The Game Boy Advance era only lasted for 3 years which was short compared to the original Game Boy but was able to release so many high-quality games that will always be remembered for some. Nintendo also released the Game Boy Advance SP two years after for an improved version of the console.
It was not that long since they released the Nintendo DS just a year after the SP version and there were only a handful of games that went through the Game Boy Advance SP.
There were a ton of sequels of already popular franchises and just a few great ported games, unlike the Game Boy Color. While being on the list is purely subjective, these games have been embraced by the community as well as the critics. These are the best Game Boy Advance games of all time.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Originally made for the SNES in 1991, it also landed on the Game Boy Advance. The game is one of the true Zelda games out there as it brought back the original top-down perspective seen in the original Zelda games as most of the new Zelda games involve side-scrolling adventure games.
It is an instant classic if you port one of the best video games of all time and redefine every improvement you can think of such as graphics, quality of life changes, and overall balance changes.
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
With all the sequels coming out from the Legend of Zelda series, this 12th installment on the series will just burn out fans of the game if they keep continuing the story. So just like Legend of Zelda games that came out in the 2000s, they are usually standalone games where you do not require any of the previous Legend of Zelda games to understand.
While it lacks quality based on the other Legend of Zelda games, it is just because the standard is set so high for a sequel that bears the name Zelda. The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap is definitely one of the best Zelda games that came out for the Game Boy Advance.
Personally, Golden Sun was my favorite Game Boy Advance game out of everything on the list. While there are certain games and franchises that come to mind when it comes to turn-based RPGs, Golden Sun had so much customization, a variety of classes, impeccable stories, and quests that take hours to complete.
For a game on a portable console such as the Game Boy Advance, the attention to detail that they put on the game was astonishing. There is so much exploration that really gets you going and fun puzzles that keep you thinking. The game takes more than 50 hours to finish and might even take longer depending on how you play. While things such as different playthroughs, secrets, and unlockables are lacking, the game is still already worth it.
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 and 3
The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater franchise is definitely video game gold during the early 2000s and they capitalized on that with subsequent sequels maintaining their level of quality with each release. Some might have troubles with the controls since it was on the Game Boy Advance but the D-pad works well for this kind of game and the lack of screen space makes up for it with portability.
They added a ton of game modes, characters and featured linked play where people can compete with one another or even on the leaderboards. The environment is well developed and the creative mode just adds more gameplay to an already addicting sports game that is Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3
Another ported game from the NES, Super Mario Bros. 3 was already an incredible success and they look to bring it back to life in Super Mario Advance 4 on the Game Boy Advance console. Just by being an instant classic during the NES era, it already deserves a spot on the list.
The new features for this port are improved graphics, audio, and the camera to make it fit more on the Game Boy Advance. It also added a few new levels different from the first version and had the e-Reader feature. The e-Reader did not go so well since you needed another Game Boy to access its features.
The bonus levels add a lot of extra content not available in the original version but it is not available on the North American or European versions.
Wario Land 4
The next installment of the popular and critically acclaimed Wario Land series. It is the graphic art and game design that really brings Wario Land 4 on top of the mountain. With the newly added powers and Wario acquiring it by getting hit, which is the exact opposite on all of Nintendo’s popular platformers, it retains the essence of the Wario Land series at the same time making it more unique from the others.
The only problem with the game is that it is extremely short and can be finished in a few hours. Although, it added different paths to take instead of a linear one which gives it much more replayability in compensation. The quality of the game is definitely top-notch.
This Fire Emblem is the 7th installment in the series but it is the first one to grace the Western soils but most of the market is unfamiliar with the franchise. Because of that, the sales for the game were low but Fire Emblem is definitely one of the best RPGs out there.
Fire Emblem is different because it is a tactical role-playing game that is still turn-based but relies heavily on positioning for combat. This made it different from other popular RPGs. What makes the Fire Emblem game great is that they put a ton of effort into the characters you meet and play and strings them together with a brilliant storyline.
The game had great graphics, a good interface, and a user-friendly design. Since the game is quite complicated if you are playing for the series for the first time, they made a great tutorial so casual players can learn quickly.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones was the next title for the Fire Emblem series that released in the Western market too. Building upon Fire Emblem’s rich story, this title was more of the same in terms of game design and continuing the story of the franchise’s most popular characters.
