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GCN10 Honorable Mentions

Day Nine

by Pedro Hernandez and Aaron Kaluszka - November 18, 2011, 7:23 am EST

Two very different games brought rhythm and innovation to the GameCube.

Game: Donkey Konga

Year: 2004

Developer: Namco

NWR Score: 8 (Mike Sklens), 8.5 (Daniel Bloodworth)

Why is this game worth honorably mentioning?

Long before Guitar Hero and Rock Band rocked the way we perceived the rhythm game genre, there were several silly but endearing attempts at bringing new musical concepts to the video game industry. One of these was Namco's Donkey Konga, a game based on their classic Taiko Drum rhythm games. Donkey Konga starred Donkey Kong and his Kong clan in a series of musical sessions involving the endlessly charming bongo drums peripheral. Gameplay was very easy to learn, using left, right and clapping for its mechanics, and mixed that with the catchy music and the various multiplayer modes made for the perfect party game.

Why didn't it make the Top 10?

The Japanese version had an eclectic musical selection that featured everything from old anime theme songs to classic video game tunes. Unfortunately, the North American version replaced many of these songs with old pop songs and public domain children's songs, stripping the game a bit of its captivating appeal. It wasn't bad, just not as engaging in its import form.

What's your favorite moment in it?

Being in the same room with three other players with their own pairs of bongos, clapping in rhythm to “Do your ears hang low." No one was killed, no one was saved, all we did was bang on our toy drums. And yet, that managed to be one of the most epic video game moments ever. It perfectly captures why Donkey Konga is a cult classic among Nintendo fans.

Game: Ikaruga

Year: 2003

Developer: Treasure

NWR Score: 8.5 (Jonathan Metts), 8.5 (Ty Shugart)

Why is this game worth honorably mentioning?

Ikaruga is not only the best shoot 'em up on GameCube, it is easily one of the greatest arcade shooters ever conceived. Ikaruga is well known for its devastating difficulty, but more importantly, it turned the bullet hell shooter genre a much needed breath of fresh air with its innovative polarity mechanic. This mechanic, which allowed you to switch between black and white to absorb attacks, added an extra layer of attack vs. defense strategy, which has since been copied in a number of games, shooter and non-shooter alike. While Ikaruga's focus is gameplay, the game is complemented by cinematic music and visuals and an underlying, if subtle, philosophical message.

Why didn't it make the Top 10?

Though they played a critical part in the history of video games, shoot 'em ups were relegated to a niche genre by the late 1990s. The bullet hell sub-genre emerged, which sought to overwhelm all but the most dedicated gamers with a seemingly incomprehensible swarm of fire. As such, Ikaruga is a notoriously difficult game, which automatically excludes a large swath of the gaming populace. Yet with levels based on patterns, the game was difficult, but not cheap.

What's your favorite moment in it?

The final level epitomizes the polarity mechanic and players who make it to the final stage are treated with a back-and-forth boss battle. Locked in intense rhythm, the penultimate boss's powerful shots can be absorbed and immediately returned, making the battle one of the simpler ones, but yielding a supremely satisfying feeling after the blitz of the previous five stages.

The Dreamcast version suffered from slowdown, unlike the arcade-perfect GameCube release.


oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusNovember 07, 2011

Wow, Sega Soccer Slam looks like an up rezed N64 game. Mind you I have never heard of this game until now. This list should be a bit more interesting than the top 10. Dollars to donuts I own 9/10 of the top 10.

I would love to see a dishonorable bottom 10.

In all honesty, if you're looking to check out Sega Soccer Slam, I recommend the Xbox Originals version on Xbox 360. It's $15 and has extra content (added to the Xbox and PS2 releases). It also looks the nicest out of the three versions.

CericNovember 08, 2011

Because Cubivore took me years of looking to find when I missed its original release.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusNovember 08, 2011


Honorable Mentions suffer from the fact that the GameCube had a tremendous quality output from Nintendo

I don't see how this could be construed as a negative. It only works if you're implying that had these games appeared on the Playstation or Xbox, they would have been "AAA". That has it's own implications.

5kytarNovember 09, 2011

I did enjoy Pikman 2 over the Original. I thought it was a much better game.

Ian SaneNovember 09, 2011

Pikmin 2 as an honorable mention is so utterly batshit insane that the credibility of the Top 10 is shot.  I shudder to think what overrated game made the list instead.  Probably Mario Kart: Double Dash.

Though the rarity of Pikmin 2 these days suggests to me that the game fails to get the acclaim it deserves because too many people just plain did not play it.  I was shocked when only a few years after its release it was selling for big money on eBay and people were talking about how they missed it.  This wasn't some nothing title it was an EAD title made by Miyamoto!  And on the Gamecube where great games didn't exactly come out in a rapid fire basis.  And the original Pikmin was quite well recieved so I don't get why so many skipped it if they enjoyed the first game.

