Ranking The 25 Best Gameboy Color Games Ever Made

best game boy color games

If you love your handheld gaming as much as me and live and breathe the GBC, then join me as I check out the best Gameboy Color games of all time!

The DMG was fantastic; that’s a fact that no one can dispute. Furthermore, Gunpei Yokoi’s iconic handheld changed the world of gaming, but when Nintendo added colour into the mix… well, that’s when things really started to get exciting.

Can you remember the first time that you saw your favourite Pokemon in Colour on Pokemon Gold and Silver? How about playing the Pokemon Trading Card Game or Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble?

Those were the days alright!

We still play with our GBC regularly, and some of us spend far too much money collecting all the 50 different colours of the handheld that have dropped over the years.

1. Legend Of Zelda – Oracle Of Ages/Seasons (2001)

The Legend Of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons/Oracle of Ages game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

Yeah, I couldn’t separate these two either. If you’ve read my articles before, then you won’t be surprised that the Number 1 spot on our list has gone to a Legend of Zelda title (or two in this case), and it’s pretty fitting that after talking about Pokemon Red and Blue in the entry above, we now have an entirely different Red and Blue split adventure on our hands.

Each game has significant differences, and only after completing them both does the player get a true picture of the storyline and the outcome of the adventure. Ages and Seasons sold just shy of 4-million units each; not bad eh!

Legend Of Zelda - Oracle Of Ages/Seasons gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

So how do these games differ? Well, Link gets transported by the triforce to different areas in each game (there were supposed to be three games to go with the three parts of Triforce, but Nintendo scrapped one because the intertwining storyline was starting to get way too complicated).

Ages sees Naryu send Link to Labrynna, and Seasons sees Din transport Link to Holodrum.

The item and weapon collecting sequences that we know and love feature in both games, though different characters appear in each title.

What’s more, Seasons is more action-based, whereas Ages is more puzzle-based. Put them together, and you’ve got one hell of a Zelda game. Treat yourself and grab them both; they go together like Rito’s and mail delivery (man I should get out more).

2. Pokemon Gold/Silver (1999)

Pokemon Gold game box

It was always going to be impossible to separate these two titles, so the next entry on my list is a ‘2-4-1’ special. Where do I begin; there’s just so much to talk about when it comes to Gold and Silver.

I always thought it would be hard to beat Red and Blue, but it turned out that the addition of 100 new Pokemon and a brand new region was all it took.

These new stories took players around the Johto region on a quest to become the Pokemon master. The same premise as all of the other Pokemon games applies, i.e challenging Gym Leaders and filling up your Pokedex, but some of the new features and surprises that Game Freak installed in the games made 2001-me go crazy with excitement!

pokemon gold gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

So what made Gold and Silver stand out? The game includes a real-time internal clock and is also the first time that we see Pokemon being able to hold items such as berries. Legendary Pokemon roamed around waiting for you to catch them, even though they always fled, but their health didn’t go back to normal between encounters, keeping you coming back for more.

We saw new Pokemon, new Pokeballs, and new Pokegear – basically, everything that would have made Red and Blue even better can be found in Gold and Silver. If you never had chance to play these games, then I URGE you to go back and give them a try.

3. Kirby Tilt ‘n’ Tumble (2000)

Kirby Tilt 'N' Tumble game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

Not only is this game a puzzle-based title where Kirby has to tilt and tumble his way through different brain-tickling puzzles, but it’s also the first handheld game to use a cartridge with a built-in accelerometer! Instead of players using the D-pad to move Kirby through challenges, they were able to move the GameBoy Color instead.

This is the first example of a style of gameplay that would go on to make the Wii the most popular and best-selling console that Nintendo ever produced, as well as a key feature in the 3DS and Nintendo Switch Joy-con designs. Pretty exciting stuff!

Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

This game has a feel of Super Monkey Ball about it, or maybe it’s the other way around seen as though Kirby’s Tilt ‘n’ Tumble came out first. Players must tilt and turn the console to guide Kirby to a goal at the end of the level.

A countdown creates a sense of blinding terror as the numbers tick closer to zero, but the time that you have left to complete a level can be increased by rolling the pink peril over clocks or by passing certain checkpoints. Collect all of the stars and return Dream Land to a state of peaceful order and prosperity. If anyone can, Kirby can.

