Best Game Boy games: the 20 greatest Game Boy games of all time
The Game Boy is stuff of legend and these are the best games that made it.
Choosing this list of the best Game Boy games was a big nostalgic look back at just how pure video games used to be. Even though, at the time, we thought the Game Boy had the best graphics ever created, these games are blocky, brilliant bits of fun - all of which prove you can still enjoy games without worrying about ping rates and bloody frame rates.
We all thought it was portable back in the day - we all took them everywhere with us, so maybe it was - but really, the Game Boy wasn't exactly pocket-sized... just... smaller.
Smaller it might have been, but it absolutely wasn't lacking when it came to great games - many of which we'd totally forgotten about before digging about in our attic for this one.
Unfortunately part of the research did involve disqualifying any of those 100-in-one cartridges we picked up while on holiday in Spain. Darn.
Have a browse of our favourites, and post any of your own below.
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Best Game Boy Games
1. The Legend Of Zelda: Link's Awakening
How many long drives went by in the blink of an eye thanks to Link's Awakening? We'd like to get actual figures on this - it must be in the millions, given that this title shifted some 3.4 million cartridges since it came out in 1993. That's a lot of batteries drained...
2. Super Mario Land 2
While similar to the Super Mario Bros we had on the home consoles, Super Mario Land was subtle in its differences. And a different Mario challenge was always a good one - especially with that music.
You're singing the theme tune now, aren't you? There are no words necessary, really - the numbers do all the talking, having sold more than 100 million "copies" in its long history, aided greatly by its appearance on the original Game Boy. It's a classic.
4. Pokemon Red/Blue
We can't be the only ones still trying to catch 'em all in the original Pokemon, can we? One of the best examples of the true potential of the Game Boy, offering up hours of gameplay and obsession without the need for advanced graphics, animation or even colours, it remains an absolute legend. We still have no idea how they fitted so much into a two-inch plastic cartridge. Magic, probably.
5. Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3
This picks up a separate entry because it stars - and kickstarted the career of - Wario. It was also a great platformer in its own right, and the sinister version offered a much cooler character than plain old Mario.
6. Donkey Kong
The 1994 Game Boy version of Donkey Kong took the original arcade game - still great fun - and added in a bunch of other platforming and puzzle elements. It was an amazing reintroduction to two of Nintendo's biggest characters.
7. Kirby’s Dream Land
He was a little pink blob, but we didn't realise that on the Game Boy. Instead we just focused on how great a platformer Kirby's Dream Land was, and briefly forgot about that little red plumber.
8. Metroid II: Return Of Samus
Another example of a game perfectly suited to the Game Boy, Metroid II was a fine accompaniment to the console versions of Samus' adventures. Huge bosses, heaps of jumps - that's it, we're off to buy some batteries to power this one up again.
9. Dr. Mario
While the Game Boy might be best loved for another puzzle game, we shouldn't forget about the pill-popping Dr Mario. Does it make sense that Nintendo's plumber was also a qualified medical practitioner? No - now shut up and take these pills.
10. Final Fantasy Adventure
It wasn't quite the 'full' Final Fantasy experience, but instead an action-RPG made perfectly for the handheld format. Many a battery died to this one, and it might explain why so many of our generation now wear glasses...
11. Mega Man IV/V
The problem with the Mega Man games on Game Boy is they were difficult, and the handheld was... well, handheld - making it all the easier to take out our frustrations by tossing said console at the wall. Sigh.
12. Gargoyle's Quest
1988's Ghouls 'n' Ghosts was amongst the best side-scrolling adventures of the eighties, but Gargoyle's Quest managed to match it in handheld terms, so we had no need to complain about the lack of Ghouls. Also Ghosts.
13. Metal Gear Solid
Another cheeky entry as it's from the Game Boy Colo[u]r, but the handheld edition of Metal Gear Solid carried such a surprise that we had to include it. Totally different from the PlayStation version, of course, but the smaller screen didn't stop this adventure from containing some neat, complex moments. Do what you can to make sure you play this old classic - we're sure someone has it knocking about on a questionable website out there.
14. Super R.C. Pro-Am
A sequel to the classic NES racer, Super RC Pro-Am also added a four-player mode - if you had the link cable and three mates with Game Boys and copies of the game, but it was a worthwhile investment, and the beginning of our multiplayer addiction.
15. F-1 Race
So the physics aren't at Forza 6 levels and it doesn't look like Gran Turismo 5, but F-1 Race had its own unique charm and plenty of reasons to keep on playing. Arguably more fun that watching the real thing.
16. Donkey Kong Land Series
Not wanting those without a SNES to be left behind, Game Boy owners had plenty of fun with the Donkey Kong Land series - a challenging platform adventure that managed to pull off some seriously slick animation for a tiny cartridge title.
Before Mario stepped onto the court, he was the umpire in this classic - simple - sports title. And you know what? It's still a laugh today, as long as you get past its simplicity.
18. Pokemon Pinball
Yes, we're cheating, as this is a Game Boy Colo[u]r game, but it's hard to think about Nintendo's handhelds without thinking of Poke-pinball. Couldn't have been more different from pure Pokemon, but it managed to pull the characters into a game that was just as addictive.
19. Kid Dracula
Of course, the Game Boy wasn't the home of horror and ultraviolence, so when it came to vampires our choices were limited - to excellent games like Kid Dracula, handily. The forgotten spin-off of the Castlevania series deserves far more attention than it got.
20. World Bowling
Another example of the simple done well, World Bowling was - and still is - the perfect game for an impromptu tournament in a cramped road trip. May the best ball-lobber win.