It’s time to grab your Pokeballs and go on an adventure as we check out the best GameCube Pokemon games!
The early 2000s were a great time for the main Pokemon games, as they left the 8-bit Game Boy and Game Boy Color machines behind to appear on the far more technically capable Game Boy Advance.
Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire expanded the size and scope of the series in so many ways, with beautiful pixel art visuals and many added gameplay features.
Available alongside the Game Boy Advance, the GameCube also allowed numerous advances over Nintendo’s previous home console, the cartridge-based Nintendo 64 – and yet there weren’t many Pokemon games available for the machine (you can find them – and every other Pokemon game – on our all Pokemon games in order list!).
With just four Pokemon titles on the Nintendo GameCube, which ones are the best? Let’s find out, as we check out the best GameCube Pokemon games!
4. Pokemon Box: Ruby & Sapphire (2003)
Though not strictly a game, Pokemon Box: Ruby & Sapphire is – or rather was – a vital tool for serious Pokemon collectors.
Back in the early 00s, if you were collecting Pokemon across multiple Game Boy Advance cartridges, it was a real pain to organise them or even just get them into the right game at the right time.
Pokemon Box – which came with the disc, Game Boy Advance Link Cable and GameCube Memory Card – alleviated these problems. Still, its limited availability made it quite a challenge to get hold of.
It allowed players to store and organise up to 1500 Pokemon on the included memory card – and was compatible with all Game Boy Advance Pokemon titles. Despite only having Ruby and Sapphire in the name, Pokemon Box was actually compatible with Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen.
It also allowed gamers to play Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire on the big screen, using the Game Boy Advance Link Cable.
There were a few other features, such as the ability to breed Pokemon – but with Pokemon Box being more of a helpful accessory than a game (even though Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire can be played on your TV using the disc) it sits in last place on our best GameCube Pokemon games list.
3. Pokemon Channel (2003)
Pokemon Channel was a truly odd game that was seemingly aimed at very young Pokemon fans.
When the GameCube was first revealed, short gameplay and FMV snippets were shown as part of a demo reel. One of the clips shown was named ‘Meowth’s Party’; a very brief showcase of pre-rendered graphics that showed how Pokemon could look, using the GameCube’s then-cutting edge 3D. It was pretty amazing back then, especially in comparison to the blocky N64 Pokemon that were the standard at the time.
That brief clip made it into Pokemon Channel, though Pokemon Channel perhaps wasn’t the experience that fans were expecting.
Pokemon Channel was somewhere in the middle of a very basic adventure game, a mini-game collection and a virtual pet sim, in which players watch various TV channels alongside Pikachu and report back to Professor Oak on his behaviour.
You can also play various games on a Pokemon Mini (which was a real life, incredibly small, handheld console) and collect trading cards in the game.
Perhaps the biggest selling point for Pokemon Channel back in the day was the fact that it allowed players to catch and download Jirachi to Pokemon Ruby or Sapphire, using the Game Boy Advance Link Cable.
Pokemon Channel was also compatible with Nintendo’s e-Reader device, which read barcode-style scanning strips on Pokemon cards (and dedicated e-Reader cards, sold separately) to upload new creatures and items into the game!
2. Pokemon Colosseum (2003)
When Pokemon Colosseum was first revealed, players were genuinely excited that they’d be able to have the full Pokemon collecting and roleplaying experience in 3D for the very first time.
That, unfortunately, didn’t quite happen with Pokemon Colosseum – but it was as close as it got for some time.
Set in the harsh desert region of Orre, the climate and conditions in the area are cited as the reasons that no wild Pokemon can be found there. Therefore, there are no random encounters with Pokemon, which are instead caught by ‘snagging’ them from other Pokemon Trainers.
There was a catch, however: only Shadow Pokemon – who were corrupted – could be snagged. Shadow Pokemon needed to be ‘purified’ before they’d obey the player too, adding a further unusual twist to the game’s mechanics.
Pokemon Colosseum was a visual step up over what we’d previously been used to, but without an overworld, it didn’t match up to the size and scope of the previous games – and its unusual mechanics proved divisive.
It did provide a relatively straightforward way for multiple players to battle together, however, outside of the Story Mode. Pokemon could also be traded between Colosseum and the GBA Pokemon games: Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen.
1. Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness (2005)
The sequel to Pokemon Colosseum, Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness again features Shadow Pokemon – 83 of them in total – though there’s a major difference, in the fact that each of them has a selection of Shadow moves to use in combat.
Players can also make use of a Purification Chamber in order to purify Shadow Pokemon – but perhaps the biggest change is that there are three areas (PokeSpots) where wild Pokemon can be lured and caught!
There’s also an area called Mt. Battle, which presents players with a 100 trainer challenge; beating trainers here can net players special items and prizes.
Once more, all of the Game Boy Advance Pokemon games – Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen – can connect in trading and battle modes too!
Though not a significant upgrade over Pokemon Colosseum, the changes it does bring to the gameplay put it firmly at the top of the best GameCube Pokemon games list – and, naturally, both of the games in the top two spots on here feature on our best Pokemon games list too!
Has Nintendo Provided Cross-platform Connectivity Before These Pokemon Titles On The GameCube?
Yes! Nintendo have always done interesting things with connectivity and cross-platform compatibility with their consoles, going right back to the SNES and the Super Game Boy.
The latter allowed players to play Game Boy games – with limited colour palettes and sometimes fancy borders – on the TV via a SNES cartridge adaptor.
The N64 had the ability to transfer data between compatible N64 and Game Boy/Game Boy Color games, using the Nintendo 64 Transfer Pak, allowing players to transfer their handheld Pokemon collections to Pokemon Stadium on the N64, as well as providing bonus features in a small number of other games.
How Did The GameCube Connect To The Game Boy Advance?
The GameCube had a fantastic peripheral called the Game Boy Player, which enabled handheld games – from the Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance – to be played on the big screen via the GameCube.
How Did The GameCube Pokemon Games Connect To The Game Boy Advance Pokemon Games?
They didn’t use the Game Boy Player. Instead, a Game Boy Advance-GameCube Link Cable connected the handheld to the GameCube itself. This allowed for a diverse and flexible range of functionality and extra features.
It was pretty widely supported, with more than 50 games offering some form of connectivity.
What Extra Features Were Enabled When The Gamecube Was Linked To The Game Boy Advance Pokemon Games?
The Pokemon GameCube games all supported the link cable in order to transfer Pokemon to and from the GBA Pokemon titles – Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, FireRed and LeafGreen (check out our opinion on the best Pokemon GBA games here!).
Additionally, players could download Jirachi this way, from Pokemon Colosseum (using the US version’s Bonus Disc) or from the PAL versions of Pokemon Channel. Pokemon Colosseum’s Japanese bonus disc had a Celebi that could be transferred this way too.
Finally, both Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire could be played on the TV using the link cable and a copy of Pokemon Box: Ruby & Sapphire!
This article may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to purchase an item we may earn a commission. Thank you for your support.
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.