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Ten Game Boy Games You Should Be Playing

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Here are ten Game Boy games that you should be playing.

With anticipation already building as to whether or not Nintendo is going to actually bring classic Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance titles to the DSi system via some type of Virtual Console service, we thought it would be fun to sit down and come up with a list of ten classic Game Boy games we think should be on everyone's wish list.

Now for this list we've decided to stick with the original Game Boy titles rather than Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance releases. Rest assured, we'll certainly get to those Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance titles in a future article.

What more can you honestly say about Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins other than it's probably the single greatest Game Boy title ever created. The original Super Mario Land game was groundbreaking when it was released alongside the Game Boy system, but by the time Super Mario Land 2 was developed, Nintendo's developers had a much stronger grasp of the system's hardware capabilities and were able to do things in this sequel that just weren't thought possible when the original title was created. This game contains everything a great Super Mario Bros. title should contain and proves that the Game Boy system is fully capable of a full-blown Super Mario adventure, even on the system's small screen.

Kid Dracula was originally intended as a spoof of Konami's popular Castlevania series, but it turned out to be a pretty amazing game itself. The game brings many of the classic platforming elements made famous by the Castlevania titles and adds in a few new game play twists to make it stand out from the crowd. Kid Dracula can not only shoot out his energy bullet, but he can also turn into a bat and fly through the air for a short amount of time. This adds a unique play control variable to an already solid platforming experience. Couple all of these elements with some of the zany bosses the game features and you have what is easily one of the most overlooked platforming experiences of the era. Given the rarity of this title, it would make a perfect addition to a DSi Virtual Console service should one ever exist.

Many game fans dismissed this Game Boy sequel to the NES hit action title as being nothing more than a cheap way to cash in on the success of the NES release. But what they didn't know was that not only was Metroid II every bit as good as the original NES release, in some ways it was even better. The game takes everything that was great about the original Metroid and packages it into a more compact design. All of the trademark Metroid game play remains intact and the overall scope of the game is just as big as the original title. For those who just can't get enough of the original Metroid, this sequel offers up plenty of additional action and you can even take it with you on the go. Anyone that thinks that this is nothing more than a dumbed-down portable Metroid experience needs to take a closer look at this amazing Game Boy release.

The Dragon Quest/Warrior releases were already well established franchises by the time Enix released their spin-off of the series Dragon Warrior Monsters. Combining Pokemon-like monster capturing abilities with many of the RPG ideas from their Dragon Warrior titles, Enix was able to create a very unique and wildly playable gaming experience. Not only does the title offer up countless hours of monster-raising action, but it offers an almost endless amount of replay value as well. There are hundreds of monsters to capture, breed, and train and the game even offers up a unique story line to go along with it. Whether you're a Dragon Quest fan or not, you owe it to yourself to at least give this unique and charming game a try.

It's not very often that a Game Boy release actually eclipses an NES release when it comes to visuals, but Kid Icarus: Of Myths & Legends does just that. Not only does it feature some impressive Game Boy graphics, but it's also got the game play to back it up. The Game Boy release didn't exactly light up sales charts, so it's little wonder that many gamers missed out on this Game Boy release the first time around. That being said, it's a real shame as this is one of the better releases for the system and a testament to just how visually capable the system truly is when in the right hands. All the mythological-themed platforming returns and the game is every bit as tough as its NES counterpart. If you're a fan of the original release, you absolutely must track this game down. It's as good now as it ever was.

Wario Land is where the Super Mario Land series officially launched a spin-off that would turn into one of Nintendo's most popular Game Boy series. This time, Mario's arch-nemesis Wario takes the lead roll and he brings an all-new play control system with him. While the game has a very different feel when compared to the previous Super Mario Land releases, it does inject a fresh style into the game and gives the game an identity all its own. There's still plenty of platforming action to enjoy, and the quest is also fairly lengthy, so don't expect to blow right through this one. Couple these new game play ideas with some extremely creative boss fights and you have not only a worthy sequel to the outstanding Super Mario Land 2 , but one heck of a debut for the Wario Land series as well.

When it was announced that Nintendo was bringing their Zelda series to the Game Boy system, many gamers worried that the game might be a bit too bold for the limited capabilities of the system. Of course all these concerns were quickly put to rest once gamers got a chance to play the finished product. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening was not only an extremely capable release, but it set new standards for what was thought possible on the portable game system. No corners were cut in the development of the game and it was every bit as epic a quest and just as challenging as any of the previous Zelda releases. While there were many outstanding game titles released for the Game Boy system, Zelda: Link's Awakening remains, by far, one of the most impressive.

