Let's Play Every GameCube Game, Part 34
Skies of Arcadia Legends (Overworks/Sega, 2002)
A reworked and updated port of the Dreamcasts' Skies of Arcadia. I featured it on my top 100 at #55, so you can read about the gameplay there. Legends specifically added a few new quests, integrated the DLC, and improved performance. It also reduced random encounters, which is almost unbelievable given that their overwhelming frequency is still my biggest criticism of the game. The original must have been nearly unplayable. Overworks was later merged into an internal Sega team that develops arcade games, so they sadly do not have much of a history after this game.
If you're familiar with the game and wondering why I have a screenshot from 10+ hours in, it's because I'm about 80% of the way through a playthrough with Kat. It's not going on the list for that reason alone, but I will talk about it in more detail once we're finished.
Smashing Drive (Point of View/Namco, 2002)
This is just dreadful, but it's not Point of View's fault. They got stuck porting a garbage arcade game made by Gaelco. You're racing another taxi through buildings and crowds, which was less tasteless back then, but there's so much going on that telling what the track wants from you is just a guessing game. They're not afraid to have hazards that make no sense, like planes landing and taking off from the same runway at the same time, if they think it looks cool, but that just makes it even harder to actually use these tracks. Add in bad music and an obnoxious blur effect and you've got a game that I would personally consider one of the worst on the system.
Smuggler's Run: Warzones (Rockstar San Diego/Rockstar, 2002)
This one isn't actually just a racing game, because there's a story mode about delivering goods within a certain time frame and it also has some car combat aspects. That said, I wish they'd focused more on the driving mechanics, because your buggy loses control after every jump and the game is a struggle to keep going in the right direction. Random hazards that send you flying don't help at all.
Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut (Sonic Team/Sega, 2003)
This is considered one of the good Sonic games, but personally even the good ones aren't at all appealing. I still had the camera bug out on me a few times in this first fight, although it did at least catch up and correct itself after a second or so.
Sonic Adventure 2: Battle (Sonic Team/Sega, 2001)
Another one of the good games, which actually does open with a pretty cool sequence skateboarding down the streets of San Francisco. Despite that, I'm still using a screenshot of me clipping through the world as the header image. It's what you do. Critical reception was a bit worse than on GameCube than Dreamcast because it released without many updates, but I don't know why anyone was expecting major updates when it came out a whole six months later. Even I can admit that's being unfair to Sonic.
Sonic Heroes (Sonic Team USA/Sega, 2003)
I actually don't know what the Sonic fan community's feeling on this game is, but the critical response was about a 10 point drop from the Adventure games. The graphics seem a bit dated and the game loves stealing control away from you to do loops or whatever, so maybe that had something to do with it. I only know this game because of the mic-stealing moment at the 25th anniversary concert. Classic.
Sonic Gems Collection (Sonic Team/Sega, 2005)
A collection of lesser-known Sonic games for the Game Gear, Saturn, Sega CD, and arcades. It also includes a handful of well-known Genesis games like Streets of Rage as unlockables. Here's a screenshot of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Game Gear.
Sonic Mega Collection (Sonic Team/Sega, 2002)
A collection of 10 Sonic games from the Genesis era along with four other Genesis games that were secret unlockables. Considering MSRP was apparently just $20, that's a heck of a deal. My favorite is, of course, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, because it's actually just Puyo-Puyo.
Sonic Riders (Sonic Team/Sega, 2006)
I always thought I had played this game before, but now I'm pretty confident it was actually the 2008 Wii sequel. It's a racing game where everyone is on hoverboards, which isn't a terrible idea. Unfortunately, the "turbulence" waves are so much faster than riding normally that you're effectively forced to use them, which means most of the track is on rails. That's not really ideal for a racing game.
Soulcalibur II (Project Soul/Namco, 2002)
One of the best reviewed fighting games ever, and also one of the first big ones to feature crazy crossover characters from other companies. Link was unlockable on the GCN version, rounding out a pretty sizable cast in game that looks amazing for 2002. I'd probably add this to the list if I was any good at fighting games, but they kind of fall into the same bucket as shmups with me not being able to tell the difference between a great one and an okay one. Still, it was a classic for fans.
Space Raiders (Taito, 2003)
Taito's attempted reboot of Space Invaders as a gritty 3D game. It changes the gameplay so that you can shoot as many times as you want before bullets leave the screen, but it also allows aliens to teleport in anywhere. Since that includes right in front of you, those changes remove basically all skill from the game. It's boring and repetitive, so the decent graphics are all it has going for it.
Spartan: Total Warrior (Creative Assembly/Sega, 2005)
This is supposedly a spinoff of Total War, but it has absolutely nothing to do with that series, so I'm pretty sure CA just wanted to make a hack-and-slash and grabbed whatever tenuous connection to their normal games they could. Unfortunately, it's a terrible hack-and-slash that seems to only have one real move and doesn't even have much interesting about the enemies except that there's a lot of them. It was a failure, but CA tried again with 2008's Viking: Battle for Asgard before admitting that this just isn't their genre and (mostly) sticking to strategy.
Spawn: Armageddon (Point of View/Namco, 2003)
It wants to be Devil May Cry, but the sluggish character movement and extremely basic combos mean it doesn't get anywhere close. I think it's cool that you can collect the comic book covers throughout the game, at least.
Special Jinsei Game (Takara, 2003)
This is the same modified version of Life that came up a few times on the GBC list, although this time it acknowledges that connection officially with a trademark from that game on the splash screen. Which is a little weird, because this stat-raising roll-and-move game about your character's full lives actually has almost nothing to do with the American board game other than the theme. Wikipedia says this game was a commercial failure, which is understandable given that it was both aimed at kids and had a shortest estimated game time of an hour and 20 minutes. If you played the full game with max events, you could get up to almost five hours. That's a bit much.
Speed Challenge: Jacques Villeneuve's Racing Vision (Ubisoft, 2002)
A futuristic racing game that only released in Canada and Europe. I'd love to tell you more about it, but it hangs after trying to start a race.
Speed Kings (Climax London/Acclaim Entertainment, 2003)
And now we have a motorcycle racing game. It's fine. I don't like that the traffic does more to determine who wins that seemingly anything else, but the track design is good and the environments are also nice looking. Considering how unbelievably bad some of the other bike racing games have been, this is qualifies as pretty good for the genre in 2003.
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance
Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Burnout 2: Point of Impact
Cocoto Kart Racer
Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest
Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
Family Stadium 2003
Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing
Jikkyou Powerful Major League
Kirby Air Ride
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Mario Power Tennis
Metal Arms: Glitch in the System
Mr. Driller Drill Land
Muscle Champion: Kinnikutou Kessen
MVP Baseball 2005
Nintendo Puzzle Collection
Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
R: Racing Evolution
Sega Soccer Slam
Shinseiki GPX Cyber Formula: Road to the Evolution
The Simpsons: Hit & Run