4. Legend Of Zelda – Link’s Awakening DX (1998)

Links awakening DX Game cart

This next title on my list doesn’t really need an introduction, but as I’m still short on my word count and don’t want to have to eat bread and jam for the next month, I better give it a try.

Link’s Awakening was originally released for the classic GameBoy and went down an absolute storm (not like the literal storm that caused Link to get washed up on Koholint Island).

As some of you might have read in my review of the Link’s Awakening remake for the Switch, this title was never supposed to be a LOZ game at all. Shigeru Miyamoto saw the potential as the game was being made and decided to let it into the franchise, a fact that designer Yoshiaki Koizumi must have been very happy about!

Legend Of Zelda Link's Awakening DX gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

Link’s Awakening is one of the only Zelda titles not to feature the Triforce, Zelda, Gorons, Zora’s, or any other creature or part of the Hyrule storyline.

Instead, and partly due to the fact that this was almost not a Zelda game, we see other characters such as Goomba, Kirby, Wart, a couple of Chain Chomps, and many others making cameo appearances.

Link must try to discover the secrets of Koholint Island and collect eight magical instruments on his quest to wake the mysterious Wind Fish.

And the best bit is that you can do it all in colour! There’s also a secret ‘Colour Dungeon’ that you can find that gives you special powers, but I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t played it yet.

If you’re looking for a handheld version of this game with the original top-down gameplay and graphics, then Links Awakening DX should definitely be in your collection.

5. Super Mario Bros Deluxe (1999)

Super Mario Bros Deluxe game cart

This wouldn’t be a collection of the greatest portable Nintendo games without a Mario title in it.

Super Mario Bros Deluxe kicked things up a notch with a simultaneous multiplayer mode, a new challenge mode, and lots of newly designed action-packed levels.

It’s not just a remake of the original Super Mario Bros; this game has lots of new and exciting features to warrant completing this story all over again, with fans looking out for new additions and worlds just like the nerds that watch the extended editions of LOTR with the booklet in their laps noting the deleted scenes (I am definitely that nerd).

Super Mario Bros Deluxe gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

The mushroom kingdom is in uproar after the Koopas have used their dark magic to turn its citizens into blocks, bricks, and mushrooms.

The king of the Koopas has (you guessed it) stolen Princess Peach, and it’s up to Mario to sort things out. It’s a storyline that’s withstood the test of time, and the graphics and gameplay that bring it to life will make those afternoon hours fly by.

With many of the glitches from the original game taken out, rich colour schemes and new animated elements added, the option to play as Luigi, and lots of other hidden surprises for gamers to try and spot, Mario Bros Deluxe is one of those titles that will keep you coming back time and time again.

Grab a second-hand copy and see for yourself!

6. Pokemon Trading Card Game (1998)

Pokemon Trading Card Game game cart

I might have just lost all of you here, but I’m sticking with it. Pokemon Trading Card Game is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated GameBoy Color games ever made.

To be able to harness the thrill of the card game and the collecting and battling that went with it into a video game just felt unreal, and battling other trainers felt just as exciting as it did in the mainstream series.

It took a lot of cost out of having to buy all of the cards in real life (and ending up with thousands of Diglets in the process) and you could still collect ’em all and carry them around with you in a tiny cartridge rather than lugging around a carry-case with more value than all of your Mum’s jewellery put together.

pokemon tcg game boy gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

I recently found out that the game was banned in Saudi Arabia because of it’s ‘blatant’ links to Zionism. Any game that gets banned instantly becomes ten-times more popular on the ‘bad-ass-o-meter’ scale!

Players must challenge eight Club Masters and then four Grand Masters just like in the main RPG Pokemon game, with the chance to collect cards that you couldn’t actually buy from the shops in the real world.

GBC owners could link up with each other and trade or battle, giving the player access to even more hidden surprises. Honestly, I found this game super addictive and couldn’t understand why none of my friends had played it.

For me, this title is a bit like Pokemon Snap – it’s not as mainstream, but that doesn’t stop it from being super hard to put down. 1.51 million Americans shared my opinion when the game was released, but the real question is, will you?

