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Image: Nintendo Life

Well, it happened — Game Boy games are finally on the Nintendo Switch Online service. This is another one of those rumours that we've been hearing about for a good while now, and in February 2023, Nintendo just snapped its fingers and popped seven rather lovely classics onto NSO just like that.

Originally, the lovely people here at NL Towers got together in September 2021 to come up with some dream titles that we'd like to see on Game Boy NSO. Dream was the key, and we got a bit creative with some of our choices, and only one of them ended up being right — Link's Awakening.

Other titles that have joined Link's adventure on Koholint Island are Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins, Metroid II: Return of Samus, Tetris, and — one of the most interesting choices — Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare. We also know that both Zelda: Oracle of Seasons and Oracle of Ages are also coming in the future, along with the Pokémon Trading Card Game and Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble.

So, given the recent news, we've given this a good old tidy-up and added some other games to the list that we think also deserve to make the jump. We did the same with our dream Game Boy Advance games, too. You can take it as read that we want those, but below you'll find some smaller, more personal picks (along with a few obvious favourites we just couldn't resist).

So, sit back and get an insight into quite a few childhoods as we share some of our team's hopes and dreams for Game Boy / Color on Nintendo Switch Online.

Staff key: Gavin Lane (GL), Kate Gray (KG), PJ O'Reilly (PR), Alex Olney (AO), Ollie Reynolds (OR), Stuart Gipp (SG), Austin Voigt (AV), Alana Hagues (AH)

Super Mario Land (GB)

It’s odd to have to list this one. We didn’t originally feature it as we naively assumed the first handheld Super Mario game would arrive with the first wave of GB NSO releases. From a certain point of view, I can understand why Nintendo might pick 6 Golden Coins over its predecessor, at least to begin with if you’re hoping to entice younger Switch owners with the Game Boy library. Super Mario Land is an outlier in the canon, with quirks and atypical elements that make it feel like a fever-dream demake.

But that’s what I love about it. It’s a tiny, totally unique Mario game crafted by a different team to the others, with series-best tunes from Hirokazu ‘Hip’ Tanaka and a defiant, irreverent spirit. It’s a little jewel and an essential addition to the NSO library. GL

Tomb Raider (GBC)

Tomb Raider for the Game Boy Color was — and still is — a surprisingly fun spin-off to the main series. Its gameplay reminded me of the earlier Flashback (which I'd previously owned on the Mega Drive), with side-scrolling action mixed with light puzzle solving. The graphics hold up incredibly well, with reasonably realistic animation and detailed environments, and it'll last you a small handful of hours. Just don't expect to come across any memorable tunes, because there isn't any music at all during gameplay! OR

Mole Mania (GB)

Mole Mania is one of those gems that seems way too obvious to be called ‘hidden’ if you were smart (or old) enough to play it when it released, but it’s undeniably one of Shigeru Miyamoto’s lesser-known joints, and even though it saw re-release via 3DS Virtual console, it would be fantastic to see the Switch audience given the opportunity to sample its delightful top-down 2D puzzling via NSO. I’ve only got the Japanese GB version (these days a NA or EU copy is a spicy meatball, price-wise), so I’d love the chance to play in English, too. GL

Solar Striker (GB)

Solar Striker is a first-party vertical scrolling shmup (a rare beast indeed) and probably my favourite game in the genre. Admittedly, there are members of Team NL that would laugh – if not scoff – at the idea of this simple little space shooter being my favourite shmup ever, but its simplicity is exactly what draws me to it. The pixel-perfect dexterity demanded by more complex examples of the genre are generally too stressful for my tastes. I prefer something a little more sedate, with some kick ass tunes to zone out to. Bullet hell? Nah, for me this is bullet heaven. GL

Mario Golf (GBC)

Handheld Mario sports games were the bomb in the '90s and 2000s, and the Game Boy Mario Golf from Camelot is where it all started. In fact, this isn't really about the plumber and his friends at all — there's a total of eight playable humans and only three Mario characters. This is a story-heavy adventure where you can freely move your character around an overworld and rounds of golf take the place of traditional RPG battles. Golf is turn-based, right?

It may not mirror the scope or ambition of Dragon Quest or Pokémon, but Mario Golf certainly stand out as is a classic that's hard to put down. AH

Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone (GBC)

My greatest wish (that I have previously written about) is for the Harry Potter games, Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets — EA had a great time in the GB era, didn't they? The HP games on Game Boy are Chrono Trigger-style RPGs that are surprisingly good for movie/book tie-ins. I don't know how licensing works for old games, but I know I'm not the only one that loved these hidden-ish gems. KG

Resident Evil Gaiden (GBC)

Resident Evil Gaiden is undoubtedly the black sheep of the family, meeting mediocre reception when it launched back in 2001 thanks to its deviation from the established formula. For me though, I was already knee deep in the franchise at this point, and the idea of playing a new entry on the go with Leon Kennedy and Barry Burton as its protagonists was just too tempting! The gameplay hasn't aged well, and the game is not considered 'canon' in the larger narrative, but if you're looking to experience all Resident Evil has to offer, then it's well worth a look. OR

Metal Gear Solid (GBC)

Known as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel in Japan, Metal Gear Solid isn't a squashed-down version of the 1998 PS1 classic, but instead an alternative continuity for the original Metal Gear. And it's a special little title. It's incredible just how faithful this 8-bit portable Metal Gear Solid is to both the 2D games of the MSX/NES and the later polygonal PlayStation entries in terms of gameplay, tone and aesthetic. Lengthy, challenging and rewarding, MGS GBC is far and away one of the best carts you can buy for your Game Boy Color. How it's never been rereleased before is baffling, and I hope that Konami's generosity with its back catalogue might stretch to a GBC NSO version of Ghost Babel. AH

Bill & Ted's Excellent Game Boy Adventure (GB)

It’s this writer’s view that Game Boy was at its best when titles opted to work with the system’s limitations rather than push them to their, well, limit. Bill & Ted joins the likes of the original Super Mario Land and Sunsoft’s Batman in presenting a pared-down but exceptionally playable game, this one being a take on the ZX Spectrum classic Manic Miner. Collect every item on the screen then leave through the phone booth. Slick, speedy movement and spot-on controls make this a treat. Most triumphant! Obviously. SG

Mario Tennis (GBC)

Why have one Mario sports game when you can have two? As bizarre as Camelot's sports titles are, Mario Tennis is also just pretty darn excellent. Like Golf, Tennis takes the sporting world by storm by turning the game into a fully-fledged RPG with a story where you have to unlock Mario. It's a super fun narrative too, and while it may not have swords, magic or random encounters, each Tennis match is tied together in a charming overworld that feels like it's ripped straight out of a traditional RPG. Just imagine rounds of Tennis replacing battles and it becomes much clearer why many consider these more than simple sports games. The chance to revisit this on GB NSO is irresistable — go on, Nintendo. You're giving us Golden Sun, after all? AH