The Adventure Island titles were released on quite a few different systems during the 8-bit era, so it's not too surprising that the Game Boy would see a couple of releases as well. The original Adventure Island game was certainly a solid release, but Hudson really outdid themselves with Adventure Island 2: Aliens in Paradise. The game features all the trademark Adventure Island game play from previous titles, but this release also offers up a new power-up system that adds even more playability to the mix. Combine this new power-up element with tons of challenging platforming action and you have what is still one of the best Adventure Island releases on any console, portable or otherwise. Who would have thought that the Game Boy system would prove to be such a perfect outlet for the Adventure Island series?

The Final Fantasy series was finally beginning to take off outside of Japan when Square announced that they'd be developing an original title in the series for Nintendo's Game Boy system. Final Fantasy Legend III might be a portable game system release, but it features a quest that's every bit as epic and challenging as those found in the console releases. Square was able to squeeze quite a bit of length into this Game Boy release and it still features one of the most unique Final Fantasy story lines in history. The game is fairly basic as far as the combat system goes, but if you can appreciate the early era of console RPGs, you'll likely find a lot to like with this wonderful Game Boy release.

The Mystical Ninja games were not terribly popular outside of Japan during the time when this Game Boy title was released, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable. The game is very heavy in Japanese influences and has a very quirky sense of humor, but the play control is solid and there's plenty of variety within the various game play elements to keep things interesting. For anyone that's played any of the 8 or 16-bit Goemon titles, you'll know exactly what to expect from this portable release. The game sports some great visuals and one of the more catchy Game Boy soundtracks of the time period. If you're not afraid to try something a bit different, Mystical Ninja should be right up your alley. It's got plenty of charm and personality to keep you into the action.

Well there you have it. Ten Game Boy titles that should not be missed. Now that you've seen our list, we'd like to hear what classic Game Boy titles you think belong in every gamer's collection.

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User Comments (83)



Supermarioman said:

Man if only I could get my hands on some of these games, but I'm finding most of them hard to find, especially Metroid II, Super Mario Land 2, Link's Awakening, and Super Mario Land 3. I have Kid Icarus and thats it, I recently saw Final Fantasy III, but was broke at the time.



Corbs said:

I've never had as much trouble narrowing any list down to ten as I did this list. It was excruciating leaving some of the games off that I wanted to include. I'm anxious to see some of the games that pop up in the comments.



Objection said:

Pretty good list. I'm surprised that Red/BLue isn't on there but I guess that would be too conforming.



MarkyVigoroth said:

What? No Pokémon?
Anyways, I had 6 Golden Coins, my house had seen Dragon Warrior Monsters, and I had played Link's Awakening.



Bahamut_ZERO said:

Great list Corbie. These are great, and I own most of them. But seriously, no Red/Blue? It may be my Pokemon fanboy instincts talking, but this list ticks me off due to lack of Pokemon.



Monkeh said:

Link's Awakening.. how I loved that game. The best gameboy game in my book.



Corbs said:

As I said, there were about 25 games that I wanted to put on this list that didn't make it. And I bet I changed the 10 games about 20 times before I settled on these. So many great GB games out there!



TourianTourist said:

I would have chosen "Final Fantasy Adventure" (Mystic Quest) instead of FF Legend, but still a good list. My favorite GB games were:

1. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
2. Mystic Quest
3. Metroid II - Return of Samus
4. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
5. Tetris

But Link's Awakening will definitely remain in my list of all time favorites. This was the first game I ever got obsessed with.



Bahamut_ZERO said:

@Corbie: NO EXCUSE!!!! Pokemon is the greatest franchise ever, and the beginning title deserves to be here!

....Sorry I went all fanboy on you but.....its Pokemon.....Im a PKMN fanboy....... soooooo.... yeah....



KeeperBvK said:

Mole Mania, Pokemon Red/Blue, Donkey Kong '94, Mystic Quest aka Final Fantasy Adventure...those are among the very best games I've ever played and I can't see them not being on a list like this when there's Adevnture Island II and Kid Dracula on it.
And Goemon would have been a great game if it didn't have that running minigame.



metakirbyknight said:

Please note while reading this comment, I have a lot of fanboyism towards the Kirby series and sprite based 2-D platformers in general.

I need Kirby games, I will go on strike against this service until I get a Kirby game. I had a thought, what if a they released a gyroscope cart and you could play Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble and WarioWare Twisted. I know it's probably a waste but still!