If NOA had no kept the NPC version from coming to America perhaps it would rate higher as a wider audience became familiar with it.  The ONE title obscure enough to actually have justification for a re-release and they keep it in Japan.  Though considering NOA's attitude towards Xenoblade perhaps the fact that Pikmin 2 is obscure is exactly why they didn't localize it.

I think Ian really would have appreciated my original plan for the Pikmin 2 article, which was more focused on personal insults toward the people on staff who voted against it.

Word, Ian.  Word.  My favorite Nintendo game since 2004.

Ian, I can assure you that, during the staff meeting where these lists were hashed out, words were exchanged.

Many, many words. Angry, desperate words. I fought the good fight against the tyrannous forces of the Nintendo World Report Staff, but I failed the good people who frequent the site, and for that I am sorry.

More than words were exchanged. It was almost like an internal NWR holy war was fought over the Pikmin games.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorNovember 10, 2011

Quote from: NWR_insanolord

I think Ian really would have appreciated my original plan for the Pikmin 2 article, which was more focused on personal insults toward the people on staff who voted against it.

You know, you could always just post it on the forum. :D

CericNovember 10, 2011

Quote from: Kairon

More than words were exchanged. It was almost like an internal NWR holy war was fought over the Pikmin games.

The Church of Pikmin has many Fierce Denominations.

I'd just like to say that we reverted to democracy on the Pikmin 2 case. It lost by a lot. Take that of what you will.

I honestly wish Nintendo released the NPC version in North America. Would've been a good way to get more people to play it, because I think its scarcity is the game's ultimate failure.

KITT 10KNovember 10, 2011

That fact that Mario Kart: Double Dash didn't make the top ten is crap! That was one of my favorite Mario Kart games. Me and several others had fun for hours with it, (read my earlier posting in the top ten article and that'll tell you some of the reasons why).

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorNovember 10, 2011

You know, I love Double Dash - and it's in my list of favs (all six copies I own) - but I can see why it isn't in the top ten.  While I love the game, it's simply not as "accessible" to newer players like every other Mario Kart is.

oohhboyHong Hang Ho, Staff AlumnusNovember 15, 2011

I am a little gutted Tales didn't make the top ten, it's a solid game with a great battle system that isn't jut a bunch of menus. The two leads were retarded, but the support cast was excellent. I would imagine the battle system now with WiiU support would solve the multiplayer issues. While playing a caster meant a lot of standing around, not being able to see where you were was a serious issue. Despite having multiplayer, it wasn't very friendly to it. Hopefully Namco will expand the battle system into something that is even more freeform in the future.

I can see why Fire Emblem isn't a top ten, it just wasn't very available and it's stealth release meant not enough demand to do a second run. I wish I could get a copy at a reasonable price, but that isn't going to happen.

ejamerNovember 15, 2011

I can understand why Tales of Symphonia and Fire Emblem didn't make the cut - both are long and complicated games that require a dedicated effort to play to completion. But I'm glad they got mentioneded. Both are brilliant games that are real highlights of the GameCube library for many people. Tales in particular is one of my favorite games on the system.

Ian SaneNovember 15, 2011

Tales of Symphonia stands out on the Gamecube due to a lack of RPGs.  But I think if there was just one videogame system, it wouldn't really attract the same attention along side the PS2's offerings.  In that sense it works well as an honorable mention.  Compare it to something like Metroid Prime which would still be considered one of the best games of its generation regardless of what system it was on.

broodwarsNovember 15, 2011

The first Baten Kaitos being on the Honorable Mentions list had better mean that Baten Kaitos Origins is on the GameCube Top 10, because it's a much better game on almost every conceivable level.  :-\

Then again, this is the same squad that made Tales of Symphonia an Honorable Mention because too few could be bothered to play it.  But I'll accept that Honorable Mention if Skies of Arcadia Legends is on the GameCube Top 10.  :cool;

It isn't. I had a choice to make, I went with the first as it is my wont to do. I generally give the original more credit than a better sequel because I'm of the mind that sequels should always be much improved titles.

I think the battle system in Origins was over-simplified and the three person cast had both perks (it allowed greater exploration of the personalities and their interactions) and cons (you were ALWAYS stuck with Milly).

xcwarriorNovember 16, 2011

Baiten Kaitos of my favorite GCN games for sure. Amazing battle system and good story. Must have for an RPG fan. Need to play Origins still, have it sitting on the shelf.

Going with the first game is a terrible plan. Everyone knows the sequel is far better in every way. That's always true.

Quote from: xcwarrior

Need to play Origins still, have it sitting on the shelf.

Sign off right now. Start immediately.

broodwarsNovember 16, 2011

Different strokes, but I really liked the simplification of the battle system.  I found managing every single character's deck in the first Baten Kaitos incredibly tedious, especially as the cards changed over time and you had to keep an eye on them.  The battle system in the first game is also incredibly slow and obnoxious at times (though it still has strategic appeal), with the characters calling out every attack at a very deliberate pace and then the game stopping to show the Results screen after every combo.

