The Nintendo GameCube, the little box that could. Nintendo’s fourth home console ran through its share of problems and ultimately sold on the lower end for a Nintendo system, but it’s gained quite a cult following over the years (it’s one of this writer’s favorite systems). And why not? It’s got a truly tremendous library of games, and it’s home to some of Nintendo’s most creative, inventive, and memorable titles yet. It’s been especially great to see some fantastic GameCube titles return on the Switch, giving people another chance to experience some truly remarkable games.
As great as the GameCube is, however, it’s certainly got some stinkers. Much like any great console, some developers may look to make something to earn a quick buck, thus focusing less on making a great, quality title first and foremost. And no doubt, the GameCube is home to some garbage. Here are 10 of the worst Nintendo GameCube games that we love to hate.
Yes, it may seem like sacrilege to include any first-party Nintendo game on a list of “bad” games, but even the best fall down sometimes. Pokémon Channel was one of many experiments from Nintendo and The Pokémon Company made to buy in on the hype of the franchise, and it turned out arguably the worst. In it, you play as Pikachu and help Professor Oak with his new TV network. While that’s cute on the surface, the problem is that there’s hardly anything to do.
Much of the game is spent watching TV, which means there isn’t really a ton of interactivity at play here. Thus, it feels like it was only really made for the youngest of young gamers. It’s so lackluster in the gameplay department that it makes its predecessor – the also polarizing Hey You, Pikachu! – look like fireworks by comparison. There are far better Pokémon games to spend your time with, and even with its kid-friendly appeal, this one might leave the youngins a little more bored than anything.
Shadow the Hedgehog
The sixth generation of gaming was a rocky one for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. Sega’s flagship mascot and system seller, the once can’t-miss series started to take some hits when the publisher went third-party and the franchise landed on multiple platforms for the first time. There are a couple of games that could fit here, but Shadow the Hedgehog has to be the worst of the bunch. Already, a Sonic game this “mature” and loaded with guns felt like an identity crisis, but even beyond that, the game just wasn’t very good.
Its largely washed-out, purple-and-grey aesthetic loses the vibrance of previous entries, and the gameplay is murdered by the utterly slippery controls, uncooperative camera, and boring level design. What makes it worse is how the game requires you to play through it at least 10 times in order to get the full, “true” ending. Bold of you to assume I’d want to continue after ONE playthrough, Shadow the Hedgehog. The Sonic franchise has no doubt bounced back since this, but Shadow the Hedgehog truly remains a stinker among stinkers in this long-running franchise.
Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly
Sonic the Hedgehog was not the only “mascot platformer” franchise that lost its way during the sixth generation. As a matter of fact, he was joined by another series that was previously exclusive to one system: Spyro the Dragon. While the original PlayStation games are still great fun today, the series really started to lose itself almost immediately after it went multiplatform, starting with Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly. What’s most unfortunate about Enter the Dragonfly is what it could’ve been; initially, the game was set to be content-loaded with the typical level of polish Spyro was known for having.
Instead, publisher disagreements and a rushed development led to a downsized game that was loaded with bugs and poor performance. Perhaps complaints about the overall “more of the same” experience would’ve been quieter if the game functioned well, but that wasn’t the case, and it became a stain on the franchise’s reputation. You know it’s bad when Ted Price, president of Spyro’s original developer Insomniac Games, called the game an “absolute travesty” in an interview. And while he’s had some decent adventures since (and the Spyro Reignited Trilogy was fantastic), the franchise has never been the same since Enter the Dragonfly.
Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Yep, here’s where we get to the fun part of a list like this; the sixth generation was home to plenty of low-rent licensed games made for little more than making a quick buck off of an established property. Batman: Dark Tomorrow is one of those games, although it’s a bit sadder than some of the other titles here. When it was first announced at E3 2001, it was set to be an open-world Batman game that would essentially be a precursor to the Batman: Arkham series. While some of developer Kemco’s ideas were rather ambitious, the team ultimately had to scale the project down into something more linear… and also something pretty bad.
Much criticism was lobbied at the game’s level of polish, which is to say that there was none. Controls were stiff and unresponsive, and the game was absolutely littered with bugs. While some praise went to the writing, that wasn’t nearly enough to save this from just how inconceivably bad it was. It could’ve been something special, but it wasn’t, and there are plenty of well-written Batman games that also happen to be far more fun to play. Save your time and attention for those, and don’t waste it on games like this.
While I tried my best with Batman: Dark Tomorrow, Charlie’s Angels is a little harder to defend and play the “what if” game with. This was a movie tie-in game based on the 2000 Charlie’s Angels film…that was released in 2003. Logic. And like many movie tie-in games released in that era (and many eras, for that matter), this turned out to be FAR worse than the movie it was based on.
It shouldn’t be surprising when I say that ANOTHER licensed movie-based game is filled with bugs, but even if it wasn’t, Charlie’s Angels still suffers. It’s horrid to look at, the camera is utterly terrible, and the combat is a joke. It’s especially bad that the GameCube version apparently has a bug where you can’t progress past the first level unless you have a memory card inserted. Surely, a technical hitch like that would’ve been looked over by most developers, but apparently, the first-timers at Neko Entertainment couldn’t do it. Don’t waste your time here.
