The best GameBoy games of all time is a list no outlet wants to write, for fear it will annoy a lot of fellow Gameboy enthusiasts out there.
And although we are kinda’ ranking them, we are going to put these in no particular order.
So hopefully, if you are a fellow Gameboy junkie like ourselves, then you’ll respect our decision.
If not, we’d love to hear your thoughts on which ones we’ve missed!
(Just be nice…ok?)
And usually, this is where a website would talk about the Gameboy and introduce what it does, when it was released and how it affected the market.
But if you’re reading this, you already know that it’s one of the best gaming consoles of all time and revolutionised the handheld gaming market.
In other words – no introduction needed!
And for those wondering, this is not a best GameBoy Advance games or best GameBoy Color games list, just the original square cartridges that most of us still have hiding somewhere in the attic or basement.
So, let’s start ranking the best GameBoy games of all time.
We couldn’t have a top 25 best GameBoy games list without featuring Pokemon Red & Blue.
This was the RPG that changed many kids and adults lives.
Pokemon Red & Blue was released in 1996 in Japan and 1998 in western countries for the Gameboy by developers Game Freak.
It was mainly used on the Gameboy Color, which came with a shade of red or green within the game.
It’s not a lot of colour, but hey, it was an upgrade from the original Gameboy!
The game was one hell of an adventure, and the aim was to catch every single Pokemon and become the best Pokemon Master in the world.
But defeating the Elite Four, a team of highly trained Pokemon Masters with some of the strongest Pokemon around was no easy task!
It was no pick-up and play game; you’d put hours and hours into the story just to get through the gyms, and even then it could still prove to be a challenge if you didn’t plan what Pokemon to use.
Tactics would be needed at all times, and trades would be used in order to strengthen your team.
It was the game that connected Gameboy players, all with the use of a simple trade cable in order to trade your favourite pocket monsters.
Here’s one that may surprise you being on our best GameBoy games list. Take a look at Turok: Battle of the Bionosaurs, a 2D action platformer developed by Bit Managers for the Gameboy in 1997.
It was a challenging game, and one of the first to feature Dinosaurs, which… well, everyone loved back then.
It had a number of stages, but the game was known for switching between being a side-scroller and a birds-eye view game, which made each stage feel completely different and unique.
The Dino’s were scary, the weapon choices vast, and tactical button-mashing strategies were needed in order to get to the end.
It was released alongside Turok: Dinosaur Hunter on the N64, and many Turok fans came over from that console in order to play it in the go.
It was one bad-ass game that we still play to this day, and it’s good to see the Turok franchise still going strong with modern titles.
I’m just gonna say it; we love Dinosaurs!
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is probably on every best GameBoy list on the entire planet and that’s for good reason.
This game was the action adventure gameboy that sapped that attention of GameBoy fans for hours on end.
It was a game developed by Nintendo for the Gameboy and Gameboy Color and was released in 1993, making it one of the first BIG games for the Nintendo Gameboy.
And while Link’s Awakening didn’t kick start the Zelda franchise, it sure helped to boost its profile and make it one of the most loved series of all time.
It starts with Link being stranded on an island and having to discover a way off.
Solving complex puzzles and fighting off monsters is what this title is all about, all while finding eight musical instruments that will awaken the sleeping fish that stops him from leaving.
The game sold over 6,000,000 units… take that in.
That figure, alongside its incredible story, is why it’s on our best gameboy games list.
Tetris, the GameBoy 99% of Gameboy users had. Not because it’s classed as the best GameBoy game of all time, but because it came free with most purchases of the original GameBoy.
And although it was seriously overlooked by children back in the day, it was the game that got adults, and teenagers into the handheld gaming community.
The ever-growing challenge of getting the high score and the game’s addictive theme tune made it one of the most played ‘pick up and play’ titles for the Gameboy.
And still to this day, Tetris is forever evolving. And because of its easy playability and mind-numbingly enjoyable gameplay, it had to be one we added to the list.
Because when it comes down it, it’s just impossible for people to hate Tetris, especially when it’s so addictive!
And even if they hate it, they’ll still play it.
Metroid II: Return of Samus is still one of the best games that you can play on your Gameboy and Gameboy Color.
It’s a little known fact (ok, it’s probably a big known fact, but my thing sounds cooler), that this game has its own Metroid Pallette, or rather the GBC does, at any rate.
