You NEED Metroid Prime. It's easily the best game on your list. It's the best FPS I've played in a looong time, and it captures the feel of the old 2-D Metroids perfectly. I'd go with Mario Kart, too. I could take or leave the rest of the games there, though. I really dislike the Tony Hawk series, and True Crime looks like a blatant GTA clone with Kung-Fu thrown in to make it "different." Prince of Persia looks a little lackluster, as well. Simpsons Hit and Run is a lot of fun, but an aquired taste. I'm not familiar with the other two.
Just make sure Prime is on that list. It's a bona fide classic.
Well, I guess it goes without saying that Metroid Prime comes highly recommended. I don't own it myself, but its on my list of games to get. (Unfortunately, that's a big list at this point, and I don't expect it to shrink much anytime soon...)
I'd recommend Mario Kart only if you have people available to play with. I'm sure its still fun in single player mode, but given the choice between 1P Mario Kart and some of the other games, I'd be inclined to suggest the other games. Conversely, if you have family or friends that you expect to see over the holidays, I'd advise getting Mario Kart. I have plenty of fond holiday memories playing Nascar '98 and Crash Team Racing with my brothers, and neither of those games are even half of what Mario Kart is supposed to be.
I can't comment on THUG, as I'm not into skateboarding games, but I gather its supposed to be very good if you're into that. I'm sure you've already read this (The W).
True Crime and the Simpsons are both GTA knock-offs. I think the Simpsons game is supposed to be better, but I think the majority of its credit comes from the fact its the first good Simpson's video game. Given the similar nature of the gameplay, I wouldn't recommend getting both of these, if you were going to get one. I suppose this comes down to the strength of your interest in the Simpsons.
Assuming you are of age, here (1up.com) is a rather interesting review of Manhunt.
I've heard good things about Prince of Persia (so if you are at all a fan of the old games, I'd recommend it). I haven't followed Beyond Good and Evil, though.
My recommendations, bearing in mind my own bias, would be Mario Kart, Metroid Prime, and Simpson:H&R.
I hope any of this helps.
(edited by EddieBurkett on 24.11.03 1622) If you're reading this, the tide was in.
LIke most people have already said Metroid Prime is a must. I actually went out and bought a Gamecube just for Metroid and Zelda: The Wind Waker, and I don't feel bad about it at all because they worth it. They are easily the best Gamecube games since they came out in my opinion. Actually the only PS2 game I'd put in the same company is NCAA Football, but i'm a college football mark.
As for the rest, I haven't played the rest of them very much, a couple i've played briefly. I'd say Tony Hawk would be a good choice. I don't like skateboarding and all that other X games stuff so I didn't really enjoy it, but it seems like everyone who likes that kind of stuff likes Tony Hawk Underground. So if you're into that kind of stuff, which i'm guessing you are since you're interested in owning it, then you'll probably like it.
Not sure about the rest, but if I had to choose a game on that list to try I'd probably take Mario Kart before the others. The past Mario Kart games have been great.
Gamespot has an interesting article up reviewing real life as though it were a MMOG. I don't know if their evaluation of race is appropriate, but for the most part its a cute look at what some gamers might be missing out on.