Grab your party hats and streamers kids, because the Game Boy turned 30 this year. Hitting the Japanese market in April, 1989, and our shores later that August, this little grey brick has offered us endless hours of childhood entertainment and wonder.Known for it’s affordability and epic battery life, it also had a deep catalogue of games. Guaranteed, if you had the handheld, you had some of these epic gems.Man, I miss my old GB.
This was an early, early attempt at 3D, and it rocks. This was developed by the same team that ended up making the amazing Star Fox for SNES a year later. Hence, you can see some of the same DNA.Instead of being a rail-based motion shooter, it’s got free-range movement across a planet that makes an incredibly in-depth playing experience.
25) Trip World
This is a rare and highly-sought after 1993 game that was a Japan and Europe exclusive. It’s notable, because unlike a lot of the platformers of the time, there’s no conflict or combat. It’s just about taking a trip, where you encounter unique creatures, pantomime scenarios and a few face-offs.While that might sound boring, it’s surprisingly charming and refreshing. Plus the graphics and sound were the best to ever grace the Game Boy.
24) Game Boy Wars Turbo
We got this game as Advance Wars, and it’s not the prettiest, but it’s addictive. You get to control an army unit by unit, fight for territory and let the computer decide the winner of the engagement. It was rudimentary role-playing, without the always-online 12-year old threatening to sleep with your mom.
23) The Sword of Hope
This was a game series, early in the life of the handheld, similar to Dragon Quest & Shadowgate. It was an interesting and one-of-a-kind hybrid of an American adventure game and a Japanese RPG.Nothing topped the navigation and puzzle solving, with a bit of combat.
Japan Supply system
22) Chalvo 55
This game is a little bit of an odd one. It was released late in the Game Boy’s life, and was a semi-sequel to a Virtual Boy game that never happened. But it was pretty fun.This was an action game that had you play as a bouncing robot, navigating a platform world, that required a precise combo of brains and muscle memory.
21) Avenging Spirit
This was an adaption of an obscure Japanese arcade game, where you possess and control other characters, as a ghost. In order to progress in the game, you need to hop into hosts, and who you hop into, determines your powers.This is one of the ‘holy grail’ titles for the Game Boy that everyone wants to possess, if they’re a hardcore collector.
20) Harvest Moon GB
This was one of the grandfathers of today’s Animal Crossing, and that annoying Farmville on Facebook. It was a low-stress, chilled out kind of game you can just pick up and play when you need to be mellow.All you do is manage a farm, befriend the animals, find a gal and settle down. That’s it! The perfect way to spend some downtime with yourself.
19) Cave Noire
One of the best things about the Game Boy was that you could just pick it up and go, and have some quick sessions of play. That’s why we love Tetris so much.This game, only released in Japan, had that feature. It was a game that had a huge string of procedurally generated mini-dungeons that you can tackle in a mini-session.
18) Kid Dracula
This spin-off of the Castlevania series, is a fun little goofball of a game. Can’t say much else about it.Who doesn’t love playing as a kid version of an undead monster, with fireballs and sick moves?
17) Space Invaders
There was one version that shipped out early in the Game Boy’s life that was ok, but that’s not the best one. There was another version, released later, that was a US exclusive. If you put it in a Game Boy, it was the same old game. Put it in a Super Game Boy and hook it up to your SNES, and it was insane.There were special frames, color palettes and SGB exclusive modes. It also had a separate SNES version of Space Invaders inside of it. Wild.
16) Metroid II: Return of Samus
While most will say this is one of the weaker releases, it’s still a great game. It’s only failing is that it tries to do so much, hence it gets a little sluggish and repetitive at times.But you get more equipment, the Metroids are more savage, and it pushes the story of our favourite bounty hunter into some new places.
15) Mole Mania
Most Game Boy fans overlook this one, as it came out towards the end of the original device, in 1997, but it’s still fun. It’s a smart game that uses the hardware well and introduces some pretty funky challenges and hazards.
14) Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge
While the first and third entries of the Game Boy releases of this series were kinda meh, the second really nailed it. It’s actually one of the finer entries of the entire franchise.The game uses a lot of non-canon mechanics, less unavoidable enemy traps and speedier action to make it a better, portable game. Plus, you get to pick the order in which you tackle the first four stages, with helps make it fun.