7. Dragon Warrior Monsters (1998)

Dragon Warrior Monsters game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo/Eidos

The next title in our list was released before the actual console itself, which is a little odd when you come to think about it!

Dragon Warrior Monsters was also backward compatible with the original GameBoy. It was the first DWM title to be released in Europe and follows the story of the series’ key characters, Terry and Milly when they are both children.

The levels in this colourful RPG are kind of reminiscent of a Legend Of Zelda title, and the gameplay has a lot of similarities to the Pokemon series in the form of in-game breeding of your Dragon Warrior Monsters. Don’t worry; you don’t actually see any monsters getting down and dirty. It’s a family game, after all.

Dragon Warrior Monsters gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/Eidos

The story revolves around Terry setting out on a quest to save his sister. Instead of fighting battles himself like in other Nintendo RPG titles such as Quest 64 (or Holy Magic Century if you’re a collector of N64 titles), Terry uses monsters that he befriends or coaxes into battle along the way to do his fighting for him. Smart move, kid; let somebody else get their hands dirty.

Along with ‘Slib the slime’, Terry’s first monster, you must defeat an evil monster and all of the challenges and dark dungeons that stand in your way if you are to save your sister and bring some peace to the world.

Slib might not sound as cool as Pikachu, but you’ve gotta start somewhere, right?

8. Pokemon Pinball (1999)

pokemon pinball
Credit: Nintendo

How do you make a Pokemon title even better? What about making a pinball world where you fire Pokeballs around different pinball courses, hitting different Pokemon and racking up hi-scores as you go?

Yeah, that would probably do it. Stick Pokemon on the cover of a game with a nice graphic of Pikachu on the start menu, and you’re one to a winner.

This game, however, is actually one of the best GameBoy Color games ever because it’s fun to play, easy to work, and SUPER addictive.

This thing should probably come with a warning or be reclassified as a Class-C drug because once you fire that first Poke ball, you’ll find it incredibly hard to put down. (Pinball responsibly, kids).

Pokemon Pinball gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

From popping out of Bellsprout’s mouth to hitting gold with legendary Pokemon such as the mighty Mewto, Pokemon Pinball was the ultimate arcade game for pocket monster fans everywhere.

Players can choose to play on a red or blue table (sound familiar? ) and play to capture Pokemon or evolve Pokemon that have already been captured.

It might not be as action-packed as the main game, but it’s definitely one of the titles that you can go back to when you’re stuck on other adventure games or just want something that you don’t need to think about too much.

9. Tomb Raider – Curse Of The Sword (2001)

Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo/Activision/Eidos

Now I’m featuring everyone’s favourite kick-ass treasure hunter, adventurer, and gun-wielding tomb raider; Lara Croft.

Curse of the Sword is a side-scrolling slice of gaming brilliance with rich textured graphics that we would never have thought possible when we held the original GameBoy in our hands.

This single-player action-adventure title follows the same theme and uses the same gaming engine as the first GBC Tomb Raider game, though this time there are more clever puzzles to solve, new challenges to overcome, and some pretty annoying bad guys that you’ll enjoy defeating over and over again.

Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/Activision/Eidos

It wouldn’t be a Tomb Raider game without a crazy storyline, and Curse of the Sword doesn’t disappoint. In this title, a crazed magician has been rising to power in the underworld scene in New Orleans.

When she dies, one of her crackpot followers tries to bring her back to life and, after a bit of a mishap with a sacrificial sword and some of Lara’s blood, Miss Tomb Raider herself becomes the perfect host for old ‘magic bones’ to take hold of.

Lara must find the weird cult, break the sword, and sort all of this out before heading home in time for tea at Croft Manor. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

10. Donkey Kong Country (2000)

Donkey Kong Country game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

If you’re a Nintendo fan, then you’re sure to have played Donkey Kong Country on the SNES. It was a classic side-scrolling platform game with some of the best gameplay ever. If I had a dollar for every hour I spent playing this game with my cousin, I’d have a lot of dollars that I can’t spend in England…

The GBC port of Donkey Kong Country stayed pretty true to the original game, with the addition of a new level called ‘Necky Nutmare’ as well as some other upgrades, hidden areas, and different gameplay modes.

