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.
Rare did a great job on squeezing so many features and technical magic into the little cart, and this GBC rendition of Perfect Dark certainly looks impressive considering the hardware, but this focus on the tech seems to have had an averse effect on the gameplay. It's not a bad game by any stretch, but as a stealthy Metal Gear-alike, it's lacking a little in the 'Fun' department. If you're forgiving of its flaws, you might have a pretty good time with it, but it's far from Perfect.
The non-backlit Game Boy Color screen provides plenty of Dark, mind.
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.
A Game Boy Color collection from Konami featuring colour versions of Gradius, Castlevania: The Adventure, Konami Racing and Operation C. Konami would go on to release a further three volumes, each with four vintage Game Boy titles in colourised form.
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.
Lara Croft's first venture onto the Game Boy Color, Tomb Raider is a side-on action platformer which sees the titular raider of tombs scrambling up walls, swinging across vine-filled ceilings and leaping over chasms searching for treasures and the like. It's a slow-paced adventure, but features some impressive animation — overall, a decent 8-bit interpretation of Croft's 3D adventures.
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 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.
Released in 2000 in Japan and the following year in North America, this GBC spin-off never came to PAL shores. The cartridge included a tilting sensor which enabled you to control Kirby by rolling him around levels, guiding him to the goal. Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble isn't ground-breaking, but it's a fun Kirby curio and worth playing if you can track it down.
Make sure you're playing it in a regular GBC or GBA, though — the accelerometer doesn't like being held upside down in a GBA SP, and you won't get very far plugging it into a Game Boy Player, either.
42. Rayman (GBC)
Rayman's Game Boy Color port absolutely has its charms, but it also has its share of irritations. Stiff controls, a confusing layout and a few troubling glitches mar an otherwise fine experience. It's still a lot of fun, and it offers some incentive to play through it again upon completion, but it's a port that sacrificed a lot of content in order to make the transition to handheld, and that leaves it feeling rather slight compared to the Ubisoft mascot's more celebrated platformers.
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!