Rare stuck a lot of content into this little cartridge, providing great value for money. Like the rest of the series it features a varied collection of enemies and locations for you to work your way through. It may not do anything new, but it does it very well. Donkey Kong Land III is a good looking, great sounding Game Boy title, but more importantly it's a lot of fun to play. Arguably the best of the DKL trilogy and one of the best options for platform fans on the portable.
The first of the SaGa RPG series (rebranded in the west with the hot-ticket 'Final Fantasy' label), its two sequels would improve upon the template laid down here, but RPG traditionalists will still find much to like in the original game. Although it was designed to be a shorter experience more suited to a portable machine, it’s a tough little game and still worth a look all these years later.
Kirby’s Dream Land was and remains an exceptionally charming platformer, although you might find that the pink puff’s debut Game Boy adventure feels a bit too elementary these days. Many years-worth of nostalgia gives us huge affection for Kirby but dipping those rose-tinted glasses for a moment reveals a slightly pedestrian title that was outpaced by its descendants in virtually every way. Kirby’s genesis is strong, though, even if the irresistible puffball’s done better since.
Bless you all for appreciating this wonderful, strange piece of kit! Development on the Game Boy Camera project was led by Hirokazu ‘Hip’ Tanaka and the software within is full of odd audio-visual ticks, as if the spirit of the WarioWare games somehow infected the hardware. Eccentric Game & Watch-esque minigames accompany the base photo mode which enabled you to snap 128x112 pixel shots and stamp them with tiny pictures. Owners of its sister peripheral, the Game Boy Printer, could print out their masterpieces on thermal paper and distribute them accordingly.
Japanese 64DD owners could link the camera to Mario Artist: Talent Studio to create avatars of themselves a long time before Miis existed, and we still wish Rare’s plans to enable players to import photos into Perfect Dark multiplayer had made it past Nintendo. Still, we’re very glad that something as silly as this managed to see the light of day at all. If David Lynch ever made a lo-fi digital camera, it would look something like this.
26. Tetris 2 (GB)
This time it’s personal. A sequel to the system-selling puzzler was an absolute given, of course, and looking back on Tetris 2 all these years later, it’s admirable just how much of a departure it was from the original classic. Named Tetris Flash in Japan, it takes the basic falling-blocks gameplay but adds in a match-three element with irregularly-shaped tetrominos. It’s jarring at first if disappearing horizonal lines are burnt into your brain, but give it time and you’ll find a surprisingly addictive little puzzle game in its own right.
Having secured the rights to Tetris, Nintendo wasn’t shy about expanding/exploiting the concept in various other puzzle games. Known as Bombliss in Japan, Tetris Blast has each of the falling blocks (this time mixing two and three-block shapes in with the standard tetrominos) contain at least one bomb. Completing a line causes any bombs contained in that line to explode with a set radius. If you manage to obliterate the entire board, you move on to the next stage. It’s a fun variation on the original game with a password system and a Fight mode where you battle against comical bosses which move around the well. It’s a unique and fun take on the original – check it out.
24. Operation C (GB)
This is without a doubt a Contra game (or Probotector if you’re a robot-loving European) more worthy of its title than, say, certain PlayStation entries. It hits on most of the aspects that make a good entry: challenging gameplay, tight controls, varied enemies, killer arsenal, macho tunes, big bosses. For a title two years into the mighty portable’s lifespan, it accomplishes an impressive amount in shrinking the essentials of the beloved console/arcade series. Sadly, players are forced to go gung-ho solo, which is disheartening for multiplayer fans and kills some of its longevity, but it’s remarkable just how well the game holds up on the humble Game Boy and fans of the NES games would foolish to pass this up.
Only the second in the series of life-sim farming games following the debut game on Super Nintendo, Harvest Moon sees you visited by an apparition of your dead grandpa who tasks you with taking up the mantle of Ranch Master and managing the family farm. Cue sowing seeds, harvesting crops and selling them to buy more gear enabling you to reap more and build a farm that dear old gramps would have been proud of – if your efforts don’t meet with his ghostly approval it’s Game Over, so look lively! It’s certainly simple by modern standards, but the Game Boy edition still has plenty of charm.
Known as Panel de Pon in Japan, Tetris Attack was released on Game Boy and Super Nintendo, although it’s Tetris in name only – the actual game bears almost no resemblance to the portable’s killer app. The western version also saw characters from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island co-opted in an effort to attract an audience. Despite this blatant marketing ploy, Tetris Attack is a cracking block-swapping puzzler in its own right and well worth checking out alongside its more famous Russian namesake.
With more levels to play through and extra items to collect than its predecessor, Donkey Kong Land 2 is certainly a bigger game, although it’s a little similar to Diddy's SNES outing, which might take the shine off for people who have played that entry in the DK canon. Luckily the varied bunch of levels and enemies ensure that the game is still fun to play through. There's some cracking music, too, and with the amount of content Rare managed to cram into the game there's enough here to keep players occupied for some time.