Ranking The Best GameCube RPGs For Fantasy-Fuelled Adventures

A selction of GameCube RPGs on the Retro Dodo background

When it comes to RPGs, the GameCube has a varied and exciting collection of fantasy titles at its disposal. It’s no secret that I’m pretty biased when it comes to Nintendo and their purple powerhouse, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed geeking out over the titles in the list below.

But what makes a good RPG adventure? Is it the fighting elements, the tactical brain-ticklers, or the memorable locations and storylines?

To be honest, the titles in the list of the best GameCube RPGs below are full to the brim with all of the above. We love RPGs, and like a baker knows good Sourdough, we like to think that we know good role-playing classics.

So, without further ado, let’s grab our shields and head for the nearest dungeon; it’s time to save the world!

1. The Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age (2004)

The Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age game case Nintendo GameCube.
Credit: Nintendo/EA GAMES

As someone who firmly believes that LOTR is a real-life documentary and not a fictional movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age had to top this list of the best GameCube RPGs.

Ok, so I know it’s not really real, but it’s my favourite story of all time. The books are fantastic, the movies are epic, and this game is a true fantasy-fest from start to finish.

RPG games set in new universes are always exciting, but experiencing turn-based battles in Tolkien’s world could well be the greatest experience in gaming history.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Third Age gameplay, with three characters facing off against a Cave Troll in Moria
Credit: Nintendo/EA GAMES

So what makes The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age such a great game and the best GameCube RPG? Well, players follow the same path as the Fellowship characters while battling through new areas along the way.

Gamers even get the chance to play through pivotal scenes in the film too, taking part in some of the major battles and iconic scenes.

And the best bit; you can choose to either save Middle Earth or destroy it! Fight under Sauron’s command or battle for the free peoples of Middle Earth. Everyone likes fighting as evil people sometimes; Darth Vader is still the best character in any Star Wars game!

Battle the Balrog, hold Helm’s Deep, and take part in the greatest story ever told!

2. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004)

Game case for Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door Game Case Nintendo GameCube.
Credit: Nintendo

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is the very first Paper Mario title that I ever completed and I couldn’t get enough of it!

Some people still find it amusing that Mario has his own RPG series, but they’re the ones missing out. Ever since Super Mario RPG, Mazza has proven that he can hold his own amongst all the great Final Fantasy and Fire Emblem titles!

We’re used to Mario doing all manner of things, and the clever design of a flat dude in a 3D world makes our plumber pal even more impressive. The levels are all superbly colourful and, although simple in design, are filled with secrets to uncover.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door gameplay, with Mario standing next to an orange Toad and a bob-omb near a save block and water
Credit: Nintendo

The huge battles in this game are what makes it so damn exciting to play, as are all Mario’s abilities! Being paper thin means he can glide like a plane and slide through cracks into hidden areas!

Back in 2005, The Thousand-Year Door won best RPG. The turn-based battles are choc-a-bloc with memorable Mario moments and familiar enemies, as well as new baddies to face off against like the Xnauts.

The premise of the game; save Peach. When it is never about saving Peach!

3. Pokemon Colosseum (2003)

Rob holding his copy of Pokemon Colosseum for the GameCube

Anyone looking forward to the upcoming Pokemon Legends Arceus open-world game should check out Pokemon Colosseum! This RPG adventure manages to take everything we love from the Pokemon Gameboy titles and rearrange it into a new and exciting formula.

We’ve all tried to catch another trainer’s Pokemon for fun and seen the message telling us off. Well, in Pokemon Colosseum, catching other people’s Pokemon is the aim of the game, or rather freeing them and nabbing them for yourself is!

Gamers control Wes, a reformed member of the villainous ‘Team Snagem’. He’s left the group, but he still has their snagging device and is now using it to free trapped Shadow Pokemon rather than snagging Pokemon for Snagem and their snagging ways…

… the word ‘snag’ doesn’t even seem like a real word after writing it so many times!

