Donkey Kong Jungle Beat

Jungle Beat is, in the end, a forgotten gem of Nintendo’s rich lore. The fact it was created for a system that was not a widespread success and the general difficulty of playing it in its best state, which requires the acquisition of a pair of bongos that does not have any use outside a couple of other forgettable games, makes it easy to understand why it is rarely mentioned. Anyone who finds a way to play it, though, will be in for one of those unique and unexpected experiences that only a company like Nintendo can provide. Jungle Beat makes use of a control scheme that is, in theory, absolutely ludicrous for a platformer. However, when it is all said and done, it is able to use the nature of that accessory as a way to embed features and quirks of musical games into the fabric of a platformer; creating, as such, a sidescroller that is more about pulling off perfect combos by beating on a couple of drums with extreme precision than it is about beating the bad guy sitting at the end of the game.

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Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader

Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader is, consequently, not just an exquisite technical translation of Star Wars’ most heart-pumping action segments; it is also a strong package that entertains, challenges, and thrills. Surely, the technological advances that have taken place since its release have allowed for more visually faithful recreations of the Star Wars universe in recent years, but not only does the game extract every bit of power out of the Gamecube’s hardware to produce the very best graphics the system could muster during its lifetime and sounds that are worthy of John Williams’ classical score and the saga’s mind-blowing achievements in sound design, but its gameplay is also impressive enough to stand the test of time and still hold up as one of Star Wars’ best videogame representations. Due to that, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader is a must to those who love the franchise or to anyone that feels like taking part in the galaxy’s most dramatic an breathtaking dogfights.

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Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door

With minor improvements, and powered by a wheel of creativity that puts Mario in a series of situations that are absurd, engaging, and intriguing, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is not only one of the Gamecube’s finest titles, but also one of Mario’s best adventures. It is a playable storybook that reveals outstanding characters, sharp writing, and fantastic humor with every page that is turned, and complements those elements with a great battle system and smart level design. It takes advantage of the fact it stands on ground that was firmly prepared by its predecessor, and uses it to fly towards an incredible set of ideas whose coexistence in the same tight package is the proof that lighting can indeed be captured by a bottle.

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Metroid Prime 2: Echoes

With all of that in mind, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes is, overall, an ambivalent package. While it is impossible not to rank it among the Gamecube’s best efforts, it is also a title whose problems are bound to turn a few people off. It is the original Metroid Prime with the same solid control scheme, the same overwhelming feeling of immersion and tension, the same non-linear structure of exploration, and the same power-ups (with a few new creative visors added for good measure) and extra collectibles (the always present missile, power bomb, and energy tank expansions). However, it is a title that amplifies its predecessor’s complexity, length, difficulty, storytelling degree, level design goodness, and thematic darkness through measures that sometimes work, but that also fail at certain points.

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Metroid Prime

As far as transitions to the 3-D world go, where Super Mario 64 presented a considerable gameplay shift for the plumber, Metroid Prime tends to align itself with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, as – despite its glaring changes – it was not the breaking of long-established paradigms, but a immaculate translation of a gameplay style to a new era. Therefore, Metroid Prime feels, breathes, and lives exactly like Super Metroid. In other words, Samus is still harshly thrown onto an unknown planet where some mysterious event of galaxy-affecting proportions is going on, and she needs to – on her own – get to the bottom of the problem, survive attacks from her enemies and the local fauna, go through hostile terrain, and do a whole lot of walking on beautiful alien environments.

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Viewtiful Joe

The bottom-line is that Viewtiful Joe is an absolutely spectacular game. When it is all said and done, its seven chapters and ten hours of gameplay may not feel like they are enough to satiate players’ hunger for thrilling beat downs, but its harder unlockable difficulty levels are so challenging and offer so many amazing extras that it is hard not to feel compelled into giving them a try. The game conveys everything that was great about arcade brawlers, mixes it up with a visual style extracted from comic books, and adds dashes of platforming and puzzle solving to spice up the recipe. The result is, without any bit of exaggeration, one of the most enduring and best beat’em ups of all time.

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Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones

Where Warrior Within was a pit of darkness that from time to time bordered on bland and generic, The Two Thrones is colorful, bright and extremely lighthearted: it is The Sands of Time reborn. With the return of a storybook presentation, the game is able to provide a final chapter that is both intriguing and dramatic on the delivery of its plot that nicely wraps up the Prince’s many struggles against destiny. Through its technically impressive cutscenes and solid voice acting, the character development in The Two Thrones is able to capture most gamers’ eyes in a way that was not seen on its predecessor and if great trilogies are usually closed with fantastic installments then this game does a great job in fitting that bill.

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Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within

Warrior Within is a very irregular sequel. The game possesses the same stellar level design that made its predecessor shine, and it also improves on combat and overall length, even if it suffers from a poor artistic direction that made the title lose a good part of its personality. Apparently, though, the short time span between releases seriously harmed the game, for many issues were not fixed and ended up making it into the game’s final retail version. In spite of those major shortcomings, Warrior Within is still a must-buy, because its fifteen-hour adventure and delightful platforming are more than enough to make up for its technical shortcomings.

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Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time

The Sands of Time is a nearly flawless game. Its replay value almost solely depends on how fun players will find the experience as there are barely any collectibles to be found, and chances are once one gets to end of the game – something that will happen within 10 to 15 hours – one will have already seen it all. Still, its high production value and pure platforming puzzle-solving fun mixed with exciting battles are sure to make players come back for more. The addition of the original Prince of Persia is a bonus to long time fans and an opportunity for those who are not familiar with the origins of the series to get to know them better. Overall, The Sands of Time is a must-buy for anyone with a love for action, platforming and great humor.

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