Back in the day when Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's original Xbox were fighting tooth and nail for home console superiority and popularity, Nintendo's GameCube was also neck deep in the race. Not only did Nintendo's little purple box of joy come with its strong lineup of amazing first-party games, but it also featured a ton of unique and sometimes innovative titles from third-party publishers across a wide variety of genres. Speaking of genres, fighting games didn't get a ton of love on the GameCube. Even though there's a minuscule amount of standout fighters on the console to speak of, that doesn't make any of them lesser than in comparison to the PS2 and Xbox versions or worth passing over. The GameCube software library features one of the greatest, most competitive platform fighters of all time, which counts for something! Now join us as we take a look at the 14 best fighting games on GameCube.
The 14 Best Fighting Games on GameCube
Best Fighting Games on GameCube
1. ‘Super Smash Bros. Melee’
There's a reason why this game still brings in hundreds of competitive players to tournaments since its 2001 release - Super Smash Bros. Melee's deceptively simple platform fighting mechanics are much deeper than anyone could have expected, which led to a whole generation of gamers figuring out its many intricacies. This sequel is such a massive step up from the original N64 version thanks to highly polished graphics, a much more sizable roster full of recognizable & obscure characters, and a greatly enhanced combat feel that paved the way for flashier combos. From a casual gaming standpoint, the wealth of content on offer here is still impressive. From the esports side of things, Super Smash Bros. Melee still holds up as a competitive experience and will always be held up as one of the best fighting games on GameCube.
2. ‘Soulcalibur II’
One of the coolest fighting game releases of all time occurred when Namco created three separate versions of its prized weapons fighter, Soulcalibur II. PS2 owners got their exclusive character via Tekken's Heihachi Mishima while original Xbox players got access to an ax-wielding rendition of everyone's favorite antihero, Spawn. GameCube owners arguably got the best version of the game, though! That's because The Legend of Zelda's Link got to mix it up with the likes of Mitsurugi, Sophitia, and Ivy while wielding his signature "Master Sword" & using the very same tools that helped him save the kingdom of "Hyrule" years prior. Soulcalibur II is amazing all by itself as its polished gameplay and a satisfying suite of single-player modes classify it as one of the highest points in the series. Getting access to a playable version of Link is just the ultimate cherry on top for the GameCube version of this top-notch fighter.
3. ‘Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO’
Here's another one of the best fighting games on GameCube that happens to be an altered port of a revered fighter that was available on other consoles at the time. Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO retains everything that made the epic fighting game company crossover such a monumental event while adding in some slight gameplay tweaks & a new system called "Easy Operation" that gives less-skilled players the ability to pull off special moves just by flicking the yellow analog stick in any direction. The removal of the "Roll Cancel" glitch makes this version of the game one of the better ones worth picking up for both casual and competitive play. Capcom vs. SNK 2 EO takes one of the best fighting games of all time and filters out some of its issues while simultaneously making it easier to play for curious onlookers.
4. ‘Mortal Kombat: Deception’
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance got the ball rolling with the 3D advancement of the most violent, bone-breaking fighting game IP in the industry. Then came Mortal Kombat: Deception, which kept building upon that aforementioned game's solid foundation and adding heaps of well-received changes on top of it. Konquest Mode welcomed players to a surprisingly deep action RPG romp through MK's assorted realms, "Chess Kombat" gave fans a fun oddity to check out when they wanted something a bit different to play, and "Puzzle Kombat" offered a nice alternative mode to stay busy with for fans of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. We have a huge appreciation for MK: Deception as it marked the debuts of two of our favorite franchise characters, Ashrah and Havik.
5. ‘Bloody Roar: Primal Fury’
The Bloody Roar series caught fire in an instant as it offered something different from most fighters at the time, which was an animal transformation gimmick that could be performed at any point during a match. The GameCube got its taste of that beastly action via Bloody Roar: Primal Fury, a visually impressive series entry that felt surprisingly well in the controls department seeing as how the GameCube controller wasn't the greatest for fighters of its kind. The hyperfast 3D clashes that take place here are still a total blast to take part in, especially with the "Hyper Beast" transformation that gives players an even fiercer form of their animalistic fighter to utilize.
6. ‘Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2’
Yeah, that's right! Only one of the Dragon Ball Z: Budokai games made its way onto the GameCube. Budokai 3 will always be the best of the entire sub-series, but we still have a lot of love for its predecessor. Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 2 got closer to mimicking the art style of the anime by adopting a cel-shaded art style, which made all the Ki-blasting and mid-air clashes look a whole lot better. The decision to add the "Buu Saga" to the proceedings was a great choice to make on behalf of this game's developers as it helped tell the entirety of the DBZ storyline and bring in a ton of fan-favorite characters. Shout out to Budokai 2 for bringing in all those "Fusion" characters and "Super Saiyan 3" Goku!