Wes standing  by a rusty train surrounded by sand - Pokemon Colosseum gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

At first glance, it’s easy to think that Colosseum is a direct sequel to Pokemon Stadium. While it has battle elements, this new title is more like the original RPG games with a strong adventure element and lots of places to explore.

Still, the Colosseum is probably the most famous battle stadium of all time, so it certainly fits in line with its predecessor!

Players can only catch Shadow Pokemon from other trainers. These are Pokemon that have had their hearts closed off from the world, and Wes is on a mission to free their tortured souls! What a hero!

Transfer Pokemon with a Link Cable from Ruby and Saphire and take part in quick-fire battles with mates to prove who is the best trainer!

4. Lost Kingdoms (2002)

Lost Kingdoms GameCube Game Cover
Credit: Nintendo/Activision

Fans of Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh will love the card-based collecting and monster summoning in this game. Players take Princess Katia around lots of fantasy locations in this classic RPG, battling and capturing weird and wonderful monsters along the way.

Honestly, this game is so underrated. None of my mates had a clue what Lost Kingdoms even was when I first got hold of it, but they soon all had it in their collections after playing it for the first time.

Character moving to the top of a hill where an enemy waits. There are cards available to use on the screen.
Credit: Nintendo/Activision

Argwyll is under attack from a terrible entity, and Princess Katia is the only one that can restore the balance of peace. She can’t fight, but she can use guardian beasts and demons to bring her own brand of swift justice.

Summoning creatures in this game never gets old, and the various elemental characteristics such as fire beating wood but not water keeps gamers on their toes.

There is plenty for players to uncover in this game and lots of exciting locations to discover. Play solo or battle a mate to see who controls the most powerful monster horde!

5. Gladius (2003)

Gladius game case for the Nintendo GameCube
Credit: Nintendo/LucasArts

We’re no stranger to LucasArts and their epic back catalogue of games. Gladius remains one of the best GameCube RPGs on the console and an absolute treat to play, especially for die-hard nerds like us.

How many games do you know of where players train a bunch of gladiators to destroy opponents for eternal glory? I mean, that line alone should sell this game without any more effort on my part!

The game focuses on one of two schools; a gladiator training school in Imperia, Italy, where recruits want their faces on lunchboxes and t-shirts, and a school in Nordagh, supposedly a Nordic-based country, which has a heavy fantasy vibe. Each school hates the other, so there’s no chance of an inter-school bake-off…

Two soldiers fighting with swords in a field next to a large rock - Gladius gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/LucasArts

Play focuses on different members of your chosen school group. The choices of one gladiator affect the group as a whole.

For those who like travel but don’t like leaving the sofa, this game takes you from Italy all the way to Asia and is filled with stunning visuals dripping in both history and mythology.

TLDR; LucasArts knows their stuff.

In a twist to the usual turn-based RPG action, each character fights with a swing bar. It’s the same kind of thing that you might find in Mario Golf or Monkey Ball and signifies how accurate each blow is. You gotta’ be quick on the trigger to score those big kills, otherwise, you’ll end up dead and buried!

Collect new armour and materials, recruit mythical beasts such as Yetis into your party, and slay everything in sight. Job done.

6. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (2003)

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles game cover art for the GameCube
Credit: Nintendo/Square Enix

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is one of those titles that every gamer has fond memories of, and while the game is incredible on the Nintendo Switch, it’s the GameCube adventure that we first fell in love with.

Everything from the iconic game cover to the tense turn-based battles and character camaraderie is what makes this RPG so loved amongst GameCube aficionados, and the fact that you can go into battle with friends in couch co-op mode makes the whole adventure so much more immersive.

Just so long as someone doesn’t go full Leroy Jenkins and gets themselves killed…

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles gameplay - three characters preparing to attack an enemy at a fork in the road
Credit: Nintendo/Square Enix

Amassing over a million sales, Crystal Chronicles takes the series right back to where it all began by utilising the same key plot points that made that first game so extraordinary. Four youths purifying elemental crystals with Mana water – we know the mission, but the gameplay and graphics have had a major upgrade.

