With its deep exploration-based gameplay and gorgeous art style, Yoshi's Island is still a joy to play all these years later — it's a platformer with considerable depth and challenge. Exploring is made fun thanks to Yoshi's egg-based abilities and collecting everything will require a gargantuan effort, but it's never less than immensely entertaining (provided you can put up with Baby Mario's whining). The smaller canvas of the handheld screen inevitably reduces the impact of the SNES original's incredible pastel-shaded world, but this remains one of Nintendo’s 2D platforming finest efforts. If you've never played it before (or have a hankering to go through it all again), the GBA version is a fine one.
Also known as Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, this was the very first entry to come to the West and is actually a prequel to the Japan-only Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade which starred series stalwart Roy. The Blazing Blade (or just plain old Fire Emblem if you prefer) follows Roy's old man Eliwood and served as a thoroughly decent introduction to the series for us Westerners, the majority of whom had been wondering about the series after seeing Roy and Marth as fighters in in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
Coming a couple of years after the original GBA entry in Intelligent Systems' Wars series, Advance Wars 2 might not have shaken things up a whole lot, but it offered a slew of nice additions, as well as a fun new campaign to work your way through. Certain COs were tweaked to be less overpowered (Max, anyone?) making this a more balanced game than its predecessor. It's arguably more of the same, but when the first course was so delicious, who wouldn't want a second helping?
The first Advance Wars is a turn-based tactical classic. It might not have the huge amount of COs and new units that its sequels would bring, but as a result it feels more balanced and approachable; it generally feels very fair, even if you lose. And in those rare instances that it risks infuriating you, the immensely charming graphics and top notch music keep a smile on your face. We love a bit of Fire Emblem, but we've had our fingers crossed for years that Advance Wars will return some day. Keep 'em crossed.
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.
Metroid Fusion — or 'Metroid 4' according to its intro — bears more than a passing resemblance to its SNES brethren, and that's likely its biggest fault. Though it's an excellent game in its own right, it didn't do a huge amount to distinguish itself from other Metroids and felt much more linear than its expansive predecessor. It also launched at the same time as Metroid Prime on the GameCube, which pushed the franchise forward at a staggering pace. Still, this remains an excellent 2D entry and the linearity arguably suits a handheld Metroid game better than a home console entry. It's well worth a look on GBA or on Wii U Virtual Console.
Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen were Game Boy Advance remakes of the classic games that started it all, Pokémon Red & Blue. Yes, the Game Boy originals were known as Red and Green in Japan, because reasons.
Did Pokémon really ever get better than this? That's up for debate, but vastly updated visuals, the ability to connect to various different Pokémon games to collect over 350 Pokémon, and an enhanced user interface were just some of the upgrades offered in this 32-bit revamp. For players intimately familiar with the Kanto games, this was the first opportunity (of many to come, of course) to indulge in some nostalgia and catch the original 151 all over again. Who could possibly resist?
Watch out, Metapod! Or should we call you Metapoo? Ah, the comedy! Happy days.
13. Golden Sun (GBA)
Golden Sun is a fine RPG, perfecting the classic formula whilst introducing unique mechanics of its own. An intriguing setting, likeable characters, and gripping story are the bread-and-butter of any good RPG, and Golden Sun doesn't disappoint on those fronts. The first few hours are a slog, but stick with it and you'll be rewarded with a rich, deep RPG that desperately deserves a modern day instalment.
The microgames on offer in WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Microgame$! may be simple affairs, but the frantic, fast–paced and challenging experience that results from knitting them together in quick succession is incredibly addictive, and Wario's patented brand of mania is well suited to a handheld. It isn’t the longest game, and beyond the single-player mode there isn’t much else to do, but it’s stuffed full of magical, creative moments, not to mention an abundance of that classic Nintendo nostalgia and charm.
When it comes down to choosing between Super Mario World or Super Mario Advance 2... you really can't lose whichever version you pick. The remake is a faithful rendition of the timeless original where it counts most, and the parts where it strays can either be seen as handy little improvements or minor inferiorities — it truly comes down to personal taste. If forced to choose, the original has the edge for us due to its more consistent sound quality, two-player capabilities and extra screen real estate of the television. However, if you've already played the SNES original a ton and want to take on something a little bit different — or finally feel up to nabbing all those pesky Dragon Coins — then the GBA option remains a stellar choice. Everyone's a winner.