There are several amazing games that came out for the Game Boy hand-held console. This is because the original Game Boy era lasted over 9 months since the hand-held console released in 1989 and the next generation (Game Boy Color) released in 1998. This might be the biggest gap in terms of length where a new version of the same console came out.
This is why the era of the original Game Boy had so many classics even if they pump out games at a slower pace. They started porting franchises from the NES and arcade machines which helped fill out their roster as hand-held consoles tend to have a weaker system but they were able to incorporate some games to it flawlessly.
It seems hard to put an actual review rating on these games since they are quite old but most games on this list were able to innovate and push the limits of hand-held gaming and have gamers experience more depth and game design on a console they can just pick up and play anytime. What are the best Game Boy games of all time? Here is our list.
The marvelous Donkey Kong game was originally an arcade game that made it seem like it was a direct port from the arcade to the Game Boy. However, after the first few stages, as it is identical to the arcade machines, you will find different stages apart from the Donkey Kong in arcade machines. This platformer puzzle game successfully brings back the memories of the arcade game into a hand-held device.
It offers over 100+ levels and the music is outstanding. The graphics were surprisingly good for a hand-held device and it really feels like an arcade game you can bring anywhere.
Pokemon Yellow, Blue, and Red
The birth of the highest-grossing media franchises in the world started in 1996 with Pokemon Red and Blue. The Pokemon brand has been number 1 for the longest time due to its popularity and how vast they expand their market. Pokemon Red and Blue game released with two different game titles having the same game but with slight differences.
Pokemon, which is short for Pocket Monsters, was created with the tagline “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” which refers to the 151 catchable Pokemons in the game. Every Pokemon is unique with a rich storyline and all of them are usable in the game. You grow along with the Pokemons you catch and nurture them while participating in battles and such.
Pokemon was a global phenomenon and not only was the game near-perfect but also it was able to branch out with merchandise, films, animation, and a trading card game soon after. The game was good and popular. Pokemon (Gen 1) had over a hundred hours of replayability and the system of where the Red and Blue feature different sets of Pokemon made people socialize to actually collect them all.
Another thing that made Pokemon more unique is that each Pokemon has a different set of stats called IVs or individual values. This is technically hidden in the game but it is important to know this for competitive Pokemon battling and the franchise improved this system in the future to make way for a competitive esports game.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is one of the best classics for the Game Boy. This treasured game is held by most gamers as the pinnacle of the Game Boy system. The immense depth that The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening brings as if it were on a next-gen system or console.
Many were skeptical of the game as fans thought it would be a lesser game from the Legend of Zelda franchise because it is a Game Boy release. They were right to be skeptical but Nintendo was able to release Link’s Awakening surpassing all expectations and went on to be considered the best game on the Game Boy system.
Tetris is by far the best selling video game of all time and it is not just on the Game Boy console but on every system or console combined. This is because Tetris sale is counted as one entity no matter what name they put on it as long as it is Tetris. It might not sound impressive because of that but this game has gotten players or even casuals addicted to it. The game is just that good.
The game is straightforward, but it takes thousands of hours to master it. You take randomly generated blocks and drop them skillfully down to form lines without leaving any misguided blocks that would not fit with what you already have.
The Final Fantasy Legend
The Final Fantasy Legend series is quite different from the Final Fantasy we know and love. It was the very first RPG on the Game Boy which was beaming with expectations but it lacked the depth of what Final Fantasy usually brings. Due to that, it does not really fit the Final Fantasy series.
For an RPG game on the Game Boy, it did not disappoint that much because the gameplay was ambitious to put the class system in and added more style to a hand-held device. The party system was dynamic and gave more customizable options that RPGs crave to have. While the game has certain flaws, Final Fantasy Legend is a great game just because of the gameplay system.
Bionic Commando is a platformer game made by Capcom but with a different twist. Instead of the usual jumping around, Spencer swings around to get by instead. The game is challenging now that is on a Game Boy console instead of an arcade machine which allows movement to be more manageable. This way, the developers were able to increase the level of difficulty while adding more gameplay elements to the mix.
Bionic Commando is not that linear when it comes to the story missions as you can get lost trying to swing around and not knowing where to go or where your location is. It lacked a few stages and missions that made the game more shallow but this was still a positive version of what you would otherwise get from an arcade machine.
Super Mario Land
Super Mario Land was one of the first games you can get with the new Game Boy as some devices even packaged the game with it. Most of the Super Mario titles have the same winning elements that make it an enjoyable side-scrolling platformer.
Super Mario Land was a great game even if some of the creatures were miniaturized. This is maybe because the Game Boy did not have the biggest and widest screens for a hand-held device so the design was leaning towards the safe side especially during the Game Boy release. It probably made the Super Mario Land title become the quirkiest of the series as the newer version of Super Mario had a closer camera view that made everything scale bigger.