Playing with the GBA link with up to 4 people in one room really felt like I was heading out on a perilous quest… albeit armed with pieces of plastic rather than actual weapons. The multiplayer mode had secret tasks for players to complete too which also added an element of cunning and guile into the mix.

I mean intelligence and not the guy from Street Fighter with the blonde flat-top hairdo…

7. Skies Of Arcadia: Legends (2002)

Skies of Arcadia Nintendo GameCube game cover art
Credit: Nintendo/Sega

Skies of Arcadia: Legends is a breathtaking game crammed with pretty much all of my favourite things. We’re talking huge monsters, spaceships, and a soundtrack that gets me ready for adventure every time!

Many gamers first came to this title back on the Dreamcast. The GameCube version is more of a beefed-up director’s cut with shorter loading times, more content, and new features.

Skies of Arcadia boasts some bad-ass weaponry too. Add the open-world gameplay that we take for granted these days, and you’ve got one amazing title that is seriously hard to put down.

Skies Of Arcadia Legends gameplay - Vyse standing on a wooden bridge next to a ladder looking towards a stone building with wooden doors.
Credit: Nintendo/Sega/Youtube

So, I mentioned that this was a sort of directors cut edition. Well, the GameCube port is more detailed and has a much better frame rate. The developers even put new side quests in to entice Dreamcast fans to buy the updated version.

Anyone who’s played both versions will agree that the fewer random encounters with enemies in Legends is much more manageable. Impromptu battles are great, but being stopped every few paces gets tiring very quickly.

It’s why we all hate Viridian Forest!

With downloadable content already in the game and the VMU features displayed on screen, Legends is more of a ‘no-nonsense’ version of Skies of Arcadia. It features all of the same amazing storyline elements and gameplay, which I realise I haven’t spoken about at all…

Still, they’ll be a surprise once you grab a copy of your own!

8. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (2001)

Game case for Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance on the Nintendo GameCube
Credit: Nintendo/Interplay

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is like every Dungeons and Dragons campaign my nerdy-mate Josh writes but in video-game format. That might not mean a lot to you, but he looks like an orc and often wears a cape which might give you more context.

Anyone who loves magic, demons, and the slashing of steel will love Baldur’s Gate. and it’s more like D&D than you might think. It’s actually based on ‘The Realms’ setting of the Dungeons and Dragons franchise and uses the rules from the D&D third edition.

Surely it should be called ‘Baldur’s Gate & Dragons’ or something terribly original instead?

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance gameplay - Player fending off a horde of skeletons from a top-down perspective
Credit: Nintendo/Interplay

The first BG game for home consoles is moody, thrilling, and filled with epic magical elements and hack/slash game mechanics.

As with all the best RPGs, players can pick and customise a character of their choice. It’s a real-time adventure that sees fighters battling at Baldur’s Gate to stop the forces of evil from conquering yet another peaceful world.

Play co-op or go solo in this fantastic tale of magic and might. It’s a cracking title and one that certainly deserves to be in this list.

9. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (2005)

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance game case art for the Nintendo GameCube
Credit: Nintendo

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is only the 3rd Fire Emblem title that we Western gamers managed to get our hands on and a classic adventure that everyone should own.

As the 9th game in the series overall, it’s probably not that special to Japanese gamers. Still, only having had two titles before Path of Radiance and this being the first home console title too, I couldn’t believe how epic it was.

Gamers with a mind for strategy and a penchant for moving figures around a map with a pencil will feel right at home here. It’s like Stratego, Chess, and Risk combined, all with a generous helping of D&D fantasy for good measure.

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance gameplay - players moving through an arrow formation of spaces as they advance across a grid-spaced battlefield
Credit: Nintendo

The first 3D Fire Emblem game certainly didn’t disappoint. Set in the Beorc nation of Daein, the storyline is as brilliant as it is longwinded and features characters with epic RPG names such as Ashnard and Elincia.

