a host of great games. Want to play them on the original hardware today? It’s gonna cost you.
A year after the PlayStation 2 hit shop shelves towards the end of the 1990s, Nintendo finally released its follow-up to the Nintendo 64 machine – the new eye-catching box-like console named GameCube. It also went into battle against Microsoft’s new Xbox and sought to beat Sega’s Dreamcast that had launched a couple of years before.
But as history will attest, Nintendo struggled with this one, notching up 21.74 million GameCube sales compared to the PS2’s 155 million.
And yet there was much to commend the Cube. Fun-looking and colourful, it could be connected to a GameBoy Advance, allowing the handheld to be used as a controller and a second screen. It also cut the cord by introducing wireless controllers and placed an emphasis on portability, even slapping a practical handle on the device to make it easier to pick up and move it around (although we’re not sure many used it).
What made it stand out the most, though, were the games. Where else could you get your fix of Mario and Zelda, get to grips with Metroid Prime or enjoy Shigeru Miyamoto’s Pikmin puzzle and strategy series? From Ikaruga and Luigi’s Mansion to Super Monkey Ball and Animal Crossing, there were loads of amazing titles to get stuck into, some of which have proven more valuable than others. Indeed, you could be forking out a small fortune for some of the rarer games.
Time to prise open that purse?
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
The Fire Emblem series made its debut on Nintendo’s Famicom machine in Japan back in 1990 with the highly-acclaimed Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. Since then this tactical role-playing franchise has become something of a staple for Nintendo consoles, and the ninth instalment – Path of Radiance – made its way on to the GameCube in 2005 complete with voice acting, 3D character models and a familiar anime-style narrative.
Although it ultimately proved to be a rather flawed game, it nevertheless sold extremely well, going down a storm with players who would rank it as one of the GameCube’s finest titles. That, however, seems to have prompted many gamers to keep a firm hold of their copies so if you want to get your hands on one today be prepared to burn a hole in your pocket. Decent copies fetch around £180 to £200.
This fast-paced third-person mech-brawler didn’t go down too well with reviewers when it was published in 2003. While it may have sounded intriguing – effectively taking a dollop of classic fighter PowerStone and mixing it with Pokémon – the game was generally criticised for being repetitive and lacking depth. Perhaps unfair given that Capcom was clearly aiming it at a younger crowd (and it not actually being as shallow as some considered it to be).
Despite that, the game won many fans and Gotcha Force continues to be popular in some quarters to this day, particularly in Japan. With hindsight, it’s a real shame that the title wasn’t promoted more heavily at the time leading to rather poor sales. Had more people not been put off by the lacklustre reviews, we maybe wouldn’t be shelling out about £100 for PAL copies today. American NTSC versions can fetch as much as £400!
NCAA College Basketball 2K3
As the only college basketball title to appear on the GameCube, it’s fortunate that NCAA was something of a slam dunk. Packed with more than 300 Division 1-A teams, a legacy mode that let you become the coach and many accurate arenas, it quickly won over those who played it. Trouble is, it didn’t sell all that well, primarily because it was only published in limited quantities.
What you have here, then, is one of the hardest games on the format to track down. GameCube copies come up sporadically and when they do, they will have you prising open your purse – it’s like the opposite of an old FIFA Soccer game! So while you can pick up the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions for a few pounds, the GameCube one will cost about £120. People are enticed by the fact this is the only series entry called College Basketball rather than College Hoops!
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker & Metroid Prime
One of the finest titles to emerge on the GameCube was the 2002 sci-fi adventure Metroid Prime. Another? Well, then there was The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, another absolute stunner of a game. Both were based on long-standing Nintendo franchises dating back to 1986 and they proved hugely popular to the point where no hardcore GameCube gamer could ever be without them.
But get this: in 2005 someone had the genius idea of combining both games into one pack then bundling it with a GameCube console, hopeful of pulling in the pre-Christmas punters. In reality, it wasn’t quite the sales saviour it should have been (competing against the PS2 was found to be a bit of a lost cause) but if you try and get hold of this particular special release today, we spotted one selling for as much as £366.
Skies of Arcadia Legends
Having debuted on the Dreamcast, an enhanced Skies of Arcadia – with the addition of the word Legends – made its way on to the GameCube in 2002. Proving to be one of the best Japanese RPGs ever made at the time, it often feels devastatingly overlooked. But the game’s epic quests have stood the test of time (even if the graphics have not). Ongoing word of mouth recommendations also keep it in the spotlight.
Interestingly, there was going to be a PS2 version of this one, but it never surfaced thanks to Sega of Japan scrapping plans on 1 August 2002. It means the GameCube is the only way to play this finest rendition of the game and it’s definitely worth doing since the developer, Overworks, considers the version to be the “director’s cut”. If you poke around eBay you’re going to find yourself shelling out more than £75, although we’ve also seen copies fetching up to £155.
Phantasy Star Online Episode I and II Plus
Phantasy Star Online was the first online RPG for consoles, making its debut on the Dreamcast in 2000. One of the biggest challenges in porting it to the GameCube was the distinct lack of an internet connection, a situation that had to be resolved with the release of the GameCube modem adapter.
One of the best deals was a 56k modem/game bundle costing £50 which meant this futuristic monster-fighting game sold more than you’d otherwise have expected it to given the circumstances. A new GameCube pad was also created, sticking a keyboard in the middle of the standard control buttons so that players could converse with one another.