By contrast, Origins is all about the Speed of Battle, and once you increase your bond with Sagi enough, the game does a pretty consistent job of always tossing you just the card you need when you need it to continue a combo.  So you set up your hand in-battle for your first character, and very quickly you start developing absurd demonstrations of utter ass-kickery like THIS.  It's simplified, but it's fast and fun and I'll gladly take more hours of enjoyment from the rest of the game over the hours of deck management I had in the first game.

And no one can say with a straight face that the original Baten Kaitos had a good dub, especially if you left the audio settings at their default state so you got that "tin can" audio effect.  Baten Kaitos Origins, though, has an excellent dub, mostly because Nintendo didn't dub it themselves.  And considering the game was a budget title, I always thought the game was quite lovely and the story is leaps and bounds better than the first game's (despite the first game having a really well-done plot twist halfway through).

I still liked the original Baten Kaitos for all my gripes with it, but Origins is just a better game with a better story; a more exciting battle system; better characterization; much better dubbing; and IMO better music.

I actually found constructing the perfect deck to be a bit zen. "Is that card there the best I can do? No? Then let's replace it."

I had a set deck for each combination I used with any frequency and actually enjoyed toying with new cards to see how they could best be integrated. At the very end of the game my best deck was meticulously groomed for perfection.

As for the dub, you'll see I explicitly addressed the dub in the post. I won't, however, agree that the overall plot of the prequel is better than the original. The characterization is, but I feel like a lot more creative energy went into the first game's story and the second game piggybacked on it.

ejamerNovember 16, 2011

I'm torn about Baren Kaitos. Lots of neat ideas, a fun card-based battle system, cool combos and card-generating moves to uncover, and a decent story that improved significantly during the second half of the game... yet it's still a game that I traded away and have no interest in playing again. It just never drew me in enough to move from "good" to "great" status.

Sure do wish I could find a copy of Origins though. If it's as good as the first game then it deserves at least one play through.

Ian SaneNovember 16, 2011

With TP and Four Swords getting honorable mentions it's pretty obivious that Wind Waker is in the top ten.  I think Four Swords is better but it likely suffers from Pikmin 2 syndrome where no one played it.

Wind Waker is a game that could be called both underrated and overrated.  Its supporters would call it underrated but I think their support of the game is so aggressive that it is overrated.  It just is not nearly as good of a game as its fans say it is.  And it isn't a bad game either.  I think the graphics switcheroo controversy created an "us vs. them" mentality in the gaming community.  There were those that were furious at Nintendo and those that supported it.  In the end Nintendo delivered a pretty damn good game.  But that's too middle-of-the-road to allow either side to "win" thus each side underrates or overrates the game based on what side they took to support their argument.  "Wind Waker is the best Zelda game ever so the cel-shaded graphics were a good idea!"  "Wind Waker is a weak Zelda game so they should have stuck with realistic graphics!"

I personally think both WW and TP are disappointing compared to the N64 Zeldas.  The Cube Zeldas are only superior in graphics and improvements to the controls.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorNovember 17, 2011

Quote from: Ian

With TP and Four Swords getting honorable mentions it's pretty obivious that Wind Waker is in the top ten.  I think Four Swords is better but it likely suffers from Pikmin 2 syndrome where no one played it.

I do love Four Swords Adventures, but I don't know if I'd say it was better than Wind Waker.  I'd love to see Shadow Battle mode brought back - the multi-player modes in the DS Zelda games just don't compare.

rlse9November 18, 2011

Donkey Konga was a blast to play.  I got the game the week it came out while I was in college and it became a big hit with the people in my dorm, most of whom weren't gamers.  I actually thought the song selection in the game was good, not necessarily songs I'd listen to but they were all fun to play.  Donkey Konga 2 on the other hand had a song list with a lot of songs that I like but I didn't find them nearly as fun to play.

Ian SaneNovember 18, 2011

Ikaruga as an honorable mention?  Geez, my favourite Cube titles are all getting the short end of the stick.

I think the suggestion that because shmups aren't massively popular anymore, that Ikuraga isn't a top ten pick is nuts.  Why don't you just list the top ten best selling games if you're going to use popularity as a measuring stick?

It is quite common for games that were not that popular at the time to later be recognized as one of the essential games for a console.  No one gave a damn about Herzog Zwei when it was out but it regularly makes top 10 lists for the Genesis.  Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy III are routine top 10s for the SNES, yet RPGs were not very popular in North America during that time.  Both games got more attention when RPGs took off on the Playstation.  You could always exclude them because at the time that was a niche genre.  Ikaruga is the best shmup on the Gamecube and probably the best of its generation.

Ideally, popularity shouldn't factor into it, but since our list was decided by vote among the staff the games that were part of it had to have been played by enough people to receive support. The top ten aren't necessarily supposed to be the best ten games on the system (obviously, considering the lack of Pikmin 2).

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