Plugging this game into the GBC unlocks a whole host of funky-fresh colours for players to enjoy.
Return of Samus is one of the best DMG games on the system. The first portable Metroid game; what’s not to love?
Destroy Metroids, discover weapons, and blast everything in sight while running and jumping through a side-scrolling world. It’s filled with brain-teasers and nasty bosses and has everything a classic Metroid game should have.
Here’s another cool fact. This game is basically one ginormous level! It’s not lots of little stages with loading scenes; it’s a continues level that you can explore to your hearts content.
In terms of timeline, this game comes before the epic Super Metroid and needs to be in your DMG collection!
That’s right, not Super Mario Land 1, but Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. This was the platformer that brought more depth to the graphics.
We’re not talking about extra pixels, but a simple addition to depth of field and shading that made for more immersive gameplay.
This made Super Mario Land 2 a seriously enjoyable title to play, forever keeping you on your feet as you tried to explore every section of every level.
It introduced Luigi too, Mario’s best bud and brother who is still in the latest Nintendo games to this day!
It was released in 1992 by Nintendo, a very early game that kept other developers on their feet.
6 Golden Coins pleased Mario fans and those who wanted a challenge, and therefore it’s an all-rounder and one we simply had to feature in our best GameBoy games article.
It’s one that we just love playing on the Bittboy Pocket Go, in it’s small compact form!
Not so much a game, but more of a must have accessory.
But it’s still going our list!
The Gameboy Camera allowed the 90’s kids to take selfies… Super pixelated selfies that made you look like Sméagol from Lord of the Rings, but selfies nonetheless!
You added it to your cartridge slot, and wallah; you could add filters, take pictures, save pictures, and turn your Gameboy into a fine portable snapping device that made kids get out the house.
Team this thing up with the Gameboy Printer, and you could quite literally print your selfies out on the go.
You’d have to remember to bring a crate full of AA’s though because that printer used to eat through them… fast.
This was the cool kids gadget, and one that not every child managed to get hold of, but you can bet yourself it was one game, every kid wanted.
Donkey Kong is one of the most nostalgic game characters of all time, and this next title in our list of the best GameBoy games is renowned for being a challenging arcade game.
It was released on the GameBoy in 1994 and allowed GameBoy fans to tackle the ever so challenging puzzle games in pocket form.
The player would take control of Mario (named on the original arcade game as ‘Jump Man’) who’s aim was to rescue Pauline from Mr Bad Donkey Kong. He’d throw barrels at you, making it hard to navigate up the level.
But once you did, you’d save the princess and become the hero, just the way Mario likes it.
You were greeted with different levels, different difficulties, and the ever so nostalgic theme tune!
A great game, and a great character that everyone loves to hate.
Kirby, the floating chubby ball of love that likes to suck its enemies into its abyss. Sounds scary, but this adorable thing was loved by millions.
Kirby’s Dream Land was released in 1992 by Nintendo and is an action platformer which was made for pick up and play gamers.
But that’s not all. The developers wanted it to be a game for the more hardcore platformers out there and allowed you to unlock new hard levels and lower Kirby’s HP.
Kirby can fly by inflating himself with a mouthful of air and flapping his arms.
Flying can be done indefinitely, but Kirby’s only method of attack while flying is to release the air puff held in his mouth which cancels his flight.
This is how you would navigate across the five levels, in order to complete the game. A cute, challenging platformer with a different touch to Mario’s titles and other examples of the best GameBoy games in its category.
We’ve all heard of Final Fantasy, a huge franchise that’s still going to this day. And one of the greatest titles in the series was on the Gameboy; Final Fantasy Adventure.
It was released in 1993 by developer Square and was aimed at those that wanted a different and more mature adventure game compared to the likes of Zelda and Pokemon.
The world is viewed from a top-down camera angle, and you can defeat monsters, explore the world and discover its incredible story while on the bus or in the park.
But what made Final Fantasy Adventure incredible was its choice of unique illustrations and the introduction to mana and stamina.
It’s a game for a mature audience who want a challenge and a new style of action games for the GameBoy – not for the faint-hearted!
Worth a pick up for sure but it might be hard to get hold of, so we recommend picking up a LDK Horizontal if you haven’t got a GameBoy handy!
Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 was one of the best games I ever played on the GameBoy. I’m a big fan of the purple-dungaree-wielding menace, and this game had an ace storyline that made it hard to put down.
Captain Syrup and the Brown Sugar Pirates have hidden lots of gold and treasure on Kitchen Island.
Wario is trying to get enough money to buy a castle of his own and even considers trading a gold statue of Princess Peach to get some cash. When Mario nabs this from his nemesis, Wario turns to a genie for help.
Depending on how much money you collect through the game by shoulder barging pirates and uncovering treasure, the genie can grant you anything from a log cabin to an entire planet!
There are different helmets that give you different abilities, and the game is filled with fun and humour from start to finish.
If you’re looking for an adventure that doesn’t have Mario as the starring role, then Wario Land will be right up your street.
If you’re a fan of Tetris and Number 15 on our list of the best GameBoy games, then you’ll love Dr. Mario.
Not only is this guy a plumber that has to stomp on enemies and save princesses, but he’s also a trained medical professional now.
Who would have thought it!
Mario’s still kicking bad-guys into touch, but this time he’s doing it with different coloured pills and destroying virus’s rather than Goombas.
I bet he could have tackled this Covid-19 business better than our world leaders!
Players must stack the correct coloured end of a capsule over the corresponding virus bacteria symbol. Stacks of four will then disappear, taking the virus with them.
Clear the screen, declare the level disease free, and move onto the next stage.
It’s fun, addictive, and an entry-level test for medical school in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Next up on our list of the best GameBoy games is an adventure/thriller action/RPG masterpiece; Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge!
If you’re new to the Castlevania franchise, then it’s full of ghouls, demons, and vampires.
In the first adventure on the GameBoy, Christopher Belmont takes down Dracula and rids the world of his evil ways.
Now Dracula’s back, and he’s come to kidnap Christopher’s son and rebuild his castle.
Some people just don’t know when to give up!
There are four levels that can be completed in any order, and Christopher can use sub weapons such as holy water as well as the trademark Belmont whip.
Belmont’s Revenge isn’t the longest game in the world, but it is a stellar title that’s worth including in your collection for its replay value.
From Vampires to Gargoyles, this next title in our list of the best GameBoy games is Gargoyle’s Quest a spin-off of a classic title that can more than hold its own in the world of portable gaming.
Some of you might recognise Red Arremar as an enemy from the game Ghosts ‘n Goblins.
Not content with causing a ruckus in one game, he branched out and created his own series which has gone on to achieve critical acclaim the world over!
You must work together with allies in the Ghoul Realm and other nice folk on your way through the game, taking care to kick the asses of all of the pretenders and invaders who want to eradicate you and the Ghoul Realm forever.
Play swaps between top/down and face-on random encounters, a little like the Pokemon games.
Gargoyle’s Quest is an epic title that provides a challenge to gamers who want to sink their fangs into an exciting adventure.
We can’t get enough of it!
I spent so many hours playing on the last game in our list of the best GameBoy games that I could probably have become a Mario & Yoshi champion.
Like Dr Mario, this was a take on games like Tetris and Columns but using Nintendo characters.
Mario & Yoshi was made harder by the player having to use some Game & Watch style platform movement to twist different platforms around to get bad-guys in the right place.
You would earn points for closing enemies inside two halfs of yoshi’s shell. The bigger the stack, the more points you got.
Either way, this was one heck of an addictive game and a fun, alternative adventure for two of my favourite characters.
Up next on this list of the best Gameboy games of all time is Harvest Moon, the greatest farming simulation series of all time…
… yep, I stand by that statement.
Many of you might have played Harvest Moon GBC, a remake of this original version for the DMG. The main difference is that the GBC version is in colour… but I’m gonna go ahead and guess that you already knew that.
Moving on… it follows the SNES game as the second game in the Story of Seasons canon and lets gamers experience life on a farm. We’re talking harvesting crops, picking pets, rearing livestock, and walking around with corn in your mouth.
Gamers upgrade tools as they progress, sort of like a farming RPG adventure. The aim of the game is to keep the farm, the pets, the crops, and your dead grandaddy happy.
Hang on… come again?
Yep, the ghost of your Grandpa checks back in every winter to make sure you haven’t wrecked his farm. If he’s happy, then you get rewarded for your labour by being kept on for another year. If he thinks you’ve been slacking, then it’s back to the job centre for you!