Dazza said:

Heh heh just pulling your leg, trust you to go for obscure choices like Super Mario Land 2!



warioswoods said:

All your screenshots are true grayscale; everyone knows that the real Game Boy had a wonderful yellowish hue, sadly lost in the later hardware iterations



Chrono_Cross said:

Heres some games for you Corbie:

Operation C
Dr. Mario- gotta love it lol
Mega Man V

Though I always liked the Game Boy Advance more than the original.



King_Elemento said:

I'm glad you didn't number them, because then the comments would be full of people arguing "Why is SML2 not at top?" and people against them saying "Why is LA not number one?" etc.
All in all, a great list a very much agree with.
But you say you had about 25 games you wanted in this list... 25 is a nice number, why not make it a top 25 article, instead?



Outrunner said:

Mario Land 1 is better than 2. I'd love to try Adventure Island though and Tetris Attack. I haven't played that for years.



WarioFan63 said:

Shouldn't Dragon Quest Monsters be classified as a GBC game? I was under the impression you weren't going to count hybrid cartridges.



JaredJ said:

I still have DuckTales for GameBoy. It's one of my favorite games of all time.



Corbs said:

Shouldn't Dragon Quest Monsters be classified as a GBC game? I was under the impression you weren't going to count hybrid cartridges.

I didn't count Game Boy Color-specific titles or Game Boy Advance titles. That being said, I did allow for the games that were both GB/GBC. That was why it was so brutally hard to leave Wario Land II off the list. And Operation C was the last game I removed from the list before getting at the final ten.



Dazza said:

Gargoyle's Quest would easily make my top 10. It totally blew me away when it came out. It felt streets ahead of all the other early GB games.



Corbs said:

The original GB screen was more yellow than green. I almost did the shots in the standard yellow, but changed my mind. I do that a lot. And Daz, I completely forgot about Gargoyle's Quest. Good catch.



warioswoods said:


Hopefully Nintendo will give us the same choice if they ever get around to a DSi VC, and will let the player switch between classic or grayscale modes. The yellow was part of the basic hardware to me; it's how those games actually looked. Link's Awakening seems so strangely empty and sterile in the screenshots above.



BulbasaurusRex said:

I was going to say that Pokémon Yellow (better than Red/Blue) needs to be on this list, but if GB/GBC games count, then it's even more of a crime that you didn't include Pokémon Gold/Silver on this list!



CowLaunch said:

I always thought the screen was green. Anyone have a Super Game Boy cartridge? You could change the colour scheme on that.

Ah, Wario Land 2, anyone remember the VERY (there were lots of 'last' levels) last level? That was tough.



Corbs said:

I'm sitting here staring at my original Game Boy screen and it's more of a goldish/green color. More gold than green.

@ warioswoods - How about that? Better?



warioswoods said:

Hooray, now the screenshots look much better. Something's just missing when you see them in grayscale. Also, I agree with Corbie that the original system is more gold or yellowish than it is green, especially when you're holding it under a lamp, as you had to in order to see anything. With more subdued lighting the greenish hue is a bit more evident, as I recall.



Corbs said:

Yeah it's a yellowish gold color, but the green does become more prevalent when you get in less light. I still get a kick out of dragging this old Game Boy system out from time to time, even though I do use the Super Game Boy 2 most of the time.



Ricardo91 said:

Come on! No Pokemon!? I realize you have obscure tastes, Corb, but choosing Adventure Island over the Pokemans is just... Blasphemy!!

The lack of FF Adventure and Gargoyle's Quest makes me sad too.

Though I do like you throwing a shout-out to KI: OMaM. That one doesn't really get the recognition it deserves. I never understood why people say it's so much worse than the original KI...



SupermarketZombies said:


(Note: DWM is for GBC at least in the US, did Europe see a release for the GB?)



Corbs said:

The US DWM is a Gameboy/Gameboy Color game, not a Game Boy Color specific title. It's a both ways game.

And I wouldn't put a Pokemon game on my list if you held a gun to my head.



Corbs said:

Okay then I'd put a Pokemon game on the list. Of course it would be the Ten Game Boy Games You Should Never Play Under Any Circumstances list.



Corbs said:

I bought Pokemon Blue years ago and I absolutely hated it. I can honestly say that I have not played a single Pokemon game since. Maybe one of these days I'll try one again, who knows.



MarkyVigoroth said:

What if I put an Evoker (non-lethal gun that releases a summons from your psyche when shot at the head) to your head?



Ricardo91 said:

Eh, I guess it kinda makes sense that you didn't care for it. You probably played a crapload of 16-bit RPGs before you played Pokemon, so you had far better RPG experience beforehand. Pluys, I guess you appreciate it's greatness better when you're 8 years old.

@Marky. It wouldn't make much of a difference.