We’ve found the keyboards are fetching around £200 at the moment while the Plus version of the game (which wasn’t released in Europe but adds quests originally exclusive to online mode) can be picked up for about £150.
Go! Go! Hypergrind
Only released in the US despite being developed in Japan, this skateboarding game was a unique cartoon-like offering based on designs by the animation company Spumco, best known for working on The Ren & Stimpy Show for Nickelodeon. Although it was no Tony Hawk in terms of attempts at realism, it was a hugely creative endeavour with great cel-shaded graphics, 60 special moves and 12 skaters.
The plot revolved around Spumco wanting to find a new star for a planned cartoon and that level of knowing quirkiness could be why the game is maintaining (and even growing) its appeal. Just be aware that a loose disc is going to cost you about £125 and a complete game as much as £350!
Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest
Originally intended to be developed for the Nintendo 64’s ill-fated 64DD floppy disk drive, production of this weird but compelling action-adventure title with its Minecraft-esque graphics soon switched to the GameCube. In doing so, it brought a unique experience to the console that tasked players with staying alive by eating other animals in order to mutate and grow ever stronger.
Since it has never been re-released and because it didn’t sell in droves, it’s now akin to a hidden gem. That said, it was translated by Atlus for the North American market and issued over two print runs which increases the chance of obtaining a copy, albeit at a price! Indeed, you’re looking to splash out somewhere in the region of £300 for this game and we even saw one copy sell for £500…
Disney Sports Basketball
Published by Konami and starring well-known Disney names including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, this 2002 sports game was a cash-in of the worst kind. The license and the bright, colourful graphics were the game’s only saving graces and yet these were nowhere near enough to mask the dull, repetitive nature of a title that gets a Metacritic score of just 37 out of 100.
So why do people want it? Well, the fact it’s bad and was roundly derided as being so meant the game didn’t sell as expected for Konami so it’s valued primarily for its scarcity value. As if to underline this, we could only find a handful of PAL copies on eBay and the one that actually sold went for £144.99. A North American version fetched £329.97.
Sonic Adventure 2-Pack
Not only was this compilation staring the famous blue hedgehog an exclusive for the GameCube, it only ever saw the light of day in North America. Released in 2001, it bundled the enhanced Sonic Adventure 2 port, Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, with the special edition Sonic Adventure DX: Director’s Cut. These games were 3D narrative-driven platformers with an emphasis on exploration and puzzles and both were very good.
But that’s not why this release is rare and valuable. The games were slipped inside a cardboard case and that’s increased the desirability of the compilation – more so if you can find a copy that is in pristine condition (which, given the material, is easier said than done). Our jaws hit the ground when we saw a shoddy-looking box sell for £110 – and that didn’t even have the games inside! Another battered box (with the games this time, both in their original plastic wrap) was listed for $2,224.99. Ouch…
Pokémon Box: Ruby & Sapphire
Less of a game and more of a utility and kit for collecting, sorting and searching your Pokémon, this was quite the innovative release. For it to work you needed a Game Boy Advance (or SP) and a Ruby or Sapphire game. You could then use the box’s bundled cable to connect the handheld to the console and store up to 1,500 Pokémon from the Game Boy Advance games on the provided memory card.
What makes this desirable is the hoops you needed to go through to obtain a copy in the first place. You’d either gain through through Nintendo of Europe’s loyalty program or snap one up with Pokémon Colosseum. They were available in North America at Nintendo’s store in New York City. Expect to pay in excess of £139 but check everything is included.
Resident Evil 10th Anniversary Collection
By the time this compilation of three games from Capcom’s survival horror series was released in 2006, the GameCube’s lifespan was practically over. But here you got to enjoy the GameCube-only Resident Evil Zero as well as the 2002 remake of the original Resident Evil and Resident Evil 4 – so long as you were willing to traipse to a GameStop store in the US where it was exclusively on offer.
In truth, the compilation was little more than the original trio of titles wrapped in a cardboard sleeve so if you’re seeking the collection today then you’re effectively paying for that little addition. Still, it’s enough of an extra to send the price up to £180, although the collection doesn’t appear for sale all that often.
This platform-adventure series that lasted 10 years began in 2005 (in Japan at least) with the charming GameCube version introducing a range of quirky characters and a wicked sense of humour. Starring a small robot tasked with completing household chores, it almost didn’t get a release due to Nintendo putting the original point-and-click version on ice. A new team headed by Shigeru Miyamoto revived the project and that resulted in the game we’re looking at here.
For all of its excellence, sales were relatively poor and there was a time, not too long ago, when you could pick up the game for next to nothing. Over the past five or so years, however, people have begun seeking out the game and its value is rising, mainly due to their being too few copies around to meet the ever-growing demand. In excellent condition, you are likely going to be paying £180.
It may be surprising to see gamers racing to snap up Takara’s tiny-car title given that it just fell short of being a winner. But the value inherent here is not really in the game itself. While Gadget Racers is an undeniably cute slot car racing game offering 97 courses, weapons and more than 100 vehicles, the main reason it is desirable lies – again – in the GameCube version’s relative scarcity in Europe.
You don’t need to look too hard to find proof of this. Quite aside from the PlayStation 2 versions of Gadget Racers selling for roughly £20, there’s a gulf in pricing when compared to the Japanese version (called Choro Q!) and the one sold in North America (Road Trip: The Arcade Edition). Choro Q!, for example, will cost you about £20 but if you want to drive away with the European version, then you’re looking to add as much as £400 on top…