Game Boy Advance
Image: Zion Grassl / Nintendo Life

With Golden Sun and The Lost Age making their arrival on Nintendo Switch Online, we've given this list a bit of a spruce up and added a few more dream titles to the service.

Plus, we've got a cheeky little poll at the end of the article too — so make sure you vote and let us know what you want to see on NSO.

The Game Boy Advance reached the Expansion Pack tier of Nintendo Switch Online in February 2023. And while plenty of stellar titles have come to the newest addition to NSO, we're still missing plenty of must-have titles.

While we've seen classics like The Minish Cap, Golden Sun, Metroid Fusion, and Fire Emblem arrive on the service in the first year, there are lots of other titles we're clamouring to have access to on the hybrid console. So, we've given this list a bit of a tidy-up — after first publishing it in 2022 and then updating it in 2023.

We've skipped any games that are already available on Switch in some form — Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, Harvest Moon, the Mega Man Zeroes, Mega Man Battle Network, and Advance Wars being the main ones — with one exception which we explain.

We've also abstained from adding Pokémon; it's a given we'd love to see them, but transferring and trading Pokémon in a game with Save States gets messy, at least from Nintendo's perspective. Perhaps we'll see a glorious workaround with those particular entries, although we think it's more likely we'll see Pokémon remakes rather than re-releases.

Enough with the caveats! Let's take a look at 21 GBA gems we'd love to revisit via Nintendo Switch Online.

Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA)

Metroid: Zero Mission is an excellent 2004 remake of the original Metroid, and a game that's in the conversation for 'best remake evs' (if that conversation is being held with a teenager during the 2010s). Zero Mission tells the story of the first entry, but with far snazzier visuals and Super Metroid-inspired gameplay. With save rooms and a bunch of new items, areas, and mini-bosses, this is the way to experience Samus' first mission. Sorry, zero-st mission.

If it came down to a duel, there are Nintendo Life staffers who would actually take this over the SNES game. It's that good.

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 (GBA)

Vicarious Visions managed to distil the essence of the full-sized Tony Hawk titles into an incredible isometric version that feels tight, responsive and very much not the obligatory downgraded handheld port you might have expected. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 on GBA is genuinely one of our favourite entries in the overall series, with great music and cracking visuals. And Spider-Man.

What's not to love?

Astro Boy: The Omega Factor (GBA)

This Treasure-developed take on Osamu Tezuka's classic character was a real looker in the GBA's library — fitting given the prestige of the property and the adoration of manga and anime fans around the world. As opposed to Treasure's usual output, Astro Boy: The Omega Factor is more platforming beat 'em up than run-and-gunner (with a few shmup-style stages thrown in for good measure). It successfully blends traditional manga-style presentation of the characters in dialogue portraits with more rounded 3D-esque sprites and backgrounds for the action. It's a real winner; a licensed game that lives up to the source material.

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land (GBA)

Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land is a worthy remake of Kirby's first home console adventure and having just celebrated his 30th anniversary, this would be a nice tribute to the little pink fella after what has been a stellar 12 months between 2022 and 2023. While what it offers is a tad basic compared to what more modern Kirby titles offer, it's still very playable, and there are little creative moments where game occasionally shines. As with practically every other game featuring the Kirbster, its delightful, colourful visuals make it a supremely charming experience, and one which will be most appreciated by players looking for only a very light challenge.

Sure, Kirby & the Amazing Mirror is a great entry and that one is available, but this is the one we really want to see.

Gunstar Super Heroes (GBA)

Gunstar Super Heroes (or Gunstar Future Heroes in Europe) is a sequel that lives up to the prestige of the name it awkwardly sandwiches a 'Super' in the middle of. The gameplay and controls of Treasure's classic 1993 Mega Drive game are altered to work better on the portable, but the result is every bit as compelling, even if it's on the short side and doesn't feature co-op play. As run and gun games go, Gunstar Heroes is up there with the very best. This sequel is also very good — one might even say super.

Or future if you're European and want to be awkward.

Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire (GBA)

Pokémon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire is an enjoyable entry-level pinball game designed to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. Its colourful, charming visuals look great, and the vast number of Pokémon available to catch and evolve means that if you’re looking for a long-term dip-in, dip-out sort of game, you’ll have plenty to keep you occupied. This is the perfect little game for short play sessions, and will fill the Pokémon gap just in case Pokémon Emerald doesn't hop onto NSO.

Sonic Advance (GBA)

In the decades since the shocking first appearance of Sega's mascot on a Nintendo handheld, it's fair to say that not every team that's worked on a 2D Sonic game has nailed the delicate sense of inertia and tight physics that characterise the classic 16-bit titles. Sonic Advance is one such example that just gets it. Developer Dimps retains the classic feel and course design that made the originals special while adding fresh elements that prevent it from feeling like a re-tread of old ideas. Vibrant visuals, charming animation, excellent audio; add multiplayer into the mix — as well as the Tiny Chao Garden that linked to the Gamecube — and Sonic Advance is a platforming treat up there with hedgehog's finest.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)

While rumours of a Final Fantasy Tactics remaster have been swirling around for a while, Nintendo has already had a taste of what Final Fantasy Tactics can offer in the form of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Levelling up your clan, finding the best weapons and trying to out-think the enemy leads to endlessly enjoyable battling, and there are enough variables in location, laws and opponent abilities to prevent things becoming too repetitive. Even when battles get easy with an OP clan, they remain entertaining. It can be tricky to find what you are looking for amongst the many menu screens, but once you know where to look Final Fantasy Tactics Advance will divert and delight you for a long ol' time. Lovely.

Jet Grind Radio (GBA)

Perhaps it’s the announcement that Sega is apparently working on a reboot that’s getting the better of us, but we do love a bit of Jet Grind/Set. On the Dreamcast, Jet Grind Radio oozed more style than should have legally been allowed. A lot of what made the game special there survived the leap to the GBA, but of course the obvious hardware limitations necessitated a few cut corners here and there. Considering this, Vicarious Visions — the studio that did such a fantastic job of translating the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series to GBA — probably couldn't have done a much better job at adapting it to the small screen. Once you're used to its quirks, you'll find a crazy, fantastic gem of a game.

Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis (GBA)

For many series, the words “side story” are seen as a convenient excuse to trot out a half-baked rehash of a popular title – but Tactics Ogre has never been like other series. This GBA-exclusive entry in the long-running Ogre Battle saga is as richly detailed and politically intricate as any other you could mention, and lurking underneath that already fully-featured surface are a whole host of secret characters and special endings just waiting to be discovered.

WarioWare Twisted! (GBA)

The third game in Wario's microgame series, WarioWare Twisted! never found its way to Europe, but its gyro sensor added a new element to the manic formula established two games prior and made it one of the highlights of Wario's back catalogue. Thanks to that sensor in the cart, it's not a game you'll want to plug into the Game Boy Player on your GameCube, but the basic bitesize gameplay holds up just as well today as it did in the mid-2000s. Let's Twist again.