13) Gargoyle’s Quest
Much like Kid Dracula, this game put you in the shoes of the villain – the dreaded Red Arremer from Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins.While the game still pays as a side-scroller, it has RPG elements that allow you to hone your attacks, grow in strength and become a badass gargoyle.
12) Heiankyo Alilen
This game might be simple, it’s got a historical pedigree. The original game was a PC classic, released in 1979, and this was it’s first home release for gaming. This was essentially the missing link between Space Invaders, Pac-Man & Lode Runner, and it’s a must play for all old-school gamers.It’s also pretty addictive.
11) Final Fantasy Adventure
This game takes the Zelda RPG format and pushes it further, and adds in the iconic elements from Final Fantasy. While it’s not executed flawlessly, gets a little messy and moronic, it’s still a fun way to kill some time.
10) Mega Man 5
While Capcom made a few different versions of the games, they were all scaled-down ports of the NES games, and weren’t all that spectacular. When it came to the fifth edition, Nintendo and Capcom finally crafted something new.While it’s still not the greatest game and pretty sluggish and cramped, it’s still inventive and kind of addictive to play.
9) Bionic Commando
When it comes to a NES to Game Boy conversion port, it’s either gonna be a meh game (like most are), or a home run. This one was a home run. The game retains the same physics mechanics, retools a lot of the levels to fit the Game Boy better, and edits out the dead-end parts that didn’t work on the NES.It even gives a new finale to the game, that makes it super exciting.
8) Balloon Kid
This is a proper sequel and expansion to the amazing NES game; Balloon Fight. It’s got new mechanics, allows you to float around, as well as do the whole platforming part, and has a whole fun run of secrets to explore. This one is a hidden treasure.
7) Kirby’s Dream Land
This was a breakout title for both HAL Labs and Nintendo, and it’s just so odd and offbeat. Kirby’s MO of sucking, shooting, and absorbing powers is insanely creative and fun.
6) The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
The Zelda series was always one of two things; an adventure game, and a weird trip. This game straddles the two, making some cool changes to the formula, adding in swappable weapons, and a magical feather.This was also the first to make trading a key component and adding in musical instruments as a key element in your journey. This game showed how deep and intricate a GB game could actually be.
5) Wario Land Series
Technically, this could count as being a part of the Super Mario Land series, as part 3 kicks it off, and Mario is no where to be found in that one. But I like to make it it’s own entity, because it really is. The Wario games deal with more puzzles and more physicality and brutal smashing, than the Mario ones. As well, I love the Brown Sugar pirates as villains and the darker turn these games take.
I mean, if Tetris & Super Mario Land, helped the OG GB kick ass, this game helped Nintendo to stay at the forefront of handheld gaming. Considering the nothing about this concept seemed like a slam dunk on paper, it’s amazing how much of a global phenomenon Pokemon became.It’s one thing to have the RPG elements that are known to work, but it was another to have the trading elements and the unique Pokemon in different editions of the game. I mean, I’m not gonna lie, I tried to catch them all on the Red and Blue editions. Never did, though.
This was one of the default games your Game Boy came with, and it’s the reason the console sold so well; it rocks.This was the definitive Game Boy game, and was so god-damned addictive. In fact, the GB version is so much better than the NES one, due it’s simple design and music.
2) Super Mario Land Series
I’m just gonna include the whole thing here, because the games are just awesome. While the first one was a launch title for the handheld and played it safe, 6 Golden Coins & Wario Land got me through some long car trips over the years.Even now, nothing tops these games for replayability and fun.
1) Donkey Kong
You had to see this coming. One of the best arcade games of all time, is definitely gonna be one of the best GB ones too. But what made it kick-ass wasn’t that it was a mere reissue of the 1981 arcade game, oh no. There was so much more to it.With new levels, puzzle-platform stages and nods to Nintendo’s past, it’s an epic game. Hitting the stores in 1994, it set in motion some of the cool moves Mario would have later in Super Mario 64, and also allowed it to be played on Super Game Boy and Super NES, which made it that much cooler.It was a masterpiece of gaming.