It was 1996 in Japan and 1998 in North America (and a year later in Europe) when the ageing Game Boy got an unexpected shot in the arm thanks to a little game named Pokémon. Nintendo's granddaddy of handheld gaming suddenly had a new lease of life, but in the West the release of the game was followed just weeks later by the arrival of a new console — the Game Boy Color — and it was on that wonderful system that many of us caught our very first Pocket Monster.
A colour update to the original DMG-001 — which had previously been revised in the smaller form of Game Boy Pocket — was a long time coming, but after nine years Game Boy Color finally gave handheld Nintendo gamers the proper upgrade they'd been waiting for.
GBC launched, appropriately, in a range of eye-catching colours and was fully backwards compatible with the existing Game Boy library. Many dual 'black cart' games would also play perfectly well on the original monochrome console, although the sexier Color-exclusive games came on clear cartridges which let you glimpse the board inside. The GBC soon built up its own great software library before the Game Boy Advance came along in 2001. Three years is a relatively short life span, especially compared to its predecessor, but we're big fans of this gorgeous system and its impressive, oft-forgotten library.
We've previously assembled Top 50 rankings for every other Nintendo console, each and every one based on User Ratings submitted by readers, and this list of the Best Game Boy Color games ever is the last to go live. Thank you all for contributing, to this list and all the others.
Remember, though, that just like the others, this ranking is not set in stone. The list will continue to evolve automatically based on user scores submitted to the Nintendo Life game database. If you missed out on 'voting', you can still do so right now by simply scrolling down and rating them, or hunting down a game that's missing via the search bar below. Games require a minimum of 10 ratings to become eligible, but once that threshold is reached (and if it scores highly enough) it will appear below.
Ready to take a look? Grab yourself a fresh pair of AAs, sit back and relax as we take you on a tour of the 50 best Game Boy Color games of all time...
Note. In order for games to become eligible, they need a minimum of 10 User Ratings in total.
A fantastic fishing-focused adventure with lots of heart, Legend of the River King 2 is a portable delight. There’s plenty to see and do, with bug catching, flower picking, and diving joining the line-casting central hook from the previous game. Two different routes through the story add significant replay value for avid anglers, too. Fishing fans and RPG fans will both have a blast, though those who come for the atmosphere will get the most out of the experience; the soundtrack, setting, and sense of scale all work in concert to deliver one of the most charming depictions of seaside summer ever put on an 8-bit cartridge.
A real catch, even all these years later.
The third game in the Duel Monsters series, Konami's Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Duel Stories was the first Yu-Gi-Oh! game to release in the West and (evidently) the first in this particular series of trading card battlers. With eye-catching art and link cable multiplayer, the series would grow into a very successful and very long line of games based on the manga.
Originally release on Game Boy before getting a colour do-over for the launch of the GBC, Pocket Bomberman takes everything you love about the classic top-down series... and throws it out the window. That doesn't mean it's bad, though. This is a 2D platformer that throws our plucky Phil Bomberman (that's his full name — didn't you know?) into a Medieval setting because, well, why not? Despite ejecting the tried-and-true Bomberman gameplay, this is a surprisingly solid action platformer.
The mixture of old and new elements give Blaster Master: Enemy Below enough new twists to make it a worthy sequel to the amazing original. Sure, many of the same audio/visual elements have been carried over fairly unchanged, but the new bosses and open setting offer up a whole new experience for fans to enjoy. If you never gave the Blaster Master series a chance (and Switch owners don't have much excuse considering the NES original is available with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription), this great Game Boy Color title is as good a reason as any to get stuck in.
Mega Man Xtreme 2 is a major improvement in every way over its predecessor. It looks fantastic, plays very well, offers a smooth and varied experience and draws from a whopping four Mega Man X games. This is much closer to the portable X experience that fans were looking for back in 2001, and while screen size, some minor control issues and a few unresolved problems from the first game contribute a bit of a drag factor, it's still an ultimately enjoyable experience.
A strategic turn-based card fighter, Dragon Ball Z: Legendary Super Warriors launched in 2002 (in Europe first, funnily enough) and brought the series' colourful cast of characters to GBC in a thoroughly decent card battler.
Harvest Moon 3 faced a bit of a conundrum. While it may provide some top-notch farming simulation and finally introduced the marriage system to the portable series, this game could have offered so much more. The core mechanics you know and love are present and work well, but the overall package feels like little more than a re-release of the previous Game Boy Color entry.
If you haven't played any of the early portable Harvest Moon games then this is probably the one to get, but don't expect much beyond the basics if you're a veteran of its predecessor(s).
Lufia: The Legend Returns is a solid entry in a series that really doesn't get enough attention these days. This is a big adventure with plenty to keep players occupied, and it looks good for a Game Boy Color title, with some impressive (if sometimes repetitive) music. It's by no means perfect and certainly has some issues, not least overly complicated menus, but the combat system is a fine one and it's still worth a look.
Bucking the trend of low quality movie-licensed tie-ins on handheld platforms, Harry Potter and The Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone was a wonderfully solid little RPG and, in our opinion, legitimately in the running for Best Harry Potter game evs — certainly in the top three (not that the series boasts a host of stone cold classics, but still). Its turn-based RPG gameplay fit Harry's spell-filled wizarding world perfectly and it remains one of the best interpretations of the source material in video game form. Flipendo!