Nothing much to say here that was not really talked about in the previous entry on the list. Another classic tactical RPG that should be in every RPG gamer’s backlog.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Final Fantasy Tactics is different from the Final Fantasy games that became extremely popular. It revolves around clan members and more customization that you would not believe is on a hand-held console. The coolest feature for Final Fantasy is linking with other players to trade items and clan members as well as taking part in missions.
This is rarely seen in Final Fantasy games and this is also the first title in a long time that a Final Fantasy game released on a Nintendo console. While the story is not as good or lacking especially compared to the other juggernaut Final Fantasy titles, the combat is enjoyable enough to be played for countless hours with replayability.
Super Street Fighter II: Turbo Revival
Super Street Fighter 2: Turbo Revival is basically a seamlessly perfect copy but it had one major flaw. It did not feature any multiplayer mode on the Game Boy Advance as people were expecting available linked play battles. This was a major blow to the game but other than that, it was a good Street Fighter game overall.
It ported all the features you can normally play in Street Fighter while maintaining good controls for a hand-held fighting game. They also changed the graphics and artwork to fit better visually for the Game Boy Advance.
Super Mario Advance
Super Mario Advance is basically a combination of Nintendo’s two biggest Mario games in one. They did not add anything significantly new that makes it worth it for those who have played both Super Mario Bros. 1 and Super Mario Bros. 2. Both are still classic games that is why this game is on the last since you get it both for the price of one.
Puyo Pop is another rendition of the popular Tetris game. Instead of blocks falling down, you see colored blob-looking Puyos going down and the goal is to connect 4 colored Puyos to pop and cause a chain reaction of wonderful combos.
Puyo Pop is probably the best Tetris-type game that does not involve the classic blocks. It gives an addicting sensation of wanting to play over and over again until you get jaw-dropping chain combos.
Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire
Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire are the first Pokemon games to come to the Game Boy Advance console. They are also widely considered one of the worst Pokemon games but it was decent enough to be good in my humble opinion. They introduced the next generation Pokemons and a new storyline.
The game featured double Pokemon battles allowing trainers to use two Pokemons at the same time. This also included two on two trainer battles as well. It also introduced nature and innate abilities which had some balancing issues for competitive play. These features are now widely embraced throughout future titles and make catching dupe Pokemons exciting.
Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen
Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen are the remakes of the original Pokemon Red and Blue. It includes a ton of new features widely seen in the current generation Pokemon games at that time and implemented them on the original version. It also featured newer generation Pokemons up to Ruby, Sapphire, Colosseum versions.
They touched on everything to improve the past experience better such as the user interface, quality of life changes, improved graphics, and better connectivity. The FireRed and LeafGreen versions were based on the Japanese releases which were Red and Green instead of Red and Blue. It was only released as Pokemon Red and Blue in the Western market.
Harvest Moon: More Friends of Mineral Town
You cannot have a new hand-held console without a new version of Harvest Moon. With a story as cliché as always, the main thing you play Harvest Moon for is the gameplay of this management sim. The more balanced and deep the content goes, the better the game turns out to be.
Harvest Moon always has you thinking about which one are you going to marry and how are you going to be a big tycoon in the village. There are more explorations you can do in this version of Harvest Moon and you have more freedom with fewer deadlines. Overall, it is a step up from the previous titles and lives up to expectations.
Duke Nukem Advance
Duke Nukem Advance looks like its classic PC version which would make it easier for players to have no qualms with the type of graphics it has and it is also perfect for the hand-held Game Boy Advance console.
There are not a lot of FPS games out there on the Game Boy Advance console and Duke Nukem Advance might be the favorite for best FPS game on it. The game also features a 4-player link battle if you ever find 3 other friends with the game and the Game Boy Advance console.
Duke Nukem shows the same graphics, interface, and gameplay as the famous Doom game but has a quirky and not-so-offensive plot. Evil aliens plan to clone all of Earth’s most attractive women and wipe out the rest of the population. Not the craziest of plots found in games but it definitely sounds like a job for a man named Duke Nukem.
Mega Man Zero franchise
Mega Man Zero introduces a new protagonist named Zero as Mega Man is exploring spin-off options for new game ideas. The whole Mega Man Zero franchise released 4 different titles all on the console which is the Game Boy Advance.
The Mega Man Zero franchise focuses more on building a narrative and improving the character development of Zero and his whole adventure. It is important to build upon Zero and they did it successfully as he became another iconic character in the gaming world.
