That’s right folks! I’m doing it all again, only this time the Alphabest gun is trained on Nintendo’s finest purple console[ref]Other colours are available but purple is canon[/ref], the GameCube! Apparently 660 video games were released for the machine, but thanks to this series you’ll be able to eradicate 633. Won’t that be nice?
Let us start with A, for it is the first letter. *clears throat*
You know how most sports games get booted from the list from the very beginning? Bye bye All-Star Baseball 2002/3/4! I’m sure you’re all lovely baseball games, but sadly, you’re all still baseball games.
Like sports games, licenced titles often fall way short of being the best, and GameCube “A” games are no exception: Asterix and Obelix XXL, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Animaniacs: The Great Edgar Hunt, The Ant Bully and American Chopper 2: Full Throttle vary from passable to nightmarish, but none make the cut.
Also in the bin are those most hated titles of the era, all the Army Men games. Taking the soldiers from Toy Story (or rather, not – they’re an entirely separate creation of course) and turning them into a variety of games seemed like a great idea, but every single one of them was terrible. Thankfully, the GameCube was only infected with a trio of these nasties, but there were over 20 in total.
That leaves the following three:
Aggressive Inline is that rare thing of a Tony Hawk style extreme sports game that doesn’t actually suck. In fact, unlike the likes of Dave Mirra, Mat Hoffman and AirBlade, Aggressive Inline is fantastic. It introduced elements to the style of game (like ditching time limits, and including vastly destructible environments that change the level layout) that the Tony Hawk series itself later implemented. Certainly the best non-Tony Hawk, Tony Hawk-style game for the GameCube.
Animal Crossing was the start[ref]Yes, I know there was an N64 precursor, but that was Japan only, and not called Animal Crossing.[/ref] of an incredibly popular new series for Nintendo, spawning a sequel on almost every Nintendo platform since. Originally, the PAL version was released in Australia only causing many of us to either import from there, or get the US version and a Freeloader anti-region-lock disc, but it was absolutely worth it. It’s the most twee and menial game you can imagine, but running errands for animals, collecting furniture and insects, and constantly rearranging your house – all while paying off increasingly extortionate mortgages – was relaxing, friendly and addictive. Later games added improvements, but the game was damn good to begin with.
Alien Hominid is a side scrolling shooter with great cartoony hand-drawn graphics and Metal Slug-like playability and difficulty. It may have started out life as a free Flash game, but the “full” release is much bigger and more polished, and features a load of extra game modes and features. And hats. Everyone loves hats, right?
And the Alphabest?
Although the other two games are excellent, neither were as groundbreaking and surprising as Animal Crossing. A year of my life was devoted to that game, playing on an almost daily basis and spending each week religiously checking turnip prices in order to try and make a killing on the Stalk Market and pay off my mortgages.
It’s filled with memorable characters and events, and even though you do very little of actual merit or impact, no other game at the time could relax and lull you like Animal Crossing could. And, you could connect up a GBA and travel to a special island on your handheld! Incredible.
Coming soon to a blog post near you: B!