Like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon has a season mechanic and an in-game clock, meaning certain actions have to happen at a certain time. It’s a great title for fans of the Sims or other life-simulation titles.
DuckTales was hardly off the family TV set back in the day. Not only was it epic to watch, but it remains one of the best Gameboy games that I ever owned (and still do!)
Listen, Donald might be the most well-known-duck, but this isn’t no angry quacking adventure. This is Scrooge McDuck at his finest, diving into a pool of gold coins and pogoing about on his walking stick!
How many ducks do you know that would go to the ends of the earth and even outer space just to add more treasure to their massive horde? Donald’s Uncle Scrooge is the only one ballsy enough for that!
So what’s this game all about? Well, Players take Signor Moneybags (Scrooge) through a series of levels collecting gold and treasure. Hop around on the moon, sneak through creepy Transylvania, and become an intrepid explorer in the Amazon.
And the real hero of the show – Scrooges Cane! It’s far from an ordinary walking stick; Scrooge uses it as a weapon to beat back foes and for crossing great distances via a pogo-style jump.
And instead of picking up hearts along the way, Scrooge McDuck gets his health from delicious ice creams. Dude is decadent, after all!
This is also one of the best NES games of all time too and sold over 1,000,000 copies. What a winner!
Not content with appearing as the lead in Super Mario Land 3, Wario is back with Wario Land II!
I’m a huge gan of the Wario game series; I’m gonna go ahead and say that I like them more than Mario’s games. They’re grittier and more fun, plus Wario does stuff that Mazza couldn’t get away with.
Collecting treasure is the aim of the game (Wario should probably start hanging out with Scrooge McDuck), but puzzles and tricky blockades make things a lot harder for our bulbous-nosed anti-hero.
Wario can’t die, which is pretty handy. He loses coins when attacked by an enemy, which is probably worse than dying for this treasure-loving sneak-thief.
There are multiple hidden doors and exits to find, as well as puzzles to overcome in order to get through blocked paths or to treasure rooms. It’s one of those games where going backwards is sometimes better than just ploughing forwards.
Like Kirby, Wario has the power to take traits from enemies and use them to his advantage. He’s one of the most interesting characters Nintendo produced, in my opinion, and this game is a joy to play through.
Donkey Kong 2 sees Diddy and Dixie Kong taking the reigns from Donkey in their first portable adventure.
Not content with just stealing Donkey’s banana hoard, King K.Rool has stolen Donkey Kong too! That croc’s got a nerve…
This game even came in a banana yellow cartridge for those extra simian feels. It’s a great follow on title from the first Donkey Kong Land game and well worth a look if you’re a fan of the series.
Donkey Kong Land 2 borrows heavily from Diddy’s Kong Quest on the SNES, but all the levels are different.
It does have the same storyline, however… so, it’s effectively the same game with different worlds.
Whether you think that’s a bit of a cop out or not is up to you, but this is a cracking game to play through and one of the best adventures on the console.
Diddy and Dixie are great heroes in their own right, and while it is similar to the SNES adventure, Rare certainly worked their magic with this one.
R-Type takes the 20th spot in this list of the best Gameboy games of all time!
If you enjoyed R-Type DX for the GBC and want to see the same action in black and white for those super retro vibes, then the original Gameboy DMG game should definitely be in your list.
R-Type is often cited as one of the greatest games of all time, and it certainly has a geekylicious storyline that fans of Star Gate and Star Trek will be all over like a symbiote at a packed birthday party.
R-Type is space-age shooting at its best. Players take control of the epic R-9 Arrowhead in this side-scrolling adventure, shooting down alien crafts and sending enemies into the ether as asteroid dust.
The bosses in this game are IMMENSE. I wrote that in capitals just to prove how big they actually are. Gamers pick up stronger weapons as they move through the different levels, harnessing something called ‘The Force’ which isn’t anything to do with Midichlorians.
Every time I talk about this game, I can’t resist mentioning that ‘The Force’ was based on Dung Beetles moving stuff way heavier than themselves. It’s essentially a super weapon that helps with the big brute bosses and a much-needed helping hand.
Batman: The Video Game is a portable remake of the NES game starring the best caped crusader on the streets.
We’re not still pretending Superman is better, are we?
This is another of my favourite side-scrolling adventures and features one of the best villains in the world too – The Joker.
