Eternal Darkness’ depiction of mental health was bad at the time and it only looks worse now. But the way it uses its corny, contentious “sanity” mechanic to mess with the player and pulling other fourth-wall-breaking tricks was revolutionary.
Beyond Good & Evil mixes its totally fine combat with puzzles, platforming and a cool photography mechanic. These non-violent options are what makes BG&E so interesting, along with its stellar worldbuilding.
Super Mario Sunshine experiments with platforming, earning fans and haters. The FLUDD water cannon gives Mario a new way to interact with the world, and the tropical setting is a major departure for the series.
The GameCube is home to some quirky experiments, and one of the best is Viewtiful Joe. On top of its cel-shaded graphics, it boasts clever rewind and fast-forward mechanics to make its side-scrolling combat fun and stylish.
Pikmin is strange and charming in equal measure. To fix your crashed spaceship, you have to work with the titular plant animals to get around obstacles, or callously chuck them at bigger monsters to save your own hide.
Mario has been a lot of things — plumber, soccer star, Olympic athlete — but his most successful spin-off made him a paper doll. Paper Mario is a full-fledged JRPG with unique timing-based battles that would make it a hit even if Mario weren’t involved.
Mario Kart was already one of Nintendo’s best series when the GameCube came along, and Double Dash cemented its reputation. With new courses and a two-person team in each kart, Double Dash was an easy multiplayer hit.
Some fans balked at Wind Waker’s cartoony art style, but its silky smooth animation won most over in the end. Despite some lengthy fetch quests, Wind Waker’s charming characters and fun combat make it a classic.
Even if Metroid Prime isn’t your favorite, there’s no denying the devotion it inspires. This smart, atmospheric FPS perfectly marries the Metroid formula with its new format, making one of Nintendo’s riskiest experiments one of its best games.