This game was praised for it’s vibrant graphics when it first came out, and the GBC certainly gives it a new lease of life.

Donkey Kong Country gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

Donkey Kong Country sees Donkey and Diddy on a mission to retrieve DK’s banana hoard from King K.Rool, a bad-ass croc with an odd face and a cape.

As one half of the monkey duo, you have to make your way through a series of levels comprising of jungles, underwater realms, factories, mountains, caves, treetops, ruins, and mines.

There are a number of mini-games to try your hand at as your progress, and finding the golden ‘KONG’ letters on each level will leave you replaying stages again and again. ‘Enguarde’ the Swordfish and ‘Rambi’ the Rhino are still two of my favourite ‘helpers’ out of any game series!

11. Wario Land 3 (2000)

Wario Land 3 game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

Sometimes it’s nice to play as the bad guy, and sometimes that bad guy is just a little bit misunderstood. It’s not Wario’s fault that he loves garlic and couldn’t audition for the role of Mario because his nose is too bulbous.

Despite his oddities, Wario certainly knows how to put on a good show.

Wario Land 3 received critical acclaim on release and scored highly with pretty much ever gaming magazine, website, and critic in the known universe. Not bad for a portly plumber with purple dungarees, eh!

Wario Land 3 gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

The game follows the same style and theme as Wario Land 2, with the play taking ol’ Wazza around a series of stages in search of abilities to help him progress through the game’s weird and wonderful levels.

One thing that I always loved about Wario is that, unlike Mario who just stomped on all of his enemies, he could use the attacks of the various baddies to his advantage and power up from them. It makes for more interesting gameplay if you ask me!

As with any Wario title, there’s obviously going to be treasure involved, and this time our ‘larger-than-life’ friend has to rid a world inside a magical music box of an evil presence so that he can be sent back to his own world as a rich man.

This game is a fan favourite and one that you should definitely have in your collection.

12. Shantae (2002)

Shantae game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo/capcom

This is the first in a series of Shantae games and introduces us to he bad-ass half-genie herself. Sequin land is the world you’ll be adventuring through in this magical quest.

Shantae must use all of her magical powers to stop the evil Pirate ‘Risky Boots’ (what is it with these terrible names in games) and bring other genies back to the world (or something along those lines).

shantae gameboy color gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/capcom

Shantae can learn new dances after defeating boss dungeons to turn herself into different animals, creatures that will help her to unlock new areas and complete new tasks. It’s a fantasy novelist’s dream and a title that you can easily get lost in – hours will FLY by.

The game has a day and night mode, a little like Ocarina of Time, and enemies get harder to defeat at night. There are certain items that can only be collected at specific times of the day too, leaving you coming back for more and not wanting to EVER turn it off.

13. Metroid II – Return Of Samus (1991)

Metroid  2 DX: The Return of Samus game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

Ok, so this cover isn’t real, but Metroid 2 is still one of the best games that you can play on your GameBoy Color. In the original Metroid game for the SNES, colour changes helped you to differentiate between Samus’ different suits.

Some of you might not know that there is a special ‘Metroid Pallette’ built-in to the GBC, which makes the Metroid GameBoy cart look super nice when plugged in. We love a nerdy fact at Retro Dodo!

metroid 2 return of samus game boy gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

There’s lots of Samus discovering and destroying Metroids in this space-age side-scrolling shooting game, with plenty of puzzles to solve along the way.

Rather than having lots of smaller levels to play through, this game is just one humongous level, which I think is a refreshing change from the norm. It’s the prequel to the ever-popular Super Metroid and a must-have for any Nintendo fans.

14. Mario Tennis (2000)

Mario Tennis game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

Mario Tennis was one of my favourite games for the N64 and a superb multiplayer title to crack out when friends came around. The GBC version has lots of different playable characters, Nintendo native and human, and the gameplay style is pretty much the same as the home console version.

One of the bits I like the best in Mario Tennis GBC is the shooting-gallery mode where Donkey Kong fires tennis balls at bananas. It’s simple, but it works!

mario tennis game boy gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

One of the main ways that the GBC version differs from the N64 game is that there is an RPG mode that you can play through. I know it doesn’t sound as exciting as Final Fantasy or Holy Magic Century, but hear me out.