Thanks to Game of Thrones, everyone in real life has a name like this these days.

Ike, our sword-wielding protagonist, is a firm favourite for Super Smash Bros fans. With his group in tow, Ike must tactically destroy evil forces while solving brain-melting puzzles along the way.

Interact with characters, recruit fighters, and fill all your pockets with as many collectibles as you can virtually carry. It’s RPG goodness from beginning to end!

10. Harvest Moon: Magical Melody (2005)

Harvest Moon: Magical Melody for the Nintendo GameCube
Credit: Nintendo/Natsume

Ever wondered what it’s like to look after a farm? If you’re a farmer, then probably not. But for many of us, the idea of looking after animals and growing crops is something we’ve never experienced.

Players control a boy or girl farmer and compete against a rival farm for agricultural glory. Ok, it’s mainly about the looking after animals part, but showing that idiot rival how to grow the best radishes at the local festival is sure to wipe a smile off his stupid face…

… wow, that got real pretty quick!

Harvest Moon: Magical Melody gameplay - Player feeding cows, the time is 7:20am
Credit: Nintendo/Natsume

Let’s give you some context as to what’s going on in this game. The Harvest Goddess has suddenly turned to stone. What’s more, it’s up to you to save the day by finding all the Harvest Sprites.

Do you reckon farming is this stressful in real life?

By running the farm successfully, befriending animals, and beating that cretin rival in competitions, gamers can collect Musical Notes that bring the Harvest Sprites back to town. They must have taken a leaf out of Banjo and Kazooie’s book.

Marry a spouse (one of 10), be a farming boss, and live out your days in comfort in this classic Farm SIM game!

11. Tales Of Symphonia (2004)

Seb holding a copy of Tales Of Symphonia for the Nintendo GameCube

Tales of Symphonia is one of the most vibrant games on the GameCube and a must-have for fans of PSO, Fire Emblem, and pretty much every other RPG in the list below!

Symphonia is the 5th ‘Tales of’ title in the series and incorporates some epic characters that both fans and newcomers to the series just can’t help but love. With hints of Holy Magic Century meets Skies of Arcadia, it’s a great first title for anyone wanting to get into the classic RPG scene.

Tales Of Symphonia gameplay - four characters fighting enemies on the field of battle
Credit: Nintendo/Namco

So what’s the score in Tales of Symphonia? Well, players take control of a gallant fighter named Lloyd. I know that Lloyd isn’t the most ‘RPG’ name going, but look how badass Keith Courage is. Never judge a fighter by his or her plain name!

Lloyd is on a mission to save Sylvarant from the forces of evil, but every good deed he and his friends carry out in this world puts a parallel world in even greater peril!

Explore the beautifully textured overworld and delve into dangerous dungeons as you traverse the world of Sylvarant. If you’re looking for immersive games to get lost in, then look no further!

Well… do look further as I’ve written a whole article for you below. It’d be a shame to waste it!

12. Evolution Worlds (2002)

Game Case for Evolution Worlds for the Nintendo GameCube

Evolution Worlds is up next, bringing ancient discoveries and a never-ending war into living rooms around the world.

Fans of the Evolution series, some of the best Dreamcast RPGs of all time. will feel right at home with this title. It’s essentially a compendium of two games featuring an abridged version of the first Evolution game, ‘The World of Sacred Device’ and the full version of the sequel, ‘Far Off Promise’.

Evolution Worlds gameplay - characters battling an enemy in a grey brick corridor.
Credit: Nintendo/Ubisoft/Youtube

If you’re a fan of epic dungeon crawlers and turn-based battles with gnarly weapons, then you’ve certainly come to the right place.

Join Mag Launcher and all the characters from the first two Evolution games as they head out on epic adventures, searching for, and then accompanied by the mysterious Evolutia.

I know it looks cutesy and a little less textured than a Final Fantasy title for example, but it’s a cracking game to play and a great chance for gamers without a Dreamcast to experience two of the best RPGs of all time.