7. ‘Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2’
The very first Naruto game to make its way over to North American shores came in the form of the GameCube fighter Naruto: Clash of Ninja. That modest first attempt presented a solid foundation for the soon-to-be franchise with exciting 1v1 battles, cel-shaded graphics that honored the source material's signature art style, and a straightforward yet enjoyable story mode leading to the final fight with Zabuza. The series took everything up a notch with Naruto: Clash of Ninja 2, which arrived with an expanded roster of 22 characters, a multiplayer destination in the form of a four-player brawl mode, and an unforgettable campaign that compiles the epic battles contested during the "Chunin Exam" story arc. This sequel is the first major highlight of Naruto's gaming exploits in the States and undoubtedly one of the top pics for the best fighting games on GameCube.
8. ‘Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee’
Do you know what the world needs more of nowadays? Fighting games based around world-famous "Kaiju" icons! GigaBash is one of the few quality games that adopts that idea, plus War of the Monsters did that concept well back on the PS2. The GameCube had a great Kaiju brawler of its own and it featured Godzilla and a wide array of the massive creatures that inhabited his long line of films. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee! features a who's who of Hollywood's most dangerous mega monsters - players got the honor of punching, kicking, tail swinging, and energy blasting with greats such as Godzilla, King Ghidorah, Megalon, Destoroyah, and so much more. This game's four-player monster mashes are still a massive hit among random houseguests who pick up the controller!
9. ‘WWE WrestleMania XIX’
We hate to admit it, but WWF WrestleMania X8 was a shoddy first attempt at bringing a wrestling game to the GameCube. Development studio Yuke's must have realized that and gone back to the drawing board to turn that dud into something truly incredible. Enter WWE WrestleMania XIX, the new and improved version of its predecessor that brightened up the lights in the 3D arenas, refined the grappling action, and offered a fun spin on wrestling games' usual campaign modes by introducing fans to "Revenge Mode." Beating up security guards and wreaking havoc on a mall as Goldberg ended up being way more fun than it had any right to be!
10. ‘WWE Day of Reckoning 2’
The first WWE Day of Reckoning was a solid piece of work - it featured a roster full of likable legends, introduced a great story mode that focused on joining one of two stables & eventually upending its title-holding leader, and debuting the "Momentum Shift" maneuver to greatly impact the in-ring action at hand. Then came its sequel, which was bigger and bolder in several ways. The story mode continued off from the last game & offered an even more engaging plotline to follow, a new submission-based system added another cool element to the action, and the roster expanded to feature extra Hall of Famers such as Hulk Hogan & "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.
11. ‘Def Jam Vendetta’
Never in a million years did anyone fathom playing a wrestling game featuring some of the greatest MCs of all time! Whoever cooked up this idea deserves all the money in the world for such a genius concept. Electronic Arts tapped the development studio AKI Corporation (known for its iconic games WCW/nWo Revenge and WWF No Mercy) to create a dream scenario of a game. Hip-hop juggernauts such as DMX, Ludacris, Method Man, and Joe Budden make up just a sample size of a roster full of original brawlers (which includes one of the scariest bosses of all time, D-Mob!). Def Jam Vendetta's story mode is still one of our favorite wrestling game campaigns due to how it plays out like the ultimate revenge story. We just can never get enough of this game and always get a perverse pleasure out of beating people with Redman's hilarious "Blazin Move."
12. ‘Def Jam: Fight for NY’
Since we've already showered praise upon Def Jam Vendetta as another one of the best fighting games on GameCube, it's time for us to do the same for its god-tier sequel. Def Jam: Fight for NY excelled as something more than just a wrestling game thanks to a multitude of fighting styles, additional roster members lifted from the world of hip-hop, and arenas that took fights outside the ring. And we'll always be thankful it did! Mixing and matching varied approaches to combat (we're talking Streetfighting, Kickboxing, Martial Arts, Wrestling, and Submissions!) to create your own underground fight club legend is still so damn fun. Getting caught in a four-player skirmish that's filled with weapons, environmental interactions, and angry crowd members provides unlimited hours of fun to this very day.
13. ‘Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation’
Were you watching Fox cartoons during the 4Kids era of dubbed anime shows? One of the shows from that period that caught fire was Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy, a series all about kooky wrestling personalities getting in the ring to battle for pride and the protection/destruction of planet Earth. You may have missed out on the GameCube exclusive Ultimate Muscle: Legends vs. New Generation, which is an error that needs fixing because that game is awesome! What you have here is an arcade wrestling game that emphasizes fast-paced strikes, slams, and some of the sickest signature/finishing moves you'll ever lay eyes on. The fact that you jump on top of the ropes, bounce off, and dive through the air to catch an opponent with a bone-breaking grapple blew our minds back then!
14. ‘Fight Night Round 2’
To wrap up this lineup of the best fighting games on GameCube, we're going to step into the boxing arena with this final pick. Electronic Arts ruled the boxing simulator roost with its Fight Night franchise - the one series entry that found its way onto the GameCube is Fight Night Round 2. While it visually may not be up to par when compared to its PS2 and Xbox siblings, this port still retains all the finely tuned boxing gameplay fans had come to enjoy during its heyday. The cool bonus of owning this version of the game is being able to play as Punch-Out!!'s Little Mac and squaring up with real-world greats like Bernard Hopkins. The "Total Punch Control" system and debuting "Haymaker" punches make this sequel a noteworthy series triumph.
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