Nickelodeon Party Blast
Yeah, the rest of this list is licensed games. Buckle up. On the surface, Nickelodeon Party Blast is not a bad idea: having a fun party game that crosses over some classic Nickelodeon franchises feels like a slam dunk. And hey, as a fan of classic Nickelodeon, there are few things that sound more exciting than a crossover of franchises like Rocket Power, Jimmy Neutron, Rugrats, and Invader ZIM (with CatDog as the hosts). In the right hands, this could’ve been great. Sadly, Data Design Interactive has rarely been the right hands for any kind of game, and Nickelodeon Party Blast was another in their long line of shovelware.
Frankly, it’s hard to find many nice things to say about the game. It looks hideous, it sounds hideous, it plays hideously… it’s just a poor excuse of a game that could’ve been so much more than what it was. Sadly, it was handled by a developer most known for shovelware, and thus, it’s just one title in a long pile of garbage. If you want anything close to a good Nickelodeon party game, SpongeBob SquarePants: Lights, Camera, Pants! is a legitimately fun title that’s still worth your time. Otherwise, if you want a party game that crosses over multiple Nickelodeon franchises, keep dreaming…or look for that in a genre that isn’t “party games.”
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Oh, but here’s where it gets good; a licensed tie-in to a movie that actually managed to release around the same time as the movie…in other words, it was rushed to market to get in on the hype. And this time, we have another Charlie on our list, but this one didn’t have any Angels. All he had was a massive fall into the Chocolate River, à la Augustus Gloop. 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remains a movie I’ll defend as a great adaptation of the book, but the video game tie-in…yeah, I got nothing, there’s no defending here.
Everything that could go wrong for a licensed video game went wrong here. Awful controls and poor level design dull the game from the jump, as does its relative misunderstanding of the original plot. Throughout the game, Charlie Bucket is tasked with essentially fixing the chocolate factory. Sure, the game needs to have *some* purpose, but doesn’t fixing the factory take away the point of, you know…touring it? It’s just another case of a licensed game that, quite frankly, didn’t need to be made. Polarizing as the film is, it’s no doubt a better experience than playing the game.
Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure
I know…yes, this was actually a thing. In 2001, not long after the release of the GameCube, someone thought it was a fantastic idea to release a video game centered around Universal Studios Theme Parks. As a lover of such theme parks, this writer once thought that sounded pretty great…before actually seeing the game in action. That’s when Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure started making way less sense. Like truly, is this game ANYONE’S idea of what a good Universal Studios-based game should be?
To condense Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure as best as I can, you basically spend your time picking up trash around the park to earn points to go on the rides. Already pretty worthless, but made even worse by the fact that the rides themselves are nowhere near as cool as they could’ve been. When you have great attractions like Back to the Future: The Ride, Jaws, and E.T. Adventure, you’d expect a lot more than the mind-numbing minigames thrown haphazardly in your direction. If you were looking for a chance to experience Universal without having to spend exorbitant amounts of money for a trip, this will not satisfy you…but maybe the Disneyland game might?
Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis
Long before Jason Momoa made people realize Aquaman was cool, DC’s water-based superhero was the butt of many a joke in the comic book world. And sure, maybe a low-rent licensed GameCube video game shouldn’t be held against a character THAT heavily in the grand scheme of things…but Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis most certainly did him no favors. And honestly, I’m running out of creative and unique ways to say, “This is a licensed game on the GameCube so there are plenty of issues.”
What I can say – and perhaps this is a bit sad – is that much like Batman: Dark Tomorrow, there’s actually some decent writing at play here. It’s just a shame then that more solid DC writing had to be wasted on a game that’s ungodly levels of repetitive. And unlike Batman, Aquaman can’t say he’s had a better game since this, so fans of the character are stuck here if they really want your fix in video game form. Chances are, though, that you probably don’t, so it’s best to let this one sink to the seabed.
Shrek Super Party
Oh boy, here we go. Pardon the personal anecdotes here, but Shrek Super Party is a game this writer has a little more experience with than he’d like to admit. Having friends who actually OWN the game will do that to you. As a result, I’ve seen and played it enough times that I’ve been changed by it. When I hear my friends ask if I’d like to play the game they affectionately refer to as “Big Head Shrek,” my fight-or-flight instincts kick in.
Sometimes, I awake in the middle of the night (which for me is 10 AM) in a cold sweat because I’ve just had nightmares about “Big Head Shrek.” I become shaken whenever I hear “You take the cake, Thelonious!” I’ve stared down death in the eyes of a smiling man, and his name is Monsieur Hood. Shrek Super Party has broken me in ways I may never truly recover from, and my life has never truly been the same since…
Okay, not really, but the game is really bad. It’s an utter mess of gross gameplay and absolutely cursed visuals. Shrek has had a lot of video game tie-ins – too many, I’d even argue – and Shrek Super Party is just unbelievably awful. But unlike some of the other games on here, this is one I’d oddly recommend. Perhaps Shrek’s meme status in recent years trumps my practicality a bit – or maybe my friends have truly brainwashed me – but if nothing else, its sheer stupidity might make it worth a look. Grab a couple of friends, make sure you have some…apple juice…kids game we’re talking about here…and go nuts.
Wait, did I actually just recommend Shrek Super Party? What have I turned into?
Okay, while I go contemplate the absolute demon that I’ve become, what are some other really bad GameCube video games? Let us know in the comments.