13. Pokemon XD: Gale Of Darkness (2005)

Pokemon XD - Gale of Drakness game case for the Nintendo GameCube
Credit: Nintendo/The Pokemon Company

Pokemon XD: Gale Of Darkness is the sequel to the epic Pokemon Colosseum with more Shadow Pokemon to purify.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

For those stepping into this game for the first time, Colosseum was very different to Pokemon Stadium. This is more like the home console Pokemon titles we’ve come to know in recent years and not a purely fighting title with no adventure mode.

Pokemon Gale of Darkness gameplay - Shadow Lugia flying through the air

This game made use of Pokespots, areas to go and catch wild Pokemon. I think that could have been some major influence in the Pokestops in Pokemon Go.

I mean, it’s almost the same word…

Mt Battle is a sweet little mode aswell, an area where players can go up against 100 trainers and test their mettle, winning prizes along the way.

It’s got all the usual Pokemon RPG goodness with a little extra thrown in, and it’s also the worthy winner of our best GameCube Pokemon games list!

14. Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life (2004)

Harvest Moon - Another Wonderful Life game cover
Credit: Nintendo/Natsume

Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life is essentially the same as the prequel, A Wonderful Life. It just feels different because players play as a woman instead of a man, and it’s nice to have more female-led games to play.

As opposed to marrying a wife in the previous game, players can marry a husband and have a child. It doesn’t get more progressive than that, unfortunately, but luckily things have moved on a lot since 2004.

Harvest Moon Another Wonderful Life gameplay - character standing next to a cow in a field with glittery stars floating above it
Credit: Nintendo/Natsume

One weird thing that I will say I’m not a fan of is that the player has to get married after the first chapter, otherwise, the game ends without the other 5 chapters playing out.

Come on devs; not everyone wants to get married!

The gameplay is great apart from that, however, with all of the character interaction that makes these games so addictive coming back for round two. You can also hook ‘More Friends Of Mineral Town’ up using the GBA adapter to get extra bonus items too!

15. Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean (2003)

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean GameCube game case
Credit: Nintendo/Namco

Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean is a weird and wonderful example of what the future might look like if things take a very strange turn.

We’re talking floating islands and people with wings travelling to them through the air.

Remember how in ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ Toothless only has one tail wing and the other is made from wood? Well, players take a guy with one real wing and one hand-made number out into the world on a vendetta against the people who murdered his family.

Did they also take his wing? I guess you’re going to have to play to find out!

Gameplay shot of Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean - two characters fighting a large enemy in a forest clearing.
Credit: Nintendo/Namco

You guys know how much I love a game where the player’s moral choices make a difference (you should see me playing Hogwarts Legacy), and this game has it all.

Not only do you play as the character, but you also play as his conscience. Every choice you make determines how you fight, how he acts, and how other people act around him.

And for that Yu-Gi-Oh-esque twist, all of the battles are card-based. Don’t let that put you off if you’re wanting to jump in with your sword, it’s a stellar game from start to finish!

16. Summoner: A Goddess Reborn (2002)

Game case for Summoner: A Goddess Reborn on the GameCube
Credit: Nintendo/THQ

Summoner: A Goddess Reborn sees Maia, one of the coolest characters on the GameCube, battling her way through an action-packed title filled with prophecy, fate, and demons.

Oh yeah, things are about to get interesting very fast!

Maia and two companions trudging through a snowy landscape - Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings And The Lost Ocean gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/THQ

I know many RPGS are turn-based with move lists to pick from, but in this game, players are in direct button-smashing action of every attack.

And what’s more, Maia becomes a demon when attacking. I told you she was the coolest. Pick up characters along the way or go solo without any help. It all depends on with you’re a lone wolf or like fighting in a pack.

(I really wish I hadn’t been made to watch Twilight recently…).