In true RPG style, you must work your way through a Tennis Academy and level up from a rookie to a champion. Various tournaments need to be completed, and you’ll eventually have to face off against the mighty Mario, who apart from being the world’s most famous plumber is now the greatest tennis player on the planet. Is there nothing that guy can’t do!

15. Tetris DX (1998)

Tetris DX game cart
Credit: Nintendo

If you need an introduction to Tetris, then you probably should close this website down and go rethink your life.

It’s undoubtedly the world’s most famous puzzle game and one that set a trend of other falling block games such as Columns, Candy Crush, and all of the other cheap imitations that will never be as good as the real thing.

I still can’t walk past a piece of ‘T-Bar’ or write the letter ‘L’ without thinking of Tetris. It’s so addictive it should be reclassified as a Class C drug, and now you can play it in glorious colour!

tetris dx game boy color gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

Tetris had to be featured – it would have been criminal not to include it. There are few games in the world that can be picked up and played without any prior gaming knowledge, and Tetris is one of them.

It doesn’t matter what your skill level is or how many hours you’ve put into Call Of Duty over the years, this puzzle game is one that can bring generations of gamers together, and getting that all-important high-score is one of the most crucial gaming missions of all.

Grab yourself a copy and see who is the gaming master of your family.

16. Croc 2 (2001)

croc 2 game boy color
Credit: Nintendo/thq

I’m a huge fan of Croc. He gets a bit of a slating from gaming fans all over the world, but he’s a good guy at heart. And besides, how can you hate that little green face?

Croc 2 has a similar gameplay style to ‘Croc: Legend of the Gobbos’. Instead of being a side-scrolling platformer, however, this game allows you to move in all directions from a 3/4 top-down perspective, a little like ‘Links Awakening’.

The camera can get a little annoying at times, but the graphics are bright, the game is fun, and the levels are pretty imaginative.

croc 2 game boy color gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/thq

So what’s Croc up to this time then? Well, apart from collecting gems and crystals, and hanging out with an anthropomorphic cat, Croc must stop a revived Baron Dante and rescue Professor Gobbo. The Gobbos help propel Croc to the mainland via a giant see-saw, and then your quest begins.

Croc has ‘clawed’ his way into our list for the sense of fun and excitement that he brings to the console. It might not be as thrilling as number 10 on our list, but it’s still worth taking a look at!

17. Mega Man Xtreme (2000)

Mega Man Xtreme game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo/capcom

If you’re a fan of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, then you’re bound to have come across the main character of the next offering. Mega Man is a Capcom legend, and ‘Xtreme’ fits into the same timeline as the rest of the Mega Man series starting from the SNES.

Like Samus, Mega Man has a futuristic arm cannon called the ‘X-Buster’ that he can use to destroy the evil Shadow Hunters as he aims to save the Mother Computer.

Metroid has Metroids to cope with, and Mega Man has Mavericks – there are so many similarities that it hurts, but I love both games, so I’m not complaining.

Mega Man Xtreme gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/capcom

Mega Man can run, scale walls, blast, and jump his way through each of the game’s levels. Each level can be selected and played in any order, making it different from Number 12 on our list which just had one massive level.

The player can pick up armour upgrades along the way and obtain a different weapon upgrade each time they defeat a boss. The bosses and enemies are basically an amalgamation of all of the characters from the previous Mega Man games, so it provides a sense of nostalgia too for fans of the series.

18. Bionic Commando: Elite Forces (2000)

Bionic Commando: Elite Forces game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

A super-commando who must defeat a newly-resurected Hitler in an alternate reality – now we’ve got your attention! That’s the plot of the original game in the Bionic Commando series, and the GBC Color version has a similar plot with different characters and settings.

If you’re a regular reader of my articles, then you’ll know my thoughts on some of the worst character names in the best Master System games. SEGA must have used a random name generator for some of those guys, but at least Nintendo got the formula right.

The lead protagonist in Bionic Commando is (get ready for this) Nathan “Rad” Spencer (the Rad is 100% crucial). As you might have guessed, he’s a Bionic Commando who must stop bad stuff from happening. He’s essentially a robotic Captain America, which could be even cooler than the real thing!

