Here’s the moment that you’ve all been waiting for; we’ve finally made a list of the best GameBoy Advance games of all time! If you consider yourself to be a true Nintendo fan and a lover of all-things handheld gaming, then you should definitely have played some of the titles in this list, and if you haven’t, then now is a perfect excuse to stop whatever your doing and to go out and hunt them down! From collecting coins around the Mushroom Kingdom to picking up notes in Spiral Mountain, we’ve listed 10 of the best games that this portable purple console has to offer.
The notion of a GameBoy with a larger screen and horizontal grip-style might not seem that exciting now, but it blew my mind when it first came out. The console felt so cool with its shoulder buttons and pocket-sized build. And just when it seemed as though things couldn’t get any better, Nintendo threw the SP into our hands, back-lit, folding, with no need for one of those stupid sperm lights when playing in the dark.
Nintendo sold 81.5 million GBAs, and with over 1,500 games to choose from, the chances of you ever getting bored are pretty slim. So which of those 1’500 titles have made the cut? Scroll down to find out!
10. Banjo Kazooie – Grunty’s Revenge
This game is not only underrated, but it’s also the last time that we see our favourite bird-and-bear duo in a classic title, an authentic Banjo-Kazooie game on a handheld device and the last adventurous outing that the pair took before moving to the dark side and messing around with nuts and bolts. The game takes place between Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie (two of the best N64 games of all time!) and sees the evil hag Gruntilda heading back in time in a bid to try and stop the events from the first game ever happening. You’ve got to hand it to her, she’s nothing but determined! This time she’s only gone and captured Kazooie as well, leaving Banjo to head out on his own to save her. Now we really get to find out which one of them is the brains of the business.
Grunty’s revenge was 2D rather than the 3D adventures on the N64, but it had all of the key elements that made the first two games such a massive hit, as well as some new characters from Bottles the Mole’s past to help you along your way. It isn’t a hard game and the graphics aren’t cutting edge, but any adventure around Spiral Mountain is one that shouldn’t be missed. Do us all a favour and peck Gruntilda back into line; she’s getting a bit too big for her dead boots.
9. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2
Fifa and Fortnite might be two of the biggest names in today’s gaming world, but back in the GBA days, Tony Hawks was the king of extreme gaming and almost everyone had one of his titles in their collection. Fans of skateboarding who were too chicken to kickflip off a set of stairs in real life (yep, that was me) could bust out some kick-ass moves on their favourite handheld without having to worry about broken bones. You could pull off all of your favourite tricks from the original game and even listen to shortened instrumental versions of your favourite tracks to get you in the zone.
The GBA port of Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 had all of the main features of the home console version without the multiplayer or level editing options. The simplified controls made it easy to play on the go, and the graphics were pretty good for the time too. Making a 2D game with an overhead perspective look as though the characters are actually jumping up halfpipes and ollieing off ledges is impressive, so this title more than deserves a place in our list of the best GameBoy Advance Games of all time
8. WarioWare Inc: Mega Microgames
Who would have thought that a game with the weirdest bunch of characters led by Wario, of all people, would go on to be such a huge success and span over four consoles! Losing his yellow plumbers outfit in exchange for some pink slacks, cut-off denim jacket, and a biker helmet was it all it took for Wario to become a party animal, and we can’t thank him enough for trying his hand at something new instead of pestering Mario. Wario Ware Inc: Mega Microgames is one of the best GameBoy Advance games for kicking back after a long day and competing against yourself at impossibly unfathomable minigames that would be too dangerous to try and make sense of.
If this console had been sold with the title ‘play 3-second mini-games with a bulbous nosed ex plumber and a weird alien with a member on its head’, then I probably would have moved on and bought a book instead. Thankfully, I don’t work in Wario’s marketing department, and I’m even more thankful that this game proved to be such a huge success. These fast-paced games will have you laughing, crying, shouting, sighing, jumping for joy and eventually crying again all in the space of around 35 seconds. You show me any game that can give you that much value for money!
7. Golden Sun/Golden Sun: The Lost Age
No Retro Dodo ‘best games’ list would be complete without an RPG to sink your teeth into, and the next title on our list of the best GameBoy Advance games has such an enthralling storyline that you won’t ever want to put it down. Nintendo has had mixed success with it comes to games following on from one another; the fabled Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie connection never came to be on the mighty N64, a fact that racked up a big bill every time I rang the Nintendo hotline about that blasted ice key (100% true story). Golden Sun and The Lost Age need to be played in succession to fully understand the storyline; think of it as being like the two parts of the last Hunger Games movie, except the first game isn’t mind-numbingly dull and pointless and the second game isn’t a re-hash of the first…you follow?
The player must head out on a mission to try and stop the magical powers of alchemy from being released throughout the world of Weyard. Turn-based play, collectables, new and exciting powers and intriguing characters make this story one that you will be itching to play on your way home from work. Golden Sun ends almost on a cliffhanger, so make sure that you have both games before you set off on your adventure. It’s a colourful title embued with magic and mystery, and a game that deserves to be in our list.
6. Kao The Kangaroo
Some of you might be thinking, ‘huh?’, but this game was one of my favourite titles back in the day, and I’m allowed to put nostalgic titles in this list because I’m the one writing it (N.B this might be the point that I’m sacked from my job, but it’s worth it for Kao). It’s a game about a Kangaroo who punches and hops his way to victory; what’s not to love. I like to think of Kao the Kangaroo as being like Marmite; people either love it or hate it so much that it makes them physically angry. For me, it was a classic game with nice graphics, an easy to follow plotline, simple controls, and it proved to be good fun.
