It’s hard not to view Nintendo’s aesthetically unique GameCube console as a disappointment in sales terms.
The console saw the company make a long-overdue shift to optical media, but stopping short of using standard size DVDs – instead taking the very Nintendo-esque move of using smaller, proprietary discs, mainly to reduce piracy but also to avoid paying licensing fees to the industry’s DVD Forum.
The small discs and toy-like console aesthetics didn’t endear the console to an audience that had been maturing in average age since the introduction of the PlayStation in the mid-90s, which perhaps accounts for the fact that – despite a good number of excellent titles that are still highly regarded to this day – the GameCube simply didn’t fulfil its destiny as Nintendo’s expected comeback (though that has since come to fruition – which is a story for another day, perhaps).
The proprietary discs and overall sales of the console were likely a big factor in many games seeing much smaller print runs and a higher level of rarity and desirability for collectors nowadays, which makes for a sometimes baffling and unexpected list of rarities, as you’ll see.
Note: I’ve kept bundles and limited edition titles out of the list, instead opting for standard editions of games that should have been available at normal retail channels during the console’s lifespan. So let’s take a look at some rare Gamecube games!
PlayStation masterpiece Metal Gear Solid was given a fantastic update for the GameCube with The Twin Snakes, which was developed by Silicon Knights and overseen by series creator Hideo Kojima, along with Nintendo’s peerless Shigeru Miyamoto.
With the addition of game mechanics previously seen in PS2 sequel Metal Gear Solid II, new cutscenes and improvements to enemy AI, it was much more than a straightforward remaster.
The fact that it has only ever been released on the GameCube – with a relatively limited print run, given the enduring popularity of the series – has made The Twin Snakes a highly sought after game for collectors.
Consequently, prices are currently in the region of $150 – and can go much higher for copies in mint condition. Not bad for affordable rare Gamecube games!
One of the GameCube’s flagship titles, Pikmin was an instant hit with the console’s fans. The second game in the excellent pseudo-RTS series (with trademark Nintendo charm and wit) arrived late in the GameCube’s lifespan, so the more muted reception it received upon release was no reflection of its quality; the excitement around Nintendo’s then-current console had clearly subsided as the machine’s fortune had waned.
Pikmin 2 saw a re-release on the Wii, but with motion controls added to negative effect – meaning that the original release was still the most desirable version.
It’s not uncommon to see prices for Pikmin 2 in the $150-$170 range at present (though right now, one seller is attempting to offload a highly graded, slabbed copy of the game for $5499!).
Who would have thought that a licensed game featuring Nickelodeon’s perennially popular sea sponge would appear on a list of highly sought after rarities?
A pretty standard 3D platformer – no surprises there, for a game based on a cartoon – which wasn’t exactly met with a glowing reception by critics at the time, the game seems to now be scarce enough that it can command prices in the region of $170 for sealed copies on eBay. Madness!
The low demand is what has now caused units to be a rare find because in all honesty, nobody bought it back in the day, as it certainly wasn’t one of the best Gamecube games around.
Criminally overlooked on all formats upon release, Rayman creator Michel Ancel’s third person adventure Beyond Good and Evil has since become one of the most highly acclaimed games ever.
An oft-delayed, still not released sequel is still languishing in development hell, but is much anticipated even now.
Though an HD remaster was made available for Xbox Live and PSN in 2011 (and is still playable on current Xbox platforms thanks to backwards compatibility) collectors – aware of the game’s cult status and acclaim – have ensured that the GameCube version is highly sought after, with sealed copies often available for around $200.
The Dreamcast was a console released way ahead of its time – and didn’t get the recognition or success it deserved during its all-too-brief lifespan.
Not only did it play host to some of the finest arcade ports and best Dreamcast games in history, but it was also home to some absolutely beautiful first party games that – following Sega’s exit from the hardware market – thankfully got a second chance by being ported to other systems.