The Mega Man Zero is game average in terms of difficulty but once you play on a higher difficulty, it drastically increases to a point that it feels like a roguelike game. The Mega Man Zero games from 1 to 4 get better for every title release which is rarely seen in sequels.
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon
Castlevania: Circle of the Moon starts with vampire hunter Nathan Graves and Belmonts will not be around for this title. The plot starts with Morris Baldwin, Nathan’s mentor” disappearing and Nathan Graves goes inside Dracula’s castle to find him.
The gameplay is rather easy and is quite surprising as Nathan Graves seems weaker than the Belmonts. Things are not handed to you on a silver platter and you need to do more exploration as there are inaccessible parts in Dracula’s Castle that require you to unlock the double jump ability first. The game is still great as it is polished and well designed but the previous Castlevania titles just put the standard too high for a spinoff.
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance starts back with another member of the Belmont clan named Juste. He investigates an unknown castle in search of his kidnapped friend Lydie. Later, Juste finds out that the castle belongs to Dracula.
With the Belmont clan back in place against Dracula’s forces, the story felt more compelling to play and they brought in the same elements that made Castlevania great up to this time. The graphics are great and the gameplay feels more accurate with a Belmont around.
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow
Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is the last Castlevania title for the Game Boy Advance console. They introduced another main protagonist named Sona Cruz with a rich backstory. Soma finds himself in Dracula’s castle after visiting a shrine with his friend.
The story takes place in 2035 and the way the game progresses was wonderfully paced. There are a lot of plot twists that keep players immersed in the story while introducing the new Tactical Soul system that added more depth to the combat with new abilities and powers for Soma to use. Playing Soma felt better than Nathan Graves and added more replayability for different combinations to try along with harder difficulties.
WarioWare: Twisted! is probably the most innovative game out of the Wario game series. They introduced a gyro sensor to the cartridge and started the game where Wario broke his Game Boy Advance and showed a new way of playing the game.
WarioWare: Twisted! makes you play your Game Boy Advance with the sensor instead of pressing the buttons. It featured over 200+ minigames and it was perfect for the hand-held Game Boy Advance console for a pick-up-and-play game. Even with the minigames lasting for less than a minute each, it has a ton of replayability and brings hours of fun to complete it all.
Metroid: Zero Mission
Metroid: Zero Mission is probably more niche than any other games on the list since it specifically catered to the fans of the old Super Metroid game. It resembles the same graphics as Metroid Fusion and Super Metroid while added new enemies, sequences, and powers.
They stayed true to the classic Metroid environment it has any one of the best graphics in the genre on the Game Boy Advance console. Fans expected more new things as it took multiple years for another Metroid game to come up. Overall, it is a must-play game for any fans of the series and side-scrolling game enthusiasts.
Advance Wars is a tactical strategy game that could be oddly compared to the Fire Emblem listed above just because of their gameplay similarities. The game has various missions to complete where you command your military army and strategically win the battle.
It has an addicting combat that really lets you think two to three steps ahead especially when you reached the Advanced Campaign. This game brings hours of fun and unique characters or commanders which can alter different playthroughs through your gameplay. It has a ton of replayability because of that even without finishing the Advanced Campaign. It is a must-play game even for those that are not fan of strategy games and most gamers can attest to that.
Mario Kart Super Circuit
The Mario Kart series is basically all the same with minimal changes as this type of game is meant to be played for multiplayer. Mario Kart Super Circuit is just like the classic Super Mario Kart but this time, it is on the Game Boy Advance console.
The game had some issues and the biggest one was the lack of multiplayer which fans crave for this type of game. The controls are also hard but overall, if you are fan of the genre, this game is above average especially for the Game Boy Advance console. You can also get Pro Controller for it and it would just like playing the classic Super Mario Kart game.
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Since Nintendo released two Mario-type role-playing games that turned out to be successful, they introduced a new one instead of a sequel which brought Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga to the Game Boy Advance console. This is one of the best Nintendo released games that came out during the Game Boy Advance era.
This time, you are controlling two characters, Mario and Luigi, that adds a ton of depth to the gameplay compared to its predecessors. The adventure is long and the minigames, as well as the side quests, add a ton of hours to an already long game. The game also did well by adding great comedic lines and the voice acting is superb. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is one of the best games for the Game Boy Advance console and it is a must-play game for first-time players.
The Game Boy Advance brought a ton of highly-rated games in such a short era. There are more to add to the list but most are highly subjective and the games listed in this article are both enjoyed by critics and the majority of the playerbase.