Bionic Commando: Elite Forces gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

Unlike many of the other side-scrolling platform games in our list, Nathan (or Robo Rad as I’m going to call him from now on) can’t jump across gaps or over enemies. He has to use his bionic arm, a little bit like Samus’ grapple beam to get from A to B, but it doesn’t prove much of a problem for the player.

Instead of a WWII-style Americans vs Germans plot, the game is set in the fictional land of Karinia, and Hitler is replaced by a dictator named Arturus.

You must find a secret weapon, rescue an imprisoned super-soldier comrade, destroy the enemy, and uncover a terrible plot. The story is excellent, as is the gameplay, and Bionic Comando: Elite Forces is certainly a title that you should be checking out.

19. Pokemon Puzzle Challenge (2000)

Pokemon Puzzle Challenge game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

What do you do when you can’t decide whether you love Pokemon or Tetris more? Answer – you get a copy of Pokemon Puzzle Challenge and thank Nintendo for giving into your niche demands.

As is to be expected from any Pokemon game, Puzzle Challenge received perfect scores across the board with many critics hailing it as an unprecedented success.

It’s a pocket-monsters take on the game Panel de Pon and features characters from the Gold and Silver GBC games, which I’m sure you might come across further down the list.

Pokemon Puzzle Challenge gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

So how do you play Pokemon Puzzle Challenge? Well, it’s a block matching game like Columns, Tetris, Dr Mario, or any iPhone rip-off of Candy Crush that’s ever been made.

The thing that separates this title, however, is that you have to battle Johto leaders, you can collect Pokemon by winning battles, and it has remixed, upbeat versions of the music from the original Gold and Silver games to keep you pumped while racking up that high score.

You can either play against the computer or your friends with a link cable, and both the gameplay and puzzle grid itself are entertaining and provide a true Pokemon experience.

20. Metal Gear Solid (2000)

Metal Gear Solid gameboy
Credit: Nintendo/konami

The next series on our list hardly needs any introduction. Metal Gear Solid is one of the best stealth/adventure hybrids of our time, and the GBC port finally gave Nintendo fans a piece of the PlayStation pie.

Another Komani title (I told you these guys know how to make solid games – see what I did there), MGS for the GBC is a port of the PS game of the same name but not a direct copy.

It’s set seven years after the events of the original MSG game and not in the same timeline. Think the two branches of the Hero of Time, and you’ll kind of get the idea.

It was given a perfect 10 out of 10 by IGN and has been hailed by many as one of the best handheld games of all time.

Metal Gear Solid gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/konami

So what’s the story all about? Well, A Metal Gear prototype has been stolen, and the gang behind the robbery wants to use it to gain the upper hand in a civil war.

Solid Snake is called out of retirement in Alaska and is given the mission of retrieving the prototype from the mysterious depths of the gang’s headquarters, Outer Heaven.

Solid Snake must team up with some pretty gnarly characters with humongous weapons along the way, uncovering a plot between the government and the bad guys as he progresses.

It’s super-spy stuff all right, and it’s a cracking game with tonnes of hidden tricks up its digital sleeve. MGS also has a two-player VS mode which was pretty fun and a VR training mode for developing your sneaking, shooting, and advanced skills.

21. Survival Kids (1999)

Surival Kids game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo/konami

Konami certainly knows how to make a good adventure game. Mystical Ninja starring Goeman is still one of my favourite games of all time and was memorable from start to finish. They create entertaining characters and compelling plotlines that you just can’t put down, and Survival Kids was no exception.

This was one of the first open-ended games that I can remember playing that allowed the player to progress at his or her own pace, meaning you could either leg it through the game or take your time to discover different possibilities of moving ahead.

Kind of like Fable and some of the other morality-based games for the XBOX, the player can choose whether to interact with strangers as they figure out a way to get back to civilisation.

You can either go it alone or look to others for help, a choice which will primarily boil down to how anti-social you are in real life.

Survival Kids gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/konami

With Pokemon-style characters and Zelda-esque top-down gameplay, Survival Kids was an incredible game with lots of collectibles.

There’s an Animal Crossing style feel in the form of using items to make other tools that are useful to your progression, and the need to monitor everyday actions such as sleeping and eating gives Survival Kids a kind of ‘Tamagotchi meets Minish Cap’ vibe.