The gameplay style of Kao is kind of a cross between Crash Bandicoot and Donkey Kong Country. Players must guide our boxing-friend back to his homeland so that he can rescue his family, battling hordes of enemies throughout 27 different levels. This kangaroo can fly, snowboard, and jet-ski, as well as having one mean right hook. Honestly, you can pick this game up on eBay for around £4; give it a go and let us know what you think!
5. Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
The next title on our list of the best GameBoy Advance games of all time is one that I continually played and replayed for years, proving that it’s a title that deserves to be in this ultimate compendium. Mario has proved his worth in lots of different games over the years and shown that he is more than capable of heading up a game on his own. But things are always better when you do them as a family, as Luigi is all-too-keen to point out in this turn-based attack game that requires true brotherly intuition.
The enemies in this game take a fair beating, and you’ll need to use all of the crazy solo and ‘bros’ attacks to whittle their health down to zero. Its an RPG with a difference, and that difference is the comedy dialogue between Mario and Luigi. The graphics are bright and enjoyable, the gameplay is so well thought out that you won’t want to put it down, the interaction between the characters is spot-on, and the special moves that the two plumbers can pull off will leave you amazed. If you buy or try one game on this list, make sure it’s this one; you won’t be disappointed.
4. Metroid Fusion
Not only is Samus the most gnarly heroine on the planet (or any other planet for that matter), but she’s also one of the most powerful and fearless characters in the Nintendo franchise. Her job is to travel through outer space killing deadly enemies and various versions of Ridley that just don’t seem to want to die; that beat’s working in an office any day of the week! Metroid Fusion is, like it’s predecessors, a side-scrolling, open-world adventure game with plenty of puzzles, shooting, space-age battles, and weird-looking enemies. Samus has to defeat infected foes to obtain parts of her power suit and lost abilities, but she still looks super awesome on the front cover!
What more is there to say about Metroid games; they’re an institution. From the GBC to the DS, these games are fun to play on any platform and have a playability factor that for outlasts the recommended completion time. If you’re after a futuristic shooter title with a compelling storyline for your portable powerhouse, then give Metroid Fusion a try; there’s a reason why it’s in our list of the best GameBoy Advance games, after all.
3. Pokemon Emerald/Ruby/Saphire
We’ve given you three of the best GameBoy Advance games ever for the price of 1 here! With Pokemon fever spreading across the globe once more after the release of Pokemon Sword and Shield, it seems only right that we pay homage to these three amazing pocket monster titles. Emerald, Sapphire, and Ruby changed the way that we play Pokemon forever. If you’re new to the series and have been loving the double battles, abilities, and options to improve your Pokemon’s nature while playing Sword or Shield, then you have these three games (and Game Freak) to thank for them.
A lot of people dislike the fact that you couldn’t bring Pokemon from Gold or Silver into the game, but sometimes you’ve got to let go of the past and just enjoy the new. Pikachu and Pinsir can’t be your go-to warriors forever you know! The battles run primarily in the same style as Red and Blue, apart from the aforementioned changes, and the gameplay is, as you would expect from a Pokemon game, truly awesome. If you missed any of these games, then I URGE you to go back and give them a try. Put your Switch down and go back to where some of your favourite features began.
2. The Legend Of Zelda – The Minish Cap
If you’ve read my articles before, then you’ll know how much of a Zelda nerd I am. So believe me when I say that it was a close call between this title and the game that took the Number 1 spot in our list of the best GameBoy Advance games ever. The Minish Cap is one of the few titles that Nintendo didn’t develop, with Capcom taking up the reigns and trying their hand at creating an adventure for our green-garbed hero. The gameplay is perfect, bringing the best parts of Links Awakening and A Link To The Past together and mixing them with some fresh and exciting ideas that take Link to a-whole-nother level.
That level is, thanks to the Ezlo the Minish Cap, super small. Link can now shrink down and visit the world of the Picori, exploring new places that he wouldn’t have been able to reach had it not been for the cranky friend atop his head. It’s a nice idea to give Link’s hat a persona of its own, and one that Mario would go on to adopt in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s a Zelda game, which means that you have to play it if there’s any hope of you reaching enlightenment. Give it a go, and tell us what you think!
1. Mario Kart: Super Circuit
It had to be, didn’t it? Mario Kart is, and always will be, one of the best games that Nintendo has ever made and a deserved winner of the top spot in our list of the best GameBoy Advance games ever made. You might not think that the first portable outing of Mazza and the gang is such a big deal, what with Mario Kart Tour now available for pretty much every smartphone under the sun, but it is…was…you get the idea. The game was a huge success, and the fact that you could play Mario Kart on the bus, at the back of the classroom, or with your mates at the park was just out of this world.
Mario Kart: Super Circuit had some great tracks and all of the usual suspects available as racers. The graphics were great, the gameplay was even better, and the fact that you could link up with your mates for 4-player action topped the whole thing off nicely. Players could race around 20 new tracks and the original 20 tracks from the very first Super Mario Kart game too, making this a must-have for fans of the series. It might not look as crisp and as clear as Mario Kart 8, but it’s a great title and one that changed portable racing forever. Everyone loves Mario Kart because it’s so simple to play, that’s why it’s at the top of our list, and it’s here to stay!