40. 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 tetrominoes. It’s jarring at first if disappearing horizontal lines are burnt into your brain, but give it time and you’ll find a surprisingly addictive little puzzle game in its own right.

39. Mega Man IV (GB)

Mega Man IV improves on its source material to an unbelievable degree considering the hardware it's running on. Alternate routes, optional pickups, a store system, completely redesigned levels, and the meatiest Wily experience yet in the handheld series make this an overlooked outing. This was the last of the Mega Man handheld entries to remix stages and elements from the NES titles, but it was a brilliant end to that run before the following game branched out into something new altogether.

38. Super Mario Land (GB)

Super Mario Land was an impressive accomplishment in 1989. The sequel might have made this first shot at translating the plumber's platforming to the overworked, underpowered handheld seem quaint by comparison, but it's still a fun Super Mario experience, albeit a short one. Crafted by Gunpei Yokoi's R&D1 rather than Shigeru Miyamoto's team, it's a surreal yet compelling take on the template which takes some adjusting to nowadays. And just when things are really getting good, the credits roll.

If you haven't played Super Mario Land before, you owe it to yourself to try this — it's worth playing through at least once to see where Mario's portable adventures began. Cracking music, too.

37. 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.

36. Catrap (GB)

Something of hidden gem in the Game Boy catalogue, Catrap is a platform puzzler credited with being the first game to have a ‘rewind’ feature. You’re tasked with defeating monsters in order to escape 100 levels of ladders, blocks and other objects. Stages get more and more devious, of course, and a level editor enables you to create your own. If it looks a little basic from the outside, the game has a giant amount of content and could keep you busy for weeks. It was arguably overlooked back in the day, but it’s an innovative puzzler that deserves a bit of attention.

35. Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (GB)

If you're a fan of Kid Icarus on the NES, you owe it to yourself to pick up the sequel. Not only does it capture the same magic found in the NES release, but it builds on many of the great gameplay ideas featured in the original. The difficulty has been toned down to make it a bit more approachable, but there's still plenty of challenge to be found and a fairly lengthy adventure. Some fantastic boss fights make for particular highlights, and Kid Icarus: Of Myths & Monsters is a great prelude to Kid Icarus: Uprising.

34. Game & Watch Gallery (GB)

The Game Boy was, in many ways, the natural evolution of Nintendo’s Game & Watch line of one-shot portable devices, so the ability to play those games on one cartridge seemed like an acknowledgement of that handheld legacy. If you liked the originals, this collection is a must-have. Both the originals and remakes, which combine simple gameplay and subtle strategy, are here to enjoy and the newer versions play differently enough that you're quite likely to consider them new experiences in and of themselves. The musical and visual presentation is fantastic as well, and the entire package serves as a relic of a truly magical time in gaming. Or, perhaps, two truly magical times.

33. Kirby's Pinball Land (GB)

Kirby's Pinball Land isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it serves up a solid game of digital pinball starring everyone’s favourite pink amorphous ball. It's an experiment that didn't quite come together properly, but it's not without merit and its engine would be used again in Pokémon Pinball for the Game Boy Color. Kirby and pinball seem like a match made in heaven; this isn't quite that, but it’s a fun little mashup that showcased the potential for future Nintendo X pinball crossovers involving Pocket Monsters and intergalactic bounty hunters.

32. Dr. Mario (GB)

The Game Boy port of this pill-dropping puzzler offers a decent game, although it probably isn't top of the must-have puzzler list. Unlike Tetris, where the colours of the blocks are irrelevant, Dr. Mario’s pills are a little more challenging to keep track of, especially on the original system’s blurry screen. Still, if you’re a prolific puzzle practitioner, you could do much worse than this falling-block title with a twist.

31. QIX (GB)

QIX is a classic game that suffers — if it suffers at all — from being born too soon. You essentially draw lines to cordon off areas of a rectangle for points - the larger the area, the better your score. Sounds simple but it's a great deal of fun, and satisfyingly simple to learn. This is definitely a game that some will find divine, while others will be puzzled by its popularity. It's quick to learn, easy to play and impossible to truly master. We can't promise you that you'll like this game, but if the game sounds even slightly appealing to you, we'd confidently say that it's worth the risk.