Can you get your chosen character off the isolated desert island and back to the real world?

22. R-Type DX (1999)

R-Type DX game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

If you’re a fan of R-Type and R-Type II, then you should definitely have R-Type DX in your gaming arsenal. R-Type DX is essentially a cart that has both of these games in glorious upgraded colour.

That’s the only upgrade that you’ll see in this GBC version, but the games are so good that they hardly need anything else to make them any better!

The R-Type series revolves around a horizontal space-age shooter that sees players destroying aliens and intergalactic monsters while piloting a starship called the R-9 “Arrowhead”. If that doesn’t whet your monster-whooping appetite, then I don’t know what will!

R-Type DX gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

The player must move along levels and defeat a gigantic boss at the very end. There is a Space Invaders-style weak blaster that you can use to shoot down smaller enemies, and a wave cannon that requires charging.

“The Force”, which isn’t anything like the Star Wars power and was based on a dung beetles (seriously!) provides extra-powerful weapons that can be used to take down bigger brutes and for getting past hard spots on the game. This is a bit like Flappy Bird in space, with guns and alien overlords – sounds like a good combination to me!

23. Mario Golf (1999)

Mario Golf game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo

If I want to kick back on a game without a confusing plot line and one that I can play without too much thought, then I turn to Mario Golf every time.

This game is similar to the N64 title in lots of ways and actually has the ability to connect up to the game using the Transfer Pak, one of the best Nintendo 64 accessories I own! It allowed you to play with characters only found on the home console version but on your portable powerhouse instead. How cool is that!

Mario Golf gameplay
Credit: Nintendo

Mario Golf for the GBC had an ‘RPG-style solo-player mode, where the player could interact with other golfers, exploring the worlds around the courses and levelling up to improve their golf skills. There was a story mode where you had to complete certain challenges, and a multiplayer so you could tee-off against your friends.

The graphics were pretty simple (it’s only golf for crying out loud!), but it works really well. It’s the first portable golfing game on the handheld, and it has helped real-life golfers with their skills ever since (not true in the slightest).

24. Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins (1999)

Ghost's n Goblins game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo/capcom

Speaking of swords, the next protagonist relies on them heavily as he makes his way through dungeons (no dragons) defeating ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the ‘Knight’ (get it! We’re available for weddings, Barmitsvah’s, christenings etc).

In this title, you play as the legendary King Arthur, and he’s on a mission to save Guinevere from the clutches of evil monsters. Gorgons, cyclops, trolls – you name it, and Arthur will have to fight his way past it. If you like destroying baddies that are five-times your size, then this is the game for you.

Ghosts 'n' Goblins gameplay game boy
Credit: Nintendo/capcom

Arthur can pick up upgrades to his magical armour and sword as he progresses through the game. You lose a life if you get hit twice – that’s Dark Souls-style hard!

If you lose a life, you have to return to the start of the level or midway point if you’ve managed to make it there before perishing.

The GBC port had passwords that you could enter to head straight to certain levels, so you could always get your cheat on if you were getting too angry at a Demogorgon (who hasn’t experienced that once in their lives?).

25. Lufia: The Legend Returns (2001)

Lufia: The Legend Returns game case cover art
Credit: Nintendo/Natsume

Lufia: The Legend Returns has all of the elements that you know and love from role-playing titles like Holy Magic Century, Final Fantasy, Skies of Arcadia, and many more.

You’ll spend a lot of time in the battle screen fighting off random foes, finding hidden texts, and going on adventures with the other characters.

You can have up to 9 people in your team, all with different skills and abilities that can help you to progress through the game.

Lufia: The Legend Returns gameplay
Credit: Nintendo/Natsume

The game has a large overworld map that you must explore every nook and cranny of if you have a hope of advancing through the storyline. It looks a little like an updated version of the original Link’s Awakening at times, and the rich worlds and vibrant colours make it a joy to play.

The game revolves around the rather unfortunately named ‘Doom Island’, which can’t bode well for the characters involved. The Sinistrals are up to no good again, and it’s up to you and your crew to set things right with swords, shield, and kick-ass powers. Get to it!

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