17. Amazing Island (2004)

Amazing Island game case cover art for the GameCube
Credit: Nintendo/Sega

Amazing Island looks like some sort of homage to Alex Kidd, just without the Rock Paper Scissors battles.

RPGs are all well and good, but they’re a lot better when you’re upgrading a creature like some sort of killer Tamagotchi in order to fight an evil entity.

Yeah; sounds amazing, right? And to upgrade your creature, players must win certain competitions they find through the game. It’s like the world’s greatest Olympics!

Amazing Island gameplay - there are two stone platforms separated by a sea of lava
Credit: Nintendo/Sega

Buy different statistics to win at different games, button mash A like your life depends on it, and make your creature the toughest fighting force the world has ever seen.

You can even fight with your mates and transfer your creature to your GBA to load up on other people’s machines, almost like a world-fighting tour!

18. Medabots Infinity (2003)

Medabots Infinity Nintendo GameCube game case
Credit: Nintendo/Natsume

I loved the Medabots back in the day, and while a lot of my mates still don’t actually know what they are, I’m still a regular player who can’t get enough of taking Ikki and Metabee through swarms of enemies in the weird and wonderful Toru-Toru theme park.

Souping up Medabots is something that I could really get into, but sadly it’s only a job that I’ll get to do while playing this game.

Gameplay shot of Medabots Infinity - Two Medabots approaching each other near a stream
Credit: Nintendo/Natsume

Graphics-wise, it’s got a bit of a modern Spacestation Silicon Valley feel to it, just without bouncing sheep or a mouse on wheels.

The adventure mode will definitely suit nostalgic fans of the series, but if you’re just wanting to introduce a friend to this epic game, then the multiplayer fight mode would be a great place to start.

They’ll be buying the box set in no time!

19. Yu-Gi-Oh: The Falsebound Kingdom (2002)

Yu-Gi-Oh: The Falsebound Kingdom game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo/Konami

Yu-Gi-Oh fans with GameCubes will doubtless have already snapped up this game as it’s the only title from the series on the console.

It also makes a move away from the traditional card-wielding structure of the anime series and adopts a Lost Kingdoms feel, utilising monsters in RPG turn-based battles with real-time events thrown in for good measure.

Yu-Gi-Oh: The Falsebound Kingdom gameplay - player selecting monsters by clicking either the Y, a, or X GameCube controller buttons.
Credit: Nintendo/Konami/Youtube

Play as Yugi or Seto Kaiba as you battle your way to victory and complete missions. There are 177 monsters to command from the series throughout the game, so picking the right warriors for the job is crucial if you want to succeed.

The critics panned this game, but I’ve always loved it. I think it keeps enough of the feel of the series while adding something new into the mix, and regular readers know that I’m a huge fan of titles that try to break the norm and offer something new.

Give it a try and let us know your thoughts on the Retro Dodo socials! 

20. Beyblade: Super Tournament (2002)

Beyblade: Super Tournament Nintendo GameCube cover
Credit: Nintendo/Atari

Every weekend right after watching the WWF Smackdown and then the Pokemon TCG show and drooling over the cards we could never buy, my mates and I would watch Beyblade and put this game on.

Beyblade V Force: Super Tournament is a simple RPG, with players beating opponents, gathering funds, and buying or upgrading their Beys.

That’s the spinning top, not an affectionate form for your partner.

Credit: Nintendo/Atari

Pokemon has Team Rocket, and Beyblade has Team Psychic. It’s your job to thwart Team Psychic at every turn, though it’s much easier to do with an electric squirrel than it is with a spinning top.

I’m being facetious; there are other cool teams to beat back like the Blade Breakers, which admittedly now I’ve written it down do sound like a schoolyard gang.

The battle graphics are still super exciting and the game has a compelling storyline that will leave you wanting more every time you reluctantly switch it off!

If you enjoy what you read and want to support an independent publication, you can join our Patreon to receive extra benefits and a physical welcome kit! We may also earn a commission from affiliate links on this page too. Thank you.

Read Our Latest Posts