Kawaiipikachu said:

Well i wouldn't count on being a Portable Virtual Console on Nintendo's Stopgap system .
I just hoping that Nintendo's true 8gen portable has virtual console .



SmaMan said:

I had a lot of fun with blue. I remember I had an undefeated Lv68 Blastoise! Then I got a Game Shark and screwed the whole game up and I had to start over.

My favorite GB game not on this list would have to be X! That game is awesome, and a VC on the DSi is the perfect place to get it now that I've bought what I believe to be the last mint-condition copy on eBay.



Corbs said:

Don't feel bad Pokemon fans, I'm sure you feel like I do when people make their favorite game lists and leave off the shooters.



warioswoods said:

It's been so long since I've played Super Mario Land 2. I'd love to give it another go. As much as I enjoyed it, though, it never felt like a true Mario title to me; Mario's handling, the level design, the enemies, and most other details just don't mesh with the Mario series at all, which of course makes sense given the fact that these handheld Mario games were developed by another team at Nintendo, not involving Miyamoto at all. I'm glad that Kiyotake and the rest of the team for these GB titles subsequently decided to stop trying to fit the Mario series and spawned the Wario Land series instead.



Corbs said:

While I love Super Mario Land 2, I personally love the Wario Land games a bit more, especially the first one and #4 on the Game Boy Advance. I'm still waiting for Wario Land 5.



TwilightV said:

Pokèmon is more a GBC release... but here are a few I thought should be on:

1. Donkey Kong
2. Daedalian Opus
3. Mole Mania
4. Some Mickey Mouse Title (The name escapes me, but he used magic wands, and the villain was a witch)



Corbs said:

Can somebody explain to me why Pokemon Yellow isn't on the list?

Same reason Pokemon Blue isn't on the list.

And Donkey Kong was another one that barely missed the ten picks. BARELY!



deadly_by_design said:

I'm still wondering where my SML2 game cart is... My favorite GB games were on this list, plus a few I'd never played. Nice job.



Aenaida said:

I love SML2. One of my favourite GB/GBC games. Behind Pokemon Silver.

Link's Awakening is another game I hold close to my heart (although I've only played the DX version).



MrDziekuje said:

Dragon Warrior Monsters is such a great game. I've put countless hours into that thing.



StarDust4Ever said:

I still need to get Super Mario Land II and Wario Land to complete my Wario/Mario Land collection



Twilight_Crow said:

This list is a pretty good one; I liked pokemon blue/red but if Corbie didn't, well, I can live without it, still, it needs my favorite GB game: Mole Mania, I truly love that one.



Phalyn said:

I have SML2, Warioland, & Link's Awakening (original and color DX) indeed some great classics there



taps said:

Once again great piece by Corbie and some great user mentions. Lots of new discoveries for me personally on this little webpage. A couple of questions, has anybody played/have comments about the following games: Balloon Kid GB (1990), Bionic Commando GB (1992), Bionic Commando Elite Forces GBC (1999), or Wave Race GB (1992?) Any opinions are appreciated, all release dates North American.



maka said:

Great list. Some of those were favorites of mine too, and some I haven't played, but will have to eventually (let's hope the VC for DSi comes soon )

Super Mario Land 2 was actually the first GB title I got into when a friend lent us his GB for a couple of weeks on summer holidays (it had only that game in it). We finished it but still played on. It's one of the most enjoyable Mario 2d titles around... This was years before I decided to actually buy one...

Links Awakening DX was one of the first games I played when I bought my first GBC and I still think it's the best GB/GBC title ever, and one of the best Zeldas ever (I still have a soft spot for the 2d Zelda titles, especially from the SNES game onwards).

There are some games I really enjoy that aren't on that list. The GB Picross games were great, and as always with that series, the puzzles were very good. I especially liked the ones where a big picture would be formed by solving 4 puzzles. The Warioland title I enjoyed the most was Warioland II, but that was only for GBC, wasn't it? Another favorite back then was Mario Golf, with its RPG-like gameplay...



KeeperBvK said:

I'm a bit disappointed you didn't react to my recommendations for the list, Corbie. Apart from games other people also mentioned by now with you replying to it: Please say something about Mole Mania, one of the most unique and best games ever in my books.



SmaMan said:

How much of a difference is there between Link's Awakening and Link's Awakening DX besides color? I'm just wondering because I picked up DX again yesterday.



dagreenone said:

wow the hatred by all the pokemon fans. Relax guys, its probably number 11 or something.

The only game I'm surprised about not seeing is Dr. Mario. An amazing puzzle game made better by being portable.