That dude’s scary whether he’s black and white or purple suited!
Ever played Ninja Gaiden? Well, Bruce Wayne’s moves are very reminiscent of that title. It’s also a little like an early Prince of Persia title too, which makes me think that Wayne Manor might have a time-travelling machine in it somewhere…
Fans of the Batman show and the countless films will love using iconic weapons like the Batarang and Batman’s speargun, used for hotfooting it out of danger and getting to higher parts of a level.
While the NES version has cooler cutscenes, the Gameboy title is the perfect companion for long journeys and getting that comic-book kick in the office. DC fans need this in their life immediately.
Mole Mania takes the 23rd spot on this list of the best Gameboy games of all time, one of Shigeru Miyamoto’s hidden gems. Imagine if this dude became Ninty’s mascot and not Mazzo or Link!
This game is one for puzzle lovers. It’s a screen clearing game that sees players taking Muddy the Mole on a mission to rescue his wife and children from that evil-looking farmer in the picture above.
Never trust a person with eyebrows that bushy!
The main aim of each level is to move a black ball from one end of a level to another. Muddy can dig in certain locations to find items and other passages, but the ball has to be moved overground.
Enemies are sent by the farmer try to stop Muddy, and there are bosses to battle along the way too… including two plumbers…
Yeah, there’s a lot of speculation as to whether the farmer is related to Mario or whether this is a Mushroom Kingdom adventure. If it is, then it looks like Mario hated Donkey Kong and moles back in the early days.
We’re glad he’s mellowed now, though he still has a bit of beef with Monty… let it go man, let it go…
Speaking of Mazza, Mario’s Picross takes the 23rd spot in this list of the best Gameboy games of all time. It’s another puzzler that see’s Mario turning into a bit of a sculptor.
Our moustachioed hero uses a hammer and chisel to create different shapes by solving puzzles. It’s like a cross between Sudoku and Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training; it’s not the easiest game to sit back and relax with, but it’s a bit of a cult classic these days.
‘Cult Classic’ is code for a game that flopped in the Western World that people now love again. I was always a fan of the puzzle titles as I’m a nerd, but not everyone felt the same way back in the day.
There are 256 puzzles in total to work through, giving value for money if you fancy giving this game a try.
It’s certainly a good one for keeping those little grey cells ticking over and provides maximum sense of achievement once the picture is revealed!
Golf is the ultimate game to play while sitting on the loo. It’s the truth, and it’s probably why I was late for school so much as a kid.
There’s not much to say about Golf apart from that it’s a golf game that fist appeared on the NES. There was a little confusion as to who the main character was on the cover back in the NES days, though Nintendo appeared to have sorted it out by the looks of the Gameboy cover above…
It’s Luigi… obviously…
Kidding, we all know it’s Mazza.
While Golf saw releases on many consoles since the Gameboy, the green-tinged portable version is my favourite by far. With single and two player modes and simple gameplay, it’s a pick-up-and-play title that you don’t have to think too much about.
A little like real golf…
… I’ve just made a lot of enemies there, haven’t I?
Work through 18 courses and get the best score possible, jumping for joy along the way!
Killer Instinct finishes this list of the best Gameboy games of all time, a true retro 2D figher that packed a serious punch.
I know in a world where Mortal Kombat fatalities and Tekken beatdowns rule supreme that this game might look super dated. Still, characters like Sabrewulf and Fulgore were some of the first fighters I ever battled with, and they were the best back when I was a kid.
Before the pixelated fighters took to the field, players glimpsed a full image of their chosen fighter to hold in their minds. That’s all I needed to get behind my character and kick everyones ass from start to finish.
Having this game on the Gameboy meant I didn’t have to lose all my money on the arcade version, meaning I could eat sweets while knocking the sh… I mean, battling Glacius,
Killer Instinct soon gave way to Killer Instinct Gold, one of the best N64 games games. Seeing all the old favourites in colour from the handheld button-mashing-battlefest was amazing.
I still take T.J Combo and Fulgore for a few rounds on the streets from time to time; it’s one of those games that will never leave me.
The best ones never do.
More Content From The Retro Dodo Team!
- Check out our list of the top and most expensive rare GameBoy games.
- Here’s everything we know about the GameBoy Mini.
- Analogue Pocket plays all your original DMG, GBC, and GBA carts!