Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean and Baten Kaitos Origins
- Developer: Monolith Soft
- Release: 2004/2006
Goodness, look at all those words about Animal Crossing! Baten Kaitos is less significant, but it makes the list because it's interesting. You play a guardian spirit guiding - yes - a blue-haired teenager through stupendously complicated and intricate card battles in a bewilderingly involved, two-part operatic fairy tale. The appeal here, apart from the offbeat style, is the elaborate card system, which ties in with some very hardcore stat-tracking and leveling-up. If you love your card games, this is a great example of the genre, wrapped up in a gorgeous and involving fantasy world. Lovely music, too.
What we said: "The quirky style of the whole thing feels more at home on the Cube than it would be on either of the other consoles."
- Developer: Kuju
- Release: 2005
Super little game, this, although the new Wii one is a bit better. Apart from its sequel, it's still alone in attempting to blend Advance Wars strategy with old-school action-shooting on the fly. Something about it recalls early PlayStation and N64 third-person shooters, with its bright, clear colours and explosions, but being able to switch between troops and command others whilst diving into battle yourself gave it a new twist, and was definitely ambitious. It got the action/strategy balance very slightly wrong, but this is definitely a worthwhile game - interestingly, it's really quite rare now, especially in Europe.
What we said: "It stands out an unpretentious and largely unique example of how to blend strategy and action in a relentlessly entertaining way."
Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
- Developer: Sonic Team
- Release: 2003
Billy Hatcher is a surprisingly old-school SEGA platformer, with all the primary colours, odd-looking characters and obscene frustration that description entails. It can be amazingly annoying to play and the cheery bright music starts to eat away at your brain after about an hour - and despite all of that, it's nearly the best platformer on the Cube. It's like nothing else, except perhaps Glover, and even that's only a passing resemblance. Look at Billy's silly happy face, rolling those eggs about. Look at his stark astonishment every single time something hatches out of them. Look at the BLUE SKIES. Billy Hatcher is a bit of a nineties throwback, but you might well find it a welcome one.
What we said: "A fairly meaningless but devilishly addictive platform game that isn't afraid of hatching a few new ideas." [I should have my hands cut off - Ed]
- Developer: Skip
- Release: 2006
Unfortunately, this came out at a time when most shops had already relegated their GameCube displays to one shelf at the back, or indeed gotten rid of them altogether. Chibi-Robo is a beautiful game about a mute, four-inch-tall robot whose life is dedicated to improving that of others. He was bought as a birthday present for the weird daughter of a fraught family, and through his miniscule, touching efforts in cleaning the house, the lovely little robot helps to heal the family whilst exploring their immense home, discovering exciting new things. By night, he helps the toys that come to life in the Sanderson household, looking eagerly and wordlessly on as mini-dramas play out and relationships develop, helping wherever he can. Some didn't understand Chibi-Robo because much of the game's substance consists in cleaning and running about. But those are the same people who can't see the value of Harvest Moon's honest graft or paying off your mortgage in Animal Crossing, people who don't understand how simple hard work can fit into the atmosphere and ethos of a game. Chibi-Robo is one of the loveliest things I've ever played, and I'm quite sure you'll love it.
What we said: "Chibi-Robo doesn't deserve to be relegated to being a mere cult hit." Oh well.