Ricardo91 said:

@Smaman. Not much. The DX version adds a new color-based dungeon and a mouse character that takes photos throughout the game, which you can print out with a Game Boy Printer, but that's about it. It might not seem like much, but the new dungeon is awesome, and the game is a lot better with color anyway.

I also just remembered Donkey Kong '94. It saddens me not to see that one either. Now I REALLY hope that VH comes out soon so I can check out/revisit all these fine classics, particularly Kid Dracula!



Turbo_Genesis_64 said:

Corbie is Nintendo Life! This guy and his insights are just what this site needs. I like the fact he doesn't do just the obvious choices. Kid Dracula is just the kind of curve ball selection that lists like these need.

Personally, I would like to sing the praise of Quarth and Revenge of the Gator. Both are lost treasures, that the sands of time have buried.

Even though, I like Wario Land, I would of rather had SML 3 be more like SML 2. I agree that SML 2 is the high water mark for the system and a true follow-up sequel would of been awesome!!!



Steve_Brule said:

Metroid II was not just in some ways better, it was better in every way than the original. Its graphics were drasically improved, the world's atmosphere was vastly better, way better music, the game's progression seemed way more logical, not random like the original NES Metroid, the world felt expansive without always feeling lost, just a way, way better game, and still one of my favorite in the series. The control was far more comfortable as well, and it introduced a lot of concepts that are still in the series, like more morph ball upgrades and different mutations of metroids.
And Donkey Kong should definitely be on this list.



mjc0961 said:

Super Mario Land 2, Wario Land, and Link's Awakening are all awesome games. Now I want to play them again, hehe. You guys stink for adding more to my "I want to play this" pile.



Cally said:

I really liked Super Mario Land 2 as a follow-up to Super Mario World, since it doesn't have much in common with SML1.

Likewise, I played Pokemon Red/Blue with a friend and we had a lot of stupid fun with it. I think I caught about 143 or something, but after that, I didn't see the use for the thing. Silly combat system and fickle Pokeball mechanics made the thing forgettable, and didn't take long at all for better things to come along. I do like some of the characters, though.

Metroid 2 was great but kinda hairy, somehow managing to just feel even more strange than the first one, broken into sections.

Actually Zelda: Link's Awakening is the only portable game up to that time that didn't feel less significant than its console counterparts.

Final Fantasy Legend is the "SaGa" series in Japan. Missing the SNES entries in the US is one of the saddest things I've heard of (a friend of mine from Japan tells me it's great). But I've never been very tenacious about tracking down fansubs . . .



CanisWolfred said:

Kid Dracula looks pretty sweet, although I'd prefer the Japanese NES version. The rest I either own or just don't care about. Metroid II is definitely a must-buy though, just be prepared to get lost a lot. So is DW Monster, which I personally hold as highly as the old pokemon series. I never cared for Link's Awakening. It's good, but it doesn't hold up as well as the later portable games, or just about any of it's console counterparts.



Corbs said:

I agree 100% that the Japanese NES version of Kid Dracula is even better than the GB release. Great game indeed! But it does have some serious slowdown issues.



hamispink said:

WHERES POKEMON YELLOW!!!!!!!!!!! , i did recently get super mario land 2, and I loved it



Turbo_Genesis_64 said:

I bought Pokemon Red when it first came out after reading about it been a huge craze in Japan. Honestly,I didn't think it was going to repeat the success over here, but sure enough it did.

I'm with Corbie, I just was never that impressed by the game. Perhaps, if I played it as a kid I would of been more a fan. However, superior RPG games like Phantasy Star for the SMS just sort of eclipsed Pokemon in my book.

Even though, I come down hard on Pokemon, I am glad that it has helped make RPGs more mainstream. Who knows, I might try the GBA Pokemon game someday!



Corbs said:

I actually picked up Pokemon Platinum this afternoon to try out. It's been a long time since I've tried a Pokemon game so I thought, to be fair, I should at least give it a try.



Other_Dave said:

Narrowing it down to 10 is tough, I'm trying but can't.
But Link's Awakaning would definitely be on there as would Faceball 2000 - oh how I'd love to try a 16 player deathmatch on that.



blackknight77 said:

Revenge of the Gator would also be a great addition. It's a quirky pinball game by HAL labs. It would make a great addition if the DSi adds a Virtual console.



SmaMan said:

I still like the Gold/Silver generation the best. The GBA gen. after that just showed that they were running out of ideas, but they got a bit better in the DS gen.



Crunc said:

I just finished SUPER MARIO LAND 2: 6 GOLDEN COINS, and that was the first time I'd played it (I don't mean I completed it in one session, I mean when I started playing it a short while back it was the first time I'd ever played it.) It is really a great game. Thanks for this list of other games I need to check out.

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