Though Skies of Arcadia Legends is a little more than ‘just’ a port of Dreamcast RPG Skies of Arcadia, it’s essentially a beefed up version of the game – billed as a Director’s Cut by Sega themselves. It’s a beautiful game that, to this day, is still criminally under-appreciated and unfairly forgotten.
Yet the rare GameCube games version is highly sought after by collectors – with prices that can reach $200+ with seeming ease these days.
Intelligent Systems are known in the West primarily for their two turn-based strategy franchises – Advance Wars (which began as Famicom Wars) and Fire Emblem.
Though Advance Wars takes a modern, militaristic approach (albeit with a cute veneer), Fire Emblem takes place in a fantasy milieu.
With Fire Emblem seeing a lot more love in recent years than the sadly ignored Advance Wars – latest series entry Fire Emblem: Three Houses on Switch released to great critical and commercial success in 2019, becoming the best selling entry in the series to date), it was inevitable that earlier entries would draw attention from players looking to delve into the history of the series.
Again, the relative scarcity of GameCube games means that Path of Radiance is one of the most difficult entries in the series to acquire – and sealed copies sell around the $300 mark at present (even disc-only offerings seem to go for around $200!).
Of all the surprising entries on our rare Gamecube games list, the appearance of a Sega college basketball game is perhaps the most astonishing.
Though not the only basketball game available, this game was the only college basketball game for the GameCube and, due to its limited print run, it’s undoubtedly one of the rarest titles for the system.
It was met with a pretty positive contemporary critical response too, which means that NCAA College Basketball 2K3 has the distinction of being highly regarded as well as highly sought after. Only one is listed on eBay at the time of writing, with the pretty steep price set at $310.
Though often incorrectly thought of as a Pokémon rip-off, Digimon was actually conceived as a combat-focused alternative to the more laidback Tamagotchi virtual pet devices – more spin-off than knock-off, as both product lines were created by Bandai.
The popularity of the toy has seen expansion into TV with a cartoon, along with movies, comic books and action figures – so, naturally, the franchise has also seen plenty of entries in the video game world too.
Digimon Rumble Arena 2 is another game that wasn’t particularly warmly received by critics and likely didn’t sell massively upon release, but the continuing popularity of the franchise and small print run on the GameCube has driven prices up for this particular entry – with, at the time of writing, sealed copies available online for around $350.
Another victim of the Dreamcast’s forward-thinking design and sadly premature demise, Phantasy Star Online felt like a game that arrived too soon and reached a far smaller audience than it deserved, at least upon initial release on Sega’s console.
The series has since seen great success on other platforms and its current incarnation – Phantasy Star Online 2 – is still played by millions of players worldwide, even on current gen platforms.
The game’s humble beginnings can be investigated on GameCube by fans, however and – even though the official servers are, understandably, long gone – there are still ways to play online using private servers. Sealed copies are currently selling for hundreds of dollars – with some reaching as high as $750.
So what is number one on our top rare Gamecube games list?
Originally in development for the Nintendo 64’s ill-fated 64DD peripheral – which explains the game’s dated, low-resolution look compared to its contemporaries – Cubivore was published by Nintendo in Japan, but picked up by Atlus to release in the US when Nintendo decided not to localise it themselves.
Players control a ‘Cubivore’ – a very basic cuboid-creature – with the intent of rising to the top of the food chain by mutating until they’re strong enough to defeat the powerful ‘Killer Cubivore’.
Mutations are gained by eating other animals and mating, breeding stronger attributes through successive generations of Cubivores. Despite a very adult sounding premise, the lo-fi visuals and whimsical presentation give the game an almost relaxing ambience, with a deep and satisfying mutation system as part of the game’s compelling feature set.
These days, this one-of-a-kind game has seen its value skyrocket, with listings on eBay up to $1000 depending on its condition. Not bad for a game that Nintendo didn’t think was worth localising for the West.