Mega Man 5
The popular Mega Man series started with the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES and Mega Man 5 is the first title released outside NES. Mega Man was probably the best game you can play where you can switch it off and on anytime you want and play it anywhere.
This action platformer game revolves around Mega Man or Rock Man who is a lab assistant for a robot engineer. They fight against Dr. Albert Wily with a ton of futuristic weapons as well as Mega Man’s Mega Buster. The game is more fast-paced than most side-scrolling platformers and the game offers more depth as well compared to others.
Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge
Konami’s 2nd run at their vampire-slaying platformer came to the Game Boy in 1991. The difference with Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge is that they made it slightly different than your regular platformer as the developers wanted you to choose how you want to finish things.
This similar approach also applies to the Mega Man series as it gave the players more flexibility with their playthrough rather than making it short and linear. The change made the level design more compact and more engaging combat mechanics for the players. The soundtrack was also amazing considering it came out in the early 90s as the music blends well with all the vampire-slaying and the environment.
Space Invaders was one of the oldest and most popular arcade games and with all the popularity in the late 70s, they were able to make one for the Game Boy device and other future platforms. The game was the same but featured more levels, in fact, there were a hundred of them, with more different aliens, and worlds to add more depth from their simple arcade game back then.
To be brutally honest, it was an average game with the standards of games rising up every year. It just brought nostalgia to most of the people who loved Space Invaders back then and added more things to make it more special and different. The gameplay is pure and simple and is a perfect hand-held game to be played anytime and anywhere.
Harvest Moon GB
Harvest Moon GB was the first Harvest Moon in the series to be released on the Game Boy. It offers the same addicting gameplay where you take the role of a farmer when your grandfather asks you to renovate his farm. Much like all of the Harvest Moon games, even now, they all have the same story and the fun starts with the management.
As management games go, the more content and flexibility you give to the player, the better the game usually goes. For the Game Boy, it already featured a ton of things like managing crops, animals, tools, house expansions, and making profits. It is also the first Harvest Moon game to feature a female protagonist. The game has hours of fun up until you are fed up with managing your farm as this is how it usually goes for management games.
Kirby’s Dream Land
Kirby’s Dream Land is another platformer entry from Nintendo which is more quirky and cute than the rest of the platformer games. This pink and puffy protagonist and most of the gameplay elements seen in Super Mario is a good combination but a highly repetitive one if you are looking for something different from it.
This was the first installment of Kirby’s adventure into video games and it was adequate at best because it was almost the same as Super Mario with more charming and whimsical characters.
Same as the previous game mentioned, Wario Land is another platformer entry from Nintendo that focuses more on the bad boy Wario from the Super Mario Land series. It was an odd take for Nintendo to feature the main character from the other end of the spectrum but their plot revolves around Wario trying to obtain a castle of his own and will stop at nothing to attain it.
It has the same gameplay elements as Super Mario Land where you jump over monsters but this time, Wario has more abilities depending on what he is wearing. There are secret spots hidden around the game where Wario can obtain items to wear and gain the abilities. This added more fun elements to the game which kind of made Wario Land an improved version of Super Mario Land.
Pokemon Trading Card Game
The Pokemon Trading Card Game Boy game is literally based on Pokemon’s real-life trading card game. Pokemon was so popular that even the trading card game became one of the most popular card games in the genre. That was how big Pokemon was back then and even up to now.
Without the limitation of obtaining cards and finding friends to play with, the game had a progression system that does not just give you cards willy-nilly but you have to grind for them and battle out against other trainers with the same adventure elements you find in the original Pokemon game but this time, with cards.
The game also offers link battles where you can duke it out against other players as long as you are near each other. The game came out on the Game Boy Color shortly after the device released but this game is also playable on the original Game Boy.
Dr. Mario is not your ordinary Mario game. It is a clone of the original Tetris game with an added twist. As the title implies, Mario is a doctor and the blocks that are falling on your side of the Tetris board are called viruses. To remove them, you need to stack the viruses of the same colors on top of each other to have them removed.
This was a different twist that added more complication to the perfectly simple Tetris game that made it incredibly addicting and fun. While Dr. Mario is a lesser version of the Tetris game, it was still great because of the smooth two-player connectivity where you can fight another player instead of playing for a high score.
A ton of Nintendo’s biggest gaming franchise titles started on the Game Boy including the biggest gaming brand (Pokemon) of all time by Game Freak. Personally, the original Pokemon game was the most influential game of all time as most of the children back then would have their most memorable gaming moments from that game alone.
There could have been more titles on the list as most of the games on the Game Boy console would be unique and innovative but sometimes lack other aspects because of limitations. Overall, this list is flooded with platformers which might not be that popular today but they help shape the gaming scene by showing how fun they could be.